Serving up SMILES

Published 10:48 am Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Gathering the entire family around the table for meals or snack time is a great way to stay connected and enjoy time together. You can keep that family time fun by mixing up the menu and preparing quick and tasty meals together.

Here are some easy ways to bring smiles to the table every day:

• Make breakfast together. Whether it’s PB & J French Toast on a weekend morning or topping everyone’s favorite cereal with fruit before school, there are plenty of delicious ways for the entire family to rise and smile. And working together to put some breakfast magic on the table makes it even more special. Kids can spread peanut butter and jelly, wash fruit, set the table or help pour milk and juice.

• Serve something unexpected. Use familiar ingredients in unexpected ways. These recipes, for example, take Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch cereal out of the bowl and into some tasty treats like Creamy Orange-Vanilla Squares or Rainforest Chewy Bars. Made with whole grains, and two unique granolas with real Greek yogurt, it adds a crispy, tangy element the entire family will love. Cereal can also be used in meatloaf and casseroles, and as breading on baked chicken fingers or mozzarella sticks.

• Get creative with snack time. Change up the usual snacks for something different. Chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, yogurt parfaits, or these Caramel Balls are all kid-friendly snacks that little hands can help make.

You can find more smile-worthy recipes at

Caramel Balls

Total Time: 15 minutes

Makes: 7 servings

20 caramels

1 tablespoon water

2 cups Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch cereal, divided

Microwave caramels and water in medium microwavable bowl on high 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until caramels are completely melted.

Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cereal. With hands slightly moistened with cold water, shape cereal mixture into 21 small balls, each about 1 inch in diameter.

Crush remaining 1/2 cup cereal; place in shallow dish. Roll cereal balls in cereal until evenly coated.

Tip: If kids help out in the kitchen, teach them about food safety. In addition to washing hands thoroughly before starting, make sure long hair is pulled back. When shaping food by hand, caution children not to lick their fingers or put their hands in their mouths during preparation.

Rainforest Chewy Bars

Total Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 24 servings

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons butter

1 10-ounce package marshmallows (about 36 marshmallows)

6 cups Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch cereal

1 cup dried apricots, raisins or dried cranberries chopped

1 cup almonds, chopped

1/2 cup sunflower kernels

Microwave honey and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high 1 minute; stir until well blended. Add marshmallows; toss to coat. Microwave 1 1/2 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed; stir until well blended.

Add remaining ingredients; mix well.

Press cereal mixture firmly into greased 13×9-inch pan. Cool. Cut into 24 bars.

PB & J French Toast

Total Time: 25 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

8 slices whole wheat, white or cinnamon raisin bread

1/4 cup peanut butter

3 tablespoons strawberry jam

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

2 1/2 cups Honey Bunches of Oats cereal, crushed

2 cups sliced fresh fruit, such as strawberries and/or bananas

1 tablespoon sifted powdered sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread each of 4 bread slices with 1 tablespoon peanut butter and about 2 teaspoons of jam. Cover with remaining bread slices to make 4 sandwiches.

Break eggs into shallow dish. Add milk and beat with wire whisk for 30 seconds. Place crushed cereal in pie plate. Dip each sandwich into egg mixture, then into cereal, turning to evenly coat both sides. Press cereal gently into bread to secure. Place on lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cut each sandwich diagonally in half; top with fruit. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with syrup.

Creamy Orange-Vanilla Squares

Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Makes: 16 servings

2 cups Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch cereal, divided

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine, melted

1 8-ounce package Neufchatel cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray; set aside. Place 1 3/4 cups cereal in food processor; process until finely crushed. Mix with margarine; press onto bottom of prepared pan. Set aside.

Beat Neufchatel cheese and sugar with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in flour, baking powder, orange peel and juice; pour

over crust.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cereal; press gently into top of dessert to secure.

Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate several hours or until chilled.

Cut into squares to serve. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Special Extra: Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons powdered sugar just before serving.

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