Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Staggered, Ongoing Christmas...

I had SUCH a busy semester, that I feel like I'm still constantly behind on everything and always playing catch up. So here we are, looking at New Year's, and I'm not even finished with Christmas gifts yet! I have a whole bunch of friends--both local and distant--who have yet to receive holiday treats from me. And I didn't even take cookies to the neighbors like I have done every year since moving here. *sigh* Well, thank goodness that there are 12 days of Christmas! I pray I'll be finished by Epiphany.

To celebrate my friends at karaoke last night, I made a huge bucket of very special snack mix to take a share. It's based on a recipe from Bon Appetit, but I had to make some substitutions based on the ingredients that I could find locally. For example the recipe called for small whole wheat circles, but who can find such a thing in this town? Also, I could only find Wasabi peas which the recipe warned against, so I swapped out those pea pod crisp thingies. I used mostly cashews instead of peanuts (personal preference), and since I could only find Terra Chips and not Terra Stix, I swapped out veggie straws. But those are basically colored Styrofoam, so next time, I will use the Terra Chips or try to find the Stix in Burlington or order them online.

BA Party Mix
(Source: Bon Appetit)
Yield: 12 cups

4 cups Bugles (original flavor)
3 cups whole wheat sesame pretzel rounds or other small pretzels
2 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
1 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup store-bought roasted green peas (not wasabi flavor)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
12 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoonsWorchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon English mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika plus more for sprinkling
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups Terra Stix

Preheat oven to 250°. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add garlic and gently cook to infuse butter, about five minutes. Strain into a small bowl, pressing to extract garlic juices; discard garlic. Stir in Worcestershire, Dijon mustard, mustard powder, salt, paprika, and pepper. Pour over mixture in bowl and gently toss to coat.
Divide mixture between 2 baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until dry and toasted, about 1 hour. Sprinkle mixture with a few pinches of paprika. Toss and let cool completely on baking sheets (party mix will become crispy as it cools).

Transfer party mix to a large bowl. Add Terra Stix and toss to mix well.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Update (1/1/15): My friends liked this mix so much, that I actually made a third batch! This time, I used mixed nuts and Terra Chips, which added great pops of color. I also pureed the garlic in the butter and added it to the marinade instead of straining it out (NEVER TOO MUCH GARLIC!), and I added the veggie stix (I had a bag left over) to the mix before baking so they soaked up some of the marinade and acually tasted like something in the end. Lastly, I added a big squeeze of sriracha to the marinade to give the snack mix a bit of a kick. These were definite improvements that I would repeat.

In addition to baggies of the special snack mix, I wanted to make mini loaves of the most awesome banana nut bread in Christendom to take to some of my friends at trivia tonight. But I couldn't find any disposable loaf pans at the store. I was perusing the holiday clearance aisles when I spotted some cute silicone baking molds in the shape of little Christmas village houses and churches--and they were 50% off! (There are some perks of procrastinating on your Christmas baking.) Aren't these little cakes just PRECIOUS, especially after a snowstorm of powdered sugar??

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