College students are gearing up for autumn around campuses—near and far. While the year might have started with excitement and anticipation, this month can bring on bouts of homesickness as the reality of living away from home and the pressures of college life settle into reality.
Let’s lift some spirits with care packages full of Halloween-themed treats. This collection of ready-made snacks, recipes and kitchen items is the perfect way to build a healthy(ish) care package—ideal for students or anyone who could use a little fall-time pick-me-up.
The General Store of Minnetonka has plenty of locally-sourced goodies from businesses across Minnesota and is the perfect place to start gathering treats. While you’re there or visiting online, find these pack-worthy items:
Brainstorm Bakery Granola: Made in Ely, Minnesota, the gluten-free granola comes in two varieties. The Original Crapola is a delicious mix of apples, organic grains, nuts and honey (for some sweetness!). For a nut-free cereal, try Number Two, the bakery’s cranberry-orange granola with chia seeds, oats, flax seeds and other super foods. ($6.95)
Patti’s Roasted Nuts: Made in Minneapolis, Patti started her business making small batches of granola and roasted nuts for her friends. Now sold in stores and farmers markets across the Metro, her recipes keep her original homemade flavor. Try the rosemary or maple cinnamon nuts. Both recipes include a hint of cayenne pepper and a blend of cashews, walnuts, almonds and pecans. ($9.95/$14.95)
Eden Apples Dried Apples: Made from Jordan’s Minnesota Harvest Apple Orchard fruit, these are a perfectly-crispy treat for autumn. A simple mix of fresh fruit and cinnamon, these sweets taste like apple pie in a bag. ($9.95)
Mike and Jen’s Cocoa Mix: A balance of rich and sweet chocolate, this mix (packaged in Duluth) is as simple as it is delicious. Just add water, and enjoy a cozy treat. For a twist, add the mix to a cup of coffee for a homemade mocha. ($12.95)
Shopping for an amateur chef? Try these kitchen accessories and ready-to-make meals from Minnesota Makers in Excelsior:
The Secret Garden Soup Mixes: What started as a home garden is now a bustling kitchen in Park Rapids. The Secret Garden sells soup and bread mixes, as well as an array of preserves, salad dressings and homemade spices. Try the Cream of Wild Rice or Potato Chowder soup mixes at Minnesota Makers. Packages include all the necessary dry ingredients and an easy-to-follow recipe. ($6/Potato Chowder; $8 Cream of Wild Rice)
Cindy Lindgren’s Swedish Dish Cloths and Stickers: These are colorful and sustainable alternatives to kitchen sponges and paper towels and are ideal for dorm or apartment clean ups. Made from 70 percent cotton and 30 percent wood pulp, these cloths are absorbent, reusable and fully biodegradable. The designs are inspired by Scandinavian imagery, local landmarks, wildlife and a Craftsman Nouveau style. Check out the gnome, loon and Paul Bunyan designs. If your student loves decorating his/her laptop or water bottle, also look for the designs on vinyl stickers through Minnesota Makers’ website. ($7/dish cloth; $3/sticker)
Home Sweet Homemade
Halloween just isn’t the same without some mini candy bars. Why not make your own confections because who doesn’t love a little taste of home? These familiar treats will taste even sweeter coming from your kitchen.
Peanut Butter Bars
These easy, no-bake bars are the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter—a marriage made in dessert heaven. This recipe makes 20–36 bars—plenty to send to your student with leftovers for you to sample because you have to make sure they taste good. Right?
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbles
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 ½ cups peanut butter
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- 2 cups chocolate chips
Combine first four ingredients in large mixing bowl until well-combined and smooth. Spread evenly into a 9x13 baking dish. Combine ingredients for the topping in a medium glass bowl. Melt in the microwave at minute intervals on 80 percent power. Remove from the microwave, and stir until smooth. (A double boiler can also be used.) Spread on top of the peanut butter bar base, and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the freezer, and cut into individual bars.
Salty Nut Rolls
Since the originals are a Minnesota mainstay and favorite, these little nuggets are a perfect nod to home. With a tasty blend of salt and sweet, these treats are ideal for study breaks and late-night cravings.
- 2 lbs. powdered sugar
- 2/3 cups corn syrup
- 2/3 cups butter, melted
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 12 oz. peanut butter chips
- 2/3 cups corn syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ cup margarine
Mix the center ingredients, and knead them well. Prepare a baking sheet with wax paper. Roll the mixture into logs, and place them onto the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet into the freezer. Melt the caramel ingredients together in the microwave. Drop the frozen logs into the caramel, and roll them in salted peanuts.
Vegan Three Musketeers Bars
For a nut-free and vegan option, try these yummy bars from namelymarly.com. The recipe makes 24 bite-sized bars that keep in the freezer for up to two months, but do we really think they’ll last that long?
- 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
- 14 oz. coconut whipping cream, chilled overnight
- 1 Tbsp maca powder
- 2 cups dairy-free, semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
To make the centers: Line a 9x9 baking pan with wax paper. In a medium bowl, heat chocolate chips in the microwave for about a minute. Leave the bowl in the microwave and cover slightly with a plate. Let it sit for 1 to 2 minutes; stir to combine the melted chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly. Pour the coconut whipping cream into a new bowl, and whip on high for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then whip for another 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the maca powder and cooled chocolate, then beat until well combined and fluffy, 30 to 60 seconds. Spread the chocolate mixture evenly into the prepared pan and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Remove the chocolate mixture from the pan, and cut into squares. Return the squares to the freezer for another 30 minutes.
To coat them in chocolate: Melt 2 cups of chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and stir until smooth. Line a baking tray with wax paper. Dip the frozen chocolate squares into the melted chocolate, and place them on the tray. Place the tray into the refrigerator or freezer, and allow the bars to set.