Peanut Butter Balls

I have to be honest and tell you that really the only reason this blog is still up and running is because I refer to it rather often. If Fix Me A Snack disappeared I’d be pretty pissed over all the recipes I’d lose. If I was smart, I’d print some of the important ones out. But I haven’t gotten around to it.

After doing this for more than a few years, it’s pretty clear that I’m not going to be the next Food Network Star. I’m proficent in the kitchen, but there’s nothing terribly ground-breaking going on here. So why do I blog? The only reason I can see is that it makes me a better cook. It keeps me wondering about healthy snacks and healthy food in general for my family. Other than that I don’t get much out of it. I’m kind of down on social media these days. I have no blogging friends. Comments on my posts are minimal (wah). I don’t make any money and don’t have the will to improve my SEO or the compulsion to share intimate details of my life along with millions of photos.

But it’s a recipe like this that will keep the blog alive. I will be referring to this one for years to come just like I did with its predecessor, Almond Butter Balls. My kids love it. The inspiration for the recipe comes, in part, from Food Doodles’ No Bake Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies. It’s kind of like the two recipes were combined.

Peanut Butter Balls Recipe

1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup crispy rice cereal

Place the dates and peanuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for about 60 seconds. Add the honey, vanilla, peanut butter, and salt. Pulse for another 20-30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the cereal and mix well. Take about one tablespoon of the mixture at a time and roll it into a ball. Serve or store in the freezer in an airtight container.

Yield: 22 balls
Prep-time: 15 minutes

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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Crostini

These crostini are the backbone of dip and cheese plates that I find myself putting together in the winter months.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut a baguette  into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange the slices onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Pour 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil into a small bowl. Brush a bit off the oil onto each slice with a pastry brush. Bake until golden and dried out, approximately 30 minutes.

As far as I can tell, these will keep for months in an airtight container, if they are completely dried out. I always make way more than I think I’ll need because the kids devour them and we can always save them for the next get together.

Yield: variable
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Bake-time: 30 minutes

Best Morning Glory Muffins

Recipes that produce healthy and delicious muffins are not easy to come by. But occasionally, I stumble across a winner. What I love most about this recipe is that it uses apple butter. I’ve seen plenty of muffin recipes that use applesauce. But apple butter delivers the goods when applesauce is still busy making promises.

The muffin pictured above is topped with chopped walnuts. In reaction to some unsolicited feedback from my youngest child, I have been leaving the nuts out altogether lately. I miss the crunch and texture. But it’s not all about me, right?

Morning Glory Muffins

Adapted from Eating Well’s Comfort Foods Made Healthy. Original recipe can also be found on Eating Well’s website –> Morning Glory Muffins.

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated carrots (4 medium)
1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins
2 large eggs
1/2 cup apple butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a muffin pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, wheat germ, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the carrots, apple, and raisins.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, apple butter, oil, and vanilla extract.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool. Serve or store in an airtight container. These also freeze well.

Yield: 12
Prep-time: 30 minutes

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Graham Cracker Report

I’ve been making a boat load of graham cracker recipes lately and am here to report the results of all my testing.

The winner (pictured above) is from Smitten Kitchen. Even though two of my favorite food bloggers (101 Cookbooks and Smitten Kitchen) figured it out a long time ago, it’s taken me quite a while to make a phenomenal graham cracker. Sure, I thought I had it all figured out awhile ago. But then I made these beauties and saw the light.

The only problem is that they are high in sugar, fat, and white flour. They’re really a cookie. And they are not simple to make. It took me a couple years to motivate to make these. Whenever I read the recipe and realized that I was looking at something more complicated than pie dough, it gave me serious pause. But like most things homemade they put their grocery store counterparts to shame and it was all worth it. The effort involved in making them will keep them in the realm of the occasional treat and I really don’t think I’ll be able to buy those cardboard-like grocery store graham crackers anytime soon.

I also made the graham crackers from King Arthur’s Whole Grain Baking cookbook which are a lot more like pie dough (and my previous recipe for graham crackers), flakey, sweet and nutty. They are also a lot lower in sugar and a lot higher in whole grain flours. But, at the end of the day, they just taste too different from the grocery-store graham crackers that I’m used to. I have a feeling that graham crackers used to taste a lot like this recipe. But somewhere along the line graham crackers were jacked up with way more sugar and less whole grains. Sounds like something that would have happened in the 70s.

 

Fudge Pops

These beautiful little fudge pops are the world’s most perfect way to consume chocolate on a hot summer day. The girls and I love love love them. They are like eating a popscile and a big bowl of chocolate pudding all rolled into one.

Fudge Pop Recipe

This recipe is heavily inspired by (read pretty much lifted from) Matt Aramendariz’s On A Stick!

1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, chocolate, and 1/4 cup of the milk until the chocolate is melted.

2. Add the rest of the milk and continue to stir until the mixture thickens (about 5-10 minutes).

3. Remove the saucepan from heat and allow the mixture to cool for a minute or two. Add the vanilla and butter and stir well.

4. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds (use as directed) or small (5-ounce) wax-coated cups. If you’re using cups, fill 3/4 of the way and cover the top with plastic wrap. Puncture the plastic wrap with a popsicle stick and insert the stick into the chocolate mixture all the way down to the bottom of the cup. Place on a level surface in your freezer for four hours or overnight.

5. To serve, simply tear and peel the cup off of the pop. If you’re using popsicle molds, run them under warm water for a bit in order to loosen the mold.

Yield: 4 – 5 pops
Prep-time: 15 minutes (and another 4 hours in the freezer)

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Salted Chocolate Almonds

Meet my ‘it’ snack of the moment. It’s crunchy. It’s simple and easy to prepare. It’s salty and sweet. And last but not least, there’s the chocolate! We all love these little nuts. I have no idea why oh why it’s taken me so long to pull this together. If I had come up with it three years ago when I started thinking about healthier kid snacks, I might have considered the case closed and never started this blog of mine.

Salted Chocolate Almonds Recipe

This recipe is easily doubled. It would also probably be insanely good with smoked salt if you happen to have any on hand. If you don’t have almonds, use cashews!

1 cup roasted unsalted almonds
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
1/2 teaspoon (give or take – more is more) kosher salt

Melt the chocolate chips gradually in a double boiler or in the microwave. If using the microwave, proceed with caution and set the power level to 20% for a minute at a time. After a few minutes, the chips should not appear melted, but should be soft enough to stir into a semi-smooth mass with a silicone/rubber spatula. Stir for a good thirty seconds or more. The warm bits of chocolate will gradually melt all of the firmer chips as the heat is redistributed. If you heat the chocolate too much, it will turn into a coarse chalky mass (from which it is impossible to recover). Melting it gently and keeping it away from moisture of any kind will allow the chocolate to keep its temper and be shiny when it cools.

Once the melted chocolate is ready, add the almonds to the bowl and stir to coat. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread the nuts into a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to dry. This should take about ten minutes. Break apart any huge clusters of almonds and serve. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups
Prep-time: 15 minutes (including drying time)

S’more Bites

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News Flash: Fix Me A Snack made it into Babble’s list of Top 100 Mom Food Blogs for 2011. Fix Me A Snack is  ranked at #51! Seeing Fix Me A Snack in a list along with so many big shots whom I truly admire is a huge honor. A big Thank You to Babble and all my dear readers.

Now let’s get back to snackin’.

The ingredient list in this S’more Bites recipe is a bit schizophrenic, I know.  Brown rice syrup and miniature marshmallows may seem like odd bedfellows. But the truth is that these s’more bites are supremely satisfying and chocolaty without being too sweet. Oh, and unsurprisingly, the kids loooove them.[/donotprint]

S’more Bites Recipe

If you don’t have brown rice syrup, you can replace it with Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Honey is another possibility, but I haven’t tried it because it is sweeter than brown rice syrup and has a more powerful flavor.

The consistency of the chocolate mixture depends entirely on the amount of oil that gets thrown in along with the nut butter. Even when I’m using the same jar of almond butter, the results vary depending on whether I’m at the beginning (lots of oil) or end (getting dry) of the jar. Use the wheat germ to create a consistency easiest to work with. Your hands will get a little greasy perhaps, but the mixture should be easy to roll into balls and not too sticky.

5 store-bought graham crackers, broken up into large chunks
1/3 cup almond or peanut or sunflower butter
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
1 – 3 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup or Lyle’s Golden Syrup
20 miniature marshmallows

Put the graham crackers into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the processor for about 30 seconds or until the crackers are broken into fine crumbs. Add the almond butter, chocolate syrup, 1 tablespoon of  the wheat germ, and brown rice syrup to the bowl of the processor. Pulse for 10-20 seconds or until the mixture starts to come together into large crumbles.

Take a bit of the mixture in your hands and test to see if it will roll nicely into a ball. If it’s too wet, add more wheat germ a tablespoon at a time. If it’s too dry, add something moist like almond oil, chocolate syrup or brown rice syrup one tablespoon at a time. Run the processor for a few seconds after each addition to incorporate. 

Take pieces of the chocolate mixture a heaping teaspoon at a time. Knead it a bit and flatten it in the center of your palm. Place a marshmallow in the center and coax the chocolate mixture around the marshmallow with your fingertips. Once the marshmallow is covered up, round out the ball by rolling it gently. Serve or store in an airtight container. These freeze beautifully.

Yield: 20 bites
Prep-time: 20 minutes

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Whole Grain Baby Biscuits

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With my youngest heading off to kindergarten in the Fall, I’m feeling some self-imposed pressure to squeeze in every last “baby” snack I can before my kids get too old and jaded. Before I took a crack at this recipe for digestive biscuits, I thought the taste would be a little bland for our maturing palates. But I was wrong.

Tasting something like the love child of a cracker and a cookie these biscuits perfectly showcase the whole grains’ naturally sweet and nutty goodness. And I really mean it when I say perfectly. My kids and I can’t get enough of them. 

This recipe uses spelt flour which reminds me of coarsely ground whole wheat flour and has a wonderfully nutty flavor. I order it from King Arthur, but I believe I’ve also seen it at Whole Foods. Another recipe that uses spelt flour that I love  is the Pie Dough recipe in Good To The Grain by Kim Boyce.

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Whole Grain Baby Biscuits Recipe

This recipe was inspired by Nigella Lawson’s Digestive Biscuits in How To Eat. From what I gather, digestive biscuits are the United Kingdom’s version of the graham cracker. Unfortunately, I’ve never tasted an actual digestive biscuit. But for that very reason I felt free to get rid of the shortening and generally tinker with Lawson’s recipe which I’m sure perfectly replicates the real thing.

1/2 cup quick oats
1 1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 – 10 chunks
Scant 1/3 cup milk
All-purpose flour, for rolling out the dough

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the oats in a standing mixer with paddle attachment and crush them by running the mixer at medium speed for 3 – 5 minutes.

Add the spelt flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar to the mixer bowl and stir for 10 – 20 seconds. Stop the mixer and place the butter on top of the flour mixture. Mix at low speed for 3 – 5 minutes or until the butter is incorporated but there are still little chunks here and there. With the mixer still running on a low speed, drizzle in the milk and wait 20 seconds or until large clumps start to form.

Stop the mixer and squeeze the dough together into a ball. Split the ball into half. Form the balls into a flattened rectangles and roll them out individually on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. The top of the dough may require a sprinkle of flour in order to prevent the rolling pin from sticking.

Cut the dough into 1 by 2-inch rectangles and transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet. If they are sticky, try using a metal spatula or bench scraper to pick them up. They can be placed close to one another on the baking sheet as they do not expand much during baking.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Be sure to keep an eye on them and check the bottoms after 10 minutes as they tend to brown quickly once they are done.

Yield: 40 biscuits
Prep-time: 30 minutes
Bake-time: 10 minutes

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