When I shared several gift ideas in my Gifts of Good Taste post for our Gluten-Free Holiday event, I mentioned that my husband’s late aunt and uncle only really wanted my snack mix each year for Christmas. It’s not a traditional one, but it’s outstanding. Snack mixes are usually spicy and salty, but this one shown above is a mixture of sweet and salty, plus crunchy, of course (all good snack mixes should be crunchy!). Think of a lovely light-tasting snack mix, but with chunks of caramelized goodness alternating with salty bites. This snack mix has long been a family favorite for holidays and is much enjoyed by friends at our occasional parties as well.
Do you see my special Chex tins? I used them to store snack and party mixes for events or just as a holding area until I transfer the mix to gift containers. The tins are showing a bit of wear after years of use, but I still like them. A very, very long time ago I ordered a tin using Chex proofs of purchase. When it didn’t arrive after several months, General Mills sent me two tins to make up for the delay. I was grateful and since I ended up having two snack mixes that I make all the time, having two tins worked out perfectly. When I’ve made Chex mix–Classic Spicy Snack Mix–I started out using the recipe that’s inside the lid, substituting flavors of Chex cereal that are labeled gluten free, and making a few more adjustments to my family’s liking. (Even the original recipe was a little different from the one that’s commonly referred to as the original today. That seems to happen a lot.)
In the interest of full disclosure (it’s always WYSIWYG here at gfe—i.e., What You See Is What You Get), I’ll remind you that I’ve gotten sick every time that I have eaten the “gluten-free” Chex cereals. Others report the same on gluten-free forums and blogs. It doesn’t seem there are a huge percentage of us who react to products that are less than 20 ppm gluten (any maybe all who react are not vocal on the subject, do not realize they are having a reaction, or doubt their reaction since they are eating a “gluten-free” product), but we exist just the same and those of us who are vocal all cite a gluten reaction. Yes, it’s a gluten reaction. It’s not the flu, it’s not another food issue, etc. I spoke about this reality before when I shared my trip to General Mills, aka Betty Crocker Central. I hope one day I can eat the Chex cereal safely, just so I can enjoy these snack mixes once or twice a year. But, until then, I will still make snack mixes using Chex for those in my family who do not eat gluten free. If you’re eating “gluten-free” Chex and plan to continue to do so or don’t eat gluten free, then you’ll love these recipes.
Sweet and Crunchy Snack Mix
(Click here for a printable version of this recipe and the one below. )
¾ cup butter (or non-dairy equivalent)
¾ cup brown sugar (or palm/coconut sugar)
4 cups Rice Chex
4 cups Corn Chex
About 10 ounces of small pretzels (optional, but preferred)
About 10 ounces of salted, mixed nuts (or your favorite kind; we usually prefer cashews)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut butter into slices and place in large roasting pan. Place in oven for one minute until butter melts. Stir in brown sugar well. Add other ingredients individually, stirring well, but somewhat gently, after each addition. Bake for one hour, stirring well every 15 minutes. Cool.
Shirley’s Notes: If you are not gluten free, you can actually use Crispix, but gluten-free readers, please know that Crispix is not gluten free because it contains barley in the form of malt flavoring. If you know of another square, crispy cereal that you can eat, you can substitute that for the Chex. I usually use Ener-G Foods small pretzel twists because they are just the right size, as well as nice and crunchy. I use one whole bag of their product. I open two brown paper grocery bags, inside surface exposed (one on top of the other), on the counter. I pour the mix onto the bags and spread out for cooling. This method also helps absorb excess butter. I haven’t yet tried it, but I think this mix could be wonderful if made with coconut oil instead of butter. I’m sure it would also work with non-dairy butter equivalents like Earth Balance. This recipe makes a lot so you’ll need to halve it if you don’t have a large roasting pan or similar baking pan to bake the snack mix in. I highly recommend that your baking pan have high sides.
Adapted from A Taste of Home magazine
Classic Spicy Snack Mix
(Click here for a printable version of this recipe and the one above. )
½ cup butter (or non-dairy equivalent)
1 tbsp seasoned salt
3 tbsp gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (adjust to taste; Lea & Perrins brand is gluten free and French’s brand is as well)
¼ to ½ tsp cayenne pepper or chipotle powder (optional; for those who like a little heat)
4 cups Corn Chex cereal
4 cups Rice Chex cereal
About 10 ounces small pretzels (optional, but preferred)
About 10 ounces salted mixed nuts (or your favorite kind; we usually prefer cashews)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut butter into slices and place in large roasting pan. Place in oven for one minute until butter melts. Stir in seasoned salt and Worcestershire sauce. Add other ingredients individually, stirring well, but somewhat gently, after each addition. Bake for one hour, stirring well every 15 minutes. Cool.
Adapted from General Mills Traditional Chex Party Mix, recipe circa 1980
Shirley’s Notes: As noted in the Sweet and Crunchy Snack Mix recipe, I usually use Ener-G Foods small pretzel twists because they are just the right size as well as nice and crunchy. I use one whole bag of their product. I open two grocery bags, inside surface exposed (one on top of the other), on the counter. I pour mix onto the bags and spread out for cooling. This also helps absorb excess butter. I haven’t yet tried it, but I think this mix could be wonderful if made with coconut oil instead of butter. I’m sure it would work with non-dairy butter equivalents like Earth Balance. This recipe makes a lot so you’ll need to halve it if you don’t have a large roasting pan or similar baking pan to bake the snack mix in. I highly recommend that your baking pan have high sides.
You can see from the photos that the containers that held the nuts (as well as other suitable containers, like large Frito “tins”) were used as my gift container. It’s easy to wipe them out well after they are used, store away until needed, then wrap them in wrapping paper (great way to use those small scraps), fill with snack mix, and then top with a label and bow. Glass jars and tins may also be used. (However, the glass jars and bottles in this photo are ones that I used for Honey Butter and Homemade Vanilla Extract.) Children can definitely help with these activities. Don’t obsess over the gift packaging being “just so”. Uncle Charlie will get a much bigger kick out of little Becky’s wrapping efforts than he will out of the package that you wrapped so perfectly. Plus, the snack mix gets eaten pretty quickly and the container often gets tossed just as quickly. Last, even a fairly small container of these snack mixes will be welcomed—either as part of a larger gift package or in a stocking. Everyone likes to have their “own” snack mix even if they don’t receive a big container. Add these snack mixes to your holiday gift giving and you’ll be giving a great homemade gift and making your holiday giving less of a chore!
Update: I’ve submitted this post and the two snack mix recipes to this month’s host of Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free! blog carnival, Carol (Simply … Gluten Free). They are perfect for Carol’s theme of Family Traditions. Go Ahead Honey was created by the lovely Naomi of Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried. Each month a different blogger hosts with a different theme. It’s a fun event that’s been going on for several years now. I even hosted back in July 2009 with the theme, Go Ahead, Make Me A Happy Camper. You can see that roundup here.
Check out all the 25 Days of Christmas posts (to date) below. Some of the giveaways are wrapping up. I extended the Kitchen Table Bakers Cheese Crisps giveaway one more day through midnight tonight; enter here. The Gluten-Free Holiday Giveaway Galore x 10 (a great package with children’s book and goodies to try out) also ends at 10:00 pm tonight; don’t miss that. Finally, read my review of Kelly Brozyna’s new cookbook, The Spunky Coconut Grain-Free Baked Goods & Desserts, and enter the giveaway! But, again, if you’ve missed any of the other posts, take a moment to check them out. There are eye-opening and moving personal stories of celiac/gluten intolerance, travel reviews, conference reviews, product reviews, and, of course, recipes!
Day 1 – Gluten-Free Holiday Giveaway Galore x 10—Giveaway of the new book, Mommy, What is Celiac Disease?, plus gluten-free treats and fun stuff. (Open through Wednesday, December 15.)
Day 6 — Nutiva Products (Coconut, Hemp x 2, & Chia) Review and Giveaway (Giveaway has ended.)
Day 7 — Reindeer Antlers Punch for Share Our Holiday Table (Give to a great charity.)
Day 11 — Kitchen Table Bakers Crisps Review and Giveaway (Open through Wednesday, December 15.)
Day 13 — The Spunky Coconut Grain-Free Baked Goods & Desserts Cookbook Review and Giveaway (Giveaway ends Sunday, December 19.)
Full disclosure: I was one of the gluten-free bloggers who attended the General Mills Gluten-Free Bloggers Summit in November. Most of my expenses were paid for by General Mills for that trip. However, this post is not a paid article. The opinions expressed here are clearly my own.
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