Author: Monda Rosenberg.
Canada’s own Monda Rosenberg retired as Food Editor of CHATELAINE, Canada’s largest circulation magazine, in 2009. She was responsible for the magazine’s entire award-winning Food section, including writing and recipe development of over 2,000 recipes a year and overseeing food photography. Before joining CHATELAINE, Monda Rosenberg was Food Editor of the Toronto Star for five years.
Monda has received an impressive number of food writing, styling and publishing awards including the Nabisco Food Writer’s Magazine Food Editor of the Year Award, the New York Art Directors Award for Food Styling and the General Foods Nutrition Writing Award. She has been president of the Ontario Home Economics Association and president of the Toronto Home Economics Association for a double term.
A frequent guest on national television and radio shows, Monda is the author of The New Chatelaine Cookbook, two Vitality Cookbooks, the Quickies series of 7 cookbooks and Chatelaine’s Wonder Foods.
1. BURGER SNACKERS
A “slider” is the trendy name for a tiny burger with big- time appeal to children, even finicky eaters. Make up a big batch of petite burgers, about a quarter the size of regular burgers, then cook them ahead of time and freeze. When children pile in from school, defrost a single burger or two in the microwave and tuck into a mini pita or slider bun.
On this site, check out my Fab Fajita Sliders recipe. You use 1 lb. (500g) ground chicken to make up 10 mini burgers then bake them all at once, instead of pan flipping. I call for Mexican seasonings, but you don’t have to use any seasonings if your kids like them “plain.” Ditto for the cheese that I’ve included in the recipe - but remember cheese adds a dairy component to their daily intake. As a matter of fact - serve these on a whole grain bun with sliced tomatoes for dinner and you have a nutritionally balanced meal.
Make-up a batch of chicken fingers, small ones, and freeze them. Heat a few at a time for snacks and offer a bowl of yogurt or hummus for dipping.
Check out my Crispy Wasabi Chicken recipe on this site. If you prefer, skip the wasabi and use 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in place of the sesame oil, or just use your favorite coating mix and throw in some crushed tortilla chips. With these, you’ll need an avocado dip.
At Halloween, create goblin fingers by cutting the chicken into pieces about the same size as your finger, then coat and bake them. To create a “black fingernail”, press a piece of black olive onto the narrow end of the chicken finger. For a picture, go to Scary Cordon Bleu Fingers on this website.
3. TINY PIZZA NIBBLERS
Pizza appeals to any time of the day and to every age. Keep a bag of cooked chicken bits in the freezer and top it up anytime you have leftover chicken. Then, you can whip up snack-sized pizzas lickety-split.
English muffin halves, tiny pitas, and even wedges of tortillas can serve as instant crusts. Spread them with pizza sauce or a thin layer of salsa, then scatter them with protein-rich chicken bits and a good shaking of Italian seasoning. Finish them with whatever cheese you have, from end bits of cheddar to slices or grated Parmesan. It is best to heat them in a conventional oven or toaster oven until cheese is oozy-gooey. Yum!
4. WARM MUG OF COMFORTING SOUP
Now this does not need to be Mom’s homemade soup to be filling, invigorating and soothing. Especially on cold days, a cup of creamy chicken soup is healthier and more energy boosting than a cup of hot chocolate. If you don’t have homemade broth in the freezer - and few of us do, begin with a can of cream of chicken soup and add extra chicken pieces from leftovers you stockpile in the freezer, or even strips of cooked chicken slices from the deli. Some people buy a rotisserie chicken just for this purpose; just remove the meat, chop, and store in the freezer.
5. MINI DRUMSTICKS
A tiny drumstick has less fat and more meat than the incredibly popular wing. Coat the drumettes with your favourite barbecue sauce, or whatever sauce or dress-ups your kids like best - sweet’n’sour, plum sauce, jerk seasonings etc. Then, just bake!.
Spread the extras out on a cookie sheet and pop in the freezer until firm. Once firm, tumble them into freezer bags. They’ll stay separate, making it a snap to prepare afternoon snacks - especially after a chilly game of hockey. All you have to do is defrost them in the microwave.
PS - these are also mighty fine as a healthy hunger satisfier while you’re waiting for dinner to cook.
6. AFTERNOON GRILLED CHEESE’N’CHICKEN
Now I’m not suggesting you grill up an entire sandwich for a snack - but being able to serve up a small, hand-sized cheesy sandwich serves several purposes: First, you’re providing a source of top notch protein, as well as dairy and, if you use whole wheat bread, you're sneaking in whole grains.
Turn on the broiler, unless you’re lucky enough to have a Panini maker on your counter (one of those indoor grills works well, too). Thickly slice a baguette and cover one slice with little chicken pieces. Then, generously top with cheese. Down goes the top slice of bread. Firmly press down.
Warm them in the oven, or quickly press them in a frying pan, like you would a grilled cheese sandwich.
7. MID-DAY MINI MEATBALLS
Make-up your favorite chicken burger mix and form into mini meatballs or check out the Italian Meatball Wraps or Chicken Meatball Appetizer recipes on this website for meatballs to bake in big batches. Add whatever seasoning you love. When baked, freeze on a cookie sheet until firmed up, then into a freezer bag. This makes it a snap to microwave a few for pick-me-up snacks.
For chicken lollipops, spear before freezing on wooden forks or Popsicle sticks.Use a pasta sauce for dipping.
8. COME GET YOUR DOGS
Cut chicken hot dogs (sold in some supermarkets) into quarters. Microwave and nestle in small pitas. This definitely makes a “small hands” treat.
If your little ones love anything with hot dogs, consider serving mugs of chicken noodle soup with slices of chicken dogs added. It’s a perfect way to warm-up on a snowy day.
When the whole gang is coming over for nibbles, make up pizza dogs in blankets. Most kids love rolling or patting out pizza dough. Cut the rolled-out dough into big rectangles. Spread each triangle with pizza sauce then add a chicken dog and sprinkle with cheese. Wrap the dough around the chicken dog then seal and bake.
The Rachael Ray website variations on this theme include Pigs in Ponchos and Chili Cheese Dogs in Beach Blankets. Check them out.
9. LET’S WRAP
For hot days, keep lettuce wraps in mind. Open up big lettuce leaves and line them with small pieces of cooked chicken. If you’re taking the chicken from the freezer, moisten it with salsa and warm in the microwave. Or mix chopped chicken with yogurt or mayo and add some grated cheese. Roll and enjoy - and be sure to have lots of paper towels for the bits that squeeze out the ends.
Mini tortillas are also meant for snack-size noshing. Fill them with chicken salad or chicken pieces and add a couple of sliced grape tomatoes. Small-sized anything has appeal.
Or place them on a baking sheet, spread with pasta sauce, scatter with pieces of chicken and smother with grated cheese. Then bake or broil. Check out the Polenta Chicken Pizza Bites recipe on this website.
10. SOUTH OF THE BORDER SANDWICHES
Quesadillas (aka a Mexican grilled cheese sandwich) are basically tortillas stuffed with cheese and other yummy fillings, then warmed or fried until the cheese melts. The good news is that anything goes. Cover half a tortilla with pieces of cooked chicken, then pile on cheese and whatever else your kids adore with chicken - salsa, slices of avocado, chopped tomato, black bean sauce, corn niblets, etc.
No need to keep to the Mexican theme - try chicken with slices of brie and chopped mango or sliced strawberries.
Fold the tortilla over. Fry in a little butter or oil and then cut into wedges. Just make sure it cools down a little before passing it over to tiny fingers.