(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
If you have time to read cookbooks, the results can be delicious. If you don't, your takeout and restaurant food bills may be higher than if you were reaping the benefits of cooking at home. Speed-reading can be a worthwhile habit when it comes to cookbooks. Skim them, let flavors and combinations jump out at you, and make much more simplistic dishes than those listed. You still end up with highly delicious choices, like the mozzarella panini sandwiches with mushroom pesto and raspberry-vanilla bread pudding that follow. Better yet, when following this philosophy, the dishes get branded with your own individual stamp.
Fun fare like this also proves cooking can be easy, nutritious, economical, fun - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare.
The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy all-American family togetherness that goes along with it! Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since there are no right or wrong amounts.
These are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations, so whatever you - or your kidlet helpers - choose to use can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests. Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Roast red bell peppers, cool until safe to handle, slice and puree in strong blender or food processor with chunks of cooked butternut or other squash and finely chopped shallots. Add Mexican seasoning blend, vegetable broth, almond milk and heat in saucepan until hot. (Inspired by "The Epicurious Cookbook" edited by Tanya Steel and the editors of Epicurious.)Mozzarella Panini Sandwiches with Mushroom Pesto
Lightly butter each side of slices of Italian bread, place slices of mozzarella on top of half of the slices of bread as well as a dollop of store-bought pesto into which you've stirred small pieces of grilled Portobello or other supermarket-bought mushrooms. Top with another piece of the lightly buttered bread and grill sandwiches on both sides in a grill pan or skillet until cheese is melting and bread is golden brown.(Inspired by "Mike Isabella's Crazy Good Italian" by Mike Isabella and Carol Blymire.)Couscous with Chickpeas and Almonds
Prepare couscous according to package instructions, using vegetable broth for at least half of the liquid. When done cooking, stir in toasted sliced almonds, cooked chickpeas, raisins, olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, coriander and cilantro.(Inspired by "Joy of Cooking All About Vegetarian Cooking" by Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker.)Raspberry-Vanilla Bread Pudding
Gently mix fresh raspberries or thawed and drained frozen ones with store-bought, sugar-free vanilla pudding. Gently stir in one-inch squares of toasted cinnamon-raisin bread, and drizzle on a tiny amount of fresh lemon juice and a dash of unsweetened cocoa powder.(Inspired by "Ten Dollar Dinners" by Melissa d'Arabian.)QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Utilities are at a premium. Consider getting informal second opinions to help hold down costs. A landscaper, for instance, may say to set electric automatic sprinklers for 10 minutes, five times a week. Then, as in a recent case, a plumber at the same location fixing kitchen pipes, when queried, might say five minutes every other day is more than enough. A neighbor on the same street may give another suggestion. Weigh all advice for issues like these and you may see a pleasant drop in your bills.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.