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All-American treats for kids!

So I'm an American student currently living in Ireland and I work at an after-school program a couple days a week. The kids there are pretty intrigued by the fact that I'm American and so I thought it might be fun to bring in a homemade American treat for them. The idea came when I was baking cornbread--after doing a fair amount of searching for cornmeal (or "maize meal" as it is here) to make it with. Cornmeal-based baked goods definitely do not seem to be a thing here and they're easy to make and so tasty, so I thought corn muffins might be a good idea.

Then the question was sweet or savory. Although I prefer savory, unsweetened cornbread myself (I thought of making cheesy corn muffins) I figured that sweets are always a winner with kids. Plus, although I have some Kentucky ancestry (that comes through in both my own and my father's cooking at times), I'm a life-long Northerner myself and have been a New Englander for the past 6 years, so I figured that they might like it better if it's something from my own (adopted) region, which sweet cornbread definitely is. Now I'm trying to think of things to make sweet corn muffins even more appealing--blueberry corn muffins perhaps? That could be good. I'm also throwing around the idea of making apple butter to go with them, but I don't know how difficult this is. I have a full kitchen here but not the full array of kitchen supplies and tools that I'm used to--no crockpots or foodmills or anything. Any apple butter-makers that could give me insight into whether this endeavor would be possible?

And any ideas in general for my muffins? Other suggestions of kid-friendly American treats are welcome also.

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  1. Blueberry corn muffins sounds great - how about honey butter?

    Peanut butter cookies might be a good one, as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sandylc

      yum, honey butter sounds good. I'm guessing it's just some kind of mixture of honey and butter? lol. They outdoor market here has some good-looking honey and Irish butter is delicious.

      1. re: Lady_Tenar

        Just soften and whip the butter, then stir in honey to taste. If the butter is unsalted, stir in a bit of salt as well.

    2. How about Apple Pie?

      Nothing screams All-American like homemade apple pie.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        We Americans seem to think of apple pie as quintessentially American but, actually, apple desserts are common enough around here--they're very much a part of British food, which has a lot in common with Irish food. You can go to a bakery and find apple baked goods. Cornmeal is a genuine new-world food and I doubt the kids will have ever had anything like corn muffins. It's the most novel thing I can think of and they're also quite easy.

        Apple butter, though--that is a very American thing, which is why I'm intrigued by the idea of trying to make some. Again, just don't know if that's possible with the basic gear that I've got. Also does anyone know if it has to be canned if you're going to consume it quickly? I'm not looking to make a large amount for long-term preservation, just a little to bring in. Any apple butter info would be appreciated, although I might just decide to go with the blueberries.

        I also thought of making both savory cheesy muffins AND sweet berry muffins but I'm a little worried that all the kids might like one kind more than the other and there'd be fights! Maybe if I just make plenty of each kind...lol

        1. re: Lady_Tenar

          No need to can apple butter - you can refrigerate it for a good long while, or freeze. If you have a slow cooker, I understand they are ideal for the long slow cook required to make good apple butter.

          1. re: biondanonima

            No slow cooker, but a large pot, an oven, and the ability to cook things slowly. lol. Would that be sufficient? Do you have a recipe?

      2. I would let the kids try plain corn muffins first, then introduce a variation next time. Blueberries sound great. Can you let the kids make butter for their muffins? You just pour some cold heavy cream into small jars and shake like crazy. A few clean marbles in the jar help bring the butter.

        Is popcorn considered an American treat? Chips and salsa?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Tara57

          haha, I think popcorn is pretty well-integrated. Actually, one of the first questions a kid ever asked me (with a mouthful of bagged popcorn) was "Do you have popcorn in America?" Chips and salsa they also have. I thought of corn muffins because cornbread etc. really does seem to be virtually unheard of here. You can't even buy cornmeal at regular supermarkets around here, even big ones. I had to go to a specialty health food store to find it. Which is funny, because I can't think of anything made with cornmeal that's actually all that healthy! lol

        2. Cobblers
          Brown Betty
          Apple Fritters
          Buckeyes - peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate
          Chess Pie
          Toll House Cookies
          Monster Cookies
          Lava Cakes
          Dirt - (pudding, oreo cookie crumbs, gummie worms)
          Mississi Mud Pie
          Texas Sheet Cake

          You can make a familar treat to them, but don't be surprise if they way you make it is different than how they are use to it.

            1. re: KSlink

              You beat me to it--that was my first thought!

            2. When I studied abroad in England everyone liked it when I made American pancakes. Apparently British pancakes are either more like crepes or more like fried dough. And they use lemon and sugar, not maple.

              Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into triangles would be pretty fun too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: luciaannek

                Buttermilk pancakes are a great recommendation. It's a great contrast with Anglo-Hibernian pancakes. Otherwise blueberry corn muffins with honey butter is also very good.

              2. Brownies. Gorp. Anything involving peanut butter -- for example, peanut butter and jelly muffins. If you're from New England what about classic New England combinations like apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese, warm homemade applesauce with milk or cream on top, pancakes with maple syrup to dip, or Indian Pudding?

                2 Replies
                1. re: mariab

                  I once dated an Irish guy, who was obviously very homesick. When I asked him if there was anything he'd miss about the US if he went back and after thinking a few seconds he said: Brownies!

                  This was close to 20 years ago so perhaps brownies have broken the culture barrier by now.

                  1. re: poundcake

                    Yeah, they definitely have, at least where I live. No shortage of brownies around here!

                2. Two more: Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, doughnut muffins.

                  1. How about a big batch of chewy Snickerdoodle cookies?

                    1. Lots of American treats are regional, as Crockett mentioned. Key Lime pie? Boston Cream Pie? And for sure, Rice Krispie treats or Toll House cookies.

                      1. If you want to go savory, make corn dog muffins. I'd probably vote for corn dogs myself but frying might be an extra step you don't want to take.


                        If you want a sweet treat, combine chocolate chip cookies w/ brownies and make Dorie Greenspan's chipster brownies.


                        1. OK; this is far out. But it fits the theme "All-American treats for kids! "
                          From the early 1930's to the early 1950's, there was a very popular national radio adventure series known as "Jack Armstrong - The All American Boy". The sponsor of the program was General Mills and the featured cereal was "Wheaties, Breakfast of Champions".
                          So tell the kids a story (or let them listen to a recording of one of those shows) and feed them Wheaties - Coconut cookies or Wheaties muffins.

                          1. Caramel corn, brownies, cream pies, American style cake

                            Sweets aside, as a kid, (plain) cornbread with honey butter was one of my all-time favorite treats! You don't need to add all sorts of bells and whistles -- it is good as it is!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: maxie

                              Did you like it sweetened of unsweetened? :-)

                              1. re: Lady_Tenar

                                Very barely sweetened, if at all.

                            2. Here's a few other suggestions...

                              Key lime pie
                              Boiled peanuts
                              Vinegar pie
                              Pecan pralines
                              Pecan pie

                              1. I'm Irish but live in America half of every year. Corn muffins sound a great idea for an American treat! Or anything pumpkin based - that's novel too.

                                Brownies, Apple Pie and Rice Krispie treats are well integrated into Irish food culture by now :)