We 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.
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.
Dream 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.”
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.
Many 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.
Every family has their own unique traditions – some are fun, some wacky, and some serious, but each makes the holiday a little more special. If you are looking to change things up or add a new tradition to your celebration, try out one of these activities. You may just discover your new favorite part of Thanksgiving!
Did you know there’s a day devoted to cleaning out your refrigerator? As silly as it seems, this observation of fridge cleaning actually comes at just the right time. Your spring cleaning is long over and the fridge could probably use another go to make room for all the Thanksgiving provisions and leftovers that will soon be taking up space.
To help you clear your fridge, we’ve got some ideas for using up your Dream Dinners leftovers that will have your mouth watering more than just reheated last night’s dinner:
Meatloaf Milano with Mashed Potatoes: A slice of cold meatloaf is great as a sandwich layered on a toasted potato roll with a slice of sharp cheddar and a few bread and butter pickles. Top with crispy onions, such as French’s French Fried Onions to add a little crunch.
With so much focus on the meal, decorating for Thanksgiving can often get overlooked. Here are some simple Thanksgiving table decoration ideas to help you create a holiday to remember.
- Preserve fall leaves by ironing them between two pieces of wax paper. Cut the leaves out, leaving a tiny border of wax paper around the edges, and scatter them on your table or use them to create festive garland or streamers.
- Use a hollowed pumpkin as a vase for an autumn colored bouquet. To preserve the centerpiece, coat the inside of the pumpkin with petroleum jelly and place flowers in a glass container inside the pumpkin.
As soon as November rolls around, we begin to think about and look forward to Thanksgiving – the relatives we’ll see, the food we’ll eat, the football games and parades we’ll watch and the family traditions we’ll treasure. But what about the stories we’ll tell? No family gathering is complete without an embarrassing, laugh-out-loud funny or even heart-wrenching story. Every family has stories that define who they are, teach lessons and instill values. Sharing these stories with your kids may be the most important thing you can do for your family.
In honor of Family Stories Month, here are some ways you can start sharing your family’s history:
Use this sample schedule for easy preparation of your Dream Dinners Holiday Roasted Turkey and sides. Happy Thanksgiving!
- 3 -5 days before: Thaw all of your holiday items in the refrigerator.
- Approximately 3 ½ hours before: Bake your Holiday Roasted Turkey. Remove holiday sides from fridge and bring to room temperature.
- 2 ½ hours before: Bake your Holiday Green Bean Casserole 40-45 min., then add French onion topping and bake an additional 10-15 min with turkey in oven. ** hold
- 1 ½ hours before: Bake Holiday Sweet Potatoes with Maple Brown Sugar 30-35 min., then add marshmallows and bake an additional 8-10 min. with turkey in oven. **hold
Our Holiday Family Favorite Side Dishes all cook at the same oven temperature to simplify your Thanksgiving dinner. We even have your Thanksgiving cooking timeline ready to make planning even easier.