Enjoy the Pasta-bilities During National Chicken Month!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

September is National Chicken Month … a great time to celebrate this versatile, economical and flavorful protein choice in your family meals! 

But … before you starting cooking, here’s a bit of chicken trivia to share around the dinner table.  Did you know. . .

  • The average American eats over 80 pounds of chicken each year, more than anywhere else in the world.
  • In Gainesville, Georgia, the so-named Chicken Capital of the World, it’s against the law to eat chicken with a fork.  Chicken is finger food!
  • Chickens were first domesticated in Southeast Asia at least 4,000 years ago.
  • When cooked chicken reaches 165°F, as measured using a food thermometer, it should be safe to eat.
  • Chicken is the top protein source in the United States.

Chicken:  A Lean Protein Choice

Chicken provides protein -- and much more!  As you commemorate the month, celebrate the many other ways chicken delivers good health to your family table:    

  • High-quality protein.  Three ounces of chicken have about 25 grams of high-quality protein, the essential building blocks of bones, muscles, skin and blood, essential for growth and for cell repair at every life stage.  Protein is also a source of food energy!
  • Naturally low in fat.  Without the skin, chicken has only three grams of fat in a 3-ounce cooked portion, and it’s low in saturated fat.  With the skin on, chicken provides 8 ounces of fat per 3-ounce portion (less than fatty meats), but still eat skinless if you can.
  • Good as an iron source.  Iron often gets short-changed by teenage girls and women in their child-bearing years.  Chicken, like meat and fish, provides heme iron, important for carrying oxygen in blood to cells where energy is produced.
  • Source of other key nutrients.  Chicken’s B vitamins help your body release energy, form red blood cells, build body tissues, and help your nervous system function; vitamin B6 also helps protect against age-related memory decline.  Its magnesium helps build bones and release energy from muscles. And its zinc, among other functions, helps your immune system work properly.
  • Budget-friendly.  As a lean protein-rich option, the National Chicken Council notes that chicken costs only about $1.25 a pound.  To compare, lean beef often costs two to three times that amount.
  • Versatile partner.  Because chicken pairs easily in recipes with nutrient-dense vegetables, grain products and cheese, it’s the perfect protein food for center plate!

Chicken and Pasta:  Delicious, Nutritious Partners

Hot or cold, chicken makes a perfect protein partner for pasta in soups, salads and hot entrees.  Its mild flavor complements the savory, sweet and spicy tastes of all kinds of pasta dishes … from your family favorites to recipes for many global cuisines.  To help you celebrate National Chicken Month at your family table, enjoy these easy, affordable and flavorful recipes from Dreamfields.

Hearty pasta soups:  In nearly any pasta soup, chicken is a great meat or turkey substitute. 

  • A Dreamfields recipe favorite pairs chicken and rotini with spicy Southwest flavors:  Southwestern Chicken Rotini Soup, combined with black beans, corn and jalapeños, seasoned with onion, garlic, chile powder, cumin and oregano and topped with sharp Cheddar and cilantro.

Chilled pasta salads:  Have leftover cooked chicken?  Sliced, chopped or shredded, it’s ready to reinvent in a pasta salad.  No leftovers?  Then plan ahead and cook an extra chicken breast or two for dinner tonight for a pasta salad tomorrow.

  • Any Dreamfields pasta shape partners with sliced chicken breast in a Chicken Caprese Salad made with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella and a lemon balsamic dressing.
  • Cobb salads are perfect for lunch – especially when eggs, onion, bacon, avocado, cheese and tomato are paired with Dreamfields rotini and chopped chicken in a Cobb & Rotini Pasta Salad.
  • For a heartier meal, chicken breast, seasoned with Mediterranean spices and served over pasta salad, makes a uniquely flavorful meal.  Zatar Spiced Chicken and Pasta Salad combines chicken and penne rigate with zucchini, tomato, chickpeas, olives, hummus and parsley.  (Zatar is a Middle Eastern spice blend often made with marjoram, oregano, salt, sesame seeds, sumac and thyme.)

Hot pasta entrees:  Because they blend with so many ingredients and seasonings, both chicken and pasta are common ingredients in recipes around the world.  Enjoy these recipes inspired by a few popular destinations.

  • Chicken pairs well with pasta and tropical flavors.  Hawaiian Islands Chicken Pasta combines chunks of chicken and Dreamfields angel hair pasta with pineapple, green pepper, carrots, onion and a soy-sesame-ginger sauce.
  • Pasta, often prepared with chicken, is a mainstay of Italian dishes, such as Chicken Puttanesca with Spaghetti.  Prepared with seasoned chicken thighs, diced tomatoes, black olives, anchovy fillets, capers, garlic and more, this recipes offers a traditional way to enjoy Dreamfields spaghetti!
  • Chicken can go Tex-Mex, too.   For a favorite family meal, try Taco Spaghetti, prepared by tossing Dreamfields spaghetti with cooked ground chicken, flavored with fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder and perhaps chipotle or jalapeños, and topped with Cheddar.

For more easy-to-prepare pasta dishes with chicken as a lean protein ingredient, check the many delicious and healthful recipes from Dreamfields.

 

Enjoy A Cool Pasta Salad With A Kick

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Experience the tasty combination of spicy and cool with our latest Pastapalooza IV winner, Renee from Simi Valley, CA and her Cilantro Ranch Pasta Salad. This delicious pasta salad combines the sharp bite of cilantro with the crunch of celery, red and green bell peppers and onions, mixing in fresh olives, succulent chicken as well as creamy avocado and your favorite ranch dressing.

Cilantro Ranch Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 box Dreamfields Rotini
2 bunches cilantro, washed, stems removed and chopped
1 can sliced olives
2 jars Herdez mild salsa, drained
1 large can chicken breast meat, drained and mashed
1 red bell pepper, cleaned and diced
1 green bell pepper, cleaned and diced
4 stalks celery, cleaned and diced
1 onion diced, or onion powder to taste
Black pepper to taste
1-2 avocados, peeled and cut into cubes
1 jar ranch dressing, suggest buttermilk ranch

Directions:

Cook the pasta, checking at 2 minutes before the listed cook time to make sure it is not getting to soft. Drain in a colander and then fill your pasta pot with ice/cold water and put the hot pasta back into the pot to cool. When cool, drain again.

In a large bowl, mix the chicken, cilantro, salsa, olives, celery, onion as well as the red and green peppers. Add the pasta and avocado tossing before serving.

School Sports Fans: It’s Time to Tailgate!

Friday, August 29, 2014 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

Are you a fan of collegiate sports?  Or out to support your kids’ school team?  Either way, a pre-game tailgate party with family and friends offers a delicious and healthy way to cheer your team to victory.  For community and school sports fans, the comradery that comes with tailgating – before and after game time -- builds team support for the long run.

The idea of tailgating likely started, according to the American Tailgating Association, when groups of civilians from both sides of the Civil War congregated with food and drink to cheer their “team” on during the 1861 Battle of Bull Run (albeit with some danger attached).  As a sports tradition, credit for tailgating often starts with the first intercollegiate football game in 1869 between Princeton and Rutgers – with Rutgers’ fans sporting scarlet-colored scarves and grilling sausages at the “tail end” of a horse, hence the term “tailgating.”   Others credit Ivy League schools whose small parking lots required spectators to arrive several hours before game time to get a spot and so pass the time with food and fun.  Another theory:  tailgating came from the popular early 1900s custom of socializing with food after church before walking to a local baseball game.

Whatever the true history – and whether it’s a pre-game celebration for your local school or community athletics, collegiate sports, or even a professional team -- tailgating has become a spirited tradition.  Decked out in team colors and attire, fans transport all kinds of gear to the game site:  grills, music, tents, face paint, games like cornhole and ladder ball -- and coolers filled with food and drinks! 

So, school sports fans … a short list for creative, health-smart tailgating:

Make your own game plan:   1) If you’re a regular tailgater, keep a packing checklist of essentials; besides utensils, plates, grill equipment, cutting board, hot pads and clean-up towels, remember hand sanitizer, insect repellent, water for hand washing, sun block, etc. 2) Make a menu with reasonable amounts of food; uneaten perishable foods should be tossed if they sit out too long (one hour at 90°F or more, two hours otherwise).  3)  Prep ahead.  For example, make No Cook Tomato Basil Sauce ahead to toss with cooked Dreamfields penne rigate at your pregame meal.

Score with a great main dish:  1) Make a chilled main dish salad your star player: perhaps Steakhouse Pasta Salad, Spanish Charcuterie Pasta Salad (with ham and chorizo) or Cobb & Rotini Pasta Salad (with chicken).  2) When the weather starts to chill, fill a thermos with soup; try a hearty Southwestern Chicken Rotini Soup. 3)  Plan to grill –and not just burgers and hot dogs; try kebobs, vegetables (eggplant, portabella mushrooms, zucchini, bell pepper brushed with olive oil), chicken breasts, you name it!  Tip:  for Southwest Grilled Chicken and Corn Pasta Salad, you can make the salad ahead and grill the chicken as you tailgate!

 

Make food prep more than a spectator sport.  As part of the planning, divide up the menu if you tailgate with a group.  Grilling?  Ask the “master griller” to take the lead as MVP of your meal. 

Remember the side lines:  1) Match a flavorful pasta side dish with grilled, tailgate mainstays:  a Spicy Caprese Pasta Salad served with chicken wings; BLT Pasta Salad served with burgers; or Elbow Macaroni Salad (Insalata di Gomiti di Pasta) served with brats.  Keep chilled until serving time.  2)  Pack whole fruit – it’s easy!

Keep fans hydrated:   In hot weather, pack your cooler with plenty of chilled drinks:  perhaps several kinds of canned juices for a tailgate mix-and-match juice bar and plenty of water. When the temperature chills, a thermos of hot cocoa, hot cider and hot soup hits the spot.

Stay within the safety zone:  1)  Keep cold foods (such as pasta salads, dips, hot dogs, meat patties, raw veggies) in a clean, insulated cooler chilled with ice or frozen cold packs. Pack the cooler with 75 percent food and 25 percent ice or frozen cold packs.  2)  Keep hot foods hot in another insulated carrier to serve right away.  Wrap any hot dish (such as Vegetable Lasagna, Spaghetti Pizza, casseroles, baked beans) in heavy foil and then several layers of newspaper, or pack into an insulated casserole cozy that will preserve heat.  3)  Separate!  Pack cold, uncooked meat or chicken in a separate insulated cooler from ready-to-eat food.  4)  Pack a food thermometer if you grill; cook to at least 145°F for steaks and chops, 160°F for beef burgers and 165 ºF for turkey burgers, medium steaks, or pork, 165°F for chicken breasts, wings and thighs.    

Share with your fans.  Bring enough food and drinks to share with fellow tailgaters.  Swapping food and recipe ideas with new friends is part of the fun! 

Organize more winning “plays”:  For children who need a diversion as their siblings compete, pack some lawn games, too.

Clean up the field.  Remember to bring strong garbage bags!  If there’s no place to discard your trash, dispose of it at home later.

Enjoy, as you cheer your team to victory!

For more back-to-school tips -- Back to School: Suppers for a Smart Start! -- from Dreamfields, click here.

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How To Make Back To School Meals A Snap

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

With August here, summer starting to wind down and vacations end we all have to start to look ahead to getting ready for school. As we transition from a relaxed schedule of cookouts, picnics and events to the hectic school year routine of practices, after-school activities and mounds of time-consuming homework routines become important once again.

With that in mind, here are a few strategies to make having mealtime with your family easier.

Plan ahead of time. Planning menus a week at a time helps you stay ahead. This can be made even easier if you incorporate ways to use yesterday’s leftovers into the next meal.

Stay well stocked with quick-to-fix-foods. Keeping things like pasta, rice, canned beans, frozen and canned vegetables, pasta sauce, deli meats, cheese and other basic ingredients on hand for quick, emergency meals help you close the gaps when things don’t go as planned or you’re going to deal with a time crunch.

Pre-prep ahead of time. The night before cook taco meat or other ingredients before you make the full meal, prepare pasta sauce, shape meatballs or turkey patties, clean and slice vegetables or anything else you can think of.

Create do-it-yourself assembly meals. Make individual mini-pizzas using everyone’s favorite toppings; or create a home-cooked taco bar, with soft tortillas and crisp taco shells; you can also make macaroni and cheese with an selection of “add-ons”, such as sun-dried tomatoes, chopped ham, smoked turkey, chopped herbs or steamed veggies.

Make one-dish meals. Sometimes single dish meals can be real time-savers. Put all your ingredients into a meal such as a lasagna that is layered with cheese, meat sauce, and baby spinach; risotto with seafood, Swiss chard, and cheese, or stir-fry vegetables and tofu, tossed with rotini. All you have to add is salad, bread or a meat entree (if you desire).

Use ingredients that can be used in multiple meals. For example, cook double batches of meat sauce for spaghetti one day and sloppy Joes a few days later. Extra grilled chicken breasts from one night’s meal can make a great chicken pasta salad another night or be turned into grilled chicken wraps for lunch.

Get your kids involved. Simple food prep tasks, such as tossing salads, mixing ingredients, pouring beverages, or setting and clearing the table are tasks that most kids can handle. Having “all hands on deck” during preparation you it’s possible to have more time for your family to spend together at the table.

Keep a collection of quick-to-fix recipes that your family enjoys.  If a recipe is a hit, plan to make it again.

Create An Easy Pesto Pasta Salad

Friday, August 22, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Congratulations to Toni Ann from Manahawkin, NJ. Her Romaine Over Pesto Pasta Salad is incredible! This easy pasta salad uses a food processor to create your very own romaine pesto made from fresh Romaine lettuce, sharp lemon zest, parmesan cheese, pecans and extra virgin olive oil. This is then combined with chopped tomatoes and Dreamfields elbow macaroni for a simple, but delicious pasta salad. Enjoy!

Romaine Over Pesto Pasta Salad

Ingredients

3 Cups Romaine Lettuce, washed and chopped
1/2 Cup Pecans
1 Lemon, zested and juiced
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Chopped Tomatoes
8 Oz. Dreamfields Elbow Macaroni
Salt and Pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil, then add the lemon juice to boiling water. Add the Dreamfields Macaroni and cook according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, add all the lettuce, pecans, lemon zest, parmesan cheese and extra virgin olive oil to the food processor and blend till smooth.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the tomatoes and toss with the hot pasta.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

How To Get Kids Excited About Dinner

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Want to get your kids excited about dinner time? Then get them involved in preparation. Here are some ideas on how to get them involved.

1. Have them set the table.

While, not necessarily a new idea, it’s still one worth mentioning. Letting kids set the table makes them feel like it’s more of an event. You can heighten their excitement by allowing them to pick out their own place mats or make a personalized one during craft time.

2. Let them wash the veggies.

Getting kids to eat their veggies can often prove to be difficult, especially when you’re trying to please everyone. Have them pick out their favorites at the grocery store then let them help prepare the veggies by washing them.

3. Have them help with seasoning.

Seasoning is an easy part of dinner that kids can help with (and you can still easily control). Pre-measure your seasonings then let the kids add them.

Greek Style Shrimp and Pasta Salad

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Greek Style Shrimp and Pasta Salad

by Robin S

Greek Style Shrimp and Pasta Salad

Ingredients:
12-ounce box pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked
8 ounces feta cheese, drained and cut into small cubes
1 large cucumber, peel, seeded, and diced large
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 medium orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
3/4 cup Sicilian Style Pitted Olives, quartered
3/4 cup Kalamata Pitted Olives, halved
1/2 cup sliced peperoncini peppers
1 (11.5 ounce) bottle prepared, refrigerated Greek Vinaigrette Dressing *
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with Greek dressing. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
* I used Marie's refrigerated dressing.
 

A Quick Pasta Salad Recipe For Your Busy Summer Days

Sunday, August 17, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Enjoy a sweet cool pasta salad that is easy to make and will wow your family. Phyllis sent us this great recipe that takes sweet roasted red peppers and mixes them with the bite of red onion and sharp cheddar cheese, the slight saltiness of Genoa salami and chick peas as well as fresh black olives. Great for those summer days where you‘re in a rush. Enjoy.

Cold Pasta Salad Medley

Ingredients:

Dreamfields penne or elbow pasta.
Olive oil
Grated cheese
Red onion, sliced thin
Genoa salami, Julienned
1 can Chick peas, drained
Marinated artichoke hearts
Red pepper, roasted and sliced
Black olives, sliced
Sharp cheddar cheese, chunked
Basil, cut into strips

Directions:

Boil Dreamfields penne or elbow pasta, set aside and leave at room temperature.

Toss the pasta with a little olive oil, grated cheese and black pepper. Mix in thinly sliced red onion, Julienned slices of Genoa salami, chick peas, marinated artichoke hearts, sliced roasted red peppers, black olives and chucks of sharp cheddar cheese. Toss together until well mixed and serve at room temperature. Garnish with strips of fresh basil.

For the Freshest Flavor: Harvesting Home-Grown Veggies and Herbs

Saturday, August 16, 2014 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

The vegetables and herbs you so gently planted last spring are ready to harvest and enjoy!  For their best qualities, harvesting your crops at the right time and with the proper technique is as important as nurturing their growth.  When young and tender, most deliver their peak flavor.

For a handful of popular home-grown vegetables and herbs, you’ll find some harvest tips below … along with recipe ideas that can be prepared with the products from your garden (or seasonal produce from your local farmers’ market, pick-your-own farm or produce department).

Carrots

To harvest:  Harvest carrots when they’re about 1 to 2-inches in diameter. You’ll see the orange top reach out of the ground; the leaves will be a dark green.  Tip:  Plant more in late August for another harvest before the ground freezes.

Dreamfields recipe ideas:  Spaghetti Primavera (prepared with garden-fresh carrots, red bell pepper and zucchini).

Chard

To harvest:  Break off the outer leaves.  Since they grow continuously, you can keep harvesting throughout the growing season!

Dreamfields recipe ideas:  Garden Market Pasta Salad with Smoked Trout (prepared with garden-fresh chard, carrots, sugar snap peas, tomatoes); Penne Rigate with Turkey, Swiss Chard and Walnuts (prepared with garden-fresh chard and onion).

Cucumbers

To harvest:  Cut (don’t pull) cucumbers from the vine at any time, but before they are fully mature.  The youngest cucumbers are most tender.  

Dreamfields recipe ideas:  Penne all’Oriental and Spaghetti Oriental (prepared with garden-fresh cucumber, hot Thai peppers, mint and cilantro).

Green (Snap) Beans

To harvest:  Pick while still thinner than a pencil, which is before they reach their mature size.  When harvested young, green beans have a fresh, grassy flavor and more tenderness.  Keep picking them throughout the summer to encourage more flowering and more pods.

Herbs

To harvest:  Continually pick or cut herbs back to produce more stems and leaves -- and to keep them from blooming.  Once herbs bloom, the delicate herb flavor changes.

Dreamfields recipe ideas:   Mediterranean Salad With Creamy Herb Dressing (prepared with garden-fresh basil, oregano and tomatoes).

Leaf Lettuce

To harvest:  Like chard, harvest the outer leaves.  Picking the leaves when ready for harvest extends the harvest and keeps it from bolting (producing flowery stems) as quickly.

Dreamfields recipe idea:  Salmon Pasta Salad with Mint and Lemon Vinaigrette (prepared with garden-fresh lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and mint).

Peas

To harvest:  Pick the pods for garden peas just before shelling – and when the seeds inside are round and firm, yet tender.  For snow peas, pick when the pods are full size, still flat, and the seeds only start to show (not when the pod fills out).  Pick snap peas when they’re crisp and plump.

Dreamfields recipe idea:  Lemony Spring Peas & Pasta Salad (prepared with garden-fresh green peas, sugar snap peas, greens and herbs.

Peppers

To harvest: Cut sweet bell peppers when they are full size and still green – or when they change color, depending on the variety, to orange, purple, red, yellow or chocolate-brown.   For hot peppers, pick as needed; test to gauge the flavor.

Dreamfields recipe idea:  Penne Primavera (prepared with garden-fresh yellow bell pepper, carrot, broccoli, spinach and basil); Roasted Corn & Roma Tomato Salad (prepared with garden-fresh bell pepper, corn, tomatoes and basil).

Sweet Corn

To harvest:  When the tip of the cob feels full under the husk, check it for maturity.  The silks should be brown and dry; the kernels, full and firm.  If you squish a kernel, it will release a milky sap if ready.  Eat it right away for the sweetest flavor!

Dreamfields recipe ideas: Southwestern Chicken Rotini Soup (prepared with garden-fresh corn, chile peppers, onion and cilantro).

Summer Squash (Yellow Squash and Zucchini)

To harvest:   Cut squash from the vine when young and tender.  Your thumbnail should be able to break the tender skin.  Tip:  Pick squash flowers to add an edible garnish to salads.

Dreamfields recipe ideas: Quick Chicken & Veggie Spaghetti Skillet (prepared with garden-fresh zucchini, tomatoes and basil); Summer Squash with Angel Hair (prepared with garden-fresh summer squash, parsley and mint).

Tomatoes

To harvest: Pick ripe tomatoes when they’re uniformly red – and before the stem end gets soft.  Tomatoes will also ripen off the vine, but the flavor won’t be as sweet.

Dreamfields recipe idea:  Fresh Tomato & Basil Pasta (prepared with garden-fresh tomatoes and basil); Vegetable Bounty Rotini (prepared with garden-fresh tomatoes, yellow summer squash, zucchini, onion and basil).

***

For tips on harvesting other garden vegetables, check the website of your state’s Cooperative Extension Service.  And for more ways to use your garden-fresh vegetables, check the recipes from Dreamfields.  (Hint: Potluck Pasta Salad suggests veggie and herb mix-ins of your choice!)

 

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How To Roast Fresh Vegetables

Thursday, August 14, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Roast your own vegetables for a sweeter taste without adding calories.

 

Few things can beat the delicious, sweet taste of roasted vegetables. Roasting is a unique cooking process which concentrates and sweetens the taste of vegetables. Roasted vegetables owe their added taste to browning, caramelization and crisping.

In short, it’s a great way to add a lot of flavor without adding tons of calories, fat or sodium. The process is generally fairly quick and hands-off. Furthermore, you can often do most of your prep work before you roast.

Roasting vegetables is also a great way to take advantage of fresh vegetables from places like a farmer’s market and make them taste that much more incredible. (Visit http://www.localharvest.org/ to find a farmer’s market near you.)

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when roasting vegetables:

  1. Avoid liquids. They soften any crisp edges that develop during roasting.
  2. Roast in a very hot oven (425°F). Many vegetables cook in 15-20 minutes. If roasting different kinds, start with dense veggies like squash, carrots or garlic and roast for 10 minutes. Then add tender veggies like eggplant, asparagus or broccoli and roast another 10 minutes. Stir the veggies every 10 minutes. They are done when lightly browned on the edges and tender crisp.
  3. Cut evenly. Unevenly sized pieces won't roast and brown in the same amount of time.
  4. Prepare the pan. Use a shallow baking pan. Lightly oil the bottom of the pan or line it with a sheet of parchment or aluminum foil for easy clean up.
  5. Drizzle veggies with olive oil. Toss with your favorite herbs (dried or fresh), kosher salt and ground pepper for additional flavor.
  6. Arrange the veggies in a single layer. If the vegetable pieces cover the pan sparsely arrange them more towards the edges of the pan.

To try roasting vegetables for yourself try these delicious recipes:

Roasted Vegetables with Rotini & Rosemary Pesto

Roasted Corn & Roma Tomato Salad

 

Baby Artichoke Heart, Sundried Tomato, Black Olive and Petite Pea Super Pasta Salad

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Try a super pasta salad featuring a medley of vegetables including succulent baby artichoke hearts, Julienned sundried tomatoes, fresh black olives and petite peas. This recipe also features the crunch of bacon bits covered in a roasted red pepper Italian dressing.

Enter your best pasta salad for a chance to win!

Super Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

9 oz baby artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
8.5 oz sundried tomatoes with herbs, drained and Julienned
6.5 oz black olives, drained and sliced
1.5 boxes Dreamfields Rotini
12 oz frozen petite peas
16 oz bottle of Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian Dressing
8 oz Cabot 50% light cheddar cheese, cubed
3 oz bacon bits
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Directions:

Prepare ingredients.

Add the pasta to boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Pasta will not be fully cooked. Drain the pasta, do not rinse and place in a large bowl.

Add the frozen peas and 3/4 of the salad dressing, stirring to coat.

Add the remaining ingredients. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Cover and chill for 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from the refrigerator, stir and add additional salad dressing if necessary. Serve.

Return To The Mediterranean With This Shrimp Pasta Salad

Sunday, August 10, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

We return to the Mediterranean for our next Pastapalooza IV winner Robin, from Tampa with her Greek Style Shrimp and Pasta Salad. This pasta salad features succulent plump shrimp, sweet grape tomatoes and orange bell pepper, fresh cucumber, Sicilian styled pitted Olives, Kalamata pitted olives along with the creamy flavor of feta cheese and the bite of pepperonicini peppers. This unique pasta salad will be sure to surprise and wow your friends and family at your next social gathering.

Enter for your own chance to win a free case of pasta.

Greek Style Shrimp and Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 box Dreamfields Rotini or Penne Pasta
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked
8 ounces feta cheese, drained and cut into small cubes
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced large
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 medium orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
3/4 cup Sicilian Styled Pitted Olives, quartered
3/4 cup Kalamata Pitted Olives, halved
1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers
1 (11.5 ounce) bottle prepared, refrigerated Greek Vinaigrette Dressing (suggest Marie’s)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Combine the ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with the Greek dressing. Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning.

Salad may be served immediately after preparation, but is better if allowed to refrigerate for a day.

Tips On How To Change Up Your Pasta Salad

Friday, August 8, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Looking for a few more ideas of how to create an amazing pasta salad for this year’s Pastapalooza IV contest? We’ve got some additional ideas to help inspire you to create a delicious and different pasta salad. 

For Starters Why Not Get Tropical With Your Pasta Salad?

Usually, when most of us think of pasta salad we immediately start reaching towards the vegetable drawer in our fridges. However, ever you ever considered taking a detour and tried a pasta salad that in infused with summer fruit? Instead of filling your pasta salad with veggies, try a colorful combination of sweet-ripe fruits like pineapple, strawberry, mango or kiwi with your favorite pasta. Even better many of these tropical fruits are extremely tasty when you throw them on the grill to bring out their sweet flavor.

Savor Your Salted Meats

You can add a lot of flavor to your pasta salad by adding any of your salted meats. Perk it up with the rich flavor of strips of salami, bits of prosciutto, pieces of ham or a few crumbles of bacon.

Give Your Pasta Salad A Boost

Add this superfruit to give your pasta salad a hefty healthy punch. Avocado is known for it’s rich, buttery texture, but it also contains a number of essential nutrients and monounsaturated fats.

Go Green

A natural choice for most pasta salads, adding green vegetables can be as easy as grabbing a handful of your favorite and just tossing them in. Whether you prefer them raw or cooked along with the pasta is up to you. To enjoy them cooked, just add them to the pasta pot during the final two minutes of cooking, then drain and cool them along with the pasta for a tender-crisp texture.

Get Fresh (With Your Herbs)

Add both color and flavor to your pasta salad with fresh herbs. They can come from your local farmer’s market or even your backyard garden.

Create Your Own Light Dressing

It’s possible to create your own dressing that is healthier than your standard heavy cream dressing by mixing a number of lighter ingredients together. Here are a few ideas that you can use.

  • Buttermilk, reduced fat mayo, minced garlic (or garlic powder) and Italian seasoning
  • Plain nonfat Greek yogurt, honey, grainy mustard and lemon juice
  • Light mayo, light sour cream, lemon peel, coarse ground black pepper and fresh herbs

Enjoy A Taste Of The Mediterranean This Summer

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Looking for something that’s a bit different? How about a pasta salad that takes more than a spoonful of inspiration from the Mediterranean? That’s exactly what our recent Pastapalooza IV winner, Jodi, did with her Greek Fields Pasta Salad. This delicious dish incorporates many Greek ingredients included crumbled feta cheese, fresh black and Kalamata olives, chick peas, green and red bell peppers along with the sharpness of red onion before covering it all in a tasty Greek vinaigrette. Try it for a change of pace this summer.

Greek Fields Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 Box Dreamfields macaroni or rotini
1 can pitted black olives
1/2 jar of pitted Kalamata olives
1 tub of crumbled feta cheese
1 bottle Greek vinaigrette
2 cups celery hearts with leafs, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup green peppers, chopped
1 cup red peppers, chopped
1 can chick peas, rinsed
1 seedless cucumber, diced

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Cool.

Mix all the ingredients with cooled pasta then chill for an hour before serving.

Asian Style Pasta Salad by Marci C

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Asian Style Pasta Salad
by Marci C   

Ingredients:

1 box Dreamfields Linguine
approx. 10 snow peas, cut in strips
1 carrot, cut Julienne style
1/2 cup celery, cut diagonally
1 red pepper, cut in strips
1/2 cup sesame ginger salad dressing
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. toasted sesame seeds

Break pasta in half. Cook according to box. While pasta is boiling, prepare vegetables. Rinse pasta with cold water and drain. Place in a large bowl and toss all ingredients together. Allow flavors to blend for at least 3 hours. Garnish with sesame seeds. ENJOY!

Let’s Take a Picnic!

Friday, July 18, 2014 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

Ready for a summer picnic?  With a picnic basket or tote that’s already packed with basics such as plates, cups, utensils and napkins, and with your cooler or ice chest on hand for the cold packs in the freezer, you’re well prepared for a simple, food safe and delicious picnic with family or friends.

Simply Good:  Organize Ahead

A great picnic doesn’t need to be an elaborate affair. A quick deli stop, with finger food veggies and fruit, or re-created leftovers from your fridge, or make-ahead salads and sandwiches are enough, especially when shared in the great outdoors!  A few tips to organize and keep it easy and fun:

  • Keep a picnic checklist … with the equipment, listing what you typically need.
  • Plan your menu carefully … the right amount of food to avoid leftovers to carry home, light weight enough to easily carry to the picnic site and simple to assemble or grill with limited equipment.
  • Pre-prep at home … ingredients already sliced and chopped, burgers shaped for the grill and salads already made
  • Pack carefully … delicate fruit, tomatoes, desserts or chips in hard containers with lids, or pack on top so they won’t get crushed.
  • Remember drinks … juice or water, perhaps frozen ahead to keep cold as they thaw in the cooler. 
  • Bring non-food essentials …  a clean tablecloth, paper towels, plastic bag for dirty utensils and serving pieces, plastic bags for rubbish, reliable bug spray and sun block, sunglasses, hand wipes or sanitizer, matches and charcoal if grilling, first aid kit, equipment for fun (ball, Frisbee, etc.).

Picnic Safe:  Cook, Separate, Clean, Chill

Keep your picnic safe to the plate!  Warm weather plus outdoor eating can lead to an uptick in foodborne illness.  The reasons:  when temperatures are warm, bacteria that cause foodborne illness multiply faster; also grilling and picnicking often happen away from soap and water, refrigerators and meat thermometers. 

  • Cook … pack a food thermometer so you can check the internal temperature of grilled burgers, steaks, chicken, pork chops and more. You can’t count on timing or appearance to know if they’re done.  Remember these safe internal temperatures: 160ºF for all ground meat, 165ºF for all poultry (including ground chicken and turkey) and 145ºF plus 3 minutes of rest time for whole cuts of meat.
  • Separate … pack uncooked meat, poultry or fish in well-sealed containers, at the bottom of the cooler so juices won’t leak onto other foods.  Transfer cooked food from the grill with clean utensils, onto a clean plate, so any bacteria from meat or its juices don’t contaminate cooked food.
  • Clean … bring soap and bottled water for washing hands and cooking surfaces, and perhaps hand sanitizer, too.  Wash fresh fruits and vegetables under cold, running water, including those with firm skins and rinds you won’t eat; bacteria from the soil can contaminate watermelon or cantaloupe. 
  • Chill … keep your cooler (with frozen cold packs) in a cool, shaded place, not in a hot car or in the sun.  Never leave perishable food out for more than 2 hours (or one hour if the outdoors is 90ºF or warmer).  What’s perishable? Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy foods, cooked vegetables, peeled or cut fruits and vegetables, mayonnaise … and dishes made with these foods, such as pasta salads, deviled eggs and dips for chips.

Summer Fresh Flavor:  Picnic Perfect Recipes

What’s on your picnic menu?  Seasonal produce, paired with kitchen staples, can create the perfect meals to pack and take to your local park, neighborhood picnic or weekend outing.  On the side or as main dishes, these five summer picnic salads from Dreamfields make great picnic foods.  They combine fresh garden veggies and fruits with ingredients you already have on hand:

Southwest Pasta Salad:  Enjoy hot, spicy Southwest flavors by combining Dreamfields elbows or penne rigate* with cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, avocado, cilantro and jalapenos with a salsa-mayo dressing. Tip:  top this salad with chicken fingers cooked on the grill.

 

Ginger Noodle Salad:  Make this Asian side dish with cooked Dreamfields spaghetti or angel hair pasta,* tossed in sauce made with soy sauce, chili paste, lime juice, sesame oil and a non-calorie sweetener.  Serve it over fresh garden greens.  Tip: for a main dish salad, add chopped cucumber and green onion, and cooked shrimp.

BLT Salad:  Turn the popular BLT sandwich into an easy-to-carry salad.   Toss cooked Dreamfields rotini* with crisp, crumbled bacon, sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh garden herbs, shredded cheese and mustard vinaigrette; serve over a bed of fresh lettuce.

Blackberry Ginger Pasta Salad:  Celebrate summer blackberry season with this flavorful side salad. Combine cooked Dreamfields rotini,* fresh cucumber and green pepper, blackberries and mozzarella with a homemade blackberry vinaigrette.  Tip: this salad is a great side dish for salmon cooked on the grill.

Steakhouse Pasta Salad:  Cook extra meat today for tomorrow’s hearty picnic salad.  Cut leftover grilled beef steak into thin strips, toss with Dreamfields penne rigate,* blue cheese and cherry tomatoes, and serve over fresh arugula.

 

 

* Let pasta cool before adding to other salad ingredients.

Enjoy great summer picnics!

 

Summer: A Great Time to Cook with Kids

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

Cooking with kids goes far beyond summer family fun.  With food shopping and kitchen time, children learn by watching, talking and doing with you.  Talk time, as you gather ingredients, cook and savor food together is bonding time, with a chance to share family food traditions and create new memories, too! 

Cooking Together Is Learning, Too!

Cooking reinforces academic basics that children learn during the school year. 

  • They practice math skills as they measure, count and keep track of cooking times and temperatures.  
  • Reading and following recipes helps them learn new words and symbols, follow directions and sequence steps to achieve a goal. 
  • Stirring, kneading and other food prep tasks help to develop small motor skills.
  • As butter melts, toast browns and pasta softens, they see food science happen.  
  • Sensory experiences of taste, smell, touch, sight and even sound encourage observation, description and comparing – and help kids listen to signals from their own bodies.

Beyond that, making food themselves teaches habits of safety and cleanliness, helps encourage independence and self-esteem, and helps develop food literacy as they learn about and try a variety of new foods.  All these hands-on experiences can lay the groundwork for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Being Clean and Safe in the Kitchen

  • Set time aside to cook with kids when you’re not rushed – and kids are rested.  Until food prep is done, supervise young cooks and monitor older, more skilled kids.
  • Establish kitchen rules:  what’s safe to touch and what can hurt them (stovetops, knives, hot pans, electric beaters, others); what tasks are right for them and what only you or older kids must do; why only a clean tasting spoon; and how to let hot food cool slightly before tasting.
  • Make proper hand washing the first cooking step:  wash with soap and warm water, rub hands for 20 seconds, then dry hands well.  Be a good role model for hand washing yourself!
  • Create a safe cooking space.  That may be a lower, child-size surface; standing on a tipsy stool isn’t safe.  Keep sharp objects (knives, graters) out of reach.  Provide equipment that’s right for them: for young children, perhaps wooden or plastic utensils; for older children, safe use of equipment that grown-ups use.
  • Teach kids that cleanliness is part of cooking.  Have them wear clean aprons or clothes. Wipe up spills right away.  Wash utensils with hot, soapy water after using them for meat or poultry. Keep waste containers, and a clean sponge and soapy water handy for kids.  Be patient; cooking can be messy and that’s part of learning.

Prepare Child-Friendly Recipes Together

  • Gather ingredients together.  Pick vegetables and herbs from your own or a pick-your-own garden. Shop together at a farmers’ market or your local store.  Anywhere you shop, talk about the ingredients – their color, shape, size, and more -- and why you picked healthy ingredients.
  • Choose simple recipes together that children will enjoy, with steps they can do independently or with your assistance.  (Five ingredients or less is great for young and new cooks.)  Pick recipes with some new and healthy ingredients.  
  • Match kitchen tasks to a child’s stage of development. Children develop skills at different ages. 
    • Young preschoolers can tear lettuce for a garden salad, rinse fresh vegetables and fruit, shake ingredients in a covered container and stir ingredients in a bowl. As they learn more, they also can name and count foods, add and mix ingredients, measure when the amount doesn’t need to be exact, and add toppings.
    • More advanced youngsters also can cut foods with your supervision, set the table, measure more precisely and help assemble foods such as sandwiches and lasagna. Children who can read may call out the ingredients as you gather them. 
    • School-age kids can step up their cooking skills, applying math as they follow simple recipes and combine ingredients. 
    • Teens can improve their cooking skills and perhaps experiment with new cuisines.
  • Plan for adult “do-aheads” to make food preparation easier and safe.  Try simple family recipes, such as Spaghetti Pizza, from Dreamfields: you cook the pasta and ground beef and children might beat the eggs, mix the ingredients, grease the pan, then layer the ingredients.  For more yummy recipes created by kids, for kids, click on MyPlate Kids’Place.
  • As you cook together talk about how and why foods change color, texture, and form.  Pasta and rice soften and expand in volume as they cook.  Meat browns as it cooks.  Dough rises when it bakes. Oranges can be squeezed to make juice, and so on!
  • Make proper clean up the important last cooking step.  

Enjoy family time as you enjoy the foods you prepared together.  First Lady Michelle Obama at the Partnership for a Healthier America conference in March, 2014, reminds us that cooking together isn’t just good for our budgets or our physical health, it’s also good for our kids’ emotional health.

Change Things Up With This Asian Pasta Salad

Sunday, July 13, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Create a delicious Asian Pasta Salad for your next outing this summer with a recipe from one of our Pastapalooza IV winners. Naia from Airmont, New York sent us an easy recipe that combines the heat of hot peppers, the sweetness of honey, the crunch of peanuts along with the bite of soy sauce and fresh green onions. Just cook the night before (or at the very least four hours prior to your event) then add the final ingredients a half hour before serving.

Asian Pasta

Ingredients:

1 lb. Dreamfields Spaghetti
2 tsp. hot pepper
1/4 cup corn oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
2 tbsp. sesame seeds

Directions:

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.

Heat the pepper, corn oil and sesame oil to a near boil. Add the salt, honey and soy sauce until mixed.

Pour over the spaghetti, cover and refrigerate for four hours (better if chilled overnight).

Add and mix the peanuts, green onions and sesame seeds a half hour before serving.

An Easy Savory and Sweet Pasta Salad Wins The Judges Over

Thursday, July 10, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Our next Pastapalooza IV winner is Donna from San Antonio, TX with her Mustard Vinaigrette & Ham Pasta Salad. This sweet and savory combination features dried cranberries, succulent cubed ham and crumbled blue cheese covered in a sharp Dijon mustard vinaigrette dressing. Try it for yourself!

Mustard Vinaigrette & Ham Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 box Dreamfields Rotini Pasta
1 lb. ham, cubed
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
5 oz. crumbled blue cheese

Dressing

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 shallots, diced
8 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Boil the pasta, lightly salting the water. When fully cooked, drain the pasta and set aside to cool.

While the pasta is cooling, mix the dressing ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk. Combine the cubed ham and dried cranberries. Mix together till evenly coated. 

Once the pasta is cooled add it to the large bowl of ingredients. Fold slowly to evenly coat the pasta.

Cool Red Onion, Cucumber, Green Pepper and Tomato Angel Hair Pasta Salad

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

As Pastapalooza IV continues we congratulate our second winner, Jane from Apollo Beach, Florida. Jane’s Cold Spaghetti Salad incorporates sharp red onion, fresh cucumber, green or red pepper along with two succulent large tomatoes before covering this rainbow assortment of vegetables and Dreamfields Angel Hair Spaghetti in your favorite Italian dressing. This cool dish is great for the warm summer days ahead.

Jane’s Cold Spaghetti Salad

Ingredients:

1 lb. Dreamfields Angel Hair Spaghetti
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 cucumbers, chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
16 oz. bottle Italian dressing
1/2 bottle McCormick’s Salad Supreme

Directions:

Boil the spaghetti, then rinse in cold water when done.

In a mixing bowl, add the dressing and salad supreme mixing well.

Then add all the chopped vegetables.

Refrigerate and serve chilled.