Make-Ahead-And-Relax Meal Ideas For The Holidays

Make Ahead Meal Ideas_Country PastaCan you believe there are only two weekends left to get everything finished up before the holidays are upon us? Soon, houses will be filled with scents of the season, maybe a hot toddy or two, and best of all, relatives and friends ready to celebrate and make memories together.

If you are one of those who will be hosting this year, we want to offer you some help in using the last few days left to pre-prepare some of your meals, so when your visitors arrive, you can focus on spending time together rather than working away in the kitchen.

One of our favorite dishes to make up in advance is actually one of the original Country Pasta recipes. The Country Pasta Bake is easy to make, serves a handful of people, and best of all, is delicious. To make ahead of time, you’ll just need to prepare the dish per the recipe, let it cool after being in the oven, cover with tin foil, then toss in the freezer. You’ll then need to remove from freezer and put in the refrigerator 24 hours before you’ll be serving, and about 1.5 hours before eating, you’ll want to preheat the oven to 375 degrees, pop it in and bake for approximately 1-1.5 hours (keep in until it is hot and bubbly in the center). Simply serve with a little side salad and garlic bread, and dinner is done!

We also liked many of these recipes, both for breakfast and dinner, that you can find here:

Wishing you a relaxing, fun and delicious holiday season with family and friends!

Bon Appetit!

Soup Season, Favorite Recipes Shared with Us

Turkey Noodle SoupIs there anything better than hearty soup on a cold winter day? Last month we did a drawing asking folks to share their favorite soup recipes with us. We received some amazingly delicious looking recipes, so we wanted to pull them all together to share with everyone. Here’s a link to all the wonderful soup ideas we received.

Favorite Soup Recipes Shared with us


Please note that while we kept the majority of the information as it was submitted, we did add a little detail to some of the recipes.

11-26-18 Jingle All The Way

Coming across an old photo was the inspiration for our holiday blog this year. Horse drawn sleighThe picture, from our local newspaper in the mid-80’s, is of Country Pasta’s founder, Dean Knutson, driving his team of horses with kids headed to see Santa at the “North Pole,” pictured in the background. One of the greatest things about my dad, Dean, was how much he loved to make people happy. He thoroughly enjoyed giving these kids and parents an experience like this.

I still have vivid memories of this hayride when I was a kid. Helping people get on and off the wagon, leading Christmas carols, and being one of Santa’s elves handing out candy canes to the kids who came to share their wish list, were my main duties. Whether you were part of the crew, or one of the visitors, I’m sure this event has left lasting memories for all.

Although we no longer have the Holiday Hayride, there are many other events in our small community providing kids and adults alike, with wonderful holiday memories. Our annual “Parade of Lights” has grown so much in recent years, and has become an incredible community-wide event. Mr. and Mrs. ClausSince it seems the entire town comes out for the experience, catching up with friends and enjoying the holiday spirit together rounds out the experience. And this will be the second year that “Lights Under the Big Sky” will take place in our neighboring community. Lights, games, photo opportunities, and a holiday market all make this an occasion to remember.

We know events like this don’t organize and run themselves, so we want to take a moment this holiday season to say ‘thank you’ to all of the event coordinators and volunteers in our town, and in all small towns and big cities across the country. We hope you know that your efforts do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. You are providing experiences, and memories, that will last a lifetime for so many people. Thank you.

Happy Holidays!


Insta – Recipes Add Spark to Your Weekly Menu

Now that kids have been back in school for a couple months, Creamy pasta with zucchini, carrots, and peaswe imagine that you’re starting to settle in to the routine of things. However, are your weekly meals also becoming too routine? Looking to mix it up a bit? Not to worry, we’ve got your back!

At Country Pasta, we were anticipating this moment. Throughout the summer we were busy creating several Fall pressure cooker recipes so we could help provide you with some new ideas to liven up the menu. You’ll love the convenience and your family will love the flavors. We’ll chalk this up as a win-win.

New Recipes:

Be sure to check out our whole menu of Insta-Pasta recipes. Whatever you do, do not miss trying the Insta-Cheesy Fiesta Pasta. It has become a fan favorite and is the perfect way to shake up Taco Tuesday.

We hope these meal ideas will add a little spark to your weekly menu. We know how hard it is trying to always provide your family with healthy meals, all while juggling school, practice, work, etc.

Stay strong and power on!


12-7-2017 Holiday Traditions, Old and New

This time every year I dig deep into my closets to pull out my holiday paraphernalia, like dinner and glassware from my husband’s parents, decorations passed to me from my mother, and cherished table linens handmade by my grandmother. I will spend an afternoon cutting greens to place in newly polished copper and silver containers, that were had been buried in my great grandmother’s backyard in Norway during WWII. Quickly I will take a pantry inventory to make sure all ingredients are on hand for baking cookies, made using my grandmother’s handwritten recipes that still reside on a small piece of paper. The list of traditions goes on. But there is one tradition that was not passed down, and instead came about organically, a lovingly curated collection of Christmas books.


Over the years, my parents and then eventually just my Mom (my parents were divorced), occasionally would give me a Christmas book, filled with beautiful illustrations and heart-warming stories. Stories about kids, kittens, snowmen, Santa, families, and the occasional troll or two (from the Norwegian side of the family). In my 20’s I started adding to this collection myself by purchasing a holiday book yearly and have now my husband fulfills the tradition. The collection grows and grows with new stories of families, kittens, dogs, trees, traditions, and a new one about trolls. These books are hand-picked, then signed and dated by the giver.


Today my collection contains 40 or so books. Most are packed up and put away on the 1st of January, but two books from the collection stay out all year long. The first, a stunner given to me about 2 years ago by my husband, is entitled Christmas in America. The other is titled A Christmas Story by Mary Chalmers. The latter represents the past, given to me by my parents in 1972, and the other one represents my future. One tells of holiday traditions across the country with stunning pictures; one of a little girl Elizabeth and her friends Harry Dog, Alice Rabbit, and Hillary Cat as they head out into the snowy landscape to find and decorate the perfect Christmas tree.


This holiday tradition, which I have passed on to my kids, either as individual books or as the entire collection, contains themes of glistening snowy days and starry nights filled with hope, peace, and magic.  Each year when I read my books, my heart is refilled with that hope… hope for both peace and magic this time and all throughout the year.

10-5-2017 Celebrating Variety and Creativity for National Pasta Month

One of the things we love about pasta is how versatile it is. Literally, there are over 600 Pasta Menudifferent shapes of pasta, which can be made into an unlimited amount of recipes. Try imagining any flavor combination, and I guarantee you, there’s a pasta recipe for it. Gouda and pears? Yep, here you go. Chicken and plums? C’mon, too easy. Try this delicious cold salad.  Bacon and beer? Um, yes please, I think I will try that carbonara.  Chocolate and strawberries? There are even dessert recipes that include pasta!

Continuing on the diversity of pasta, we also appreciate that it can be scaled both up and down. Pasta is just as appropriate for an elegant dinner party as it is for a week-day meal for your children. Here we found some clever recipes and ways to get those little ones to finish every last macaroni or tortellini morsel.

Now let’s talk pairing. The different pastas go well with a variety of drinks. Wine, beer, soda, juice. Again, with an infinite number of combinations, we’ll let you choose your pasta partner.

As we look to celebrate National Pasta Month, we want to celebrate all the pastas, recipes, and ultimately, experiences and memories we make while enjoying these diverse dishes. How wonderful that we can explore our own creativity with this special food.

So cheers, pasta. It’s your month, and we’re going to celebrate all 600 of you.


5-8-17 ~ Real Life

As moms trying to feed our families, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to provide homemade meals and not rely on prepared box dinners. I was talking with my sister about this the other week and we both agreed that having grown up with a mother who is an amazing cook, we were used to having meals made from scratch. I don’t recall having boxes of mac ‘n cheese in our house. Ever. So as adults, we both strive to provide these same homemade experiences to our own children.

With today’s busy schedules – work, daycare, sports practices, homework, volunteerism – sometimes homemade is just not possible. And you know what I’ve finally come to decide? That it is okay.

This past week I added a jar of pasta sauce to sautéed chicken, topped that on some Country Pasta, and added frozen veggies and garlic bread to the side. It was hearty, healthy, and most importantly for that night, a fast meal for my hungry family. Pasta dinner with garlic bread and corn

We are proud that Country Pasta is so versatile that it can be used as a quick go-to meal to fill hungry bellies on a busy night, or as a leisurely prepared Sunday supper.

We know many dads help with the dinner duties as well, but with Mother’s Day this weekend we have all you busy moms on our minds. And we salute you for all the work you do to provide healthy meals for your families. Just remember to give yourselves a break sometimes and reach for the jar. It’s okay.

Wishing you a relaxing and enjoyable Mother’s Day!


Dinner is Done!

Once a week I try to plan a crock pot dinner for our family. And let me tell you, that is the night I always look forward to. Who doesn’t? You get to walk in to a delicious smelling house, pour yourself a glass of wine, and relax because dinner is done.

Cajun Chicken Alfredo

Prep, Set, Enjoy!

I have been using and recommending crock pot recipes for years now, and hadn’t given much thought to the history of them until today. So, after a very quick search on Google, I found this article from The Huffington Post: A Brief History of the Crock Pot.

I found it interesting that it took over 30 years from when the original slow cooker was patented, to when it became a regular household item. It was developed in 1936 to cook a bean based stew. The inventor, Irving Naxon, eventually sold his design to Rival Manufacturing in 1970 and they re-branded the item to become the Crock Pot.

The Crock Pot was marketed to…you guessed it…working mothers so they could prepare the food in the morning and have dinner ready and waiting when they got home. Things haven’t changed.

Working mother or not, I think we can all agree it is nice to have your dinner ready and waiting at the end of a long day. I recently came across a wonderful  Cajun Chicken Alfredo – Slow Cooker recipe that I made for my family this week. It was a huge hit. Although the Country Pasta needs to be prepared separately, it was still a simple dinner that allowed us to maximize our time together that evening.

I hope you enjoy the history and this slow cooker recipe. When you do, remember to grab a glass of wine and say a toast of thanks to Mr. Naxon for making your relaxing dinner night possible.




Planning the Perfect Holiday

fall-to-do-list-cropped-and-editedWhat is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the holidays? Family? The scent of pumpkin and spice? Mom’s dressing?

And then again, maybe stress is the first thing that comes to mind as you begin thinking about the big day. After all, if you are hosting, there are so many details to keep straight.

Growing up in our house (and even now), we tend to miss the dinner time by at least one hour each year. My mom, who is an amazing cook, seems to always add more and more to the menu, thus putting herself behind a bit. Don’t get me wrong, we all try to plan and pitch in on the family meal, but she usually just takes things in her own hands and assigns us the easy tasks like corn and cranberries. And although we like to tease her relentlessly about her timing, I have to admit, in the end, it’s always worth the wait!

My mom laughs at our teasing now, probably because she is an old hat at this, but if you’re new to hosting, or even just want to try to make things a little easier on yourself, there are plenty of online resources you can turn to. We have compiled a list of some we are going to try this year, amy-w-holiday-glow-and-deep-thoughtsincluding how to prepare a big meal, what family friendly movies to put in the queue, or even a checklist in hopes of keeping stomachs full and faces smiling.

We hope these are helpful, and we wish you a relaxing and memorable time with your family. Don’t worry, even with your completely organized event, they will certainly find other things to tease you about. That’s all part of the fun!

Happy holidays,



Big Day Preparation Plan

Thanksgiving Checklist

Christmas Countdown Checklist

Holiday Planning Checklist

Indoor Games for Kids

Meal Ideas for Large Groups

20 Best Movies for Families

8/24/16 ~ Back to School

B2S for blog 2016It’s that bittersweet time of year again….back-to-school time! On one hand, it is nice to be getting the kids and ourselves back in a routine. But on the other hand, it’s sad to see another summer come and go. We’ll miss the cool crisp mornings followed by warm carefree days, evenings outdoors, and of course barbecuing.

And while we’ve all enjoyed grilled burgers, veggies and kabobs, there’s also a part of us that starts to yearn for comfort foods this time of year. Soups, casseroles, roasts, and of course using the crock pot for easy, ready-to-eat meals at the end of long days.

Growing up, one of the things I remember about family meals is that my mom would be able to turn last night’s dinner into a whole new concoction for us for the next meal. It was incredible what she would come up with. We’d barely even know that it was the previous night’s pork chops we were eating.

One of my current favorites is having roast one night, then the next night mixing all of the leftover ingredients and gravy together and topping some Country Pasta. This hits two of my favorite cooking techniques – using the crock pot, and repurposing our meals. Can you see a theme to my cooking – it needs to be quick!

To help get you thinking about some repurposed meal ideas of your own, take a look at this list of 65 ideas for leftovers.

We hope you do some experimenting with your food this winter. Being creative will help to get us through until these long summer days arrive once again.

Enjoy in comfort,



8/27/2015 – Act of Kindness #13 – Glacier National Park Pasta Give-Away

PicMonkey CollageThis week, for our 13th Act of Kindness, we gave away over 360 bags of Country Pasta to visitors of Glacier National Park. One of the things we love about where we live is our proximity to Glacier Park, so it seemed only fitting to include the Park in our Acts of Kindness somehow. We chose August 25th because the National Parks were celebrating their 100th Birthday, and Glacier specifically celebrated 99 years as an official National Park.

To say we had a good time would be an understatement. We met folks from at least 30 states and 8 different countries! We were warmly welcomed by the Park staff. We enjoyed ice cream. One of us went swimming. Two of us juggled pasta. We shared our own National Park stories. One of us ran into a server they had met while vacationing in the Virgin Islands! We met new friends. We had a picnic lunch. We had many laughs. And through all of this, we still get to call this “work.”

Throughout this year I continue to feel deep appreciation for the many customers we have who make this all possible. This year and our 25 Acts of Kindness are our way of giving back to each of you. We thank you, and we look forward to continuing to share our appreciation.


Heather Signature

6/18/15 Dad – The Secret Chef

Country Pasta Father's Day
C. Warner Smith in the Kitchen

I grew up in a pretty traditional household, where my Mother and paternal Grandmother (who lived with us) did most of the cooking. Breakfasts would often find hot or cold cereal served, lunch sacks filled with PB&J’s and a piece of fruit, and for dinner our plates were filled with a balanced meal. However, Thursday nights were spaghetti nights. The menu consisted of San Giorgio #11 (now called Capellini) topped with my mother’s grandmother’s gravy (aka red sauce) and meatballs.

My father enjoyed this meal – often having seconds if available. But it wasn’t until many years later that I learned how much my Dad really loved pasta and cooking. One day I walked into the kitchen to find him working diligently on something in a big stock pot on the stove. It smelled divine…and the smile on his face was as big as the universe. I tried to mask my surprise that he was cooking and asked, “Dad, what are you making?” Truth be told, I really wanted to say, “Dad, what are you doing?” He turned to me and said “Punk, I am making Chicken Cacciatore.” That pot cooked for hours with my Dad lovingly stirring it throughout the day. And just when I thought his smile could not get any bigger, he dished the deliciousness over the San Giorgio #11 and just beamed.

At 88 years old, it is harder for my Dad to work all day in the kitchen making this dish, but on occasion he will. He shops for all the right ingredients, prepares them for the pot, and stirs with love every hour or so. That smile on his face is still priceless to me when he dishes it up in a big bowl.

Be sure to continue building your memories this year. Wishing a wonderful Father’s Day to all those secret chefs out there.


05/08/2015 Grow the Recipe Bridge this Mother’s Day

Recipe Book PicYou know those games where you try to guess the amount of, say, jelly beans in a jar? I think it would be fun to play that trying to guess the number of cookbooks my mom owns. However, would we also count the numerous cooking magazines? Or strictly limit it to actual books? And do we count duplicates? I know she has a few of those, too. Either way, I would love to know a total, but would not even have a clue how many to guess!

The funny thing about all these cookbooks is that, while I know she’s read and used many of the recipes, my guess is that she has rarely followed the directions. She is the type of person who throws in a handful of this or a dollop of that, and it always turns out delicious! We learned to eat a lot of whatever we really liked at mealtimes, because as she self admits, it never tastes the same twice.

She does not only use her cookbooks in the kitchen. While some people might read novels at night, she will read cookbooks. All these books she has can be found here and there throughout her house, sometimes with tissue marking the page of a good recipe, or maybe a dollar bill here and there. Whatever was convenient when she needed to be able to find that great recipe again.

Mom & Heather at FFSFood has always been a big part of our family, and is the way my mom shows her love. Cooking for friends, family, those in need – she enjoys warming hearts and filling bellies with her creative concoctions.

I know some of my mom’s most treasured items are the recipes she will find of my grandmother’s or friends from years ago. The handwritten list of ingredients and instructions, usually with some butter, chocolate or another item dripped on them.

This Mother’s Day, take a moment to look through your recipe books and cards. Maybe write out what your favorite recipe is today, and put it in a place where your children may one day stumble upon it and be able to think back to their childhood favorites. Food is often what connects us to both the past and the future. Continue to grow that bridge.

Wishing you a wonderful, delicious Mother’s Day!

Heather Signature


04/03/2015 25 Acts of Kindness

As many of you know, 2015 marks Country Pasta’s 25th year of business, and you may have seen that we started the year by purchasing a local shopper’s groceries for her as our first of 25 Acts of Kindness. I wanted to share with you a little more about this concept and why we are doing it.

To be quite honest, I stole the idea from another company I heard was celebrating their 60th year in business last year. Upon first hearing about this, I thought it was a great concept, and one I thought was worth jumping on board with.

Blog Pic

Country Pasta founders, Dean and Linda Knutson, displaying the quality semolina they use to make the product and the early packages of Country Pasta.

At the supermarket today, consumers are overwhelmed with product options to choose from. One of the most interesting things to me lately has been the multiple options of the same item, just in different sizes. Does anyone know how many different ways you can purchase a candy bar these days? You have regular size, king size, fun size, miniatures, bite size…did I even get them all? We recognize that you have many options to select from, and we greatly appreciate 25 years of support for Homemade Style Country Pasta products. In an effort to give back to our customers, we are coming up with 25 ways that we can say thanks, while have fun doing it!

In addition to surprising shoppers by purchasing their groceries, we have also donated to food banks, and have plans to give pasta away, Montana themed items away, and are launching one of our big acts of the year, which is a Montana trip give-away. One lucky customer and their guest will win a trip for two to Montana to enjoy the beauty of this area we get to call home – including a boat cruise around Flathead Lake, a visit to our headquarters, a trip to Glacier National Park, and many more fun activities.

So we look forward to continuing our 25 Acts and we hope you will have as much fun with this as we plan to. And once again, we thank you for being a valued customer. Here’s to the next 25!

Heather Signature


12-10-14 Giving a Delicious Gift

Grandma Vi and Grandpa Orville Knutson and their grandchildren at Christmas.

I must have been destined to be in the food industry. I remember Christmas as a kid, and the one gift that stands out above the amazing child size doll, cool miniature television, or fun Popeye video game that annoyed the entire family in the car on our trip to North Dakota, is a container of my grandmother’s homemade applesauce that I got to have all to myself. This standard menu item for our holiday gatherings was a favorite among the entire family. What I didn’t like was only getting a tablespoon or two each time. So one year when Grandma Vi wrapped up a container – I believe it was the old yellow margarine plastic container – of this delicacy for me and only me, I was ecstatic! Still today I remember how her special applesauce tasted, and it takes me back in time to the holiday dinners with our whole family.

I’m sure many people have their favored holiday recipes – cookies, fudge, soup mixtures, and of course applesauce – and what a treasure it is to be the recipient of those delicious concoctions. The concept of giving food as gifts is something that has become a big business – Hickory Farms, Edible Arrangements Bouquets, Omaha Steaks…heck, my mom once sent a full lobster dinner to friends in North Dakota!

In today’s world, it is often quite challenging to decide what gifts to give. Colleagues, friends, bosses – we all are inundated with many consumer items each and every day, and it’s difficult to make that kind of decision. One thing that is constant for everyone, however, is food. So I say take some time and bake up some goodies, blend your own mix of pancakes or cookies, or get out the old apple strainer and red hots (that’s the secret ingredient in case you were wondering), go to work then package your delicacies with a nice bow. Or in an old margarine container. Your gift recipients will savor your gift and be happy they don’t need to find space for another gadget.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Martha Stewart – Homemade Food Gifts

Midwest Living – 35 Heavenly Homemade Food Gifts

Better Homes & Gardens – Simple Christmas Food Gifts

Wishing you all a fun, safe and delicious holiday season.

Heather Signature



6/15/14 Father’s Day

What’s In A Name?

Choosing a name for your child is not as easy of a task as one might think. Sure there are plenty of names you like – some you may even have mentally filed away for years in anticipation of one day labeling your new offspring. But when it comes time to actually put that name in print, you have to be sure. And I mean really sure, that it is in fact something you…and he or she…can live with for the rest of everyone’s lives. How does it sound when you say it nicely? How does it sound if you need to yell their name? How will they be teased because of their name? Do the initials spell anything inappropriate? And let’s not forget, how does your spouse or partner like this perfect name?

I was lucky to be faced with this challenge in the past year as I found out I was pregnant with my first baby. I’m somewhat (wink, wink) of a planner, so waiting to find out if it was a boy or girl was considered only for a millisecond. We needed to know. Both of us guessed boy, and sure enough, we found out we were in fact going to have a son.6-2014 Rokton & Dad

And so the fun begins!

It is amazing to me how quickly I began thinking about my hopes for this child’s future. And beyond wanting him to have toys and items to enjoy, what I really hope for him is to be a good, strong, and honorable man as an adult. I was lucky to have been born to a father who exemplifies what a man should be. Brave. Hard working. Caring of others. Smart. Funny. Loyal. Adventurous.

My dad, Dean Knutson, the founder of Country Pasta, was born in a small town in North Dakota. The oldest son in a family of 7, it was on the dairy farm that he learned the value of hard work. After graduating from high school he joined the North Dakota National Guard, where he added bravery, loyalty and adventure to his characteristics. He landed himself in Montana as the manager of a lumber yard, and from there began a career of building new businesses, including the last business he started, Country Foods.

Notice that I did not mention college in any of this. He did not attend one college class, and yet through hard work and perseverance, he was able to start, build and sell an array of businesses. The University of Montana Business School invited my dad to speak to one of their classes one time and before he started his presentation he looked around the room and said, “so this is what a college classroom looks like.” Yes, I did mention that he had a good sense of humor.

The man always had an eye for adventure. I sometimes think he may have had a bit of attention deficit disorder when it came to his extracurricular activities, and enjoyed things from each end of the spectrum. He went from raising large Percheron horses down to miniature ponies. He went from living on a ranch, feeding his 200 cows with horse and sleigh to enjoying the speed and excitement of riding snowmobiles in the mountains or flying one of his planes across the country. He grew up in a tiny town in the Midwest then spent a large part of time in the city of Mesa, Arizona. He loved adventures and experiences, and there was never a time when he didn’t have something new and exciting he was enjoying. Dad in Plane

This amazing man passed away 8 years ago at the young age of 60. I still remember the last word he said was “beautiful” as he was looking at my mother sitting beside him. Even at the end of his life he was still showing us the kind of man he was. A loving one.

So when it came time to name my son, I wanted it to include a name that represented the type of man I hope he one day becomes. Brave. Hard working. Caring of others. Smart. Funny. Loyal. Adventurous. There was no other option but to include my father’s name in his.

Rokton Dean Walter was born on April 1st this year, and although he will unfortunately never have the opportunity to meet my father, his grandfather, he will always know that he carries the life of this amazing man on into the future.

As you celebrate Father’s Day this year I hope you will take the time to think about the traits and characteristics you appreciate about your fathers, and what they pass down to you and future generations. Wishing you all a wonderful day!

6-2014 Family Picture

2/20/14 ~ Flathead Living Magazine Writes About Pasta

Flathead Living Magazine, a lifestyle and recreation publication, recently published an article titled, Passion for Pasta, about local pasta companies.  We’re thrilled to have been included! Check out the links below to read the article and learn more about Flathead Living’s chronicling of “Life at 48° North!”

Passion for PastaFlathead Lake's Kerr Dam

5/6/2013 ~ Lessons From Mom

Reflecting on my Mom, Founder of Country Pasta

I feel like I won the lottery when they were assigning moms back in 1975. However, I also believe several of my personal characteristics are the direct result of trying to be or do things the complete opposite of my mom. I don’t think I’m unusual. I know many girls/women who, for example, grew up in situations where their mom was a neat freak, and they say to themselves, “I’m never going to worry about cleaning everyday and instead just enjoy life.” Or their moms are super savers, so they spend like their life depends on it. We try to take the polar opposite route. Yet regardless of how hard we try to be different, we are often reminded that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  A great saying for us in the food world. And while jokingly I say I tried to be the apple that somehow rolled away from the tree, there are so many traits my mom has that I could only be lucky enough to have gotten from her. And from these traits that I’ve observed in her over the years, I have had the opportunity to learn many lessons.

The Knutson Family...back in 1975.

The Knutson Family…back in 1975.

  1. Be kind. My mom does not have a mean bone in her body. She treats everyone as though they are her long lost friends, regardless of how long she has known them. You only need to spend a minute with my mom to pick up on this particular trait.
  2. Have fun with friends…and strangers who are not yet friends. My mom knows how to have a good time. And she loves get-togethers with friends and family, always tending to everyone’s needs and desires. But it’s not only current friends she has fun with, the woman can make herself new friends better than anyone I know. It typically starts with some sort of “Griswold moment” happening in public, and the next thing you know she’s got a new friend coming to dinner. She knows how to have fun, and how to not take herself too seriously. I think many people are attracted to that quality in her because it makes it so easy, and fun, to be around her.
  3.  Be respectful and compassionate. My mom is amazing with both older people and those in need. She is always listening patiently, making sure everyone is feeling included, and ensuring people have what they require. One of the most beautiful things I’ve observed my mom doing is giving my grandfather a foot massage when he was in the hospital nearing the end of his time on earth. She had no hesitation and her only concern was that he was comfortable and cared for.
  4. Adapt, make the best of your circumstances, and move on. My mom has had to overcome many obstacles and challenges and has always done a great job at adapting to the situation, making the best of where she was, and moving on. The most recent example I have of this, and one that I am so proud of her for, is adjusting to life after my father passed away. They were married for exactly 40 years when he passed away back in 2006. She had gone from her parents’ home directly to being married to my dad and had never been on her own. I’ve talked to other children of widowed parents, and they have to struggle with their parents moving on. They end up not wanting to do anything, and are very depressed. To say my mom was sad when my dad passed away would be an understatement. He was a tremendous man, husband and father, and it was an incredibly difficult time in her life. At first she relied a lot on other people to do many everyday tasks for her. Now, however, she has become such an independent and strong woman. She is the gal who gets out there and mows the steep hill at her house, and unloads 2 tons of beef into her freezers by herself, or goes gallivanting to Spain or Germany, and volunteers for a week-long shift at the Medora Musical in North Dakota. I greatly admire her for her spirit and her adaptability. No, things are not perfect, but she’s making the best of them and living her life to the fullest!
  5. Show your love with food. Quite possibly the thing my mom is most known for is her excellent cooking. She can make these amazing meals, and feed an army of people, while making it look like a walk in the park. She loves food and enjoys making people happy with her delicious concoctions.  Many people have been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of her love…and the food that comes with it.

I always like to say that Country Pasta is the combination of my dad’s entrepreneurial talents and my mom’s love of cooking. Without one, or the other, I have great doubts that the pasta could ever have reached as many people as it has today. I hope the next time you have Country Pasta, you think of your own mother, and the many amazing traits she has. And know that your next bite is filled with love and lessons, right from the founder.

Wishing my mom, and mothers all over, a memorable day filled with family, love, and delicious food.


10/24/2012 ~ Live Locally Results and Slideshow


To all Live Locally Participants, Volunteers, Sponsors and Prize Donors,

We want to thank you all for your involvement with the 6th Annual Live Locally 5K. We are thrilled to announce that together we were able to raise an additional $3,000 to be given to Mission Valley Aquatics. This brings Live Locally’s total contribution to the pool, to OVER $10,000! LL 2012 Donation Check
We need to say a huge thank you to our signature sponsors. Their continued support is what makes this race possible. We are humbled each and every year that our signature sponsors continue to find value in this race and support the event. We sincerely thank you.

We also want to mention our emcee, Shawn Hendrickson. Thank you for keeping us organized and entertained
throughout the day. We also appreciate that you have Polson Pride, and that shows through in the efforts you put into this race each year. Thank you. I know one of the favorite parts of this race are the numerous locally donated prizes for the drawing. We gave away over 50 items this year, so thank you so much to the many local businesses who contributed to this portion of the race.

We need to say another big thank you to the volunteers. From fruit cutting, to decorating, to serving food, to keeping the racers safe on the roads, your involvement in this race is so critical to keep it running without a hitch. Thank you greatly for your help!

Thanks to Sara Gunderson for making the amazing awards this year and to Mike Lozar/Total Screen Design for designing another great shirt for 2012! We are so lucky to have such talented people, from right here in Polson.

And finally, thank you again to all the participants who weathered the rain this weekend to join in the fun of the Live Locally 5K. We hope you enjoyed the course, prizes, music, jokes from Shawn, food and awards. LL 1012 Canine Finish

We sure enjoyed having you all join us for this event. Congratulations to all of the age group winners (listed below) and to everyone who participated (see link at top of page for complete times)!

Thanks again, and we look forward to seeing you all again next year!
Heather & Sarah

2012 Signature Sponsors
Super 1 Foods, Advocare, Navigator Travel
Hu Beaver Builder, Glacier Bank, Stene Aviation
Wal-mart, Total Screen Design, Moore Appraising
The Cove Deli & Pizza, Fidelity Title Agency, Wash-n-Go
Community Bank, First Interstate Bank, Western States Insurance
Anderson Radio Broadcasting, Lake County Public Health
Providence St. Joseph Medical Center St., Luke Community Healthcare
Polson Health/Kalispell Regional Medical Center

Age Group Winners
13 & Under Anna Young, Connor Wagner
14-19 Tiara Duford, Evan Iddings
20-29 Breane Utgaard, Bruce Genzel
39-39 Raina Stene, Jonathan Manuel
40-49 Lisa Iddings, Jarrod Shew
50-59 Kathy Smith, Bruce Gerlach
60-69 Pat Bristol, Jesse Barry
70+ Maureen Redfield, Dick Anderson

9/18/2012 ~ Live Locally 5K Event!

Live Locally 2012 5K Run/Walk
“Make a Splash…Change a Life” ~Mission Valley Aquatics

Country Pasta and Health Care Plus are excited to announce the 6th annual Live Locally 5K Run/Walk to promote lung health awareness and National Pasta month! This year’s event will again be hosted by Health Care Plus in Polson, and feature refreshments and prizes donated by your local business community. Race participants will also receive a shirt and goodie bag at registration.

Here’s some important information:
Date: Saturday, October 20, 2012
Location: Health Care Plus – One, 7th Avenue East – Polson, MT
Times: Race day registration and packet pick-up begin at 9:00 am
Race begins at 10:00 am
Pre-Registration: Now through September 27th – $15
Registration: September 27th – October 20th – $20  Registration forms should be turned in to Health Care Plus.
Questions: Contact Health Care Plus at 406-883-3910

All proceeds from this year’s race will be donated to Mission Valley Aquatics, whose vision is “to provide a state-of-the-art aquatic facility that enhances the health, fitness, safety, recreation and quality of life for all in the Mission Valley.” Through years of hard work, careful planning, tireless fundraising and perseverance, the dream for this facility is finally coming true! Here’s a brief update from MVA on the status of the building and fundraising projects.
“In case you haven’t been to the site lately, you may be pleased to know construction is nearly complete with an anticipated November 2012 opening date. To date, we have raised $3.3 million and borrowed $1 million in private loans, but we have not quite reached our fundraising goal for the $5.2 million project.”
The aquatic center will feature an 8 lane, 25 yard lap pool (that meets specifications for high school state level swim meets) and a smaller pool “suitable for instruction, therapy and aqua aerobics.” Not only will a facility like this encourage and strengthen healthy exercise habits in our youth (and those still young at heart!), but meets and events held in this facility will bring people in to Polson, with dollars to spend strengthening our business community. Definitely a win-win situation!

Come participate in the Live Locally 5K Run/Walk on October 20th and be a part of making Polson healthy!!

Live Locally shirt history

11/29/2011 ~ Country Pasta Tours Yellowstone

July 27-28, 2011

Here’s how it all happened, really…

Our wonderful Montana distributor Randy Lindberg of Quality Foods Distributing in Bozeman stopped by Country Foods to pick up an order one day in early June. He mentioned that he was able to place our 2 Country Pasta items in the 6 grocery store locations within Yellowstone National park…and that the folks in charge would like some demo (sampling) support. Needless to say, we were immediately excited! Honestly…to go spend a few days in Yellowstone during summer “working.” Who could pass that opportunity up?

West Yellowstone Entrance

West Yellowstone Entrance

Arrangements were made, and by arrangements I mean that all the hotels were booked up in West Yellowstone, MT (unless we were willing to fork out $265!) where we would spend our first night. Our choices limited, Heather managed to secure the last KOA Kabin at a campground just outside of West Yellowstone (whew!). For night number two, she finagled a 12’ x 12’ tent site near the Grant Village store. Fortunately (we checked) both locations had shower facilities available! For each day in the park, we planned to sample a cold pasta salad at two locations, spending a few hours in each.

Since we were going to “rough it” in the Park, we spent some time digging up our camping lists, comparing notes and making adjustments. Needless to say, between Heather’s extensive Montana backpacking and hiking experiences and my week-long childhood camping expeditions into the Eagle Cap Wilderness in Oregon- we were over prepared! I won’t include the whole list, but here is a sampling: Can opener, tent, tarp, sleeping bag, pillow (I STILL forgot mine!), bucket for dishes, axe, firewood (no one wants to pay ridiculous prices for a small box of firewood in a park… come on), coolers filled with pasta, ice, headlamp, FOOD, bottled water, sampling equipment, gift basket (we gave away a prize), bug spray, lantern, towel (drat, I forgot that too)… and the list goes on!

After taking bets on whether or not my packing skills were up to the task, we stuffed every available nook and cranny of the Nissan Murano full of supplies and took off! After a (mostly) uneventful drive, we arrived in West Yellowstone just about dinnertime. We unpacked what we needed for the night at the KOA Kabin and headed into town to find some vittles. We ended up at a pizza joint in town, full of locals enjoying the sports bar. The Kabin was comfortable, but I can’t remember the last time I slept on the top bunk. Fortunately, I didn’t roll out and hit the floor. In the morning, we feasted on instant oatmeal and steaming hot Tipu’s Chai before packing up and heading to our first store.

Canyon Village was bustling and full of activity by 10 am, and everyone was on a mission! Our little table was next to the cash register and across the aisle from the ice cream, so pasta was a tough sell in this store! We persevered, made some new friends and departed with high hopes for store number two. We stopped to have peanut butter & jelly sandwiches at a beautiful waterfall along the way and got some great pictures. While crossing river to the Fishing Bridge store, we got an up close and personal look at a wandering bison working his way back to the wilderness. Fishing Bridge was an easier place to sample; we set up outside between the two entrances and were able to chat more with folks going in and out. They were also hungrier at this time of day, and we were happier with our results!

Hungry Hikers

Hungry Hikers

That evening we drove to Grant Village, where we would stay the night in our deluxe…tent. Being “experienced” campers, we pitched the tent and started a fire before the temperature dropped. We had been eagerly awaiting the chance to try Hungry Hiker’s Beef Stroganoff (they of course use Country Pasta). So we tore open the package, followed the directions, and enjoyed a delicious hot meal! After dinner and dishes, okay – just one dish, we enjoyed s’mores over the campfire and planned our attack on the next 2 stores. After a chilly, semi-comfortable night listening to the “neighbors,” morning brought welcome warmth and purpose.

The next event was scheduled for 10 A.M. in Grant Village’s store. We gave out many samples to excited customers and learned several interesting tidbits about the park from the folks who return each summer to work there. We even heard a story about a sleepy bison who loved to spend the night just outside the door to a store employee’s RV. She would routinely call in to work explaining that she would arrive after the bison got up for the day!

Moving to our final location was very exciting, since we would be setting up at the largest Old Faithful store. This store has two levels, and was wall-to-wall people for the entire 3 hours we were there! We sampled to folks who had traveled from all the way from Israel to vacation in the Park. We met folks who had used our products for years, as well as many people who had never heard of Country Pasta. Near the end of the afternoon, Heather was kind enough to hold down the fort while I watched Old Faithful in person (for the first time). What a sight!

When we served ourselves out of a job, we packed our supplies (and souvenirs) in to the car one last time and prepared for the drive back to Polson. It was agreed that we should reflect on our time in Yellowstone while enjoying Montana-made Wilcoxson’s ice cream, available upstairs in the Old Faithful store. We had a memorable trip, and it was an exciting opportunity that I am glad we were able to participate in. As we drove out of the park toward West Yellowstone and home, we tallied the license plates we had seen on our short 2 day visit. The results are surprising…we counted plates from 45 states and 4 Canadian provinces. What a trip!!

Check out our slideshow for the highlights…including Old Faithful!

10/26/2011 ~ Live Locally Results!!!


Melinda and Heather

Melinda and Heather

We want to extend a HUGE thank you to everyone who helped support this year’s Live Locally event!! Whether you donated prizes, time and talent, food, support, money, best wishes or just your smiling face-you are appreciated! This race was the best attended ever and Melinda is overwhelmed with the community spirit and generosity (so are we!!). Let’s keep her in our thoughts and continue to help her reach her goal: London 2012. We think she can make it 🙂

Hats and bracelets are still for sale at Health Care Plus. All proceeds go to Melinda to help with the continued costs of training and travel.

Click on the link to check out your times… 2011 LIVE LOCALLY RESULTS
See you all next