Monday, January 13, 2014

Perfect Ranch Cheesy Chex Mix

Hello, dear readers!

Are you a chex mix person? I've always associated it with the holidays, since my mom makes huge batches of baked garlic chex mix at Christmastime. It sits around in bowls which somehow refill themselves and makes the most perfectly cozy vacation snack.

Plus, chex mix makes a great gift. And not just during holiday time!

After filling up on the baked garlic stuff this holiday season, my mom and I had an urge to get some ranch action in for a next batch. I combed through many recipes for cheesy ranch chex mix, read many reviews, and created this one. I love it. Hope you enjoy it!

Perfect Cheesy Ranch Chex Mix

makes 11 cups

2 cups goldfish crackers (cheddar)
2 cups cheese-its (cheddar - parmesan duo)
2 cups oyster crackers
1 cup small pretzels (I like the square, lattice/grid shape the best)
2 cups corn chex
2 cups rice chex

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 pkg. (1 oz.) Ranch dip or dressing mix (I've used both - either is fine!)

Combine crackers, pretzels, and cereal in a large bowl. Pour about half of the melted butter over the mixture, then sprinkle about half of the Ranch mix. Stir to coat. Repeat with remaining butter and Ranch mix. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes a great gift or party snack!

Friday, January 10, 2014


Happy New Year, dear readers! I hope you've enjoyed a lovely holiday season.

I'm sorry I was away so long.

But I have a really cute cake to share with you.

For Nate's birthday, I'm all about the themed desserts.

Last year it was robots.

The year before that, it was video games. (If you haven't played the game Portal, I recommend it, and I don't play video games often.)

This year, it's bees. Yes, he loves bees. I mean, bees ARE awesome, aren't they? Our world would be a lot uglier and less delicious without them.

This would be so sweet for children's parties and birthdays. I have a friend who is thinking of using bees as a theme for her daughter's second birthday this month - how cute would that be? :)


This cake was for only two people (a quick, weeknight celebration kind of thing), so it's small. For this small cake, I used:
  • 4-inch round cake pan (mine is spring form, doesn't have to be)
  • 3-inch glass pyrex bowl
You can adjust the sizes according to what you have in your kitchen/how big your bee hive is going to be. I had all kinds of bowls and pans out, mixing and matching for a while until I found the right match. Just be sure your bowl is oven safe! 

I actually baked 4 pieces - 2 of the small round cakes, and 2 bowls - just to have a backup for each piece in case one didn't come out right or I made a mistake during assembly. Let the pieces cool thoroughly before assembling the cake. 

Assemble the cake just as you would a layer cake, with the bowl-shape cake upside down as the top layer. 
  1. Level and shape the cake. Use a serrated knife to trim up both pieces until you get the shape you want. 
  2. Put a thick layer of frosting in between the two pieces. 
  3. Apply a crumb coat
  4. Apply a very thick layer of icing (not perfect, just relatively even) all around the cake. Starting at the center of the top of the cake, use a small spatula or the back of a spoon to create a spiral all the way down the cake. Press just enough that the spiral is visible. (If you mess up, just smooth it out and start over!)
I prepared the full amount of cake batter for a regular cake recipe, poured what I needed into the small pans and the bowls, and made cupcakes out of the rest. I sprayed both the cake pan and bowl with cooking spray.

For the bees, I actually rolled and shaped pieces of yellow licorice from a mixed licorice candy bag that we had at home. I painted the black stripes on with black gel food coloring. You can use fondant, if you have those skills, or get creative with other kinds of candy. Anything small, yellow, and edible can get striped with a paintbrush and food coloring!

For the cake, I just doctored up a devil's food cake mix with an extra egg, some sour cream, and instant chocolate pudding mix. For the frosting I used this vanilla buttercream.

I sprinkled some graham cracker crumbs on top for a little added texture and color.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend!