Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: Cranberry-Orange Party Mix

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

You should probably know that I'm the annoying type of party mix eater who picks out all the corn Chex and leaves the wheat ones behind.  My handfuls just happen to be more strategic, especially if honey roasted peanuts and dried cranberries are involved.  I really did put wheat Chex in this batch, I promise.  I didn't even notice until afterwords that my subconscious selected mostly corn and rice cereal for the bowl above.  I'm also guilty of snitching the pretzels, but let's not start on that.

Party mix is a given at any of our family gatherings, including Easter.  While we usually stick to the traditional version with garlic and Worcestershire, I sometimes like to switch it up.  It's been a few years since I last made this cranberry-orange mix, so I decided to dig out the recipe again.   That's when I remembered I had the final version on my now erased hard drive.  Rats. Thankfully I found an earlier version scribbled on a scrap of paper tucked in a recipe folder.

For a while I made this sweet and crunchy snack quite frequently.  It was so addicting I had to put a pause on it.  With all the citrus I've been into lately, I just couldn't resist any longer.  Dried cranberries add chew to the crunchy cereal mix.  Sweet orange coating and salty pretzels provide that addicting sweet-salty balance.  Honey roasted peanuts only increase the munching madness.

Technically we're coating a breakfast cereal in orange juice then sprinkling it with dried fruit and nuts.  That almost justifies it as breakfast, right?  Orange juice and cereal baked like granola?  Hmmm...nope, don't think I can get away with that.  

Cranberry-Orange Party Mix

12 cups mixed corn, rice and wheat cereal squares or hexagons
2 cups small pretzel twists
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
finely grated peel of 2 oranges
1-1/2 cups sweetened dried cranberries (orange-flavored if possible)
1-1/2 cups honey roasted peanuts

*Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
* In a large bowl combine cereals and pretzels; set aside.
* In a small microwave-safe bowl combine orange juice concentrate, brown sugar, corn syrup, canola oil, butter and salt.  Microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until butter is melted and mixture just begins to bubble. (Exact time will depend on the temperature of your orange juice concentrate and the power of your microwave.)  Remove mixture from microwave and stir in finely grated orange peel.
* Pour over cereal mixture and toss until evenly coated.  Spread onto prepared baking sheet and bake 35-40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  Let cool before adding dried cranberries and peanuts.  Store in an airtight container.

Food for Thought: "Success is a peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming." -John Wooden 

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