We’ve found with our own kids (and when we teach cooking classes) that snack time can be one of the best times to experiment. Branch out and try a new flavor or ingredient! These recipes are great options when you have even a few extra minutes to devote to snack time. They also make great mini cooking projects for a kitchen playdate.
Easy: Pan-Fried Dumplings
(About 16 dumplings)
Using store-bought dumpling wrappers and assembling the filling in advance simplifies things, turning this into a great half-hour cooking activity. Kids will love filling and folding dumplings, and mixing up a tasty dipping sauce, while you handle cooking at the stove. Send leftover dumplings in the next day’s lunchbox.
What you need:
- ¼ pound ground pork, beef, chicken or turkey
- 4 ounces frozen chopped spinach
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 16 store-bought dumpling wrappers (choose the thicker, round pot sticker wrappers over thin, square won ton wrappers)
- Thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze out as much water as possible. You should have about ¼ packed cup.
- Mix the meat, spinach, soy sauce, rice vinegar, vegetable oil, sesame oil, salt and pepper, combining ingredients well. You can do steps 1 and 2 a day ahead and refrigerate the filling until you are ready to assemble the dumplings.
- Place ½ tablespoon of the meat mixture in the center of each wrapper. Use a pastry brush or your fingers to brush the edges very lightly with water. Fold the wrapper in half and form half circle-shaped parcels. An additional step that helps the dumplings stay sealed is to make 3 pleats along the rounded, sealed edge of the dumpling. If little hands are not able to do this, you can omit it. An adult should make sure dumplings are well sealed.
- Repeat until meat mixture is used up, placing finished dumplings on a lightly floured surface to prevent sticking.
- Drizzle a small amount of oil in a large non-stick sauté pan. When pan is hot, add dumplings and fry for 2-3 minutes until the bottoms begin to crisp. Add ¼ cup of water to the pan (it will immediately begin to steam and sizzle). Turn down heat to medium, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. (Lift the lid and check every minute or so; add several tablespoons of water if the pan is dry).
- Uncover the pan and turn up the heat to medium high and fry another 2-3 minutes until the bottoms are crisped and golden. Serve with dipping sauce.
Mix all ingredients.
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Easier: Mango Lassi
Most kids love smoothies, so why not enjoy a taste of India with a cool, refreshing mango lassi? A pinch of fragrant ground cardamom makes this drink special. It’s a great way to add a new flavor to your family’s spice repertoire. We use the sweetened mango puree (labeled as “mango pulp”) that you can find at Indian grocery stores, but you can also use fresh or frozen mango chunks with a dash of honey or sugar as needed.&pagebreaking&Mango Lassi
( 2 servings)
What you need:
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup pureed fresh or frozen mango (or more to taste)
- pinch salt
- big pinch ground cardamom
- 2-3 teaspoons of sugar or adjust to your taste (if using sweetened mango pulp, omit sugar)
- garnish with ground pistachios (optional)
- Combine all ingredients except sugar in blender. Pulse to mix well.
- Taste and add sugar a teaspoon at a time, blending with each addition until you reach your preferred sweetness. If lassi is too thick, add additional milk to thin.
Easiest: “$4 Toast”
If you’re a food lover and live in the Bay Area, you’ve probably heard about the phenomenon of “$4 toast.” Fancy, artisan toast is definitely a “love it” or “leave it” thing, but duplicating this trendy snack at home is both easy and delicious. It’s a fun way to feature whole grains and guaranteed to keep even the busiest kids powered up for afternoon activities.
Start by buying an unsliced loaf of great quality, hearty, whole grain bread at your favorite bakery or market. Tthe fresher the bread, the better the toast. Cut extra thick slices, about ¾-1-inch. Toast your bread so that it’s crisped on the outside but still moist and tender on the inside. Then, slather it with fabulous toppings such as:
- butter and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon sugar
- almond or peanut butter, a glossy drizzle of honey and a light sprinkle of flakey sea salt
- nutella and flakey sea salt
- cream cheese, sea salt and a grinding of cracked pepper
- a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk and a sprinkle of toasted coconut
Stacie Dong and Simran Singh are San Francisco moms with a passion for cooking and exploring the world through food. On their blog, A Little Yumminess (www.alittleyum.com), they share recipes from around the world, favorite foodie destinations and ideas for raising adventurous eaters. They also teach classes, camps and private cooking workshops.