We present a simple text mining method that is easy to implement, requires minimal data collection and preparation, and is easy to use for proposing ranked associations between a list of target terms and a key phrase. We call this method KinderMiner, and apply it to two biomedical applications. The first application is to identify relevant transcription factors for cell reprogramming, and the second is to identify potential drugs for investigation in drug repositioning. We compare the results from our algorithm to existing data and state-of-the-art algorithms, demonstrating compelling results for both application areas. While we apply the algorithm here for biomedical applications, we argue that the method is generalizable to any available corpus of sufficient size.