Crispy Cheese Straws

Kids will have fun rolling the phyllo dough into straw shapes.  They make an elegant appetizer, and pair well with a ranch or pesto dip.

Crispy Cheese Straws

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 box phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, egg, Parmesan, and salt.  Stir to combine.  Spoon mixture into a plastic zip-top bag.  Snip off one corner to make a ¼-inch diameter opening.  Set aside.
  3. Lay out the thawed phyllo dough.  Working quickly to keep the dough sheets from drying out, brush a single sheet with butter, pipe the cheese filling along the long edge of the phyllo sheet, ½ inch from the edge.  Rold over the ends to seal in the filling, and roll up like a straw.
  4. Repeat with remaining sheets of phylllo and place on a baking sheet.  Bake until golden, about 10 minutes.

Pasta and Meatballs with Broccoli

The broccoli makes this a nutritionally balanced meal.  Kids can be put to work separating it into small florets, and also rolling tablespoonfulls of the meat mixture into balls.

pasta and meatballs with broccoli

Pasta and Meatballs with Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • ¼ cup minced fresh onion
  • 2 Tbsp dry breadcrumbs
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • ¼ pepper
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 (25 oz) jar pasta sauce
  • 8 oz dry pasta (spaghetti, penne, or whatever your family likes best)
  • 1 ½ cups small broccoli florets

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, but add the broccoli to the boiling water for the last 7 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cool water.
  2. Combine the fist six ingredients, plus 2 Tbsp of the pasta sauce in a medium bowl.  Shape the meat mixture into 25 (1-inch) meatballs.
  3. Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat.  Add the meatballs, and cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides.  Stir in the remaining sauce.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
  4. Serve the meatballs over the pasta and broccoli.  Add grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Chili and Cornbread Jars

These perfectly portioned and portable little meals are sure to bring a smile.

Chili and Cornbread Jars

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (15 oz) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 T chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 recipe of your favorite cornbread
  • Special material:  6 (16 oz.) wide mouth glass jars

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the eef and onion, and saute until meat is browned and onion is tender.  Add the stewed tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, beans, and water.
  2. Season with chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375.
  4. When chili is cooked, ladle about 3/4 cup into each jar.  Gently spoon 1/2 cup of the conbread batter on top of the chli.  Spread it around so the batter touches the edges of the jar.
  5. Place jars on a cookie sheet, and bake 20 minutes, or until conbread is cooked and golden brown.

Apple Cinnamon Granola

This granola is great with milk for breakfast, or also dry  – as a snack to take along.

Apple Cinnamon Granola

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ¾ cup dried chopped dried apple pieces
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Spray a large, rimmed cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, and baking powder.  Mix in the oats.
  4. Spread oat mixture, in a thin, even layer, onto the prepared sheet.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and crispy.
  5. Let cool completely.  Break into chunks, and toss with the dried apples and nuts, if using.
  6. Enjoy!


Mini Corn Dog Muffins

These satisfying and slightly sweet morsels are sure to conjure up images of a summertime county fair.  But with a sneaky serving of squash and apples, they’re lighter and more nutritious.

Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
½ cup shredded yellow summer squash
1/4 cup sugar
1 package mini hot dogs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cut about ½ inch off each mini hot dog, so there is a flat side to make them stand up in the muffin batter.
  3. In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, milk, oil, squash, and sugar.
  5. Gently mix together wet and dry ingredients, stirring only to coat. Be careful not to over mix.
  6. Prepare your muffin tin by spraying liberally with cooking spray.
  7. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full.
  8. Insert 1 hot dog piece into each muffin.  Try to stand them upright.
  9. Bake 12-15 minutes.

 

Notes:
If you have extra corn bread batter, you can mix it with the cute-off hot dog ends and bake them in a regular sized muffin tin.  Yum!

This recipe was inspired by happygoodtime.com.

Frozen Yogurt Grapes

A perfect snack for a hot summer day.

Start off by dropping a few frozen grapes into a bowl of yogurt.  Then use a spoon to make sure each fruit is fully coated, place on a cookie sheet, and freeze for about an hour.  Easy-peezy.

Frozen Yogurt Grapes

Ingredients:
2 cups grapes, washed and dry
1 cup low fat or nonfat yogurt (plain, or your favorite flavor)

Directions:

  1. Place the grapes in a bowl or baggie and freeze until solid – at least an hour.
  2. In a small bowl, stir the yogurt until smooth.  Drop a few of the frozen grapes into the yogurt.  Swirl around a bit with a spoon until they’re each fully coated.  Transfer them individually onto a cookie sheet (make sure it will fit in your freezer).
  3. Repeat with the remaining grapes.  You may need a little more or less yogurt, depending on the size of your grapes.
  4. Freeze for about an hour.  Pop them off the cookie sheet and store in a container in the freezer until ready to serve.

 

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Also known as garbanzo beans, these little legumes pack a nutritional punch.  High in fiber and protein, they make a filling snack on-the-go.

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:
2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Pat chickpeas dry with paper towels.
  3. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Spread chickpeas in a single layer.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil, and then sprinkle with sugar and salt.  Mix them around a bit on the cookie sheet with a large spoon or spatula so that they are evenly coated.
  5. Roast 25-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  6. When they are a deep golden brown and crunchy, remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.  (I’ve never been able to do that last bit).

 

Broccoli Bites

These little finger foods are great with a variety of dipping sauces, such as ketchup, ranch dressing, and honey mustard.
Yield:  About 36 Bites

Ingredients: 
1 lb broccoli (fresh or frozen), chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Use your hands to roll the mixture into 1 inch, bite-sized balls. Place balls on lightly greased parchment paper.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until brown.

Notes:
The baked bites freeze well.  Simplly thaw and re-heat in the microwave for a quick lunch.

Crispy Roasted Kale

Easier and less messy than homemade kale chips, this recipe is a hit with all ages.
Serves 4

Ingredients: 
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic salt or seasoned salt
1 1/2 pounds kale, stems removed, and torn into pieces*
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Arrange oven racks in center and lower third of oven.  Preheat to 425 degrees.  Place 2 large jelly-roll pans in the oven for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine first four ingredients in a large plastic bag.  Shake to coat.
  3. Divide kale evenly between hot pans, spreading to separate leaves.  Bake for 7 minutes.  Stir and rotate the pans.  Bake 5 more minutes or until the edges of the leaves are crisp.
  4. Drizzle with vinegar and serve immediately.

Notes:
*For an easy shortcut, use a bag of pre-cut and washed kale.  Then in Step 2, just open the bag and pour in the oil, salt, and garlic salt.

Summer Stuffed Peppers

Paired with soup and a salad, this is a perfect way to enjoy summer garden produce.

Serves 4

Ingredients:  
2 small bell peppers (5 to 6 ounces each), halved lengthwise through stem, seeds and ribs removed
1 heaping cup small tomatoes, such as Sungold or Cherry (about 6 ounces)
1 1/2 ounces feta cheese (preferably goat’s milk), crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
8 basil leaves, torn into pieces
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:  

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in top third. Place bell pepper halves, cut sides up, in a baking dish. Toss together tomatoes, feta, thyme, and basil in a medium bowl; season with black pepper. Fill each pepper with tomato and feta mixture, dividing evenly. Drizzle each with oil.
  2. Bake stuffed peppers, covered with aluminum foil, until they begin to soften, about 30 minutes. Remove foil; continue to bake until tomatoes begin to burst and cheese turns light brown, 13 to 15 minutes more. Remove stuffed peppers from oven, and serve warm.
Notes:  
I imagine some chopped olives or crumbled bacon might be a nice addition to this recipe.  It’s based off of Martha Stewarts’s, here.