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!

 

Creating Your Own Delicious Meals Is A Snap

Sunday, February 2, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Cook fast, easy meals with Pasta Pronto.

Dreamfields Pasta Pronto is designed for the busy cook who enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and creating delicious meals without the need for recipes. By keeping a well-stocked kitchen, tasty and healthful pasta meals can be assembled in little more than the time it takes to cook the pasta.

http://image.exct.net/lib/fef915737d6002/m/1/DRM246_5circles.jpg

Save time by stocking up and planning ahead.

By keeping your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer stocked with ingredients that pair well with pasta, delicious dishes can be made pronto! Don’t forget leftovers such as cooked meats, fish and poultry, vegetables and sauces... they make great pasta partners, too.

STEP 1:  Stock Up: Organize your kitchen with ingredients that can help you create quick and easy pasta dishes. Our sample ingredient lists below will help get you started.

STEP 2:  Pasta Perfect: Learn how to cook pasta perfectly. Read Pasta Perfection - Cook Pasta Perfectly the First Time  to find a serving size chart and tips guaranteed to make you a pasta expert.

STEP 3:  Get Creative: Combine what you have on hand to create delicious side dishes, main dishes or pasta salads. Check out our blog post No-Recipe Recipes for some more inspiration.

Pantry Stockers

Pasta

  • Plenty of Dreamfields Pasta, 7 assorted varieties

Produce

  • Garlic
  • Onions (yellow and/or Red)

Jars & Cans

  • Alfredo sauce (reduced-fat)
  • Artichoke hearts (plain, marinated)
  • Beans (cannellini, Great Northern, black beans, red kidney, garbanzo beans)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Capers
  • Chicken broth, reduced-fat and sodium
  • Salsa (chunky)
  • Green chilies (diced)
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Marinara sauce (assorted varieties, reduced-fat and/or sodium)
  • Olive oil, extra virgin
  • Olives, pitted (black, green, Kalamata)
  • Pesto (basil, tomato)
  • Roasted red and yellow bell peppers
  • Salad dressings (reduced fat balsamic vinaigrette, cranberry balsamic vinaigrette, raspberry, Italian, sesame-ginger, ranch)
  • Thai peanut sauce
  • Tomatoes, Sun Dried
  • Tuna (water-packed), salmon, anchovies
  • Vinegars (balsamic, red or white wine, rice, sherry)
  • Water chestnuts

Dried Herbs

  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Spices/Seasonings

  • Cinnamon
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Curry powder
  • Cumin
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg

Dried Fruits

  • Apricots
  • Cranberries
  • Raisins

Nuts

  • Almonds
  • Dry roasted peanuts, lower salt
  • Pine nuts
  • Walnuts

Note: All items except dried herbs, spices, salt, olive oil, vinegars, dried fruits, sun-dried tomatoes (unless packed in oil), peanuts, garlic, onion & pasta need to be refrigerated after opening. Nuts can be frozen for longer storage.

Refrigerator Stockers

  • Apples, assorted
  • Avocado
  • Bell peppers
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cheese (see types below *)
  • Cucumber
  • Eggs
  • Fresh herbs (basil, parsley, rosemary)
  • Green onions
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mushrooms
  • Oranges
  • Pasta sauces
  • Pesto
  • Radishes
  • Salad greens (romaine, radicchio)
  • Spinach
  • Smoked meats and fish: salmon, prosciutto/ham
  • Tomatoes

* Types of Cheese include: fresh mozzarella, part-skim/low-moisture mozzarella, reduced-fat Monterey jack, reduced-fat feta, reduced-fat blue, reduced-fat cheddar, reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese blend, wedge of parmesan for grating, queso fresco.

Freezer Stockers

  • Artichoke hearts
  • Broccoli, chopped
  • Cooked chicken strips
  • Cooked or raw shrimp
  • Diced cooked chicken
  • Green beans
  • Green peas
  • Ground beef 90% lean
  • Ground turkey or chicken breast
  • Italian-style vegetables
  • Nuts (almonds, pine nuts, walnuts)
  • Spinach (chopped or leaf)
     

Back to School: Suppers for a Smart Start!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

The end of a relaxing summer marks the start of busy school year:  time to trade in summer cookouts and picnics, for all-too-hectic suppers at home.   That said, workday commutes, after-school activities, and time-pressing homework all make recommitting to the routine of family mealtime a real challenge for many households. 

Yet, family meals, as part of the school day, are well worth the effort.  With school success top of mind, parents are reminded that regular family mealtime matters.  This not only builds family bonds but also contributes to good health and better school performance!

 With the start of the school year, consider these strategies to turn your time into family mealtime:

Plan ahead.  Stay ahead by planning a week’s menus at a time, perhaps with plan-over menus made from yesterday’s leftovers

Stock up with quick-to-fix foods.  Keep pasta, rice, canned beans, frozen and canned vegetables, pasta sauce, deli meats, cheese, and other basic ingredients on hand for quick, emergency meals.

Do pre-prep the night before.  Perhaps cook taco meat ahead, prepare pasta sauce, shape meatballs or turkey patties, clean and slice vegetables, and more.

Organize do-it-yourself assembly meals.  Try individual mini-pizzas, made with everyone’s favorite toppings; or a home-cooked taco bar with soft tortillas or crisp taco shells; or macaroni and cheese with an array of “add-ons,” such as sun-dried tomatoes, chopped ham or smoked turkey, chopped herbs, or steamed veggies.

Prepare one-dish meals.  Put variety into a dish, perhaps lasagna, layered with cheese, meat sauce, and baby spinach; risotto with seafood, Swiss chard, and cheese, or stir-fry vegetables and tofu, tossed with rotini. You’ll only need to add a salad or bread, and a nourishing beverage such as milk.

Make one meal count for two.  Cook double batches of meat sauce for spaghetti one day and sloppy Joes the next.  Extra grilled chicken breasts from one night’s meal make a great chicken pasta salad another night.

Involve kids in the kitchen.  Most kids can do simple food prep tasks, such as toss salads, mix ingredients, pour milk, and set and clear the table.  “All hands on deck” in preparation can result in 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!