Spring break snacks! Get the kids cooking carrot cake cupcakes, more
April 7, 2015 at 9:56 AM ET
It's spring break! To keep the kids occupied and satisfied, try making these snacks from Reed Alexander's cookbook "Kewl Bites." They're easy enough to get your kids cooking along.
Popcorn is one of the healthiest, crunchiest snack options around, provided it isn't doused in heavy toppings like melted butter. Pop a batch to take on a road trip or the bus, or for after-school munching.
- 3 tablespoons popcorn kernels
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract*
- 2 cups unsalted raw peanuts
- Place the kernels in a brown paper bag. Fold and seal the bag with tape, leaving generous space inside. Microwave on high 1 minute and 30 seconds, or until the kernels are mostly popped but not burnt. Remove the popcorn to a bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat the paper with canola oil.
- Microwave the honey in a small microwave-proof bowl on high for about 20 seconds. Stir in the cinnamon and vanilla extract. Toss with the peanuts in a medium bowl until well coated.
- Spread the peanuts on the prepared sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Remove, stir to break up any clumps, and bake 5 minutes more, until deep golden. Cool, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the peanuts to the popcorn and gently toss. Mix until evenly distributed without breaking up the popcorn.
*TIP: As an alternative to vanilla extract, try 1⁄2 teaspoon ground dried vanilla beans. (The black specks in your favorite vanilla ice cream are vanilla beans.) Check out your local gourmet food shop to find these powdered beans.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
Nonfat yogurt and canola oil replace butter in these classic cupcakes, which I dip in a simple icing made from powdered sugar and low-fat milk. Yum!
For the cupcakes:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1⁄2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
- 3⁄4 cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
- 3⁄4 cup raw sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 11⁄2 cups finely grated carrots
- 1⁄4 cup golden raisins
For the icing:
- 11⁄2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 7 1⁄2 tablespoons nonfat milk
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the oil, yogurt, and raw sugar on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing constantly. Mix in the vanilla extract. Reduce the speed, and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing until incorporated before adding the next. Stir in the carrots and raisins.
- Fill each muffin cup about three-fourths full with the batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a rack to cool completely.
- To make the icing, place the confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, butter, and vanilla extract. Pour into the sugar, mixing constantly with a fork or spoon, until the icing is smooth, thick, and glossy. Dip the top of each cupcake into the icing and swirl to cover in a thick, even layer.
TIP: Garnish the iced cupcakes with edible 24-karat gold leaf for a ritzy-glitzy topping-a reasonable, yet completely optional, splurge! It can be found online or at baking supply stores.
Makes 16 Kewlers
These delicious, refreshing "kewlers" are the perfect way to bring down the temperature on a hot summer day. While many coolers are loaded with sugar, I rely on agave nectar, an all-natural liquid sweetener that's similar to honey in viscosity, but less assertive in flavor. The waiting game begins once you put the mixture in the freezer, but the fun starts when you scrape it up with a fork into an airy Italian ice. I like to keep a back-up batch of this on hand in the freezer—it'll revitalize you when the mercury starts to rise!
- 1 cup light agave nectar
- 3 1⁄2 cups boiling water
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 8 lemons
- 8 limes
- 16 small mint leaves, for garnish
- In a large heatproof and freezer-proof bowl, whisk the agave nectar into the hot water until it has completely dissolved. Add the lemon and lime juices and whisk until incorporated. Freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Slice a small portion off the bottom of each lemon and lime so that they can stand vertically on their own. Slice a larger portion off the tops and hollow out with a melon baller until no flesh remains inside the fruit. Set aside.
- Once the lemon-lime mixture is frozen, remove from the freezer and scrape it repeatedly with a spoon or the tines of a fork until the result is light, fluffy ice.
- Spoon the icy lemon-lime mixture into the lemons and limes and garnish with mint leaves.
- Serve immediately, while they're chilly!