What’s Cooking?2016-11-23T10:20:39-06:00

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: TheSpruceEats.com

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.