Sunday, October 19, 2014

Concord Foods Chiquita™ Banana Bread Mix and Sun-Maid Raisins are Sweeter Together!

When my friend Samantha at Concord Foods asked if I might develop a
recipe for their Chiquita™ Banana Bread Mix and Sun-Maid Raisins...
Well, I could not say Yes fast enough! I mean, I already have a little bit of
experience working with Samantha and, all the products she's sent me
have been incredible! Last year around this time I was fortunate to have
been introduced to Concord Foods' Cranberry Bread mix, which by the
way, is making another appearance on our holiday dessert table this year!
When Concord Foods promised their Chiquita™ Banana Bread mix
and Sun-Maid Raisins are Sweeter Together, it kinda got me to
thinking... Thinking about the goodness of sweet, plump Sun-Maid
raisins and how incredibly well they play with rum and maple syrup...
And, since Chiquita™ bananas are already a staple at breakfast in our
house, why not bring them together in French toast? Why not indeed!
As you saw, I created lots of delicious semi-un-banana-bread-like treats,
such as madeleine cookies and caramelizedcakelettes. But more on those
later... Right now, let's create my Concord Foods Chiquita™ Banana
Bread French Toast with warm Sun-Maid rum raisin maple syrup!
First, I baked up a loaf of Concord Foods' perfect,
quick and really easy Chiquita™ Banana Bread...
Trust me, as soon as you open the package you'll know this isn't your
average banana bread mix by the sweet aroma of fresh, ripe bananas!
This Banana Bread is on its own delicious and exceptionally
moist, which of course means you can enjoy a little now...
And, save a little for my Concord Foods Chiquita™ Banana Bread French Toast!
Simply whisk together three large eggs, 3/4 cups heavy cream or
milk, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, a pinch of
fresh ground nutmeg, a pinch of salt and two teaspoons of orange juice!
In a large skillet, melt three tablespoons
of unsalted butter over medium heat...
Place banana bread into a shallow dish
that you've filled half way with the egg mixture...
Coat both sides of the banana bread, allowing to soak a minute per side...
Transfer to skillet and...
Fry until slices are golden brown. About three minutes per side!
Be prepared to be delighted by the smell of sweet bananas and
the deep, comforting aroma of warm cinnamon and nutmeg!
Concord Foods Chiquita™ Banana Bread Mix
makes a beautiful French Toast, don't you agree?
But wait... We're not quite finished yet!
In a heavy-bottom saucepan, over medium low heat,
add one cup pure maple syrup, half a cinnamon stick,
five whole cloves, 2-3 pinches of fresh grated nutmeg...
And, when sugar has melted, add 1/3 cup Sun-Maid Raisins that
have soaked in 1/3 cup dark rum and hour or if you have the time,
over night. Allow this sweet concoction to simmer 10 minutes!
Remove cloves and cinnamon stick and drizzle rum-raisin
maple syrup over my banana bread French toast!
That's better!
I served this to my love on the deck this morning...
And, he's been thanking me ever since!
Now, about those desserts I promised to tell you about...
Often, I find that when I'm listening, the food I'm
working with will actually tell me what it wants to be!
And, this second batch of Concord Foods Chiquita™ Banana
Bread mix mix was screaming to become caramelized banana
bread cakelettes and banana bread madeleine tea cookies!
To create caramelized banana bread cakelettes, simply butter
baking pan and sprinkle with a pinch or two of light brown sugar!
Adding a little powdered sugar to my rum-raisin maple syrup made
the perfect glaze for these caramelized banana bread cakelettes!
My banana bread madeleine tea cookies turned out equally
delicious... Rich, moist banana centers with sweet, crispy edges!
pick up some Sun-Maid Raisins too. After all, you deserve food like this!

Disclaimer: Concord Foods generously provided products and compensation for the development of these recipes. However, all opinions are (as always) my own!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Shop and Save to Support our Warriors through the Believe in Heroes® Campaign!

With holiday menu planning in full swing, many of us are already strategizing about where to find the best deals and when to hit the grocery stores to ensure we get the best of everything without the hassle of fighting the crowds and long lines. I feel your pain...

But what if I told you that all that shopping you're about to do could also do a world of good for our Wounded Warriors and their families? Well, it's true! You see, by simply clicking here you can download more than $25 in coupons to take shopping with you through Veteran's Day, November 11, 2014!

Every coupon redeemed through the Believe in Heroes® Campaign helps to further the mission of Wounded Warrior Project, which is to honor and empower our Wounded Warriors and their families. We must all shop... We all want to save... So why not join me in making it a win-win for all of us!

Believe in Heroes® was established in 2010 to bring grocery retailers, trusted brands and shoppers together to raise funds for Wounded Warrior Project. To date, the campaign has generated $16 million dollars and has helped expand critical veteran programs that now directly serve more than 40,000 injured service members. So please... Clip the coupons!

There are other ways you can help too... Aside from clicking here to make a donation directly to Wounded Warrior Project, you can also purchase merchandise sold through the Believe in Heroes® store here. You can also help spread the news of the Believe in Heroes® campaign to your family and friends via Facebook and Twitter.

You already know how deeply grateful our family is for the safe return of our Ranger from his five deployments to Afghanistan... However, the fact is that not all families are as fortunate as we have been. I recently read where four out of five returning veterans have lost a battle-buddy. Sadly, this statistic is true for our son...  five times over.

Despite the arguments being made on both sides about whether or not the job should be done, the fact is, there are sons and daughters doing the job right now. Therefore, as the recipients of the side effects of their missions and sacrifices, those being our own personal safety and freedom, I believe we owe our warriors the very best we can give.

So please... Download the coupons now and join me in taking them, along with your thoughts and prayers for those veterans unable to enjoy the upcoming holidays with their families, to the grocery store between now and November 11th. You'll save and our Wounded Warriors and their families will benefit!

Thank you!

Disclaimer: I’m participating in the 2014 Believe in Heroes® blogger campaign and received compensation as part of the program - However, as with all revenue generated via my blog, what I receive will be immediately donated back to Wounded Warrior... As always, my opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dreamfields Pasta with Honey Butternut Squash #IHeartDreamfields {Pasta Give-Away}

Were you aware that October is National Pasta Month? Well, it is! Which is why I have partnered with Dreamfields and some of my favorite bloggers to bring you 31 days of delicious pasta recipes. Oh! And, one spectacular give-away... But more on that later!

I was first introduced to Dreamfields as a sponsor of the first MIXED conference I attended. After learning that one-cup cooked/2 ounces dry Dreamfields pasta provides 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein and, that it's made with premium durum wheat semolina from North Dakota and manufactured right here in the US, I stocked up!

By the way, you can find all 31 Dreamfields pasta recipes by following the hashtag, #IHeartDreamfields via social media. Each week there is a new theme and each day features a different variety of Dreamfields pasta

  • October 1-7: Casual Entertaining
  • October 8 -14: Vegetarian Entrees
  • October 15 – 21: Table for Two
  • October 22 – 31:  Stovetop Saviors/Quick and Easy recipes

  • As you can see, this week's theme is vegetarian and my assigned Dreamfields pasta is probably my favorite of all pasta cuts… Angel Hair! Cooler October days, something meat-less and angel hair pasta always calls for my panko-crusted Angel Hair with Honey Butternut Squash!

    The first time I had squash and pasta as a combo it was an incredible butternut squash ravioli served at the Inn at Morro Bay where we celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. That was 20 years ago and I still regard squash and pasta as a match made in heaven!

    Although angel hair is typically considered the most delicate cut of pasta, there’s a little panko maneuver I'll show you that helps it stand up to heavier ingredients such as squash.
    So... Let's get cooking!
    Grab a pound of perfect Dreamfields Angel Hair pasta...
    Some fresh garlic, coarse salt and cracked black pepper, olive oil, 
    nutmeg, unsalted butter, Parmesan, pine nuts, honey, panko
    breadcrumbs, a lemon and the last of your summer's garden basil...
    And, one gorgeous Butternut Squash!
    In a cast iron skillet, I added two tablespoons
    extra virgin olive oil to 2 tablespoons pine nuts...
    And, one and a half cups Panko breadcrumbs...
    Stirring constantly over medium-low
    heat, I toasted the panko and pine nuts!
    After pine nuts and the panko was toasted, I wiped out
    my skillet, returned it to the heat and added three
    tablespoons unsalted butter and two tablespoons honey...
    As soon as the mixture began to bubble, I added 1/4
    teaspoon nutmeg and then tossed in the butternut squash!
    I sautéed my squash until fork-tender,
    about 12-14 minutes over medium-low heat...
    While the squash cooked, I added 4 tablespoons of olive oil and
    three cloves of minced garlic to a small skillet over low heat...
    To cook the garlic gently and infuse the oil!
    After ten minutes, I added the zest of one lemon...
    And, the juice of that lemon to the oil!
    Angel hair pasta takes only 4-5 minutes to cook so I left this
    step for last. One pound pasta went into 6 quarts boiling water...
    The moment it finished, I drained the pasta into a large bowl...
    Dressed it with my chopped garden basil...
    Then, I drizzled in my beautiful garlic-lemon infused olive oil!
    Tossed together with toasted panko and pine nuts...
    And served with tender and sweet honey butternut squash!
    And this... This is how autumnal pasta dishes are done, my friends!
    Here are some great tips from Dreamfields for perfectly cooked pasta every time:
    • Pasta is best cooked al dente, or “to the tooth.” Cook only until tender and still firm to the bite. Cooking times vary with different pasta shapes; check package directions. Overcooked pasta is mushy and sticky. Test for doneness about a minute before the cook time is up, draining early if pasta is ready.
    • Pasta will continue to cook after it is drained. Unless you plan to eat it immediately, rinse it in cold water to stop the cooking process.
    • Let it swim! Use at least 4 quarts of water to cook a box of pasta. Pasta needs to move freely in the boiling water to prevent it from sticking.
    • Bring the water to a rolling boil before adding the pasta, and then add the pasta slowly to help keep the water boiling. Stir frequently during cooking to prevent pasta from sticking together.
    • Salting the water is a personal preference. Adding salt to the cooking water brings out the natural flavor of pasta. If you decide to salt the water, add about one teaspoon per box right before adding the pasta, while the water is boiling.
    • We recommend pouring any sauce over the pasta just before serving. Sauce too thick? Reserve some of the water the pasta was cooked in and add it slowly to the sauce until the desired consistency is reached.
    • For the best taste and texture experience, pasta should be eaten in one sitting. If you do have leftovers we suggest storing for only one to two days in an airtight container and keeping the pasta separate from the sauce.
    Now, about that give-away... Simply complete the form below to be entered to win a Family-Pack of Dreamfields Pasta and, a $25.00 gift card!
    For a printable version of my recipe, please click here

    Contest Ended - Huge thanks to everyone that entered!
    Winner is... Dominique - Congratulations! Please
    send your address to me at:

    Disclaimer: Although my friends at Dreamfields provided the pasta and I was
    compensated for sharing my recipe, all product opinions are (always) my own!