Tag Archives: homemade christmas gifts

Mixin’ It Up – Snack Mix Trials (And A Miss)

17 Jan

After doing my annual Christmas Cookie Baking this year, I started to think – what if next year I tried something DIFFERENT? And while I of course LOVE baking, I don’t love spending a whole day or multiple days doing it, switching cookie racks every 5 minutes for hours and scooping out a million cookies onto cookie sheets….I want to bake because I LOVE it – not because it is what I always do or have to do at Christmas – so I decided that this year – I want to mix it up. Luckily, I have all year to try out new recipes, and after making this amazing Crock Pot Christmas “Crack” this year, I knew that would be on my “must make” list this upcoming year, as would a few batches of the always amazing Saltine Toffee.

But I also wanted to do something a bit more on the “savory” side, as there are SO MANY sweets at Christmas time that even I get tired of it all sometimes (ME – a sugar FANATIC!). So I decided to make my family the guinea pigs (as they usually are) for this Cheesy Ranch Snack Mix:

Cheesy Ranch Snack Mix
(Recipe courtesy of Plain Chicken)

INGREDIENTS:
8 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp Worceshire sauce
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
4 cups Rice Chex
4 cups Corn Chex
3 cups Cheez Its
2 cups small pretzels
1 (12.5 oz) can redskin peanuts

INSTRUCTIONS:
-Preheat oven to 250ºF.
-In a large bowl (the biggest you have), mix together all ingredients. Place mix on 2 large baking sheets.
-Bake 1 hour – stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool and transfer to an airtight container.

Ok – so – this recipe made a LOT of snack mix. And it smelled SO GOOD while it was baking – just – made my mouth water! The finished product, however – was just nothing to write home about. My family and I found it to be too salty, and too “Worceshire-y”

BUT – I felt that something good could possibly come of this. So – I made it again, but with a few changes:
-Used UNSALTED butter
-Instead of Worceshire – I used Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, about 1 tsp
-I used Wal-Mart brand ranch dip mix this time (instead of the Aldi one I used the first time – not sure if this made any difference at all, but wanted to note it anyway!)

The second batch turned out a LOT better – less salty, and the seasonings were more in balance. I think this one will join the others as a winner for Christmas baking/gifting – as who doesn’t love a nice snack mix alongside their cookies? I know I do!

My Top Picks For Quick, Budget Friendly Homemade Gifting This Holiday Season

6 Dec

I don’t know about you – but my Christmas list is LONG this year. And I’m not talking about my “wish list” either – I am talking about my “To-Do” list – baking, wrapping, cleaning, crafting, movie watching, and of course – SHOPPING – that part of the list is longer than ever! Neighbors, friends, kids, family, teachers, mailmen – there are just so so many people I want to give to – and with the constraints of time and money – I have to be strategic in executing my gift giving – ESPECIALLY this year – as it’s my first Holiday season as a stay at home mom – so we are feeling that budget constraint a bit more this year than in years prior.

So far – I have loved staying at home with my son – it’s awesome to get to spend so much time with him, and I love being the one to pick him up and take him to school every day. Oh – plus – I am home for package deliveries – a big perk this time of year!

Like I said, I want to give gifts to basically everyone I know – and now that we are a “single income family” – that means I have to be more creative in my giving. And what better thing to give than something homemade? Crafts have not always been my forte – BUT – BAKING is my JAM. So I made a list of my top 3 Homemade Gift Ideas – they are easy to make, not too expensive or time consuming, AND they are delicious

IMG_0543

My little elf helping me make some saltine toffee last week

1. Saltine Toffee This little gem is one of those things you can hardly believe tastes so good – because it was SO easy and fast to make. Brown sugar, butter, saltines, and chocolate chips are all it takes to make this, and you can add some festive sprinkles on top too – making it perfect for Holiday gift giving!

IMG_0555

Muddy buddy action shot – the shaking part!

2. Muddy Buddies – I love this because it’s one the kids can help with – they love shaking the sugar onto the treat (which is also known as “puppy chow” or “white trash”) – and you can easily add in some seasonal red and green M&M’s to make this an awesome Christmas treat to share

IMG_2911

Tiny pantsless sous-chef loves helping me make cookie bars

3. Large Batch Cookie Bars These bars are so easy to make – and they are quick too because you don’t have to portion out individual cookies. And one batch makes a TON – a whole cookie sheet’s worth of bars, which can cover several people on your gift list

All gifts are great, but I personally love giving something homemade when I can – I feel like it really shows that you care, and I’m convinced the receiver of the gift can taste the love that was baked right in! Plus – I love teaching my son that gift giving doesn’t have to be big and expensive to still be worthwhile (and delicious!)