Cucina Italiana Pasta with Chicken

The perfect dinner when you forgot to take anything out of the freezer or cook it in the crock pot to come home to a cooked dinner!  You can cook from frozen, 350 oven, covered for 1 1/2, then uncovered for 30 – 45 min…..or peel the foil off the frozen dinner and place in a glass baking dish, sprayed with non-stick, place in the microwave on defrost for 15 min or until edges are melting, then in the oven as directed on cooking instruction label…. or from frozen into your sprayed crock pot( cheese side up), on low with 1 inch at the bottom of your crock pot of your choice of liquid, water, white wine or chicken stock.  6 – 8 hr until hot and bubble!  An easy and delicious dream dinner!

December 7, 2011 at 9:50 pm Leave a comment

Layered Ravioli Bake

We love this newest Dream Dinner!  We had our Chef Cindy make and remake it here in our home office test kitchen, not so she could improve it, but because we wanted to eat it again and again!  When I made it at our store  I only used 1/4 amount of sausage, just enough for the flavor and added a little diced chicken, and added some extra red pepper flakes for a kick. That’s why I love Dream Dinners, I can make it my way!   I also cooked mine from frozen…. 350 oven for 1 1/2 covered, then uncovered under the broiler to crisp the cheese to golden.

December 2, 2011 at 8:05 pm Leave a comment

Time to Thaw Your Turkey… Easy Instructions

The best way to thaw a frozen turkey is in the unopened wrapper on a tray in the refrigerator. It takes 4 hours per pound to thaw a turkey (24 hours for every 5 pounds). Your Dream Dinners Holiday Turkey may weigh between 6-8 pounds. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature. If short on time, you may thaw the turkey in cold water in the original wrapping, cover completely with cold water, making sure the water is changed every 30 minutes to keep the turkey surface cold.


When thawing your Dream Dinner Holiday Sides, separate the individual frozen dishes from one another and place them toward the front of your refrigerator shelf for best air circulation.

A note about cooking instructions:

The recommended cooking time for the turkey could take as long
as 4 ½ hours. However, oven temperature calibration varies between models or may be slightly different in older ovens. These factors, as well as variation in the weight of the turkey may result in a shorter or longer cooking time.

To ensure a flawless Thanksgiving Dinner be sure to use a thermometer to check the temperature of your turkey. Check it once about 2 1/2 hours into the cooking time to gauge how quickly it is reaching the desired temperature. Once it reaches an internal minimum temperature of 165°F it is done.


Dream Dinners Holiday Turkey Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F
  2. Remove turkey from packaging, place in shallow pan and
    add 1-cup water.
  3. Loosely cover with foil and cook 2 1/2 hours. Using meat thermometer, check temp. When at 135 degrees, remove foil and cook for an additional 30 min. or until internal temp. reaches 150 degrees. Turkey will continue to cook as it rests for 20 min covered with foil.
  4. Once you remove your turkey, cover in foil to hold the heat and let it rest for 20 minutes (165 degrees) before carving.


Here is a great cooking time line for your entire Dream Dinners Holiday dinner:

  • 3 – 5 days before: Thaw all items in refrigerator
  • 5 hrs before: Preheat oven and bake Turkey (using cooking instructions above)
  • 1 1/2 hr before: Bake biscuits
  • 1 hr before: Bake Mashed Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 hr before: Remove foil from Turkey and continue baking 30 min.
  • 45 min before: Bake Stuffing
  • 30 min before: Bake Green Bean Dish
  • 30 min before: Remove Turkey from oven and let rest covered with foil
  • 15 min before: Heat Gravy
  • 10 min before: Slice Turkey
  • 5 min before: Place Cranberry Orange Relish in serving dish

Note about leftovers:
Leftover turkey should be refrigerated in containers within 2 hours of roasting. Leftovers may be kept 3 to 4 days. Leftover turkey may be frozen 3 to 4 months.


As always, if you have any questions, please contact your local store or



November 21, 2011 at 7:36 pm Leave a comment

Southern Chicken and Biscuits

Yes you can cook your Dream Dinners Southern Chicken and Biscuits in your crock pot!  I cook mine on low straight from the freezer, 6 – 8 hours and add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and 1/2 cup of white wine.  When I got home from work, I cooked the frozen biscuits in the oven 400 degrees, for 8 -  10 minutes then topped them into the Chicken and Dumplings in my crock pot before serving. 

Do not  thaw biscuits . Bake them from frozen.

If you already have it thawed the chicken mixture you can cook it in your crock pot on low for 4 -6 hours or high 2 – 3 hours, baking the biscuits in the oven just like above. 

Crock Pot Temperatures:  You should check you crock pot during cooking to verify the cooking temperatures.  Low setting should cook foods in 4 hours to 160 – 180 degrees.  High should cook the food to 160 – 200 in 3 hours. Not all crock pots cook at those even temperatures and knowing your crock pot temp will help you adjust your cooking times.



November 21, 2011 at 7:27 pm Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Dinner Made Easy!

Personalize Your Holiday Menu With Dream Dinners Everyone has their own twist on how to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, but one thing most of us agree on is it must include turkey. If you’re looking for a simpler way to serve a complete holiday dinner, we have the answer. If you all you need is a few things to round out your menu or a potluck dish, we have the answer. Our holiday menu delivers on the value, quality and simplicity you’re looking for.

Holiday Roasted Turkey This spectacular, simple-to-prepare turkey will raise your dinner to an entirely new level of distinction. The bone has been removed, so it’s easy to carve, and by keeping the skin intact, it remains juicy and flavorful. Better yet, easy to prepare and serve doesn’t mean you skimp on quantity. This cut of turkey is the equivalent of a 16 to 20lb whole turkey! Available in the Fast Lane category on our menu.

Holiday Family Favorite Side Dishes – Pick 3 Order the side-dish combination that works best for you! Combine our turkey with a selection of our sides and you’ll serve the ideal dinner, personalized to your family’s tastes, time and budget. We’re offering choices from among 5 side-dish options, including 3 different mashed potato seasonings.

Ordering is easy. 1.First, print a copy of this page and identify the side dishes you want.  2.Second, online today, or during your October session, place an order for the Holiday Family Favorite Side Dishes. 3.One order gives you a choice of 3 items from the list below. (Bring the printed version with you to your November session.)

Green Bean Casserole We think you’ll find this to be a big hit at your holiday table! Young and old alike will enjoy the creaminess of adding Alfredo sauce and Parmesan cheese to these green beans, combined with the surprising crunch of water chestnuts. All this topped off with bread crumbs and sliced almonds to make an overall wonderful Holiday dish!

Mashed Potatoes We think we’ve solved the only problem with mashed potatoes and that is there are never enough! This year we’re providing you with 5 pounds of mashed potatoes and letting you personalize them with your choice of seasoning. •Cheesy Mashed Potatoes •Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes •Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes The holiday dinner in many parts of the country isn’t complete without sweet potatoes. You’ll find the ease of the already chopped and ready to bake sweet potatoes perfect for this busy time of the year. We offer two seasonal choices. •Brown Sugar and Pecans or Savory Sweet Potatoes

Savory Stuffing You combine the traditional bread, celery, butter and spices with sausage, apples, cranberries and pecans to make this stuffing really something very special. You can add all or just a few of the above ingredients to personalize this recipe for you and your family.

Gravy, Cranberry Sauce and Biscuits This combination will round out your meal, leaving you with time to sit back and enjoy this special time with family and friends. A sparkling bowl of jewel-colored cranberry sauce is a must for the holiday table. (We’ve added a little orange flavor to give it some zest.) We finish with savory gravy and pearl onions, plus 12 home-style flaky biscuits.

November 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm Leave a comment

It really is the Hour that Matters Most!

8 reasons to make time for family dinner

By Sarah Klein,
updated 7:57 AM EST, Tue October 25, 2011

Don't let scheduling conflicts interrupt the tradition of sitting down to dinner with your family.
Don’t let scheduling conflicts interrupt the tradition of sitting down to dinner with your family.


  • Finding time to eat with your family may leave you feeling less stressed
  • A family meal is the perfect opportunity to expose children to different foods
  • Eating frequent family meals helps children do better in school

( — Soccer practices, dance rehearsals, playdates, and other scheduling conflicts make family mealtime seem like a thing of the past. Suddenly, we’re feeding our kids breakfast bars during the morning commute, sneaking 100-calorie packs at our desks, and grabbing dinner at the drive-thru window.

Despite the feeling that there’s no time for such luxuries, 59% of families report eating dinner together at least five times a week — an increase from only 47% in 1998, according to the Importance of Family Dinner IV, a report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.

If you’re finding it difficult to get together with your family at the dinner table, here’s a little inspiration.

Supper can be a stress reliever

Believe it or not, if you have a demanding job, finding time to eat with your family may actually leave you feeling less stressed.

In 2008, researchers at Brigham Young University conducted a study of IBM workers and found that sitting down to a family meal helped working moms reduce the tension and strain from long hours at the office. (Interestingly, the effect wasn’t as pronounced among dads.) Alas, the study didn’t take into account the stress of rushing to get out of the office, picking up the kids, and getting a meal on the table. Secrets to a stress-free family

Kids might learn to love their veggies

A 2000 survey found that the 9- to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families most frequently ate more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. Their diets also had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber.

Family dinners allow for both “discussions of nutrition [and] provision of healthful foods,” says Matthew W. Gillman, M.D., the survey’s lead researcher and the director of the Obesity Prevention Program at the Harvard Medical School.

It’s the perfect setting for new foods

A family meal is the perfect opportunity for parents to expose children to different foods and expand their tastes.

In a 2003 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children were offered some pieces of sweet red pepper and asked to rate how much they liked it. Then, each day for the next eight school days, they were invited to eat as much of the pepper as they wanted. On the final day, the kids were again asked to rate how much they liked it.

By the end of the experiment, the children rated the pepper more highly and were eating more of it — even more so than another group of children who were offered a reward for eating the pepper. These results suggest that a little more exposure and a little less “You can leave the table once you finish your broccoli!” will teach kids to enjoy new foods, even if they don’t like them at first. 20 easy meals for families to enjoy together

You control the portions

Americans spend more than 40% of their food budget on meals outside of the home. Eating out can be convenient but it’s also caloric — portion sizes in restaurants just keep growing! The average restaurant meal has as much as 60% more calories than a homemade meal. Studies show that when we are presented with more food, we eat more food, possibly leading to our expanding waistlines.

Healthy meals mean healthy kids

Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, and develop an eating disorder. They are also more likely to delay sex and to report that their parents are proud of them. When a child is feeling down or depressed, family dinner can act as an intervention.

This is especially true of eating disorders, says Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, who has studied the impact of family meal patterns on adolescents. “If a child eats with his or her parents on a regular basis, problems will be identified earlier on,” she says. 10 things to say (and 10 not to say) to someone with depression

Family dinners help kids “just say no”

Eating family dinners at least five times a week drastically lowers a teen’s chance of smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Teens who have fewer than three family dinners a week are 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs and to have used illegal drugs other than marijuana, three times more likely to have used marijuana, more than 2.5 times more likely to have smoked cigarettes, and 1.5 times more likely to have tried alcohol, according to the CASA report.

“While substance abuse can strike any family, regardless of ethnicity, affluence, age, or gender, the parental engagement fostered at the dinner table can be a simple, effective tool to help prevent [it],” says Elizabeth Planet, one of the report’s researchers, and the center’s vice president and director of special projects.

Better food, better report card

Of teens who eat with their family fewer than three times a week, 20% get C’s or lower on their report cards, according to the CASA report. Only 9% of teens who eat frequently with their families do this poorly in school.

Family meals give children an opportunity to have conversations with adults, as well as to pick up on how adults are using words with each other, which may explain why family dinnertime is also thought to build a child’s vocabulary. 10 habits of healthy families

Put a little cash in your pocket

In 2007, the average household spent $3,465 on meals at home, and $2,668 on meals away from home, according to the national Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When you take into consideration that the $2,668 spent on meals away from home only accounts for about 30% of meals (according to historical data), that’s about $8 per meal outside of the home, and only about $4.50 per each meal made in your own kitchen. You do the math!

October 31, 2011 at 5:33 pm Leave a comment

Family Dinners by Breaking Point Daily

Fighting for Family Dinners
It’s Good for Your Kids!
October 19, 2011
The dangers facing young people today are many: premarital sex, drug abuse, suicide, and dropping out among them. And if you listen to the “experts,” there are no easy answers for protecting our kids. And of course they are right. But saying there are no easy answers is entirely different from saying there are no answers.
I believe there is something moms and dads, aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers can do and start doing it tonight — that’s right — tonight — to make a real difference in the lives of our young people. It’s time to reclaim the family dinner.
I’m not saying this out of some kind of nostalgia for Ozzie and Harriet and the supposedly golden age of the 1950s. Families had problems back then, too. But I think a lot of families back then knew something many of us have forgotten: That it’s good to sit down together for a meal.
The dinner table is not only where we share good food and drink. It is also where we share our values, what happened to us during the day — the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s where we ask questions and learn from each other. In a relaxed atmosphere we can talk about our faith. The dinner table can be a great refuge from life’s hard knocks and stresses.
That’s not just my opinion. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University finds that teens who have dinner with their parents three or fewer times per week are four times more likely to smoke, twice as likely to drink, two-and-a-half times more likely to smoke marijuana, and four times as likely to say they will use drugs in the future as those who eat dinner five to seven times a week with their parents.
These findings mirror the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health, which is the largest longitudinal study ever done on adolescents. This study has some amazing statistics. Of twelve to fourteen year olds who don’t experience family dinners at least five days a week, 14 percent report drinking more than once a month. That’s kids twelve to fourteen. But for those who have family dinners, it’s cut to 7 percent!
Also, 27 percent of twelve to fourteen year olds who don’t have regular family dinners say they think about suicide, compared with only 8 percent of those who do eat with their families. Among seventeen to nineteen year olds, 68 percent without the influence of family dinners have had sex, versus 49 percent of those who have had family dinners.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Family dinners are vital — not just for food but for bonding and learning.
Now you’ll say: “Okay, having dinner with my kids is a good idea, but we’re just too busy.” Friend, believe me, I understand. In many homes, both parents work and have little time to cook food, let alone go to the supermarket and shop for it, and then clean up. And let’s face it: Our kids are just as busy as we are.
And look, I understand, instituting a welcoming and relaxing culture in the kitchen or dining room can seem daunting. Family dinners take planning, cooperation, and work. Your kids might protest at the new routine — at least at first. That’s okay. They will likely come to love it.
Get started, and see what works for you. But don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Twice a week is better than none.
And I bet you’ll find being together as satisfying as a steak dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy. Bon appetit!

October 25, 2011 at 10:35 pm Leave a comment

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