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  • July 2020
    M T W T F S S

Attack of the Delicious Tomatoes

I don’t know about you guys, but I am up to my eye balls in tomatoes.  My four, small tomato plants have yielded so many tomatoes, that it is almost humanly impossible for me to eat them all.  And I’m afraid if I don’t find someway to eat them all, they might conspire against me and I’ll be the one that ends up getting devoured!   So, I’ve been on the hunt for easy and delicious recipes that will allow me to use every last, freaking tomato.  Below are a few of my favorite tomato recipes and a couple delectable suggestions from my co-workers- amazing Teen Librarians and Teen Specialists at CLP Main- Teen.  Don’t let the simplicity of these recipes fool you- these dishes will have everyone begging for seconds.  Oh, and few of them don’t even require cooking!

tomato sandwich

I’d be lying if I said that no tomatoes were harmed in the making and eating of this sandwich.

Abby’s Tomato Sandwich

  • Toast two pieces of bread.
  • Spread a bit of mayo on the toast.
  • Slice a ripe heirloom tomato and place the slices on your toast.
  • Add a bit of salt and pepper.

Joseph’s Vegan “Caprese” Salad

  • Cut firm tofu – drained and pressed – into squares.
  • Slice tomatoes.
  • Assemble tofu squares and tomatoes with fresh, washed basil leaves.
  • Top with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Morgan’s Sliced Polenta and Tomatoes

  • Cook garlic and shallot or red/yellow onion in a large pan until soft.
  • Add chopped fresh basil, salt, pepper, and diced roma tomatoes.
  • Cook on medium for a few minutes and then move off to one side of the pan to simmer.
  • Place polenta slices on the the other side of the pan.
  • Salt and pepper the polenta and cook on each side for a few minutes or until it is golden yellow.

Abby’s Caprese Pasta Salad

  • Boil a pot of pasta and drain.
  • Toss pasta lightly with olive oil.
  • Add halved cherry tomatoes, chopped basil, and fresh mozzarella balls.
  • Top with salt and pepper.
  • Add sauteed garlic if you desire!

Don’t have your own tomato plant at home?  Stop by one of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s gardens, check in with a staff member, and grab a few of ours for yourself!

Looking for more delicious recipes?

cooking with fruits and vegetables    eat fresh food    eco gardening    encyclopedia of sandwiches    get cooking    going vegan    going vegetarian    how to cook    real food real fast    teen cuisine new vegetarian   teen cuisine   teen guide to quick healthy snacks   teens cook

Solar S’mores & Pedal Power

Before I got a drivers license, I spent my summers cruising around town on a bike.  It was a gray 10-speed splattered with pink and turquoise paint and I thought it was the coolest.  I loved to speed down the hill next to my house, feet off the pedals, until the day I wiped out on a patch of cinders.  The cinders were dropped by snowplows during winter storms and the street cleaner never seemed able to sweep them all away.  After that, I always kept my feet on the pedals and looked for cinders.  I pedaled to the town pool, the local library, and my friends’ houses.  My friends and I built bonfires in their fields, crafted massive s’mores and ate logs of cookie dough, and stayed up until the stars began to fade.  We’d wake up in dew-covered tents with the smoky scent of campfire still clinging to our hair.

When I moved to Pittsburgh s’mores and bike rides became a thing of the past, as I was nervous about riding on the city’s busy, pockmarked streets and starting a campfire seemed like an easy way to burn down the entire neighborhood.

While I’ve become comfortable riding my bike in the city, thanks to tips from friends and Bike Pittsburgh’s Pittsburgh Bike Map, there still aren’t many s’mores in my life.

Bike Pittsburgh’s Bike Map

That will change this Saturday (8/17) at 3pm during Outside the Lines: STEM + Art.  Abby will teach us how to make solar ovens which we’ll use to make s’mores!  No campfire or BBQ needed, just the power of the sun!  Let Abby know if you’re planning to join her for this awesome experiment.

solar oven

Solar Oven!

Ride your bike to the Library this week (we have bike racks in front and in the parking garage!) and make solar s’mores with us!

Here are some of my favorite bike-themed books and movies and, of course, a book about s’mores!



Cook It Up This Summer

I love food, I love eating, and most of all, and I love to cook the food I eat.  Cooking gives you the satisfaction of creating something delicious.  Cooking is a wonderful way to express yourself creatively.  Cooking also makes you popular—people love food and the people who give them food.

Cooking also gives you control over what you put into your body, which may be more important now than ever before.  Teenage diabetes, namely Type 2 diabetes, is on the rise in the United States.  Until recently, this was a disease rarely seen in children and teens.  Now, with increasing obesity rates, young people are at much greater risk for weight-related diseases.

Take charge of what and how you eat!  If you are a beginning chef or have been cooking for years, these books are for you.  For more cooking inspiration, take a look at some of these food blogs written by teens!


Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs by Rozanne Gold

Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat by Megan Carle

Teen Cuisine by Matthew Locricchio


Check out A Teen Gourmet, written by a Kentucky-based teen about cooking, starting college, and life!

In Kate’s Kitchen features delicious recipes with step-by-step instructions and photographs on how to make each recipe!

17 and Baking features everything baking.  Check out this blog to find out how to make cookies, bars, and other scrumptious baked goods!

Hungry? Head to Art Club!

Many of you are already aware of the Main Teen Room‘s AWESOME Art Club which meets every Wednesday from 3 pm to 5 pm.  But did you know that beginning this month, on the second Wednesday of every month we’ll be offering a different food related craft at Art Club?  Instead of getting creative with yarn, glitter, and tissue paper; teens will be making their masterpieces from spaghetti, sprinkles and other edible materials.  Teens- we heard you loud and clear.  You don’t have to say it with your mouths, because we probably wouldn’t be able to hear it over the roaring of your tummies anyway.

 Wednesday, January 11 @ 3pm: Marshmallow Mania

 Wednesday, February 8 @ 3pm: Candy Dynamite

 Wednesday, March 14 @ 3pm: Cookie Decorating

You say you can’t make it to Art Club?  Please, stop crying and check out these books filled with yummy recipes and edible crafts instead.  Just try not to drool all over the library’s copy.

Candy Construction: How to Build Edible Race Cars, Castles, and Other Cool Stuff Out of Store-bought Candy!

by Sharon Bowers


Learn how to build a chess board from chocolate kisses, a pirate ship from krispy rice treats, a race car from licorice and more delicious construction projects using just about anything with candy and other goodies.

Cute Yummy Time: 70 Recipes for the Cutest Food You’ll Ever Eat

by La Carmina

Easy instructions for making the most adorable snacks.  The most difficult thing about the recipes in this book is mustering the strength to eat your cute creations.

Face Food: The Visual Creativity of Japanese Bento Boxes

by Christopher D. Sayers

Any die hard manga and anime fan knows what a bento box is.  But do they know how to make the delicious treats that go inside?  Check out this step-by-step guide and interviews with charaben enthusiasts.

Junk Foodie: 51 Delicious Recipes for the Lowbrow Gourmand

by Emilie Balt

Even if you’re not the most impressive chef, you can still make a delicious feast.  Just visit a vending machine and open this inspirational book!

Vegan Ice Cream Recipes

 Summer heat getting you down?  Can’t tolerate dairy, or are you living a vegan lifestyle and wishing for ice cream?  I’ve got some ideas. 

I can’t tolerate dairy and boy do I miss ice cream during the hot summer months!  I found some great recipes, and honestly I don’t miss the dairy, they are that great!  Here are some links to try.


Websites and blogs are a great way to find recipes, but sometimes I like to leaf through a cookbook.  Check these titles out.

Veganize This! – by Jenn Shagrin






The Vegan Scoop by Wheeler del Torro






Hope you find something you enjoy, bon appetit!


Pizza, Pizza

Last night when I started brainstorming for this blog post I had no idea what to write about. So I got distracted and started thinking about what I wanted for dinner, which after a late night at work, tends to be pizza. I have only lived in Pittsburgh for a few years and still have not tried many of the ‘famous” pizza shops like Fiori’s and Beto’s. That said, my two favorites in the city are Bella Notte in the Strip District and Pizza Sola in East Liberty.

I also love to make pizza at home too. Sometimes from scratch and sometimes I buy the dough to save time. A few weeks ago a friend made me pizza in a cast iron skillet… which sounds weird but it was perfect. Have you ever heard of grilled pizza?

The library has plenty of cookbooks to help get you started on making homemade pizza.

What is your favorite Pittsburgh pizza shop? Topping of choice? Cold or reheated?

-Michael B. – CLP Hazelwood

Favorite Summer Salads

 I love Summer!  And I love the fact that I can go out into my back yard and pick the food I will eat.  My garden basically is just salad ingredients: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, basil and the one and only veggie that people don’t usually put into salads; zucchini. 

I bet you can tell that I love salads.  So, I’m sharing some of my favorite salad recipes.


  • Strawberry Salad – make this one when you are craving something sweet – definitely worth it to make the strawberry poppy-seed dressing
  • Black Bean Salad – the beans will fill you up – just make sure to rinse them really well.  I changed up a few things on this salad.  I hate cilantro so I use parsley instead and I grated the jalapeno.
  • Caprese Salad – Amazing!  I love it with our without the balsamic reduction, so if that scares you leave it out and just drizzle with olive oil.  Super simple salad to make.
  • Fresh Corn Salad – definitely use fresh corn for this recipe it makes it is so delicious.

Hope you try one, enjoy!

~Kim at Squirrel Hill

Frozen Hot Chocolate – The Best Thing Ever!

Ok, this is a must try.  OMG!  Print this out, or do whatever it takes, then run out and get the ingredients so you will be able to slurp this down.  You will thank me for it.  Really.

I found this recipe from Tasty Kitchen, and then adapted it slightly.  (They call for melting some of the ingredients over the stove.  I didn’t do that, I used the microwave.)  Here’s the ingredients and the adapted play by play.

Frozen Hot Chocolate (makes 3 – 4 servings)


  • 3 Tablespoons of Sugar
  • 1 package of Hot Chocolate Mix (or 3 Tablespoons if your Hot Chocolate Mix doesn’t come in packets)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 1/3 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/3 cup White Chocolate Chips
  • 12 ounce, can of Evaporated Milk
  • 4 & 1/2 cups of Ice

Play by play

  • Combine sugar, hot chocolate mix, and butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir until a paste is formed.  (If the butter isn’t melted yet, go ahead and microwave for another 10 seconds, then stir.)
  • Add semi-sweet & white chocolate chips, microwave for 30 seconds, then stir.
  • Slowly stir in 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk, microwave for 30 seconds, then stir.  Now set this melted chocolate mix aside and cool to room temperature. (I know, I know, I never can wait until it completely cools.  Just wait until it cools down a little.)
  • Pour the melted chocolate mixture into blender and add the remaining evaporated milk and the ice.  Cover and blend until smooth. (You can do this in batches if you have a small blender but it all fit into mine.)

Pour into glasses; top with whipped cream or marshmellows and enjoy!

~Kim – Squirrel Hill

Spring Eating

I don’t know about you, but this warm Spring-ish weather has me thinking about food.   Like most people I look forward to each new season for lots of reasons, but this year the one thing that has me most excited is all the new ingredients that will be popping up soon in the grocery store and farmers’ markets.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the heavy soups, stews and casseroles we eat to keep us going through the tough Pittsburgh winters; but I for one am ready for the fresh vegetables and fruits that’ll be coming our way soon.

As a kid I spent a lot of time in my Grandma’s kitchen.  I watched her make the most memorable dishes of my life, and together we made many, many cookies.  But after I hit about 14 my idea of a fun time changed and I spent less time cooking and soon forgot most of the cooking skills I did have.  For years I didn’t cook more than a box of Macaroni and Cheese.  Now I regret all the time and practice I lost.

These days I’m trying to make up for lost time by cooking as much as I can.   Cook books are obviously a terrific resource… see some highlighted by Kim a few weeks ago here.

Plus a few of my favorites…

But I must say, my biggest cooking inspiration comes from the amazing community of food bloggers out there.   You can find exotic, ethnic dishes to experiment with or simple American classics.  The variety is almost endless, most food bloggers have no professional training, and many are teens!  Food blogs put great recipes and a really fun and rewarding hobby within everyone’s reach.

Check out a few of my favorite food blogs in no particular order…bonus points for post your favorite food blog in the comments!

17 and Baking

The Sophisticated Gormet

Matt Bites

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Smitten Kitchen


Celiac Teen: Let go of the gluten

Happy eating!


Craving Potato Chips

I was craving potato chips the other night, and didn’t feel like going out to get some.  I googled ‘potato chip recipes’ and found out that you can make potato chips in the microwave!  What a wonderful thing.  I tried them and they were great!  Below is the link, along with other easy recipes to try when you’re  in the mood for a snack. 

 Please, if you happen to try one of the recipes, leave a comment letting me know how it turned out. 

I think I’ll try “Banana Nice Cream” next. 

The library has some books you can use to find more recipes.  Try one of these.

Real Food Real Fast – By Sam Stern

If you don’t have time to whip something up, this book still can help.  It has recipes that can be made in as little as 5 , 10 or 15 minutes.  There are also recipes for family meals, if you feel like cooking for your friends and family that is. 

   Eat Fresh Food – By Rozanne Gold

  Besides the tradtional “Salads” and “Deserts” sections, this book has a “Sandwiches, Burgers & Pizza” section.  It won me over with the that section.

Teens Cook: how to cook what you want to eat – Megan Carle and Jill Carle

Do you need to make a meal just for yourself?  This book has a whole section dedicated to “Dinners For One” .  If you’d like to cook a meal for your whole family, there’s a “Family Meals” section as well. 

  Big Snacks Little Meals – Rose Dunnington

 This book isn’t just snacks.  It has everything from Breakfast to Dinners and Deserts.  There’s a recipe for Noodle Kugel.  I love Noodle Kugel.  Yum.

   Munchie Madness: vegetarian meals for teens – by Dorothy Bates

 A great book for someone thinking about becoming a vegetarian.  Recipes for not only snacks, but meals as well.  A good number of the recipes are vegan.  It also gives information on vegetarianism and some other resources.

  The Teen’s Vegetarian Cookbook – By Judy Krizmanic

 Lots of recipes and tips for new vegetarians.  One thing I liked about this book is that the recipes can also be made vegan, it’s your choice. 

~Kim – Squirrel Hill

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