Posts Tagged ‘cereal’

Like speed limits, recipes are merely suggestions for when normal conditions exist. But who defines normal conditions? Maybe you never have a box of Chex cereal (or three) in your cupboard when you have the hankering to make traditional Chex™ Muddy Buddies™ so you have to think outside the box. Why not make puppy chow, also known as people chow, with the traditional peanut butter, chocolate chips, and powdered sugar but use your favorite cereals?

people chow puppy chow

In my most recent batch, I folded in Golden Grahams, Corn Pops, and Corn Chex cereals for an even tastier version of puppy chow. I planned to toss in chow mein noodles but I forgot to add them. Did you know that if you store puppy chow in an airtight container in the refrigerator it stays crunchy longer?

hodgepodge people puppy chow

You might also like Corn Pops Clusters

Corn Pops Clusters

If you have a box of Golden Grahams cereal, reserve four cups to make what will become a fight-over-the-last-piece family favorite: Marshmallow Creme Crunchy Graham Brownies.

marshmallow creme crunchy graham brownies square

Of course there’s always a special version of Chex Mix Like You Mean It.

Staci's version of Chex mix

Hodgepodge Puppy Chow with Corn Pops, Golden Grahams, Chex, and Chow Mein Noodles

9 cups of a combination of your favorite cereals and maybe chow mein noodles

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1½ cups powdered sugar

  1. Put all the cereal in a large bowl.
  2. In a saucepan over medium-low heat melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter together. Stir until melted and creamy. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal and toss until all the cereal is drenched in chocolate.
  5. Using a 2 or 2.5 gallon plastic zipper bag, dump in 1/2 cup powdered sugar, chocolate coated cereal, and top with remaining 1 cup powdered sugar. Seal bag and shake it like a Boggle game until everything is coated with powdered sugar (everything in the bag, not your kitchen).
  6. Spread the cereal mixture onto a sheet of wax paper until cooled.
  7. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

May your recipes feel like suggestions,



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There’s a border battle between two Minnesota housewives and for that reason, I am sworn to secrecy and cannot share my sister’s super-secret-better-than-everyone-else’s Special K bar recipe.

For years, Heidi has been knocking the socks off family and friends with her secret Special K bars. But there’s this one housewife [Lincoln County Housewife] who is unkind (like cyber-bullying unkind) to my sister but that lady’s husband and sons (who are nice and friends of the family) love Heidi’s bars. So she bakes them for the guys but won’t share the recipe with anyone but her sisters. Ah, sweet revenge.

Special K bars

When I told Heidi I was writing this post and assured her that I would not share her secret recipe, she told me a few interesting facts about what happens when she makes a pan (or two) of her famous Special K Bars. [I didn’t use the guys’ names.]

Heidi: When I make these for them, there are rules. They are rationed between each other.

Me: LOL, what? Between Lincoln County Husband and Sons?

Heidi: I don’t really know, but it is wild hog code of rules about who gets bars, when they get bars, what size bars each get. I stay clear!

Me: Oh it’s wild hog rules amongst themselves – they’re not your rules? Is that more than just Lincoln Co. Husband and his boys? Or is it Pipestone Co. Husband and the other guys too? You just toss them a pan and run??

Heidi: Yes. It’s (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male) and (Male).

And the chivalrous “ladies first” rule does not apply.

It gets even better. 

Here’s an excerpt from a message from Lincoln Co. Housewife to my sister:

“Made my husband more bars, huh…I’d like to know what obsession you have about making bars for my men in my family…” blah, blah, blah something about the “fatning” bars… (her spelling not mine) “[Lincoln Co. Husband] told me today that he told you to stop making him bars…you better listen to him…”

Me to Heidi: Did he tell you to stop?

Heidi: Hell no!

Who knew a pan of bars could create such turmoil? We will forever refer to her secret recipe as Special K-iss My Ass Bars.

Special K Bars

(A standard, non revolution provoking recipe)

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup white sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

6 cups Special K cereal (or corn flake cereal)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

In a large saucepan over medium heat bring corn syrup and sugar to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth. Fold in cereal. Press into a buttered or parchment paper-lined 8 x 11½ or 9×13 cake pan.

In a small saucepan melt chocolate and butterscotch chips over low heat, stirring constantly. Once smooth, pour over bars and spread evenly. Cool completely before cutting.

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Come back later this week for: 3 piggies in a breakfast pie.

Super secret sweet wishes,


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It’s not like anything needed to be improved upon with the original marshmallow creme crunch brownies. In addition to being a favorite treat around these parts, the recipe has been one of my most viewed on Random Sweetness — more than forty thousand people in the past few years. I hope at least half of them baked and shared the sticky squares.

But just like Golden Grahams cereal makes sweet no-bake s’mores bars, I had the feeling that using it instead of Rice Krispies would make marshmallow creme crunch brownies even harder to resist.

marshmallow creme crunchy graham brownies

Did it? Well, there are a few globs of marshmallow creme stuck on my camera and there are definitely a few brownies missing from this picture.

marshmallow creme crunchy graham brownies square

Marshmallow creme crunchy graham brownies

For Brownie Layer:

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

6 Tablespoons cocoa

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 cup flour


7 ounce jar marshmallow creme (Sometimes I use most of a 13-ounce jar but they get pretty sticky.)

1 cup creamy peanut butter

12 ounce bag chocolate chips

4 cups Golden Grahams cereal

  1. Beat softened butter on medium for 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat 4 minutes. Beat in cocoa, vanilla, and salt. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Stir in flour just until combined.
  2. Pour brownie batter into a well-greased 13×9 pan (or lined with parchment paper). Bake at 350˚ for 25-30 minutes or until done. Cool completely.
  3. Spread marshmallow creme on cooled brownies.
  4. Melt the peanut butter and chocolate chips together over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in cereal. Spread over marshmallow creme layer.
  5. Chill before serving.
  6. Store in refrigerator.

Sweet marshmallowy wishes,


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Popcorn is a healthy snack option; not the way movie theaters douse it with hot, greasy golden liquid mimicking butter, but remove the blanket of grease and it’s a guilt-free food to mindlessly munch while watching the latest Hollywood flick. Of course every savory snack should be balanced with a sweet snack so why not pair it with caramel popcorn?

red hots smiley

If you’re watching from your couch, not a germy reclining theater chair, skip the seeds and hulls by making your own sticky sweet and salty mix using puff corn cereal. And toss in hot tamales or cinnamon Red Hots® candies.

caramel cashew corn pops

If you go out for movie night, this brings up a moral question. Is it OK to bring a bag of homemade caramel cashew corn puffs into the movie theater if you buy an extortionate $12 box of hot tamales or Red Hots from concessions?

Caramel Cashew Corn Puffs

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

7 cups corn puff cereal (I use Corn Pops®)

2 cups salted cashews

1-2 cups red hots candies or hot tamales candies (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 225°.
  2. Mix cereal and cashews in a large bowl.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup; boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Drop in baking soda and stir well.
  5. Pour caramel mixture into cereal and cashew mixture. Stir to coat thoroughly.
  6. Spread cereal mixture onto two baking sheets lined with foil or parchment paper.
  7. Bake at 225° for one hour, stirring around every 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and cool the caramel corn on sheets of wax paper.
  9. Stir in hot tamales or cinnamon Red Hots candies. Store in airtight container for one week.

Sticky blockbuster wishes,


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You wouldn’t think there could be too much caramel in a slab of marshmallows and cereal but unless you want to eat rice krispy bars with a fork, resist the temptation to toss in extra chunks of caramel. See exhibit A below.

rice krispie caramel bars | Random Sweetness

Exhibit A – added too many caramels

The recipe card handed down to me reads “1 pkg caramels.” I assumed bags of caramels, like bangs, were bigger back in the 80s. So I added extra and I was oozingly wrong.

Rice Krispy Caramel Bars

11-ounce package caramels, unwrapped

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 sticks butter or margarine

2 (10-ounces each) packages marshmallows

14 cups krispy rice cereal

Get in the kitchen:

Line 9×13 pan with parchment paper and butter generously. Or skip the paper and butter the pan itself.

In the microwave or on the stove top, melt together caramels, condensed milk, and 1 stick of butter over low heat. Stir, stir, stir. Keep your eyes on it or it will burn.

In a large bowl or saucepan, melt together marshmallows and 1 stick of butter. Stir in cereal.

Grab the buttered pan and drop big spoonfuls of the marshmallow cereal mixture into the bottom – only use half of the mix. Spray the back of a large spoon with cooking spray and use it to press the cereal into an even layer.

Pour the caramel over the layer. Drop spoonfuls of the remaining cereal on top of the caramel. Use the greased spoon again to press the cereal into an even layer.

Let set at least four hours before cutting into squares. Eat within a day or two.

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Sometimes it’s what you do in the kitchen while you bake chunky, brownie-like mint cookies.

creme de menthe and cocoa cookies

The biggest tip I can give you for these cookies is do not overbake them. You want them to be crispy on the outside, and soft and brownie-like in the middle with a cool crunch from the cereal.

I saw mama drinking crème de menthe out of the bottle and eating cereal out of the box, cocoa mint cookies

Makes approximately 3 dozen large cookies (the size you bake 6 to a cookie sheet) or 6 dozen small cookies (12 to a cookie sheet)

1 cup (2 sticks) plus 5 tablespoons softened butter (21 tablespoons)

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon dripping with crème de menthe liqueur (or 1 teaspoon peppermint extract if you drank it all)

2 cups flour

1 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup Cocoa Puffs Brownie Crunch cereal or crispy rice cereal

15 ounces semi sweet mint chocolate chips (1-1/2 bags of HERSHEY’S mint chocolate chips)

powdered sugar to sprinkle lightly on the tops

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Do not grease cookie sheets. Place parchment paper on cookie sheets if preferred.
  2. In a large bowl, beat all the softened butter with the sugar until creamy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and crème de menthe liqueur (or peppermint extract). Beat on medium high until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Slowly beat this dry mixture into the large bowl with butter mixture.
  4. Stir in the mint chocolate chips and the cereal.
  5. Drop dough by cookie scoop or spoonful onto the cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes for smaller cookies and 9-10 minutes for larger cookies. Bake just until set – they may look a little soft in the center but they will set once cooled. Don’t overbake or they will get hard.
  6. Move to cooling racks. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar and cool. Store in airtight container.

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If you grew up near Brookings, S.D., you most likely visited McCrory Gardens for an elementary school field trip. Chances are, your brown-bag sack lunch contained a soggy, white-bread bologna sandwich and a plastic baggie filled with Dakota Style chips. Fast forward twenty-five years and you can bake cookies with maple syrup straight from McCrory’s trees and sunflower seed kernels from the potato grower in Clark, just 80 miles up the road.

maple sunflower seed butter cookies

The inspiration for these cookies came from three things:

  1. I bought a jar of sunflower seed butter from Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and I wasn’t sure what to do with it.
  2. I purchased a little jug of maple syrup from the McCrory Gardens gift shop.
  3. I love peanut butter and maple syrup on my waffles.

So, I bought a bag of Dakota Style sunflower kernels and whipped up a batch of cookies quite different from my normal baking — there’s no chocolate!

Maple Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sunflower seed butter (of course you could use peanut butter if you prefer)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 egg

1-1/2 cups crispy rice cereal

1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels

Make the cookies:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl stir together the white sugar, brown sugar, sunflower seed butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and softened butter. Briskly stir in egg until the mixture is well combined and creamy.

Add the sunflower seed butter mixture to the dry ingredients and stir. A wooden spoon works best. Stir in the crispy rice cereal and sunflower seed kernels.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop the cookie dough by the teaspoonful onto the pan, leaving an inch between cookies. Gently push the cookies down slightly to make circles. Bake 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. Let cool on the cookie sheet for at least 20 minutes. These cookies are really soft so they are hard to move onto a cooling rack when they are hot. Once the cookies have cooled enough to move them without falling apart, transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Store cooled cookies in an airtight container. Makes approximately 32 soft cookies.

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Have you been to McCrory Gardens recently? They have developed the botanical gardens nicely the last few years and they recently opened the Education and Visitor Center. Here’s a picture of the cute little cottage in the winter. I have a nostalgic connection to this cottage — if I remember correctly, it used to be a little gas station in Lake Preston. For those of you who remember my best friend and our classmate, Darya, she loved this little station. There was a time after Darya died that her parents and another local family had the opportunity to donate the small building to McCrory gardens in memory of their loved ones. It makes a romantic, dreamy background for photos so bring your camera.

If you’re in the area:

McCrory Gardens
631 22nd Avenue
Brookings, SD 57006

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