(Family Features) During a holiday season that may not quite feel the same for many families, you can add a magic touch to at-home festivities with activities and treats that get everyone involved. Creating decorative holiday sweets allows little ones and grown-ups alike to take part in the fun, and the end result is delicious desserts for all to enjoy.
Start with a main ingredient like whole-grain, freshly popped popcorn. At 30 calories a cup, it’s naturally low in fat, non-GMO and gluten-free for a nutritious alternative to traditional holiday indulgences. It’s a clever way to create artsy representations of the season at hand that celebrate festive flavors like peppermint, coconut, chocolate and other sweet eats.
For example, Coconut Popcorn Snowballs add fun and flavor to wintertime with a coat of sweetened coconut “snow” and candy cane handle while easy-to-construct Holiday Popcorn Snowmen are sure to be a hit with your children. Add to the holiday spirit throughout your home with wintery Jingle Balls that call for colored sugars to create a magical sparkling effect then take the creativity to the next level by encouraging kids to make their own red-nosed, sleigh-pulling team of Chocolate Popcorn Reindeer.
Discover more decorative dessert recipes at popcorn.org.
Coconut Popcorn Snowballs
Yield: 8 balls (4 inches)
- 2 cups shredded or flaked sweetened coconut
- nonstick cooking spray
- 3 quarts popped popcorn
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
- 3 cups miniature marshmallows
- 1 teaspoon coconut or vanilla extract
- 8 candy canes or candy cane sticks (about 3-4 inches)
- Place large sheet wax or parchment paper over work surface. Spread coconut on paper.
- Spray large mixing bowl lightly with nonstick cooking spray and place popcorn inside.
- In medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in marshmallows until melted and mixture is smooth. Pour over popcorn and mix well until coated.
- Spray hands with cooking spray and press mixture firmly to form into balls. Place balls on coconut; roll and press coconut to coat. While holding popcorn balls, gently press candy cane into each ball.
- Serve immediately or wrap individually in plastic wrap for storage.
Yield: 12 cups
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 12 cups popped popcorn
- 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 3 cups mini marshmallows
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- assorted colored sugars
- Spray large mixing bowl lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Add popcorn.
- Spread plastic wrap on cookie sheet; set aside.
- In medium saucepan, melt butter and marshmallows; stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in peppermint extract. Pour over popcorn, mixing until well coated. Let cool 2 minutes.
- Spray hands with nonstick cooking spray and form popcorn mixture into 3-inch balls. Gently press colored sugar onto balls. Let sit on prepared cookie sheet until cool and set.
Chocolate Popcorn Reindeer
- 8 cups unsalted, unbuttered, popped popcorn
- 2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
- 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons butter or light olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 16 pretzel sticks
- 16 eyeball candies
- 8 red candy-coated
- chocolate candies
- Place popcorn in large mixing bowl.
- In saucepan over medium heat, heat marshmallows, chocolate, butter and salt, stirring often, until smooth. Toss marshmallow mixture with popcorn until well combined.
- Scoop 3/4 cup popcorn mixture into ball. Repeat with remaining mixture to make eight balls. Place each ball in paper muffin cup liner.
- Insert one pretzel stick on each side of ball to resemble antlers, attach two eyeball candies for “eyes” and one red chocolate candy for “nose.” Repeat with remaining balls. Let cool completely.
Holiday Popcorn Snowmen
Yield: 5 snowmen
- 1 package (1 pound) large marshmallows
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, plus additional for greasing hands
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 10 cups popped popcorn
- sprinkles (optional)
- licorice (optional)
- gum drops (optional)
- cinnamon candies (optional)
- In large saucepan, melt marshmallows and 1/4 cup butter. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let stand 5 minutes.
- Pour marshmallow mixture over popcorn and stir. Butter hands well and form into balls.
- Decorate with sprinkles, licorice, gum drops and cinnamon candies, if desired.
(Family Features) Whether you're gathering the neighborhood kids for a backyard celebration or going on a weekend hike with family, you can make fueling up for the fun easy with snacks the whole family can enjoy.
Everyone loves popcorn, and this tasty treat is easy to incorporate into a wide range of nibbles perfect for summer. Popcorn's wholesome taste makes it an excellent partner to ingredients that tease your taste buds with flavors that are sweet, salty or even zesty.
Creating a delicious trail mix to carry on an adventurous hike is a cinch when you combine fresh popcorn with your favorite sweet dried fruits and lightly salted nuts. Or, if you're staying closer to home, use popcorn treats as a more nutritious alternative to traditional party desserts.
Each of these recipes features freshly popped popcorn paired with common ingredients that appeal to both kids and adults for summery snacks that are big on both flavor and fun.
For more creative recipes that give some pop to your summer, visit www.popcorn.org.
Sweet N Salty Popcorn Pretzel Sticks
Yield: 6 sticks
- 6 tablespoons peanut butter
- 6 large pretzel rods
- 3 cups popped popcorn
- Sugar sprinkles
- 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
- Spread 1 tablespoon of peanut butter over each pretzel, leaving a two-inch "handle" without peanut butter.
- Press and roll popcorn onto peanut butter to coat. Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles.
- For optional chocolate drizzle, place chocolate chips in small sealable plastic bag and seal. Microwave 30 seconds or until chocolate is melted. Clip small corner from bag and squeeze to drizzle chocolate over popcorn.
- Sprinkle with additional sugar sprinkles. Allow chocolate to harden before serving.
Chili Lime Popcorn Snack Mix
Yield: 1 quart
- 1 quart popped popcorn
- 1 teaspoon brewer's yeast powder
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Spread popcorn on baking sheet. Sprinkle yeast powder, lime juice, chili powder and salt over popcorn.
- Heat about seven minutes and toss just before serving. Serve warm.
Blueberry & Pomegranate Power Bars
Yield: 12 bars
- 8 cups popped popcorn
- 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup dried blueberries
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/2 cup toasted and coarsely chopped whole natural almonds
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 6 ounces melted bittersweet chocolate
- Line 13-by-9-inch pan with foil; spray with cooking spray.
- Combine popcorn, oats, blueberries, pomegranate seeds and almonds in large bowl.
- Combine honey, brown sugar and butter in small saucepan. Cook over low heat to boiling; boil two minutes. Pour over popcorn mixture and mix thoroughly.
- Using damp hands, press mixture firmly into prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm, about two hours. Cut into 12 bars.
- Dip bottoms of bars into melted chocolate. Place on wax paper-lined pan. Store in tight covered container in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Popcorn Trail Mix
Yield: 5 cups
- 1 quart popped popcorn (air popped)
- 6 ounces diced, dried fruit (apricots, apples, etc.)
- 8 ounces raisins
- Place freshly popped popcorn in large bowl. Add diced fruit and raisins. Toss popcorn and fruit until combined thoroughly.
Note: Add whatever fixings your family enjoys: dried fruits, seeds, nuts, etc.
Yield: 20 pieces
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 10 cups freshly popped popcorn
- 1 package (10 1/2 ounces) miniature marshmallows
- 2 cups mini graham cookies (teddy bears)
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in medium saucepan. Cook over high heat for five minutes; remove from heat and stir in baking soda.
- Combine popcorn and marshmallows in large bowl. Pour sugar mixture over popcorn to coat.
- Gently stir in graham cookies and chocolate chips.
- Spread mixture evenly into greased 15-by-10-inch pan. Let cool completely, then break into pieces. Store in airtight container.
Source: The Popcorn Board
Want your kids to acquire healthy eating habits? Start them cooking! Taking part in snack and meal preparation encourages children to develop sound food choices and may even persuade a picky eater to try new tastes. Some of the best items for kids to work with can be found at the supermarket deli counter. Boar’s Head, makers of premium deli products, offers an assortment of fine meats and cheeses for young chefs to make some of their favorite treats. Plus Boar’s Head products meet many of a child’s daily nutritional needs.
Pretzel Stick Roll Ups
- 2 slices Boar’s Head Gold Label Swiss Cheese
- 2 slices Boar’s Head Maple Honey Ham
- 1 slice Boar’s Head American Cheese
- 1 slice Boar’s Head Bologna
- Small pretzel sticks (There are a number of varieties available — make sure to select a sturdy kind.)
- On clean work surface (plastic cutting board or plate will do), lay out cheese slices. Place 1 ham slice on each Swiss cheese slice and bologna on American cheese. Starting at one end, roll up each pair of slices and skewer with pretzel stick. (Grownup helper may need to assist small hands with pretzel spearing.)
Yield: 3 roll ups
Source: Boar's Head