Froot Loop Clusters

Could it get any more simple? Melt and stir!

I have loved this ‘recipe’ since I was a little girl. A distant relative would bring these to our annual Fourth of July reunion and I would wait anxiously by the table to grab one as soon as they were put out. I think I was drawn to the beautiful muted colors of the irregular shaped clusters. They stood out among the dozens of flat colorless cookies and brown bars/brownies. While it was my eyes that first drew me to these beautiful little gems, it was my tastebuds that kept me coming back for more.

Now that I am an adult, I not only love the flavor but how easy and quick they are to make. A great thing about these is that there is NO baking required making these the perfect treat to whip up on a hot and humid day (much like today). Warning, these are sweet (as you may expect with sugared cereal as the main ingredient) so make your clusters small. (You can always have more than one or in my case five, ha ha) and don’t send me your dentist bill.

Because these have “Fruit” in the title, you can feel good about consuming large quantities of these (who cares if ‘fruit’ is spelled in a less than conventional way?? ha ha). You have to get your daily serving of fruit in some how! 

I rate this snack a 9 (they may be too sweet for some)

Froot Loop Clusters
16 oz. White Chocolate chips or Almond Bark (or a mixture of the two)
1 TBS shortening (for melting if using white chocolate chips)
5-7 cups Froot Loops Cereal
*If you want you could stir in nuts , M&M’s or mini marshmallows as well, but I like these without the extras, just like I remember. Sweet and Simple

Line a large baking sheet with Wax Paper or Parchment Paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl pour in 5 cups of Froot Loops cereal, set aside.
In a microwave safe bowl place the white chocolate chips (and shortening) and/or almond bark
Melt for 1 minute and then stir. Continue to melt in 20 second intervals, stirring after each interval until the chocolate/bark is smooth.

Carefully pour the melted chocolate into the bowl of cereal and fold to combine.
Add additional cereal 1/2 cup at a time and fold into the mixture using a rubber scraper (spatula) until the cereal is well coated.

*You may not use all of the cereal. It depends on how well coated you want your cereal clusters.
Make sure they are coated enough to stay in a cluster.

Carefully spoon mixture onto prepared baking sheet into tablespoon-sized clusters.
Allow to cool completely on counter or in fridge.
Once cooled and completely set store in airtight container in a cool dry place.


Peanut Butter Balls

This recipe once again combines two of my all time favorite flavors: Peanut Butter and chocolate. This is a ‘recipe’ that I have used for years. I don’t really measure anymore, just ‘eye ball’ the measurements and go by the texture and taste (yum!!) of the dough. Of course I taste test the finished produt as well, check out the teeth marks in the picture below!

What makes this recipe great is there is NO baking required and instant satisfaction! Less than half of the dough is usually made into Peanut Butter balls because it ends up in my tummy while I am mixing all of the ingredients together! I want to put out a quality treat and feel it is my responsibility to taste test my goodies to ensure a quality product. It is a cross that I happily bear!

I made these to bring to a small party of friends and family because I did not feel like heating up the oven making a baked good. This is a recipe that can be made in no time but is a little messy depending how good you are at dipping the balls into chocolate. Either way, these Peanut Butter balls are great but be warned, they are very sweet so make them small. I used creamy peanut butter but crunchy would work fine and add another textural dimension. As is, the Rice Krispies cereal provides a slight crispness that does not distract from the smooth sweet peanut butter texture of the filling.

I dipped these into a mixture of melted chocolate consisting of 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate, 1 cup milk chocolate chips but feel free to use any chocolate combination you prefer. After dipping in chocolate I decided to melt some white chocolate and drizzle over the top to create a more ‘eye catching’ finished product since these were being served to friends. These were devoured very quickly and received rave reviews.

I rate these treats a 9

Peanut Butter Balls
6 TBS butter, softened
2 cups peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar (sift after measuring)
3 cups Rice Krispies

2-4 TBS paraffin wax, finely chopped (you can use shortening as well to thin chocolate and make shiny)
3-4 cups chococolate chips
1 cup white chocolate, melted (for accent, optional)
**Depending how big you make the balls and how many you make, you may need to melt additional chocolate for dipping

Line a large (or several small) baking sheet with Wax paper.
In a large mixing bowl stir together butter and peanut butter.
Stir in vanilla.
In a large bowl sift the 2 cups powdered sugar and stir in Rice Krispies.
Slowly add the sugar/cereal mixture to the PB mixture. Fold in using a spoon until incorporated.
You may need to use your hands to mix everything well. (If the mixture seems too sticky, add a little more powdered sugar. If it seems dry, add a little more Peanut butter)
Take about 1 TBS of dough and roll into balls using your hands. Work in with hands until it will form balls.
Place balls onto wax paper lined sheet. When finished, place balls (still on the wax paper baking sheet) into the fridge to chill. (this makes dipping into chocolate easier) (I chilled mine for about 3o minutes)

While the Peanut Butter balls chill, place chocolate chips and wax into a mini crockpot and turn to low. Cover.
Stir occasionally until all of the wax and chocolate is melted. (You can add a TBS of Shortening, stirring until melted to thin the chocolate for easier dipping if needed)

*Can melt by placing chocolate and wax into a heat safe glass or metal bowl over a pot of simmering water, Stir until chocolate and wax are melted. Watch carefully so water does not get into bowl (chocolate will seize) or that the boiling water does not touch the bottom of the bowl or the chocolate may burn. Google for more information.

Remove the balls from the fridge. Carefully dip into melted chocolate with using a toothpick or fork. Tap off excess chocolate and place back on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle with melted white chocolate if desired.
When finished return balls to fridge to set and cool. Store in fridge.

Hidden Valley Ranch Crackers

While I love sweet treats, as demonstrated by the majority of the recipes in my blog, every now and then I crave something savory or salty to munch on. These crackers are perfect for those times when you need a little something to satisfy your hunger.
I love to serve these crackers as a snack when I have company but these are also the perfect addition to a bowl of chili, chicken noodle soup, creamy tomato soup or as a side with a sandwich or panini instead of potato chips. I am not sure they are healthier than potato chips but they are a nice change of pace.
I rate this snack a 9
Hidden Valley Ranch Crackers
16 oz. Oyster Crackers (I used about 5 cups)
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1 1oz. package Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Mix
1/4 tsp dried Dill (my addition)
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder (my addition)

Preheat oven to 250.
In a very large bowl stir together oil, seasoning mix, dill weed and garlic powder. Add crackers and gently toss to evenly coat.
Spread crackers evenly on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring gently after 10 minutes to ensure even browning.
Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet. Store in air tight container.

Bacon Pinwheels

Cream cheese Bacon pinwheels that is!

When I saw these over on MrsPresley’s blog. I knew I had to try them. The recipe comes from Kraft which means these are simple, tasty and use ingredients you probably already have on hand. These pinwheels bake up fluffy with an Ooey-Gooey-Creamy -Cheesy-Bacony swirl in between flaky layers of crescent rolls. We loved that these took only minutes to prep and bake. Perfect for snacking on while watching the big game.

I rate this recipe an 8

Bacon Appetizer Crescents (or Bacon Pinwheels)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened (I used 5oz. of 1/3 less fat Neufatel cheese)
8 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese)
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese (not in original recipe)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (I used 3 tsp dried parsley flakes)
1 Tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls (I used one 10.1 oz can)

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Spray a baking sheet with PAM cooking spray.

Mix cream cheese, bacon, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese, onions, parsley, crushed red pepper flakes and milk until well blended; set aside.
Take two triangular pieces of dough and press the perforations together to seal and create a rectangle. If you are using the 8 oz. cans of dough, divide the cream cheese mixture into 4 equal parts and spread 1/4th of the mixture evenly on the dough. If you are using the larger cans of dough, divide the cream cheese mixture into 6 equal parts and evenly spread 1/6th of the mixture on the dough.

Cut the dough lengthwise into 4 equal pieces, approximately 1/2 to 3/4-inches wide (I cut mine into 1/2 inch pieces). Roll the dough up into a pinwheel and place flat on prepared baking sheet.
Bake according to package directions or until golden in color.

Caramel Nut Snack Mix

Ok, this is MY crack! I love this snack mix and have eaten myself sick off of it because I have NO self control. This is a recipe I made up to take to a family reunion based on what I had on hand about two months ago.Needless to say everyone loved it and I have made it about six times since then and shamefully admit have eaten the majority of during my late night cravings for something sweet and a tad salty. The recipe can be easily halved as well for those with little will power like me, but trust me, you will just be making another batch that much sooner!
This mix is very sweet indeed and is not for those who do not appreciate the wonderful goodness that is anything coated in a carmel/toffee type mixture. The snack mix bakes up golden and the carmel coating hardens forming the perfect coating on the nuts and cereal. The dash of salt and the salt from the nuts compliment the sweetness of the coating beautifully. While the toasting of the pecans and almonds is optional, I would highly recommend it. Toasting the nuts brings out a totally different and deeper flavor that adds a whole new dimension to any recipe you add them to.
No true snack mix (in my opinion) is complete without some chocolate and M&M’s fill this requirement! I may try adding pretzel sticks to the cereal/nut mixture before baking next time and maybe tossing in some Reese’s pieces or chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter cups with the M&M’s next time. Peanut Butter M&M’s would be great as well. Heck, the possibilities are endless, mix and match to suit your tastes.
Caramel Nut Snack Mix
12 cups Crispex Cereal (Chex would work as well)
3/4 cup light corn syrup (Karo is my fave)
1 stick of butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
Dash of salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3/4 cup almonds, toasted
3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts
1 cup M&M candies (I used plain and peanut)
Preheat oven to 250.
Line a very large roasting pan (or two rimmed cookie sheets) with quick release foil and lightly spray with PAM.
In a medium size sauce pan over low/medium low heat, stir together the syrup, butter and brown sugar. Stir constantly until melted and sugar has disolved.
Place the cereal, pecans, almonds and honey roasted nuts into the prepared roasting pan or cookie sheets. Carefully pour the brown sugar mixture over the cereal and nuts. Use a butter spatula to toss and coat the cereal and nuts completely with the brown sugar mixture.
Evenly sprinkle lightly with salt.
Bake for 45 minutes removing every 10 mintues to gently toss with a buttered pair of tongs to ensure even baking/browning.
While snack mix is baking, spread a few large sheets of parchment paper on counter. After mixture has finished baking add the M&M candies and stir to combine. Turn mixture out onto parchment making sure to spread out to prevent large clumps to cool.
While mixture is cooling, gently toss every 15 minutes to prevent further clumping together, breaking up clumps as needed. Store in airtight container.

Puppy Chow

If dogs eat this good I wanna be a Poodle in my next life!
Now we all know that this recipe isn’t really for dogs as they are not to have chocolate. I am not sure where the title of this addictive treat comes from, but it is known as “Puppy Chow” in my family. (I have heard others call it “White Trash Mix” as well). Whatever you choose to call it, the fact remains, this quick and easy snack is addictively DELISH!
I love cereal and any recipe that involves Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Cereal has to be a winner in my book. Nothing is better than licking the white sugary goodness off of your fingertips after you are finished enjoying this addictive treat.
The recipe can be easily halved and keeps for days (if it lasts that long) in an airtight container kept at room temp or in the fridge during these hot months.
Puppy Chow
9 cups Crispex Cereal (Chex would work as well)
2/3 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
4 TBS butter
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Into large mixing bowl, measure the cereal and set aside. In medium saucepan, combine the peanut butter, butter and chocolate chips. Heat over low heat stiring frequently until all of the mixtuere is melted and creamy. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Evenly pour mixture over cereal and toss to coat completely. In a huge ziplock bag place half of the powdered sugar mixture. Toss half of the chocolate covered cereal to the bag and shake to coat. Spread coated cereal on waxed paper covered baking sheet or counter. Repeat with remaining sugar and cereal. Once mixture has cooled, store in tupperware container in fridge to keep fresh.