Attacking the snacks: Homemade junk food

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2012

By Emily Wilder
For the Salisbury Post
“Number 39: Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself.”
In “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” (2009), Michael Pollan, quoted above and author of many popular and thought-provoking books related to making healthy food choices, says we would eat a lot less junk food if we had to make it ourselves. He explains that because sweets, fatty and salty snacks and fried foods are so convenient and often less expensive than actual food, like produce and meats, consumers eat more.
When I first read rule number 39, I took it as a personal challenge to not only make over the junk food items that sometimes wind up in my grocery cart, but to see if I really did eat less because of the labor involved and the lack of convenience.
What I didn’t count on though, was that I actually liked the taste of my homemade junk food better than what I previously purchased in a ready-made box! Combined with the idea that I was eating real food and knew exactly what ingredients went into the recipes (nothing that my grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food, which is also rule number two!), it would have been very easy to eat much more of these tasty “junk food” alternatives.
(from, adapted from “Retro Desserts” by Wayne Brachman)
11/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 C. unsweetened Dutch
process cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 to 11/2 C. sugar (see recipe
1/2 C. plus 2 Tbs. (11/4 sticks)
room-temperature, unsalted
1 large egg
1/4 C. (1/2 stick) room-temperature,
unsalted butter
1/4 C. vegetable shortening
2 C. sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
For the cookies: In a food processor or using a mixer, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. On low speed, add butter, then egg. Mix until a dough ball forms. Using rounded teaspoons, place on a greased baking sheet two inches apart, and flatten using fingers or spatula. Bake 8-10 minutes and set aside to cool (I transfer to a wire rack).
For the filling: In a separate bowl, mix butter and shortening and gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Slowly increase the speed until beating on high for 2 minutes until fluffy. Assemble the cookies by spreading a teaspoon amount of creme filling onto the center of a cookie. Place another cookie on top and gently squeeze to flatten out the filling. Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies.
Recipe Note: The author of the blog notes, and I agree, that in order to make these most like store-bought Oreos, you should drastically reduce or eliminate the sugar in the cookie portion of the recipe. The ones you buy are not as sweet in order to complement the sugary filling.
Cheezy Crackers
(from, adapted from “Country Living”)
1 C. all-purpose flour
4 Tbs. cold unsalted butter,
cut into small pieces
1 (7-ounce) bag grated extra-sharp
2% reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder or cayenne
5 Tbs. cold water
Combine flour, butter, cheese, salt, and chili powder/cayenne in a food processor bowl. Pulse until crumbly. Add in water, a tablespoon at a time, until dough comes together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, press into a disc, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick silicone mats, and set aside. Place dough between two pieces of parchment paper, and roll to 1/8-inch thickness. Carefully flip dough in parchment over, and gently peel off the top layer. Using a pizza cutter, trim dough into a rectangle, then cut into about 40 small squares. Carefully transfer squares onto baking sheets, using a spatula if needed. Bake for 20-23 minutes, until crackers are just slightly turning light brown, and are crisp. Quickly cool and taste one for crispness. If they are not crisp, bake just a few minutes longer. Store in an airtight container. If crackers become chewy, place them in a preheated 400-degree oven for 3 to 5 minutes to re-crisp.
Almost Fritos
(adapted from
1/2 C. stone-ground
yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 C. boiling water
1 tsp. canola oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine cornmeal and salt in a mixing bowl, pour in boiling water and stir, add olive oil, and mix until well blended. Drop mixture by small teaspoonfuls onto a very well-greased baking sheet and smooth out as thinly as possible. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.Makes approximately 2 dozen chips.
Twinkling Good Snack Cakes
(adapted from
2 C. white cake flour
11/2 C. granulated sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 C. vegetable oil
3/4 C. cold water
7 unbeaten egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
7 egg whites, beaten
very stiff
2 Tbsl all-purpose flour
1/2 C. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 Tbs. salted butter
4 Tbs. shortening
1/2 C. granulated sugar
dash of salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a small canoe pan (or visit my blog at on what to do if you don’t have one of these!).
Beat all ingredients except beaten egg whites until smooth. Fold in the eggs, one-third at a time, taking care to keep the batter light. Fill each canoe ? full, and back for 8-12 minutes, until golden. Remove and let cool.
Meanwhile, prepare filling. In a sauce pan over medium heat, cook the flour and milk until a paste forms. Stir constantly to prevent browning. Remove from heat, cool, and add vanilla, continuing to stir to prevent a “skin” from forming. In a separate bowl, beat butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add cooled flour/milk mixture and beat 5 minutes on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
To fill snack cakes, slice each one in half and scoop out a bit of cake in each part. Transfer cream in teaspoonfuls to hollowed out area. Replace halves together and chill.
Orange Crush
4 oz seltzer water
4 oz fresh squeezed orange juice or concentrate
Okay, so this one probably doesn’t taste that much like the “real” stuff, but it does use real ingredients and contain a lot less sugar and chemicals! Combine both ingredients and serve chilled.
Chicken Nugget Makeover
(by Tricia Williams and Elisabeth Nelson, via
Makes 26
12 oz. ground chicken
Kosher salt and freshly
ground black pepper
1/4 C. quinoa flakes
1/3 C. golden flaxseed meal
1/3 C. oat flour
1/3 C. arrowroot
3 large egg whites
1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp.
safflower oil
Ingredient note: Golden flaxseed meal and oat flour can be found online at (or in health food stores). Arrowroot, a thickening agent, is available in the spice section of many supermarkets and at natural foods stores and Asian markets.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Place chicken in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Using a 1-oz. melon baller, scoop out 26 portions of chicken, transferring them to prepared baking sheet as you go. Chill chicken on sheet for 20 minutes.
Combine quinoa flakes, flaxseed meal, and flour in a small bowl. Place arrowroot in another small bowl. Whisk egg whites in a medium bowl until foamy. Gently press chicken portions to flatten slightly. Working with 1 portion at a time, roll chicken in arrowroot, dip in egg whites, and dredge in flaxseed mixture. Return chicken to baking sheet.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add chicken nuggets and cook, turning once, until browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer nuggets back to baking sheet and cook in oven for 6 minutes. Serve immediately.
Wheat Thins
(adapted from
11/4 C. whole wheat flour
11/2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt, plus extra
for sprinkling on top
1/4 tsp. paprika
4 Tbs. butter
1/4 C. + 2 tbsp water
sesame seeds for topping (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, paprika, salt). Cut the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Gradually add water until it comes together. If dry, add more water, but do not let dough get sticky.
Split the dough in half, form two balls and flatten. Place each ball between parchment paper and roll out very thin, about 1/16 of an inch. Remove top layer of paper. Use a pizza cutter to divide into 1” squares. Carefully transfer to pan by flipping and removing the bottom layer of paper so that squares fall onto pan. Sprinkle with more salt and sesame seeds if desired. Bake for 8-10 minutes, watching closely to prevent burning. Cool completely. Makes about 64 crackers.
Vegan Hearty ChocolatePudding Cups
(adapted from Nasoya)
1/2 package silken tofu
3/4 C. agave
5 drops of vanilla extract
4 Tbs. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
11/2 tsp. corn starch
Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor. Heat in microwave for 2-2.5 minutes on high. Divide into small containers, refrigerate 3+ hours, and serve.
Oven-FriedPotato Chips
4 russet (baking) potatoes,
peeled and sliced
diagonally 1/8 inch thick
[0xbc] C. butter, melted
Coarse salt to taste
Pat the potatoes dry between paper towels and arrange them in one layer in 2 buttered cookie sheets; if you have a non-stick cooking spray, this works fine for greasing the pans. Brush the potatoes with the butter, bake them in a preheated 500 degrees oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Sprinkle with salt.
ChocolatePB Cups
(adapted from
1 C. all-natural
peanut butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. agave (optional)
1/4 C. crushed graham
12 ounces milk
chocolate chips
1 T bs. coconut oil (optional)
Mix first three ingredients well. Gently fold in cracker crumbs. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips in a microwave-safe dish for about 30 seconds at a time, up to 2 minutes (stir and check frequently). Mix in coconut oil if desired (should be liquified, heat if necessary). Using paper liners or a greased mini-muffin pan, spoon 1-2 teaspoons of chocolate into each cup. Draw the chocolate up the sides of each cup until coated around. Cool in the refrigerator until firm. Spread about a teaspoon of peanut butter onto the chocolate in each cup, but do not fill the cup. Pour remaining chocolate onto the top of each candy and spread it to the edges, if chocolate becomes too hard to work with, reheat in microwave 10 seconds at a time. Refrigerate overnight or until firm.