Monday, September 10, 2012

S'mores Crunch and Torellini Salad

It was a tasty weekend! I made Italian Pasta Salad late on Saturday night, expecting to be able to send it for lunch on Monday. Ha! By Sunday afternoon it was gone. Brick, Princess, and Beaker love the stuff. So Sunday afternoon I boiled some rainbow tortellini and made Italian Tortellini Salad, and then growled and bared my teeth at anyone who snuck in a spoon for a "quick taste test" (I think that by the eight or ninth "taste test" it no longer counts as "testing"). By that night there was enough left in the fridge to pack for Monday lunches.

I also mixed up a batch of S'mores Crunch and balled up a few canteloupes that were ripe and ready for eating. Recipes for the Italian Tortellini Salad and the S'mores Crunch are under the packed-lunch-photos in this post.

Bean and Princess had exactly the same things in their lunches. Italian Tortellini Salad with a cheesy heart, olives on little food picks, Angry Birds Cheese Nips (could not resist those at the store for cuteness factor, but my kids vastly prefer Cheez Its over Cheese Nips for taste), canteloupe balls with homegrown cucumber slices, and S'mores Crunch.

Brick's lunch was the same stuff as Princess and Bean, but in a Sistema box instead of an Easy Lunchbox. Sistemas and ELBs are my favorite containers for packed lunches.

G-man does not like the salad, so his lunch is different. He has turkey and ham cheese roll ups (which are just lunch meat rolled up with a slice of cheese and pinned with a food pick), black olives, canteloupe balls, S'mores Crunch, and Angry Birds Cheese Nips.

How to make S'Mores Crunch

S'mores Crunch is easy to make and totally delicious. It's like S'mores that you can pop into a snack baggie and bring with you! No messy roasting of marshmallows required.
To make, you need 5 cups of Golden Grahams cereal, 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips, 2 teaspoons of butter, and about 1 1/2 cups (or more, if you prefer more sweetness) of mini marshmallows.
Melt the chocolate chips and butter together over medium low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Pour cereal and marshmallows into a large bowl. When the chocolate is melted to a nice smooth consistency, pour over the cereal and marshmallows in the bowl and toss together until evenly coated. Pour out onto a cookie sheet or a piece of wax paper to cool. Of course, you must taste test a few chunks while they're cooling! That gooey warm melty chocolate taste can't be beat. Resist the urge to eat the entire batch while it cools. Whatever survives through the "taste testing" should be stored in an airtight container once completely cooled.
This is a huge hit with my kids and their friends. It's easy, fast, delicious, and highly portable. It makes a great snack for hiking, school, or sleepovers. It's like S'mores, without the fire.

How to Make Italian Tortellini Salad


1 package cheese tortellini
Italian salad dressing
black olives
marinated garlic
mozzarella cheese
pepperoni or salami slices, cut in quarters
1 cup mixed red, yellow, orange, and green bell peppers, diced
grape tomatoes, halved or quarterd
marinated garlic (optional)

Cook the tortellini according to package directions. I used a tricolor 5 cheese tortellini from Costco because I love the pretty colors, but your favorite cheese tortellini should also work well. Once the tortellini is cooked, set aside to cool. While tortellini is cooling, prepare other ingredients. Dice peppers, cut tomatoes and pepperoni/salami, slice cheese into bite sized chunks, cut olives in half. When tortellini is completely cooled, toss together with salad dressing. Add remaining ingredients and toss everything together lightly. Cover dish and place in refrigerator.

The longer the salad sets in the fridge, allowing the flavors of the ingredients to blend and settle together, the better it tastes. However, it rarely seems to last more than a few hours in my house! As soon as the kids find out it's there, it disappears. Give the bowl a good stir before serving to redistribute any dressing that may have settled to the bottom.

The ingredients are fairly versatile. Sometimes I use pepperoni, sometimes salami, sometimes both, sometimes neither. I've used colby jack and pepper jack instead of mozarella with success. Sometimes I use string cheese sticks and cut them into small discs because it's fast and easy. I think the salad tastes great with purple onions added, but I usually skip them because Brick and Bean don't like onions. Pepperocini and marinated mushrooms both taste delicious in the salad, too. Capers and feta cheese with kalamata olives, marinated garlic, and a light vinagrette are also excellent with the tortellini.

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