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    Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

    The flavor of the freshly roasted tomatoes in this soup makes it so much tastier than store-bought. (Look for tomatoes marked "RIPE" they are often on sale).The croutons are made from thyme-sprinkled grilled cheese sandwiches and served right on top of the soup -- even better than dunking!

    What you'll need:

        6 cups (3 pints) cherry tomatoes
        3 tablespoons olive oil
        1 teaspoon salt
        1/2 teaspoon pepper
        2 tablespoons unsalted butter
        2 garlic cloves, minced
        1 cup chopped onion
        1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
        4 cups chicken broth
        1/2 teaspoon thyme
        1 cup whipping cream

    How to make it:

        Heat the oven to 400°. On a baking sheet, combine the cherry tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the salt and pepper. Toss the ingredients to coat evenly and spread them in a single layer. Roast the tomatoes until they are shriveled with brown spots, about 35 to 45 minutes.

        In a large pot, heat the butter and the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the broth, the thyme, and the roasted tomatoes, including any liquid on the baking sheet. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes.

        Using a food processor or blender, puree the soup until it's smooth. Return it to the pot and stir in the cream. Without letting the soup boil, warm it over medium heat, stirring often, until steaming. Add salt and pepper, if necessary.

        Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with Grilled-Cheese Croutons. Makes about 10 cups

    Peanut Pitas

    Peanut Pitas are a nutritious, tasty snack and so easy to make. No measuring required.

    What you will need:
    1 package ( 8 ounces) small pita breads, cut crosswise in half
    16 teaspoons peanut butter
    16 teaspoons strawberry spreadable fruit
    1 large banana, peeled, and thinly sliced (about 48 slices)

    How to make it:
    Coat the inside of each pita half with 1 teaspoon each peanut butter and spreadable fruit. Fill pita halves evenly with banana slices.
    Eat them right away!

    Oven-fried Zucchini with a crunchy Parmesan crust

    Ever wonder what you are going to do with all those zucchini from your garden? Well this recipe is for you!
    Crunchy, and full of flavor these zucchini fries can be served as an appetizer, an after school snack or as a side with dinner. Low fat too! Serve warm or room temperature.

    What you will need:
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1/4 cup panko crumbs
    1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese
    1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 to 3 dashes cayenne pepper
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    1 large egg
    4 small green zucchini squash

    How to make it:
    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
    Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil.
    In a shallow dish, combine the panko crumbs, cheese, rosemary, cayenne, salt, pepper and mix well.
    In another shallow dish lightly beat the egg.
    Cut off the ends of the squash. Cut each squash in half lenghtwise. Lay the halves flat, and cut them lenghtwise again - you're making long strips. If your zucchini is really long cut your strips in half. They should be finger food size.
    Dredge each strip in the egg first, then in the cheese & crumb mixture. Space them out on the baking dish (they should not touch each other or overlap).
    Bake 5 to 7 minutes ( or until crisp and lightly browned).
    Serve hot or at room temperature.
    P.s. We have a cretain person at the Library who does NOT like zucchini. Well,  he tasted one and decided they were not bad and kept on eating!

    Cheddar-Scallion Panini

    What you will need:
    1 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
    2 tablespoons butter
    4 scallions, thinly sliced (green parts only)
    8 slices whole wheat or rye bread

    How to make it:
    In a medium bowl, toss the cheddar together with the scallions. Use the cheddar mixture to make four sandwiches.
    In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium low heat.
    Place the sandwiches in the skillet, cooking until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes per side).
    Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter to cook second side.
    If you have a panini grill or George Foreman grill, try pressing the sandwich.

    Savory Pancakes

    Easy to make and customize, these tasty treats are perfect any time of day. Kids love these pancakes because they're tasty, and parents love them because they're nutritious.

    What you'll need:
        1/2 cup flour
        1/2 teaspoon baking powder
        1/2 teaspoon salt
        1/4 teaspoon pepper
        1/2 cup grated cheese
        1 egg
        1/4 cup milk
        1 cup grated carrots
        1 cup grated zucchini
        2 small scallions, diced
        Vegetable oil
        Sour cream and salsa (optional)

    How to make it:
     In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cheese, salt, and pepper.
    In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and milk, then stir in the carrots, zucchini, and scallions. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and combine thoroughly. I did this with my hand to make sure it was really thoroughly mixed. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, spoon the batter into the pan, about 1/3 cup per pancake, and cook the pancakes for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Add more oil to the pan as needed. Serve the pancakes warm with a side of sour cream and salsa, if desired. I served mine with sauted baby spinach and sour cream - Yummy!  Makes 5-6 small pancakes.

    Keep the pancakes warm in the oven till they are all done.Warm the oven to 350 - turn it off - put a cookie sheet with a cooling rack in. Then as the pancakes are cooked I slip them in the oven on the cooling rack to keep warm but not soggy.
    The first time I made this recipe, one batch was NOT enough for two adults as the main course. So you might want to double the recipe!

    Frozen Strawberry Pops

    Wonderful on a hot summer day!

    What you will need:
    Blender or food processor
    1 1/2 pints of rinsed strawberries
    1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
    1/3 cup water

    How to make it:
    Combine  all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pulse until pure'ed, with some chunks of berries remaining.
    Pour half of the mixture into a bowl, and pulse the remainder until it is smooth.
    Mix them together again.
    Pour into three ounce cups and insert wooden sticks or spoons.
    Freeze until solid.


    If you run them under warm water for a few seconds - you can rip the paper cup right off for easy eating.

    Pasta with summer fresh tomato sauce

    For this recipe - the pasta may be hot or room temperature. The sauce is always room temp.!

    What you’ll need:
    1 lb. of pasta
    5 - 8 tomatoes
    cubed to comfortable bite size
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1 tbsp. capers
    4 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
    A pinch of red pepper flakes
    1/3 cup of chopped basil
    (or 1/4 cup of chopped parsley)
    (or, if you’re feeling zany, both)
    1/2 tsp. salt; pepper to your taste
    1/2 lb. grated Muenster, Fontina, or Mozzarella cheese
    1/2 c. grated Parmigiana cheese

    What you’ll do:
    I’ve often served this dish hot (or warm), but it was a hot July day when we made it in the test kitchen, and everyone loved that it was cold. It works both ways but these instructions are for the cold version.
    Prepare the pasta according to package directions. After draining, toss in two tablespoons of olive oil and set aside.
    Combine the cubed tomatoes, garlic and herbs in a bowl; set it aside.
    Once the pasta is cool, stir the shredded soft cheese into the tomato sauce. Combine the tomato sauce into the bowl of pasta. Sprinkle Parmigiana cheese over bowls to serve.

    -I used linguini. If you want to set aside a few noodles that are useful in building a  pasta airplane, you could use rigatoni or fettucini.
    -Tossing the olive oil into the pasta helps avoid congealing. Without it, your noodles can turn into goo-dles.
    -I don’t add the soft cheese to the sauce right away because it will soak up a lot of the juice that the salt is busily drawing out of the tomatoes.

    Summer Fresh Pasta

    This is terrific for a summer lunch.

    What you will need:
    12 0z. pasta, any shape
    1/2 cup pine nuts (optional - they are crazy expensive - but oh so good)
    1/4 cup olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons lemon zest
    Juice of 1-2 lemons (1/4 cup or so)
    2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
    1/2 cup  of your favorite chopped fresh herbs (I love basil!)
    Salt and pepper to taste

    How to make it:
    Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
    Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, toast the pine nuts until they are golden brown (two to
    three minutes). Then transfer them to a bowl.
    Reduce the heat under the skillet. add the olive oil and garlic, and cook until it is soft and smells really good.
    Remove the skillet from the heat and add the lemon zest and juice, set aside.
    When the water boils, cook the pasta al dente. Once it's cooked, but before draining, reserve a 1/3 cup of the
    pasta water.
    Drain the pasta well and add it to the skillet. Add the pasta water, herbs, pine nuts and tomatoes.
    Toss well. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm ot room temperature.

    Very Berry Smoothie

    Start your day off with a bang with this fruit-packed smoothie.

    What you will need:
    1 cp frozen unsweetened raspberries
    ¾ cp chilled unsweetened almond or rice milk
    ¼ cp frozen pitted unsweetened cherries or raspberries
    1½ Tbsp honey
    2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
    1 tsp ground flaxseed (optional)
    2 tsp fresh lemon juice

    What you will do:
    Combine all ingredients in blender, adding lemon juice to taste. Puree until smooth. Pour into 2 chilled glasses..

    Sushi for beginners

    Introduce your kids to the art of sushi rolling with these easy sandwiches. The tortilla does double duty as a rolling mat and a tasty wrapper
    What you will need:
        2 cups cooked sushi rice
        ½ tsp salt
        2 Tbsp rice vinegar
        ¼ cp chopped green onion
        4 (10-inch) flour tortillas
        4 sheets nori, or 2 cups spinach leaves
        ½ cp grated carrot
        1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut lengthwise into 4 spears (we used the European variety)
        Cooked shrimp or crabmeat (optional)
        Soy sauce
    What you will do:
       In a small bowl, mix the rice with the salt, vinegar, and green onion. For each wrap, heat a tortilla in the microwave for 10 seconds. For an authentic sushi taste, place a sheet of nori on the tortilla (or use 1/2 cup of spinach if your family's not game for the nori). Spread about 1/2 cup of the rice mixture on top of the nori, then add a layer of grated carrot. Next, place a cucumber spear and a quarter of the crabmeat/shrimp near one side of the nori. From that side, roll up the wrap and tuck in the ends.

        Tightly cover each sandwich in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Cut in half and serve with soy sauce for dipping. Makes 4 wraps.

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