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.   

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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.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/food-and-friends/how-to-make-pumpkin-pie-spice/

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

 

https://www.dessertnowdinnerlater.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Homemade-Pumpkin-Pie-Spice2.jpg

Celebrate…Tomatoes!

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

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24864.Little_Yellow_Pear_Tomatoes

Slimy Summer Fun!

What Kid doesn’t enjoy a fresh pile of slime to play in?  On days when it feels too hot to play out in sand or make mud pies, you can still give your kids a tactile experience by making your own SLIME.  There are plenty of recipes out there.  Here are two that will help you create colorful slime for indoor fun.  One glows in the dark and has glitter.

Happy Sliming!

The first one is borax, glue and chemical free:

http://www.redtedart.com/easy-slime-recipes/   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcTzNAzHyY0  Glitter-glow-in-the-dark slime recipe

 

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!

https://ideas.evite.com/real-parties/ice-cream-party/?utm_medium=m_email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=july_2017&utm_content=2017_07_JulyNL&utm_term=ideas&tp=i-H43-Ax-1bc-kBVB4-1p-2EB28-1c-jYuL8-aO9JY

Frozen Treats For a Cool 4th of July.

During these dog days of summer when the heat is too much and you don’t even feel like loading the kids into the car to get an ice cream, take heart.  There are all kinds of FROZEN TREATS you can make at home. Not only will you save gasoline and money by making your own frozen Popsicles and Slushies, you have the added bonus of knowing exactly what’s in them!

All you need is fruit juice, ripened fruit, milk or yogurt, a blender, some craft sticks and paper cups or muffin tins and you can make your own.  Here are some tasty suggestions to get started.

1.  Puree chunks of your favorite fruit in  a blender and add a splash of juice or yogurt. Strawberry and kiwi go well together.   Orange and pineapple is another tasty combo. Try throwing in some shredded coconut or coconut milk for a frozen, alcohol-free  Pina colada.  Peach and banana or mango are tasty. (banana goes with just about ANY thing and adds a nice, creamy texture when frozen). Watermelon and kiwi work well, too.

2. Make a batch of INSTANT PUDDING using low fat milk or soy milk and freeze in cups for a fudge pop taste. Any yogurt can be frozen to make pops or ice cubes to use in drinks.

3.  If you don’t have time to make pops, just freeze some fruit chunks and snack on them when you want a refreshing treat that is also healthy and delicious.  Grapes, berries and kiwi taste great frozen.

The possibilities are endless.  I’m sure you can think of some delicious combinations I have yet to try.  I’d love to taste some of your favorite frozen concoctions, so feel free to send your recipes and I’ll post some of them here.  Check out more winning recipes at: allrecipes.com.

Keep Cool and Happy Summer!

Peanut Butter Dip: For Picnics and Beyond…

Here is an easy to make recipe for a dip that will be perfect for summer picnics, parties or game nights.  Children love the sweetness and will eat the fruit and veggies without protest.

PEANUT BUTTER DIP:1/4 C creamy peanut butter, 3 oz. low fat cream cheese, 1-2 T. apple or orange juice, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/8 to 1/4 C unsweetened applesauce.

1. Combine the PB, cream cheese, juice and cinnamon in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Add applesauce, a little at a time, until it is the right consistency for a dip. Chill before serving with the following:

sliced bananas, carrots, celery sticks, broccoli florets, apple slices, graham cracker sticks, pretzel rods, or any assortment of fruits and veggies you choose.  It’s amazing how many things taste great with peanut butter.  Feel free to try it with non-traditional dippers such as pickles, pepper slices, sausage pieces or whatever. Refrigerated, it will be good for 2-3 days.   If you have allergies to peanuts, try substituting another butter in the recipe.

Let me know how you like it. It’s been one of our favorites for years. Happy Munching!