Nov 242014
 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of UPS. All opinions are 100% mine.

Ups_2color_shield

Have you ever had a wish come true, or watched the pure joy spread across someone’s face as a wish of theirs came true?  There’s this incredible, overwhelming feeling of love and warmth that comes with the granting of a wish, no matter how big or small.  It’s magical.  

This year, UPS is asking everyone to share their wishes, as part of their #WishesDelivered campaign.  From November 10, 2014 through December 31, 2014, UPS will donate $1.00 to one of their charity partners, for each wish submitted, up to a $100,000.00 total donation.  Just think of how many wishes could be granted with $100,000.00!  There are so many charities in need, and this is a perfect way to help them!

Your_wishes_delivered

I’ll be sharing my wish with you in another post, but I’d love to hear what your wish would be.  There are just a couple of things you should keep in mind when making your wish.  Please make your wish for someone else, and make it meaningful.  That means no wishing for a new iPhone 6 or something like that.  That’s easy enough, right? 

All you have to do to submit your wish, is post your wish on Twitter or Instagram, and include #WishesDelivered in your post, or you can submit it directly to the #WishesDelivered site.

So, tell me, what will you wish for? Share a link to your wish in the comments below!

Visit Sponsor's Site

 Posted by at 2:18 pm
Nov 232014
 

I have enjoyed I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter® for a long time.  I used to spend a lot of time at my grandmother’s house when I was a kid, and she always had I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter in her fridge.  It had a rich, buttery flavor that I loved.  My favorite of their products was the spray bottle, which was really easy for me to spray on bread, muffins, corn on the cob, or anything else really.  When you’re a kid, using a knife can be a bit of a challenge, so I thought the spray bottle was extra cool.

Now, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter® is even better, because it’s made from real, simple ingredients you can recognize like a delicious blend of plant-based oils, purified water and a pinch of salt, and no artificial preservatives.  I really love it when a company listens to what their customers want, don’t you?

NEW I Can't Believe It's Not Butter

How Is It Different?

The NEW I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter® is is offered in Original, Light, and Olive Oil varieties, and is still incredibly delicious!  It is also the first spread from Unilever in the U.S. to be made from non-GMO sourced ingredients.  Unilever spreads can be part of an overall healthy, balanced diet and provide a source of good fats, similar to the good fats found in avocados, walnuts and almonds.  The NEW I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® spread has 40% fewer calories and 70% less saturated fat than butter.

The NEW I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® offers a fresh butter taste to add flavor to any meal, and is so versatile that it can be used for spreading, topping, sautéing, cooking or baking.  My favorite thing about the NEW I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!®, is that it’s spreadable right out of the fridge!  There’s no need to wait for it to soften, which is a blessing for a busy Mom like me. 

I recently did some holiday baking, and put the NEW I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter® to the test.  I made two different varieties of shortbread bars – Cherry Almond Shortbread Bars with a White Chocolate Drizzle, and Cranberry Vanilla Walnut Shortbread Bars with a Milk Chocolate Drizzle, and they came out great.  They had a very nice buttery flavor to them, and John couldn’t stop eating them!

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter

Cranberry Vanilla Walnut Shortbread Bars with a Milk Chocolate Drizzle

Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookie Bar

Ingredients:

2 Cups I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spread
3/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tbsp. Almond Extract
4.5 Cups Flour
1 5 oz. Package of Dried Cranberries
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts
3/4 Cup Milk Chocolate Chips

Directions:

1. Cream the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and sugar for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in the vanilla extract.
3. Fold in the flour 1 cup at a time.
4. Fold in the cranberries and walnuts.
5. Press mixture evenly into a 9×13 baking pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
7. Allow to cool in pan for a few minutes, and cut into bars while still a bit warm.
8. Leave in pan until completely cooled, then transfer bars to a wire rack, with sheet of wax paper underneath.
9. Melt chocolate chips and drizzle over the top of the shortbread cookie bars. 
10. Allow chocolate to harden, then serve!

Cherry Almond Shortcake Cookie Bars with a White Chocolate Drizzle

Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

2 Cups I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spread
3/4 Cup Sugar
3 Tbsp. Almond Extract
5 Cups Flour
1 5 oz. Package of Dried Cherries
1 2 oz. Package of Sliced Almonds
3/4 Cup White Chocolate Chips

Directions:

1. Cream the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and sugar for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in the almond extract.
3. Fold in the flour 1 cup at a time.
4. Fold in the cranberries and walnuts.
5. Press mixture evenly into a 9×13 baking pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
7. Allow to cool in pan for a few minutes, and cut into bars while still a bit warm.
8. Leave in pan until completely cooled, then transfer bars to a wire rack, with sheet of wax paper underneath.
9. Melt chocolate chips and drizzle over the top of the shortbread cookie bars. 
10. Allow chocolate to harden, then serve!

For more great-tasting recipes, visit www.icantbelieveitsnotbutter.com/recipes.

 Posted by at 12:14 pm
Nov 212014
 

This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Duracell.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Did you ever open a battery-operated toy on Christmas Day when you were a kid, only for your parents to forget to buy batteries to go with it?  Suuuuper frustrating, right?!  All you want to do in the world is play with your toy, only you can’t because there are no batteries anywhere in sight, and no stores are open to buy any.  It’s enough to crush any kid’s holiday spirit.     

Kayleigh was only 7 months old last Christmas, so we really didn’t get her too many battery operated toys, but this year, she will be 19 months old, and we have big gift plans, which include several battery operated, educational toys.  So, I am preparing ahead of time, by stocking up on Duracell batteries with a 16 pack of AA’s, and by also including a 4 pack right in her Christmas stocking.   There’s absolutely no way we’re going to forget the Duracell batteries this year!

Duracell Batteries

We are always using batteries in our home, from the TV remote control to flashlights and more, so it’s nice to have a stash of batteries on hand for when we need them.  Batteries are just one of those things that are better to have on hand, than have to run out to the store to get in an emergency situation.  With storm season rapidly approaching, I feel much better knowing that we are well stocked. 

Duracell Batteries

Duracell batteries are great because they are dependable, and long lasting.  They are the ideal choice for toys, radios and other electronics that will get a lot of use.  They  also have a 10-year guarantee in storage with Duralock Power Preserve Technology, so they are perfect for your emergency preparation stash.

Did you know that Duracell is the #1 trusted battery brand of first responders, pharmacists and parents? That’s how you know it’s a brand you can trust!

Follow Duracell on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t forget to stock up on Duracell batteries this holiday season!

Have you ever forgotten to buy the batteries to go with your kids’ toys?

 

 Posted by at 7:57 am
Nov 202014
 

John and I purchased our first home earlier this year.  We live in Maine, where the temperatures get very cold in the winter, so it is very important to us to make sure that our home is as energy efficient as possible.  We were spoiled for the last 2 years, when our landlord paid for our heating oil, but now that we are paying for it ourselves again, we want to make it last as long as possible.  Heating oil is not cheap!

A few years ago, we rented a very large, old, drafty farmhouse, where we were required to pay for the heating oil ourselves.  We were burning through almost a full tank of oil per month, at over $4.00 per gallon, and it was STILL only 58 degrees in the house all winter long.  What a miserable winter that was! 

As awful as that experience was, it certainly  helped us to know what to look for when we bought our own home.  That old farmhouse was about 2500 square feet, and our new home is only about 960.  A smaller house is much more energy efficient than a large one, and we are quite comfortable here.  We made sure to find a house that had a very open layout, so we don’t really notice how small it is on a daily basis.  A large house may be enticing, but if you don’t really need all that extra room, consider buying a smaller home that will be more energy efficient.  Being energy efficient will save you time and money, and improve your quality of life!

Another way we save on energy costs, is by turning down the thermostat when we go to bed at night, or when we leave the house for a while.  At night, we are nice in warm in our pajamas, and under the covers in our bed, so there is really no need to have the heat turned up.  Did you know that three to five percent more energy is used for each degree the furnace is set above 68°F?  You can find more warm weather, cold weather and everyday savings tips (conveniently broken down by no cost, low cost and investment solutions) from here.  These tips from PG&E are really great!

Replacing all of the windows in our home is on our to-do list, but we probably won’t be able to get to that until next year, so we keep our shades drawn as much as we can to keep the cold air out as best as we can.   Replacing your old windows with high-efficiency ENERGY STAR® windows can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 15 percent!

One of the worst windows in our house, is in our daughter, Kayleigh’s room.  I have noticed that a lot of cold air leaks in from the bottom of her window, even with the shade drawn, so I thought that I would make a draft stopper to place on her window sill to block all of that cold air from entering her bedroom. 

When I was a kid, my grandmother always had a handmade draft stopper at the bottom of her front door and it worked very well to keep the cold air out.  Since I am making this one for a toddler’s room, I wanted to make the draft stopper toddler-friendly and turn it into a cute little dog.  You could just fore-go the embellishments and leave it plain if you wanted to, however. 

Dog Draft Stopper

This draft stopper was really very easy to make, even for a non-crafty person like me!

DIY Draft Stopper

Materials needed:

1 pair of heavy tights or leggings
Craft eyes
Pom-poms
Pipe Cleaner
Scraps of Felt
5 Pounds of Uncooked White Rice
Scissors
Tape Measurer
Needle and thread
Krazy Glue

Directions:

Step 1.  Measure the length of the area you will be placing your draft stopper.
Step 2.  Cut off one leg of the tights, also snipping off the foot just above the heel.  I used leggings, so there was no foot part to cut off. 

Dog Draft Stopper

Step 3.  Turn the material inside out and sew one of the ends together, then turn the fabric back out to its original state.  You will now have one end that is sealed.

Dog Draft Stopper

Step 4.  Fill the draft stopper with rice.  Using a funnel helps cut down on the mess!

Dog Draft Stopper

Step 5.  Once you’ve filled the tights or leggings with enough rice to make your draft stopper the appropriate length, sew the top closed.  Now you have a draft stopper!

Step 6.  Next, add embellishments to make it look like the animal of your choice, if you wish. I added craft eyes, cut out ears, paws and a tail with the felt I had, and added a pom-pom for the nose. I attached these to the leggings with Krazy glue.  I used a pipe cleaner to make a collar around the neck area.

Dog Draft Stopper

Your cute little draft stopper is now ready to stop drafts, conserve heat, and save money!

#PGEhome Instagram Photo Challenge Contest

Now through November 23, 2014, you can enter the #PGEhome Instagram Photo Challenge Contest for a chance to win one of seven $100.00 Home Depot gift cards!  That could help to pay for some great energy saving tools for your home! Click here for more details.

What are some things you do to make your home more energy efficient?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

 Posted by at 10:37 am
Nov 202014
 

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Best Buy LG OLED TV

While I am really excited to start Christmas shopping for Kayleigh this year, now that she’s old enough to really have fun opening gifts, John and I also want to buy a Christmas gift that the whole family can enjoy.  Since we became parents, we don’t really buy gifts for each other anymore, but we like to buy something we will both enjoy.

On our wishlist this year, is the LG OLED TV, available at Best Buy.  Our current family television has a very ugly and distracting line right through the middle of it, and has for over a year now.  John and I have started gaming together again recently, and the line can be quite annoying at times.  We’d really love to have a new TV with awesome picture quality, and the LG OLED TV sounds amazing!

Best Buy LG OLED TV

Check out these awesome specs:

  • Only 0.21″ thick at its thinnest point.
  • Spectacular picture quality.
  • Infinite Contrast that ranges from the most blazing whites to the deepest blacks.
  • LG’s exclusive 4 Color Pixel technology delivers bright, vibrant colors.

With deeper and richer colors, stunning contrast and ingeniously curved screens, the LG OLED TV is unlike any technology you’ve ever seen, and it delivers a picture that exceeds your wildest imagination.

Best Buy LG OLED TV

You can get the LG OLED at Best Buy for $3,499.99, which is a savings of $500.00 off the retail price!

Do you love twitter parties as much as I do? Best Buy is hosting an LG OLED Twitter Party on Thursday December 4th at 7PM CST. Join this party for a chance to receive Best Buy gift cards and other great prizes. Tweet #HintingSeason with your top gifts that you want this Holiday from Best Buy.

 

 Posted by at 12:22 am
Nov 182014
 

This post represents a sponsored editorial partnership with the American Cancer Society. All storytelling and opinions are, of course, my own.

GASO-life

My husband, John, started smoking cigarettes when he was only 13 years old.  I think that most people who smoke, started smoking at an early age.  There’s so much peer pressure, and curiosity to try new things.  It’s really easy to give in to that at such a young, vulnerable age. 

When Your Partner Smokes, and You Don’t…

Never having smoked before, it was quite an adjustment for me to start dating a smoker when John and I first got together.  We’d be in the middle of doing something, and I’d have to stop what I was doing to wait for him to go have a cigarette.  There was the constant smell of tobacco on him and all of his clothing, which I was not used to.  There were the multiple trips to the convenience store (sometimes very late at night, or in the middle of a snowstorm, etc.) to buy more cigarettes.  Above all, there was the concern I had for his health. 

For a while, I had hoped that he would quit smoking, but I never pressured him into it.  We talked about it on a few occasions, and he expressed interest in it, but I didn’t force the issue on him.  I just told him that I would be there to support him if he ever did decide to quit, and I reminded him of all of the things he would gain if he did – whiter teeth, easier breathing, more money in his pocket, better health, etc.

When They Finally Quit…

John had tried to quit multiple times in the past, but as any smoker will tell you, it was very difficult, and he didn’t succeed.  About 6 months into our relationship, he decided to try again, cold turkey.  It was a rough few months for him, and I did my best to be there for him and support him.  I listened to him when he needed to vent, I distracted him when all he could think about was smoking.  He succeeded in quitting that time, and even though he had quit for 3.5 years after that, he still craved tobacco, especially when he saw other people smoking, or got a whiff of cigarette smoke.  It was a constant struggle for him, and I was so proud of him for not giving in.

When They Start Smoking Again…

A few months ago, as we were preparing for our wedding, and his family to come to stay with us for a few days, he became very stressed out and started smoking cigars.  He didn’t tell me at first, because he was ashamed and embarrassed.  I smelled tobacco on his breath one night after he came home from work, though, and confronted him about it.  He broke down and told me how stressed out he had been feeling, and that he was sorry to start smoking again, especially during what was supposed to be one of the happiest times of our life, preparing for our wedding.  He promised to quit after everything settled down, and that he just needed to get through those couple of weeks. 

Inside, I felt very disappointed.  We have a one year old daughter, I am pregnant with our son, and we were preparing for our wedding.  I felt as though he was being very selfish, but I tried my best to put myself in his shoes and instead of yelling at him, which is what I really wanted to do, I just told him that I would be there to support him again when he was ready to quit. 

How Becoming a Parent Changes Things…

I reminded John that we now had children to think about, and hoped that would help to give him more motivation to quit. Even though he wasn’t smoking in front of our daughter, the smell was still on his clothing and in our vehicle, and she was being exposed to third-hand smoke, which is contamination by tobacco smoke that lingers, even after a cigarette has been put out.  

John has now quit smoking again, and I could not be any prouder.  I know it’s so very hard for him, every day, and especially when he has a particularly stressful day.  I try my best to just be there for him on the days when I know all he wants to do is smoke.  I think it’s very important to be as supportive as possible when helping a loved one quit smoking.  That means not getting mad at them if they fail, not saying mean things, or making them feel ashamed.  I know it’s very difficult and frustrating to watch someone you love smoke, but doing things like that doesn’t help their situation at all.  They are already feeling ashamed enough, and making them feel worse isn’t going to help them quit.  In fact, it may do just the opposite, and cause them to give up on quitting.  The best thing you can do is just be there for them.  Listen to them, encourage them, and if they fail, just let them know it’s ok, and that you’ll continue to be there for them when they are ready to try quitting again.    

The Great American Smokeout…

If you have a loved one that smokes, here is a great opportunity to help support them and encourage them to quit:

Thursday, November 20th marks the American Cancer Society’s 38th year of the Great American Smokeout (GASO).  The GASO is an initiative to encourage smokers to commit to quit or make a plan to quit on that day.  Sometimes just knowing that other people are going through the same thing can help tremendously.  By quitting, even for one day, smokers will take a critical step to a healthier life that can reduce the risk of cancer.

Great American Smokeout

“Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet about 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes — a bit under 1 in every 5 adults. As of 2012, there were also 13.4 million cigar smokers in the US, and 2.3 million who smoke tobacco in pipes — other dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco.” – cancer.org 

Those statistics are just astounding.  Let’s all try to help and encourage our loved ones to get help and quit smoking for life.  When John quit smoking, he got his life back, and I feel like I got mine back too.  Our future looks so much brighter without tobacco in it.

If you’d like to know more about the Great American Smokeout, you can call 1-800-227-2345, or visit the Quit for Life Facebook Page.  Their website also has loads of amazing resources and information on quitting smoking, including the benefits of quitting.

Will you encourage a loved one to quit smoking during the Great American Smokeout?

 

 Posted by at 9:29 am
Nov 172014
 

 I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Little Remedies. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Little Remedies logo

I got a lot of awesome gifts at my baby shower when I was pregnant with Kayleigh, but one of the gifts I loved most was a basket full of Little Remedies products.  As a new Mom-to-be, I didn’t really know anything about baby medications, so I was relieved that someone else (another Mom!) had taken the guess work out of it for me.  It was one less thing I had to worry about, and I was prepared to take on any tummy troubles, fever or cough symptoms that might creep up.  Now that I am a Mom, I love to pay it forward and give the same gift to other Moms-to-be.

Kayleigh is 18 months old now (where has the time gone??) and we have used the Little Remedies products on several occasions.  We have been very lucky that Kayleigh never really got sick until just a couple months ago.  She came down with a terrible viral infection, which included a fever and a nasty cough.  We turned to Little Remedies Fever and Pain Reliever, Honey Cough Syrup and Saline Spray/Drops to help her get through.  The Fever Reliever helped to keep her fever under control and the honey cough syrup worked wonders for her cough, which also allowed her to sleep at night.  She was very stuffed up with this cold, so the saline spray/drops worked great to clear up her little nose and allow her to breathe better.

Little Remedies

When Kayleigh was just a wee little baby, we used the Little Remedies Gripe Water and Gas Relief Drops to help with her occasional tummy troubles. They always seemed to make her feel better very quickly, and I had peace of mind knowing that these products were completely safe for her.

“Everything they need, nothing they don’t.”

What I love most about Little Remedies products, is that they are made with the fewest ingredients possible.  There are no artificial flavors, artificial colors or alcohol.  Little Remedies believes “less is more” and strives to make sure that each of its products contains just what is needed for fast, safe and effective relief – nothing more.

Cold & flu season is upon us, and I believe it’s always best to be prepared ahead of time.  I’ve made sure that we are stocked up on Little Remedies products, so we are equipped to fight whatever may come our way!   For more information about Little Remedies and their products, visit LittleRemedies.com.

What are your favorite Little Remedies products?

 

 Posted by at 2:21 pm
Nov 152014
 

Happy Saturday! I have another great giveaway for all of you to enter! The prize is a $100 Amazon gift card, which would sure come in handy for some holiday shopping, am I right?! Good luck to everyone!

amazonblast
Makobi Scribe is bringing you this Amazon G+/YouTube blast where one lucky reader will win a $100 Amazon gift card. The giveaway is open to everyone and provided by Makobi Scribe. Good Luck! If you are a blogger, you can sign up for this blast here.

 Posted by at 6:21 pm
Nov 132014
 

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for MedImmune. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

World Prematurity Day is observed on November 17th each year to raise awareness of preterm birth, and the challenges preterm babies and their families face. 

Unfortunately, I know several people (my Aunt, my sister, several friends, women in my pregnancy and Moms group) who have given birth to their babies prematurely.  Some were born REALLY early, and others were born just a little too soon.  Luckily, they all survived and are now thriving.

Being 24 weeks pregnant myself, premature birth is always something that’s in the back of my mind.  It’s not something that can always be controlled, and could happen during any pregnancy, with little to no warning.  It’s very scary to think about.

Premature babies and their families face a lot of challenges, even after they are finally able leave the hospital to go home.  One of the biggest concerns is RSV.  RSV is a common virus that almost all babies contract at some point before the age of two.  RSV occurs in epidemics each year, typically from November through March, though it  can vary by geography and year‐to‐year.

In babies that were born full term, RSV really isn’t too big of a concern, as it generally produces mild to moderate cold-like symptoms.  RSV symptoms can be very severe in babies that were born prematurely, however, and may even require them to be hospitalized.  In fact, RSV is responsible for approximately 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 200 infant deaths each year.

It’s so very important for everyone to know the facts about RSV, to help keep it contained and reduce the spread to other children.  It’s also good to know the early symptoms to watch out for, and also how to prevent it.  Did you know 1/3 of mothers have never even heard of RSV??  Please take a few moments to read the info-graphic below and share it with all the parents you know!

RSV-Facts

Visit www.RSVprotection.com for more information, including: 

• Tips on talking to your pediatrician about your child’s risk factors 

• Data about the RSV season in your area 

• Real stories of families’ experiences with RSV 

 Posted by at 6:54 pm
Nov 122014
 

I participated in this event on behalf of Wendy’s Bloggers for Colavita. I received Colavita products to facilitate my review.

 Colavita Logo

I have always been a huge fan of Italian food.  It’s seriously my favorite.  I have Italian ancestors, so we have enjoyed quite a lot of pasta dishes in my family over the years.  Pastas, breads, cheeses, sauces, tons of garlic and herbs… what’s not to love?!  I think I could eat Italian food every single day and never grow tired of it.

John and I have an Italian dinner night several times a month.  There’s just something really romantic about Italian food, isn’t there?  While going out to eat an Italian meal is fun, it’s not very easy for us to do with a toddler.  We are homebodies anyway, and enjoy eating in each other’s company without the distractions and loud noises that you would find in a restaurant.  It’s always fun to turn the lights down low, lights some candles, pour some wine (or sparkling grape juice right now because I’m pregnant!), listen to some good music and enjoy a nice Italian meal together at home. 

I recently had the opportunity to try out some Italian goodies from Colavita.  I was sent their Simply Italian Gift Set, which contains Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Colavita Balsamic Vinegar, Cirio Crushed Tomato with Basil, Colavita Eggplant & Sweet Peppers, Colavita Olive Bruschetta, Colavita Marinara Sauce, Colavita Tomato Basil Sauce, Colavita Penne Rigate, Dal Raccolto Capellini, Dal Raccolto Orchiette, and Almond Cantuccini

Colavita makes it really easy for you to cook a wonderful Italian meal right in the comfort of your own home.  They even have a Recipe Library right on their website to give you some inspiration for your meal.  You can follow Colavita on Facebook and Twitter.Colavita Simply Italian Gift Basket

I decided to make Eggplant and Sweet Pepper Veggie Pasta.  This recipe is SUPER quick and easy to make, and it was absolutely delicious.  Just look at THIS!  Doesn’t that look amazing?!  The sweet peppers were just bursting with flavor, and the eggplant made this a hearty dish that I didn’t feel too guilty about eating.

Colavita Eggplant and Sweet Pepper Veggie Pasta

It only takes a handful of ingredients to create this wonderful dish, most of which are provided in the Simply Italian Gift Basket:

Colavita Eggplant & Sweet Pepper Veggie Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil OR 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 jar Colavita Eggplant and Sweet Peppers
  • 1 pound Colavita Pasta
  • ½ jar Colavita Marinara Sauce (or Colavita Tomato Basil for a bright, fresh version of the dish)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Once you have gathered up all of your ingredients, prepare the pasta as follows:

Preparation:

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2.  Heat 2 tbsp Colavita Olive Oil in large skillet over medium-low heat.
3.  Add the garlic and sauté, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the jar of Eggplant and Sweet Peppers and simmer for another 3 minutes to release the flavors.

Colavita Eggplant & Sweet Pepper Veggie Pasta

4.  Add the ½ jar of Colavita Marinara (or Tomato Basil) Sauce and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to incorporate all the flavors.

Colavita Eggplant & Sweet Pepper Veggie Pasta
5.  When the water boils, add the pasta, stirring to prevent sticking. Cook according to package directions.
6.  Drain pasta, reserving about ½ cup of the pasta water and transfer the pasta to the skillet with the sauce. Using tongs, mix the pasta into the sauce well.
7.  If the sauce seems dry, feel free to add a little of the pasta water.
8.  Season with salt and pepper and serve with grated Parmesan cheese and basil.

This pasta dish turned out so great.  I can’t even tell you how wonderful the eggplant and sweet peppers smelled while cooking up in the skillet.  It was so fresh and wonderful tasting, and it paired well with the Cheesy Olive Bread I made, too!

The Olive Bruschetta included in the gift basket inspired me to make a bread to go with our Eggplant and Sweet Pepper Veggie Pasta.  I simply sliced a loaf of Italian bread in half lengthwise, mixed together the jar of Olive Bruschetta with 2 cups of Italian Blend shredded cheese until it was well combined, spread the cheese and olive mixture all over the Italian bread and broiled it in the oven for 15 minutes.  Easy, and delicious!

Cheesy Olive Bread

Dinner was everything I had dreamed it would be, but I can’t forget about the dessert!  We broke open that box of Almond Cantuccini and paired it with a cup of hot coffee.  These almond cookies were so delightful – perfectly crunchy, with a light and sweet almond flavor.  I had to exercise some major will power to keep myself from devouring the whole box!

Almond Cantuccini

GIVEAWAY

One lucky reader will win the same gift basket I received!  All you have to do to enter, is simply complete as many entries as you wish, using the Giveaway Tools application below.  Good luck!!

Giveaway rules:  One winner per household, email address, or home address. If you have won this prize on another blog you are ineligible to win again. Winners must have a U.S.-based address to receive their prize.  Giveaway ends on December 3, 2014 at 11:59pm EST.

The Colavita Story

The Colavita family traces its roots to the small town of Sant’Elia a Pianisi, in the Molise region of Italy. It was there, four generations ago, that Giovanni Colavita founded the family olive oil tradition and Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil was born. Over the years, the Colavita family became masters at the delicate crafts of “tasting” and blending extra virgin oils from different types of olives grown in Apulia and nearby regions. This skill enabled the family to produce 100% Italian extra virgin olive oil with a consistent fine quality – a skill that sets Colavita apart today from the other leading brands.

Today, the Colavita’s main focus is still bringing consumers authentic Italian extra virgin olive oil; however, the Colavita brand has grown to include many other quality specialty food products that are sold in over 60 countries. Colavita durum wheat semolina pasta, a full selection of balsamic and wine vinegars, traditional and organic pasta sauces, ready-to-serve soups and marinated vegetables, and olive-canola blended oils are the ingredients of choice for chefs in home, restaurant, and professional kitchens worldwide.

 

 Posted by at 6:33 pm