Got Burgers? Celebrate National Hamburger Day with Marilyn Ostermiller.

Firing up the grill for the first burgers of the season is a time-honored Memorial Day Weekend tradition. This year, National Hamburger Day, May 28, falls on the first day of the holiday weekend.

Americans devour nearly 50 billion burgers each year, according to food industry sources. The origin of modern hamburgers can be traced to 19th century Germany where beef from Hamburg cows was minced. combined with garlic, salt and pepper and formed into patties. Buns were introduced later, when hamburgers became a popular food cart offering in the streets of New York and Chicago.

thumbnail_Hamburger_(black_bg)

A major factor in their popularity is that burgers are inexpensive. It helps that they also are easy to prepare. Grab about a quarter pound of ground beef, shape it into a ball, flatten it and fry it quickly in a skillet on the stove, broil or grill it.

For the most flavorful burgers, Food Network Chef Bobby Flay recommends 80/20 ground chuck, seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked in a cast iron skillet with a splash of canola oil.

Looking for a leaner burger?  A four-ounce cooked sirloin burger has  about 225 calories, 12 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat and 27 grams of protein. Nutritionally speaking, it’s an excellent source of niacin, vitamin B 12, zinc and selenium. It’s also a good source of vitamin B 6. Iron and phosphorus.

burgers

Turkey burgers are an option for people who want to avoid beef, or want a flavor change. A four-ounce cooked turkey burger, made from a combination of dark and light meat, has about 200 calories, but is leaner than beef. Suggested seasonings include a tablespoon of dried bread crumbs, grated onion, salt and pepper, a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of white wine vinegar. Cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Whether burgers are made at home or eaten on the go, they also appeal because the meat is easy to chew, according to http://www.epicurious.com.

For some folks, the toppings make the burger. Nearly three out of four people surveyed said they typically use cheese as a burger topping. Other popular enhancements include ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, and mustard. At least, one in five surveyed say they also like bacon, mayo or aioli, mushrooms and fries on their burgers.

The best burger buns are soft and slightly sweet, but strong enough to soak up the juices.

How do you like your burgers?

Cookbooks for kids can help children discover their role in the kitchen.

Kid Chef: The Foodie Kids Cookbook written by Melina Hammer, is designed to introduce 5- to 11-year olds to the mysteries of cooking. It includes 75 recipes with simple directions.  kid chef book

The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs: 100+ Recipes that You’ll Love to Cook and Eat, produced by America’s Test Kitchen Kids, is geared for 8-11 year olds. Alongside the recipes are lots of basic cooking information. kid cook book

thumbnail_img_1886

Marilyn Ostermiller is long-time journalist who also writes stories for children.

Irish Soda Bread…AGAIN…Because it’s Delicious!

I first ran this recipe in 2014 but everywhere I go, people comment on the moistness and light sweetness of this bread, so here it is…in time for ST. PATRICK’S DAY.

This recipe for Soda Bread is more moist than many thanks to the buttermilk.  If you can’t find buttermilk, use regular plain yogurt (NOT Greek).

Irish Soda Bread

4 C flour (I use 1C whole wheat)       ½ C sugar       1 T baking powder

1 t salt               1 t baking soda         1 C. raisins plumped (see note)

 4 T melted butter        1 ½ C buttermilk      1 lg. egg

  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Grease and flour a round pan or cookie sheet.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, powder and salt.
  3. Pour melted butter into dry ingredients and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in raisins.
  4. In a separate bowl beat buttermilk, egg and baking soda.  Add to flour mix until blended.
  5. Turn dough onto floured surface, and knead until smooth – about 1 minute.  If dough is sticky, flour your hands as you knead.  Shape dough into two round loaves.  soda bread 1
  6. Place dough in prepared pan. With a sharp knife, make 2 crisscross slits in dough.
  7. Bake for 45-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.  Let rest for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
  8. Serve sliced with butter or jam.  Bet you can’t eat just one piece!

soda bread 2

NOTE: Pour boiling water over the raisins and let them stand for 5 minutes to soften.  Drain and pat dry.

 

Almost Spring Easy and Tasty Banana Muffins.

After the dog days of winter, I am anxious to get outside and participate in the rebirth that is SPRING. Despite the calendar saying it is officially spring on 3-21, we all know it usually comes of its own accord.

And, we know March is a month where anything can happen. So, while you and your kids await the days when we can go outside with just a jacket on, why not gather them together for an easy baking session? Instead of throwing out those over-ripe bananas, make up a batch of BANANA MUFFINS or BANANA BREAD.Just mash three bananas with a fork as shown below:

muff 1

Then follow my well-worn and foolproof recipe. I used chopped walnuts, but you can try almonds also. You can even throw in some mini chocolate morsels.

muff2

The recipe makes 2 loaves or 18 muffins. Serve them up with your favorite beverage and the wait for spring will be a delicious one.

muff3

Celebrate National Peanut Butter Day + Free Pancakes… by Marilyn Ostermiller

Today, March 1 marks the National Day for peanut butter lovers.

pbutter

Picture a regular size jar of peanut butter. Either creamy or crunchy. Now, guess how many peanuts were crushed to fill that jar. (More about that later.)

Legend has it that a doctor whipped up the first batch of peanut butter in the early 1890s for his patients who had difficulty chewing. His name has been lost to history, but that tasty spread has stuck around ever since. 

National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day was designated as March 1 in 1990 on the 100th anniversary of the day peanut butter made its commercial debut in the United States.

Subsequently, peanut butter was introduced to a broader audience at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. It caught on quickly. Entrepreneur C.H. Sumner had sales of $705 for the new treat at his concession stand. Its popularity has grown to an estimated $800 million a year in sales in the U.S. alone.

Peanut butter is best know for the company it keeps.

similar-image

Chocolate, for example. Reese’s Peanut Cup candy, chocolate covered portions of peanut butter, was introduced in 1928.

And, jelly. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are classic, but other nutty sandwich combos are limited only by imagination. Elvis Presley was known to enjoy peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  similar-image

According to the National Peanut Board, it takes 540 peanuts to make a 12 ounce jar of peanut butter. It’s also possible to make it at home in a food processor with two cups of dry roasted peanuts, a couple of tablespoons of honey or sugar and salt to taste. Visit the Pinch of Yum blog for specifics.

https://pinchofyum.com/5-minute-homemade-peanut-butter#tasty-recipes-41113-jump-target

 Here is an easy and nutritious recipe for PEANUT BUTTER DIP  that is perfect for snacks and potlucks. Kids can make it since there is no cooking required.

SAVORY PEANUT BUTTER DIP

1/4 C creamy peanut butter, 3 oz. cream cheese, 1 to 2 T of apple or orange juice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 to 1/4 C unsweetened applesauce.

  • Combine first 4 ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  • Add applesauce, little by little, to bring to the desired consistency for the dip.
  • Chill before serving with fresh fruits, veggies, graham cracker sticks, crackers.

Makes 8 servings. From: http://www.peanutbutterlovers.com

Kids love to eat peanut butter, but they also may like to read about it. Among the related children’s books, is “Peanut Butter & Cupcake!” written by Terry Border. The hero is a peanut butter-covered slice of white bread, that wanders around his new neighborhood trying to make a friend.

pb and cupcake

National Pancake Day, sponsored by IHOP, also will be celebrated on March 1 this year. Since 2006, IHOP restaurants have offered a free short stack of their Original Buttermilk Pancakes between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. on that day. Guests are asked to consider leaving a donation — and they have. Since the first annual event, nearly $30 million has been raised for charities on National Pancake Day. http://www.ihoppancakeday.com

For the ULTIMATE CELEBRATION, how about peanut butter pancakes? Makes me hungry just writing about it…

thumbnail_img_1886

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist, who also writes stories for children.

Memorial Day Activities

Since Memorial Day Weekend is the official start of summer, that usually means more time outdoors and lots of outdoor eating. If you’re going to a picnic this weekend, here are a few simple games, activities and food ideas to help win the day.                      patriotic-dove

MAKE PATRIOTIC NECKLACES using red, white, and blue straws cut into one inch sections. String them onto a piece of yarn and everyone looks ready for a parade or backyard barbeque.

Try frozen STRAWBERRY POPS to cool off after a fun day in the sun. Wash and remove the stems from a quart of strawberries. Toss them in a blender and add a splash of orange or grape juice.  Puree until smooth. Pour into small paper cups. Place a popsicle stick in each one and freeze until firm. Peel away the paper and they’re ready to eat.

At the next family reunion, have the kids dress up in red, white, and blue and have a backyard parade. You can decorate wagons and bikes, and play some peppy marching band music to add to the festivities. Adults can join in and everyone can “perform” by doing whatever they’re good at: acrobatics, card tricks, puppet show, singing, dancing, telling corny jokes.  Getting everyone – young and old – involved adds to the fun.

While you are celebrating, remember those brave and selfless men and women in uniform who gave their lives  to keep our country free.

Happy Memorial Day.

Got Leftover Turkey? Make Tetrazzini.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy leftover turkey even more than the day it’s served on Thanksgiving.  Grilled turkey sandwiches with craisins and melted cheese, turkey pot pie, turkey soup.  There are lots of ways to use the leftovers.

One of my favorite recipes is easy enough for you to try with the kids. Kids can dice the turkey and mushrooms and grate cheese with your supervision.  They can stir and help measure ingredients.

TURKEY TETRAZZINI

Ingredients:  2 C cooked, diced turkey      2 C sliced mushrooms   1 C grated parmesan cheese   1 T butter + 1 T oil    3 T flour    1 C chicken broth    1 C milk    1/2 C cooked green peas    3 C COOKED spaghetti (I used Angel Hair pasta broken into 3 inch pieces)  thyme and salt to taste.                 

  1. Saute mushrooms in the butter and oil until browned.  While the mushrooms are cooking, prepare spaghetti and set aside.

2.  Add the flour and whisk until the mushrooms are coated.

3.  Add the milk and broth , stirring until thickened.  You can also throw in the peas to cook here if you haven’t already cooked them.  See below.

4.  Add the parmesan cheese, thyme and salt if needed.  Stir until until cheese is melted.

5.  Add turkey and cooked spaghetti.  Serve HOT with a side of salad.

 

What is YOUR favorite recipe for LEFTOVER TURKEY?

Once You Get a hold of Yeast…Make Fool-Proof Soft Pretzels.

I’ve made these soft pretzels with developmentally delayed Pre-K classes for years and have never had an instance when they didn’t turn out well.  The only prep needed are clean hands, a sheet of waxed paper for each student, and an oven. ( I used a toaster oven in the classroom and they turned out great.)

SOFT PRETZELS: 1 pk. yeast,  4 C. flour ( I use 1 C. whole wheat, 3 C. regular),  1 1/2 C. warm water,  1 T. sugar,   1 T. salt,   1 egg beaten for glaze,  poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt, Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.

1. Mix yeast, water, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

2. Stir in flour. Knead until smooth. Here comes the fun part. Give each child a glob of dough to roll and shape into the first letter of his/her name.  This will ensure that each child gets his own pretzel when it comes out of the oven.  Once they are shaped and placed on a cookie sheet, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice.

3. Bake at 425 degrees for 15- 18 minutes, or until lightly browned. They may look crazy, but they will taste great. Guaranteed! The texture is like a bagel and it’s hard to eat just one.

Enjoy, and let me know how it goes. I’d love to see the results.

Cooking With Kids 101.

Since we’re all indoors and the kids are virtual students, one skill you can teach them now that you have some time is cooking. Cooking is a life skill and something important we can share with our children. From my experience as a parent and teacher, kids love to mix, stir, beat eggs, chop, slice, and dice vegetables and bake muffins and cookies. Children are also more likely to eat foods they’ve helped make.

So, roll up your sleeves and get started with some of these kid-friendly sites filled with recipes and tips for every taste.  Make some cooking memories!

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/15-fun-and-healthy-recipes-for-parents-cook-with-their-kids.html

https://www.parents.com/recipes/cooking/with-kids/

https://www.justonecookbook.com/easy-recipes-to-cook-with-kids/

easy recipes for kids to make

https://www.parents.com/recipes/cooking/with-kids/21-ways-to-make-cooking-with-kids-more-fun/

 

National Pancake Day…Make Pancakes For Supper!

Tomorrow (March 12) is National Pancake Day, so why not celebrate this iconic food by serving it up for dinner? Give the kids a thrill from the ordinary dinner time menu and make pancakes for supper. There are many recipes out there, and Aunt Jemima makes a mix that passes the YUM test.

In my new book WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY, 11 year-old Jack takes his 4 year-old sister Katy fishing for the first time. When they catch a one-eyed fish,  Jack tells Katy it’s a magic fish that grants wishes. Read the poems to find out what this has to do with PANCAKES:

FRED
After lunch I’m ready to leave.
No fish today, let’s go, I say.

Maybe the fish don’t like worms.
Maybe they’re veterinarians, Katy says.
She means vegetarians because
she hands me a grape and says
put it on the hook, Jack, please?
Can you sit without making a sound,
quiet as a stone?
She puts a finger to her lips, Shhhhh.
I hook the grape, toss the line,
hand the rod to Katy.
Before I settle onto the grass,
the line gives a tug.
Too heavy for me, I can’t do it, Jack.
I grab the rod and pull a fish out,
a fish with one eye.
It’s Fred, I tell her.
Katy strokes Fred’s tail with a pinkie.
A special fish, I say.
Like magic special?
Katy’s two eyes as wide as Fred’s one.
Don’t know, I say.
Katy frowns, so I say,
make a wish, quick before Fred goes back.
Pancakes for supper! she wishes,
kissing Fred on the tail.
Pancakes, I agree. As I slip
Fred into the water, he seems to
wink his eye before he swims away.

TRUE
It’s true, it’s true,
Katy sings when we sit down to eat
towers of pancakes, stacked on plates,
waiting for butter and syrup.
What’s true? Mom asks.
Fred
Is
Magic.
Katy says each word
licking syrup off a spoon,
eyes closed like she is having the
best
day
ever.

As I tell them about the one-eyed
fish and Katy’s wish, can they hear
my heart banging? Do they see
the zinging jolts of electricity
running through me?
Gran smiles and says,
I woke up wondering what to cook
for supper today, and right after lunch
a little voice in my head
told me to make pancakes.
Isn’t that funny?
Funny, says Pops.
Funny, agrees Mom.

There’s something
funny
strange
weird
that makes me wonder,
did Fred the one-eyed fish
grant Katy’s wish?
And if he did,
do I
can I
why shouldn’t I
make a wish?
The only wish worth wishing.
First I need to find out
how this wishing thing works.

 

pancakes on a griddle

You don’t have to wish for pancakes. Here’s one of my favorite scratch recipes:

MULTIGRAIN PANCAKES

1/4 c FLOUR        1/4 c WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR       1/4 c OATS

1 T BROWN SUGAR        1 T WHEAT GERM              1 tsp BAKING POWDER

1 EGG, beaten               1/2 c + 2 T MILK            2 T VEGETABLE OIL

Combine dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until moist. Pour onto greased griddle. Serve with your favorite toppings.

Happy Pancake Day!  Everyone loves pancakes, right?

squirrel pancake

 

 

 

You Choose Nachos

I don’t know about you, but this time of year, when skies are more grey than any other color, I tend to want to eat comfort food. Each of us has his own favorites, and one of mine is NACHOS.

But I’m way beyond the chips and cheese version. I add whatever I have handy and this recent version was a winner.

nachos

If you’d like to replicate the recipe, here it is:  black beans, chopped black olives, avocado chunks, tomatoes, chopped kale, shredded Asiago and cheddar cheeses.

You can add whatever you like to make a snack into a meal.  Very satisfying, and filled with vitamins, so even a comfort food snack can be good for you.  Just don’t overdo the cheese.