The Guys’ Market Basket Challenge

July 1st, 2015  |  By:

Guys Recipes

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Dreamfields’ delicious salute to summer, we’re working with leading food bloggers to create exciting pasta recipes to enjoy on warm weather days…and help raise much needed support for local food banks. Learn more about Pastapalooza V.

Our second challenge, The Guys’ Market Basket Challenge,  featured all-guy cast of bloggers whipping up their “manly” recipes for us to enjoy. Ingredients in their baskets included: beer, smoked or grilled meats, hot peppers, lemon and a vegetable. They could also add up to two ingredients of their choice to round out their dish. Dreamfields pasta, salt, pepper, oil and water are “free ingredients.”

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Vinegars: Basic to Gourmet

June 30th, 2015  |  By:

 

Vinegar Blog Post

“Vinegar,” from the French “vin aigre,” means “sour wine”: aptly named. Its origins go back more than 10,000 years ago, likely with wine going past its prime.

Then and now, vinegar comes from fermentation. Friendly bacteria ferment natural sugars in fruit, grains, or other ingredients, first turning sugar to alcohol, then to acetic acid. The result? A versatile new product with many compounds, not simply this sour-tasting acid.

With unique flavor qualities, culinary vinegars have been condiments, flavorings and preservatives for centuries!

 

Vinegar: Beyond Salad Dressing!

Vinegar in recipes? Vinaigrette for a garden salad, or vinegar to pickle and preserve, comes to mind. But vinegar has many culinary uses:

  • Brighten flavor. Being slightly acidic, a splash of flavored or wine vinegar sparks flavor in nearly any dish, including soups, sauces and gravies. Mild to bold, even sweet, try different vinegars for different flavors.
  • Tenderize tough meat or game with vinegar-based marinades. Go 50-50: half vinegar and half juice, broth or other liquid. Do the same with vinegar-and-oil rubs. Again, vinegar’s acid gets the credit!
  • Keep potatoes white. Soak uncooked peeled potatoes, covered, in cold water with 2 teaspoons of vinegar. Or measure 1 teaspoon of vinegar into cooking water for potatoes. Acid stops the browning process.
  • Freshen slightly-wilted veggies with a “soak” of cold water and vinegar. A mild vinegar “wash” (2 tablespoons distilled vinegar to 1 pint water) helps kill bacteria on fresh produce, too: rinse well.
  •  Keep delicate fish firmer. For any cooking method, soak uncooked fish in water with a little vinegar for a sweeter taste, tenderness and a firmer texture. For poaching, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to cooking water.
  • Extend your “mayo” or salad dressing. Add a few drops of vinegar to an essentially empty jar of dressing. Cover well; shake for enough to dress another salad!

 

Specialty Vinegars: Experiment!

Like wine, different vinegars have distinct personalities and impart different flavors:

  • Balsamic vinegars. Made from Trebbiano grapes, balsamic vinegar is heated to concentrate flavor, then aged to develop a deep color and rich, sweet flavor. Sweet, bold balsamic vinegar tossed with fresh fruit (berries, peaches, melon) or over roasted veggies is perfect! Or use it in your favorite salad dressing, perhaps in Penne and Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad or Chicken Caprese Salad. White balsamic vinegar is lighter in color and flavor because it’s heated differently so it doesn’t caramelize; it’s not aged as long either.
Penne Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad with Dreamfields Pasta

Penne Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad

 

  • Fruit vinegars. Fruit vinegars may be made with fruit in balsamic or wine vinegars. Enjoy the faint apple flavor of cider vinegar (from fermented apple cider) in Blackberry Ginger Pasta Salad. Or try the sweet-sour vinegars from berries, cranberries, pomegranate, citrus peels or other fruit. They’re perfect for salads with fresh, canned or dried fruit, and nut oils.
Blackberry Pasta Ginger Salad with Dreamfields

Blackberry Ginger Pasta Salad

 

  • Herb vinegars. Made by steeping fresh herbs or spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg) in warm vinegar, as in making tea, they infuse vinegar with aromatic flavors. Try basil, garlic or tarragon vinegars. Or infuse your own perhaps with fresh garden herbs, fennel seed or ginger; check online for reliable advice (such as http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09340.html) for how-tos and storage.
Thai Peanut Pasta with Shrimp - Dreamfields Pasta

Thai Peanut Pasta with Shrimp

 

Roberta L. Duyff, MS, RDN, CFCS is author of the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, with more ways to infuse flavor in your nourishing meals.


Pack a Family Picnic: 6 Pasta-bilities to Make It Delicious!

June 16th, 2015  |  By:

DRM Recipes_Fam picnic

“Picnic”: this word was first recorded in the late 17th century, as the French “piquenique.” Not until the 1800s was the term “picnic” used in England, referring to a fashionable potluck gathering, enjoyed indoors — or out. In those days everyone brought a dish to the feast, and everyone was expected to share something, perhaps a performance or game, to make the picnic memorable. In time, the term changed to mean an outdoors affair, and eventually to a casual outdoor meal, often prepared by a single cook.

As we celebrate International Picnic Day in June, consider how you can make your family’s alfresco summer picnics flavorful, safe and memorable — whether you’re the solo chef or you bring a potluck dish to share … or whether you pack a picnic basket for the park or enjoy it in your own backyard. To prep it delicious:

  1. Make it “picnic perfect” with summer-fresh ingredients. Choose picnic recipes that feature seasonal produce from your supermarket, farmers’ market or perhaps your own backyard. Try Chicken, Tomato, Green Bean and Pasta Salad, a summer classic made with green beans and tomatoes and the savory flavors of fresh garden herbs such as fresh rosemary, thyme, basil and parsley.
  2. Turn summer “favs” into easy-to-serve picnic foods. Deconstruct the ever-popular BLT sandwich, and turn it into a savory BLT Pasta Salad: bacon, lettuce, and cherry tomatoes and Dreamfields Rotini, with fresh herbs, shredded cheddar and savory Dijon vinaigrette.
  3. Be picnic “gourmet.” Pre-prep Garden Market Pasta Salad with Smoked Trout, made with grape tomatoes, chard, sugar snap peas, and carrots, with rotini and smoked trout; toss with citrus-mustard dressing at your picnic site.
  4. Choose savory recipes with ingredients that don’t spoil quickly. Try a vegetarian salad without perishable protein foods (meat, poultry, fish, eggs). Sesame-Soy Edamame and Pasta Salad with an Asian-style dressing as a chilled main dish or side.
  5. Prep ahead: grill and toss at your picnic site. Grilling is often part of fresh-air eating—if you have more picnic time. For Southwest Grilled Chicken and Corn Pasta Salad you can combine cooked penne with tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, olive oil and red wine vinegar at home. Grill the corn and boneless chicken breasts at the picnic site, then assemble. For food safety sake, pack all in a well-chilled cooler, with the container of chicken at the bottom so it won’t drip on other food!
  6. Pair grilled favorites—burgers, steaks, chicken–with unique, make-ahead sides. Prepare Penne Mediterranean Delight Salad, tossed with feta cheese, red onion, Greek olives, basil, and capers, and dressed with hummus, lemon juice and olive oil.

For more tips on picnic planning and food safety, click Let’s Take a Picnic!

Roberta L. Duyff, MS, RDN, CFCS is author of the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide,with tips for keeping food safe and flavorful for your next picnic.
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The Garden Fresh Market Basket Challenge

June 16th, 2015  |  By:

Challenge 1 Collage

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Dreamfields’ delicious salute to summer, we’re working with leading food bloggers to create exciting pasta recipes to enjoy on warm weather days…and help raise much needed support for local food banks. Learn more about Pastapalooza V. …

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Say Cheese! It’s June Dairy Month

June 13th, 2015  |  By:

Recipes June Blog Dairy Month

Do you know … how much it takes to make a pound of cheese? How many varieties of cheese exist? Or what the most popular cheese recipe is in the United States?

The answers: A pound of cheese provides the nutrition (calcium, protein, and more), provided by ten pounds of milk. Over 2,000 different kinds of cheese are made around the world. And if you said “macaroni and cheese” as American’s favorite, you were right!

  • National Dairy Month is a great way to enjoy nutrient-rich dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese, and to pair cheese with pasta in all kinds of recipes — mac’ and cheese, an upscale version (Roasted Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese) and more! A few tips for cooking successfully with cheese:
    Shred or grate hard cheeses when they’re cold and firm. Once at room temperature, cheese is softer and gets mushy when shredded. You can crumble soft cheese, such as feta.
  • Blend shredded or grated cheese into hot pasta and other hot dishes just before serving. Added too soon, the melted cheese will settle to the bottom and harden.
  • Match the right cheese to the recipe.
  • For a cheese that completely melts in hot pasta dishes, polenta, risotto and mashed potatoes, consider cheddar, fontina, Gouda, Gruyere, Havarti, Muentser or Monterey Jack. As examples, cheddar is great in Cheesy Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli, and Gouda and Gruyere cheese in Angel & Devil Pasta.
  • For cheese that softens, but doesn’t lose its shape, choose cheese that won’t melt fully, such as cottage cheese, feta cheese, queso fresco and ricotta cheese. That’s what makes ricotta perfect as a layer in Traditional Lasagna, and feta cheese right for Pasta Toss with Zucchini, Beans, Tomatoes and Feta.
  • For a stringy or stretchy cheese that stay where you put them, use mozzarella, provolone and string cheese. In Festive Lasagna Roll-Ups with Salsa Rosa Sauce, the mozzarella cheese won’t run out of the roll-ups.
  • Toss cheese cubes or chunks in cold pasta and vegetable salads. Most any cheese works well, except those that are soft, such as cottage cheese. Reduced fat provolone is the cheese of choice in Antipasto Pasta Salad; feta, in Mediterranean Pasta Salad, and queso fresco in Spicy and Cool Pasta Salad.
  • Take care with baking heat and time. Overbaking lasagna and other casseroles with cheese with dry it out. High temperatures (above 375˚F) will break down a cheese sauce. Brown the top under the broiler, not with a long, hot oven.
  • Top pasta dishes with grated cheese for a savory finish. Grated Parmesan is ever popular. The American version of Parmesan is milder. For a stronger flavor grate Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano on your hot pasta dish instead.
    Now smile, and say “cheese”!

Roberta L. Duyff, MS, RDN, CFCS is author of the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, with more about cheese and other dairy foods and healthy eating.

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Grill Veggies like a Pro!

June 12th, 2015  |  By:

Grilling vegetables is easy and delicious! Just follow these simple tips:

Prep:

  • Cut the veggies to a uniform size for even cooking.
  • Toss in a small amount of olive or vegetable oil to help retain moisture and resist sticking.
  • Season with your favorite herbs and spices or simply season with salt and pepper.

Tools:

  • A grill basket keeps smaller veggies from falling through the grates.
  • Skewer veggies of the same size for uniform cooking. Soak wooden skewers to prevent burning.
  • Heavy duty foil makes a great DIY grill basket. Simply create a lip by folding the edges up! This is also a great way to make individual servings.

Cook:

  • Most vegetables will take about 7 to 12 minutes total time to cook. Sear on high heat and turn to crisp both sides, and move to a cooler part of the grill to finish.
  • Denser veggies, like potatoes, take longer.
  • Thin asparagus spears will be ready as quick as 6 minutes.

Put these grilling tips to use and give one of these tasty recipes a try, or come up with your own dish using your favorite grilled veggie.


Grill up these 3 Dreamfields Pasta Recipes

June 9th, 2015  |  By:

Grilling doesn’t have to revolve around hamburgers, hot dogs, and steak. Have fun grilling this summer with these delicious pasta recipes. …

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Easy and Healthier Camp Lunches – Part 2

June 8th, 2015  |  By:

School’s out for the summer, but for many moms it just means more lunches to make for camp. Depending on the camp, they may require all recyclable, disposable packaging, all reusable or somewhere in between. Here are some quick tips to make packing easier, but still nutritious! …

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4 Veggies to Grill NOW!

June 8th, 2015  |  By:

We see it all the time at parties and cook-outs – guys at the grill with the burgers and dogs or steak and chicken – but how about taking your grilling skills to the next level? Grilling vegetables allows sugar to caramelize and really takes their flavor to a new level. Grilled vegetables are delicious on their own or mixed with your favorite cut of Dreamfields pasta! …

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Easy and Healthier Camp Lunches – Part 1

June 8th, 2015  |  By:

School’s out for the summer, but for many moms it just means more lunches to make for camp. Without the ability to tap in to the school’s cafeteria, moms may have to get a bit creative in the summer. Here are some great tips to make lunch a little bit healthier. Plus, you may find some of the tips are great year round! Whether the camp is just for a week or all summer long, getting lunches together can be quick, easy and kid-pleasing.

What to pack!?

A mom knows best what her kids like, but sometimes its fun to mix things up! Use this opportunity to introduce some healthier, non-prepackaged options that they aren’t served at school or that you haven’t packed in a school lunch. Here’s a list of interesting options that may spark their interest in healthier foods – without sacrificing fun and flavor! …

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