Friday, December 18, 2015

"This Stuff is Ridiculous" Snack Mix



It's true . . .

This stuff is ridiculous!

It's absolutely perfect and you want to keep eating it to see if the next bite tastes as good as the last bite.

It's crazy thinking, I know.

But we can't seem to stop ourselves with this stuff around!

Matter of fact, I've put it in the pantry so that it's not sitting out in plain sight!

Not that this has helped curb the desire to have "just one bite,"

but maybe it's helped us to not devour the entire snack mix in one day!

This is from a friend of mine in Texas.

She makes this year 'round, I believe.

That would be dangerous too!

She calls it "Maple Munch,"

but we've affectionately renamed it,

"This Stuff is Ridiculous" Snack Mix

2 cups brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 cup Karo Syrup (white corn syrup)
1/2 tsp. vanilla*
1/2 tsp. baking soda
 1 small bag pretzels (I used gluten free and I only used 1/2 of a bag)
1 bag corn chex
2 cups chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1 bag hulless pouffed corn, plain or butter flavored (I find this at Aldi's) **

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil and spray with pam, or use a silpat liner.

In a large bowl, put the pretzels, chex cereal, and hulless puffed corn.

In a sauce pan, add the sugar, butter, and syrup and melt together, stirring often.  Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and baking soda.  Stir in the ingredients to incorporate well.

Pour the caramel ingredients over the ingredients in the bowl and, working quickly, stir together to evenly coat the cereal mixture.

Divide the coated mixture between the 2 baking sheets.

Place in the oven for 30 minutes.  At the end or the time, gently stir the mixture around and return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove the mix from the oven and allow to cool.

Break apart and place in a container for enjoyment.

*I used King Arthur's Vanilla Butternut flavoring.  Maple flavoring could easily be substituted.

**My friend uses the caramel mixture and simply omits the pretzels, nuts, and corn chex and only uses 2 full bags of the hulless puffed corn.

***You may check your local grocery store or Walmart for the puffed corn.

 




Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Brown Sugar, Banana, and Walnuts with Grits



My sweet cherubs . . .

they're spoiled!

Not necessarily spoiled in the way you might think.

They're spoiled in their thoughts about . . .

breakfast!

Yes!

Breakfast!

If they have to eat cereal more than 1 morning, they grumble.

Or, if they have to eat the same thing twice in week, they mope.

For example:

Two days ago, my girl cherub made one of her favorite breakfast wraps.

It had been a l.o.n.g.  time since she had one and she whipped it up for breakfast.

The next morning, we were in a hurry to get out the door, so I made her another breakfast wrap.

Here's how it went:

  • "Mom, what's for breakfast?"
  • "I made you a breakfast wrap, like you made yesterday."
  • "Anoooother wrap."
  • "I'm sorry; I thought  you liked them?"
  • "Yeah, but not day after day."
Really?   . . ."day after day?"

I hardly consider that "day after day!"

They're really good kids:

compliant,

helpful,

obedient,

trust-worthy,

and picky when it comes to breakfast!

They're very happy when the Mr. or I cook a hot breakfast every morning!

With that in mind,

here's today's breakfast option!

Brown Sugar, Banana, and Walnut with Grits 

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
5 TBSP butter, divided
3 TBSP brown sugar
2 bananas, sliced (but not thin)
grits, prepared according to directions for 4

While grits are cooking, prepare the sweet banana topping.

In a skillet, add the chopped walnuts and toast a bit, to bring out their natural flavor.

Add 3 TBSP of the butter and melt in the pan.

Toss in the brown sugar and the sliced bananas.  Stir to coat the bananas and walnuts and melt the brown sugar and incorporate the melted butter.

When the grits have cooked, add the remaining 2 TBSP of butter and stir to melt into the grits.

Scoop warm grits into 4 individual serving bowls and top with the banana mixture.

Enjoy warm.



 




Friday, December 4, 2015

White Chocolate Cherry Crunch



It's the holiday season . . .

and it's time to bake!

Who doesn't love the change of routine that the holiday season brings?

True, it can be crammed pack with shopping,

and decorating,

and wrapping,

and parties.

But it can also be full of laughter,

and family,

and friends,

and memories.

This morning, while the cherubs were busy with school,

I was busy about the house.

Sometimes, when I'm cleaning, I try to think of other things to do.

Today, while I was doing both of those things, I thought about making a little treat.

A treat that would use the white chocolate bark I bought.

3 packages of that stuff!

I had absolutely no idea what I was going to use it for, but I've been busy coming up with solutions!

Today, I melted a package of it and scooped out these little crunchy treats!

I think next time I will add a cup or two of mini marshmallows to the mix!

If don't like something in the recipe, just leave it out and add a little more of something you like!

White Chocolate Cherry Crunch

1 package, 24 oz white almond bark*
2 cups rice chex cereal
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1 cup dried cherries (or craisins)

Melt the bark and and remove from heat.

Add in the remaining ingredients and stir until everything is well coated.

Place a long sheet of wax paper on the counter.

Using a large table spoon, scoop out a descent dollop of mixture onto the wax paper.

Allow the white chocolate bark to set up.

Remove from the wax paper and enjoy!

I was able to scoop 24 treats to serve.

*Almond bark comes in a variety of sizes.  If yours is a little less than 24 oz, that's ok, it might just mean that your coating will be a little thinner.  But that doesn't affect the taste!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Rustic Greek Chicken Salad



Now that the cherubs do their school from home, lunch time is a little more . . .

involved.

You know, for years, I'd send my cherubs off to school with the packed lunch.

A sandwich, a bag of something crunchy, some resemblance of fruit, and a dessert.

They never really complained.

Matter of fact, I never remember hearing a grumble about their lunch.

But now that they're home for lunch, it's like they've forgotten that a sandwich is sufficient!

It's not long after I get the kitchen cleaned up from breakfast, they're asking what's for lunch!

I'm seriously creating 3 meals a day!

Sometimes I just don't have it in me . . .

but today!

Today, was a lunch success!

Using left-over grilled chicken, and a few other ingredients, this lunch hit the lunch win!

I started out just making this little lunch for my girl cherub.

After I tasted it to see if it was seasoned right,

I decided that we would all have it for lunch!

I love that I can just chop and throw the ingredients together, making whatever size portion is needed.

I used a Tuscan Herb olive oil but you can use whatever olive oil you have.

But with oil and vinegar shops popping up everywhere, having a flavored oil is easy and adds effortless creativity to your cooking.

If you don't have an oil and vinegar store in your area, check your grocery store for a flavored option

Rustic Greek Chicken Salad

chopped grilled chicken
chopped tomatoes
thinly sliced onion
rough chopped pitted Kalamata olives
crumbled feta cheese*
drizzle of olive oil
sprinkle of salt
dash of course ground pepper

I varied the size of the chopped ingredients to add visual contrast.

I "rustically" layered all of the ingredients in individual bowls in the order listed and served cold.

*We adore feta cheese, especially great feta cheese!  If you can find feta cheese in the brine, then spring for it!  You'll be amazed at the flavor difference!  We buy Dodoni feta in brine and we can easily find it at Sprouts Market.