5 Easy Pasta Recipes Using Alfredo Sauce

Updated: May 2021. As I update my blog archives, it is easy to notice a pattern in my parenting. I was always looking for something to make for dinner that my kids would eat.  It's odd.  When they were younger, they were more daring at the dinner table than they are now.  They would at least try something that I put in front of them to taste. That five-year-old pictured below will soon be a sophomore in high school. It pains me to admit that he absolutely hates my cooking in 2021, aside from a few things.  

One thing that has not changed, though, is his taste for alfredo sauce.  If I serve alfredo "something," then I know he will eat it.  Meanwhile, my soon-to-be-middle schooler will not eat alfredo sauce at all these days.  When it comes to this updated 2021 Garden Chicken Alfredo Recipe

Garden alfredo recipe that will have your kids eating the rainbow and asking for more.

I saute her chicken with souvlaki seasoning and butter.  She gets plain pasta while the rest of us eats this classic Alfredo chicken recipe that I can prepare in less than twenty minutes. One item you need in your kitchen, though, is an Epicure Steamer. And it will change dinnertime for the better, especially if you have little ones like I did in 2011.  I really wish I had that silicone cookware item in my kitchen back then.  

Do you ever come home and say, “What can I cook tonight?” Do you then dig into your pantry or freezer to see what you can find to cook? Or are you a meal planner that has a calendar with that night’s meal listed on it?  I prefer to plan meals, but I must confess I have an unusual way of going about it.  Most people probably wouldn’t opt for my plan.  Let’s look at last week as a typical example of how meal planning goes in my house.

On this particular day, I was about ten minutes away from needing to leave my house to arrive at my massage appointment on time. The massage was a much-needed gift from my husband and children. Coincidentally, the appointment happened to be next to the Trader Joes in my area. Since this would be my opportunity to go grocery shopping child-free, I put on my coat and scarf, grabbed a pencil, paper, and started writing down the items I needed to make one or two meals that I’ve made so frequently that I know exactly what I need off the top of my head.  I also picked out three cookbooks from my very crowded recipe book cupboard and opened the books I picked on the kitchen counter.  I flipped through the pages and waited for recipes to say, “Make me!”

a rainbow of bell peppers which are great in alfredo sauce

This haphazard menu planning is my way of trying new recipes, and it is also why my husband says that he rarely sees the same thing twice on our table unless it becomes part of the coveted “What can I fix quickly” menu file.  Those are my "Go-To" recipes that I can recite by heart.  With just six minutes to spare before I needed to leave, I came across a recipe my friend, Betty Crocker, had given me when I got married but never made.

I thought, “This is perfect! I can find all of these items at Trader Joe's.  And I’m going to add this and that."

kid-friendly foods

If you have ever read any parenting food websites or even nutritional sites, it will tell you that you need to try to eat a rainbow color of fruits and vegetables daily. I’m really optimistic and all, but it’s hard for me to see a rainbow daily on our table.  At one given time, I may have blueberries, bananas, apples, frozen green beans, kiwi, broccoli, carrots, and some corn in my house, but I certainly don’t serve them all in one day. We tend to eat two or maybe three colors in a rainbow a day, and sometimes, some colors are totally left out weeks at a time. I feel as if I"m denying my family a whole rainbow.   Shame on me!

I’ll be the first to tell you, I love fruits and vegetables.  My Grandma Powell, whom you heard about earlier this week, had a large garden.  She would cook about eight to ten vegetables a day. No joke!  Her spread of turnips, turnip greens, eggplant, sweet corn, field peas, green peas, and carrots daily created a table rainbow-like something in the "Wizard of Oz."

I don't cook like a grandma, so you can imagine my excitement when I found the idea for a “rainbow connected” meal. Since I created this meal by taking ingredients from several sources,  I  renamed this colorful dish “Rainbow Inspired Capellini with Alfredo Sauce. ” Isn’t that chic?  It’s basically my version of pasta primavera with alfredo sauce bought from Trader Joe's, but those who know me well know that I like to name things from my daughter’s baby dolls to random stray cats see on my travels. Hence, renaming a recipe is only natural in this case. 

kids like the creaminess of alfredo sauce

I must warn you now that when I put my new culinary rainbow in front of my five-year-old, he said, “That looks YUCKY!” Sometimes you just want to put tape over a food critic’s mouth!!

However, I quickly said, “Well, it is Kermit the Frog’s favorite meal.”  If you’re old enough to remember the Muppets, then you may just be humming his little famous song.  Am I right?

My strength may not be in food presentation, but this pasta dish tasted good.  JH ate most of it, and my daughter liked it, too. The Alfredo sauce may have been a little rich for her, but I bought a lighter version with about 90 calories per ¼ cup. Since it came from Trader Joe's, it was free of preservatives and healthier than some other processed versions, but you can use any store-bought sauce of your choosing.  (In 2021, I now use Epicure's gluten-free Alfredo Sauce  Mix. You can control the sodium with this sauce mix, and there are NO preservatives at all.)

If your kids eat Alfredo Sauce, then the meal choices are endless.  Here are a few of my family favorites: 

stuffed carbonara chicken alfredo shells

garden vegetables with alfredo pasta

      I use frozen salmon fillets that I buy from Whole Foods. 

bow-tie alfredo salmon


This is a very simple Betty Crocker Recipe, and of course, in 2021, now that I have discovered            Epicure, I use its jarred taco seasoning.  It is more economical than the packets in the grocery store and better for your health with less sodium. This seasoning has some heat to it which works great when you pair it with the alfredo sauce. 

Add some heat to alfredo sauce with a taco pasta mix.

Denise Austin's Alfredo Pasta tossed with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil. 

This recipe is a take on the Garden Pasta recipe from above, but even more simple.  Add halved cherry tomatoes to the alfredo sauce and toss with pasta and basil.  It is delicious. This is a Denise Austin recipe I've been making for years. 

Classic Fettucine Alfredo tossed with basils and tomatoes

5 Easy Pasta Recipes Using Alfredo Sauce

Post contains affiliate links. 

Chip and Joanna Gaines Worthy: North Carolina's 301 Endless Yard Sale Event Held Every June

Updated May 2021.  The 301 Endless Yard Sale in NC is back after a COVID hiatus. This story originally ran in 2016. The 2021 Endless Yard Sale will be held on June 18 and June 19 on a 100 mile stretch of highway. 

Ashby Brame, Director of Marketing for the Johnston County Visitors Bureau, mentioned, “Historically, the 301 Endless Yard Sale attracts people from all over the country and as far away as Canada. If the sale had happened last year, then this year would mark year 10… a decade of deals, unique finds, treasures, and more!”

Whether people are looking for something particular or they’re just looking for an Americana road trip full of vintage shopping, local restaurants, and interesting attractions, the 100+ miles of the 301 Endless Yard Sale has something for everyone. Explore Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, and Harnett county; shop north to south, south to north, or start in the middle and pick a direction. 

Are you a fan of Fixer Upper?  Seeing one show was all it took, and I'm obsessed with the couple like the rest of the country. In one of the episodes, I saw Chip and Joanna Gaines go to a yard sale and search for unwanted treasures. What Joanna does to her unique finds is utterly amazing. 

North Carolina's 301 Endless Yard Sale will stretch 100 miles and five counties in June.

North Carolina may be too far for the Gaines to travel to find some used treasures to repurpose, but others are certainly heading our way in a couple of weeks for North Carolina's 301 Endless Yard Sale. It is held in five counties down Highway 301 for a 100-mile stretch on Friday and Saturday in June. 

North Carolina's 301 Endless Yard Sale will stretch 100 miles and five counties in June.

In some ways, this highway is like the iconic Route 66 minus the teepee hotels and instead replaced with a giant snowcone building that serves us some great snowballs. 

Cute, Snowball place off of 301 in Smithfield, N.C.
Hills of Snow is located off of Highway 301 in Smithfield. 

Highway 301 used to be the main route to Florida before I-95 was built. When that busy Interstate was built, travelers could get where they wanted much quicker. Still, at the same time, travelers had to say goodbye to passing through quaint Southern towns like Roanoke Rapids, Wilson, Rocky Mount, Selma, Smithfield, Benson, and Dunn. 

Four years ago, Johnston County started this sale because Selma, North Carolina, is known for its antiques, and it was a great way to get traffic back to these small, rural towns with charm and charisma.  

North Carolina's 301 Endless Yard Sale will stretch 100 miles and five counties in June 17-18.

The first-yard sale was a success and snowballed, so to speak. It now stretches across five North Carolina counties and 100 miles. Vendors across the country come out to share their finds, and people with talent like the Gaines are coming to North Carolina to repurpose these rare finds. 

I find this repurposing interesting. I turned to a couple who have the blog The Navage Patch to ask them how pros go about events like this. I really wouldn't know where to begin, but they do it with a mission in mind as a couple, just like the Gaines. 

Greg and Handan of the Navage Patch

Greg is a woodworker, and his wife, Handan, is a crafter and painter.  They each look for different things at yard sales, flea markets, garage sales, and antique shops. 

Greg says, "Since Handan is the crafter and the painter, she is interested in all things, big and small. She looks for pieces with beautiful lines and curves, and ornate embellishments. For her, material and finish are not as important as shape. A piece made from junky wood is as compelling as one made from something nicer, as she would anyway fix the imperfections and hide everything under a few coats of chalk paint. She also looks beyond a piece’s intended purpose (chair, dresser, bowl, etc.) to see new possibilities (a tiered stand made from a table leg, a jewelry carousel made from a cabinet door, etc.). 

Repurposing antiques
See how Handan took an old toolbox and turned it into a planter. 

Meanwhile, Greg has his eye on different pieces when he goes to events like the 301 Endless Yard Sale,  "I’m looking for pieces with interesting wood grain or exotic veneers. Whenever possible, I like to preserve the wood – clean it, stain it (or leave it alone), and finish it with polyurethane. I generally focus on furniture and larger pieces. Often a piece will have excellent wood on some part, say the top of a table, but the legs might be ho-hum. In that case, I would paint the legs but preserve the wooden top. I love to mix painted and natural wood – the effect can be striking. Occasionally I will re-imagine the piece. I am currently working on an antique maple dresser that I’m turning into a wine bar. Though it is an antique, nothing special about it – nothing to make me want to restore it. It was made from good solid maple, but it was a plain and utilitarian piece of furniture. None of the wood is interesting enough to showcase, so that whole piece will be painted, except for a mahogany bar top I made from the remains of another antique dining table."

Repurposing furniture
You will not believe what this desk looked like before Greg worked his magic as well as Handan
Greg and Handan have a unique story behind their blog, and who knows,.....HGTV may come calling one day just like they did with the Gaines. After I post this story, they may put North Carolina on their list to visit next June. 

Here's a Quick #OutaboutNC Guide to Help You Navigate the 301 Endless Yard Sale 

Starting Point  or Ending Point on Highway 301: Halifax County

Begin or end your adventure at Riverside Mill in Weldon. You will find over one-half acres of gleaming Antiques.  Vendors will be set up in their parking lot and down the road on the banks of the Roanoke River at River Falls Park.

North Carolina's 301 Endless Yard Sale will stretch 100 miles and five counties in June.

Keep heading south on 301, and you will arrive in Enfield. There you will find several vendors, and the locals recommend Jennie’s Beans & Buns as a great place to grab a cool drink or lunch. 

Nash County (Rocky Mount, N.C.)

Vintage Signs are popular at the 301 Endless Yard Sale
Vintage signs are also popular finds on the 301 Endless Yard Sale. Photo from Tar Heel Flea Market. 

In Rocky Mount, N.C., you can stop at the Purple Petal and Tar Heel Flea Market. If hungry, stop at this historic staple, The Central Cafe on Church Street. I've eaten here, and it's classic grilled cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs, and cheap breakfast—a greasy spoon at its best. 

Wilson County (Wilson, N.C )

Wilson is known for Whirligigs
A Whirligigs. A lot can be found in Wilson.

Wilson is known for the large kinetic sculptures that move with the wind called "Whirligigs" - a park is being built in historic downtown Wilson which currently houses 16, and 31 will be in place by June 2017 for the completion of the park.  

Like fried chicken and BBQ? You are in luck. Wilson has Parker's Barbecue on Highway 301, almost across from the County Fairgrounds, where many of the 301 Endless Yard  Sale Vendors will be set up while in town. 

The Beefmaster Inn in Wilson is known for its steaks.
The Beefmaster Inn in Wilson, N.C. 

Antique dealers are located up and down the 301 area of Wilson. Boone's Antiques, Boykin Antiques, Church Street Galleries, and Langston Antiques are a few well-known establishments.  In the mood for a steak, then you'll be in for a treat at the Beefmaster Inn located on Highway 301.  The place is tiny. It will be hard to get a table.  It's not fancy, but you can bet it will be a steak just like my Daddy grilled. It's a Wilson staple. 

 Johnston County (Selma, Smithfield, and Benson)

The 301 Endless Yard Sale began in Johnston County four years ago. Selma, N.C. is in the heart of the sale and is considered the halfway point for many visitors.  Johnston County will have 30 miles of pure yard sale goodness from Kenly to Benson. 

I think one thing is for sure in the South, no one will go hungry. Here.  As for local places with flair, Kenly has Stormin' Norman's BBQ.  Hills of Snow is a must-stop to cool off.  Holt's Lake is between Smithfield and Four Oaks - is another well-known BBQ restaurant in the area. Four Oaks, N.C is known for Stanfield's General Store; it's a vintage general store with glass soda bottles sold out of a cooler and snacks.  They also sell local arts and crafts.  In Benson, you will not want to miss Glenda's Sweet Shop, a local ice cream place, and they will be serving treats to cool off and welcoming vendors into their parking lot.

Ending Point or Starting Point: Harnett County (Dunn, N.C.)

It will take you three to four hours to go the entire route.  This Endless Yard Sale shopper FAQ can answer any questions you may have about the event. 

Sherry's Bakery, Homemade Doughnuts in Dunn.
Homemade Doughnuts and  Antiques A Good Combo.  Sherry's Bakery in Dunn. 

 Broadstreet Deli and Market and Sherry's Bakery are two local, well-recommended places to grab a bite. Sherry is known for her homemade doughnuts. She also has fried okra as a side on her lunch and dinner menu. She's a woman after my own heart. I'm taking a field trip to Dunn this summer just for the fried okra. 

Visit the 301 Endless Yard Sale Website for more vendor information. 

Antiques and Treasures Found in the 301 Endless Yard Sale in NC

Why Busy People Need the Epicure Steamer

Since marrying my husband nineteen years ago, I've survived on a few pots and pans, a crockpot, a roasting pan, a toaster, a dutch oven, and an instant pot as the leading cookware in my kitchen.  I don't have a lot of bells and whistles when it comes to cookware. So what I'm about to tell you may surprise you based on my cookware buying history. 

One afternoon while scrolling through social media,  I discovered the Epicure website. This Canadian company had recently launched in the U.S. The concept behind its time-saving cookware and non-processed seasoning ingredients intrigued me. I stalked a few demonstrations on using its multipurpose steamer on social media. Eventually, I decided to purchase its value-kit for $99, including the steamer and several quick meal solutions and seasonings. 

All Epicure seasonings and meal solutions are non-processed, gluten-free, low in sodium and sugars, and you can pronounce every single ingredient in them. Epicure even has a never-list of ingredients that you will never find in its products. When you cook with Epicure products, you know what you are putting in your body, and that is important to me, just like it is when I use clean beauty. 

Chicken Parmesan in less than 20 minutes

Considering that I don't buy much for my kitchen, especially on a whim, this purchase was very out of character. Fast forward to six months later, and no doubt, this one steamer has been one of the best kitchen cookware tools of my life.  I use it almost every day and have now purchased the round, oval steamer for soups and rotisserie chicken. 

Epicure steamer saves so much time in the kitchen. It can be used in the microwave, oven and is dishwasher safe. 

The Multipurpose steamer is a true workhorse in the kitchen. You can cook an entire meal. You can steam veggies in minutes right from the freezer. You can steam frozen chicken, ground beef, pork, seafood. You can cook rice, pasta, eggs, make soups, and so much more. It's truly spectacular. I cannot imagine not having this steamer.  It has made my life in the kitchen so much easier and has helped me get meals on the table for my family quicker. 

This past Thanksgiving in 2020 is when I truly learned of this steamer's power in the kitchen. I, fortunately, have two ovens. However, I'm Southern, and a traditional southern Thanksgiving menu calls for casseroles. Southern food requires some pre-cooking before you assemble sweet potatoes, squash, or cranberries into its main dishes for the menu.  I looked at my Thanksgiving menu, and I needed to save time because I had several things that needed to be pre-cooked before becoming the main dish, and each pre-cooking would have taken up to thirty to sixty minutes in the oven. 

I also steamed the sweet potatoes in ten minutes.  It was ready to turn into a sweet potato casserole. I cooked squash in the same amount and cooked cranberries in 20 minutes, coated in sugar. It was amazing the time I saved, and that, in truth, when I learned the power of this Epicure steamer. I knew after Thanksgiving that everyone needed to learn what this one product could do, and right then, I added the company as a blog affiliate. 

Epicure offers a bundle value of the steamer and the Good Mexican Real Fast Seasoning Kit plus the ctirus press, or you can purchase the steamer alone for $52.50 in U.S dollars. 

I use the Epicure steamer almost daily to cook one or two chicken tenderloins for my daughter.  She likes sauteed chicken in butter as her protein, so I take a frozen tenderloin, steam it for two minutes, add my favorite Epicure Souvlaki seasoning, then sautee the tenderloin in butter on the stove.  It takes no time to get her a quick meal before cheer practice.  Sometimes, she is at the cheer gym for five hours a night, so she has to eat earlier than the rest of us. The Epicure multipurpose steamer has helped us so much with our busy schedules during the week. 

I promise you that you will never look back once you purchase.  I have found I can plan meals on a whim if I keep seasonings, produce, and meat in stock at all times.  I have even lowered my grocery bill, and I'm eating nothing processed. Epicure seasonings have hardly any sugars or sodium in them, so I control my sodium by adding salt back into the cooking. 

When someone cooks with processed foods by well-known grocery store brands, they are not used to adding sodium back because most of the food contains more sodium than you need per day in one serving. I think this is the one thing you do need to get used to when it comes to cooking with Epicure meal solutions and seasonings. 

Epicure steamer recipes ... The Epicure steamer is a magical tool that will make your life easier. What is the Steamer? The steamer cooks healthy meals in minutes

However, the reduced added sugars have helped me maintain my weight over the past six months. Some people naturally lose weight because of that, but that has to be in line with portions and exercise. 

Epicure is…..

⭐23-year-old Canadian meal solutions company, brand new to the USA!

⭐Raw to ready meals in 20 minutes or less!

⭐Affordable and value-driven! Meals break down to approx $2.50 per serving, including the “cook from fresh” meal kits and groceries!

⭐All products are 100% Gluten Free & Peanut Free!!

⭐Non-GMO Project Verified!

⭐Sodium and sugar conscious!

⭐All ingredients are sustainably and ethically sourced!

⭐Free from over 100 harmful ingredients found in most store brands!

You can make steamer mashed potatoes in under 15 minutes. 

You can make 4-minute steamer salmon and asparagus. You can cook salmon from frozen, but you would need to adjust. The entire time from prep to cooking is less than 15-minutes. 

Epicure steamer beef and broccoli pasta is a customer favorite ready in under 20 minutes. 

Do your kids like Mac and Cheese? Epicure has some of the best Mac and Cheese seasoning I have tasted. It can be made on the stove or in the steamer.  It's so easy. 

You can even make desserts and popcorn in the steamer.  I have an entire database of recipes that I share in my A Dash of Flavor with Leigh Powell Hines Facebook group.  I hope you join me there. 

How this steamer can help busy people in the kitchen. It can help you get dinner on the table in 20 minutes or less

Below is the value kit I purchased for $99 when I discovered Epicure. It includes the multipurpose steamer, the Great Mexican seasoning kit with digital recipes, prep bowls, a cookbook, scissors, the cutting board, a citrus press, plus your own website for sharing.  One does not have to be a blogger to purchase the kit.  Anyone can buy and buy from their own website or open an Epicure store in your community. 

Currently, I am about one out of 1500 U.S stores, and we have several states that do not even have representation. Contact me for more information. I love this company not only because it's healthy but it is a time-saver for me.  It has helped me so much with mealtime. For every Mac and Cheese Meal Solution purchased, Epicure donates a meal to organizations that help curb hunger in the U.S and Canada. 

Learn why this Epicure steamer is a must-have kitchen tool for busy people

Post contains affiliate links where I earn revenue from link clicks and/or purchases. Thank you for supporting my blog. If you want to more information about epicure, please contact me. 

5 Ways to Arrange Your Home for Productivity

For the first time in an entire year, I was in my home office alone without having kids in school in other parts of the house this week.  If you have been a reader of this blog in the past ten years, you will also notice that my productivity went way down during COVID.  I had a lot on my plate. 

I was also used to working in my home office, whereas many of you had to shift to the home office for the first time.

The remote work setup brought about by COVID-19 may have seemed glamorous at first, eliminating things like exhausting commutes to the office. However, the World Economic Forum reports that there are still apprehensions about productivity because of the shift. So due to the current climate, it’s crucial to re-evaluate and rearrange your makeshift office at home to ensure productivity. Here are a few ways you can do just that:

tidy and neat workspace

Declutter your home

Living amongst clutter impedes your cognitive abilities and has an impact on your mental health. A fast-paced culture of consumerism has only added to this problem. So it’s no surprise that Marie Kondo and her tidying methods have spiked in popularity over the last few years.

The organizing consultant’s patented “KonMari” technique encourages people to do away with items that no longer “spark joy” in their lives. While this may mean different things to different people, the underlying premise stays the same: decluttering your space — whether that’s your pantry or your work desk — spills over to other aspects of your life and can eventually lead to more productivity.

Separate work from living spaces

There are few things worse than being reminded of work as you’re unwinding for the day. But it’s a challenge to apply “out of sight, out of mind” when your work and living space are in the same house. As such, it’s a good idea to designate a “work only” area: a sacred space where work — and only work — gets done. Likewise, try not to bring your files and documents into the bedroom. This physical separation ensures that you can “shut down” and recharge properly to face the days ahead.

Hang up some art

grey chair and grey desk in home office
Art creates a productive worker, according to studies. This is a beautiful workspace from Overstock.

A happy worker is a productive worker, and research shows that surrounding yourself with art is one effective method to boost your mood. More precisely, Small Business Trends says that 53% are happier when there’s an art in the office.

To apply this to your own home, you can try putting up a gallery wall. It’s inexpensive but looks classy and elegant. An article on home improvement ideas published on HomeServe states that you can put up your own gallery wall with original art prints or even family photographs. Aside from reaping the benefits of being around art, it’s also a way to enjoy your memories and remind yourself why you’re trying to be productive in the first place.

Invest in ergonomics

Though it’s tempting to work in bed or hunched over on your couch, it can have adverse effects on your health in the long run. And during a global pandemic when hospitals are generally very busy, the last thing you want is to injure yourself.

PC Mag provides a quick rundown of what you need for an ergonomic home office. If you have the budget, consider investing in a chair with adjustable height and tilt features. A laptop riser is also a worthwhile purchase to prevent forward-flexing your neck. Otherwise, you can use typical household items like towels (for lumbar support) or books (to keep your laptop at eye level) to save money. Remember that with a comfortable work setup comes increased productivity and focus.

Work where there’s natural light.

Ranking above fitness centers and onsite cafeterias, office workers actually prefer access to natural light and outdoor views as their number one workplace perk report Harvard Business Review. In fact, 47% of employees admitted feeling low on energy when their workspace doesn't get enough natural light. For a work-from-home setup, this should be an easy problem to remedy. Consider stationing your work area near a window. Alternatively, draw the curtains back to allow sunlight to shine into your home. This can help improve your productivity by preventing eyestrain, reducing drowsiness, and lifting your overall mood.

sunlight lamp for the office
If you don't have good natural light in your office, you may want to try a sunlight lamp. 

Working is one of the few ways we can regain some semblance of normalcy during the pandemic. And while it can be difficult while working from home, that doesn't mean we should be less productive. Try out these simple home rearrangement tips, and hopefully, it will help boost your efficiency at work.

work space in the home

Post contains affiliate links. Also, don't worry about dinner slowing down your productivity. My affiliate, Epicure, can help you get healthy, affordable meals on your dinner table from raw to ready in 20-minutes or less. Check out this time-saving recipe for a weeknight meal.

chicken enchiladas made in the Epicure steamer

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