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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Recipes, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 212
1. The Truth About Twinkie Pie

I was lucky enough to receive this ARC a long time ago. It was irresistible.  I mean, look at that cover! Read that title! I am a person who has never even had a twinkie, but I knew I needed to read this one.  Sometimes a book just gives you a feeling, and this one was calling to me.

Twelve year old Gigi (short for Galileo Galilei) and big sister Didi (short for Delta Dawn) have moved from their trailer park digs in South Carolina to an apartment in Long Island.  One of the only things they have brought with them is their late mother's recipe book which helped the girls win big money in a cooking contest, and Didi is set on giving Gigi a better life that she had.  Gigi is all registered to go to Hill on the Harbor Preparatory School and as long as she keeps following Didi's recipe for success by studying hard and getting top grades, everything will be great.

But here's the thing...Gigi is ready for some changes.   She has even come up with her own recipe for success that doesn't include studying in the library every extra moment of the day.  Instead she wants to find friends her own age, try on a new version of her name, and find ways to have the qualities she knows her late mother would see in her shine.  Gigi (now Leia) is feeling confident about memorizing her locker combination and her schedule and is ready for her first class on her first day when she crashes into Trip who just happens to be the most beautiful boy she's ever seen, and is also in her English class.  All of a sudden this front row girl was sitting in the back row next to Trip.

But change isn't alway smooth or easy, and even though Trip and most of his friends are super nice, mean girl Mace notices Leia's dollar store shoes and less-than-healthy E-Z Cheeze sandwich and makes sure that Leia knows that she is the square peg at school.  Leia can handle the insult about the shoes, but nobody makes fun of Didi's cooking!

Readers will be rooting for Leia as she navigates through all sorts of changes in her life. From the tony world of private school to freshly unearthed family secrets, Leia's life is not following any recipe!  Kat Yeh has written a treat of a middle grade story that will tug on your heart strings and make you smile in equal measure.  The multifaceted characters and rich turns of phrase that had me reading with a twang are only a couple of the reasons I read this book in one big gulp.  The Truth About Twinkie Pie is a book with honesty and heart and I cannot wait to share it with the tweens in my life!

0 Comments on The Truth About Twinkie Pie as of 1/10/2015 9:48:00 PM
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2. Celebrate Thanksgiving with: PUMPKIN BREAD

Here is an easy, nutritious recipe you and your children can make using the flesh of a whole pumpkin you’ve chopped and cooked, or a can of pumpkin puree.  Both work well. If you use the whole pumpkin, you can prepare it by boiling it in a large pot until tender and then scooping out the seeds before mashing the flesh.  You can also roast the pumpkin in the oven like a butternut squash until tender.   To save time and make it easier for children to do themselves, use the canned puree. NOTE: Cooked butternut squash can be substituted for the pumpkin in this recipe.


1 C flour (I like to mix white and whole wheat)  1 C. rolled oats (use quick or old-fashioned- NOT instant)

2 t baking soda      ¼ t powder     2 t cinnamon     ¼ t each of ginger, cloves, nutmeg

3 eggs          1 t vanilla     3/4 C oil ( I substitute applesauce or yogurt for half the oil)

1 C sugar      2 C pumpkin puree     1 C chopped walnuts

  1. Measure dry ingredients together.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce (if using), pumpkin, and vanilla.
  3.  Beat until well mixed.
  4. Stir in flour until smooth.  Add nuts.
  5. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans and bake for 35-45 minutes.  Test with a toothpick to see if it is done.  It should be dry after inserting in the middle of the bread.

This recipe also can be used to make muffins.  Makes 24 muffins.  Bake muffins for 20- 25 minutes.  These breads freeze well and can be made ahead of time to give as gifts over the holidays.

For a festive way to serve this cake-like bread, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt on  a slice and top with whipped cream.  It is also delicious spread with cream cheese.  HAPPY AUTUMN!

0 Comments on Celebrate Thanksgiving with: PUMPKIN BREAD as of 11/21/2014 3:42:00 AM
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3. sweetness

I received a package in the mail this week, and now I can finally show you a sweet assignment that dropped in my lap this summer. If you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen the whole thing in excruciating detail, but it always takes me a bit longer to come over here. Well, here goes:

Here I am on the table of contents, mine is the seal juggling Oreo truffles - of course.
 I got to do a feature for allrecipe magazine, and although I'm playing it cool, it was pretty exciting.

For this holiday candy recipe layout, the Art Director chose to photograph the confections in a watercolor Candyland landscape. The candies would become part of the picture, and turn into something else. I got to invent a storyline, paint the scenes and come up with ways to "disguise" the candy, which was a lot of fun.

These are a few of my favorites.

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4. Welcome the Birds With Make-Your-Own Suet Cakes.

With days getting shorter and cooler, we often lament the coming of winter. When we move indoors it seems like we miss out on some of the creatures in the natural world.  But, you can have birds in your yard all winter long by spreading out seeds and suet to attract them.  Here’s Shiela Fuller’s recipe for HOMEMADE SUET:

HOMEMADE SUET for bird feeding

Feeding winter birds is a rewarding winter activity for adults and children. The general agreement is if you provide winter foods, you should also provide a water source and hiding places for protection from predators. This means, place your feeder near trees or bushes that give quick cover.
There are many different varieties of bird species to see right outside your window. Common seed eating varieties are the blue jay, tufted titmouse, and black capped chickadee. If you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of an Eastern towhee or yellow-rumped warbler passing through on migration. The insect eating winter birds such as the downy woodpecker, the red-bellied woodpecker, and the nuthatch especially enjoy suet.
Making your own healthy version of bird suet is so easy to do.

Gather the ingredients:
1. bacon fat (the leftover liquid fat after you’ve cooked it)-throughout the year collect the leftover fat in a jar and keep in your fridge.
2. rolled oats
3. peanut butter
4. dried fruits , nuts, and/or seeds
5. commercial bird seed
Combine one part bacon fat and peanut butter and melt in a saucepan. Add the additional ingredients to make a thick concoction.
Cool and pour into an empty box that give will your suet shape. A half gallon milk or juice carton is perfect for this.  Place in freezer.    suet photoWhen solid, peel back the carton and slice the cake into ONE INCH THICK pieces that you can insert into your suet feeder or hang from a wire basket.

Keep the remaining suet in the freezer until needed. Since this has no artificial preservatives, recommended use is at 38* F or colder.

It won’t be long before the birds will make your backyard their home.

Shiela Fuller has been a Cornell University Project Feeder Watch participant for many years and an avid birder since 1988. Currently, she enjoys writing picture books, yoga, chicken raising, wildlife photography, and is the legacy keeper for her family.

1 Comments on Welcome the Birds With Make-Your-Own Suet Cakes., last added: 11/3/2014
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5. Cooking the Books

Use the promo code “cookthebooks” and get FREE postage. Offer ends 27th October Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty changed the way people cook and eat. Its focus on vegetable dishes, with the emphasis on flavour, original spicing and freshness of ingredients, caused a revolution not just in this country, but the world […]

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6. Easy-Peasy Zucchini Pancakes + Recipe Give-Away

I don’t know about you, but this year’s mild summer and fall produced a bumper crop of veggies in our garden. Especially zucchini.  If you are still picking this versatile vegetable, or are just looking for a new way to get your children to eat more veggies, this recipe will do it.  It’s so simple and DELICIOUS. Even reluctant eaters should give it a try.

Zucchini Pancakes

1. Wash a medium size zucchini and pat it dry.  SHRED into a large bowl. You should have about 2 Cups.

2.  Add the following: 3 T. flour (or biscuit mix), 1/3 C grated Parmesan Cheese, a sprinkling of onion powder and a dash of salt.

3. Beat an egg and add to the mixture, stirring until all the mix is wet.   zucchini 1

4.  Put 1T oil in a skillet or on a griddle, spreading it around to coat the pan.

5. Pour spoonfuls of the zucchini mix onto the hot skillet and spread out into a thin layer.  Cook until browned and then flip.

6. Serve hot.  These pancakes make a great side dish and are reminiscent of potato pancakes.

Variations:  Try using grated beets or carrots for a sweeter tasting pancake.  Or mix half zucchini and half carrot.  You can also add 2 T of minced onion to the mix instead of the onion powder.

What do you think?  Is this recipe a winner?

Recipe Card Give-Away: If you’d like a set of the FOUR recipes found in my MG novel WHEELS OF CHANGE, leave a comment or your favorite zucchini recipe. I’ll put everyone’s name in a hat and choose TWO winners.  You have until 10-31 to post your comments.  zucchini pancakes

4 Comments on Easy-Peasy Zucchini Pancakes + Recipe Give-Away, last added: 10/13/2014
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7. A Year in the Secret Garden: CoAuthor Marilyn Scott-Waters Interview

Marilyn Scott-Waters loves making things out of paper.



Her popular website, www.thetoymaker.com, receives 2,000 to 7,000 visitors each day, who have downloaded more than six million of her easy-to-make paper toys. Her goal is to help parents and children spend time together making things. She is the creator of a paper toy craft book series The Toymakers Christmas: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling), and The Toymakers Workshop: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling). She is also the co-creator with J. H. Everett of the middle grade nonfiction series, Haunted Histories, (Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt Books for Young Readers).


Marilyn Scott-Waters

On top all of this…..Marilyn is also my co-author and co-creator of the upcoming children’s book A Year in the Secret Garden.

I have known Marilyn for almost years now and these last three years have been a delight. It started in September of 2011 when I went to St. Paul Minnesota to attend The Creative Connection Conference. I was sitting in a hotel lounge writing in my notebook when this very cheerful woman came up to me and said, “Oh you have a moleskin. Can I pull up a chair and sit down?”  Never would I say no to such a request. As she sat down she said,” Hi I’m Marilyn from California.”  

And that’s when it all made sense. ” Are you Marilyn Scott Waters The Toymaker?” I asked. After she confirmed she was I admitted I had been buying and downloading her paper toys for years. Small world!
For the next four days we, the toymaker and I, had ample time to become friends and I even got to make toys with her. Over the course of our ongoing friendship we have mentioned to each other that we need to creatively collaborate on something. A book, a project….something. Then last fall we both had a flash of brilliance and the A Year in the Secret Garden book project was born.
Marilyn and I both agree that the process of creating this amazing children’s book filled with over 120 pages of activities, crafts, recipes, gardening fun and also education opportunities along with 150 original color illustrations. There is a total of 48 activities for families and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. Marilyn and I have a mission of offering A Year In the Secret Garden as an opportunity to introduce new generations of families to the magic of this classic tale in a modern and innovative way that creates special learning and play times outside in nature.
This book encourages families to step away from technology and into the kitchen, garden, reading nook and craft room.
Marilyn shared with me that creating this book for families almost felt like a calling, and I wholeheartedly agree. We both have put 110% into making A Year in The Secret Garden a unique and enchanting experience that encourages families to push away from the “i-devices” and create some memories together. Marilyn is a former art director and design guru and this is sooooo evident in her breathtaking creations within this book.
A Year in the Secret Garden
As we pieced this unique books together that is inspired by the classic children’s tale The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, we both knew we wanted this to be a book for all ages to enjoy, and also a reason for parents to spend time outside with their kids enjoying and discovering the beauty of nature, just like young Mary did in the original book.
Our physical A Year in the Secret Garden book is now available in PDF download form HERE. If you’d like more  in-depth look at the magical fun inside the pages of A Year in the Secret Garden, or order your special pre-sell copy of the physical book,  go HERE to view a list of activities, recipes and learning opportunities connected to the book.
Thank you!

The post A Year in the Secret Garden: CoAuthor Marilyn Scott-Waters Interview appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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8. Celebrate…Tomatoes!

If your garden is anything like mine, there are still plenty of fresh tomatoes to enjoy before the chill of fall settles in. No garden?  Head out to your local produce stand and sample the heirloom varieties that are becoming popular. Why not have a simple TOMATO SALAD for lunch or dinner?     Eat them alone or with some crisp cucumber slices.

summer saladAdd just a drizzle of olive oil, salt and basil leaves (if desired).  I like it at room temperature to get the best flavor from the tomatoes.  You can also dice them and make a fresh SALSA by adding diced onion, diced green peppers (it’s up to you how hot you want them to be), and some chopped cilantro.

Celebrate nature’s bounty and enjoy TOMATOES!

2 Comments on Celebrate…Tomatoes!, last added: 9/18/2014
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9. Make Rainbow Cookies for Your Next Picnic.

I recently attended my niece Gabby’s 11th birthday party where one of the desserts were some gorgeous sugar cookies she made.  Though dazzling to the eye, the recipe is simple to make and should be a definite crowd pleaser at your next picnic, barbeque or party.

The cookie’s are simple. Just use your favorite sugar cookie recipe – we even used a box mix. Then:

Divide the dough into 4 even portions and place in four separate bowls.
Choose 4 food coloring colors
Dye the dough to your desired color by adding the food color a few drops at a time to each portion.
Mix the food coloring into the dough (use a spoon to mix unless you wish for stained hands) and add more if you wish for a more vibrant color (remember you can always add more but you can’t take it away so be careful.)
Then take teaspoon-sized portions of the colored dough from each of the four bowls.
Set the four balls tightly next to each other in a 2X2 square configuration.
Then, begin to roll the four balls together pulling gently outward to make a long hotdog shape.
Coil the hot dog shaped dough around itself and bake as directed in the recipe.
Enjoy your creation!  It makes great ice cream sandwiches with a scoop of your favorite flavor ice cream sandwiched between two cookies.
gabby and cookies 2

2 Comments on Make Rainbow Cookies for Your Next Picnic., last added: 8/29/2014
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10. What’s all This Buzz-ness About Bees?

Jersey Farm Scribe here, and I’m so excited to do a post here on Darlene’s website.

It’s exciting for me to get a chance to talk about something farm-related, since I’m usually posting on writing on Kathy’s website Writing and Illustrating or Children.  http://www.kathytemean.wordpress.com

I thought about what I should write about. I could write about the animals that I have here on The Farm. I could write about the lifestyle, being more in touch with the world around us, agriculture and fresh food. I could write about one of the many projects that are always going on… and never quite finished.

In the end, I decided to write about something close to my heart that I HAVEN’T gotten fully involved in. What a great motivator for me to finally jump in!!! Plus, then perhaps I can do another post in a few months and update everyone on any progress that has been made.

So here we go… they’re cute… they’re amazing,

honey bee

honey bee

and they’re SUPER sweet. I had the amazing opportunity to visit an active BEE hive with my brother’s family, including their bee-guru boys. We went to Dan Price’s Farm, the founder of Sweet Virginia Foundation  http://sweetvirginia.com, a Honey Bee Conservation and Education Organization. Here we all are at their farm. The three little ones are three of my four amazing nephews. I’m the odd-ball in the green suit.

group shot (2)

There were some high school kids doing a project. The high schoolers were very leery of the bees, (understandably), and a bit skittish about going up to the hive.

My nephews, 12, 11 and 7, had absolutely no problems. They were informing the older kids of where to stand that was safe. (bees create a main highway where they travel in and out of the hive, and as long as you keep that area clear, you’re perfectly fine!) They operated the smoke puffer (definitely NOT it’s technical name) and answered all the questions the hive experts had like it was NOTHING.

Hive Manager: Does anyone know how many different types of honeybees there are?
7 yr-old-nephew (looks at her as if to say, um, who doesn’t??: Three. The queen. The worker bees, which are girls, and the drones, which are boys.

Hive Manager: That’s right. And the bees that we see flying around sometimes, which are they?

11-yr-old: Worker bees.

Hive Manager: And why’s that?

12-yr-old AND 7-yr old: Because they are the only ones that leave the hive. All the drones do is mate with the queen and all the queen does is lay eggs.

Eventually, the hive manager realized she was going to have to think of harder questions.
Then Marcus and Ethan, the 11 and 7-yr olds picked up a BEE COVERED slat from the hive, (without any gloves on!) and with absolutely no fear:

holding bees (3 part 1)     holding bees (3 part 2)




And here is Jared, (12) even letting a bee crawl on his hand!

bee in hand (4) I was unbelievably impressed, to say the least. (as were the high school kids who they completely showed up!)

I learned a lot. I won’t get into the dorky-science details here. (I’m a total science nerd at heart). But here’s a fun one:   Bees communicate with DANCE!

Seriously… how cool is that?

PBS has a great video on The Waggle Dance:  http://video.pbs.org/video/2300846183/

They use it to communicate where the good hive or flower is located. It’s pretty unbelievable.

I think most people know at this point that there are concerns for the honeybee’s health around the world, which would be devastating to our food sources. It’s more than just not having beautiful flowers. Fruits and vegetables pollinate and grow because of bees. And the animals that we raise for food eat these fruits and vegetables as well!

But luckily there is something really simple you can do that can make a BIG difference! You know those signs you see?       local honey sign (5)

Those are people who either run their own hive, or have someone come in and run a hive for them. This is GREAT for the honeybee population. You can help out your local farmer, and help the honeybees at the same time.

Honey is such a great natural sugar substitution. Try substituting it for sugar in recipes, to give an extra yummy flavor, and a much healthier sweetness. Sugar is sweeter than sugar, so you would about ½ to ¾ cup of honey for every cup of sugar.

I do a combination:

For every cup of sugar a recipe calls for I use:
¼ cup sugar
½ cup honey

This is amazing in almost ALL baking, cakes, muffins, cookies, breads, the works.

Honey has some pretty amazing healing powers as well. It’s been used as a natural antibacterial agent for years!

Feeling like you have a cold coming on, or just can’t kick one? Try this:

Hot water
Raw Honey – (natural antibacterial agent and throat coater)
REAL ginger – (natural anti-inflammatory)
REAL garlic – (natural antibiotic)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (with the mother) (balances the acidity level – excellent for chest cold)

Okay…. so I’m not gonna lie, this is not a delicious drink. But I can from personal experience it can really help to kick those sniffles!

Allergies? Try local honey. A full T every single day. The closer the hive is to your home, the better.

The idea is that you’re introducing a small amount of the pollen into your system via the honey, making your body more use to it (similar to how allergy shots work). This method of course depends on what you are actually allergic to, and there is actually not a lot of actual pollen in honey, but there is some.

I am lucky and don’t suffer from allergies myself, but I have a few friends I’ve suggested this to that swear it helped them. Plus, this one IS delicious!

(I am obviously NOT a doctor, these are just personal home-remedies I’ve always used)

Kids definitely like finding out where their food comes from. And there are also some GREAT Kid-Friendly Honey Recipes:   Bite-size Honey Popcorn Balls  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/bite-size-hiney-popcorn-balls-10000001661174  honey popcorn (6)

 Honey Glazed Carrots http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/honey-glazed-carrots 

glazed carrots (7) And of course, a great dipper for apples, carrots, fruit, bread, chicken, you name it!!!!

So next time you see a local sign for…

honey sign (9) … take a quick stop and find out where their hives are located. You may end up in a more interesting conversation that you’d expect!!

As for me? I plan on trying to get a hive on my property by 2015.

And a big thank you to Darlene and all of you, because you all are part of what has motivated me to pursue it!!

bio picErika Wassall, The Jersey Farm Scribe is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. Check out her posts on Writing and Illustrating for Children every other week, and follow her on Twitter @NJFarmScribe.

3 Comments on What’s all This Buzz-ness About Bees?, last added: 8/24/2014
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11. Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Burger

I’d been wanting to try these for a long time but never got around to it until last week. There were a few mishaps, but all in all, I was psyched about how they turned out, despite their less-than-photogenic looks. They even got the hubs stamp of approval—-as in, he not only ate them without complaint (he pretty much always does that) but says he’d like me to make them again. He even chose them leftover the next day instead of grilled chicken.

The recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Here’s the original recipe. I’ve cooked a lot, lot, lot from this book. Check out my archives if you want to see more posts about food and cooking.

1 can black beans, drained

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (I used gluten-free)

1 TB chili powder

1 garlic clove

a generous squirt of Sriracha sauce

a nice blob o’ ketchup

3 pickled jalapeno slices

Pulse everything just a little, not a lot, in the food processor. I accidentally left out the egg, but it didn’t seem to matter much, so I doubt I’d add it back in. I also goofed and blended the ingredients too long.

After processing, let it all rest a few minutes.

Form into patties and chill in the fridge for a little while.

Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium, add oil, then brown the patties on one side, then the other.

The next bit was tricky for me. The burgers actually had to be cooked a long, long time to get the right texture. You want the texture to be kind of burger-like. The right kind of chew, not mushy and damp.Maybe I had trouble because I added too much moisture and pulsed the ingredients too long. I don’t know. I may try browning and then baking next time.

What I ended up doing was just turning the heat down to low and cooking them forever very slowly so as not to burn them. I was afraid the whole experiment would be a wash, but lo and behold, they turned out very well in the end.

I didn’t think they were more than mildly spicy, but my daughter (who likes to remind me that children have more taste buds) said the spice factor was too much for her. I hadn’t expected the kids to flock toward bean burgers anyway and had made them turkey burgers instead.

You could totally crank the spice factor up or down. These are definitely going into the rotation.

If you want more detail about all kinds of tips and variations, do check out the original recipe.

I’ve been reading Jennifer Worth’s memoir, Call the Midwife, since I love the show so much. I was surprised that the show actually follows the memoir fairly closely. I’ve been watching old episodes of Foyle’s War, a British WWII detective show. Also tried Outlander (no, I’ve never read the books) and The Knick. I’m definitely on a mostly British historical kick. Not sure what I think of those shows yet. You?

Also doing some patchwork, some of which I hope to show you soon.

2 Comments on Spicy Black Bean Burgers, last added: 8/11/2014
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12. Science? It's Sedimentary, My Dear Watson!

Want a sure-fire way to make your summer rock this year? Think geology and food! As the weeks of summer stretch by, one way to keep kids engaged (and learning) is to head to the kitchen and cook up some science! Not only is this a fun way to tap into a child’s curiosity, but it maintains the momentum of learning that often stalagmites—I mean stagnates—during the summer.

Let’s get rocking! Actually, rocks come in three basic "flavors": metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous. Metamorphic rocks are those that have "morphed" or been changed through heat and pressure. If you visit a museum this summer, you may notice the marble floor and statues. Marble is an example of metamorphic rock.  Sedimentary rock is formed from small pieces of other rocks and minerals fused together. Maybe you will be lucky enough to have a chance to walk on a sandy beach this summer. If you do, think of sandstone--a sedimentary rock formed by particles of sand cemented together. Then there’s igneous rock which is formed from liquid rock beneath the earth’s surface that has cooled and hardened.

Are you still on solid ground with all this science? Think again! Like a piece of delicious summer fruit, the earth has an outer "skin," but the inside is a whole different matter. In thickness, the surface of the earth is like the skin of a peach—only 4- 44 miles (6- 70 km) deep, compared to the rest of the earth which measures nearly 4000 miles (6400 km) to the center. Phew! Travel down to this center of the earth and you’ll find a solid metal core. This is surrounded by a thick layer of liquid metal—mostly iron and nickel. Even though the inner core has a temperature similar to the surface of the sun (9800°F / 5505°C), it is solid because of the enormous pressure pushing in on it. The next layer is called the mantle and the part of the earth that we live on is called the crust. The mantle is where the pockets of magma—molten rock—come from that erupt and form lava.

I don’t know about you, but all this talk about rocks makes me hungry. Head over to the kitchen to make this yummy Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna. Mmmm! 

Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna  
Illustration copyright © 2014 by Leeza Hernandez.

Before You Begin
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Oven temperature: 375°
Yield: 4-6 servings
Difficulty: medium

Frying pan
Spoon or spatula
Rectangular pan (8 x 10 inches or larger)
Heavy duty aluminum foil
Small bowl

1/2 pound (8 ounces) ground turkey or beef
2 cups pizza sauce
1 egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
Oven-ready lasagna noodles
Sliced pepperoni
1–2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. With an adult’s help, cook the ground meat in a frying pan until it is brown. Drain off any fat. Add the pizza sauce and mix well. 
  2. Spread about 1/2 cup of the meat sauce on the bottom of the rectangular pan. Top with oven-ready lasagna noodles, overlapping slightly to cover the whole pan. Top with more sauce—about 1/2 cup. 
  3. Crack and beat the egg, then mix thoroughly with ricotta cheese. Spread half this mixture over the noodles.
  4. Arrange a layer of pepperoni next, followed by a sprinkling of cheese. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles.
  5. Repeat the layers. Cover the final layer of lasagna noodles with the remaining meat sauce and a generous amount of mozzarella cheese.
  6. Cover the pan with heavy-duty foil. Bake in a 375°F oven for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes. Can you still identify the individual ingredients?


Posted by Ann McCallum, author of Eat Your Science Homework.

Remember the old excuse: the dog ate my homework? Did it ever work? Teachers are more savvy than that. But try saying that YOU ate your homework and you’ll put a smile on Teacher’s face. You know why? The kitchen is a laboratory, recipes are experiments, and food is science. Eat Your Science Homework releases August 5, 2014.

Ann McCallum is the author of several books for children including Eat Your Math Homework, Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere, and Beanstalk: The Measure of a Giant. Eat Your Science Homework: Recipes for Inquiring Minds, was recently named a Junior Library Guild selection. Ann lives in Kensington, MD with her family.

Leeza Hernandez has illustrated several children’s books, including Eat Your Math Homework. She is also an author and graphic designer whose art has been featured in books, magazines, and newspapers. She is the recipient of the Tomie dePaola Illustrator Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Leeza lives in central New Jersey. Visit her online at www.leezaworks.com.

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13. Celebrate the Fruits of Summer With…Fruit!

I love all the fresh fruit that’s available this time of year.  Every trip to the grocery or farmer’s market is an olfactory and visual delight as summer fruits abound.  Why not take advantage of the color and variety and make your own fruit salad to have as a snack or for a refreshing dessert at the next barbeque.

For my fruit salad, I used peaches, kiwi, cherries, and blueberries.  You can add grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple or raspberries.  Think multi-colored and you’re sure to have a winning combination.  You can sprinkle unsweetened coconut on top or even some homemade granola if you want to add some crunch.   Don’t be afraid to try new combinations.   fruit saladIt’s all delicious!

2 Comments on Celebrate the Fruits of Summer With…Fruit!, last added: 7/29/2014
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14. Three Cheers for Ice Cream!

Did you know that in 1984, President Ronald Regan declared July National Ice Cream Month?  Americans have always loved ice cream, and each part of the US has its own favorite flavor.  Here are the top 5 selling flavors nationwide:

1. Mississippi – Chocolate     2.  New York - Vanilla       3.  Colorado – Mint Chocolate Chip

4.  Iowa – Pralines and Cream     5. Texas - OREO Cookies and Cream

To find YOUR state’s favorite, visit the ice cream map at:   http://www.parade.com/ice

Now, all that talk of ice cream has made me hungry.  I think I’m going to have a bowl of butterscotch almond.  With a sprinkling of coconut.  What’s your favorite flavor?

Here’s are instructions on how to make your own ice cream WITHOUT an ice cream maker:

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/avocado-lime-ice-cream?utm_source=zergnet.com&utm_medium=referral&    utm_campaign=zergnet_202737&cid=partner_zergnet          

Why not try some ice cream on home-made waffles?  Delicious!          waffle ice cream

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15. Good and Easy Granola

Good and Easy Granola
By Ferida Wolff

Here is a nice and easy way to perk up your breakfast. You need seven ingredients but it only takes two steps to make this great granola. You might like to add raisins to your cereal bowl or strawberries or blueberries in season but it tastes terrific plain, too. The recipe makes enough for a week of breakfasts!

Ingredients                                                                             Ingredients   006
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup puffed cereal
1 cup sliced almonds
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup flaked, unsweetened coconut
¼ cup oil
¼ cup maple syrup, Grade B

1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then spread mixture on a baking sheet.
2. Bake at 300 degrees for twenty minutes, stirring once halfway through. Let cool, then put the granola in a covered container and store until ready to eat.

Ferida Wolff author photoNote: Parchment paper on the baking sheet helps keep the ingredients from sticking.
Ferida Wolff is the author of 17 books for children and three for adults. She also writes a nature blog http://www.feridasbackyard.blogspot.com . She loves to cook and discover new ways of combining ingredients. She can be reached at feridawolff@msn.com


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16. Book and Activity Suggestions to Match Your Summer Adventure: Zoos!

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

What to do…what to do…If you are like us, the summer is an exciting time to discover new books, break out the art project we’ve been promising ourselves to start since February, and try every popsicle flavor from the ice cream truck.

Summer is the time to beat the heat, right? Whether that means hunting for air conditioning or jumping into a pool, we are here to keep you and your family loving books while you keep cool.

Over the coming weeks, we are pairing Lee & Low titles to your favorite summer destinations with fun activities!

Your summer outing: the ZOO

Book recommendation: Parrots Over Puerto Rico

Parrots Over Puerto Rico

Parrots Over Puerto Rico


Questions during reading:

  • How have humans affected Puerto Rican parrots and Puerto Rico?
  • What physical and behavioral adaptions help the Puerto Rican parrots survive in their environment?
  • How do the scientists demonstrate persistence and creativity?
  • What are the purpose and activities of the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program?
  • How has Puerto Rico changed over time?
  • What does this book teach about sustainability?
  • Do you think communities and governments should save endangered species? Why or why not?


Recipe for Parrot Crackers!

Ingredients: avocado, lemon, raisins/dried cranberries, banana chips, round crackers

Parrot Crackers

Parrot Crackers

  1. Peel half an avocado. In a small bowl, mash half the avocado with a fork until it is lump-free.
  2. Squeeze and mix in a little lemon juice into the mashed avocado to prevent it from turning brown.
  3. With a bread knife, spread the avocado over one side of each of the round crackers.
  4. Place two raisins or dried cranberries on top of the avocado side of each cracker for eyes.
  5. Cut or break a banana chip in half and place both below the eyes on the cracker to make the parrot’s beak. The two halves will stand off the cracker.
  6. Admire and eat!

Chef’s Note: We originally tried this with cream cheese and lime zest instead of avocado. We loved how the lime zest looked like real feathers and matched the collage work of illustrator, Susan L. Roth, but the lime zest had a wacky flavor so we went for the milder avocado!

Create a Food Web!parrot1

  1. Use Parrots Over Puerto Rico to make a list of all the plants and animals important to the Puerto Rican parrots existence in the book. The list should include: red-tailed hawks, humans, black rats, honeybees, Puerto Rican parrots, pearly-eyed thrashers, and sierra palm trees.
  2. Label which of these is a predator of, competitor to, and food source for the Puerto Rican parrot.

More resources for Parrots Over Puerto Rico:

Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, Summer Tagged: Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, recipes, summer reading

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17. #587 – Custom Confections: Delicious Desserts You Can Crete and Enjoy! by Jen Besel


Custom Confections: Delicious Desserts You Can Create and Enjoy

by Jen Besel

Capstone Young Readers      2014


Age 9+     112 pages


“Bake up surprises in cupcakes and cookies. Create custom desserts with ease. Or decorate all kinds of creative confections like a pro. Forty fun, simple recipes will have kids (and kids at heart) creating delicious desserts to devour! Step-by-step instructions and photos make red velvet cookies, black-and-white angel food cake, cheesecake stuffed strawberries, and more easy to achieve and tasty to eat. Sweetly simple, appetizingly fun!”


Just in time for Father’s Day, Custom Confections gives the artistic baker in you—something every kid has somewhere, and eager to bake—40 recipes of beautiful desserts and snacks. I was without electricity most of the day, unable to bake anything, but if this dessert book is anything like Dessert Designer: Creations You Can Make and Eat, also by Capstone Young Readers, I can guarantee these desserts are as scrumptious as the pictures are delectable. Most are quick fixes, meaning kids still have time to create something special for dad. An easy cupcake recipe, The Sweetheart Cupcake, with a magical surprise, can express your love for dad in one bite.

Kids can find a different fun recipe for every week of summer. Custom Creations contains fun snacks for the entire family. Cake recipes are in the majority. For the bibliophile in your life bake the Pile of Books Cake. Five layers of cake, each made to look like a bestseller, with noticeable pages and luscious covers—Photoshop not needed.  If you like ice cream with your cake, and really, who doesn’t, the Striped Ice Cream Cake will satisfy your sweet tooth. A fun treat for those who enjoy popsicles is the Frosty Frozen Cakesicles individually prepared on a Popsicle sticks.


Every recipe has step-by-step instructions that are easy to understand and written without any extraneous information. To the side of the page is a list of ingredients and supplies needed for that particular recipe. No recipe requires unusual or strange tools kids have never seen. There may be a tool your child does not know how to use, which is where an adult comes in handy. It is also wise, depending on a child’s proficiency, for an adult to help turn ovens on to the correct temperature and help remove hot desserts from the oven. For those in the UK, the author included a conversion chart.

Photographs of each dessert clearly show the finished dessert, which is always helpful. For a delicate dessert, try making the Edible Flower Lollipops. Placed inside the clear homemade lollipops are pesticide-free, edible flowers from a florist. They look too good to eat. Cheesecake lovers will like Blueberry Cheesecake Tarts and the PB&J Cheesecake Brownies. On the last day of school, surprise that favorite teacher with a Mini Apple Cake, seeds included. My favorite, and the recipe I was planning to make, is the Molten Caramel Cake. Nothing is more luscious and creamy, or spruces up a dessert better, than a rich caramel. Mm, yum!


Middle grade and older kids, and adults, who like baking and using their creativity will like Custom Creations. Who can turn away a luscious, interesting dessert? Not me. Custom Creations is a nice addition to any cookbook collection. It also complements Dessert Designer:  Creations You Can Make and Eat also for middle grade kids by Capstone. The only thing missing is a nice index of the recipes. There are several tips and tricks, plus a few icing recipes that are simple to make located after the last recipe: a Hedgehog Cake made with buttercream frosting, rice treats, almonds, and a cake of any flavor. The hedgehog is a cute little creature looking too loveable to eat with his big milk chocolate candy eyes. Kids, lacking such sentimentality, will dig right in. Enjoy!

CUSTOM CONFECTIONS: DELICIOUS DESSERTS YOU CAN CREATE AND ENJOY! Recipes copyright © 2015 by Jen Besel. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone Young Readers, North Mankato, MN.


Buy Custom Creations at AmazonB&NCapstoneyour local bookstore.


Learn more about Custom Creations HERE

Meet the author, Jen Besel, at LinkedIn:   https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jennifer-besel/b/943/635


Find more books at the Capstone Young Readers website:   http://www.capstoneyoungreaders.com/

Capstone Young Readers is an imprint of Capstone


Coming Soon from Jen Besel & Capstone Young Readers

Baking Bliss!: Baked Desserts to Make and Devour

Sweet Tooth!: No-Bake Desserts to Make and Devour

Sugarcoat It!: Desserts to Design, Decorate, and Devour



custon confections

Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Holiday Book, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: Capstone Young Readers, children's book reviews, cookbook for kids, desserts, Jen Besel, recipes

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18. Easy To Make Father’s Day Treats

Whether you’ll be having a barbeque or take out pizza for Dad’s big day, homemade desserts are always a great way for kids to show dad their love.  Here is a recipe for Cream Cheese Cupcakes that will be a hit.

2 8oz. packages of cream cheese ( I used Neufchatel)
2/3 C sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
Vanilla wafers

1. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Set a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each.
2. Mix all other ingredients until smooth.
3. Fill cups and bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees F.
4. Chill overnight. You can eat them like this, or top with a variety of fruits such as crushed pineapple, strawberries, cherries.        cheesecakesAnd, speaking of strawberries, it is peak season for these delicious bits of heaven.  Make a few chocolate covered ones by: 1. Melting morsels  in a microwave-safe dish for 60 seconds.  2. Stir and repeat for 30 second intervals until smooth.  3.  Stir in 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil to make the mixture thin enough for dipping the berries into.  4.  Hold the strawberry by the green cap and dip it into the chocolate mixture.  5.  Set onto waxed paper and refrigerate until set. 


1 Comments on Easy To Make Father’s Day Treats, last added: 6/9/2014
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19. Beginning the Green Smoothie Phase of My Spring Cleaning

As you may have been able to tell from my recent photos and posts, I was skiing up until a few days ago. Just arrived home to the desert where it’s already 92 degrees. It’s a little . . . jarring. Dogs are looking at me like, “What the–?” and while they’re busy shedding as much of their fur as possible–I’ll be able to knit a new Labrador in about a week–I’m taking my own measures to adjust to the almost summer.

It’s a two-phase action plan: Clean my house, clean my body.

Believe it or not, the body part of it is much simpler. All I have to do is switch out of winter eating mode (soups, sandwiches, pastas, sweets, sweets, more sweets) and turn to my old friend the green smoothie.

Also known as Baby Poop.

Why Baby Poop? Because if you saw the way one of my green smoothies has traditionally looked–dark brown, sometimes brownish-red, with hints of green flakes–you’d say, “Yeah, good luck with that, think I’ll have a salad.” But for some reason, I’ve been out of the salad mood for about a year now. Can’t explain it. So I’m just going with it.

The thing that’s going to banish the baby-poopedness look of my smoothies from now on is that tomorrow I’ll be getting this nifty machine that actually has a proper motor. I discovered while skiing that that’s been the whole problem with my green smoothie life. I just haven’t had enough power.

I made that discovery by watching someone else make one for me. The things she put in there! (To be discussed below.) And by the time she poured it into a cup, the liquid was this beautiful, light green, and instead of tasting gritty and *good for me,* it tasted smooth and delicious, more like a dessert. Which, see above re: winter diet, sold me.

But even better, the smoothie fixed me.  Day after day I’d stumble into that place, start croaking out ingredients–”Dates! Cashews! Oh my gosh I’m about to pass out–coconut! More fat! Bring it!”–and the lovely proprietoress, Gretchen, would keep adding and adding (see below) and then give me basically a cup full of green medicine.

I have never recovered from a big physical effort more quickly and more deliciously. That’s what I’m saying. That’s why I’m trekking down the Green Smoothie Way.

I’ll be experimenting with new recipes as I go, and I’ll post some of the best ones here, but let’s start with the Skiing Kicked My Butt recipe that got me through:

  • Big handful of unsalted cashews
  • Normal handful of unsalted sunflower seeds
  • One heaping teaspoon peanut butter
  • Big handful of dates (about 5)
  • One banana, preferably frozen to give the drink some thickness
  • Big handful of strawberries, also preferably frozen
  • Normal handful of blueberries (optional–makes the color a little weirder, but tastes good)
  • Two heaping teaspoons cacao (unsweetened cocoa powder will do) (also optional, but wow)
  • One teaspoon coconut (optional, but yum)
  • Three huge leaves of kale or Swiss chard, stems and all, ripped into pieces and layered on top
  • About 1/2  to 1 cup of peach, pear, or apple juice
  • About 1 1/2 cups pure water–start with 1 cup, then add more as you assess the thickness. Some people like their smoothies thicker, some more liquidy. You’re the boss.

I tried this in my regular blender, but no. Baby poop. I’ll take a photo of the proper green smoothie once I try it with my new machine tomorrow. You’ll see. Fresh and spring-looking.

Onward, green smoothiers!

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20. Green Smoothie of the Day: Chocolate Banana Strawberry Pineapple (Etc.)

Chocolate Banana Strawberry Pineapple (Etc.) Green Smoothie

Chocolate Banana Strawberry Pineapple (Etc.) Green Smoothie

Here’s today’s experiment:

  • 1 handful sprouts
  • 2 large Swiss chard leaves
  • 3 dates
  • 4 frozen strawberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 3 frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon peanut butter
  • 2 heaping teaspoons cacao
  • About 1 cup water (up to the Nutribullet fill line)

Taste review: Looks like a chocolate smoothie, tastes a little more gardeny than that. I started with just half a banana and no dates, and it wasn’t sweet enough. I think I could have gotten by with just one teaspoon of cacao. I’m kind of sick of the taste of dates. Will be looking for other ways to sweeten. But overall, not bad! And very, very filling.

Health review: After just a few days of one green smoothie a day, my skin already looks so much better–healthy and clear in a way it hasn’t for months. And my digestion: wow. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say it’s meeting my need for spring cleaning.

The key, though, is these smoothies have to taste good. This is a voluntary activity and if it’s not fun I won’t do it. Which is why I’m experimenting with flavors. And why I’m reporting to you about those experiments, so that if you’re in the green smoothie mood, you can do it in an enjoyable, non-punishing way. Because we’re against punishment here on the blog.

Carry on, Greenies!

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21. Light and Easy Cream of Asparagus Soup

Spring is the perfect time to make a pot of Asparagus Soup since the vegetable is found in abundance this time of year and is also quite economical.  This recipe is so easy and perfect for kids to make.  It will impress any guest and add an elegant touch to a lunch or dinner.  There is also a GLUTEN FREE OPTION.  See below:

Light and Easy Cream of Asparagus Soup
3 C sliced asparagus – about 1 pound
1 chopped leek or medium onion
2 C of chicken or vegetable broth
¾ t. thyme
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T flour (note: for a GLUTEN FREE option, eliminate flour and dice one potato to add as thickener)
2 C low fat milk
Dash of nutmeg
2 t. butter
Salt to taste.

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat. (If using potato instead of flour add it to the above. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
2. Place mixture in a blender and process until smooth.
3. If using flour to thicken, add it to the pan and whisk in the milk until blended. Return pureed asparagus mixture to the pot and add nutmeg. Stir to combine.
4. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in butter and salt to taste.      Garnish with asparagus tips if desired.               asparagus soup

Variations: Substitute 2 C baby carrots for asparagus for Cream of Carrot Soup. OR, substitute 2 C leeks and 2 C diced potatoes for Leek and Potato Soup.

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22. Makes Crepes For MOM on Mother’s Day

Here is a healthy and easy recipe for crepes that you can adapt and use with whatever fillings you like.  The crepes can be made ahead and frozen until ready to use.  If you decide to freeze them, place waxed paper between each on for easy thawing.

 Mother’s Day Crepes

2/3 C buckwheat flour            1/3 C whole wheat pastry flour          2 eggs

1 ¼ C almond or soy milk       1 T honey or agave syrup                    ¼  t salt

1-2 T oil – as needed to cook crepes

1.      Combine flours and eggs.  Mix well

2.      Stir in milk, honey, and salt.  Beat with a whisk until smooth.

3.      Drop less than ¼ C of batter at a time onto a hot, oiled skillet or crepe pan.  Tilt and rotate to distribute batter evenly over the bottom, of the pan.

4.      Cook until done on bottom (Lift edge,  if it is lightly flecked with brown, it’s done)

5.      Turn crepe over and cook several seconds on second side.

6.      Repeat with remaining batter, oiling skillet as needed.                                         10531274-french-style-crepes-with-fresh-strawberries-and-caster-sugar

7.      Stack crepes until ready to fill.

Filling: spread each crepe with Nutella and sprinkle with sliced strawberries, raspberries and/or blueberries.  Fold over and sprinkle with powdered sugar or cocoa powder.

Variations: Spread crepes with peanut or almond butter and sliced bananas.  Or try tropical fruit such as mango, papaya and pineapple and sprinkle with coconut.

For other Mother’s Day Recipes, try visiting: http://www.familycircle.com/momsdayrecipes

2 Comments on Makes Crepes For MOM on Mother’s Day, last added: 5/9/2014
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23. Return of the Slow Cooker

Winter is almost upon us, and as the days grow darker and the nights become cooler, my mind turns to comfort food from my slow cooker.  Anyone with me? It’s time to pull out your slow cooker from the back of the cupboard, box or garage and begin to look forward to some delicious meals.  Slow cookers are a fabulous time-saving appliance, and there’s nothing better than coming home from a busy day out to a delicious concoction cooking away on your bench top.

Now, if you’re anything like me you’ll have your tried and true favourites (lamb shanks, beef hot pot) but I’ve pulled together a collection of Australian books for you to spice up your repertoire.  The best thing about this collection is that each of these books have been selected from the Boomerang Books list of Australia’s Top 1000 Bestselling Books, which means you can enjoy an additional 20% off the RRP.

250 Must Have Slow Cooked RecipesFirst, I bring you the 250 Must-Have Slow Cooker Recipes (pictured left), which contains recipes for time-strapped cooks and busy households, including breakfasts and desserts.  Recipes include cooking with meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, pulses, rice or pasta to create soul-warming dishes.  Yum!

If 250 recipes isn’t enough, try the The 1000 Recipe Collection – Slow Cooking, which has (as the title suggests) an astonishing 1000 recipes to choose from.  Getting hungry?

The Complete Slow Cooker By Sally Wise is a combination of two of her previous slow cooker books and is appropriately jam packed full of great recipes.  If you’re looking for ideas for delicious and nutritious meals from an experienced cook, you can’t go past The Complete Slow Cooker by Sally Wise.  According to the publisher, Sally Wise is the: “best known, best loved and the biggest selling author of books on slow cooking,” so you really can’t go wrong with this one.Women's Weekly Cook It Slow

Finally, a collection of Australian cook books wouldn’t be complete without including an Australian Women’s Weekly edition, and so I give you Cook it Slow by Australian Women’s Weekly.  Cook it Slow contains almost 500 pages of recipes and also includes other methods of cooking slow including oven and stove top recipes; making this book perfect for those without a slow cooker at home.

Let me know if you’re a slow cooker devotee, and if you have a favourite recipe you’d like to share with us.

If you’re still hungry for more, check out Slow Cooking By Hinkler Books.

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24. Celebrate the Start of Summer With…Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Is there any better treat perfect for a summer picnic or backyard barbeque than homemade ice cream sandwiches?  They are a big hit and simple to make.  You can make several ahead and freeze them for anytime you want a special, tasty treat.

Instead of the traditional chocolate chip cookies with vanilla, be adventurous and try peanut butter cookies with strawberry banana frozen yogurt.  Or Mint ice cream sandwiched between chocolate wafers or chocolate chunk cookies.  I don’t think there is a bad combination when it comes to ice cream or frozen yogurt and cookies. 

Two hints:  1. Make sure the cookies will hold up well when frozen.  And, 2. soften the ice cream or frozen yogurt a bit before placing a scoop on one cookie and pressing a second one to close it.  3. You can roll the sandwich in crushed nuts, coconut, mini chocolate chips or toffee bits and then place on a cookie sheet in the freezer until firm.

For more ice cream sandwich ideas visit:  http://www.buzzfeed.com/tashweenali/delicious-ice-cream-sandwiches    Teaser:  I can’t wait to try the Snicker doodle one! Or how about a Brown sugar bacon?

What’s your favorite recipe for ice cream?  Send it to me and I’ll share it here.

0 Comments on Celebrate the Start of Summer With…Ice Cream Sandwiches. as of 5/26/2014 4:04:00 AM
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25. Of Books on Baguettes

I was chatting idly with my best friend the other day, and as usual, we ended up talking about books and food (this is doubtless a big reason why we are friends in the first place). Sometimes it's one, sometimes it's the other, but in this particular case, it was both of them combined. "I [...]

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