Snack Time!

To say these are trying times is more than just an understatement. It's nearly laughable. Between wondering where all the toilet paper went and attempting to work from home (if you're lucky) while getting your kids to do something beyond look at screens (again, if you're lucky), there's that ever-nagging question that somehow doesn't manage to take a break even during the throes of a global pandemic. What can we eat?

So now, in this time of confusion, fear, and sometimes utter exhaustion, we're reaching out to help you and yours turn a bit more to the comforts of the kitchen to your nourish yourselves, body and soul. Having snack ideas that move beyond opening a bag of chips is pretty important. Not everything needs to be super healthy or made entirely from scratch, but having more time in one place does open up opportunities to make some pretty cool stuff and we should seize that opportunity while we have it.

So as a way to help you to seize this creative snacking opportunity, below are 10 clever snack recipes. Whether you're whipping up a batch of spiced almonds that will last for a while or making a warm cheese dip to sit back and enjoy leisurely with your family, remember that a little snack come mid-afternoon can be just the pick-me-up you need and give you a chance to stretch body and mind in a way that leaves you refreshed. We all need a bit of that!

Savory Cheese Palmiers

  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 box (17.3-ounce) frozen puff pastry, thawed (recommended: Pepperidge Farms)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  1. Sprinkle work surface with grated Parmesan cheese. Unfold a thawed sheet of puff pastry on top of cheese. Brush pastry with egg wash made from 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water.
  2. Combine 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup shredded Italian cheese blend, and 1 teaspoon paprika. Sprinkle over surface. Press into pastry.
  3. Fold top and bottom edge of pastry to center. Fold pastry in half from left to right. Fold in half top to bottom. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  4. Cut 1/8-inch-thick slices, starting at shortest edge. Dip flat faces of Palmiers in Parmesan; lay on baking sheet.
  5. Bake in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes
  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Whipped Chèvre Dip

Crumble the goat cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk the goat cheese to break it up for about 1 minute. Add three tablespoons of the heavy cream and mix it until it's smooth. Add the remaining heavy cream and mix until firm peaks form. It will be light and fluffy.

Add the everything but the bagel seasoning and the dried dill and fold to combine. Taste the dip and adjust adding more seasoning if you prefer. Swirl the dip into a serving bowl and garnish with a sprinkling of the everything but the bagel seasoning. Chill until ready to serve.

Serve with crackers, chips, cut vegetables, and just about anything else that loves cheese. Makes an amazing addition to a baked potato too!

  • Yields: About 2 cups
  • Preparation Time: 8 minutes

Slow Cooker Spiced Almonds

  • 5 cups whole raw almonds
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground pepper

Place the lid on your slow cooker and turn to high. Heat for 25 minutes. Add the almonds, oil, garlic, paprika, cumin, sea salt, and ground pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 hours, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

Turn the heat to high and cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Serve warm or cool.

  • Yields: 5 cups
  • Preparation Time: 3 hours

Jade Hummus with Pita Crisps

  • 6 (6-inch) pitas, split in half horizontally
  • 1 ½ cups frozen blanched shelled edamame
  • 1 T. soybean oil, divided
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground coriander seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 T. tahini (sesame-seed paste)
  • 3 T. water
  • 3 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. soybean oil
  • ½ tsp. paprika

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Arrange pita halves in a single layer on oven rack. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until crisp; cool completely on wire rack. Break each pita half into about 6 chips.

Prepare edamame according to package instructions, omitting salt. Place 1 tablespoon oil, along with salt, cumin, coriander, and garlic in a food processor; pulse 2 to 3 times or until coarsely chopped. Add edamame, parsley tahini, water, and lemon juice; process 1 minutes or until smooth. Spoon hummus into serving bowl. Drizzle hummus with 1 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with paprika.

  • Yields: 12 servings (serving size: 2 tablespoons hummus and about 6 pita crisps.)

Fancy-Simple Apple Snacks

  • 2 apples, cored and sliced into bite-sized wedges
  • About 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • About 1/4 cup granola (choose your favorite variety)
  • 1-2 T. mini chocolate chips, melted

Place about 4 apple wedges on each of 4 small serving plates. Spoon a generous teaspoon or two of peanut butter into the cored center of each wedge. Sprinkle granola over the peanut butter, coating most — if not all — of the peanut butter. Finally, using a toothpick, drizzle chocolate over the top of the wedge. Allow the apple wedges to rest to allow the chocolate to solidify, about 5 minutes.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Pigs in a Blanket

  • 1 package small cooked smoked beef sausage links
  • 1 container (16.3-ounce) buttermilk biscuits
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Mustard or other condiments
Cut buttermilk biscuits into 6 pieces each. Roll each dough ball in shredded cheddar cheese. Wrap around cooked small beef sausages. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 375°F oven for 10 minutes.
  • Yields: 48 individual servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Hot Sriracha Cheese Dip

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce, adjust to taste
  • 6 ounces Monterrey jack cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add the ranch dressing and stir again. Add the garlic powder and Sriracha, starting with just a couple teaspoons and tasting before adding more. Add about 2/3 of the shredded cheese. Stir to combine and then transfer to a small baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the baking dish. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until it is bubbling and slightly browned around the edges. Allow the dip to cool for a few minutes before serving with thick tortilla chips.

  • Yields: About 3 cups of dip
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Nutella Puppy Chow

  • 14 c. Chex cereal (rice, corn, or a combo)
  • 1 1/2 c. Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Put the cereal in a large mixing bowl. In a medium, microwave safe, bowl add the Nutella, butter, and peanut butter. Microwave on high for about 30 seconds - 1 minute. Stir well to combine. Pour the mixture over the top of the cereal and stir gently covering all of the cereal with the hot mixture.

Place the mixture in a clean large brown paper bag, add the powdered sugar, roll closed, and then shake to coat cereal with the sugar. You will need to hold the bag closed to keep the powdered sugar from escaping (and some might, anyway!). Spread the mix out on parchment paper to cool. Store in sealed plastic bags or containers until ready to serve.

  • Yields: About 16 cups
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Warm Mozzarella Dip and Spread

  • 1/2 c. low fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c. low fat cream cheese
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a microwavable glass bowl, combine the mayonnaise and cream cheese. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute and stir well. Add the mozzarella and seasonings and stir again. Microwave an additional 30-90 seconds until the cheese is fully melted. Stir again and serve immediately.

  • Yields: About 2 cups dip
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

  • 2-3 T. butter
  • 1/3 c. unpopped popcorn kernels
  • Seasonings, as desired
In a large bowl with a loose-fitting, ventilated lid, microwave the butter for one minute or until melted. Add the popcorn kernels and mix lightly to make sure all of them are coated in melted butter. Place the bowl with the lid loosely covering it in the microwave and cook it on HIGH for 5-6 minutes or until there are 3-4 second pauses between popping. Carefully remove the bowl (it will be hot) and season your popcorn as desired. My favorite option is a 1:3 ratio of garlic powder and salt. Here's a situation where lighter salt makes a lot more sense than heavier coarse salts, which will simply fall to the bottom of the bowl. If desired, more melted butter can be added as well.
  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 6 minutes