Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dreamfields October #HealthyPastaMonth Receipe and Giveaway!

October is National Pasta Month so I'm super-excited to have been
selected by Dreamfields to promote their #HealthyPastaMonth campaign
and to be able to share with you my recipe for my favorite Olive Garden dish...
Chicken Scampi, featuring Dreamfields' Angel Hair Pasta! Since I
began eating better a year and a half ago, I refuse to eat food
prepared by anyone else but me! And, since I also refuse to give up
the dishes I love, I am perfectly happy to create them on my own!
As you might know, I was introduced to Dreamfields at my very
first MIXED conference and since then, it is my go-to pasta!
Why? Because Dreamfields is made right here in the United States and it
has a great texture and phenomenal taste not often found in other pasta
brands. Plus, with seven grams of protein and five grams of fiber in
every serving, Dreamfields is simply better for me and my family!
So let's get started on this chicken scampi recipe, shall
we? Yes, I know... My sad little garden is on its way
to hibernation, which doesn't make me happy either!
Nevertheless, nothing from our garden goes to waste so I am going
to add this pepper to some I just bought and make it work for us!
Blistering peppers is an easy and quick way to
deepen their flavor. So please don't skip this step!
After peppers are nice and charred, wipe away charred
skin with a dry paper towel - Then, slice peppers into strips...
Now, set them aside and slice one medium red onion into rings. Sauté
onion in olive oil and when rings are soft, add them to your sliced peppers...
Like this! Now, in the same skillet, add a bit more oil, reheat over medium
heat, add chicken and sliced garlic... Gosh! I wish you could smell this!
It smells so good! And, the best part is knowing exactly
who touched my food and how it was prepared!
When chicken is browned on both sides and cooked
through, move it to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm...
Now, to make the scampi sauce. Add some butter
to the pan where you just cooked the chicken...
More garlic. Because more garlic is better!
And then add a splash or three of heavy cream! As you can
see, I watered mine down a bit to save calories for dessert!
Whisk the mixture together just until it bubbles;
then, add chicken, peppers and onion slices!
Cook one package of Dreamfields pasta according to the instructions
on the box. Drain, reserving one cup of pasta water to add back into the
bowl with a pat of butter to keep your pasta loose. Then, salt and pepper!
Nothing adds sunshine to a gloomy, almost-November day like a
beautiful bowl of Dreamfields pasta... So I hope you have some ready for
your family this weekend, after the kids have finished trick-or-treating!
Because this delicious pasta beats even the best Halloween candy-binge!

Now for the fun part... The Giveaway!

CONTEST CLOSED - The winner is... Paige!

Please send an e-mail to to claim your prize

See? There are rewards for those who read to the end! So... Courtesy of Dreamfields, I have a prize pack of their amazing pasta to give away, along with a $25 gift card to spend all in one place if you want to!

Entering to win is super-easy... All you have to do is share this recipe post via your Twitter or Facebook page with the hashtag, #HealthyPastaMonth - Then, pop back over here and leave a comment telling me that you did! One winner will be chosen at random and notified via e-mail. Contest ends November 13th.

Want more great October Pasta-month recipes? Well... You're in luck! Because all this month Dreamfields has featured Bloggers just like me who have been posting recipes every day this month - That's 31 fantastic recipes! Just click over to the Dreamfields site here and then, click here to view them all! Oh, and while you have your clicking finger all warmed up, do follow Dreamfields on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and be sure to check out their Instagram for incredible, mouth-watering photos as well as their Videos that are sure to make You an instant expert at pasta!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

BIKE MS 2015 - Thank YOU for your Support!

Here I am... Top row, third from the left. Riding BIKE MS
today with Team Champion for the second year in a row!
And, there I am with my trusty BIKE MS bike buddies, Valerie
and Maureen with whom I rode last year's BIKE MS ride!
And, just like last year... We met a few characters along the way!
And, yes...
He did ride every mile of BIKE MS today wearing this tuxedo!
I cannot tell you how much your support meant to me!
Because of you and mostly because of my sweet
friend, Leah who pushed me waaaay over the mark...
I reached my VIBE fundraising goal again this year!

It was a beautiful day for a ride along central Carolina's
country roads. Right here I was singing: Country Roads... Take
me home... To the place where I belong... NOT West Virginia!
Today is also my dad's birthday! He is my real Champion so thinking
about how much he supports me in all things I do, kept me going!
Like last year, I rode again for my dear friend and fellow Ranger
mom, Dr. Liz. I also just finished putting this into the mail for her!
By the way, her Ranger has just deployed again...
So if you have a moment today, I would love it if you would send her a prayer!
For those of you that have so kindly asked about my Ranger... I am
thrilled, grateful and relieved to tell you that he is doing well!
He spent a lot of time working and doing his thing out at the range this summer...
His part time job fits his school schedule and interests perfectly. And, he gets
to work and surround himself with other like-minded veterans and friends...
Clearly, I am one very happy mom! Especially when I see photos
of him like this one taken a couple of weeks ago after he went back
to University - This is the way my heart remembers him before the
Army - An expression that says war, worry, five long deployments and
too many Ranger brothers lost forever almost never happened...
I said, almost. Because of course, they did. Nevertheless, while we will never forget,
our family is picking up the pieces and we are moving on. With a few new things
to look forward to... Ranger now lives and attends college far away from home,
which still leaves me looking forward to the next time I will get to see him...
As for me... In addition to my bike riding, in May I took up a whole new
hobby. Something I have always wanted to do but did not believe I could...
Something that provides me great excuses to de-clutter my home; as
well as opportunities to shop auctions and tag sales for new treasures!
It is also a hobby that gives me a much needed creative outlet... But, unlike my
work food blogging and cookie baking/decorating, is completely calorie-free!
Have you guessed what I have been up to yet?
No?! Okay... Then, we shall talk about it a little later!
Because for now... Now that I have ridden BIKE MS somewhat like
a Champion - And, showered and caught up on my blog like
a Champion - I think it is time to give in to my little Leo here and...
Nap like a Champion!
Again, thank you for your support of my BIKE MS ride
and for checking in with me today... Especially since I have
given you precious little reason to keep reading my blog!
I will be back very soon to tell you all about my new hobby...
I promise!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Dreamfields #Pastapalooza Gourmet Market Basket Challenge to Help End Hunger

UPDATE! The #Pastapalooza Gourmet Market Basket Challenge has ended and, it appears that with 306 votes, we've won for my local Food Bank! I cannot thank you enough for your participation!
Remember... One lucky voter will be chosen to receive $1,000 for their food bank and a load of pasta to keep so PLEASE watch your SPAM/Junk folders so you don't miss the e-mail from Dreamfields. Per the official rules, winner must respond within 48 hours of being notified. Again, thank you for your votes and thank you for your continued friendship!
              Please cast your Vote for this deliciousness here!

For many of us, summer is a time to relax and enjoy the warmer weather... Slower schedules... and more than likely, a cookout or two! But for the 49 million Americans identified as “food insecure” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), summer is no trip to the beach. Hunger doesn’t take a vacation for them, but in fact intensifies.

One of the primary reasons for the increased need for food assistance during summer is because federal breakfast and lunch support programs only operate during the school year. That translates into 21 million children missing out on free or reduced-price meals from June till September.

Adults and seniors need assistance too. According to a Hunger in America study, the majority of the clients being served by the Feeding America network (54%) have visited a food pantry in six or more months during the prior year. Also, more than half (56%) of elderly clients aged 65+ have used a pantry every month within the prior year.

It is for these reasons I agreed to participate in the fifth annual Dreamfields #Pastapalooza campaign the moment my dear friend Susan asked me!

The fact that my local food bank, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina receives a $200 donation for my effort and that it could potentially turn into a $1,000 donation when you vote for my recipe (and it wins) doesn't hurt either! Oh, and the fact that YOU may win a Dreamfields Pasta Prize Package and a $1,000 donation for your local food bank too also meant I was all in on this challenge!

So what is the Gourmet Market Basket Challenge? Well, it's a bit like my favorite FoodNetwork show, Chopped - I, along with four other bloggers received a short list of random ingredients with which to create a recipe. On this Chopped-inspired list was: Any cut of Dreamfields pasta, flavored or wine Vinegar, Almonds, fresh Fennel any Protein and dried Fruit. We were also allowed two wild-card ingredients to use as we wished.

But Janet, wait a minute... You've worked so hard to eat clean, lose weight, and hello?!... You haven't posted a new recipe or cookie design to your blog in nearly a year! I know... and, I hear you! In fact, I can't actually remember the last time I ate pasta! However, I can tell you the last time I enjoyed pasta it was Dreamfields' healthy-carb living #Healthypasta! 

Nevertheless, to help avoid temptation during my food break-up and still take advantage of this incredible opportunity to benefit my local food bank and of course, you... I decided to collaborate with and enlist the help of one of my favorite blog friends and Army Veteran, Brian who authors the blog, This Cookin' Dad!

With Brian's agreement to do all the tasting, we created what I think is a winner! It's called, Fennel Pesto Pasta with Fennel, Roasted Tomato and Cannellini Salad - How would I describe it? Well, if you enjoy Pasta e Fagioli, that Italian soup with pasta, beans, and veggies, then you'll love this recipe because it winds up being a lighter, more summery riff on that classic. Serve it with grilled chicken, a juicy filet or simply plate it up as a meat-less meal all on its own!

Honestly, just between us... The fennel pesto pasta alone is to die for! However, married with roasted tomatoes and bites of sweet and tangy apricots and creamy, slightly nutty cannellini beans, this dish turns into one incredibly delicious and beautiful thing... See?!
Now remember, just for voting you have a chance to score a family pack of Dreamfields pasta and a $1,000 donation to your local food bank too... So please, help me and Dreamfields kick hunger's butt this summer by clicking here to vote for your favorite Gourmet Market Basket recipe... Which, I sincerely hope will be mine in support of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina.

The voting page will be live from 12:01 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 2 through 11:59 p.m. EDT Wednesday, July 8 and, you may cast a new vote every day so please do! I also hope you will spread the word to your friends and family to help put my Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina and your local Food Bank in first place!

Fennel Pesto Pasta with Fennel, Roasted Tomato and Cannellini Salad
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time

Fennel Pesto Pasta:
1 Box Dreamfields Angel Hair pasta
2 Cups Chopped Fresh Fennel Fronds
1/2 Cup Whole Almonds, toasted and crushed
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
1/4 - 1/2 Cup Water
Salt and Pepper

Fennel, Roasted Tomato and Cannellini Salad:
16 ounces mixed color cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and Pepper
1/2 Cup, plus 1 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Dried Apricots, thinly slices
2 Cups Fresh Fennel Bulb, thinly sliced
1 15.5 ounce can Cannellini Beans, drained/rinsed
Fennel Fronds (optional)
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Place pasta in large bowl; set aside.
3. Meanwhile, for pesto place fennel fronds and almonds in bowl of food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. With food processor running, slowly add oil. Add Parmigiano, salt and pepper, as desired. Process to combine ingredients. Add water if necessary for pesto consistency. Toss with cooked pasta.
4. Place tomatoes cut-side-up on rimmed baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Roast 15 to 20 minutes or until tomatoes have started to caramelize, but still retain their shape.
5. While tomatoes are roasting, combine 1/2 cup of the vinegar and the sliced apricots in small skillet. Cook over medium-low heat 5 to10 minutes or until vinegar has reduced by about half. Remove sliced apricots; reserve for garnish. Reserve reduced vinegar.
6. Add remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper, as desired to sliced fennel. Gently toss with roasted tomatoes and beans; season with salt and pepper, as desired.
7. Add fennel-tomato mixture to pasta. Drizzle with reserved reduced vinegar. Garnish with reserved apricots, fennel fronds and Parmigiano, as desired. 6 servings.

Nutrition information (1/6 of recipe): 650 calories; 20 g protein; 75 g carbohydrates; 32 g total fat; 5 g saturated fat; 7 mg cholesterol; 240 mg sodium; 13 g total dietary fiber.

Disclaimer: Although I was compensated for my effort, all opinions and thoughts about this campaign are my own. xo
Go cast your Vote here now!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Last year's 75-mile ride was so much fun...

I'm doing it again... On my dad's birthday no less!
This is my sweet friend Valerie. We met at last year's
BIKE MS event and have been riding together ever since!
I'd love and appreciate your support. So please... Please visit my
BIKE MS page here to donate because when it comes to finding a
cure for Multiple Sclerosis, every dollar counts... Especially yours!
Wish me luck!