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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Yogurt 101

This post is a part of a series of 101 ways to flavor plain yogurt. (Keep scrolling down after you click on the link to see the entire list.) For more information about yogurt in general, go to my Yogurt page.

Happy Thursday everyone! Here are some more possibilities for everyone’s favorite healthy snack: plain yogurt. Remember that the measurements are approximate; feel free to adjust them according to your taste/mood.

 

12. Banana Nut Butter Honey Yogurt

Toast topped with peanut butter, banana slices, and honey was a favorite childhood treat of mine.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons nut butter (e.g., almond or peanut)
1 tablespoon crispy brown rice cereal or granola 0r other cereal
Banana slices
2 teaspoons honey

In a small bowl, warm the nut in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Add yogurt and stir until smooth. Top with cereal, banana slices, and honey. Serve.

 

13. Guava Yogurt with Kiwi

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tablepsoon guava fruit spread
Chopped kiwi or sliced banana, for garnish

In a small bow, stir together the yogurt and guava fruit spread until smooth. Top with kiwi or banana. Serve.

 

14. Orange Yogurt

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon frozen concentrated orange juice
Canned mandarian oranges, for garnish
Mini chocolate chips or chocolate shavings, for garnish

In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt and orange concentrate until smooth. Garnish with mandarian oranges and chocolate chips. Serve.

 

15. Banana Split Yogurt

1/2 of a ripe banana, peeled and mashed well
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon shelled chopped walnuts
2 tabelspoons whipped cream
1 teaspoon mini chocolate chips
Rainbow sprinkles

In a small bowl, combine the banana, yogurt, and honey. Top with walnuts, whipped cream, chocolate chips and sprinkles as desired. Serve.

 

16. Mango Lassi Inspired Yogurt

Here’s another idea from @DrDrRose.

1/3 cup yogurt
1/3 cup chopped fresh mango
Dash cardamon
Honey, if desired

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, most of the mango, and the cardamon. Top with remaining mango. Add a small drizzle of honey, if desired. Serve.

DIY Microwave Popcorn

Way back in 2009, I read a glorious post from The Little Foodie about Homemade Microwave Popcorn. Today we finally made it ourselves. Either I’ve been spending way too much time thinking about and preparing high-maintenance snacks (I blame the cold New England winter.), or this is the quickest, easiest, cheapest, simplest snack on the planet. There’s not much there as far as nutrition goes unfortunately, but at least it’s homemade.

Of course, the kids gobbled it all up and were very happy. An added bonus is that we could play around with flavorings if we felt like it. I’m thinking a dash of smoked paprika or cheese powder with Italian Seasoning will be in order sometime soon. Today we took the simple route with a touch of butter and salt.

One small paper lunch bag (ours was 11 x 5 x 3″)
2 tablespoons popcorn kernels
1/4 teaspoon butter
Small pinch salt (only if your butter is unsalted)

Place kernels in paper bag and fold closed two or three times. Microwave on high for approximately 1 minutes 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Ours was ready at 1 minute 40 seconds. Stop the microwave as soon as the flurry of popping is starting to ebb. When the pops start to space themselves out with a second or two, it is done. Take it out even if there is a a little bit of popping still happening. Better a few unpopped kernels than burnt popcorn.

Remove bag from microwave. Open bag and drop in the butter. Sprinkle on the salt as well. Close up the bag and shake it for a minute or two to allow the butter to melt. Serve.

Note: Obviously, this isn’t a snack for little ones who are still required to stay far away from choking hazards. Mine are officially old enough now and I’ve quickly forgotten all the rules.

Yield: 1 1/2 – 2 cups
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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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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Yogurt 101

This post is a part of a series of 101 ways to flavor plain yogurt. For more information about yogurt in general, go to my Yogurt page.

7. Mint Yogurt

You could throw a little lime juice into this one and call it Mojito Yogurt.

Mint Yogurt

4-5 medium fresh mint leaves
1 -2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup plain yogurt

Place mint and sugar in a small bowl. Grind together with a muddler or something similar until the leaves are crushed into small pieces. Add yogurt to bowl and mix well making sure to scrape all of the mint mixture off of the bottom. Serve.

 

8. Mint Yogurt with Pineapple

 

You guessed it, Mint Yogurt with some chopped fresh pineapple thrown on top. I got the idea for this one from 80 Breakfasts. Serve immediately because the pineapple contains enzymes or something that will break down the yogurt if left sitting together too long. 

 

9. Mint Chocolate Chip Yogurt

1/2 cup plain yogurt
4-5 fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
1-2 teaspoons mini chocolate chips or chocolate shavings

In a small bowl, muddle together the mint and the sugar (see #7 Mint Yogurt). Add the yogurt and half of the chocolate chips. Stir well and top with remaining chips. Serve. 

 

10. Chocolate Yogurt

I’m not terribly fond of this flavor. Chocolate should not be tangy. But my preschooler guaranteed it’s inclusion on the list when she said, “I just want to eat chocolate yogurt all day Every chocolate yogurt in the whole world Then I’d get a tummy ache Just kidding!”

 

1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 teaspoons chocolate syrup
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Small pinch salt

Mix the yogurt, syrup, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl until the color is uniform. Serve. Might be yummy topped with chopped banana or slivered almonds.

 

11. Lime Pie Yogurt

Ideally, this would be made with key lime juice. Alas, the world is not a perfect place and we do not live in Flordia.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1-2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
Whipped cream for garnish

In a small bowl stir the yogurt, sugar, and lime juice until smooth. Garnish with whipped cream. Serve.

Parsley Dip

If you’re anything like me, you’re a little stumped by what to do with the giant bunch of leftover parsley sitting at the bottom of your crisper drawer. Occasionally, a dinner recipe calls for 1/4 cup of fresh parsley and I know it’ll make a difference in the end product, so I go ahead and spring for it at the grocery store. But then the rest of it  just rots in a bag in the refrigerator. So sad.

Well, those days are over! I have made a modified Green Goddess Dip that makes a special effort to use lots and lots of parsley and pantry staples that you are likely to already have on hand. And you’re getting some bonus greens into your family’s diet!

2 cups chopped fresh parsley, washed
1 cup plain greek-style yogurt or sour cream
1 small or medium clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch salt

Place the parsley, yogurt, garlic, vinegar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Cover and pulse for 20 seconds or so. Serve with fresh veggies or crackers. Store in a airtight container in the refrigerator.

Note: I’ve gone a little easy on the garlic in an attempt to go easy on kids’ palette. But, when I made it I used 2 cloves and my first grader loved it.

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

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Pancake Sandwich

I made a mother load of pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes this morning and didn’t have much mojo left when it came to making a school snack for my first grader. So the pancake sandwich was born. Maybe it should be called a panwich. Whatever it is it could be filled with jam, apple butter, or a lot of other things I haven’t even thought of.

I love that it looks like a whoopie pie.

2 small pancakes, completely cooled
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese and maple syrup until smooth. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto one of the pancakes and top with the second pancake. Serve.

Yield: 1 pancake sandwich
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Beet Chips

These beet chips are yet another example of a supremely healthy snack that I probably never would have prepared if it hadn’t been for this blog. And my preschooler, who loves beets to begin with, said, “These are better than chocolate chips mama!” I kid you not.

She calls these “Swirl Chips”.

2 or 3 medium beets
Salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash the beets throughly. Cut off both ends and peel. Keep a towel on hand or do your peeling under running water in order to keep the juices under control.

Slice the beets very thinly (about 1 millimeter) with a mandolin. (The mandolin is actually necessary. Uniform thickness in the chips is required in order for them to bake evenly.)

Lay the sliced beets out onto parchment-lined baking sheets. They can be placed close together as they will shrink during baking. Sprinkle with salt, if desired.

Bake for 20-30 minutes keeping a close eye on them after 20 minutes as they burn easily. The beets will still be pliable when done and will crisp up as they cool. Serve. Store any leftovers in an airtight container. Depending on how dried out the chips are, they are probably good for at least few days.

I’m thinking these might be tasty served with Herbed Yogurt Dip.

Note: Beets that were at least three inches wide have less of a tendency to shrivel up during baking.

Yield: several handfuls of chips
Prep-time: 5 minutes
Bake-time: 20 minutes (per batch – one beet fills approximately two baking sheets)

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Ambrosia

Apparently there are as many different ways to make Ambrosia as there are cooks who make it. If you’d like, add some banana, subtract the pineapple, subtract the marshmallows, and so on. The only consistent elements I found in my survey of Ambrosia recipes were citrus, sugar, and coconut. But even those are probably up for debate.

2 small blood oranges, peeled, skinned and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1/4 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons shredded sweetened coconut

Place the oranges, pineapple, marshmallows, sugar, and coconut in a small bowl and stir to combine. Serve or store in airtight container in the refrigerator and consume within 24 hours.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 15 minutes

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Yogurt 101

Here’s my lastest super fantastic idea…make a list of 101 different ways to flavor  plain yogurt, the unsung hero of healthy snacking. I’ll be making my way to 101 gradually. Today I’m posting the first three.

To help kick off this series of posts, I’ve created a page all about yogurt in general.

1. Applesauce Yogurt

This is what I actually make my  preschooler for a snack these days when time is limited and I’m not feeling inspired. It also is responsible for weaning us off of flavored yogurt. So while the photo is somewhat sad, Apple Yogurt has to be numero uno.

1/2 – 3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 – 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 – 2 teaspoons honey
Dash ground cinnamon

Put the yogurt, applesauce, honey, and cinnamon into a serving bowl. Serve.

 

2. Cornbread with Buttermilk Yogurt and Honey

I was recently drooling over the Lee Brothers Southeren Cookbook  and stumbled upon a mention of someone’s favorite after-school snack having been cornbread topped with sugar and buttermilk.

I made some cornbread – et voila!

 

1 cup crumbled cornbread
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons buttermilk
Honey (to taste)

Place cornbread in a serving bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt and buttermilk until smooth. Spoon the yogurt mixture over the cornbread. Drizzle honey on top depending on your preference and the sweetness of the cornbread. Serve.

Note: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you could just try some regular milk or make a substitute.

 

3. Peanut Butter and Jelly Yogurt

This idea came directly from the one and only Dina of It’s Not About Nutrition and it is a winner. My preschooler loves it.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons strawberry or grape jam

In a small bowl, heat peanut butter in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. (Note: I was heating peanut butter that had been refrigerated. If yours is room temperature, start with only 10 seconds and check to see if has softened.) Mix peanut butter into yogurt. Sprinkle on sugar. Dollop jam on top. Serve.

Thanks Dina!