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Grazing with Gary

Back to school, snack to school

Granola bars, pizza roll ups, cereal bars and taco pockets
By: Gary Gilligan
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Well, school starts in just a few days and today we offer back-to-school recipes. Kids get tired of the PB&J sandwiches so it is time to expand our list of lunch box items.

 

Taco Pockets

Ingredients

  • 2 packages puff pastry sheets, 2 sheets per package
  • 1 egg
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon water
  • 1 1⁄2 pounds ground beef
  • 1⁄2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup ketchup
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh cilantro or 1⁄4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1⁄2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded or 1 1⁄2 cups Monterey Jack pepper cheese, shredded for a spicier result or 1 1⁄2 cups colby cheese, shredded, any similar cheese will work

Directions

  1. Remove pastry from freezer and allow to thaw at room temperature for about 30-40 minutes or until they are easy to handle.
  2. Meanwhile, add the beef, onion and green pepper to a large skillet and cook until beef is browned and vegetables begin to soften. Stir occasionally to break meat up and prevent scorching.
  3. Add garlic and cook for one more minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Drain all the grease from the pan and return to the heat.
  5. Add tomato, ketchup, cilantro or parsley, cumin, chili powder, oregano and cinnamon. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. You want a pretty dry mixture so your filling stays put in the pastry.
  6. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  7. Work with one pastry sheet at a time, keeping the others covered so they do not dry out.
  8. On a lightly floured surface roll out a pastry sheet to a rectangle about 16 x 12 inches and then cut into 8 even pieces.
  9. Put a heaping teaspoonful of meat mixture in the center of the pastry. (I always seem to over fill them no matter how carefully I measure so you may want to start with less than you think you should use and add a little more if needed. Voice of experience!).
  10. Mix the egg and water together and brush pastry edges with it.
  11. Grab one corner of a pastry and fold over to form a triangle. Press edges with a fork to seal and brush the tops with more egg mixture.
  12. Repeat until all ingredients are used.
  13. Place the pastries on a sprayed or greased baking sheet. You could also use parchment paper or a silicone liner.
  14. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Cereal Bars

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Crispix cereal
  • 2 cups Cheerios toasted oat cereal
  • 1 1⁄2 cups lightly salted peanuts
  • 1 1⁄2 cups broken pretzels
  • 1 1⁄2 cups M&Ms plain chocolate candy
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Combine cereals, peanuts, and pretzels in a large bowl.
  2. Combine corn syrup, brown sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat; boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Immediately pour sugar mixture over cereal mixture, and stir well to coat; stir in M&Ms.
  4. Using a greased spatula, press mixture tightly into a greased jellyroll pan (approximately 15-by-10-inches) and cool at room temperature. (I spread it as evenly as I can, then cover with a sheet of non-stick aluminum foil and pressed it out firmly and evenly.).
  5. Cut into bars when completely cooled.

 

Pizza Roll Ups

Ingredients

  • 1⁄2 small red bell pepper, chopped finely
  • ½ cup ham or salami, chopped fine
  • 1⁄2 cup cheese, grated
  • 1⁄4 cup pizza sauce
  • 2 sheets ready rolled puff pastry

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine the chopped pepper, ham and cheese in bowl.
  3. Spread the sauce onto each sheet of pastry, leaving a 1-inch border along one side, and sprinkle the pepper mixture over the top.
  4. Roll up the pastry to enclose the filling (like a swiss roll), leaving the plain edge until last.
  5. Brush the edge lightly with water and fold to seal.
  6. Cut each roll into half-inch rounds (use serrated bread knife) and place on lined oven trays.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

 

Granola Bars- No Bake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups puffed brown rice cereal (unsweetened)
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1⁄4 cup roasted almonds, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1⁄2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1⁄2 cup dried fruit, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup peanut butter
  • 1⁄2 cup brown rice syrup or 1⁄2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine cereal, oats, nuts, seeds, coconut and fruit in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Heat the peanut butter, syrup, and vanilla in a small saucepan until warm. Do not boil.
  3. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal mixture. Mix well while syrup is still warm. I use my hands as they are the best tool for this mixing job.
  4. Pour mixture into a 9-by-13-inch pan.
  5. Pack the mixture down firmly with moist fingers or the bottom of another 9-by-13-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray.
  6. The chocolate lover should sprinkle on the mini chocolate chips at this point and press them in firmly.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap.
  8. Cool completely.
  9. Cut into 24 bars.
  10. Wrap individually and store in fridge.