The Season is Upon Us

Good lord, I wrote this, and then we ate the stuff so fast, there was no time!

Ahem, as I was saying…

Hi guys! I must apologize again for my absence – everyone knows that once December hits, any idea of schedule goes out the window. I had this idea to buy my Christmas presents ahead of time, and of course, that didn’t go over well. I ended up at Metrotown last Saturday and I must admit it was a grievous error on my part. I used to love shopping…I wonder what happened…

Today, we’re making Christmas treats, or so I’m going to call them, as I’m getting bored of the standard shortbread or mince tart (although I do possess a weakness for both). The one thing I’ve never made on my own is my mother’s fruitcake. Before you get your knickers in a twist, and cries of “that awful, dry, fruit and nut bread stuff” go up, I promise you that this particular fruitcake is nothing like the grocery store kind.

The only similarity between the two is the fruit content, I suppose. Mum’s is heavy and rich and so packed fulled of candied fruit and nuts that sometimes it seems there isn’t enough batter to hold it all together. It is then wrapped in cheesecloth and soaked in brandy (who can say no to that?!) and left for weeks to let the flavors hang out. My guess is that the alcohol content doesn’t allow it to go bad, or something? Realistically, I don’t care. It’s delicious. I could eat it ANY time, not just at Christmas.

Back to today’s crock pot party. We’re making a snack mix that I will admit has an odd combination of things, but we’re trying it anyway.

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Motley crew of snacks, right? I know. Technically, my recipe has called for some things I wasn’t able to find, such as oyster crackers. I’ve never had these before, so I went to my friend Google and found out that Cheese Nips would do, so here we are. The pretzels were questionable for me as well, as I’m not a big fan, but I chose sticks rather than twists nonetheless. It also called for bagel chips and I didn’t see any in my travels so I chose Twistos – they’re a kind of crustini with flavor. Finally, I picked rice Chex to bring the gluten content down just a touch.

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I’ve mixed all the components (save for the sauce) in the crock pot and grated some parmesan cheese over it. Stir gently.

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Melt some butter and mix in some dry dressing mix – I’ve used ranch for this go round but I think next time I’ll try this Italian one instead. **Update – used Italian the second time and liked it better than the ranch!

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I’ve added some garlic powder as well, but I’m not sure it was necessary as the Twistos are parm-garlic flavored. **Update here, too, because I used Asiago flavored Twistos with the Italian seasoning – yum!

3 hours in the crock pot, and the verdict is as follows:

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Niiiice and crunchy. Couldn’t keep Joshua’s sticky paws out of it, either! Requires wine. Or rum-nog. Your call.

I considered writing a real recipe for this but I’ve done it a few times now and I’ve had success every time, and I have honestly and truthfully used whatever I could find. Any kind of nuts, any kind of cereal (regular Cheerios, Shreddies, honeycombs, even!), some kind of cracker, I have dried chickpeas in that last photo…

Keep in mind, while you’re creating YOUR version of beer-nuts (seriously, it’s good stuff to eat while enjoying alcoholic beverages), that if you use really buttery crackers, for example, that the drying process won’t exactly be the same. I usually check the pot every 45 minutes and give it a stir…and maybe eat a few bits. And by “a few” I mean a large handful.

Don’t stint on the cheese.

Happy New Year!

 

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