Fix Me A Snack

A blog created by a mom who got sick of feeding her kids crackers and ice cream

There are hard-core cookbooks out there that have recipes for homemade cheese powder. But somehow, I haven’t gotten around to making my own. Actually, I think cheese powder is where I draw the line. People think I’m crazy enough already. If I made cheese powder from scratch I couldn’t tell anyone about it for fear of the looks I’d get, so what’s the point? It’s much more normal feeling to get really excited about King Arthur’s cheese powder. This stuff is the bomb.

I make about 8 or 10 cups of popcorn in our whirly pop and immediately sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of the powder along with a pinch of salt and viola! If you use an air popper, you might need to spray a little oil on the popcorn to help the powder stick.

King Arthur is not paying me for this. :(

I was going to wait until next year to publish this little recipe. But I’m all caught up in the moment. The tomatoes are still rolling in from our garden and the only way we can stand to eat them anymore is salsa. I need to write this all down and get it out there right now.  My kids love this stuff.

This summer I’ve been falling in love with Alice Walter’s The Art of Simple Food. Her salsa recipe is the basis for this one and I love it.

Heirloom Tomato Salsa Recipe

The ingredient ratios in this recipe are extremely negotiable. But please do use the best tomatoes you can find. They carry the entire show. I’ve done it without the onion and with parsley instead of cilantro and it was still great.

3 – 4 heirloom tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped fine
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of one lime
A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Transfer to a quart jar and put it in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour to allow the flavors to develop. Serve with tortilla chips. We like to use the Scoop variety because the tomatoes release a fair amount of liquid.

prep-time: 10 minutes
yield: approximately 1 quart

I don’t know about you, but it’s starting to feel like Summer is on the way out around here. The kids are headed back to school. Apples are starting to call my name. Acorns are starting to appear. They are big and fat this year. I think it’s going to be a nice Fall.

But before I start to break out my flannel shirts, it’s time to buckle down and focus on the final flush of summer. I don’t know how it happened really, but I finally became a tomato gardener this summer. I gave away a couple quarts of them yesterday. They are taking over my pantry and I love it.

Eating has become an exercise in tomato consumption. We were doing a lot of tomato sandwiches last week. Today we took it to the next level and made Egg, Pesto, and Tomato sandwiches for lunch inspired by one of the many great recipes in the new Weelicious Lunches cookbook. Tomorrow’s dinner will involve a Tomato Tart, which is a highlight of our summer. Make one.

Another joy is heading out to our herb garden and picking some parsley, tarragon and chives for this Green Goddess Dip. It is my dip of choice during the summer whenever I feel like enticing my family to eat crudites. It’s also quick and easy to make. I like to let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours after its made to let the flavors meld and it thickens up a bit too. But I’ve eaten it plenty of times straight out of the food processor and there have been no complaints.

Green Goddess Dip Recipe

This recipe is adapted ever-so-slightly from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. This book has a fabulous-looking appetizer section that I’ve only just begun to tap into. I usually mix up the herbs according to whichever tender leafy greens are most needing to be picked. Tarragon is an important player even though its quantity is small.

1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh chives
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Whiz all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth and no large bits of herb remain. Scrape down the side of the bowl if necessary. Store in an airtight container for at least one hour, if possible. Serve with veggies like carrots, cucumbers, peppers and kolarabi.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups
Prep-time: 10 minutes

 

One of the most popular categories on Fix Me A Snack is “10 Minutes or Less“.  Those of us who do not like to spend our entire lives in the kitchen, appreciate a little inspiration in the realm of  quick healthy snacks for kids.

This is a snack we used to eat all the time, but it’s fallen by the wayside lately. Bananas with chocolate syrup and sprinkles was always a winner. Maybe we need to bring it back.

Also, I must show you a picture I found that my youngest drew a couple years ago. It’s the family in the kitchen. I love it. Can you tell I’m feeling a little nostalgic today? When they were babies the older moms always told me they would grow up so quickly and I didn’t believe them one bit. They were right, of course. Wah.

I was trolling the isles of Whole Foods yesterday and this giant bag of herb-encrusted popcorn was calling out to me quite loudly. The only reason I resisted was because I knew Zatar popcorn would be even better. Is it Zatar or Za’tar or Zathar? Does anyone really care? However you spell it, it is a middle eastern spice blend that contains sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds.

If you drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on freshly popped popcorn and sprinkle it liberally with Zatar, you will be happy. One of my kids even thinks it’s the bee’s knees. Sometimes I might add a small pinch of salt if I’m in the mood. But it doesn’t really need it.

I get my Zatar from Penzey’s Spices. You can make your own following this recipe on 101 Cookbooks.

Here’s a snack that the kids and I can’t say ‘no’ to lately. Even the peanut butter hater in my household is a big fan. It’s the best I’m-craving-chocolate-but-I actually-want-to-put-some-real-food-in-my-body kind of snack there is.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

2 overripe bananas, peeled
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Put it all in a blender and whiz until smooth. Makes 2 cups.

The days are getting shorter and the nights are cooler. Instead of shopping for new sweaters at Anthropologie I should be dealing with all the herbs I planted this spring. At least I’ve got some of the basil taken care of with this Basil Hummus.

This is a winner of a recipe from An Organic Conversation that I found via seaweed snacks. It is simple to prepare and has the perfect amount of garlic and lemon juice. It’s great for dipping and on sandwiches. Love it.

One of the best parts of being a food blogger is that I feel required to keep a well-stocked pantry. I keep a large quantity of nuts, specialty flours, and, um, chocolate in my extra fridge that lives in the garage. The likelihood of me following through with a suggestion or random idea goes way up if I have all the ingredients on hand.

Now that I think about it, all it really takes to keep my family snacking healthy is a) a tiny bit of forethought, b) a bowl full of fruit on the kitchen counter, and c) a well-stocked pantry that leans toward healthy real stuff because you know I’m going to reach for that which is salty, fatty, sweet, and easy first if it’s anywhere in the house.

There, now you know all my secrets. Now that we’ve got that all figured out, go have some fun.

Seriously, a friend suggested that I try mixing some finely chopped chocolate into nut butter over a year ago. We’ve been munching away on this fabulous little treat on a regular basis now that the apples are starting to come in. This snack is a lot like Mud Dip. But it’s even quicker to pull together.

Peanut Butter with Chopped Chocolate Recipe

Serve this concoction as a dip with thickly sliced apples. Part of me wants to top it with roasted marshmallows, sliced banana, and top it with crumbled graham crackers…But that’ll have to wait.

It’s easiest to chop chocolate if you go at it if a serrated knife at an angle shaving off a little bit at a time.

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1/2 ounce dark chocolate, chopped fine

Mix. Serve.

Yield: one generous serving
Prep-time: 5 minutes

Thank goodness I write a food blog or I never would have taken the leap and bought a little container of maple sugar for what seemed like way too much money. But for you, my dear readers, I forked over the $4.00 and got busy making some maple kettle corn.

We picked up the sugar at the Hebron Maple Festival after we sampled maple ice cream, frothy maple milk (yum!), and maple cotton candy. The line for the maple kettle corn was too long. A long line is always a good sign. But at that point we’d eaten so much we didn’t see the point of waiting it out even if maple kettle corn was a life-changing event. So I went about making some a couple days later with my trusty maple sugar.

Maple Kettle Corn Recipe

Kettle corn made with maple sugar is more prone to burn than regular kettle corn. So don’t go anywhere while you’re making it. Get all the ingredients ready ahead of time while your pot is heating. Things can move quickly, but the pay off is worth it. Imagine crunchy-salty-sweet goodness with undertones of molasses. Or is it caramel? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely tasty.

1/4 cup canola or safflower oil
3/4 cup popcorn
2 tablespoons maple sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat a large non-stick pot over medium high heat. When it is nice and warm, add the oil, popcorn, and sugar. Stir well to make sure that the sugar is well distributed. Place the lid on the pot. Shake the pot with increasing frequency once the popping begins to make sure that the corn and sugar do not burn.

After a few minutes, the popping should subside. Remove the pot from the burner (a little too early is better than too late) and stir the popcorn with a wooden spoon while you sprinkle on the salt. Stir a few more times to make sure none of the sugar burns on the bottom of the pot.

Serve immediately or store for up to a couple days in an airtight container. Be sure to give the popcorn a little extra cooling time if you’re serving youngsters. The sugar bits can be very hot.

Yield: 10 cups – serves 3 -4
Prep-time: 10 minutes

Note: My kids didn’t start eating popcorn until they were three years old. Make sure you’re up to date on current recommendations as far as choking hazards and feeding before serving this snack to children.

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Eton Mess (a traditional English dessert consisting of strawberries, whipped cream, and crushed meringues) is my kids’ new favorite reason for livin’/snack. This afternoon they were happily introduced to meringues. Then we smashed them into bits! It was great.

I even put them to work making their own snack. Here they are whipping some cream and smashing meringues.

They are very focused.

But the pay-off for all their hard work is deemed worth it.

A sure sign that a snack is a winner is when my children, who are usually nice enough to humor me, refuse to stop eating so I can take a couple photos.

Eton Mess On A Stick Recipe

This recipe actually works best with huge industrial-strength California strawberries. The beefy berries hold their own on skewers better than I imagine delicate local berries would. They also have more square footage for the whipped cream and meringue to cling to. For the meringues I took the easy route and used Trader Joe’s Vanilla Meringues, but feel free to make your own, especially if you have a ton of egg whites and sugar waiting to be used.

1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved lengthwise
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 medium meringue cookies

Pour the cream and vanilla into a small bowl. Whip the cream mixture until peaks form. Set aside.

Place the meringues in a sandwich bag or under a towel and gently smash the cookies into tiny bits with the flat side of a meat tenderizer.

Stab the berries with a small bamboo skewer. (Cut off the pointy tips if your little ones can’t be trusted not to poke themselves in the eye.) Dip the berries into the crushed meringues, the whipped cream, and then maybe the crushed meringues one more time. Consume immediately.

Yield: 3 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes

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