Aug 22, 2011

Make Ahead Monday: Back to School Snacks

Not that my husband minds, but I have been baking up a storm this weekend trying to come up with a good list of make ahead back to school snacks to share.  These are not necessarily all "healthy" options but this is how I see it:  you can send your kid off to school with a lunch sack full of prepackaged snacks and lunch items (not all of which are bad) or you can send your kid off to school with something that is tasty but homemade that you know exactly what is in it and you can make it the portion size you want.  Same thing goes for after school snacks-some of these are perfect for an after school pick me up.   I in no way would consider these as an entire meal in themselves but rather things that would pair perfectly with a sandwich, fruit and veggies (or whatever your child likes to eat-or husbands too).  WARNING: if you are someone who does not feed their kid sugar then don't keep reading.

1. Rice Krispie treats-these aren't anything new; I am not even including the recipe (you can find that on the box of Rice Krispies and if you haven't ever tried these you might be living in a cave).  Here is the thing: did you know you can freeze these?  I didn't but I experimented and they work perfectly.  This means that you can make a tripple batch while the kids are at school, cool them, cut them the size you want, place on a lined cookie sheet to individually freeze, wrap them in plastic wrap and store in a plastic bag in the freezer.  Perfect for tossing in a lunch bag, or popping in your husbands brief case.  Homemade ones are a million times better than the prepacked ones you can buy and this way you can cut them the exact size you want.  I know you can make them fresh but making them ahead and freezing them means you can do it once and have it last for a while (maybe).

2. Caramel and chocolate covered peanuts.  I wanted to see if I could use the same caramel recipe I use for a crunchy caramel corn to coat peanuts with before I dipped them in chocolate and the answer is: YES!!!!  I use this recipe to make the caramel and followed all the directions except of course using peanuts instead of popcorn.  You have to let the nuts cool completely before you can really taste the caramel and know that is has worked.  Once cooled I melted some chocolate chips and then stirred my peanuts into the melted chocolate.  Place the chocolate covered peanuts on a layer of parchment paper to harden and then store in a baggie in the fridge or freezer (if you are like me and live where it is hot and humid then you will likely just have to harden these in the fridge).  These are delicious and perfect for snacking.  Something fun to add to the lunch box.  They are kind of like having a snickers bar only you made it and you can choose how much to serve or eat.  These are best if kept chilled.

3. Carrot and cream cheese muffins.  WARNING: these are heavenly, make at your own risk.  These are like all the deliciousness of carrot cake, only in a very less messy, bitesize muffin version.  They are best warm so follow my make ahead muffin advice from here when you make these.  Also the recipe only makes a dozen so double the muffin batter but leave the filling the same amount (the filling recipe makes enough for a double batch anyways).  These are a great after school snack idea or breakfast.  Also a great way to sneak in some carrots for picky eaters.
Carrot and Cream Cheese Muffins (from the 2008 Taste of Homes Recipe Collection)
1 15oz can of sliced or diced carrots (drained)
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp each-allspice (i didn't have any), cloves and nutmeg
1 egg
1/3 cup oil

1 package cream cheese (softened)
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar

Place carrots in a food processor and process until smooth.  Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix carrots, egg and oil in a separate bowl and then pour over dry ingredients.  Stir until combined.  In another bowl cream all the filling ingredients together.  Place liners in muffin tin (if making a head to freeze remember to make a separate pan of the ones you will bake right away and another pan to freeze).  Fill muffin cups a 1/3 of the way full with the batter.  Spoon a tbsp of filling on top of the batter and then top with remaining  batter.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Cool slightly before serving.  NOTE: these don't need anything on top-one bite into the center and you are in heaven.

4. Breakfast Cookies.  I have seen these in the store and have been tempted to buy them a time of two.  I wanted to see if I could find my own version first.  Go here for the recipe (and check out the reviews for a bunch of different variations and add ins).  I read that some people said it was too sweet, I didn't find that at all.  It is definitely no sweeter than your average breakfast cereal, pop tart or toaster strudel.  They are not like a regular cookie so don't expect that as you are baking them.  They are dense but pair perfectly with a glass of milk.  How fun to tell your kids they are having cookies and milk for breakfast.  Serve with a bowl of fruit and you are set.  Make a double batch (a single makes almost 2 dozen).  Wrap them and freeze in a baggie.  Take out the night before for breakfast in the morning, or pack frozen and they will be ready for lunch.  I don't know what your kids eat for breakfast at your school but at ours they have chicken nuggets and pizza as regulars in the breakfast rotation.  These are easy to make and a much better choice.  NOTES: I added flax seed meal instead of wheat germ and chocolate chips instead of raisins.

5. Homemade peanut butter cups.  Who can resist a Reese's peanut butter cup?  Not me, but they are so sickening sweet I can usually only eat one and then even my teeth hurt from the sugar.  I found this recipe and adapted it to make mini peanut butter cups instead of bars.  I used 3/4 cup of butter instead of 1 cup and I also used not quite 2 full cups of graham cracker crumbs.  Everything else I did exact.  Instead of pressing it into a 9x13 pan, I got out my mini cupcake pans and liners.  I placed liners in each pan and used a melon baller to scoop out the peanut butter/graham cracker crust part.  I used a generous scoop for each one.  I pressed it down slightly with the back of the melon baller to make a little dip in the center of the peanut butter crust part.  Then I poured a small mound of chocolate on top of each one and smoothed it out.  Place these in the fridge to firm up and then freeze in air tight containers.  They are simple and addictive delicious but not nearly as sweet as the real thing.  How fun it would be to put a couple in your kids lunch box as a surprise or have some on a plate after school along with cheese and crackers or fruit.  If you make them this way they are the perfect portion size to get that little sugar kick without over doing it. 

If you still need more back to school ideas try these former make ahead recipes:

Happy back to schooling!!!
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  1. Sounds really yummy. Thanks for sharing.

    Lets have some fun. Take the test Your Snacks Personality and find out which of these snacks do you prefer? I have taken the test and enjoyed a lot. Hope you too will enjoy it. Have Fun!!


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