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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,

Staci

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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,

Staci

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Another year leaves us with a trail of flour dust and kitchen memories. We’ve read enough “Top 10 recipes of 2014” articles to set our Pinterest boards on fire. Maybe you want to know my most popular recipes for the past 12 months but for now, let’s have fun with the 24 most curious and amusing search terms that brought people to Random Sweetness Baking in 2014.

The searches that made me laugh. 

I’m guessing the following searches brought people to my second most popular recipe in 2014, I was a better than sex cake virgin:

  1. “How long does better than sex cake last in fridge?” In my house, a day if we’re all home. At the office, within minutes of an instant message announcing its arrival. But I suppose it could last a couple of days in the fridge before it would get soggy.
  2. “Better than whatever cake” Clearly, this person already knew there are multiple names for better than sex cake.
  3. “Is there a recipe for virgin cake or is there a virgin cake recipe like the better than sex cake?” I’m so confused.
  4. “Virgin first time sex” I hope this guy’s wife doesn’t look at his Internet search history. Maybe he should spend more time in the kitchen baking cake.

Better than sex cake

The next one made me laugh AND tell my sisters:

5. “Why do old people like bran muffins?”

6. “Bran muffins for elderly”

Bran muffins aren’t just for old people and raisins ruin everything probably didn’t answer their questions because I didn’t talk about the benefits of fiber.

bran muffins | Random Sweetness Baking

My third most popular recipe in 2014 drew in a lot of people from searches for buffalo chicken dip with ranch, chilled buffalo chicken ranch dip, chicken wing dip with ranch, buffalo chicken dip for 16 people, buffalo chicken dip without blue cheese, and many others like:

7. “Can you make buffalo chicken dip with dark meat?” Yes, of course you can!

8. “Blue cheese dressing without blue cheese in it” Since I don’t eat blue cheese dressing, my suggestion is to just make the dressing but don’t add the crumbled cheese. Or seriously, don’t eat it at all.

9. “I want to make buffalo chicken dip but I don’t have any ranch dressing” Oh bummer! Then you can’t make my version but here’s a recipe from Food Network for buffalo chicken dip with blue cheese and no ranch.

Buffalo ranch chicken dip | Random Sweetness Baking

10. “Make celery sweeter” I’m not a dietician but celery is a vegetable. Maybe add peanut butter and chocolate chips if you want it sweeter? But here’s how I use celery in my simple tuna salad sandwich, my kids’ favorite homemade chicken noodle soup with healing powers, and crunchy ex-in-law broccoli ranch salad.

Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

11. “Random shit you can bake” Ha ha! I’m picturing a sprightly redhead sitting at the nail salon waiting for the paint to dry on her toes, passing time on her phone and suddenly deciding to bake something when she gets home.

12. “I want to bake something sweet” Me too, me too! I’m glad you found me and I’m hoping you found some random sweets you can bake! How about making the #1 recipe on Random Sweetness Baking, Marshmallow Creme Crunch Brownies?

Marshmallow Creme Crunch Brownies

13. “Can kids have tequila lime chicken?” I won’t laugh because I’m sure there’s a concerned parent out there who didn’t know that alcohol burns off in the cooking process.

14.  “How do Mexicans make chicken street tacos?” I don’t know but this is how Minnesotans make chicken street tacos with cilantro and red onion.

cilantro lime chicken tacos

The searches that hopefully led to answers.

15. “Hershey’s Kisses won’t melt turned hard” It sounds like you passed that crucial melting point where the Kiss got hard and then there’s no turning back. Read about it in my recipe for mint pretzel Kisses.

mint pretzel Kisses

16. “If you bake a Hershey’s Kiss in a cupcake does it turn hard after cooling?” I’ve never baked a Kiss in a cupcake but I’m certain it would turn hard when it cools.

17. “Can you make cream cheese deli meat wrap a day in advance?” You certainly can. And in my recipe for crunchy deli wraps, I suggest that you can store the wraps in the refrigerator or a cooler for up to 12 hours. That’s why they are terrific for camping or picnics.

veggie and deli meat wraps

18. “Can I put baking dish from fridge into oven?” It depends on the pan. Never put a glass dish from the refrigerator directly to the oven or you risk the potential for the glass to shatter. But I think metal or stone would be ok. For example, if you prepare smoky ham and cheddar hash brown casserole ahead of time, you could put it in the oven from the refrigerator if it’s in a metal or stone pan.

19. “Only like the Chex cereal in the mix how to just use the cereal” Then by all means, substitute Chex cereal for all the mixed nuts and pretzels in Chex mix.

Staci's version of Chex mix

20. “Cookies chocolate island” If you found a chocolate island that serves cookies, I want to GO! All I can do is give you chocolate island mint bars.

Chocolate Island Mint Bars

21. “Hershey’s skillet cookie for 1” How about something even better – bake this giant chocolate chip skillet cookie, slice into triangles, eat a few, and freeze the rest.

skillet chocolate chip cookie

22. “Chocolate stringy brownie cookie” What exactly is a stringy brownie cookie?

23. “Casserole for boys” The most requested casserole from the boys in my family is hot dog casserole.

24. “Cook slice hot dogs with chips on the side” See #23.

And that’s a wrap on 2014! It’s been a fun and fast year of sharing what’s going on in my kitchen. Thank you for reading and sharing with me. There’s nothing better than getting an email from you asking about a recipe or seeing you in the grocery store and you telling me you have ingredients on your list to make something from my blog. Or when you stop me at a hockey game and tell me that what I wrote made you laugh. It’s just you and me kid.

Hoping to see you around Random Sweetness Baking on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Cheers to a new year!

Sweet & bubbly wishes,

Staci

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If you are dragging yourself out of bed early this morning, I hope it’s to make a pot of coffee, turn on your oven, and park yourself at the kitchen table. The last Black Friday I ventured to a store was the year a lady stole my cart full of ghetto blasters from the electronics aisle. So let’s just order the crap we need online and get back in the kitchen where all the fun happens.

If you have overnight guests, these first two recipes will make your house smell like your favorite aunt’s B&B. Don’t make them unless you want your guests to return.

To-Live-For Pumpkin Butterscotch Coffee Cake

pumpkin butterscotch cake

Ham and Cheese Stuff’n Puff

ham cheese stuff and puff_3991

If you have leftover turkey, use it in place of the chicken to make Lime Street Chicken Tacos.

cilantro lime chicken tacos

Or use the turkey to make Crunchy Deli Wraps. It’s a convenient way to use up the random vegetables in the refrigerator drawer that you will otherwise throw out at Christmas time.

veggie and deli meat wraps

You don’t even need a bowl to make Cherry Crunchobblerumble. Just leave a stack of spoons next to it when you take it out of the oven.

Cherry Crunchobblerumble | Random Sweetness Baking

If you want something salty, sweet, and addictive to munch on all day, Tiger Butter made with Boston Baked Beans candy is what you need.

Boston baked bean tiger butter

When you’re ready to drink beer and watch T.V., grab an overflowing bowl of Chex Mix made like you mean it.

Staci's version of Chex mix

Going somewhere for another Thanksgiving celebration? Bring your host a batch of Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownies.

cream cheese peanut butter brownies

Back home with another beer in hand? You should be eating Buffalo Ranch Chicken Dip.

Buffalo ranch chicken dip | Random Sweetness Baking

You have to plan ahead for Taco Cheesecake, but it’s worth it. You will crave this savory appetizer.

Taco cheesecake | Random Sweetness Baking

If you haven’t had your Thanksgiving meal yet, or maybe you are hosting Christmas, my Sausage Stuffing is the dish I’m not allowed to burn.

Sausage Stuffing | Random Sweetness Baking

And, if you are brave enough to pull into a store parking lot this weekend, push your way to the Christmas candy aisle and pick up a couple of bags of mint M&M’s to make Mint Pretzel Kisses.

Mint M&M's Pretzel Kisses | Random Sweetness Baking

Here’s the best for last. Marshmallow Chocolate Cream Cheese Bars

Marshmallow chocolate cream cheese bars | Random Sweetness Baking

May your holiday weekend be filled with loving family and friends, lots of laughter, and plenty of good food.

Sweet wishes,
Staci

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Special K Blueberry cereal is a new flavor for us and I’ve blasted through a couple boxes of it in the last couple weeks. I even filled a container with the fruity flakes and clusters before I ran out the door the other day. By the time I got to work, I had crumbs trailing down my shirt and in my bra. I made Special K Blueberry treats that night. The sticky marshmallows seem to keep the cereal crumbs out of my shirt.

Special K Blueberry Krispies Bars | Random Sweetness Baking

I still love traditional Special K bars, well, as traditional as they can be since I have a special Special K bars recipe (of which I am sworn to secrecy by my sister who holds the proprietary ingredients). There are just some things best kept between sisters.

Special K Blueberry Krispies

4 tablespoons butter

6 cups mini marshmallows

6 cups Special K Blueberry cereal (or any kind of your favorite cereal)

Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave. (I’ve found that using a large plastic bowl in the microwave works best.)

Stir in the marshmallows, coating with the melted butter.

Over medium heat or in the microwave, slowly melt the marshmallows. This only takes a minute or two. Spray your spoon or spatula with cooking spray. Stir butter and marshmallows until creamy. Add cereal. Stir until all the cereal is coated with marshmallow mixture.

Spray a 10×8-inch or similar pan with cooking spray or gently grease with butter. Dump the cereal mixture into the pan. To spread evenly, spray the back of a large metal spoon with cooking spray and spread the mixture.

Cool bars completely. Cut and serve. Store in an airtight container.

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You may recognize these treats from childhood potlucks in your church basement or from family reunions with people you didn’t really know. And unless your mom shared the recipe with you, the secret layers in these marshmallow chocolate cream cheese bars have long been revealed only to those who bake them.

Each bite holds four layers of cake-like brownies, sweet cream cheese, chewy chocolate, salty pecans, sticky marshmallows, and soft, almost flaky, chocolate vanilla frosting. You will wear a path in the floor to the refrigerator.

Marshmallow chocolate cream cheese bars | Random Sweetness Baking

Prepare yourself — you’ll use three mixing bowls, a small bowl, and a saucepan to make these bars. But trust me. I would never steer you down a dishwashing path if it weren’t absolutely, without a chocolate doubt, worth every squirt of dish soap.

Marshmallow chocolate cream cheese bars

Brownie base:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (do not substitute margarine)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 (1-ounce) square unsweetened chocolate, melted and set aside to cool slightly

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup pecan pieces or chopped pecans

Cream cheese layer:

6 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/4 cup butter, softened (do not substitute margarine)

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup pecan pieces or chopped pecans

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

3 cups miniature marshmallows

Frosting:

1/4 cup butter

2 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 (1-ounce) square unsweetened chocolate

2 tablespoons milk

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, melted chocolate, and vanilla; mix well on medium speed. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Gently stir into chocolate mixture. Fold in the pecans. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 pan and spread evenly.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and beat until well combined. Beat in the sugar, egg, flour, and vanilla until creamy. Fold in the pecans. Spread evenly over the chocolate layer. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the cream cheese layer and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes. Edges will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not overbake or the brownie layer will be dry.

Remove the baking pan from the oven. Sprinkle the marshmallows over the chocolate chips. Bake another 2 minutes or until the marshmallows become puffed. Remove from oven. Gently spread the marshmallows over the layer of chocolate chips. Cool on a wire rack.

Frosting:

In a small saucepan over low heat, cook and stir the butter, cream cheese, unsweetened chocolate and milk. Slowly melt and stir until smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Add one cup of powdered sugar at a time, beating after each cup. Beat in vanilla. Spread over the cooled bars. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 2 to 3 dozen, depending on how large you cut them.

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No-bake goodies are a hit in the summer when we don’t want our ovens to heat up the house. Like these S’mores bars. But now it’s fall and kitchens everywhere are heating up with warm nutmeg, spicy ginger, and creamy pumpkin sweets.

Except at my house. My oven is broken. So, to prevent myself from going into a serious I-can’t-bake-depression, I’m flipping through my recipe box for recipes that will satisfy my need to preheat to 350°. Gooey, chocolatey S’mores bars do the trick.

The key to making S’mores bars taste like the real campfire deal is to use HERSHEY’S chocolate candy bars.

S’mores Bars

3/4 cup light corn syrup

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup milk chocolate chips, preferably HERSHEY’S

2 (4.4-ounce each) HERSHEY’S chocolate candy bars, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla

9 cups Golden Grahams cereal (12-ounce box)

3 cups mini marshmallows, plus a handful to sprinkle over the top if desired

Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with parchment paper or non-stick foil, or grease pan lightly with butter.

Microwave the corn syrup, butter, 1 cup milk chocolate chips, and 1 HERSHEY’S candy bar in a large bowl, uncovered, on medium-high for 1-1/2 minutes. Stir until almost smooth. Microwave again, uncovered, until large bubbles form on the surface, about 2-1/2 minutes longer.

Stir in vanilla. Pour the cereal in the bowl and toss until coated with mixture. Fold in the marshmallows. Chop the other HERSHEY’S candy bar and fold into the cereal mixture. Dump into the pan and press evenly with the back of a large metal spoon sprayed with cooking spray. Toss a handful of mini marshmallows on the top and tap down so they stick. If you have a kitchen torch, lightly toast the marshmallows.

Let cool completely. Cut and share.

See more of my no-bake recipes.

What other treats could I make while I wait for my oven to get fixed? The stove top still works.

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