Friday, September 10, 2010

"Store Bought" Snacks from Scratch

Kids LOVE to cook! It's a great activity for them on so many levels!! It's spending TIME with them, teaching them about nutrition, teaching them lifelong skills AND gives them a set of tasks that they must concentrate on and complete in a set period of time!!

I have always loved to cook and bake, and so even when I was in college I liked to make homemade food with real ingredients (and less mixes or crap from a can). Now that I'm a mom, not only do I feel better about making homemade snacks because I know exactly what's in them - but they are usually cheaper to make myself. I also think it's really important to educate our kids about food and what is IN the food they eat so they themselves can make better choices and have a hopefully better relationship with food as they grow. Below are some of my favorite "store bought" snacks that we make homemade at our house. What are some of yours?

Pop Tarts
This recipe came from Smitten Kitchen and I was SHOCKED to find that the brown sugar & cinnamon recipe really does taste JUST like a Pop Tart! Now, you can basically use any pie crust dough recipe as the pastry for the pop tart. The trick for the brown sugar and cinnamon is to LOAD that sucker up - it really does get moist and it is SO yummy!! You can also make these with any fruit spread or jam and then you can make a glaze as "icing" on the top!
For the Pop Tart recipe click here.
Glaze Recipe:
3 cups powered Sugar
1/4 cup Milk
1/2 Tbsp PURE Vanilla - or you could add 1 Tbsp of the fruit spread or jam you used to flavor the glaze

I LOVE to make granola! We make it all the time. Sometimes with nuts, sometimes with chocolate chips, sometimes with craisins - whatever we feel like. This recipe actually can be adapted so that children with peanut allergies can eat it - which is a HUGE deal because usually children with peanut allergies can NEVER have granola (due to the fact that it has the possibility of nuts). I like to make this as a breakfast item or as a snack for Testing. The kids always LOVE it and the teachers are usually surprised how much the kids like it!! This makes a BIG batch and is SUPER CHEAP to make. Click here for the recipe and how I make it.
My recipe is adapted from Ina Garten's and she now has a granola bar recipe as well. You can click here for the bar recipe:)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding
Everyone's mom growing up made JELLO pudding from the box. I always would eat it freshly made, but then something happened to the consistency when it was refrigerated for a while and it was just well, lumpy and gross tasting. This is a GREAT recipe. I got this recipe off Bakerella who got it off someone else's site (see how this works:) and it's actually a pretty kid friendly recipe. (For those with peanut allergies just omit the peanut butter.) It's very quick to prepare and my girls LOVE to help make it AND eat it (even a day or two after it's made;). It says to use Dutch Processed Cocoa powder- but in a pinch I've used GASP Hershey's and my girls loved it just the same. You can even top it with homemade whipped cream and then your husband might keep you around forever:)
For the recipe click here - you can even make the ADORABLE chocolate cups to put the pudding in!!
Homemade Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp PURE vanilla extract

"Easy Bake" or "Break & Bake" Chocolate Chip Cookies
I love chocolate chip cookie dough. I can eat a lot of it. In fact, usually when I'm waiting to put the next batch of cookies in the oven - I end up eating more of the dough then I bake!! And when I'm done, I have so many cookies and I end up throwing them out before we can eat them all which is SO wasteful. I always LOVED the "easy bake" or "break & bake" cookie dough you can buy in the store. To me, the cookies always bake better than when I make them homemade. I love to read recipes and I stumbled upon a cookie book one day that said ALL chocolate chip cookie dough should be chilled for at least 15 minutes prior to baking. SO, that day I pre-scooped my whole bowl of cookie dough out to chill. I realized that hey - I didn't just eat all the dough AND I baked what I needed and then stuck the rest in a ziploc bag in the fridge and had them all week to bake after school. It's helping me with something called "portion control" it's new concept for me and my obsession with chocolate;)
You can use any chocolate chip cookie dough recipe you like. I rotate mine around, right now I'm obsessed with Ghirardelli's. You can click here for the recipe. Once you make the cookie dough, use a small ice cream scoop (this one is a 2 Tablespoon size) to scoop the whole bowl out onto a cookie sheet. You can cram the cookie dough onto the sheet here because you are just going to chill them like this (not bake them). I even press down just a bit on the pre-scooped balls so they look more like the "store bought" dough. I chill mine for 15 minutes (while I preheat the oven) and then I bake what I need and store the rest. And presto you can have fresh cookies every day that week!! Enjoy!!


  1. Sometime when you have a few minutes (yeah right?!), can you please post the recipe that you use for one dish mac & cheese? Thanks!

  2. Hi Jenny! That recipe is below. Enjoy!
    2 cups UNCOOKED Macaroni or elbow noodles
    3 cups Shredded Cheese
    4 cups Whole Milk
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp pepper
    Mix all ingredients (only using 2 cups of cheese) in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Stir the mac & cheese around and sprinkle top with remaining 1 cup of cheese. Bake for 10 minutes more. DONE!