Bake Cookies Day

Christmas, Holidays, Recipes | December 16, 2013 | By

Just a week before the Christmas holiday, Bake Cookies Day is the perfect reminder to make a few sweet treats to share with family and friends. To get you started, we’re sharing a cookie recipe handed down by co-founder Tina Kuna’s mother. Grandma Rue (as the grandkids who couldn’t pronounce her last name, Ruebush, called her) brought these scrumptious cookies to festive occasions, making every gathering extra special. Whether you’re planning on serving Christmas cookies to your kids, gifting a plateful to friends or participating in an annual cookie exchange, these cookies are sure to be a delicious addition.

Grandma Rue’s Peanut Butter Fingers
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  1. ½ cup butter
  2. ½ cup granulated sugar
  3. ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. ¼ cup nonfat egg substitute
  6. ⅓ cup peanut butter
  7. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  8. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  9. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  10. 1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
  11. 1 cup chocolate chips
For Drizzle
  1. ½ cup powdered sugar
  2. ¼ cup peanut butter
  3. 2-4 tablespoons milk
  1. Spray one 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. In a bowl, cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla together with a handheld mixer until smooth. Add the egg substitute and peanut butter and mix until smooth.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine with the sugar/peanut butter mixture until well blended (you may need to mix by hand). Spread the mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the baked cookie dough mixture immediately after removing the pan from the over. Let stand for 5 minutes, until the chips have melted. Quickly spread the melted chocolate evenly over the baked cookie dough.
  6. Mix powdered sugar, peanut butter, and milk until creamy, adjusting the milk to a desired consistency, using just enough milk to make the topping loose enough to drizzle. Drizzle the topping over the smoothed chocolate.
  7. Cut into bars and serve.
Dream Dinners
If you’re looking for more cookie ideas, try Martha Stewart’s traditional cookie recipes, these show stopping Christmas cookie recipes and ideas on packaging cookies as gifts from Better Homes and Gardens.

National Cocoa Day (December 13, 2014)


Though the weather outside is frightful, curling up with a cup of hot cocoa can make your day so more delightful. Especially when today is National Cocoa Day!

The difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate is that hot chocolate is made with melted chocolate and hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder. To make the perfect cup of microwavable hot cocoa, combine a heaping teaspoon of cocoa powder with two heaping teaspoons of sugar and a dash of salt in a mug. Add two teaspoons of cold milk and stir until smooth, then fill the cup with milk and microwave on high for a minute or until hot.

The great thing about hot cocoa is the endless variety of flavor combinations.


Grace, an Opportunity for Gratefulness

When I was little we said grace ‘jingles’ before our meals like, “God is great, God is good let us thank him for our food.”  Today, my husband usually says an impromptu grace and, in our family, we like to hold hands.

I love the habit we have and how it draws us together as a family, focusing our hearts on being thankful.  Grace reminds us that ‘apart from God, we have no good thing.’

‘Saying grace’ or ‘saying the blessing’ refers to the custom of thanking God for the meal. It’s hard to say where grace began as most religious practices share this common heritage. Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” and it was his common practice to thank God before meals, “before he fed them he broke the bread and gave thanks to God for it (Matthew 14:19).”


Decorating Your Holiday Table

Christmas, Holidays | December 9, 2013 | By

While decorating for the holidays is all part of the fun, sometimes preparing your home for holiday entertaining can result in unnecessary stress. Instead of worrying about getting it all done by yourself, enlist a few helpful hands and take advantage of the opportunity to spend individual time with a loved one.

Decorating your table for holiday get-togethers is a great project to collaborate on with your mother, daughter or best friend. Whether you’re picking out the perfect place settings or creating your own floral arrangements, you can turn an item on your endless to-do list into quality time together. Here are some ideas for table décor that are simple to create, but are sure to impress.


Creating Holiday Traditions with Your Family

The holiday season is filled with family traditions. From decorating a tree together to making a favorite recipe, these traditions are often the things that create the most treasured memories. Carrying on traditions from generation to generation is something special that helps to strengthen a family’s identity. If you have young children, here are some ideas for holiday activities your family could cherish for years to come.

  • Between the stress of holiday to-do lists and the anticipation of the day itself, it can be hard to remember to be thankful throughout the holiday season. Create an Advent Calendar that helps your family remain thankful this month by hanging 25 clear plastic fill-able ornaments from a ribbon. Each day, have a member of your family fill an ornament with a note about something they’re thankful for.
  • Help your kids give back this holiday season by introducing “Santa’s Toy Swap.” Have your kids pick out old toys to leave under the tree for Santa to take back to the North Pole to repair for other children.


Are your Thoughts all in a Flurry? Here are some Holiday ‘Stress Busters’ to Help!

family holiday timeOur heart is to make the holidays meaningful and magical. Yet, with our lists being long and our time being short, pressure looms like the Grinch around every corner.  Here are some stress busters that have helped me keep the joy, and be a joy, during the busy holiday season.

1.  Creating nostalgic traditions at the holidays is important. Try to Scale Down and be Satisfied with Good Enough.  We all set expectations on ourselves that could use some serious reevaluating and downsizing. We can get carried away from lighting one tree to lighting the porch, yard, deck, windows, and the 2nd and 3rd trees. It’s beautiful, but, takes so much time!  If I loved stringing lights, I’d cut corners elsewhere, but, this year I’m being selective and decorating just one tree and my entryway.

2.  Delegate. If my guests offer to help, I accept. I’ve found especially at parties, giving friends tasks like answering the door, serving beverages, and setting out food diminishes social discomfort and turns casual neighbors into good friends. Teen girls are fun to include as I work through holiday responsibilities like shopping, wrapping,


Have a Homemade, Made Easy Holiday

Our Company | December 2, 2013 | By

great easter dinnerWe know the holidays can often come with a long to-do list. We want to help simplify your life this month, so you can spend less time checking off tasks and more time creating memories with your family.

Our December menu has three family-friendly dinners that can be made in 15 minutes: Penne with Chicken and Peanut Sauce, Creamy Tortellini with Bacon, and French Onion Turkey Burgers on Pretzel Buns. Whether you’re running kids to afterschool activities or have fun plans for the holidays, these meals will ensure that you can get a delicious dinner on the table even with the most hectic schedule. For an even more hands-off approach to busy weeknight dinners, try making our Honey Chipotle Pork Roast or Old Fashioned Pot Roast in the slow cooker.


Small Business Saturday

Our Company | November 29, 2013 | By

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday, a movement that has been inspiring people to support small businesses across the country for the last three years. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this nationally recognized day is dedicated to giving back to the people and places that have given their communities so much. In honor of Small Business Saturday, we’d like to share a little bit of our history and recognize the hardworking franchise owners in your communities.

Stephanie-and-Tina-Photo-219x300Dream Dinners evolved from the homegrown practice of co-founder Stephanie Allen, a working mother who had been making fix-and-freeze meals for her family. Stephanie enlisted the help of long-time friend Tina Kuna and, together, they hosted the first series of meal assembly sessions in March 2002. Three months later, they opened the first Dream Dinners store and by early 2003, they had received national media attention as well as thousands of unsolicited franchise inquiries from potential owners across the country. By the end of 2003, Stephanie and Tina had signed 35 new franchises. Now, Dream Dinners has assembly stores representing all regions of the country.

Here, Tina and Stephanie share a few memorable moments from the very beginning:

“The first few months before we had our own location, we would haul all of our food into a catering kitchen that we rented by the evening. There was no refrigeration and we would set up stations around the kitchen on long counters. At the end of the evening, we would have to wash each dish by hand (no dishwasher) and then haul all the food back to a warehouse where we had stored a few freezers. We’d crawl into bed at about 2 a.m., then get back up at 6 a.m. and start the day all over again.”


Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas

Add some pizzazz to your holiday leftovers this year by turning your turkey and sides into second and third day meals no one will complain about eating. You’ll want to order an extra turkey just to try all of these yummy ideas.

  1. Turkey, Apple, Brie Sandwiches: Delicious alternate to the boring sandwich. You could also switch out the Brie for a Sharp Cheddar. Yum.
  2. Turkey and Asparagus Quiche: Great for breakfast or brunch the morning after Thanksgiving.
  3. Oriental Turkey Salad: A delicious twist with a lot of crunch.


Turn Your Dream Dinners into Appetizers

appetizer-creamy-tortelliniMany of our meals on this month’s menu are appetizer ready! It’s easy to turn these dinners into delicious bites for any holiday gathering. Instead of spending hours prepping food in the kitchen, you’ll be able to join the party and enjoy time with family and friends.

Creamy Tortellini with Bacon
Boil the tortellini and place 2 – 3 on a 6-inch skewer, place on large serving platter and refrigerate. Before serving, heat the sauce as directed and pour over the skewers.

Want to get extra fancy? Pick up some mini appetizer forks and bowls. We used this set by Mozaik. Prepare tortellini per cooking instructions. Then place three tortellini in each bowl and serve with mini forks.