Admit it. You see that metal holiday tin on the kitchen counter and you can’t wait to see what’s inside. Pry off the lid, and you get really excited when it’s homemade Chex Mix.
Call it Texas Trash, Nuts n’ Bolts or Party Mix, this savory snack is one of the hallmarks of the holidays. When it’s made fresh, it’s one of the most addictive snacks around.
Of course, it’s easier to buy, but it tastes nothing like the real deal. And also, where’s the fun in that? (It’s like when everyone stopped making homemade Rice Krispy treats because they were suddenly on the market.) Honestly, the flavors are so much better when you make it yourself. Making it fresh also allows you to get creative and tweak the seasonings. Use fresh ingredients, like fresh garlic and citrus zest. Add liquid seafood boil for a different kind of heat and intensity. Combine spices like cumin, chili powder, allspice and cinnamon for something warm and earthy.
Like many of you, I have a family recipe for the stuff that is so full of bad ingredients it will make your head spin. My mother-in-law, a Louisiana native, learned to make what she called “Texas Trash” while a young bride in Mississippi. She gave me the recipe when my husband and I were dating, and I could only marvel at the amount of salt and fat. Basically, the proportions were a pound of butter and a cup of vegetable oil to four boxes of cereal (she used a combination of Rice Chex, Kix and Cheerios), a couple bags of pretzels and three pounds of nuts. The spice mixture included 1 teaspoon celery salt, 2 ½ tablespoons allspice, 1 teaspoon red pepper, ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce, 2 ½ teaspoons garlic powder and a small can of Accent, which as you probably know, is pretty much straight up MSG and the reason we could never stop eating the stuff.
When I made some Texas Trash this week, I veered from the original formula, basically winging it with less fat and no Accent. You get plenty of salt if you use salted butter, and garlic salt instead of garlic powder. The Worcestershire sauce is plenty salty, and the celery salt adds some, too.
The basic method of any roasted party mix is to first melt the butter, to which you add the spices. Once that’s combined, pour it over the cereals, pretzels and nuts. Bake for about an hour in a 250 degree oven. Let cool, then place in metal holiday tins.
Enjoy! And happy holidays!
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.