Skewered Snacks and Sides

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Sometime last year, my preschooler went through a toothpick phase. We didn’t need a fork or spoon – a toothpick was our preferred utensil. I was happy to accommodate the request so long as she remained willing to spear blueberries, cantaloupe, strawberries and even peas at mealtime.

I was reminded again recently that skewers are a playful way (minus that one sharp end!) to make simple food fun for kids. I taught a series of cooking classes for kids ages six to 10, and one day we put chunks of pineapple on skewers to grill. I often will just lay spears or rings on a grill pan to get the job done, but having the kids use the skewers were a creative way to get them involved with the preparation.

To help avoid any accidental finger stabs, I had the kids line up the chunks on their cutting boards and then poke one piece with the sharp end of the skewer so it went into the fruit and then directly into the board – avoiding the sharp edge and our fingers if we were to lace them on. And then repeat, effectively pushing each piece higher on the skewer as you go along. In this class, our pineapple had been tossed with honey and some lime zest before grilling.

But, you could certainly just grill pineapple and then toss with cilantro, lime zest and even some red onion for a quick, chunky salsa. Or grill plain pineapple chunks on skewers and then drizzle with caramel and a runny vanilla yogurt for a sweet treat.

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At home we love to put blueberries on toothpicks or skewers and then slide them off one by one. If you want to avoid sharp edges altogether (and you won’t be grilling or heating anything) try using a plastic straw. Just punch on blueberry after blueberry or whatever other fruit you want to try!

Here are some other fun, skewered recipe ideas that don’t require any grilling! Plus have fun making up your own with the kids – a great rainy day cooking activity.

Caprese Salad Skewer: alternate small balls of fresh mozzarella, half grape or cherry tomato, folded over leaf of basil. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.

Watermelon Strawberry Skewer: alternate chunks of watermelon and strawberry with a hunk of feta cheese, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle of salt

Greek Salad Skewer: alternate chunks of cucumber, half grape or cherry tomato, hunk of feta, olive, cooked chicken (optional), drizzle balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkle of salt

Cornbread Apple Skewer: cut up a piece of store bought cornbread into chunks and alternate on a skewer with a chunk of apple and a chunk of sharp cheddar cheese

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Lauren K. Stein is the author of Fresh Made Simple, a collection of 76 fully illustrated recipes.  The cookbook has earned accolades and press in O, The Oprah Magazine, Yahoo! Health, Leite’s Culinaria, Edible Boston, Edible Memphis, BookTrib, Yankee Magazine, Red Tricycle, and others. Knoxville Mercury called Fresh Made Simple one of the best cookbooks of 2015. Stein is a former journalist for Reuters and has written for the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine and the website Eat Boutique. Her recipes are inspired by time spent in the kitchen with her young daughter and feeding her family.  She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.  Read more about her cookbook and recipes on www.laurenkstein.com.

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