How to Make a Holiday Snack Board

Featuring Recipes from Manitoba Chicken Producers

This post was written in a paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are my own and I only promote products and services that I use and love.

Snack boards aren’t just for large gatherings! We like to enjoy them for lunch or dinner regularly. Whether you’re wrapping gifts solo or having dinner with your family, pulling a snack board together for any occasion is doable with these tips.

For this board, I scrolled the Appetizer & Snacks section of Manitoba Chicken’s new website for some make-ahead appetizers. 

My favorite part about this website is the categories in the Recipes section.  You can search recipes by type, cut, preparation and cuisine.   Also, it`s educational.  You can find absolutely anything you want to know about Manitoba Chicken Producers, from farming to food safety in the following sections:

  • Nutrition
  • Cooking School
  • Blog
  • At the Farm
  • Our Industry
  • About Us

Store-bought VS Homemade

Using a combination of homemade and store-bought ingredients will help you impress without the stress. Choosing make-ahead appetizers saves you some prep time before you assemble your board.

The Appetizer & Snacks section of the website has an assortment of fresh, make-ahead and freezer friendly recipes to choose from. Think of your main homemade ingredients as the anchors for your board, then fill in with store-bought ingredients to complete the look.

This time, I chose the BBQ Chicken Bacon Bites (assemble ahead of time) and the Chicken Empanadas (make-ahead and freeze) to anchor the board.

How to add interest to your snack board

You can try to stick to a particular color scheme or create a theme for your board, but I honestly think the best part about making a snack board, is using whatever you want and have in the house.  I like to focus on using different textures to make the board visually appealing.

Here are a few specific ways to add interest to your board and how they were used in this board.

Use a couple items from each of these categories:

  • Protein (BBQ Chicken Bacon Bites, Chicken Empanadas)
  • Cheeses & Spreads (Fresh ricotta, sliced mozzarella, habanero black pepper cheese, honeycomb, tzatziki)
  • Fresh fruits & Vegetables (cucumbers, apples, pomegranate)
  • Breads, crackers, pretzels (Whole Wheat Crackers, rustic seed & fruit crackers, beet chips)
  • Something pickled (olives)
  • Filler (to fill in the small gaps around the board)
    • Fresh herbs (dill & parsley)
    • Dried fruit (dried cranberries)
    • Nuts
    • Candy or chocolate

Assembling your snack board

Assembling your board is the trickiest part. You may have to move some ingredients around once you place them to achieve the look that you want.  The important part is to have fun!

  • Place crisp ingredients like crackers and chips on the board just before serving, to prevent them from getting soggy.
  • Contain dips, spreads and pickled items in small bowls.
  • Choose appetizers that can be served warm or at room temperature to prevent heat transfer to the rest of the board components.

Making your snack board ahead of time

If you want to assemble most of your board ahead of time, there are a few ways that you can do this. The first way is to get all your components ready, so that you can assemble the board quickly.

  • Prepare dips and spread and fill bowls.
  • Prepare hot appetizers that need to be cooked
  • Chop and slice fruits, vegetables and cheeses

The second way is to place most of the fresh ingredients on the board and to store it in the fridge.  Just before serving, add the hot appetizers and dry components to the board.

Here are some other great appetizers from manitobachicken.ca that would work well on a snack board.

Prep ahead and assemble before serving

Make-ahead and freeze

Which one will you try first?  Head to manitobachicken.ca to check out their new website and find a new recipe to add to your next snack board.

Crispy Parmesan Chicken Strips – Cooking with kids

This is part two of a two-part series and a paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are my own and I only promote products that I use and love.

If you caught part one of last month’s Cooking with Kids post, we made Bruschetta chicken from the new Now You’re Cooking with Manitoba Chicken Youth Education Booklet.  Although my daughter had fun making that recipe, her request when we were done was to “just make chicken strips next time.” So that’s exactly what we did.

We made the Crispy Parmesan Chicken Strips, also from the Now You’re Cooking with Manitoba Chicken Youth Education Booklet.  The recipe comes together quickly (even quicker if you apply some meal prep strategies that I will fill you in on.) and is super simple for the kids to help with.

If you’re interested in receiving your own copy of this brand-new resource, contact Manitoba Chicken Producers at: consumerrelations@chicken.mb.ca Please provide your name and mailing address and they will be happy to send you one.

I knew that convincing my little helper to eat the chicken strips wasn’t going to be a challenge, so we focused on working together, learning and having fun.  I did however run into a few obstacles when she realized that we weren’t making “the ones we usually have.”

Tip 1: Use cooking with your kids as an opportunity to learn and develop skills

We started by reading the recipe.  What better way to develop reading skills than with an authentic situation where they can apply their reading strategies?  It went something like this:

“Preheat oven to 425 F…What’s F?” Cue an additional learning opportunity that we applied later when we checked the temperature of the cooked chicken strips using our meat thermometer.

Food safety tip: The internal temperature of cooked chicken should read 165°F.

“1/2 cup mayo…Ewww I hate mayo!”  But guess what? The mayo is the best part of this recipe, because it does two things: 1) Allows the breading to stick to the chicken, 2) Crisps up the chicken strips without any additional oil or butter.  I took the opportunity to explain that mayo is made with eggs, and since we usually use eggs for chicken fingers, this time we are going to try eggs in a different way. She was sold and we moved on.

Tip 2: Teach about food safety

Before we got started, we washed our hands and talked about why that is important.  We also talked about how poultry and other meat can make you sick if it isn’t cooked so that we shouldn’t, for example, sample the breading while we’re making the chicken fingers. (This was important to mention because it almost happened!)  When we were finished, we made sure to put everything that came in contact with chicken in the dishwasher and used soap, water and antibacterial spray to clean out the sink and all surfaces, and of course, we washed our hands again.

Tip 3: Make it fun! Let them use all of the tools.

I’m pretty sure what my daughter liked most about making these chicken strips, was using all of the tools.  Whisks, tongs and spatulas are fun for kids so bring them all out, even if it means having a few extra dishes to do afterward. You can save time in other ways, with these meal prep tips.

Meal prep tips for this recipe

Slice, portion and freeze your chicken

When I did last month’s post, I bought a club pack of chicken, used four breasts for the Bruschetta Chicken and sliced the four remaining breasts for the chicken strips and froze them. That is one strategy that will save you at least ten minutes, because you won’t have to slice the chicken or have extra dishes to do.  If you were making this recipe with a new package of chicken, you could also consider cooking the remaining breasts in your slow cooker, shredding them and freezing them for other meals like I did in this Back-to-School Meal Prep post.

Reduce the number of steps in the breading process for the chicken strips

Another time-saver we discovered while making this recipe was to coat all the chicken in the mayo parm mixture, instead of dipping each strip individually.  Combine the ingredients, then pour over the chicken and toss with tongs until all the chicken pieces are coated.  That makes breading a one-step process.  (This is also great for when cooking with kids, because everything seems to take longer.)

Improvise and use what you have on hand

This recipe called for basil, but when I reached for it, I realized that the grocery clerk who assembled my order, had given me mint instead.  We swapped it out and used dill.  You can add any seasonings or spices to these chicken fingers.  Don’t have mayo? Use eggs, or mustard, or milk. Anything that will allow the breading to stick to the chicken. If you choose to use a liquid other than mayo, be sure to brush the breaded strips with butter or spray with canola oil to crisp them up.  No panko? Try corn flakes, breadcrumbs, potato chips or pretzels.  Anything to get that crispy texture.

There are so many great recipes on manitobachicken.ca that you can try with your kids and you can search them by cut or by preparation technique. There are a lot of basic recipes that call for ingredients you most-likely already have on hand under the Kid Friendly section of their recipe page.  You can also check out the chicken section of my recipe index for other great recipes using Manitoba chicken.  

What is your family’s favorite way to enjoy Manitoba chicken? Comment below and let us know!