As a working mother, Stephanie Allen was constantly racing against the clock. One timesaving endeavor she quickly mastered was preparing meals ahead of time from raw, fresh ingredients and popping them in the freezer for a later date. Stephanie eventually amassed a book of recipes and began sharing her culinary secrets with friends. With the help of Tina Kuna's business savvy, Stephanie's personal practice burgeoned into a nationwide phenomenon known as Dream Dinners.
Today at shops across the country, busy matriarchs and patriarchs shuffle around meal stations, each stocked with recipe cards, ingredients, and scratch-and-sniff tinfoil to construct meals that serve three or six. They tick off recipe components as they add the proper amount to meal containers, ferrying the uncooked dishes home and tucking them into freezers. Then, throughout the week, they simply thaw, heat, and serve these dinners to eagerly waiting eaters.
Though Dream Dinners does not cater to specific diets, the company does offer nutritious meals with antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken. Customers can survey all nutritional information before selecting dishes.
Though the imperial Doric columns inside Cafe Piquet aren't indicative of the cuisine's origins, the pictures and artifacts on the walls—which range from movie-star portraits to framed bills of currency—all pay homage to Cuba. The authentic decor echoes the traditional recipes in the family-owned kitchen. There, chefs layer swiss cheese, ham, pork, mustard, and pickles onto medianoche sandwiches that helped the restaurant win the 2009 Houston Press award for Best Cuban Restaurant. The paper deemed the sandwiches "easily the best in the city," and commented on the menu’s knack for drawing crowds of native Cubans with its recipes.
Those recipes include plates of grilled red snapper, pork chops, and sirloin steak that arrive with sides of plantains and yucca, imbued with flavor from garlic and creole sauces. After devouring the dishes, full visitors who have become sleepy can conclude meals with cups of cuban coffee.
The cuisine team at Brisket Bar-BQ grills up a menu chock-full of down-home barbecue fare. Ravenous guests can quench hunger with a brisket barbecue sampler ($10.25) or a plate of shred-ready ribs ($9.25), each of which arrives with a choice of two sides—beans, potato salad, coleslaw, Cajun rice, fries, mashed potatoes, or corn. Brisket Bar-BQ also concocts succulent barbecue chicken and turkey baked potatoes buttressed by a blend of butter, cheese, sour cream, bacon, and chives ($7.25), plus hearty homemade chili ($4.45), which is emphatically ladled into large, hand-warming bowls.
Begin your culinary journey with an order of spring rolls or cheese rolls, stuffed with raisin-studded rice paper and deep-fried (both $4.25). Classic dishes done well appease traditionalists, including spicy Tom Yum soup ($4.25–$5.25), pad Thai ($8.95), pad see eiw ($8.95), and five kinds of curry ($8.95–$9.95). Build a balanced meal with the entree and rice dishes including garlic and pepper lover ($8.95) with stir-fried meat tossed in black pepper sauce over cabbage. Diners can also pick from grilled selections ($10.95–$12.95), served with shrimp fried rice and steamed veggies. Cool off a spice-saturated palate with a sweet scoop of coconut ice cream ($3.50) for dessert. Expect friendly service, carefully curated curry, and a cozy ambiance at any of the eight outposts. Like the recipe for Play-Doh, Thai Cottage adheres to simple, timeless standards.
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular service: Juice Cleanse
Brands Used: Organic, Locally Grown Produce
Pro Tip: When ordering a juice cleanse; it is best to order 24 hours in advance.
Pam Ennis is a certified Nutrition Counselor, a Natural Food Chef, and regularly contributes to healthy-living publications such as Livestrong. Oh yea, and she founded her own business, Ylive Juice Bar. Pam takes a very friendly, straightforward philosophy toward helping her clients get healthier. "Progress, not perfection," she says.
Pam and her staff provide one-on-one consulting with every client who walks through the door of her Juice Bar. The goal is for clients to educate themselves on the benefits and possibilities that come from a juice cleanse. Outside of the consultation, Pam even maintains a Cleanse Computer Station, which clients can use to quickly reference different plans and choose the best one for their lifestyle. She also knows that a juice cleanse can be challenging, so she alleviates some of the difficulties by delivering juices to clients at their homes, offices, or super-secret cleanse yurts.
Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza was born out of the owner's frustration with bad pizza from chains, which often tasted as if every ingredient was canned or frozen. Deciding to change the industry, Papa Murphy's tosses every ingredient, all of which are never frozen, onto the crust in front of the customer's eyes and sends them home to bake in a home oven. This dedication to fresh flavor earned Papa Murphy's the top spot on Zagat's National Chain survey.
Visitors can create their own take on the pizza pie or chomp into one of their signature pizzas, which range from meat-filled stuffed crust to calorie-conscious lite varieties covered in vegetables. Their appetizers and desserts follow the same pattern. Customers order raw cookie dough or cheesy bread ripe for the baking, resulting in every course being fresh from the oven.