Celebrate National Pistachio Day.

Today is NATIONAL PISTACHIO DAY. Why not snack on a handful while you learn a bit about this amazing nut.   The following information was provided by:  http://www.foodreference.com/html/a-pistachios-208a.html

A Brief History of Pistachios

Pistachio Nuts are native to the Middle East. Archeological evidence in Turkey suggests that humans were enjoying them as early as 7,000 B.C. Pistachios spread from the Middle East to the Mediterranean, quickly becoming a treasured delicacy among royalty, travelers and common folk alike.


The pistachio has been used as a dyeing agent and a folk remedy for ailments ranging from toothaches to sclerosis of the liver. The pistachio’s high nutritional value and long storage life made it perfect for travel among early explorers and traders. Along with almonds, pistachios were frequently carried by travelers across the ancient Silk Road that connected China with the West.

Pistachios in the U.S.

Originally imported in the 1880s for Americans of Middle Eastern descent, pistachios were first introduced to the rest of America as a snack food some 50 years later. Sold in vending machines across the United States, these imported nuts were usually dyed red to mask imperfections and to draw attention from passersby.

Pistachio trees were planted experimentally in California beginning in the early 1930s.  By the 1960s, commercial cultivation of pistachios had expanded across California’s arid Central Valley. Today, California is the second largest producer of pistachios worldwide, boasting more than 100,000 acres of pistachio orchards and producing in excess of 300 million pounds of pistachios a year, with California accounting for about 98 percent of domestic production.

pistachio trees

One ounce – a handful – of pistachios provide lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and 12% of the daily fiber needed by healthy adults. There are lots of ways to enjoy them: as a snack right out of the bag, sprinkled onto a salad for extra crunch, in ice cream, in pudding, in muffins and cakes.  PISTACHIOS are one of Nature’s perfect foods in a nifty package.

Here are some popular books for children that feature this amazing nut:

The Pistachio Prescription  by Paula Danziger   

The Pistachio Prescription

The Adventure of Pistachio Mustachio Paperback – Large Print, July 19, 2016

What’s your favorite way to eat PISTACHIOS?

For additional information visit – pistachiohealth.com


Finding Comfort in Winter Foods by Marilyn Ostermiller

Come January, when rich holiday treats are but a sweet memory, I take comfort in baking runzas, one of the hearty, yet simple foods, of my European heritage. Runzas are pockets of bread dough stuffed with a savory mixture of ground beef, onions and cabbage. The scent of bread dough rising and the hash simmering on the stove, the flavors melding, put me in mind of Grandma cooking in her kitchen.

Runzas are thought to have originated in Russia in the early 1800s and spread to Germany. Handheld and portable, they are similar to Italian stromboli, Greek pirouskia and Indian samosas. German Immigrants brought the runza recipe with them to the United States, but the sandwiches aren’t well known outside of Nebraska, where the Runza Hut chain has most of its restaurants. The recipe I reach for on Saturday afternoons in winter is from a cookbook published in 1976 by the Federated Woman’s Club in my hometown, Bellevue, NE.

 Runzas:         Ingredients

Dough*                                                           Hamburger Filling

2 cups very warm water                       1 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 packages active dry yeast                 1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup granulated sugar                      3 cups shredded cabbage

1 1/2 tsp. salt                                       1/2 cup water

1 egg                                                    1 1/2 tsp. salt

4 Tblsp. melted butter, cooled 1/2 tsp. black pepper

6 1/2 cups flour                                   dash of Tabasco

* Use prepared bread dough instead, if you prefer. Two loaves should be enough.

Directions: Mix very warm water, yeast, sugar, salt and stir until dissolved. (This process is known as proofing the yeast. If you aren’t familiar with it, the information is easy to find online.)

Add egg and butter. Stir in flour. Put dough in a covered bowl, greased with vegetable oil, and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in bulk, about an hour.

While the dough is rising, brown ground beef, and onion. Drain grease.  Add cabbage, seasonings, and water. Simmer 15 minutes and cool.  Punch down the dough and roll it out in an oblong about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 16 squares. Spoon a few tablespoons of the meat mixture in the middle of each square of dough. Pull the four corners of the dough up over the meat mixture and press the edges together. (Some cooks favor a round bun; others, an oblong.) Place the filled buns on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Runza Huts serve French fries or onion rings on the side, but, in keeping with the comfort food theme, I make a broth-based mushroom soup to accompany my hot sandwiches. This recipe is easy to make at the same time as the runzas. http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/broth-based-mushroom-soup-super-simple-413306

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.   

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.


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?

Fall Menus Warm Us Within: by Marilyn Ostermiller

When days grow shorter and leaves turn flamboyant, we gravitate toward foods that warm us within:

  • Four-alarm chili at the tailgating party.
  • Steaming mugs of apple cider at the Harvest Festival.
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte to go from Starbucks.

There’s something about fall that especially makes me want to spice the air with cinnamon and simmering soup.  Here are some perfect recipes you and your kids can make to compliment the fall season.

Baked Oatmeal 

There’s nothing like starting the day with a hearty bowl of hot cereal. This Martha Stewart recipe appealed to me because it includes a generous portion of fresh berries, bananas and toasted almonds. It bakes for 35 to 40 minutes, so save this one for a leisurely morning or weekend brunch. https://www.marthastewart.com/1050163/baked-oatmeal

Butternut Squash Soup.

I make a habit of ordering butternut squash soup in restaurants to sample all the variations. For cooking at home, I like this recipe that incorporates a Granny Smith apple and doesn’t rely on heavy cream for its flavor and consistency. Instead, the ingredients are cooked and pureed.

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes  /butternut_squash_apple_soup/


Pumpkin Pie Spice

This has become  a popular flavor for a host of packaged snacks. The name refers to the mix of spices that have been used for making pumpkin pie since at least the 1890s. It’s easy to make and have on hand for pie as well as cookies or pumpkin bread.

Mix together:

  • 3 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon                 
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Ground Allspice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves

Store in a small jar to have on hand for all the fall recipes that call for it.


Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.   



It’s Not Too Late For Halloween Fun and Games.

I came across a great site with lots of kid-friendly fun and games for Halloween and beyond.    http://www.holidayinsights.com/halloween/index.htm

To keep the kids busy before or after trick-or-treating, or if you’re planning a party, why not try some PUMPKIN BOWLING?

Every kid loves to knock things over. That makes Pumpkin Bowling really popular.

Age Group: Kids up to pre-teens

Object of Game: Knock over the bowling pins. Make a strike or a spare.


  1. Select several small pumpkins about four to six inches in diameter. You need extras in case a few split or break.

  2. Remove the stem.

  3. Place plastic (children’s set) of bowling pins several feet away on the lawn or floor of the room. 

  4. A great alternative to bowling pins are plastic liter bottles. Let the kids decorate them with Halloween objects before the game.

Playing the Game:                                                                

  1. Measure off several feet.

  2. Give each child two tries to knock down the pins.

  3. A strike is worth two pieces of candy.

  4. A spare is worth one piece of candy.

Visit the site for other fun and games such as: Penny Pitch or Pumpkin Ring Toss.

For Halloween Party treat ideas visit:  The site has everything from Bat’s Eyes to Wormy Fruit Salad.


Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!                         



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!

Here’s a great picture book about tomatoes: LITTLE YELLOW PEAR TOMATOES  by Demian Elaine Yumei


Three Cheers for Ice Cream!

Did you know that in 1984, President Ronald Regan declared July National Ice Cream Month?  Sunday, July 16 happens to be National Ice Cream Day. 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

 Does your state have a favorite flavor?

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.  On a recent trip to the Union Square Farmer’s Market in Boston i got a taste of STRAWBERRY BASIL.  Really yummy!  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!    

Here’s a site that knows how to throw a great ice cream themed get-together!