Fire-Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Peg Harvey-Sweeney

Yield: 4 Servings

Cook Time: 35 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 (14 ounce) cans of hunt’s fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian)
  • 1/2 cup half and half (skip this if you want)
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper (maybe a bit less)
  • 10-20 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste


In a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, pour in the olive oil and saute onion until translucent. Add the chopped garlic (except for 1 clove) and sauté with the onion for 2 minutes.

Next, add the cans of fire roasted tomatoes (including the juice) to the pan and cover for about 15 minutes, stirring as needed. Add the chicken stock and half & half and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered, for 10 minutes or until it has thickened.

Add the remaining chopped garlic clove, crushed red pepper, fresh basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Lower your heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes more.
Using an immersion blender (or carefully transfer soup to a blender), puree soup until there are no large chunks of tomato left. Serve immediately with a hunk of warm french bread and get to dipping!

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Info per 1 serving: 204 calories. 10.7 fat. 22.5 carb. 6 fiber. 4 protein.

Squash Rings

Meghan Harvey

These are delicious and even good cold.

  • Delicata squash (or any winter squash)
  • Olive oil
  • Little butter (optional but makes it more sweet)
  • Little salt
  • Fresh thyme

Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.  Try to rotate in between.

Pizza Sauce

Ryan Harvey

This sauce takes some time to make but tastes spectacular.  It is from this recipe for oven-baked pizza that a friend recommended to us.  We also use it for our Pizza on the Barbecue.

This will make enough sauce for one pizza.  (I usually double it, and then divide it into  separate tupperware containers and freeze one for later.)

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (lately we have been using a little less)
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes packed in tomato juice, drained
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 sprigs basil, leaves and stems reserved separately (to put on top of the pizza later)

Drain the tomatoes and put them into a blender or food processor.  Add the basil to the blender or food processor.  Puree.

Heat olive oil and garlic cloves in a wide saucepan over medium heat until lightly bubbling.  Reduce heat to low and cook until garlic is just starting to turn brown, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn.  When the garlic is starting to look brown, turn the heat up to medium and add the oregano and red pepper flakes, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Dump the tomato/basil mixture into the pan and add the sugar.  Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced.  This will take several hours.  You want the consistency such that if you drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the ban, it won’t immediately fill in with sauce. Season to taste with salt.

Three Christmases I Remember

Donna Benson

There were three Christmases that I remember when I was growing up in Iowa.

My family, Chris and Edna Meierotto, lived on a small farm about five miles North of Keokuk, Iowa. Christmas, 1942, there was no money for presents. At that time my mother had four children, all born one year apart. At eight years old I was the eldest. I went out to get the mail, the mailman handed me a box.  It was from my uncle Anthony (son of Henry & Mary Flanders of Wellman, Iowa). He was in the U. S. Air Force. He wrote that he did his shopping at the PX. There was a big doll for me, wearing a pink dress. I named her Polly. There was a medium sized doll for my sister Patty, a little brown doll for my sister Rosemary, and a football for my brother Dennis.

We attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Keokuk. The nun who taught me said we could bring our favorite toy to school to show our classmates.We put all our toys on a shelf in back of the room during class. I remember turning around and looking at my doll several times during the school day. She was so beautiful!

When my parents had six children, Santa brought one sled for all of us. Christmas morning the sled was on the dining room table. Oranges, bananas and Christmas nuts in the shell were on top of the sled.

It didn’t snow one time that year!

When I was l6 years old my mother was pregnant at Christmas time and very uncomfortable. She sent our dad to shop for Christmas presents. Dad went to Platte’s Service Station about a quarter of a mile down the road. He bought each of us a tablet with lines, two yellow wooden pencils and a box of crayons. We were sitting on the stairs when we received our presents. There was wordless communication between mom and me. I gave her an understanding look when our eyes met. We colored the lines in our tablets and we were happy. Pegi was born on December 29, 1951.

Our Christmas trees were harvested from the fence row along the highway. Pegi is pictured many years later standing beside one of our family’s Christmas trees.

In 1954.  From left: Casper Meierotto, Pegi, Rosemary, Charles, Ann, Pat, Dennis, Jim, Karen, Judi, and Donna.  We must not have been that poor because it appears we all had shoes.


Our most recent family picture was taken at a wedding in Kansas City, Mo. It is the first time our family was together since mom died in 1989.  From left: Peg, Karen, Rose, Dennis, Judi, Donna, and Pat.

Award-Winning Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Annie Benson Peevler

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla
  • pudding mix
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.

Beef Stew

Annie Benson Peevler

  • 2 lbs. beef stew meat
  • 2 tsp. salt and pepper
  • 2 or 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 can (5.5 oz.) V-8
  • 1 can (No. 203) tomatoes, juice or soup (I use a pop can size of tomato juice)
  • 1 c. or 1 can beef bouillon
  • 2 stalks celery, cut in 1Ó pieces (I use celery salt instead)
  • 5 or 6 carrots, cut up
  • 4 or 5 potatoes, cut up
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 3 or 4 T. quick cooking tapioca
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce

Season meat; arrange in ungreased 13” x 9”casserole. Add other ingredients. Bake 3 or 4 hours, until meat is tender, at 250 deg. Cover; do not peek for the first 3 hours.

Note: Can be made the night before and reheated the next day. Excellent with homemade biscuits.

I tried a ton of Beef Stew recipes and never really loved any of them — until I found this one. No browning the meat — you just throw everything in one big dish and in the oven it goes!