It was 1996. My parents and I were renting a nineteenth century log cabin while our new house was under construction. The winter was long (remember the blizzard of ’96?) and we were running out of patience for rustic living. Maybe it was cabin fever, maybe it was boredom, but one day my dad decided we were going to make Chex Mix. We’d never made the Original Party Mix from scratch and we were overdue for that snacking rite of passage. After acquiring the necessary cereals, we measured, we stirred, and we spread the mess over every cookie sheet we could find. As the mix baked, the cabin filled with toasty, savory spice. The result was buttery, extra crunchy, and irresistibly salty. We were so proud of The Product (as my dad called it) and ourselves.
And we never made it again. Were we afraid to meet our own standards? Maybe. Were we consumed by other snacks of life? Perhaps. There was no real reason; it just didn’t happen again.
Now it’s 2014. While my new house in Illinois is being finished, I’ve been staying in the house my parents built 18 years ago. Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s boredom, but the other day, my dad and I decided to make Chex Mix. We were wowed like it was 1996. “Perfection.” “Nirvana.” “Do we have enough cereal to make another batch?”
This time we won’t be waiting another 18 years.
Today’s recipe is the first in our new “one for the weekend” series. Every Friday, we’ll share a short post intended to send you off for the weekend with something snacky, sweet, fresh, or just plain tasty. Enjoy!
This version is adapted from the original recipe on the Chex box, the Pioneer Woman, and my dad’s very strong views on snack mix. He insists on Cheerios and pretzel sticks because they are, as he says, “nuts and bolts!” There are no mixed nuts, only cocktail peanuts, what he calls “the greasy ones.” Tabasco is for flavor only, not for heat. Bagel chips, fresh garlic, or cheese crackers? Not on his watch. He might be picky, but the man knows a good snack mix.
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Wheat Chex
3 cups Corn Chex
1 cup Cheerios
1 cup pretzel sticks
1.5 cups cocktail peanuts
1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)
2.5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1.5 teaspoons seasoned salt (like Lawry’s)
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 to 5 shakes of Tabasco
Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 250° F.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a very large bowl, mix the cereals, nuts, and pretzels.
In a microwaveable small bowl, add butter, Worcestershire, seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and Tabasco. Microwave until the butter is melted (approximately 1 minute). Stir the melted mixture until evenly combined.
Slowly drizzle the melted spice butter over the cereal mixture, being sure to stir the cereal constantly and gently. Stir until the cereal is evenly coated.
Divide the buttered cereal mixture evenly between the two parchment-lined cookie sheets and spread to form an even layer.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Rotate pans between upper and lower racks after 45 minutes.
Allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.