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Celebrating the Season with adorable recipes from Women’s Day magazine

 

WD Dec '14 Cover

It’s that time of year again. Time to plan out whose house it hosting the holiday gathering, who is bring what dish the family table and what cookies to bake for family and friends this year.

I LOVE HOMEMADE COOKIES! Well, to be honest, I love cookies in general.

It’s on my “Bucket List” to attend a cookie swap. The sad thing is that my friends mostly all life upstate AND I can’t really bake. I’m a decent cook but baking is something I haven’t mastered yet. I wish I was a talented baker.

The other day I was at the grocery store picking up a couple of things when I saw the December issue of Women’s Day on display (pictured above). My eyes were instantly drawn to the adorable snowman cupcake predominantly featured on the front cover. How cute!

I thought to myself that the snowman cupcake would make an adorable treat for a holiday get together. I think it would be fun to put them all on a large tray and sprinkle shredded coconut around them to make it resemble snowmen in the yards. Maybe even adorn the tray with other holiday themed candies. It would make for an adorable centerpiece AND dessert all in one.

Our friends at Women’s Day magazine were kind enough to provide the recipe for these darling snowman so you can make them yourselves. They also provided other adorable cookie recipes.

Get ready for the most delicious time of year – the December issue of Woman’s Day magazine features 25 festive sweets that the whole family is sure to enjoy. Go ahead, indulge! Featuring goodies like merry snowman cupcakes, cheerful Oreo penguins and decorative elf cookies, these confections will spread the holiday joy among everyone on your list.

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Snowman Cupcakes:

  • Total time – 2 hours and 10 minutes
  • Make 8 snowmen
  • Cost per snowman – .41 cents

Instructions

  1. Make 1 batch basic gingerbread cupcakes (see below) as directed.
  2. Line 8 holes of the muffin pan with red paper liners and lightly coat the remaining holes with cooking spray.
  3. Make 1 batch vanilla buttercream (see below) as directed.
  4. When the baked cupcakes have cooled completely, in a food processor, pulse the 4 unwrapped cupcakes into fine crumbs.
  5. In a bowl, mix together the crumbs and 6 Tbsp buttercream, then roll into 8 balls (1. in. each; about 1. Tbsp).
  6. Frost the remaining cupcakes with buttercream (about 2 Tbsp each) and coat with finely shredded coconut (about 1 tsp each).
  7. Use toothpicks to secure the cake balls to the cupcakes, then frost each ball with ½ Tbsp buttercream and coat with finely shredded coconut (about 1 tsp each).
  8. Decorate using mini chocolate chips for eyes and buttons, orange Tic Tacs for noses, sour candy strips for scarves and melted chocolate for the mouth.
  9. Make hats using chocolate jelly rings, buttercream and mini chocolate chips.

Gingerbread Cupcake:

  • Total time – 1 hour and 10 minutes
  • Makes 12 cupcakes
  • Cost per cupcake – .36 cents

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1½ cups all-purpose flour, 1½ tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg and ¼ tsp kosher salt.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the ½ cup vegetable oil, ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar, 2 large eggs, ¼ cup unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap), ¼ cup water and ½ tsp pure vanilla extract.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture and mix until fully incorporated (the batter will be thin).
  6. Divide the batter among the lined muffin cups (about 3 Tbsp each) and bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes.
  7. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream:

  • Total time – 10 minutes
  • Make 3 1/4 cups
  • Cost $4.15

Instructions

  1. Sift 1 lb confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Reduce the mixer to low and gradually add the sugar, alternating with the 2 Tbsp heavy cream.
  4. Mix in 2 tsp pure vanilla extract.
  5. Increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

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Oreo Penguins:

  • Total time – 1 hour
  • Makes 12 cookies
  • Cost per cookie – .12 cents

Instructions

  1. Separate 12 standard Oreos.
  2. Press ½ tsp shredded coconut onto each cream piece (discard plain pieces).
  3. Separate 12 mini Oreos; scrape off and discard the cream.
  4. Cut 12 of the mini pieces in half.
  5. Using royal icing (see below), stick candy eyes and the cut side of half a banana Runt on one mini piece (for the face).
  6. Attach 2 half pieces to the body (for the wings).
  7. Stick the cut sides of 2 banana Runt halves into the cream for the feet.
  8. Repeat to create 12 penguins.

Royal Icing:

  • Total time – 12 minutes
  • Makes 2 cups
  • Cost – $1.40

Instructions

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat 3 large egg whites and ½ tsp cream of tartar on medium-high speed until foamy, about 1 minute.
  2. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add 1 lb confectioners’ sugar, beating until just incorporated.
  3. Increase the speed to high and beat until medium-stiff glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes.

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Elf Cookies:

  • Total Time – 2 hours
  • Cost per cookie – .26 cents

Instructions

  1. Make 1 batch royal icing (see above) as directed and tint using gel food color as desired.
  2. Transfer 1/3 of each color to a separate pastry bag fitted with a fine tip.
  3. Use a few drops of water to thing the icing remaining in the bowls; place in separate pastry bags fitted with small round tips.
  4. Using the thicker icing, outline the hats, clothes, beards and faces of the elves on 24 Nutter Butter cookies.
  5. Fill the hats and clothes using the thinner icing.
  6. Let dry between colors.
  7. Use finely shredded coconut for Santa’s beard (while icing is wet) and use icing to attach sliced almonds for the elves’ ears.

These are adorable! Whether you are a talented baker or someone like me who is not a great baker but could certainly decorate some cookies with icing, these recipes are a “must have” for your holiday cookbooks.

Look for the December issue of Women’s Day where ever magazines are sold. You can also visit WomensDay.com to subscribe or to learn more about the publication. The magazine is also found on all the social media sites (the links are found on their home page).

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Kimberly

*I was not compensated for this post. I posted these recipes and photos with permission for the enjoyment of my site readers. Any opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Celebrate “Friendsgiving” with these Dynamic Duos

 

Thanksgiving Turkey

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is almost here? Oh my goodness! Wasn’t it JUST summer yesterday? It sure seems that way. Before you know it our kids will be making out Valentine’s Day cards for their friends. Sigh… time flies way too quickly.

This is the first year we’ll actually be making Thanksgiving dinner in about 17 years. We used to spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s mother and occasionally my family over the years. Sadly after my parents passed away and my mother in law too, our relatives seemed to scatter and Thanksgivings as we came to know and love were over and done with. :-(

For the past several years it’s just been me, my husband and our two kids. My kids are not big on turkey so we’ve been purchasing a pre-made meal and just adding a few extras for the kids so everyone has plenty to eat. It’s worked out OK so far.

This year we have a turkey in our freezer so we are going to attempt to make dinner this year. Wish us luck!

With it just being me and my husband and out kids at Thanksgiving it can be kind of sad and lonely. My husband is from a large family and my family consisted of cousins and even my ex-sister in law. So we are used to being around a lot of people.

Sadly people pass away, move away or for ridiculous reasons just don’t associate with family anymore. We’ll never have a Thanksgiving like we used to.

I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to invite friends over for Thanksgiving. We have a lot of friends, both near and far. I would LOVE to have Thanksgiving with them, however our home is not big enough. So to have Thanksgiving with friends we’d need to go to a friend’s house.

Two of my childhood friends (circa 86'). I'm the one in the red sunglasses.

Two of my childhood friends (circa 86′). I’m the one in the red sunglasses.

Sharing Thanksgiving with your friends – “Friendsgiving” – is a wonderful thing. After all, many friends are considered a part of your family so it only makes sense to have them join you in this special holiday.

Thanksgiving is all about being “thankful” and “grateful”.I for one am very thankful and grateful for my friends. My friends ARE my family. I love them as much as I do my own family members.

It’s great to have friends, especially a best friend. My husband is my best friend but I also have best friends that I grew up with and are still friends with today (even though we don’t see each other much due to distance – thank goodness for Facebook).

Speaking of friends, on January 1, 2015 all ten seasons of Friends will be available on Netflix!

Netflix has a lot of movies and programming that showcase best friends – or you could say “Dynamic Duos”. I’m sure these duos are thankful for their friendships and probably would have a “Friendsgiving” if they were real. LOL!

Check out these great suggestions fro Netflix that highlight friendship and the specials bonds friends have with one another.

For the little ones…

Kids

1. Bob and Larry: VeggieTales in the House
2. Bert and Ernie: Sesame Street: Elmo and Friends
3. Bo and Dezzy: Bo on the Go!
4. Justin and Olive: Justin Time
5. Tod and Copper: The Fox and the Hound 2
6. Clifford and Elizabeth: Clifford

For the bigger kids…

Big Kids

1. Phineas and Ferb
2. Shaggy and Scooby: Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated
3. Vada and Thomas: My Girl
4. Martin and Chris: Wild Kratts
5. Finn and Jake: Adventure Time
6. Mario and Luigi: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
7. Charlotte and Wilbur: Charlotte’s Web

Suggestions for grown ups…

Adults

1. Rory and Lorelai: Gilmore Girls
2. Schmidt and Nick: New Girl
3. Ted and Barney: How I Met Your Mother
4. Liz and Jack: 30 Rock
5. Walter and Jesse: Breaking Bad
6. Mulder and Scully: The X-Files
7. Wayne and Garth: Wayne’s World

Can you think of other shows or movies that highlight special friendships? Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section.

For more information about Netflix, or to check out other available movies, television series and more, visit Netflix.com. You can also find them on the various social media sites.

While we are on the subject of Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving), it’s a good idea to have some arts and crafts available for the little ones to keep them busy while dinner is cooking. Coloring books, crayons, and even Netflix are great ideas for keeping little ones entertained and busy.

Bob and Larry (Veggie Tales) are made out of veggies often seen at holiday tables (usually in salad – LOL). Check out this super cute craft that would be a lot of fun to make on Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving.

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While you’re prepping Friendsgiving dinner, give the kids a few extra veggies, paint and paper to see what fun designs they can make. Click here to learn how to make your own veggie stamps, including instructions for making our favorite veggie friends, Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber.

Check out this yummy appetizer idea, also inspired by Veggie Tales.

I’ve made a similar recipe in the past with pickles (which are actually cucumbers). I spread cream cheese on ham and then wrap it around a pickle spear. I’ll have to try this recipe one day.

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Celebrate the launch of VeggieTales (or just enjoy a pre-Friendsgiving snack) with cucumber roll-ups stuffed with veggie cream cheese. Anything can go into cucumber rolls, but for this version we’re sticking to sun-dried tomatoes for Bob the Tomato, a celery stalk for Frankencelery and baby carrots for Laura Carrot. Click here to see how to make your own.

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Do you have any special recipes or traditions that you enjoy each year? What about a “Friendsgiving”? Have you ever had one?

Netflix Logo

Kimberly

*I am a brand ambassasdor for Netflix. I received free membership and a gift in exchange for my participation. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Thanksgiving Timeline & Tips from Pillsbury

 

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Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just over two weeks away? Wow! It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the fourth of July. Time flies way too quickly!

This year will be the first time in about 17 years that I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner on my own. We usually buy a pre-made meal because it’s just me, my husband and our two kids. This year we have a lovely turkey waiting for us in our freezer. So this year we’re making our own dinner and I can certainly use all the tips and tricks I can get to ensure a perfect holiday meal.

Our friends at Pillsbury has a great holiday timeline to help you prepare for the perfect Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving Timeline

One Month Before: Who to invite?

Whether your family traditions bring everyone home for the holiday, or you’re celebrating a “Friendsgiving,” determine how many people can fit in your space. You’ll want to make sure you have enough food (and you can never have too many leftovers!)

Three Weeks Before: Menu planning

Planning a potluck? Assign sides, desserts and treats to friends and be sure to have a can of crescents on hand. We suggest one (or more!) of these recipes below:

Sausage Stuffed Crescent Cornucopias

Sausage Crescent Cheese Balls

Creamy Herb Crescent Bites

Crescent Turkey Shaped Veggie Platter

Two Weeks Before: Decide on décor 

Once you’ve decided buffet style or a sit-down dinner, you can start to plan decor. Consider a flower display or a DIY nonperishable centerpiece.

One Week Before: Don’t forget the kids

If you’re expecting younger guests, be ready with some fun crafts that they can eat to keep them busy so you can focus on the big meal.

Week Of: Buy the goods and prep ingredients 

Be sure to have our favorite recipes on your list – they’ll be a hit!

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Pie Crescents

Mini French Silk Crescent Pies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Acorn Cookies

Pecan Cookie Cups with Maple Cream

Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies

Three Days Before: Don’t forget pie!

The centerpiece of Thanksgiving dessert – holiday pie. Pillsbury’s pie crust will help you bake a pie that looks fresh from the bakery. Check out these 15-second videos for inspiration or visit Thanksgiving Pie Central. Don’t forget Pillsbury’s Gluten Free pie/pastry crust – perfect for friends with gluten sensitivities!

Easiest-Ever Lattice Pie Crust

Piece Out! How To Slice Pie For Any Crowd

Day Before: Tackle the bird

3 Easy Tricks to Awesome Pie Crust

Check out Turkey 101 for all the need-to-know info for tackling the Thanksgiving bird, from buying and prepping to roasting and carving. For an easy video on how to carve a turkey, take notes from our friends at Butterball!

Morning Of: Enjoy breakfast

Start your Thanksgiving morning with Cinnamon Roll Turkeys that everyone will gobble up!

If you can check out some of these recipes. I LOVE the one for the Sausage Stuffed Crescent Cornucopias and the Cinnamon Roll Turkeys (pictured below) are adorable.

Do you have any tips, tricks or great holiday recipes you’d like to share with me and others? Please feel free to leave a comment in the comment section. I always love to hear from readers.

Cinnamon Roll Turkey

Kimberly

*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. This was posted with permission. 

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Disney’s Maleficent now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD – Plus FREE recipes

 

Disneys Maleficent

Available today on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD is Disney’s Maleficent. Maleficent stars Angelina Jolie as Maleficent and Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora.

I wanted to see this film in the theaters but we never had a chance to. I’ve been anxiously waiting for the film’s Blu-ray/DVD release.

Most people are aware of the story about Sleeping Beauty. A wicked witch named Maleficent cursed the infant princess. On her 16th birthday she would prick her finger and go into a deep, death-like sleep – only to be awaken by true love’s kiss.

Maleficent has always been made to look like a bad guy. Disney’s Maleficent sheds a whole knew light on the misunderstood witch. The film is about her life and how she came to be thought of as “wicked” and “evil”.

Maleficent is not a witch. She’s a fairy who lost her wings after she was betrayed by someone she cared about very much, the future king, Prince Phillip.

Maleficent was good friends with the young Prince Phillip – a friendship that eventually turned into love. Sadly, Phillip had something else in mind. He wanted to become king and would do anything he could to get that title, even if it meant betraying those who cared about him.

In order to get in good graces with the current King, Phillip did the unspeakable. He cut off Maleficent’s wings.

Maleficent, hurt and broken hearted, plotted to seek revenge on Phillip who eventually did become king.

angelina jolie as maleficent

When Maleficent learned that Phillip and his wife gave birth, Maleficent came to bestow a gift upon the child. However it wasn’t a gift – it was a curse. The curse that called for the baby, Princess Aurora, to prick her finger on her 16th birthday and fall into a death like sleep. As the last minute Maleficent added the clause that only true love’s kiss could break the curse.

In order to protect his daughter the king sent Aurora to live in the forest with three fairies. Unbeknown to everyone Maleficent know what was going on and carefully watched over the baby Aurora.

As the years went on Maleficent grew more and more fond of the young girl. Eventually she even made contact with Aurora, and over time a friendship developed. Aurora didn’t know that Maleficent was an evil fairy who put a curse on her. She saw Maleficent as her fairy Godmother.

Maleficent’s fondness for Aurora made her rethink the curse. Would she be able to remove the curse before it’s too late or is Aurora destined to fall into a deep sleep – one she could never awake from? To find out you need to pick up a copy of Disney’s Maleficent where ever movies are sold.

There are plenty of bonus features that come with the film.

Bonus Features:

Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital HD/SD & Disney Movies Anywhere

  • From Fairy Tale to Feature Film- Reimagining Maleficent for a new generation
  • Building An Epic Battle–Creating the clash between Maleficent and King Henry’s Forces
  • Classic Couture- Examine Maleficent’s spellbinding head wraps and jewelry.
  • Maleficent Revealed- Explore the layers of extraordinary special effects.
  • Aurora: Becoming A Beauty- Elle Fanning reveals her lifelong love of Disney’s original animated classic.

Deleted Scenes:

“Stefan In King’s Chamber”

“Pixie Idiots”

“Diaval asks about the Curse”

“Pixies Seek Asylum”

“Suitor”

  • And More!

*Digital bonus offerings will vary per retailer

DVD 

Aurora: Becoming A Beauty

I really enjoyed this film. I think Angelina made the perfect Maleficent. I can’t see anyone else pulling off that character the way Angelina did. She WAS Maleficent.

I enjoyed seeing this classic story from a different angel. It was interesting to see why Maleficent became so “wicked” and the reason behind putting a curse on the infant princess.

Elle Fanning also brought her character to light. It was as if the role was written with her in mind.

The special effects in this film were amazing. I especially liked watching the bonus features like “Building an Epic Battle” and “Maleficent Revealed” which gave you behind the scenes look at the making of this film. It’s pretty interesting to see how they made Angelina Jolie fly. I also enjoyed the creatures that were featured in the film. The tree creatures are really cool.

Disney’s Maleficent is a very interesting story. I really enjoyed how the film makers gave viewers the back story while still staying true to the classic, right down to the epic scene with the fire breathing dragon.

The bonus features are well worth watching too. If you have time you should check them out.

If you plan on watching Disney’s Maleficent and turning it into a Family Movie Night, check out these yummy recipes you and your family can enjoy, courtesy of Disney. Simply click on the image below.

I also have some nice movie related activities (below) too.

"Download
 

Download Maleficent Activity Pages

Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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SMIRNOFF Sours – A “frightfully” delicious drink

 

SMIRNOFF Sours

Halloween parties are in full swing now that Halloween is right around the corner. Who says the holiday is only for little ghosts and goblins. Adults enjoy Halloween just as much as kids do. The only exception is that adults want grown up goodies (although most grown ups do like candy :-)).

If you are planning a Halloween party for your friends, or you are planning on attending a Halloween party, you should know about SMIRNOFF Sours. SMIRNOFF Sours are flavored vodkas which are available in Green Apple, Watermelon and Fruit Punch flavors.

What makes these vodkas even more fun for Halloween parties is that the bottles glow in the dark. They glow under black light (not from sunlight). How cool is that?

Normally I don’t drink “hard liquor”. Maybe once in a blue moon, especially something as super strong as vodka. However the sour flavors really caught my attention. I couldn’t imagine a sour tasting vodka.

I was sent to review the Watermelon flavored SMIRNOFF Sour vodka. I LOVE the bright pink bottle. It’s really cool!

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I tried some. I know vodka can pack a punch to begin with but nothing prepared me for what I experienced.

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WOW!!! This really is sour! But sour in a good way – like the way Lemonheads and Sweetarts. I don’t mean it tastes like them – I mean that it’s an enjoyable sour taste. It also tasted like watermelon!

My husband said it smells like a Jolly Rancher watermelon candy. I would have to agree with him on that.

The SMIRNOFF Watermelon sour vodka has a sweet taste to it, but still packs a punch as only vodka could do.

This is NOT a cocktail drink – this is vodka. It’s meant to be enjoyed in small doses (like shots), or mixed with other ingredients. You couldn’t drink a glass full of this.

Here are some recipes you might want to try at your next get together featuring the SMIRNOFF Sour vodka.

Sour Captain Drop

  • 1 oz. SMIRNOFF Sours Green Apple
  • 5 oz. Spiced rum
  • 8 oz. Energy drink

Mix SMIRNOFF Sours Green Apple and rum, pour into a shot glass, drop shot into energy drink

Sour Drop

  • 2 SMIRNOFF Sours Watermelon
  • 8 oz. beer

Drop shot into beer

Sour Berry Drop

  • 5 oz. SMIRNOFF Sours Fruit Punch
  • 5 oz. Cranberry juice
  • 8 oz. Energy drink

Mix SMIRNOFF Sours Fruit Punch and cranberry juice, pour into shot glass, drop shot into energy drink

SMIRNOFF Sours Green Apple

2 oz. SMIRNOFF Sours Green Apple

Taste best served as a chilled shot.

SMIRNOFF Sour Watermelon

2 oz. SMIRNOFF Sour Watermelon

Taste best served as a chilled shot.

SMIRNOFF Sour Fruit Punch

2 oz. SMIRNOFF Sour Fruit Punch

Taste best served as a chilled shot.

I haven’t tried any of the mixed recipes yet (just the chilled Sour Watermelon) although I am planning on trying the Sour Berry Drop (I love Cranberry).

Sours Watermelon

You can find more recipes on the SMIRNOFF Facebook page.

I am enjoying the new sour vodka. I wouldn’t be surprised if these don’t become very popular drinks at both parties and clubs. It takes a classic, like vodka, to a whole new level.

SMIRNOFF is asking consumers who enjoy their sour vodkas to snap a photo of their face when they drink SMIRNOFF Sours (the sour face) and upload the photos to social media using the hashtag #MyFaceWhen.

Whether you plan on hosting your own “Fright Night” or a night out with friends, try SMIRNOFF Sours delicious tart line to get in the Halloween spirit!

Have you tried any of the SMIRNOFF Sours yet? If so, what flavor did you try and what did you think about it?

Do you think you’ll try one of these flavors? Which one is your favorite?

For more information about SMIRNOFF visit SMIRNOFF.com.

REMEMBER – Always drink responsibly and NEVER drink and drive!

SMIRNOFF logo

 

Kimberly

*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.  

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Happy National Pasta Day! (10-17-14). Imagine the “impasta”bilities!

 

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Friday, October 17, 2014 is National Pasta Day. Are you planning on celebrating by preparing your families favorite pasta dish?

I love pasta. I love it a lot. I could eat it every day at every meal if it was possible. I’ve never met a pasta dish that I didn’t fully enjoy. My family enjoys pasta too (thankfully).

The great thing about pasta dishes is that they are typically super easy and quick to prepare. You can have a big bowl of spaghetti with sauce on the table for your family in a matter of minutes. That is why pasta is my “go-to” meal option on those nights where I don’t have anything defrosted for dinner or I’m just too tired to cook a bit meal.

One of our favorite pasta dishes is spaghetti tacos (pictured above). It’s spaghetti served in warmed taco shells. Sometimes we add meat and cheeses too.

What if you were asked to celebrate National Pasta Day WITHOUT using pasta? That seems like a very odd request. How can you celebrate day dedicated to pasta without pasta?

Earlier this week I was asked to just that – created a pasta-less pasta dish.

I’m not a “foodie”. I know a lot of bloggers who are. I’m always amazed at how they can wipe out drool-worthy recipes with just a few ingredients and an idea. I love how creative those types of bloggers are. I wish I could be more like that.

I have been known to make a meal out of odd ingredients that might not sound like they would go well together but actually do, like pineapple and mushrooms. Yumm!

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Earlier this week myself and a few other bloggers were invited to an event hosted by Ragu in New York City. I grew up with Ragu. It was the only pasta sauce my mom ever used. As far as my family was concerned there was no other pasta sauce available but Ragu. My mom wasn’t even tempted to try another brand.

I married into a 100% Italian family. My mother in law made her own sauce and “gravy” every Sunday. Needless to say she wasn’t exactly too keen on me using sauce from a jar but that was OK with me. It’s what I grew up with.

When I arrived at the event I was thinking we were going to learn how to make some delicious pasta dishes using Ragu’s sauces. That was some what correct, but there was a twist. We learned how to make pasta-less pasta dishes in honor of National Pasta Day.

One of the recipes we learned how to make was Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese. It was made with cooked cauliflower, bread crumbs and a jar of Ragu Cheese Sauce. You could even toss in other ingredients like bacon and/or peas.

I know what you are thinking. How can cauliflower make a delicious “mac and cheese”? I wondered that too. I happen to like cauliflower, but my family won’t eat it. I was surprised just how delicious the Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese tasted. It was so good that I plan on making it for my family. I think they will enjoy it too and I’ll finally be able to get them to eat cauliflower.

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Ragu’s chef (I wish I could remember her name!) also showed up how to make Eggplant Lasagna which is basically lasagna but instead of pasta you use sliced of eggplant.

Then came the big surprise. We were paired up and told to create our own “impasta” recipe (a pasta-less pasta recipe). Yikes! I had no clue what to make. Thankfully there were plenty of wonderful ingredients made available to use so we could get as creative as we wanted to.

I was paired up with David from SpicedBlog.com. If you’d like the Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese and other recipes we were taught how to make you should visit his website. David was kind enough to list the recipes on his site – National Pasta Day.

I wish I could give you the specifics for the recipe we created, such as how much of each ingredient. We didn’t measure anything. We literally just put together ingredients we thought would taste great together.

Our recipe consisted of the following.

In a pan we drizzled some olive oil and sauteed some pancetta, onions, red peppers, garlic, a pinch of salt and basil. We also roasted some squash with a drizzle of olive oil on top. Once our ingredients were ready we mixed them into a bowl of cooked spaghetti squash that had prepared (so it looked like real spaghetti). After tossing in all our ingredients we added some ricotta cheese, spinach, breadcrumbs and about 1/2 a jar of Ragu Chunky Tomato, Garlic and Onion sauce. We also topped our dish off with more of the Ragu sauce, breadcrumbs and some Parmesan cheese. We even topped it off with some fresh basil leaves which sadly shriveled up in the oven when it was baking.

#NationalPastaDay

Our “impasta” turned out SO GOOD! I was very impressed. I think we did a great job (it was YUMMY!). I wish I had a way of taking some home with me to share with my family.

After all the teams were done we sat down for lunch and sampled each others creation. The dishes were all A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! It’s hard to believe that all the dishes were made our of veggies, Ragu sauce and other ingredients EXCEPT pasta. Most of the dishes were meatless too with the exception of some pancetta.

It was an eye opening experience. I’m excited to try and come up with more pasta-less pasta dishes.

National Pasta Day

If you would like more recipe ideas visit Ragu.com. You can also find the brand (and recipe ideas!) on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like some great “impasta” recipes check out Ragu’s National Pasta Day Impastas Pinterest page. Use the hashtag #NationalPastaDay for more recipe ideas.

Ragu is also hosting a Twitter party on Friday, October 17, 2014 (National Pasta Day) at 1:00 PM (EST). They will be giving away a lot of prizes including a $750 grand prize!

Here are the details.

When: Friday, October 17, 2014 at 1PM EST

Where: #NationalPastaDay on Twitter

Follow: @Crowdtappers & @RaguSauce

Prizes: $725 in Visa gift cards

Questions: Ask @Crowdtappers

Are you planning on celebrating National Pasta Day? What is your favorite pasta dish? What do you think about the idea of creating “Impastas”? Do you think it’s something you and your family would enjoy? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

Kimberly

*I was compensated for my participation however the opinions expressed are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.

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