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September 2003 Issue
Fast and Easy Snacks and Lunches
by Ronda L. Halpin
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Ham It Up Pasta Salad

While you might think that a pasta salad is too much work for a lunch, you might reconsider when you realize that it's great for everyone's lunch and makes a great side for burgers too.
  • 12 oz. dried elbow macaroni -- or other pasta of similar size
  • 1 c. diced ham
  • 1 c. diced cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c. diced red pepper
  • 1/2 c. diced red onion
  • 1/2 c. diced celery
  • 1/2 c. oil-based salad dressing -- choose your favorite variety or make your own
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Rinse and drain. Put into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well to coat. Keep chilled until ready to eat.
  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes
 

For Snacks:

 

Fruit Kebobs

These simple "kebobs" are a great way to work more fruit into your children's diets. They make a great after-school snack.
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Assorted fruit: melon, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, etc.
  • Coarse sugar
Arrange the fruit on the skewers in an alternating pattern. Sprinkle lightly with coarse sugar before serving.
  • Yields: Depends on amounts chosen
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes
 

 

Trail Mix

When your kids are too busy to stop for a snack, pop some of this yummy mix into a resealable bag and send them on their way!
  • 1/2 c. lightly salted peanuts
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c. yogurt-covered raisins
  • 1/2 c. mini pretzel nuggets
Combine all of the ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Mix and offer to little hands!
  • Yields: 2 cups
  • Preparation Time: 3 minutes
 

 

Spicy-Sweet Popcorn

Older kids will like the special sweet and spicy mix in this great recipe made for munching.
  • 1/4 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. toasted walnut halves or pieces, finely chopped
  • 1 pkg. unsalted microwave popcorn
  • salt
  • 2 c. sugar
  • kosher salt
Put the chipotle pepper and the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and chop fine. Set aside.

Pop the popcorn according to the package directions. Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl and sprinkle with salt.

Heat a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over high heat for 3 minutes. Line a sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper, and set aside. Add the sugar to the heated saucepan and stir with a heatproof spatula or metal spoon until it melts and turns a golden caramel color. Add the ground walnuts with cayenne and stir once to combine. Working quickly but carefully, pull the pan off the heat and add the popcorn all at once. Stir to coat completely and evenly with the caramel, pulling popcorn and caramel up from the bottom of the pan. Try not to break up the popcorn.

Pour and scrape the coated popcorn onto the lined sheet pan.

When it's cool enough to handle, sprinkle with the kosher salt and break the popcorn into bite-sized clusters. Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 days.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus cooling time
 

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