When I went to Dollar General to get ingredients for some summer treats, I was happy to see so much inspiration. There was a pretty big fresh section (our store is a Dollar General Market) with lots of fruit that would be great snacks on their own. But in the aisles I also found some ingredients that made my mouth water with their possibilities.
- Black tea – many many bags
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Ground cinnamon
- Vanilla extract
- 2 Cardamom pods
- 1 star anise
- Steep some super strong tea. I mean like strong. Something like 16 tea bags for 4 cups of hot water. Throw in the cinnamon, cardamom, and star anise while it steeps.
- After about 5 minutes remove the tea bags but let the spices stay in there for a while longer.
- Strain the tea through some cheesecloth in a sieve to remove the spices.
- Then, mix in some sweetened condensed milk until it is as creamy and sweet as you'd like (taste it). You'll use a lot more for Popsicles than you would just to drink. The sugar in the milk will keep the Popsicles softer versus being like ice cubes. Also, yum. So don't skimp. (This is a treat, not a health food.)
- Pour into the Popsicle molds and freeze.
- Dole diced peaches in 100% juice – 4 snack cups
- Vanilla extract
- Blend together the peaches (juice included), a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, and a splash of vanilla extract. I used my immersion blender for easy cleanup.
- Pour into cups or molds, and freeze.
They taste just like peach pie or cobbler!
The third treat I made was a fruit and nut snack bar (like homemade Larabars). I picked up raisins, apricots, almonds, and cashews from Dollar General for these, but I ended up not using the raisins.
Larabars are one of our favorite snacks, but the cost adds up if everyone wants one. Or two. Plus, they have bigger pieces of nuts which Anneliese always picks out and leaves on the table in a little line, and I am hesitant to give them to Joey without mega-supervising because of the bigger pieces too.
So these were perfect because I could process the nuts until they were just the right size, and add flavors I knew my family would love.
- 5 oz. cashews
- 4 oz. almonds
- 10 oz. dried apricots
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- A little water
- Shredded unsweetened coconut (optional)
- Soak the apricots in some hot water for a few hours. Just to soften them and make them juicier.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine cashews and almonds in the food processor and pulse until they're pretty small. Somewhere between gravel (too big) and dust (way too small).
- Drain the apricots and add them, along with the vanilla extract, to the food processor. Pulse, stopping frequently to push down, scrape the sides, etc. (I'm hoping that this step will be easier when I get my Vitamix.)
- If the mixture is too thick to come together, add 1-2 Tbsp of water while pulsing.
- Turn the fruit-nut mixture onto some parchment paper. If you're using coconut, dust the parchment with coconut first. Form a ball with the mixture. If using coconut, coat the outside of the ball with it.
- Place another piece of parchment on top and roll out to between 1/4″ and 1/2″ thickness. You may add more coconut if you'd like.
- Place on a cookie sheet (still on the parchment) and bake for 25 minutes.
- Let cool, and slice into bars. Makes 10 servings.
These are easy to throw in your purse, diaper bag, or lunch box. Try mixing things up by using other dried fruits and different nuts and seeds. Last night I made a fig-pecan-sesame seed version, which the kids enjoyed after their swimming lessons today.