It’s Pastapalooza!


Well, we love pasta here (any shape, any sauce, any day), so it’s really always pastapalooza here, but seeing as I was asked to invent a recipe for a contest  by Dreamfields Pasta, in their #Pastapalooza competition, the heat is on, as it were.

Now this is no ordinary competition (although do think Chopped only at home, without having to be filmed, thank goodness). Dreamfields is using this fun and creative initiative to make a difference. Five bloggers will create and share a new recipe using the same ingredients and Dreamfields will make donations to local food pantries (to be named by the competing bloggers) which is nothing short of fantastic. The winning blogger’s recipe will reap a donation of $1000 to their local food pantry.

As I’m sure you know, there are many, many families that are food insecure and the numbers only rise in the summer months, so this is an especially important and timely initiative right now. Read more about ways you can help on Dreamfield’s blog.

There are so many great organizations working to stop hunger, it was difficult to choose, but I went with my local food pantry,

the Newton Food Pantry.





And I also want to give a shout out to the following wonderful organizations, so go check them out, too.

Boston Medical Center Preventive Food Pantry

Greater Boston Food Bank

Lovin’ Spoonfuls





So the challenge? Incorporate pasta, cumin or Za’atar or Harissa, garlic, legumes, chutney and citrus. I have to say, the chutney gave me pause. Luckily I remembered seeing some gorgeous tomato chutney at the market last week and, in the serendipitous way that things sometimes happen, met the owner of this lovely company, The Backyard Food Company, at Getting Gorgeous this past week and they have a terrific, not-too-be-missed tomato jam. It would be great in this dish, because it’s great on a spoon.

Here is my (winning?) recipe:

(photo credit to my daughter)


Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

1/2 box Dreamfields Elbows
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons tomato chutney or tomato jam
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 medium-size ripe tomatoes, diced (see note)
3 Persian cucumbers, diced
Chopped parsley (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Place pasta in large bowl; set aside. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, chutney, cumin and garlic; set dressing aside.

Add chickpeas, tomatoes and cucumbers to pasta; toss to combine well. At serving time, add dressing; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: 1 1/2 cups diced grape or cherry tomatoes can be substituted for regular tomatoes.

Nutrition information (1/4 of recipe): 580 calories; 20 g protein; 89 g carbohydrates;

19 g total fat; 2 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 340 mg sodium; 17 g total dietary fiber.

This is a great side salad – add a protein or feta cheese to bump it up a little.

Go vote for this fantastic recipe here. Just by voting you could win a family pack of Dreamfields pasta and a $1,000 donation to your local food bank, too. And there are plenty of places that could put that donation to good use (see my suggested list above).

So join me – just click here to vote for your favorite Gourmet Market Basket recipe, even if it’s not mine. Really. Voting begins tomorrow (Thursday) morning. Maybe I am just a little excited about this. Maybe.

More ways to connect with Dreamfields Pasta







I was chosen to be part of the Dreamfields Pastapalooza Middle Eastern Market Basket Challenge. I was compensated for this post and the local food pantry (Newton Food Pantry) will receive $200. All opinions and recipes are my own. Also, all of the other recipes are really good, too. But vote for mine anyway.


Camp Rules

Camp Rules. Or Camps Rule. Either way, it’s true.

IMG_9781Now something you should know about me, I was a Girl Scout, although, in hindsight, Mrs. B, my troop leader, probably shouldn’t have awarded me that sewing badge.  I am, however, prepared. Yes, since 1947 the Girls Scout motto has been “Be Prepared”, the same as the Boy Scouts, and since I like to take things up a notch – over-prepared. I even have a badge.

So, I’m an over-prepared ex-Girl Scout on a mission.  I have a few million (okay, 16 plus)  years of experience with day camps, sleep-away camps, school camps, sports camps, to art and farm camps. That’s a lot of camps. And, lucky you, I like to share. So when I was asked to the Cedar Hill in Waltham to see what they’re up to, I dug out my over-prepared badge right away.

Cedar Hill is a short drive from my house – how I did I miss this wonderful camp for my girls? That’s another reason I’m sharing, so you don’t miss it, too. May be if I used the ACA Camp Finder tool  from the American Camp Association New England, I would have known about it. Here it is for your camp finding needs. It works like a charm. Trust me, you want to use this to set up next summer.

The staff at Cedar Hill is wonderful, caring professional and enthusiastic, the campers are engaged and enthusiastic (when we arrived, it was to the sounds of Let It Go being performed by some of the campers) and the grounds are vast – over 90 acres and just lovely in a low-key camp friendly way.

DSCN4051 The week’s theme was a take on the show Chopped, and the campers designed the menu, prepped, cooked, and ate the food, and there were several awards for different categories.  It was wonderful to see so many girls working together and so excited about the week long theme and the fantastic final day of the competition.IMG_9651

Kids have always been the toughest food critics (only now we have television shows are making it legit), and with the increased awareness of food allergies and sensitivities, preferences for religious reasons, food more than ever is a  a larger part of our focus and camp programs have evolved along with our expectations.

Gone are the days of bug juice and now it’s more likely to be a sports drink at a sports camp or 100% juice, and Popsicle sticks for crafts (although I do still love a good Popsicle stick craft).

Summer is a perfect time to explore interests outside of the classroom and learn in a hands-on, group environment, not just specific interests but sharing, social skills, independence, and community building. Camps have long been a cherished part of summer and they continue to evolve and involve the things we as parents most care about, most importantly, our children’s health, growth and happiness.



For more information and to finds great camps, check out American Camp Association New England and the Camp Finder Tool.





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