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Slice of Life

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Trail mix a hearty blend of salty, sweet

One of the biggest problems I had when it came to school snow days was how I was going to fill my kids’ time and mouths without taking a second mortgage out on my house.

Every time the weatherman cheerfully told my kids they would be home for the day, I would rack my brain to find the right mix of fun games, yummy goodies and insightful yet humorous words of wisdom that would keep them from destroying the house I had just cleaned.

In my house the fun centers in the kitchen, so we’d have cooking projects. One snow-day theme was chocolate, the next muffins and another was s’mores. I also decided to make trail mixes and granola so that they could go outside and blaze a trail in the snow (away from my clean floors) and come back after building snow forts and having snowball fights to chow down on really delicious snack mixes.

A first-class, satisfying and delicious trail mix usually consists of a mix of sweet and salty ingredients with a dash of chocolate thrown in for fun. I typically use nuts, cereal, dried fruit and again, chocolate in some form.

The recipes are typically what I call non-essential recipes in that if you don’t happen to have one of the ingredients on hand, you can usually substitute something else that just happens to be in your pantry. No need to run to the store, just grab what you’ve got and mix it up.

The following recipes are guaranteed to satisfy and have your kids begging to make it again the next time the snow flies.

Cherry and Pecan Granola

2 cups uncooked old fashioned oats (not 5 minute or instant)

1 1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries, chopped

2/3 cup chopped pecans

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted

1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a sided sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir together oats, cherries, pecans and salt. Drizzle with butter and honey and toss thoroughly. Spread the mixture evenly on the parchment in the sheet pan. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes until just golden brown (20 to 25 minutes) cool on cookie sheet and then place in an air tight container. This recipe can be doubled or tripled. Makes 4 cups.

Chocolate Nut Mix

2 cups honey roasted peanuts

1 cup salted, roasted almonds

1 cup salted, roasted cashews

1 1/2 to 2 cups milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup dried apricots

1 cup dried cherries or cranberries or blueberries

1/2 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and mix until combined. Makes 7 to 8 cups. Can be doubled or tripled.

No Bake Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bars

3 cups crispy rice cereal

3 cups toasted oat cereal

1 1/2 cups raisins

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, roasted

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup honey

3/4 cup sugar

16 ounces peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Spray a cookie sheet with sides with non-stick spray and set it aside. In a bowl combine the cereals, raisins, sunflower seeds and chocolate chips. Mix to combine and set it aside. In a saucepan, combine the honey and sugar and cook stirring constantly, until it starts to boil. Boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute until the sugar and honey are combined. Immediately remove the mixture from the heat. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla, mixing until the peanut butter is completely melted and combine with the liquid in the pan. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal mixture and mix to combine.

Press the mixture into the prepared cookie sheet. Cool completely before you cut the cookies into bars.

Chocolate Covered Raisin Trail Mix

2 cups dried fruit, chopped (any mixture you like)

1 cup roasted salted cashews

2 cups roasted salted pecans

1 cup roasted salted peanuts

1 cup shelled pistachios

2 cups chocolate covered raisins

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine. Store in an air tight container. Makes 9 cups.

Golden Trail Mix

3 to 4 cups granola cereal (any brand)

1 1/2 cups golden raisins

2 cups white chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups honey roasted peanuts

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container. Makes 8 to 9 cups.

– Modified from Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.