Cucumber Snack Salad

I love this zippy little summer salad when I have a little extra time in the afternoon. It gives us a break from the usual carrot sticks. If you don’t have champagne vinegar, you can try lemon juice. Champagne vinegar is also lovely with strawberries or on salads containing fruit. (A cucumber technically is a fruit, right?)

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

1 medium fresh-picked cucumber, peeled
A generous pinch of fine salt
Pinch ground white pepper
1 – 2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill (optional)

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Slice the cucumber thinly and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, and dill. Mix with your hand or serve as is.

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Banana Julius

I think the next series I do will have to be about ways to use up over ripe bananas. It seems to be a question that puzzles me too often. And maybe it would provoke me to make a banana cream pie. I’m up for anything involving pie.

So here’s a lovely way to use up an over ripe banana.  It’s creamy without containing any dairy, which is a bonus on these hot summer days. The kids gave this one rave reviews. I’m excited to make them an egg cream someday soon.

2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg white OR 2 tablespoons pasteurized egg white product*
1/2 cup cold water
1 ripe banana, peeled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ice cubes (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon honey

Unless you’re using a pasteurized egg product, pasteurize your egg white in a double boiler over gentle heat. In a small bowl, whisk egg white along with the sugar and 1 teaspoon water. Place bowl over a small saucepan containing an inch or two of simmering water.

Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an instant read thermometer to take the temperature. Keep the themometer in the egg mixture as much as possible and not touching the bowl. Once the thermometer reads 160, remove the bowl from heat and continue to whisk for another minute to be sure the egg doesn’t coagulate.

Pour egg mixture into a blender along with the 1/2 cup cold water, banana, vanilla extract, ice cubes, and honey. Mix until smooth. Serve immediately.

Yield: 3 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 10 minutes

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

I don’t know about you, but our summer is off to a good start…

Gone are the orange and brown days of winter. The berries are finally here! 

 

1 pint (3 cups) fresh strawberries
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips OR chocolate chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil

Wash strawberries. Spread them out on a towel to dry completely.

Meanwhile, place the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwaveable cup, mug, or small bowl. Gently microwave the chocolate and coconut oil for 2 minutes at very low power (10 or 20 percent). Check the chocolate and stir if possible. Microwave for another minute on low power and keep checking until the chocolate is mostly melted. Stir vigorously until the remaining chocolate is melted and well combined with the oil.

If you don’t have a microwave, you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium low heat.

Dip the strawberries in the melted chocolate. Place on a sheet of wax paper. The chocolate will set in a about five minutes. Serve.

Yield: approximately 24 strawberries
Prep-time: 10 minutes

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Strawberries with Balsamic Syrup

We are up to our elbows in fresh picked native strawberries right now. And I  wouldn’t have it any other way. Early in the season, we eat them raw for breakfast and snacks. But if this summer plays out like the last, I’ll gradually have to get more inventive in order to keep the strawberry magic alive in my household.

We served this as dessert after dinner tonight and it was a big hit. I sliced up the berries while my first-grader tended the vinegar on the stove. It was all done in a few minutes and the kids gave it a double thumbs up.

I didn’t use bargain basement balsamic for this syrup, but I didn’t use the super expensive variety either.

2 cups fresh strawberries
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Wash, hull and slice the strawberries. Place the berries in two small bowls and set aside.

Pour the vinegar into a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes until thickened. Allow to cool slightly before drizzling over the strawberries. Serve.

Yield: 2 servings
Prep-time: 10 minutes

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Traffic Light

For this simple and healthy little snack I created a circular pineapple shape by squishing two pieces of fresh cut pineapple together and rough cutting them into a circle. My guess is that your children will be perfectly happy with or without  the quasi-perfect circle shapes. Where my kids have the most fun is making it themselves, the wonkier and goofier looking the better.

Fresh strawberry, fresh pineapple, and fresh kiwi, sliced 1/2-inch thick

Thread fruit onto bamboo skewer* or lollipop stick. Serve.

*Note: I’m guessing bamboo skewers should not be put in the hands of most children under the age of 3, possibly 4. I cut off the pointy tips after assembly. A safer option might be lollipop sticks; pre-punch holes in the food and let the younger ones assemble on their own.

Yield: variable
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Pizza On A Stick

I’ve decided we need to start eating more snacks on a stick.* The kids had a great time making and eating these.

We use pepperoni that is not pre-sliced. The pre-sliced stuff often looks a deeper shade of artificial and is too thin. But obviously you can make due with whatever is on hand.

Slices of pepperoni
Chunks of mozzarella string cheese
Canned sliced black olives
Grape tomatoes

Thread pepperoni, cheese, olives, and tomatoes onto bamboo skewers. Serve.

*Note: I’m guessing bamboo skewers should not be put in the hands of most children under the age of 3, possibly 4. I cut off the pointy tips after assembly. A safer option might be lollipop sticks; pre-punch holes in the food and let the younger ones assemble on their own.

Yield: variable
Prep-time: 10 minutes or longer if the kids are assembling

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Green Monster Smoothie

We had a bit of a situation developing at my house this morning. A ripe avocado was on its way out. I just can’t stand to see an avocado go to waste. In addition, some bananas were looking like no one was going to eat them.  All this amounted to the perfect excuse for some experimentation. Thus the Green Monster Smoothie was born.

According to Lori at Fake Food Free, bananas and avocados are a popular snack combination in Brazil. And Dani Spies whips up some mighty fine lookin’ baby food using the same ingredients.

My preschooler happily took a taste, told me it was perfect, and then didn’t touch the rest of it. Is she actually trying to be polite and make me happy???!? This makes no sense at all.

I can see this being more of a hit with the toddler-set. I enjoyed it, but it is super rich and all I could put away was about a cup. So, unless you have a crowd, you might want to halve the recipe.

 

1 ripe Haas avocado, pitted
1 ripe banana, peeled
1 1/2 cup milk (or more if you’d prefer it thinner)
1 tablespoon sugar
Small pinch salt

Place the avocado, banana, milk, sugar, and salt in a blender and process until smooth. Serve.

Note: Cut up the banana and freeze it beforehand for a snack on a hot day like Lori did.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Prep time: 10 minutes

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Homemade Orange Julius

One sip of this homemade Orange Julius transported me back to The Valley Fair Mall circa 1986. I never thought about it much when I was 13 years old, but the secret to Orange Julius’ frothy goodness is egg whites. Not wanting to forage for powdered egg whites or fork over the money for Eggology, I figured out how to pasteurize them easily at home.* 

2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg white or  2 tablespoons pasteurized egg white product
3/4 cup water
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups ice (about 10 cubes)
3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate

Unless you’re using a pasteurized egg product, pasteurize your egg white in a double boiler over gentle heat. In a small bowl, whisk egg white along with the sugar and 1 teaspoon water. Place bowl over a small saucepan containing an inch or two of simmering water.

Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an instant read thermometer to take the temperature. Keep the themometer in the egg mixture as much as possible and not touching the bowl. Once the thermometer reads 160, remove the bowl from heat and continue to whisk for another minute to be sure the egg doesn’t coagulate.

Pour egg white mixture into a blender along with the 3/4 cup water, orange juice, vanilla, ice cubes, and orange juice concentrate. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 cups (or thereabouts)
Prep-time: 10 minutes

*While the odds of bumping into an egg contaminated with salmonella are slim, it’s not worth the risk. The last thing I want to do is pass on any bad information or techniques. My instructions for pasteurizing the egg white come from the FAQ section of the American Egg Board (What is an adequate temperature to cook an egg?) and from Pat Willard’s book A Soothing Broth. If you don’t feel comfortable with home-pasteurization for whatever reason, please go and buy a pasteurized egg white product.

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Cucumber Sandwiches

I haven’t actually tasted one of these. My kids will not share! Selfish little monkeys! But I guess that is that best indicator of all that they are a kid-friendly snack. We’ve got a thing for cucumbers dosed in vinegar at our house though. I imagine it’s not a such a thrill for most families. Still, you never know…

The recipe is adapted from one I found in The New York Times Cookbook. I think proper finger sandwiches are supposed to be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for a while, but I opted not to.

1/4 – 1/3 of a medium cucumber (preferably European Greenhouse), peeled and sliced
White vinegar
Salt and Pepper
4 slices of whole grain bread
Butter for spreading

Place the cucumbers in a small bowl, pour over enough white vinegar so that they are well coated. A bit of extra vinegar at the bottom of the bowl is fine. Sprinkle on a little bit of salt and pepper to taste and stir to coat. Allow the cucumbers to sit for five or ten minutes.

Prepare the bread slices by spreading on a thin layer of butter to coat one side of each slice. Shake any excess vinegar off of the cucumber slices and arrange them on two of the bread slices, overlapping slightly or in two layers. Top with another slice of bread. Cut off the crusts. Cut into quarters, preferably triangles, and serve.

Yield: 8 finger sandwiches 
Prep-time: 5 – 10 minutes

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