Pasta saves me at least one night a week. When I want dinner on the table fast, or when I forget to take something out to thaw that morning before work, having pasta waiting in the pantry is a saving grace.

Pasta Toss with Zucchini, Beans, Tomatoes, and Feta

But I also tend to fall into ruts when it comes to pasta, making the same sauce almost every time. So lately, I’ve been trying to make myself try new combos. Homemade cream sauces. Asian and Thai inspired flavors.

And instead of buying the usual suspects at the store, I’ve been finding new things like these incredible citrus-stuffed olives that I’m obsessed with and our homemade pesto (that I completely forgot I had in the freezer).

Pasta Toss with Zucchini, Beans, Tomatoes, and Feta

This mix is one of my favorite flavor combos, and I’ve done something similar with couscous before but hadn’t tried it with pasta. Until this week!

I love anything with feta, so I knew this would be a hit. And even with only half a box of pasta, this made enough for a dinner and a couple of lunches this week, leaving me less work to figure out what to pack for the day.

Pasta Toss with Zucchini, Beans, Tomatoes, and Feta

The best part? This pasta takes less than 30 minutes AND it’s delicious and good for you! You wouldn’t think that something as easy as pasta with white beans, zucchini, tomatoes, feta, and olive oil would be this tasty…but it is.

And Dreamfields – our favorite pasta – is offering up an entire case of pasta for one of you! Yup – a whole case of pasta. Now that’s a way to stock your pantry!

To enter:

Tell me your favorite pasta dish.

For extra entries:

Tweet about the giveaway and let me know you did

Like Dreamfields on Facebook

Like BranAppetit on Facebook

Good luck!!

Pasta Toss with Zucchini, Beans, Tomatoes, and Feta

This stovetop pasta dish is one of the easiest - and satisfying meals - ever! It's full of flavor, but light on ingredients, so it won't take all of your time or pantry to pull this together. Want even more flavor? I love adding good olives to this or cooked chicken for even more protein.


  • 8 oz. Dreamfields rotini
  • 1/3 cup +1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
  • ½ cup roasted tomatoes or sundried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 1 12 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled


  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tsp olive oil to the pan and add the sliced zucchini. Cook - not stirring – for 4-5 minutes on one side until the zucchini begins to brown. Stir the zucchini and cook for another 3-5 minutes until the zucchini is cooked.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a palmful of salt and stir in pasta, returning to a boil. Cook the pasta over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 8-9 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and beans to the pan with the zucchini. Cook over medium heat, about 5 minutes until everything is warmed through.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return it to the pot. Add the zucchini mixture to the pasta and toss together with the 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Let the pasta cool for about 5 minutes, then stir in the crumbled feta cheese. Serve warm or chilled.

This contest is open to U.S. residents only. I will choose the winner a week from today. Dreamfields sponsored this post and is offering the case of pasta for the giveaway – all recipes and opinions are my own.

Red Star Yeast giveaway

It’s no secret that we love bread around here. Besides croissants, I really don’t think there’s anything that can beat the smell of fresh bread, baking away in the oven.

pumpkin spice bread

To be honest…baking – especially bread – was the thing that scared me the most when I first started learning to cook. There’s just something terrifying about the first time you use yeast in the kitchen.

But there’s no reason to be scared! I’ve had lots of flops – and most of them still tasted fine.

They weren’t the prettiest things to ever come out of the kitchen, but homemade bread is still homemade bread. Ugly doesn’t make it taste bad.


I only use Red Star Yeast at home, and after trying their Platinum line last year, I haven’t looked back. As long as you have a good recipe and good yeast to work with, you’ll have incredible baked goods coming out of your oven – trust me!

So, to help spread the bread-baking love to you guys, Red Star Yeast is offering up a prize pack to get you baking.

red star yeast prize pack

The winner will get:

  • Dough whisk
  • Apron
  • Lots of Red Star Yeast to stock your pantry
  • Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day cookbook (one of my very favorites!)
  • Oven Mitt

Good luck!! And happy baking :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to U.S. residents only. Red Star is providing the prize pack for this giveaway.

five years in

A few weeks ago, this blog hit 5 years of being in existence. I’ve been trying to write this post for the last couple of months now, and I’m still not sure how to say everything I want to say.

I started this space on a cold January night, with no idea of what would happen here. Maybe I would post for 2 weeks, get bored, and stop. Maybe I could keep it up for a year or two. But never – ever – did I think that I would still be here writing 5 years later and loving it just as much as I did when I first started.

Things have definitely changed in the last few years. We moved into our first house. Got our first dog. Traveled. Graduated. Changed jobs. Dealt with quite a few family emergencies, losses, and new additions.

I started all of this without much knowledge or experience in the kitchen. Honestly, at that point, we were just happy if the meal I made for dinner was edible. I was terrified of going “off recipe”, thinking that any change I made would completely ruin the dish. And let’s not even talk about the lemon pasta dish that we threw out after just one bite. That was definitely the worst….but I still blame the recipe.

Never in my previous 25 years of living did I ever think I would be making croissants or bread or coming up with recipes on my own. And back then, I would have laughed if you told me that I would get paid to come up with recipes. Seriously? Did they know me? Did they realize I could barely boil water just a few years ago?

Having this space has caused me to grow in so many ways over the past 5 years. The most growth has definitely been in the kitchen – coming up with recipes, having the courage to try new things (and fail), and learning what I’m great at (cookies) and where I still need practice (seriously – mashed potatoes. what is so hard about this?!).

But most importantly, it has stretched me into a person I never imagined I would be. I’ve traveled all over the states because of this blog. I’ve met so many people that I would have never met otherwise. Some of my best friends in real life are friends that I met because of this blog. I was on tv – which is still insane to me, and I’m very thankful that I didn’t throw up even though I felt on the verge the entire time in front of those cameras.

So, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for reading and for commenting and for telling me what recipes you’ve tried and loved or sharing your favorite food memories here with me. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what’s to come in the next five years.

I’ve still got a few fun giveaways for all of you in the coming weeks, too! I think you’ll love these things just as much as I do.

In the mean time, here are a few of my favorite recipes from these first 5 years:

macadamia coconut chip cookies

Monster Macadamia Coconut Chip Cookies

chocolate covered apple cider toffee

Chocolate Covered Apple Cider Toffee

grilled cheese with apple and rosemary walnut butter

Grilled Cheese with Apple and Rosemary Walnut Butter

spiced beef and leek fried rice

Spiced Beef and Leek Fried Rice

greek yogurt cheesecake cups

Greek Yogurt Cheesecake Cups

Chimichurri Spiced Yogurt Dip

Dips aren’t just for the Superbowl, which is why I’m posting this today.

chimichurri yogurt dip

I’m a big fan of dips whether there’s football to watch or not. I mean, yes, it’s always better with football (especially college football), but whether or not you have a big game coming up or you just want a good snack that’s easy to put together, dips are always a good choice.

I love baked dips, but cold dips are even easier to put together. And they take less time.

And they don’t get to that weird not-hot-anymore-but-not-exactly-cold temperature that just makes it….gross. No need to worry about reheating this and setting it back out.

chimichurri yogurt dip

This is a combo of two my favorite things: cool, creamy greek yogurt and the flavors in chimichurri sauce. Lots of fresh herbs, spicy garlic, hot red pepper, and a pinch of sugar to tie it all together.

And you can’t overlook the chips. Even with the best dip, if you have flimsy chips that break as soon as you try to scoop some up, it’s not going to be good. You’ll have chip shards scattered in the dip and that always ends with people trying to scoop their broken chip pieces out with more chips or eventually just digging it out with a spoon. Never good.

So get good chips. Thick, crunchy chips with good flavor and texture by themselves.

For this dip (and a new hummus coming soon), I’m using my new favorites: Late July chips. They’re so crunchy and not flimsy at all! They stand up to this dip, hummus, and would probably make awesome nachos, too.

chimichurri yogurt dip

Always on the hunt for new dips to make? Me too. Here’s some favorites I’ve found lately – all yogurt based, and a lot with avocado!

Creamy Avocado Onion Dip

Cheesy Garlic Yogurt Dip

Creamy Avocado Dip

Spicy Southwestern Yogurt Dip Trio

Chimichurri Spiced Yogurt Dip

Who says creamy dips have to be full of fat? This mix is full of flavor thanks to the fresh herbs and chopped garlic.


  • 2 cups plain greek yogurt
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup scallions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  1. Spoon the yogurt into a medium bowl and add all the rest of the ingredients. Mix the herbs and spices into the yogurt until everything is combined.
  2. Eat immediately or place in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

Dixie Crystals Sugar giveaway

Sweets are a major part of our food pyramid.

Whether its cookies or cinnamon rolls or cakes, we go through sugar pretty quickly. Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to work with Dixie Crystals, making and updating some of their older recipes. It’s been fun to see what was popular and “the new thing” from 50 or 60 years ago – plus, it had me making some things I might never have made myself!

I think I’ve done about 20 recipes in total, and these were some of my favorites:

easy peach praline cobbler

Each Peach Praline Cobbler

cherry cheesecake sour cream waffles

Cherry Cheesecake Sour Cream Waffles

whole wheat mac and cheese

Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese

bavarian brunch cake

Bavarian Potato Coffee Cake

cream of artichoke soup

Cream of Artichoke Soup

Dixie Crystals Sugar prize pack

And now for the giveaway! Dixie Crystals is offering up a big prize pack for 2 lucky people! Each winner will get a case of Dixie Crystals sugar, a Bake It Forward tin, and a super cute apron.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open to US residents. 

Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Giveaway

It’s no secret that I love whole grains.

For a few years, Nick called all my dinners “berry food”….mostly because I had a 2 year long straight-up love affair with wheatberries. Once I found them, I just couldn’t stop!

Bob's Red Mill

I almost always use whole wheat flour when baking, and I love trying new whole grain salads, side dishes, and breakfasts.

Oats are main staple in my pantry – from everything to morning oatmeal, smoothies, quick risotto, and cookies. Bulgur is so easy to swap in for dishes that call for rice. Cornmeal makes a fantastic breading for chicken and perfect buttermilk cornbread. Millet is a great swap to use for spanish rice recipes – the flavor goes perfectly together!

steel cut oat and tomato stuffed zucchini

From sweet to savory, breakfast to dinner, we’ve tried it all:

Steel Cut Oat and Tomato Stuffed Zucchini

Wheatberry Cranberry Salad

Strawberry Wheatberry Salad

Quinoa Raisin Maple Salad

Cherry Almond Chia Granola

No Bake Cocoa Cookies

Butternut Oat Risotto

strawberry wheatberry salad

When I first started cooking whole grains a few years ago, the brand I first found was Bob’s Red Mill. They have just about everything you could imagine, the quality is incredible, and I’m a sucker for cute packaging. If you haven’t fallen in love with whole grains like us, I’ve got something that might just push you over the edge.

And lucky for you, they’ve put together the ultimate whole grain prize pack for you!

bobs red mill

The prize pack will include:

  • Organic Tricolor Quinoa
  • Whole Grain Millet
  • Whole Grain Spelt
  • Steel Cut Oats
  • Scottish Oatmeal
  • Muesli
  • 10 Grain Cereal
  • Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • Hard White Whole Wheat Flour
  • Cornmeal
  • Bulgur
  • $100 Bob’s Red Mill gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will be open until next Tuesday – good luck!

Bob’s Red Mill is providing the prize package for this giveaway. I was not compensated for this post – all opinions are my own.