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(To view a pictures of the Kids a Cookin' recipes, go to

Released: March 23, 2006

Briefly . . .

This week's news briefs . . .

1) Free Income Tax Services Offer Savings
2) K-State Gives Okay to Seeded Bermudagrasses
3) Organic Foods Safer?
4) K-State’s Vanderlip Honored by Sorghum Producers
5) Kids a Cookin’ - Stuffed Peppers in a Slow Cooker
6) Kids a Cookin’ - Tool Kit




1) Free Income Tax Services Offer Savings

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Many in Kansas may qualify for free services that will save them $50 to $100 or more for income tax preparation and filing fees, said Carol Young, Kansas State University Research and Extension family financial management specialist.

Trained volunteer tax preparers know tax laws, so also can match taxpayers to potential tax credits and benefits, she said.

This year, for example, low- to moderate-income families who qualify for the Earned Income Credit (EIC) may be eligible to receive up to $4,400. In 2005, more than 21 million workers claimed nearly $40 billion in EIC benefits, which are offered to supplement lower wages and encourage lower wage earners to keep working.

Workers earning $38,000 or less a year typically are eligible for free income tax services, such as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or similar services sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and community offices of organizations such as the Area Agency on Aging.

To learn more about free income tax preparation services in a community, Kansans can contact their local or district K-State Research and Extension office.


2) K-State Gives Okay to Seeded Bermudagrasses

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Bermudagrass – arguably the toughest turf in Kansas – has long been a distant third among the state’s favorite lawn turfs. Now, however, that may change.

Years of Kansas State University field trials have finally added two seeded bermuda varieties – Riviera and Yukon – to the university’s official turfgrass recommendations.

"Until now, we have recommended varieties established from sod, plugs or sprigs. The seeded bermudas either lacked winter hardiness or turf quality," said Ward Upham, horticulturist with K-State Research and Extension.

So, bermudagrass planting has been limited. The vegetative approach is harder, more time-consuming and often more costly than seeding Kansas’ Nos. 1 and 2 top turfs – tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass.

Bermudagrass is as tolerant of heat and drought as buffalograss, Upham said, but it’s denser, greener, and more resistant to weeds and wear. Unlike buffalograss, it requires an annual feeding in summer. Plus, bermuda’s optimum mowing height can range from less than an inch to a low-maintenance 2 inches.

Because it’s a warm-season turf, bermuda doesn’t green up as early or stay green as late as fescue and bluegrass do. It’s nowhere near as shade-tolerant as tall fescue. It can be as bad or worse than bluegrass about developing thatch. And, bermudagrass is the hands-down most aggressive spreader – which can create work for those trying to keep it out of flower beds, vegetable gardens or the neighbor’s cool-season lawn.

"For those with children or pets who play in the yard during the summer, however, it stands up the best," Upham said.

Planting time for bermudagrass is from mid-May through June, so soil preparation should start in April. Other facts about growing the turf are available at any county or district K-State Research and Extension office and on the Extension Web site at



3) Organic Foods Safer?

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Organic foods are a fast-growing segment in the grocery store. But, whether they’re actually safer than other foods in the marketplace is debatable, said Fadi Aramouni with the Food Science Institute at Kansas State University.

For consumers concerned about possible pesticide residues, an organic food is less likely to have them. For those concerned about safety from a microbiological point of view, however, an organic food may – or may not – be the better choice, said Aramouni, who is a K-State Research and Extension food scientist.

An organically grown crop can be just as subject as other foods to naturally-occurring bacteria in the environment, he explained.

More information on food safety and health is available at local or district K-State Research and Extension offices and on Extension’s food safety Web site: Information on choosing health-promoting foods is available at (click on "Nutrition and Health").


4) K-State’s Vanderlip Honored by Sorghum Producers

MANHATTAN, Kan. – A Kansas State University grain sorghum specialist was one of several researchers honored in Queensland, Australia, last month at the 5th Australian Sorghum Conference.

Richard Vanderlip, emeritus professor in K-State’s Department of Agronomy, was recognized for his global efforts to improve sorghum production and utilization.

Other U.S. honorees included Bruce Maunder, research adviser for National Sorghum Producers (NSP), and Darrell Rosenow and Lloyd Rooney, both of whom are researchers at Texas A&M University.

The meeting was organized by the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries and the Government Research Development Corporation in an effort to communicate new technology related to sorghum improvement and use.

The NSP is based in Lubbock, Tex., and represents U.S. sorghum producers.

- Source: National Sorghum Producers



5) Kids a Cookin’ - Stuffed Peppers in a Slow Cooker

The "insides" are the best part of this easy-to-fix entree from Kansas State University Research and Extension’s Family Nutrition Program. To serve, you just cut the cooked peppers in half and spoon on some sauce – topping with cheddar or American cheese, if you like. The recipe makes six half-pepper servings.


  • 3 green bell peppers, medium size
  • 1 can (14 1/2-ounce) diced tomatoes with oregano, basil and garlic
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup long grain white rice, uncooked
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 can (46-ounce) tomato juice
To obtain a higher resolution photo of this recipe go to:




1. Wash your hands.

2. Lightly coat inside of slow cooker with cooking spray.

3. Wash peppers. Cut around stems to remove. Remove seeds and membrane through hole.

4. Drain liquid from tomatoes and set aside.

5. In medium bowl, combine tomatoes, ground beef, rice, salt and pepper.

6. Fill peppers with meat mixture and place in slow cooker.

6. Make balls from any remaining meat mixture; add to slow cooker.

7. Pour tomato juice around stuffed peppers until nearly covered.

8. Cover and cook 10-12 hours on low temperature setting.

9. Remove lid and set slow cooker on high for an hour to make the sauce thicker.

Helpful Hints:

To save time in the morning, do some pre-prep the night before. Prepare the peppers for stuffing and store them in a bag in the refrigerator. Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl; then cover and refrigerate.

Uncovering the slow cooker and setting it on high for the last hour of cooking allows some of the liquid in the tomato juice to evaporate as steam. That’s what makes the sauce thicker.

During the last hour of cooking, remove the lid and turn the slow cooker to high. This will allow some liquid in the tomato juice to evaporate and make a thicker sauce.

To bump up the veggie servings in this entree, add a drained can of whole-kernel corn. To vary the flavor, used fresh tomatoes or plain canned tomatoes; then add your favorite herbs.

Safety tips:

Before serving stuffed peppers, insert a meat thermometer into the center of the beef mixture to be sure that it is done. To be safe, ground beef must reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. (Loss of redness is not a reliable measure.) Don’t let the thermometer touch the bottom or side of the slow cooker.

Store leftover tomato juice in a plastic container in the refrigerator. Use it within a few days.


Per serving: 190 calories, 2.5 grams fat (1gram saturated), 40 mg cholesterol, 20 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams dietary fiber, 1,360 milligrams sodium.


Kids a Cookin' is an educational program produced by Kansas State University Research and Extension's Family Nutrition Program and funded by USDA's Food Stamp Program through a contract with Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS). More information, more recipes and cooking tips, and a link to a Spanish version are available on the Kids a Cookin' Web site:

Source: Kathy Walsten, Family Nutrition Program, K-State Research and Extension



6) Kids a Cookin’ - Tool Kit

  • Slow cooker
  • Cooking spray
  • Can opener
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups
  • Large spoon
  • Meat thermometer


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus in Manhattan.

For more information:
K-State Research and Extension - News
Mary Lou Peter-Blecha, News Coordinator

Contributing writers: 
Mary Lou Peter-Blecha, Nancy Peterson,
Kathleen Ward and Leah Bond

K-State Research and Extension