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I had about a cup of the rhubarb puree leftover from making rhubarb margaritas a couple of weeks ago, and I absolutely hate to throw away leftovers.  So, I decided to dry it.  You could really do this with any fruit puree – be creative!  If you don’t have a fruit dryer, this does take some time (about 5-7 hours), so plan accordingly.  I had a day of house cleaning planned this past weekend though, so I was going to be home for most of the day.  Dried fruit that you buy at the store is often VERY sweet.  Making your own lets you cut down on the sugar a bit, and make the flavor more to your liking.  This would be a great snack for the kids too instead of those scary fruit roll-ups you buy at the store!

Fruit Leather, adapted from jam it, pickle it, cure it, by Karen Solomon

1 cup rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

1/4 cup sugar

zest of one lemon

1/4 cup of water

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until rhubarb is soft, about 20 minutes.  Puree mixture into a food processor or blender.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees, or if your oven can’t get below 170 degrees, set it to its lowest temperature and lodge a wooden spoon into the door to keep it ajar.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the puree into a large rectangle of even thickness, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

Place the pan in the center of the oven for 5 to 7 hours, checking after 5 hours.  The fruit should be sticky but not wet, throughout; the center is usually the last to dry.

Once sticky all over, remove the pan from the oven and gently peel the fruit from the parchment paper, releasing it from all 4 edges first, then peeling up the middle.  Flip it over, and return it to the oven for another 30 minutes.

Tear off a clean piece of parchment or waxed paper larger than the sheet of fruit leather.  Roll 2 inches of the paper over the fruit, then from the long side roll the whole thing up like a jelly roll.  With a sharp knife, slice the rolled-up log into 1-inch pieces.

Solomen’s recipe uses apple butter to make the fruit leather, but she also suggests 1 1/2 cups of pureed bananas or 1 1/2 cups of pureed strawberries.

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I love Chex Mix.  But I like making it myself better than buying a bag at the store.  Controlling the spice and the ingredients is the best part.  I often toy with the ratios of spices and ingredients.  You can vary the original recipe any way you’d like really!  Add things like sesame sticks, almonds or other nuts, Cherrios, cheese crackers, raisins, dried cranberries, just to name a few.  Plus it smells so good baking in the oven!

Chex Mix

(recipe adapted from the chex.com website)

3 cups Corn Chex® cereal
3 cups Rice Chex® cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite-size pretzels
1 cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces
8 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Heat oven to 250°F. In large bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside.  Melt butter in microwave safe bowl.  Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in cereal mixture until evenly coated. Spread on large jelly roll pan or in a large roasting pan. 

Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container. Enjoy!

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