by Vince Camillo
What’s the next best thing you never ate?
The staff of Food Network Kitchens might know. We see (taste and smell) ingredients and products just before they make themselves known to the national palate. Sometimes one of our on-air chefs brings them into our kitchen, sometimes we find them during restaurant dinners or in grocery stores, at home and away. Each month we’re going to share one with you, along with tips or recipes. And we know that many of you devote a good amount of time to exploring, tasting or simply getting dinner on the table, so let us know what you find that might just be the next best thing we never ate.
If you’ve ever eaten a vacuum-fried banana chip (or any vacuum-fried fruit or vegetable), you may have been staring into the bag of the next big thing. Though the bag you remember was likely empty, because once you eat one of these puffed little disks of pure banana essence, you’ll realize that you can’t stop — the most important indicator of a successful snack.
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Sam Kass, a White House chef and Michelle Obama’s adviser for her Let’s Move! program, says that the White House is always stocked with fruit in case Sasha or Malia needs a bite. But Sam knows that kids don’t always come home from school begging fora healthy snack, so he offered up these smart swaps for some favorite after-school treats.
Instead of a candy bar, drizzle chocolate on pretzels or apples (pictured left).
Chop 1/2 pound dark chocolate. Microwave three quarters of the chocolate in 30-second intervals, stirring, until mostly melted. Stir in the remaining chocolate until smooth. Drizzle over mini pretzels or apple slices and let harden.
“There is no substitution for chocolate!” Sam says. “The key is moderation.”
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Who says you can’t play with your food? Fondue is a warm bath of melted cheese, chocolate or blended fruit puree just waiting for you to dunk something into it. Best served with cubes of bread or freshly chopped fruits or vegetables, fondue can be made in a classic fondue warming pot or on the stove and later plated. Our savory and sweet fondue recipes below are quick-to-prepare snacks or light meals, so grab a fondue fork and start dipping.
Food Network Magazine’s traditional Fondue (pictured above) is made with gooey-good Gruyere cheese, crisp white wine and a healthy splash of cognac. Serve along with slices of tart green apples to balance the richly flavored cheese.
More fondue recipes »
Microwaveable snack pockets are one of those foods people love to hate on. They’re often thought of as a last-resort after school snack or a guilt-laden solution to the midnight munchies. The comedian Jim Gaffigan even has a pretty hilarious skit about them (watch it here). But the truth is a lot of people secretly love them. It’s not hard to understand why. I mean, they’re hearty, easy to eat and convenient.
Here in the Food Network Kitchens, we wanted to capitalize on all the great things about snack pockets and fix all the bad things — like the processed, overly salty, not-so-good for you fillings and often soggy crust.
Find your favorite filling »
For recent story on old-school fruit leather roll-ups in Food Network Magazine’s September issue, chefs in Food Network Kitchens tried all sorts of combos, but apple-ginger, spicy mango and raspberry-vanilla were clear favorites. Don’t ask for pineapple, “No matter how many times recipe developers tried it, it just wouldn’t set.”
Get the recipes and check out behind-the-scenes photos »
More than 1,500 Food Network Facebook fans responded when we asked: “If you could go back in time, what childhood snack would you eat?” The answers were all over the map, with lots of comments for Mom’s (and Grandma’s) home cooking, but a few nostalgia-inducing picks came out on top.
The overwhelming choice: anything with peanut butter. Nothing screams childhood more than ants on a log, a combination of celery, peanut butter and raisins. Another popular favorite, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches. Whether you called them “fluffernutters” or something entirely different, they still hold a place dear to your hearts.
MoonPies came in a close second, with Twinkies and Jell-O Pudding Pops holding a close third. Sugary treats like S’mores, Dunkaroos and Hostess Chocodiles (Twinkies covered in chocolate) were often listed, as well.
A surprise snack that many Southern fans can’t get enough of is a cold Coca-Cola in a glass bottle with salted peanuts inside. Fried bologna sandwiches and homemade Rice Krispies also make you melt, but not as much as a pure peanut butter and sugar rush.
What are your favorite childhood snacks?