Making snacks to stave off boredom
June 30, 2018 7:31 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for recipes or ideas for snacks to cook/bake with my nearly-five-year-old son.

Kid McCatburglar loves to cook and bake, especially things to eat for afternoon snack-time (a sacred institution in our country). We used to make cookies every weekend, but now that school's out for the summer I need more snack ideas because we can't make cookies every day :(

Ideally these ideas or recipes will:
- be somewhat time-consuming and laborious (baking cookies has a good number of steps, making cheese toast does not)
- but not take more than an hour between start and finish (ice cream is great but takes like 12 hours to be ready)
- have some steps that Kid McCatburglar can perform, not necessarily all (knife-work is OK)
- be delicious, of course!

Bonus points for:
- novel, weird, or clever processes, results, or ingredients
- savory snacks (I'm getting sick of cookies, actually)

We have no dietary restrictions and I'm not particularly worried about these being healthy snacks. Non-traditional snack foods are great, too. Thanks!
posted by lollymccatburglar to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Muffins with chunks of fruit (apple?) in them?
Bacon Roses?
You could do lots of variations of a baked pretzel.
posted by Wild_Eep at 7:39 AM on June 30, 2018

Tiny "sandwiches" made with a shaped cookie cutters?

Punching out stuff with a cookie cutter is lots of fun.
posted by beccaj at 7:49 AM on June 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Green onion pancakes. They are delicious. The process includes rolling a piece of dough into a flat circle, sprinkling with green onions, rolling that into a snake, coiling that snake into a snail, then rolling the snail flat again. You can safely simplify a good bit from this recipe -- I usually make them with just flour, water, sesame oil, and scallions, with oil for pan frying.
posted by gorillawarfare at 7:51 AM on June 30, 2018 [6 favorites]

Seconding beccaj, how about fruit flowers a la Edible Arrangements?
Fondue (cheese or chocolate) is tons of fun with kids.
posted by arrmatie at 8:00 AM on June 30, 2018

Salsa - lots of things to chop, I do this with mini-conifer 1
Pot stickers - mini-conifer 1, just turned 5, can just about handle rolling the filling into a dumpling and sealing it up
Meatballs - pretty easy, lots of variations
posted by conifer at 8:03 AM on June 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

My kids have been making overnight oats in small glasses and jelly jars. They got a basic recipe and are having great fun making different flavor combinations. Lots of fruit cutting and berry mashing... adding chia seeds and different fibers and then we have a great, healthy oatmeal breakfast in the morning so some delayed gratification.
posted by pearlybob at 8:08 AM on June 30, 2018

If you have popsicle molds, there are endless variations of fruit and yogurt and juice you can try.

Mini quiches? Or hand-pies? You could make savory meat-pies or fruit pies.

You could try making cheese - it's not actually that hard or complicated, but there are definitely a number of steps to take, and you can divide the resulting farmer-style cheese up to flavor it differently - olives or chives or rosemary or strawberries etc.

Bread? It might be nice to make some loaves of bread to spread the cheese on. :)
posted by fancyoats at 8:18 AM on June 30, 2018

My 12 year old and I just made ricotta cheese yesterday. The Smitten Kitchen ricotta recipe is amazingly easy - just pour milk and cream into a saucepan, heat it up, remove from heat and add lemon juice, pour it into a cheesecloth-lined colander and let it sit for a while. Your kid could pour in the ingredients, do some stirring, pour off the whey at the end, etc. And he could see first hand what curds and whey actually are. You have to let it drain for about an hour (or more) after you mix in the lemon juice, so the whole process lasts a little longer than you might want, but it's something different. My kid loves this ricotta spread on baguette slices.
posted by Redstart at 8:20 AM on June 30, 2018 [5 favorites]

Roasted chickpeas. I make these all the time as a crouton substitute, but they work for snacks too. You can experiment with different spices. There are tons of recipes online. I imagine they’d work as a sweet snack with cinnamon and sugar too, but I’ve never tried that.

Homemade granola bars could be a nice alternative to cookies. My granddaughter makes these.

When I was a kid, we made mini pizzas using English muffins as a crust. Pita bread works for that too.
posted by FencingGal at 8:23 AM on June 30, 2018

What about muffins or loaf quickbreads? I love this banana bread recipe. I add cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla (as recommended by many commenters).
posted by radioamy at 8:35 AM on June 30, 2018

Scones, Cheese scones are amazing. Served hot with lots of butter. This recipe is super easy & skips the fancy cutting the butter stage & works a treat, I add chives. It's a fun recipe to play with throw in some bacon or make them spicy.
posted by wwax at 8:43 AM on June 30, 2018

Seconding the scallion pancakes. I would also recommend the similar Korean buckwheat pancakes.

Steamed buns (mantou) are easy and so, so good when freshly made.

Scones are always good and versatile (you can do sweet or savoury or plain). You can do the 'shape into a disc and cut into fat wedges' method or 'roll out and cut with mug/cup' method. And though there is a long wait time, you can make clotted cream and use it over a few days with different scones.

I've done all these things for afternoon snacks, both with and for my kids, and they're all a hit.
posted by methroach at 8:48 AM on June 30, 2018

Not a recipe, but something my kids enjoyed when they were little. A manual food chopper with an enclosed chamber can be a safe and fun way for kids to chop stuff.
posted by SamanthaK at 9:13 AM on June 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

My five year old loves making pancakes (she sprinkles the toppings on each pancake, I'm in charge of flipping) so sometimes we make a batch of pancakes or two for the freezer to heat up on busy mornings, keeps her busy and helps with future meals. Also we make cheese crackers and cut them out with cookie cutters, it's fun.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 9:14 AM on June 30, 2018

He might like making fruit leather but it takes 3-4 hours to bake. Maybe making it can be a morning activity and it will be ready for afternoon snack time. I've made this and it's so good .. much better than store-bought.
posted by Kangaroo at 9:33 AM on June 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

easy, but chex mix is savory and so good. I am a purist and make it with Chex only, no nuts or cheez things.

I regularly make healthy muffins from this basic recipe. Whole wheat, bran, pumpkin (1/2 can), walnuts, apricots. That would cover breakfasts for a day or 2. They keep fine in the fridge.

Gazpacho - Canned tomatoes, chopped onion, grated cucumber, garlic, I use long green peppers, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, whatever else you think will taste good. Saladin a cup.
posted by theora55 at 9:38 AM on June 30, 2018

Put heavy cream in jar with lid, ask the young one to shake until, voila butter. Serve how you might normally. Also consider making flavored butters like honey butter, nomnom.

What about a cheese and fruit plate? Chop apples, slice a baguette, pick a cheese or two, add some nuts, wash some grapes. Throw in some ham or salami and olives. Might not take long, but eating should take a while as you want to encourage flavor combination experimentation.

Making wontons, dumplings can also be rewarding and time consuming.... Ditto with wrapping summer rolls (eg with shrimp, finely sliced carrots, cucumbers, noodles)...serve with hoison/sriaccha or home made peanut sauce.
posted by ellerhodes at 9:50 AM on June 30, 2018

Definitely crackers! So many topping options, or you can make cheese crackers! If you really wanna kill some time, make your own goldfish crackers.
posted by halation at 10:22 AM on June 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

My kids are obsessed with “surprise” deviled eggs. Hard boil eggs, cool and peel ( can be done ahead). Slice eggs vertically, scoop out yolks. Kids can mash yolk with a fork in a bowl with any toppings. (Mayo, mustard, ketchup, spices, hoisin, stuff from fridge...) put a surprise in each egg half ( piece of carrot, pitted olive, raisin, basically anything edible), put a spoonful of Yolk mixture on top. Top with anything you want. They can easily get gross, but they can also be tasty. My kids spend a lot of time thoughtfully placing the surprise.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 10:24 AM on June 30, 2018 [4 favorites]

Avocado maki. Useful skill, tastes good, takes a while. You can pre-cook the rice for them (or not), then it's all assembly and cutting up little tiny pieces of avocado (you should probably halve the avocade for them -- that's a tricky thing and could easily lead to cuts. Apparently 'avocado hand' is a well-known injury...)
posted by amtho at 10:32 AM on June 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, and it's also fairly healthy.

Do make sure you find a recipe for the rice that includes plum vinegar, otherwise it doesn't taste nearly as good.
posted by amtho at 10:33 AM on June 30, 2018

Old timer here - we LOVED Jell-o squares growing up. Make in the morning, eat in the afternoon. I believe we called it by the sophisticated name of “finger jello”.
posted by hilaryjade at 12:04 PM on June 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’ve also made mini pita bread (with a bean dip) and mini potato pancakes. Use any recipe for both.
posted by FencingGal at 12:07 PM on June 30, 2018

I made pizzas with both my kids (and their friends) as they grew up. Older kid and friend sold them at the doorstep on market day, that's how she is. Younger kid and friends just ate them all and had a party.
I made the dough in advance, we made the red sauce together, and the kids rolled and shaped the dough into small pies, sometimes using cookie cutters, and topped them with sauce, cheese and other toppings. It was great fun.
posted by mumimor at 12:59 PM on June 30, 2018

Seconding dumplings! You might want to make the filling in advance, then the kid can wrap them. You can either make the wrappers or buy them, and you can use just about anything for the filling.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:56 PM on June 30, 2018

Muddy Buddies aka Puppy Chow
Fruit Kabobs
Popcorn Balls
Banana Pops
Vegetable Robots (with dip)
Tortilla Roll-Ups
Stuffed Parathas
Stuffed Mushrooms
Cheese Twists
Cheese Pennies

(Please forgive the mostly United States bent of this set of suggestions.)
posted by jocelmeow at 2:23 PM on June 30, 2018

Kale chips! Very good; totally healthy; easily google-able.
posted by kestrel251 at 5:06 PM on June 30, 2018

Gelatin gummies? Brownpapernutrition has posted her recipes for them, apparently kid-friendly and nutritious, on my list of things to try this year.
posted by lafemma at 1:20 PM on August 1, 2018

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