Eton Mess On A Stick

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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. [/donotprint]

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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Mini Meatball Sandwiches

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Having been a vegetarian for many years, I’m still learning when it comes to making a decent meatball. Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is where I got the recipe for these little beauties. Lucky for me, we had a few leftover and I was able to whip up a delicious quick lunch that took no thought. Bliss![/donotprint]

Mini Open-faced Meatball Sandwiches

If you’re lucky enough to have some leftover homemade meatballs on hand, drop everything and make this now. Obviously, the proportions and number of sandwiches can be adjusted to your needs. The only real requirement is that the bread be sturdy enough to support all of that cheesy meaty goodness.

3 small slices of rustic bread
4 fully cooked small meatballs, cut in half
3 1-inch by 4-inch slices of white cheddar cheese

Preheat the broiler in the oven on High. Slide a rack into the upper third of the oven so the sandwiches will be close (but not too close) to the heat.

Assemble the sandwiches by placing the bread on a baking tray and topping them with 2 or 3 meatball halves. Top with a slice of cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and has begun to brown.

Yield: 3 mini sandwiches
Prep-time: 5 minutes
Bake-time: 5 minutes

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Salted Apple

The other day my 5-year-old started an unsolicited brainstorming session concerning what she would be having for snack that afternoon.

“Apples with… salt mama! Ha! Let’s make that!” she said jokingly. And I said, “I think that’s actually something people do eat sometimes. Wanna try it?”

And, of course, she said “YES!” So I bought out a tiny bowl with some kosher salt and viola!

She liked it. She loves salt almost as much as she loves sugar. My other kid was not a fan though. Can’t win ’em all. My husband thinks I’m a loser for publishing this since he’s been “eating apples like that for years“. But I’d never heard of it until I met him.

In other news…

We have sprouts. Not just any sprouts either. This is the precious Lemon Basil, the herb to end all herbs. It’s the whole reason I’m starting everything from seed. I couldn’t find it at my local nurseries last year. I hope it’s a strong little plant because I have no idea what I’m doing.

The Big Rainbow tomato sprouts emerged today too. These will produce giant yellow heirloom tomatoes with red stripes. I’m salivating as I type this. Get crackin’ little plant!

In case you hadn’t noticed I’m a little giddy over the coming of spring. I can’t help it. There’s no one happier than a New Englander when spring finally arrives.

Also, in case you were wondering, the chicks are doing their best to take over the basement.

You know it’s time to move them out into larger quarters in the garage when they jump right out of the bin and roost proudly on the edge. I’m already afraid this one is a rooster because she is so brazen and ready to take on the world.

Oh, and one more thing…

If you’re looking for the best Double Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe ever, I’ve got a lead for you. This blessed cookie was made from a recipe in Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan. It’s brilliant. It’s more of a brownie than a cookie. I think I’m going to need to own a copy of the book soon because the recipe for Swedish Oatmeal Hardtack is also excellent. And the recipe/tutorial devoted to pie crust is one of the best I’ve seen.

 

Shiny Happy People

Here’s another one to add to the simple yet brilliant category. My five-year-old thinks they’re the bee’s knees. Any snack that can momentarily distract her from her seemingly constant fixation on sugar is a winner in my book.

I think I’m going to save you from my blather and not post a recipe for this one. It’s obvious from the picture right? All you need is a slice of apple, peanut butter, and raisins and you’re good to go. I do the apple and peanut butter prep and let the child go to town with the raisins. We really know how to live it up here.

These remind me of Apple Flying Saucers which I wrote a recipe for back in 2009.

Breakfast Nirvana

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Moonstruck is probably my favorite romantic comedy of all time. I’ve been cuing it up for many years now. In the beginning, it was all about the unstoppable and offbeat romance between Loretta (Cher) and Ronny (Nicholas Cage). But lately every time I watch it I focus on the food.

I love the scene where Rose (Olympia Dukakis) fixes egg-in-a-hole for Loretta. Until recently I thought Rose had added some bacon on top of the egg. We’ve even made it this way a few times. But the last time I watched the movie I noticed that it was really strips of roasted red pepper! I am thoroughly over the bacon-on-top-of-and-inside-everything-you-could-possibly-eat thing. So roasted red pepper sounds so much more exciting.

The next morning I couldn’t find any roasted red peppers in the house. But we did have some leftover caramelized onions hanging out in the back of the refrigerator. I didn’t hesitate because, as far as I can tell, caramelized onions never disappoint. And this time was no exception.[/donotprint]

Egg-in-a-Hole with Caramelized Onions Recipe

One slice bread
One egg
1 tablespoon butter (or less, just don’t be shy with the butter)
Salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons caramelized onions

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Cut a hole out of the center of a piece of bread with a 2-inch round cookie cutter or the rim of a shot glass. Add butter to skillet and wait until the butter is melted and starts to bubble/sizzle.

Place the bread in the skillet. Crack an egg into the hole. Season with a dash of salt and pepper. Top with the caramelized onions. Cook for four or five minutes and then flip the bread over with a spatula and cook one minute more.  Serve immediately.

Yield: one serving
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Kettle Corn

[donotprint]You must make this snack as soon as you possibly can. It is brilliant simplicity.

Today when the kids were munching happily on kettle corn I told them I didn’t want to hear any more whining about how they never get Oreos in their lunch like all the other kids at school. As long as they get to snack on homemade kettle corn, I can do no wrong.

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Kettle Corn Recipe

I like to get all the ingredients ready for this snack while the pot is preheating. Things happen quickly once the pot is ready and the popcorn needs all of your attention while it is popping. But then 4 minutes later you get to experience a snack trifecta: crunchy, sweet, and salty.

1/4 cup canola or safflower oil
3/4 cup popcorn
2 heaping tablespoons 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. 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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Popcorn on the cob

Down at the Pickin’ Patch in Avon, CT I found the darnedest thing – popcorn still on the cob! Will wonders never cease? It’s like they knew a snack-obsessed blogger was headed their way. I used to think I was special for making homemade microwave popcorn. But now look at me! Boo-ya!

Seriously, the kids were all excited. It was fun. And the popcorn truly tasted superior to the store-bought variety we usually stuff our faces with.

So, get this, all you do is put an ear of dried corn in a bag. Microwave it for 2 1/2 or 3 minutes on high with the bag folded shut.

Then, ta da, you have popcorn. And a semi-naked cob. Magic!

One ear made more than enough to feed my two growing and hungry children. Now I’m wondering how one dries an ear of corn. Anyone know?

Warm Applesauce with Butter

[donotprint]If you haven’t eaten this little snack, you haven’t lived. Perhaps slaving over homemade applesauce makes it taste better than it really is. Probably not though. I think it is a fabulously simple, smooth, and supreme snack. Every time I cook up some homemade applesauce, a little bowl of this stuff is in order.

The applesauce is pink because a) I am rad, and b) I cook the apples with the skins on and run them through my super food mill removing said skins after they have left behind some of their color molecules.

I’m positively loopy from trying to wrap my head around back-to-school. I forget every year what a sea of paperwork there is to deal with and how many different adjustments need to be made to every aspect of our lives. It’s nuts.

How’s everyone else doing with the craziness? Or maybe I shouldn’t even be asking. I figure you were nice enough to read about my big problems, I should reciprocate. But really I wish we were all talking about amazing fiction we’ve read recently. Or the price of tea in China. Anything but School and Kids.

Oh, and here’s a picture of the applesauce waiting to go into the canner. Isn’t it lovely?

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Warm Applesauce with Butter Recipe

Of course, you could easily make this recipe from store-bought applesauce that you’ve heated up. Maybe that would be cheating, but I certainly would have no problem with it.

1/2 cup warm unsweetened applesauce
1 small pat of butter
Sprinkle of ground cinnamon
Sprinkle of brown sugar. or a drizzle of honey, or maple syrup

In a small bowl, top the applesauce with the butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Serve.

Yield: one serving
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Black Raspberry Rockets

I used to think that raspberry rockets was the best snack I’d ever thought of. But now there’s a new kid in town… and she’s knocking my socks off.

My new life goal is to find some super high-quality white chocolate to use for this snack. The waxy aftertaste I’m getting from the cheapo Nestle chips we’re using is getting in the way of an otherwise perfect culinary moment.

In other news, we still don’t have anything resembling an Internet connection. We’re getting closer, but still not there yet.

Sunshine Smoothie

One of my newest measures of snack recipe success is how messed up my four year-old daughter’s face gets when she eats. A good snack should leave behind some tell-tale signs of having been consumed with gusto.

Here we have Exhibit A which was the aftermath of our latest Sunshine Smoothie. Her face isn’t actually that messy. But the sprinkles on her chin make it a winner, non? The sprinkles were entirely her idea, by the way.

Sunshine Smoothie Recipe

1 fresh mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1 medium ripe banana, peeled
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup orange juice

Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Serve.

Yield: 3 cups
Prep-time: 5 minutes