Homemade Handy Snacks

Occasionally, I am saddened by the fact that my children do not know the joy of Handi Snacks. If I weren’t completely off my rocker, I would go to the store and buy some, give them to my kids, and move on. But awhile ago, I decided that I wanted to start making crackers. Again, not a normal thing. But I was curious nonetheless.

It turns out that crackers are extremely easy and quick to make – until you start the rolling out the dough, cutting the dough, and waiting for the first batch to bake so you can put the next one in. All that feels a little too time consuming. But, the results where worth it. Crackers are ubiquitous and treated with disrespect, especially when kids are involved. Making them from scratch just might restore your family’s appreciation for this humble snack. And the lively cheese dip doesn’t hurt either!

For the Cheese Dip:

Adapted from the Pimento Cheese recipe in the Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook.

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 of one roasted red pepper from a jar, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
Pinch salt

Place the cheddar, red pepper, cream cheese, mayonnaise and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for about 60 seconds, pausing once to scrap down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, or until the mixture is smooth. Serve or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yield: 1 cup
Prep-time: 10 minutes

For the crackers:

Inspired by a recipe for Homemade Saltines at Just Eat It.

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks
1/2 to 2/3 cup cold water
Flaky sea salt or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the flours, salt and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for a 5 – 10 seconds. Add the chunks of  butter to the flour mixture. Pulse for 5 – 10 seconds until the butter is broken down into large crumb-sized pieces. With the processor running, slowly pour in the water stopping when the dough is uniformly wet. It will not form into a ball, but some of the dough may gather into clumps.

Remove the dough from the food processor. With your hands, work it into a ball. Take a handful of dough from the ball and roll it out with a rolling pin on a well-floured work surface. Roll it out to 1/16 of an inch or as thin as you can get it. Try to keep your thickness uniform so the crackers will bake evenly.

Cut the rolled dough into rectangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick each cracker two or three times with a fork and sprinkle liberally with salt.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to turn a golden brown, rotating once during baking. Transfer to a cooling rack. Serve or store in an airtight container.

Yield: 100 crackers
Prep-time: 30 minutes
Bake-time: 8 minutes

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Potato Skins

The absence of bacon in these vegetarian potato skins is offset a bit by the flavor of the smoked cheddar.

I’d need a nutritionist to do the math for me to say for sure, but there might be a nice little dose of Iron in this snack. Potatoes and their skins supposedly have a relatively high level of Iron (for a vegetable) and the Vitamin C in the broccoli might be enough to help boost the Iron’s absorption.

When all is said and done though, I just love potato skins. And even though there is broccoli in the mix, my three-year-old does too!

4 medium russet potatoes
1/2 cup grated smoked white cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated orange cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste)
4 broccoli florets, cooked and chopped (about 1/3 cup)
Salt to taste
Sour cream or greek-style yogurt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash and bake the potatoes for 40-60 minutes, depending on their size. When a knife inserted into a potato meets little resistance, they are done. Remove from oven and allow to cool until they are easy to handle. Leave the oven on.

Meanwhile, mix the cheeses, chili powder, and broccoli in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out the potato’s flesh leaving about 1/4 inch of the flesh attached to the skin. Cut each potato skin into halves or thirds depending on the size  of the potato and your preference. I made them on the smaller side in order to accommodate small hands.

Spread the potato skins out on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the skins. Bake at 400 degrees Farenhiet for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt if desired. Serve with sour cream or greek-style yogurt if desired.

Yield: 22 potato skins
Prep-time: 15 minutes
Bake-time: 50 minutes

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Sweet Potato Quesadilla

Sweet Potato Quesadilla Recipe

For directions on how to cook a sweet potato in the microwave, see my recipe for Halloween Mush.

1/3 cup cooked sweet potato, no skin
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup grated monterey jack cheese, packed
2 8-inch flour tortillas
1/4 cup cranberry sauce (optional)

In a small bowl, mash and mix the potato and applesauce together with a fork. Spread mixture evenly on one of the tortillas. Sprinkle cheese over potato mixture. Top with the second tortilla.

Cook in a saute pan over medium heat for a few minutes on each side or until the underside begins to brown. Remove from pan and slice into 8 triangles. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Serve with cranberry sauce as a dip (if desired).

Yield: 8 triangles
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes

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Cheesy Sweet Potato Balls

I used up some leftover Sweet Potato Fries to make these.

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½ cup cooked sweet potato (with skin)
1 cup cooked brown rice
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 cup cottage cheese
1 tablespoon wheat germ (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place sweet potato, rice, Monterey Jack cheese, cottage cheese, wheat germ and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 45 – 60 seconds or until smooth and a ball starts to form.

Roll sweet potato mixture into tablespoon-sized balls with your hands. Place balls on baking sheet and bake on the center rack of the oven for 15-17 minutes or until the bottoms are golden.

Allow balls to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes. Gently remove balls with thin metal spatula and serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Yield: 20 balls
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes

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Pizza Muffins

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Pizza Muffins Recipe
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, Italian Seasoning, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together, egg, olive oil, sugar, buttermilk, milk, tomato paste, cottage cheese and parmesan cheese until almost uniform in color. Small bits of tomato and cheese are actually a good thing so do not over mix. Add the dry ingredients and mix until uniform.

Transfer batter to a muffin pan sprayed with oil. Fill each muffin cup up to ¾ full with batter. Bake on a rack in the center of the oven for 15 – 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Allow muffins to cool for 5 minutes in pan and then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve or store in an airtight container.

Yield: 12 muffins
Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes

Note: If you don’t have any buttermilk, you can make a substitute. If you don’t have any white whole wheat flour, I’d suggest replacing it with 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour.

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Apple Towers

Kids have fun building this snack themselves.

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1 apple, cored and sliced
9 squares (2-inch) of cheddar cheese
2 raspberries

Make sure your apple slices are about 1/3 of an inch thick and flat rather than tapered so that they will stack easily. Cheese should be sliced 1/4 inch thick. Alternate apple slices and cheese on top of each other. Garnish with raspberry.

Serves 2.

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