La Mesa Dream Dinners: Restaurant Week Deal Special Offer!

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OH MY GOSH Y’ALL! Check out this amazing offer! La Mesa Dream Dinners is participating in 18th Annual Restaurant Week with a special offer for you. This is a great way to participate in Restaurant week without leaving home.

Special Offer Price $35 – Serves 3: For a limited time you can purchase 1 medium meal from the selection below. The Dinner package includes Garlic Bread and a 6 pack of Hope’s Chocolate chip cookies to bake at home.

The staff will assemble and freeze your meals for you to pick up and take home to cook.

Choose from the following menu:

Maple Glazed Pork RoastThai Coconut Shrimp over Jasmine RiceChicken and Pasta with Lemon & Artichoke Sauce
  • Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin
  • Chicken & Artichoke Pasta
  • Thai Coconut Shrimp  over Jasmine Rice
This offer is not available online -please call/text 619-460-6800 or email lamesaca@Dreamdinners.com to place your order.

The staff will contact you for an appointment to pick up your meals at our curbside service.

I think we’ll be getting the Chicken and Artichoke Pasta- What option are you going to choose?

Recipe: Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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The kids have been begging for homemade cookies lately, and I’ve been busy with other stuff, so I haven’t had tons of time to make cookies.

I dug through the cupboard last week and realized that I had all of the ingredients except baking soda. I used the last half box I had to deodorize the kids bathroom.

So I turned to an old favorite, Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Flapjack & Waffle Mix. and because of the other ingredients, I used a smidge of baking powder (please remember that soda and powder are not interchangeable in recipes- it has a lot to do with the other ingredients and their pH/chemical makeup) and the cookies turned out perfect!

Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Flapjack & Waffle Mix contains leavening, so the added baking powder was just a little *bump* to make sure the cookies didn’t come out flat.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • One stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, smooth preferred
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white/granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Flapjack & Waffle Mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups quick oats, uncooked
  • 2 cups of chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter.
  3. Add sugars one at a time and mix until fluffy.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated fully.
  5. Mix in baking powder, salt, flour, and oats. Once all are blended into the dough, add chocolate chips.
  6. Drop tablespoon-sized dough balls on cookie sheets that have been greased or are lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking pad.  I prefer silicone baking pads.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Let cookies rest 1-2 minutes before transferring to the cooling rack.

This recipe makes approx. 3 dozen cookies. If you are allergic to peanuts, you can substitute sunbutter or your favorite nut butter. Do Not use Nutella- It contains a lot of sugar and other ingredients that will throw off the chemistry of the recipe and you won’t get yummy cookies.

12/1/2020: Celebrate Santee’s 40th Birthday with Treats & Fireworks!

My hometown, Santee, CA is celebrating their 40th birthday this Tuesday, December 1, 2020.

No birthday is complete without treats, and there are lots of locations throughout town giving out yummy goodies!

OFFICIAL SWEET TREAT STOP LOCATIONS
Visit any of our Sweet Treat Stop locations on Tuesday, December 1 to enjoy a sweet birthday treat on behalf of the City of Santee. (while supplies last)

OFFICIAL SWEET TREAT STOP MAP

Santee City Hall – 10601 N. Magnolia Ave, Santee • Gourmet sweet treats handcraft by Lantern Crest‘s Executive Chef Mario Esparza, Chick- fil-A • Brownies, Baklava King, Inc. • Variety of baklava  Drive-thru map (11am – 6pm)
Bagel & Donut Bar – 9720 Mission Gorge Rd Ste E, Santee • Kids – 6 donut holes and Adults – 1 classic bagel with cream cheese (6am – 8pm)
Baklava King, Inc. – (off site distribution of treats at Santee City Hall) • Variety of baklava
Chick-fil-A Santee – (off site distribution of treats at Santee City Hall) • Brownies
Dairy Queen – 70 town Center Parkway, Santee • Small soft serve cone vanilla or chocolate (11am – 8pm)
Eccentric International Chefs – 8925 Carlton Hills Blvd, Santee, CA 92071 • Mini cupcakes, mini cookies & macaroons (4:30am – 4pm)
Go Get Yogurt – 9802 N. Magnolia Ave, Ste 1, Santee • Special birthday size frozen yogurt with one topping of customer’s choice (11am – 9:30pm)
Honey Donuts – 10718 Woodside Ave, Santee  • Donuts, coffee, hot chocolate, muffins or cookies (24hrs)
Kravings Fruit Bar – 9740 Mission Gorge #D, Santee, CA 92071 • Dessert TBA (10:30am – 8pm)
Mary’s Donuts – 8959 Carlton Hills Blvd, Santee, CA 92071 • Donuts (24hrs)
NatSweets – 8840 N. Magnolia Ave #150, Santee • Chocolate chip or birthday cake cookie or a scoop of ice cream (9am-5pm)
The Coffee Corner – 235 Town Center Pkwy Ste A, Santee • Mini acai bowls & Belgian waffles (7:30am – 4pm)
The Cupcake Store – 9225 Carlton Hills Blvd Ste 7, Santee • Mini cupcakes (10am – 5:30pm)
Whipped Cake Shop – Pathways Church Parking Lot 9600 Carlton Hills Blvd., Santee • Gingerbread cheesecake bites (10am – 6pm)

 

In addition to treats, there will be fireworks! At 7:00 p.m. two simultaneous LIVE fireworks shows will be launched from Town Center Community Park and West Hills Park. If you have pets, make sure they are safely inside.

And both park locations where the fireworks are being shot off will be closed to the public- remember to view the fireworks somewhere safe and socially distant. 

Baking for the Holidays with Truly Grass Fed (Tryazon Party Opportunity)

Truly Grass Fed is back for the holidays with a new Tryazon Featured Party opportunity, featuring their distinctively creamy and uniquely delicious cheese and butter. No matter what kind of holiday baking you plan to do, Truly Grass Fed is the perfect addition. Because Truly Grass Fed doesn’t just pair with food, it #PairsWithYou.

They have 300 hosting spots open for this opportunity! Those chosen will receive a party pack with a variety of Truly Grass Fed products to showcase and sample with friends and family at an in-person or virtual party! Truly Grass Fed will be holding a competition for the best Holiday Baker too!  Learn more and apply here: https://www.tryazon.com/baking-for-the-holidays-with-truly-grass-fed-party/
If you haven’t heard of Tryazon, it’s a Word of Mouth Marketing company that partners with brands and individuals. I’ve hosted a few events with Tryazon before- it’s always a fun time!
I applied, and fingers crossed that I get this one! My family and friends love to cook and it would be a fun way to spend some time (even if we are socially distanced). Plus- Who doesn’t love cheese?

Today is National Dessert Day!

My kids are ready to celebrate! I’ve found some freebies and low-cost deals for those of you looking for some sweet deals (see what I did there??) and some of our family recipes if you are in the mood to cook.

 

If you are trying to stay on budget, here are a few of our family favorite dessert recipes:

 

If you’ve discovered any other awesome deals or freebies for this National Dessert day, please leave it in the comments below!

8/16/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays. It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week.

I’ve been buying snacks in bulk and only putting weeks worth out in the snack box. It keeps us out of the stores, and its healthier. I’ve been doing this for about 2 months, and I’ve gotten really good at hiding the extra snacks.

I took the kids with me to the grocery store today, and while we picked up a few extra things, overall we were good and stayed within our budget. I did forget to buy cat litter, though, so I’ll be off to Target tomorrow morning.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunches will be whatever the kids want for the time being (Peanut butter sandwiches and baguettes toasted with garlic butter are high on the list as of late). I may make up a cheese pizza and serve that for a few lunches during the week with apple slices (or apple sauce), cheez-its, and milk (as well as some sort of dessert- I made these cookies over the weekend, and they make a good lunch dessert)

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

School starts for us on Wednesday. We are distance learning for the foreseeable future, and while I never imagined I’d be teaching Kindergarten and Special Ed 4th grade at the same time, here we are. The kids are still excited about going back to school, seeing friends via their class Zoom meetings. I am going to try and organize a socially distanced Pokemon hunt with Pokemon Go for some of our classmates and friends who play.

  • Sunday:  Leftovers
  • Monday  Stuffed Peppers, garlic bread, fruit
  • Tuesday: Salad and Sandwiches
  • Wednesday: Stir Fry veggies and chicken
  • Thursday: Pizza Night (pizza and salad or fruit)
  • Friday: Salad and Soup
  • Saturday: leftover fiesta

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

Michael’s: Valentine’s Day Makers Fest (2/8/2020)

IRC23123_VMF_AdultTShirtLooking for something fun to do this coming weekend? Check out your local Michaels Craft Store!

  • Date: Saturday, February 8, 2020
  • Time: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Come make a Lots Of Love Vinyl Decal Shirt: Come punch designs out of vinyl to create a Valentine’s Day T-shirt. Buy the shirt, and the supplies to decorate it will be provided!

Other crafts going on include on 2/8/2020:

  • Valentine’s Day Cards: Create cute “love bug” or pretty watercolor cards to give loved ones! FREE, all supplies included.
  • Sweetheart Cookies: Learn easy ways to decorate Valentine’s Day Treats. FREE, all supplies included.
  • Fabulous Friendship Bracelets: Make these beaded bracelets to give to your BFF for Valentine’s Day! FREE, all supplies included.

Michael’s has all sorts of fun free and low-cost classes coming up for kids and adults. Find out about classes near you here.

Tips to Reign In An Out Of Control Family Budget: Let’s Start in the Kitchen!

707538835876fc5c438018d57701bc2f.jpgUntil the end of the year, I’ll be posting some articles with realistic tips and methods to save money and reign in spending. None of these are going to the same old “Clip coupons, grow your own garden, etc.” that’s all over the internet- and honestly, here in Southern California, the old, standby advice isn’t going to help you. Grow a garden to save money? Water is so expensive here!

Clipping coupons and shopping grocery store sales/circulars will save you a fraction of the amount that it used to. In years past, I was saving 60-80% with coupons and store sales. Now, I’m lucky to save 50%.  With all of the restrictions on coupons (example: limit one like coupon per day- LAME), stockpiling to save money isn’t always possible without a lot of work/trips to different stores (and that’s not saving time). We’re moving past that, and delving into other ways to save money and take advantage of opportunities that are out there.

Today we are going to start with my pet project: Saving in the kitchen! If you feel like you’re spending too much money on food and groceries, here are my recommendations for getting the grocery spending under control:

  1. Go through your refrigerator/freezer and pantry. Make a note of the food that you have on hand. I like using the kitchen inventories here. This will also give you an opportunity to clean out food from the kitchen that has expired or that you won’t eat. Unexpired food that you won’t eat, can be donated to a local charity.
  2. Now that you have a handle on what you have in your kitchen, take a look at the list and come up with some recipes or meals that can be created with what you have on hand. You’d be surprised by how many meals you have in your kitchen! Make a list of the meals that you can make with what you have. And plan on having one or two of those per week. This will help keep grocery spending down. Make a list of meals that you can make but require one or two ingredients (like fresh vegetables), and add those ingredients to your next few shopping lists. By relying on what you already have in your home, you will be keeping your out of pocket down.
  3. Before you head to the store, take a look at the sale flyer which is available online, and see what is on sale. Plan meals around food that is in season and on sale. Continue to use coupons, but don’t go out of your way to subscribe to multiple newspapers per week to get a hold of lots of the same coupons.  Don’t forget rebate apps! Use of these apps gets us $10-$20/month cashback, sometimes double that, depending on what bonus offers are available- Fetch Rewards and Ibotta often have Bonus offers.
  4. Track your spending over a few weeks to see how much you are spending, and what you are buying. If you still find that you’re spending a lot of money on food, I would try shopping at a different store. I find that even with club card sales, and rebate apps like Fetch Rewards, some grocery stores (like Vons) are just too expensive to do my weekly shopping. I love starting my shopping at $.99 only. I am able to get a lot of snacks, name-brand treats, and fresh fruits and veggies there, and I am still able to stay on budget. Another fun place where I save money is Grocery Outlet. They have great prices on cheese, fruit juice, coffee, and frozen meat. They also have an interesting selection that changes weekly: snack food, protein bars/cookies, and cereal. If you are in the military, a military family, or a veteran, consider shopping at the commissary. Here is my article about saving money at the commissary. 
  5. Consider cooking more from scratch. It is healthier, and pantry stables are generally pretty cheap (the ingredients for a batch of chocolate chip cookies runs about $3.00 and yields 4-5 dozen cookies, while a package of chocolate chip cookies from the grocery store is about $4.00+ and is usually 3 dozen or so).  I buy fruits and veggies whole and break them down and pack them into serving size bags. You can learn more about that and Batch Cooking here.

If you are still having a hard time keeping your grocery budget in check, or if you are finding that the ends don’t meet, consider the San Diego Food Bank Neighborhood Distribution Program. No documentation is needed to receive food assistance from a
Neighborhood Distribution site where people can receive fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread, based on availability. Families are encouraged to bring reusable bags or
a cart with them to carry the food items.

There are programs out there to help those struggling to feed their families here in San Diego County. Here is my list of San Diego County Food Resources.

I work very hard to keep my family on a budget, I work very hard to make sure that we are saving money and taking advantage of as many deals and opportunities that present themself. I know that this is not something that everyone wants to do or something that everyone can do. There are so many programs and discounts out there available for various groups of individuals.

Tomorrow, we’re tackling saving money on the entertainment budget.

12/2/19 Weekly Meal Plan

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We survived Thanksgiving break. Now it’s back to school, and back to work!

I did not go to the grocery store last week, other than to pick up milk. So last night I hit the store to stock up- The pantry was pretty bare. I ran out of flour- and for someone who bakes a lot.. well, I was pretty shocked.

This week we’re relying on a couple meal prepped items from the freezer, they come in so handy, especially on Mondays when we have so much going on. The big kid has a 2-day research study this week- he’s so excited!

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. We’ve got a bunch of stuff in the freezer, as I’ve been portioning out 2-3 adult-sized entree portions from several meals a week and freezing them for later meals.

  • Monday: Chicken Fajita bowls with rice, beans, grilled onions and peppers
  • Tuesday: Baked Ziti & Steamed veggies
  • Wednesday:  Butter Chicken, jasmine rice, and green salad
  • Thursday:  Soup (we have a couple kinds in the freezer), Grilled cheese sandwiches, and apple crisp
  • Friday:  Breakfast for dinner: Corned Beef Hash, poached eggs, toast, and fruit
  • Saturday:  Pizza time (also salad will be served)
  • Sunday:  Pulled Pork, baked potatoes, steamed veggies

I had someone ask me how we always have enough of anything for leftovers. I always cook enough of the main dish for 6-8 servings, that way we have leftovers for lunches later in the week or leftover night. And really when you make stuff like soup, it’s hard to make a batch of soup that only feeds 4 people.

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

11/25/19 Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

This week is Thanksgiving here in the US, so the kids are off school all week, and I’ve got tons of fun stuff planned! Zoo, making Turkey Cookies with the kids and my niece, playing at the park, and of course, daily visits to the YMCA. Meals will probably be light because we’re super stoked for all the yummy treats on Thursday.  I’m taking this dish on Thursday!

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. Last week I did a lot of veggie prep and I’ve got a bunch of bags of veggies in the freezer for meals this week.

  • Monday: Breakfast for dinner: Smoothies and Dave’s Killer Bagels with Cream cheese.
  • Tuesday: Quesadillas, green salad, fruit
  • Wednesday:  Chicken and Veggie soup
  • Thursday:  THANKSGIVING FEAST WITH FAMILY
  • Friday:  Some sort of Thanksgiving leftover based meal (perhaps a Moist Maker Sandwich- Friends fans know what I mean)
  • Saturday:  Pizza time (also salad will be served)
  • Sunday:   Leftovers, as per usual

I had someone ask me how we always have enough of anything for leftovers. I always cook enough of the main dish for 6-8 servings, that way we have leftovers for lunches later in the week or leftover night. And really when you make stuff like soup, it’s hard to make a batch of soup that only feeds 4 people.

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?