Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Screen Free Week - OMG, What Will I Do?

April 29 - May 5 has been deemed Screen Free Week.  Funny, I remember when my parents purchased our first television - black and white, with rabbit ears.  We got three or four channels.  And at 10:30 there was no more TV until the next morning.  Fast forward to 2013.  There are no more rabbit ears or black and white TV.  Kids these days would call that 'cruel and unusual punishment'. 

Today the average American household has 2.73 televisions and 2.55 people.  What a reversal.  In addition to televisions, there are home computers and smart phones.  You name it and we got it.  We are now spending more time in front of a computer than ever before.  The average child spends 4.5 hours per day watching television. 

For those of you looking for a little help with reducing screen time, here are a few resources
So, what does Screen Free Week have to do with cooking? It's a good time to head to the kitchen to reconnect with your family and improve your cooking skills.  For Screen Free Week, team up with your child or another family member for a little kitchen time.  There is no place like the kitchen for reconnecting with those you love.

To help you get started, try this recipe for Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies from  - Fast Foods!, a UNL-Extension 4-H Foods Curriculum.  Hope you enjoy, and please go to Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/DiscoverFoods and post pictures of your Screen Free Week activities.

Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 2 dozen.


½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
¾ to 1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup regular or quick oats
teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup raisins
Cooking spray


1.  In a large bowl beat together both sugars and butter.  Mix in vanilla and egg. 
2.  In a small bowl stir together flour, oatmeal, salt, and baking soda.  Set aside.
3.  Add flour and oat mixture to the wet ingredients.  Stir to combine.  Stir in raisins.
4.  Refrigerate dough for about 30 minutes.  (Dough can be refrigerated for up to one day.)
5.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets coated with cooking spray.
6.  Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes.
7.  Remove cookies from pan and place on a cooling rack.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

National Garden Month

April is National Garden Month and time to 'gear up' for the growing season.  Americans are gardening in greater numbers than ever.  In 1971, 25 million households or 39% of American families raised a portion of their vegetables.  According to a recent report, 49% of Americans gardened in the past 12 months. 

Most Americans (30%) garden for access to fresh vegetables and second (25%) most popular reason for gardening is better-tasting, higher quality food.  Gardening for fun (22%) beat saving money (15%) as a reason for gardening. 

The most popular vegetable for the home gardener is by far, the tomato.  It is followed by, in order, peppers, green beans, cucumbers, onions, lettuce, summer squash, carrots, radishes and in tenth place, sweet corn. 

If you would like to begin gardening this year, check out your local county extension office.  Gardening centers also offer a wealth of information, as do seed companies. 

In honor of National Garden Month, I am pulling out something from last year's garden - winter squash.  After all, gardeners can not throw anything away. 

Spiced Butternut Squash Puree

Serves 6.


1 large butternut squash, about 3 to 4 pounds
¼ cup butter
cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper


1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Pierce squash with a knife or fork.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for about one hour.  If squash is soft enough, cut in half to allow steam to escape.  Continue cooking until squash can be easily pierced with a knife or fork.

2. Scrape seeds from cavity.  Remove squash from the skin.  Mash squash and add butter, brown sugar, and seasonings.  Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Little Short on Cash

Tax time is almost over.  For me, it was over a few weeks ago.  And things did not go my way - I think the government kept too much of my money.  At least in my humble opinion. 

Well, I gotta eat and being the foodie that I am, I want good food.  I am not one for believing that good food has to be expensive.  I prefer not to think of it as cheap, just frugal.  You make the best of what you have.

For my frugal dish, I went back to something my mother used to make, salmon cakes.  This is one of the most inexpensive dishes you can make.  You need a can of salmon, one egg, and some type of bread to bind it.  Crackers and dry bread crumbs work well for this.  Additional seasonings can be added, like onions, lemon zest,  red pepper, and mustard.  Mix it up to suit your tastes.

Recently, I read where a chef stated that canned salmon was like cat food.  "Meow".  Sorry chef, mom used canned salmon and that's what I use.   Canned salmon is great.  It is inexpensive, a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and if you consume the bones, a good source of calcium.  Here is my recipe for salmon cakes.  Use the recipe as a guideline.  If you want to add or remove something, please do so.

Salmon Cakes with Mustard Sauce

Serves 4.


1 can (14.5 ounce) salmon
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
cup chopped red onions
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 large egg
Vegetable oil, for frying

Mustard Sauce:
1 container (6 ounce) plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon coarse grain or Dijon mustard


1.  Drain salmon and mash with a fork.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Divide into fourths.  Form into a ball and flatten to about ½ inch.

2.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook salmon cakes, turning once, until golden brown and just cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes.

3.  Stir together yogurt and mustard.  Serve with salmon cakes.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

National Soybean Month

April is National Soy Foods Month.  Before you turn up your nose, soy foods have come a long way in the United States.  Gone are the days when we associated soy with poor quality, filler ingredients.  It's the real thang!  And for good reason, soy is a very nutritious food.

If you want to consume soy, edamame is a good place to start.  Edamame are harvested at the green stage and can be purchased in the pod or shelled.  They can be used to make salads, humus, added to soups and stir fries. 

A one-half cup serving of edamame contains 3 grams of fat (primarily mono- and polyunsaturated), 8 grams protein, and 4 grams of fiber.  If you are looking for ways to add soy to your diet, try edamame with mustard vinaigrette and check out Cooking Light Magazine website for more recipes.

Edamame with Mustard Vinaigrette

Serves 4 to 6.

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 bag (12 ounce) frozen shelled edamame
cup chopped red onion
½ cup chopped celery
1 Tablespoon minced parsley

1.  Vinaigrette.  In a small bowl combine vinegar, mustard, and salt.  Add oil and stir to combine.

2. Salad.  Add about 1 teaspoon salt to about 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Add edamame and cook for about 5 minutes.  Drain well.

3.  Combine edamame, onion, celery, and parsley.  Stir to combine.  Add vinaigrette and stir to coat vegetables.  Cover and chill for 1 hour before serving.