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Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad {The Perfect Picnic Salad}

Are you looking for an easy and good summer pasta salad? Well look no further! Pasta salads are my favorite, and perfect for summertime picnics and barbecues! Over the 4th of July weekend I planned on making a traditional macaroni salad, but decided to change it up a bit instead. This year I put a spin on an old favorite and added, bacon, additional veggies and ranch dressing turning it into a Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.   

 
Pasta is my favorite as well as my weakness! I love how you can mix just about anything with pasta and it transforms into a meal, side or salad in matter of minutes. I think pasta salads should be easy and not all fancy schmancy.

This weekend I was short on time, so easy was just what I needed. I remembered that I had a couple bottles of  Marzetti's® Simply Dressed Ranch Dressing  in the refrigerator, so I decided to use that instead of a homemade dressing or packet mix. 

After chopping all the veggies, cooking the pasta, and bacon, I add all the ingredients into a into a large bowl and tossed it together with the dressing. Yum I could already smell all the flavors coming together. You could use bacon bits if you're in a pinch for time, but  nothing replaces the flavor of fresh crisp cooked bacon.

After chilling I served the salad and everyone loved it! All that pasta with fresh, brightly colored vegetables, like broccoli, red, green and orange peppers, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. The ranch dressing gave it the perfect creaminess and flavor that I was looking for.





Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

8 oz - ditalini pasta, cooked or (small elbow macaroni)
8 - 10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 - cup onion, chopped
1 - cup broccoli, chopped
1/4 - cup green pepper, chopped
1/4 - cup red or orange pepper, chopped
1 - rib celery, chopped
1 - cucumber, chopped
1 - tomato, chopped
1 - 12 oz bottle Marzetti's® Simply Dressed Ranch Dressing, separated
1/2 - cup cheddar cheese, optional
salt and pepper to taste
fresh dill for garnish

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Stir in ditalini pasta and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until slightly passed al dente, drain. Rinse the noodles under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Place bacon in a skillet and cook on med-high heat until cooked and brown. Drain and crumble the bacon. While the bacon is cooking chop all the vegetables and set aside. 

Add the cooked pasta, chopped vegetables, bacon and cheese if using into a large bowl. Add one cup of the dressing and toss together to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Cover salad and chill for at least 2 hours. Just before serving toss with the remaining 4 oz of dressing. Garnish with fresh dill and serve.

This post is a sponsored post by Marzetti®. I have partnered with Marzetti to share recipe ideas using their products throughout the year. The opinions stated above are 100% entirely my own. For more information and recipes stop by Marzetti Kitchens! You can also follow Marzetti on facebook and pinterest!

     


Easy Grilled Peaches W/Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

It's summer time! And my absolute favorite time of year to enjoy in season fruits. Blackberries, cherries, strawberries and peaches are always on the top of my list for must have summer fruits. Peaches are my favorite! And I enjoy eating them alone, in a cobbler, in a pie, cake or homemade preserves.  

Texas is hot to say the least, so summer time is also grilling time at our house. Last month during my visit to Walmart in Bentonville, I attended a grilling presentation where I picked up a few grilling tip and tricks from Chef Ernst Servantes, Western and Kingsford. 


I learned all about the different Kingsford charcoals, smoking using cedar planks on a grill, cooking the perfect steak, grilling vegetables and how to makes these delicious Easy Grilled Peaches. The best part about the presentation is that we got to enjoy all the yummy foods we learned to grill.

My favorite dishes were the Grilled Mixed Vegetable Salad, Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad, Grilled Tomato Crostini, and the beautiful grilled peaches pictured above. I found myself hunting down Chef Ernst just to find out how to make these yummy peaches to share with y'all.

 
Grilled peaches taste just like peach cobbler without the crust. my favorite part is how the brown sugar caramelizes when grilled. Serve these grilled peaches as side or a dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Over the summer I will be featuring a few more recipes that I learned to make at the grilling event, so stayed tuned.

These are the ingredients you will need: 4-6 fresh peaches, brown sugar, honey or agave nectar, cinnamon (not pictured), and vanilla ice cream.

Start by preheating your outdoor grill with Charcoal.  Rinse the peaches, pat dry and then cut each peach in half.  

Coat each half with 1 tablespoons (less if you want) of brown sugar. 

Allow the peaches to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or until the brown sugar has dissolved.

Place the cut side of the peaches down on a hot grill (in direct heat) for about 5 - 10-minutes or until a bit of char has appeared.

Flip the peaches over and grill the outside of the peaches for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Remove from grill, drizzle with honey or agave nectar, and then slice each half into slices. Cool slightly and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Stop by your local Walmart and pick up a few locally grown peaches and make this recipe. You won't be sorry!

For more great grilling recipes check out my fellow Walmart Mom's and their recipes.

Grilled Smoked Shrimp & Asparagus - Ruby
Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce W/Grilled Rib Eyes - Vanessa




Easy Grilled Peaches 

4 - 6 fresh ripe, but firm peaches
2/3 - 1 cup brown sugar
1/4 - cup honey or agave nectar
vanilla ice cream  
cinnamon for garnish 

Preheat your outdoor grill with charcoal.  Rinse, half and pit all of the peaches.  Coat each half with 1 tablespoons of brown sugar. 

Allow the peaches to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or until the brown sugar has dissolved.

Place the cut side of the peaches down on a hot grill (in direct heat) for 5 - 10 minutes or until a bit of char has appeared.


Flip the peaches over and grill the underside of the peaches for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Remove from grill and drizzle with honey or agave nectar, then slice each half in half. Cool slightly & serve with Vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. 


2  peach halves per serving 

     

Country Music's Greatest Eats Cookbook Review & Giveaway Recipe: Missouri Dirt Cake

Today I have another tasty cookbook review and giveaway! A few weeks ago I was sent a copy of Southern Living Country Music’s Greatest Eats. As a lover of country music and country cooking the title immediately grabbed my attention. Country Musics Greatest Eats gives you a close up and personal look into over 30 of today's top country music stars and their favorite foods.   

 
This 263 page cookbook is your exclusive backstage pass to supper with some of your favorite country music performers. I enjoyed not only seeing all of their favorite home cooked dishes, but reading about their, memories, life lessons, and personal tales about, family, food and fame!

The photography in this cookbook is simply awesome! Some of the stars even shared a few photos with their families. Time and time again throughout this cookbook I noticed just because each of these stars are famous country music performers, they never forgot where they came from. Everyone that is from the south knows how important HOME is and all the special memories that go along with it. This cookbook gives you a sneak-peak into some of the most famous country music performers home kitchens, and over 75 of their beloved favorite family recipes.


My recipe of choice was Sara Evans - Missouri Dirt Cake. Sara was one of 7 children in the Evans household, so Sara's mom relied on good, simple recipes that could feed a crowd. Over the weekend our temperature was pretty toasty, so I tried Sara's No Bake Dirt Cake. Sara mentions that this easy peasy dessert comes together rather quickly once the cream cheese is softened and the whipped topping is thawed.

From start to finish this dessert took just 15 minutes to assemble. One tip I suggest is.... I found it much easier to freeze the dirt cake versus chilling it in the refrigerator. If you know Texas it is hot hot hot, so anything to slow down the melting process is a welcome relief. Just remove the dirt cake about 30 minutes before serving and enjoy!!! Sara's Dirt Cake reminded me a little bit like a Oreo Cheesecake without all the fuss. I will be making this one again for sure. 

Here is a list of just a few of the CMT stars that were included in the cookbook.

Each artist has their own section with personal information, stories, tales and recipes. Each and every recipe in this cookbook is easy to follow and includes a mouthwatering photo. Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard from Florida Georgia Line share their favorite Serrano Pepper Burgers

This recipe was shared from their favorite song writing friend Craig Wiseman, and now has become their go to burger recipe. Not only are new artists featured, but several of the oldies we know and love are spotlighted as well (Hank Williams Jr. The Oak Ridge Boys, Alan Jackson and Randy Travis).

Hank William's Jr. is from Louisiana and shares his favorite Cajun Rice Casserole. Raised in Louisiana, Hank likes his dishes a little more on the spicy side.  A few other dishes shared in this cookbook are, Chicken & Noodles from the Eli Young Band, Wynonna Judd's favorite Broccoli Casserole, Scotty McCreerys favorite Pound Cake, Mamas German Chocolate Cake from Alan Jackson, Kree Harrison's - Gumbo, Lauren Alianas - Blackberry Cobbler, Mothers famous Meat Loaf from Miranda Lambert, Trace Adkins - No Bake Cookies and so much more.

Whether you're a country music fan or just love good down home cooking these recipes are sure to please. I love a good family recipe, so this cookbook is very well written. Would you like to sink your teeth into a copy of Country Music's Greatest Eats?  Well you can because one lucky Mommy's Kitchen reader will win his or her very own copy! See the details below on how to enter. 

This giveaway has ended: Comment #95 is the winner - Anne Marie Haun

How to Enter:

Mandatory Comment:
Just leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite home cooked meal is?  


Bonus Entry:
Tweet the following for a bonus entry: Win a copy of Country Music's Greatest Eats Cookbook @mommyskitchen http://tinyurl.com/n8oeo6f @southern_Living #giveaway  (Leave a separate comment for bonus entry). 

Giveaway Rules:
Giveaway starts today, June 26th 2014 and ends at midnight on July 2nd 2014. Contest is open to U.S and Canadian residents that are 18 years and older.  If you leave an anonymous comment please include your email address in the event that you're the winner. Winner will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to reply to notification email, or a new winner will be chosen. Good Luck to everyone that enters!





Sara Evan's Missouri Dirt Cake 

1 - 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 - 8 oz container frozen whipped topping, thawed (cool whip)
1 - 5.1 oz box instant vanilla pudding 
2 - cups milk
1/3 - cup powdered sugar
1 - 14.3 oz package chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed and divided (Oreo cookies)

Whisk together softened cream cheese and whipped topping in a large bowl.

Prepare pudding using two cups of milk. Fold pudding and powdered sugar into the cream cheese mixture. 


Press 3 cups of crushed cookies in a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish, set aside remaining cookies. 

Spoon pudding mixture over cookies, sprinkle reserved cookies over pudding. Cover and chill 3 hours. Store any leftovers in refrigerator or freezer

Cook's Note: I found it easier to freeze the dirt cake to set up. Remove from freezer to thaw a bit (about 30 minutes) before serving.

Servings: 12

I received a complimentary copy of "Country Music's Greatest Eats" for the purpose of this review.  All opinions stated above are 100% entirely my own. 
 
     


How To Make DIY Frozen Pizzas

Hi again! This is Tina from Mommy's Kitchen, and I am back with a easy recipe to share with y'all. June is Pizza Month on the Rhodes Bake-N-Serve Blog. As a contributing guest blogger for Rhodes I'm so excited to be a part of Pizza Month! At our house Friday night is usually pizza night. 

We always make our pizza instead of delivery, because it tastes better and is so much cheaper. I usually make my pizza dough from scratch, but I also love the convenience of using Rhodes Dinner Rolls for pizza crust. The dinner rolls are white bread, but they also have a cracked wheat version or their whole wheat bread dough works wonderfully for a wheat crust.

Pizza night is always my favorite night to cook dinner because it's a quick meal that I can  just throw together and bake it. Plus I know everyone loves a good pizza, so I usually don't get any complaints. 

With one bag of Rhodes Dinner Rolls (36 count) you can easily make 4 Homemade Frozen Pizzas. I usually spend one afternoon preparing the frozen pizzas and then wrapping and storing them to use later.  I love having a few of these DIY Frozen Pizzas on hand in my freezer.

Homemade frozen pizzas come in handy when you don't want too cook or you need to get dinner on table rather quickly. These pizzas are easy to make and taste much better than anything you will find in the freezer section of your grocery store. Plus you get to add all your favorite toppings.

Visit Rhodes Bake-N-Serve Blog where I'm sharing step-by-step directions on how to make these easy DIY Frozen Pizzas. I also have a .50 off Rhodes bread coupon to share with y'all. Just click on the coupon below to receive a $.50 off printable coupon towards your next Rhodes purchase. 




DIY Frozen Pizzaa

9 - Rhodes frozen dinner rolls (for each pizza), thawed to room temperature or homemade
1/2 - cup homemade or store bought pizza sauce (for each pizza)
 
Toppings of choice: 
pepperoni slices 
Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
ground beef, cooked and crumbled
bacon, cooked and crumbled
mozzarella cheese, shredded
green peppers
black olives
green olives
mushrooms
onions
plastic wrap or waxed paper
aluminum foil

Thaw out 9 dinner rolls (per pizza) on a greased baking sheet. Thaw the rolls until room temperature, but still a bit cold. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack in the oven as it heats (this heats up the pizza stone). 

Once the rolls are thawed combine 9 rolls into one dough ball on a greased surface and roll out into a circle to your preferred thinness. Wrap the dough around a rolling pin and transport to a sheet of parchment paper. I like to sprinkle a little corn meal on before adding the pizza. This ensures that the pizza won't stick to the paper or stone after baking. 

Let the pizza dough rest for 30  minutes (I like to use disposable pizza trays while the dough rests and for storage). After 30  minutes transfer one pizza dough at a time (I leave the parchment paper on the bottom) onto to a heated pizza stone and par-bake in a 450o oven for 5 minutes or until set. 

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. By par-baking (partially baking) your pizza crust for about 5 minutes before assembly and freezing you ensure that your crust will be crispy even after freezing.  

Once the crusts have been par baked and cooled, top with pizza sauce (store bought or homemade) and add pizza toppings of your choice. Once the pizzas are assembled you can flash freeze them for 30 minutes or just wrap them for storage. I like to place the pizzas back onto the disposable pizza pans for storage, but this is optional.

First wrap the pizza in plastic wrap or waxed paper, and then in aluminum foil.
Add a label with the type of pizza and date it. Freeze the pizzas for up to 3 months. 

Cook's Note: If you don't have a pizza stone you can use a regular pizza pan to par-bake and bake your frozen pizzas. 

To Bake the Frozen Pizzas:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven as it heats. Frozen pizzas can also be baked in a pizza pan or on a sheet of aluminum foil. Unwrap the pizza and slide into the oven onto the pizza stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the crust is brown and the cheese is melted, lightly browned and bubbly. Cut into slices and serve immediately.


Click HERE for more pizza inspiration.

This is a sponsored post by me on behalf of Rhodes Bread Company. I'm a contributing guest blogger where I share recipes and ideas using Rhodes Products.
 
     

Watermelon - Strawberry Smoothie {Locally Grown Watermelons}

Were already into the heat of summer in North Texas, so anything we can do to stay cool is always a welcome relief. Along with summer comes the abundance of fresh summer fruit, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries and watermelons. 

A sure sign that summer is in full swing is when you see watermelons popping up in the supermarket and on roadside stands. Not only are watermelons refreshing and delicious, but they're the perfect addition to any backyard barbecue and 4th of July celebration.  

To kick off the start of watermelon season I have easy Watermelon - Strawberry Smoothie to share with y'all. I love eating watermelon, but most times I end up with a lot of leftovers. This smoothie is the perfect recipe to use up all that leftover watermelon that you  have sitting in the fridge.  

I usually purchase my watermelons at the farmers market or road side stand, but did you know that Walmart carries locally grown watermelons? I was unaware that the watermelons in my Walmart were locally grown, so that was a nice surprise.

I love the satisfaction of purchasing produce that is grown in my home state of Texas. I can't always get to a local farm, but with the help of Walmart I can purchase locally grown produce at my local store with a 100% Fresh Guarantee. As a consumers and a mom I believe that all of us can make a difference by supporting our local farms. 

Not only does locally grown produce taste better, but supporting our local farmers will ensure that there will be farms in our community today, tomorrow and for future generations to come. To find local produce in your Walmart look for the locally grown signage, and stickers on produce to get all the great produce locally grown in your state.

Before you head to the store to pick up a watermelon, here are a few tips on how to select the perfect one.
  • Lift it up: The watermelon should be heavy for its size, as this indicates that it is full of water (average of 92%) and therefore nice and ripe
  • Inspect the color: A perfect, ripe watermelon should be dark green in color and dull in appearance, rather than shiny. A shiny watermelon will usually mean it is under ripe. 
  • Look for the field spot: The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot, known as the field spot. This is where the melon sat on the ground and ripened in the sun, so the darker it is the better. If the field spot is white, or even nonexistent, this probably means that the watermelon was picked too soon, and will not be ripe.
Once you get that ripe watermelon home you can cut it up in slices to eat or make a yummy fruity summer drink that is if you have any left. In the summer we go through a lot of watermelon, so we usually have leftovers after a big barbecue or get together.

To make this Watermelon-Strawberry Smoothie you will need the following ingredient: Watermelon chunks, frozen strawberries (I used fresh strawberries that I had frozen), almond milk (soy or coconut will work), crushed ice and honey or agave nectar. You can also add a sliced banana that has been frozen for added sweetness, but that's optional.

This one is easy peasy my friends. Just toss everything in the blender, and blend till smooth. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy.

If you're looking for a few more summer watermelon recipes check out this easy Watermelon Agua Fresca (Watermelon Fruit Water) and these tasty Tequila Soaked Watermelon Wedges. Stop by your local Walmart and pick up a seedless watermelon ($3.48) today.  



Walmart is committed to purchasing quality food from local growers whenever possible. Meet Jack Wallace one of Walmarts local watermelon farmers in Edinburg, TX.
 
Check out my fellow Walmart Moms blogs for more great Watermelon recipes: 

Watermelon Granita - Amy at Mom Advice
Watermelon Margarita - Nicole at Presley's Pantry

Watermelon Salsa - Tara at Unsophisticook 
Watermelon Jelly Stars - Renee at Cutie Booty Cakes 




Watermelon - Strawberry Smoothie

2 - cups watermelon chunks
1 - cup whole frozen strawberries
1 - banana (sliced then frozen), optional
1/4 - cup almond milk
1 - cup crushed ice 
honey or agave nectar, to taste

In a blender, add watermelon chunks, frozen strawberries, almond milk and crushed ice. Blend until smooth. Add the honey or agave syrup to taste and blend again until smooth. Serve immediately.

Recipe yields: 2 servings

Cook's Note: Fresh strawberries can be used, but you might need to use additional crushed ice or freeze them first. Sometimes I add frozen banana slices (about 1 banana) for added sweetness.

 


     


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