Cheerios Nuggets

As simple as they are, these Cheerios nuggets are downright addicting. I could not stop ‘sampling’ them as I packaged them up as a gift for our neighbors. I admit that a good number of them didn’t quite find their way into the bag. Nicely sweet, definitely crunchy, and slightly salty thanks to roasted peanuts, these make for a great treat for a crowd.
Cheerios Nuggets

I may change up the recipe for Cheerios nuggets just a tad next time. I really liked the contrast of the salty peanuts against the sweetness of the cereal and the caramel sauce. Perhaps I’ll add more nuts next time, and mix it up a bit. Perhaps some roasted pecans, even almonds, would be nice too.

Also try my pizza pretzel nuggets.

Cheerios Nuggets

Course Appetizer
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Cooling time 40 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup salted butter softened
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 cups Cheerios cereal
  • 2 cups salted roasted peanuts

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 250 F.
  • Grease two 9x13 pans.
  • Also grease a large heat-proof bowl. Add the Cheerios and peanuts to the bowl and mix.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat add the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt. Stir constantly until the mixture begins to bubble around the edges, and then cook another 2 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda. The mixture will turn blonde in color and will be light and fluffy. Use a spatula to combine and coat the cereal mixture.
  • Divide the mixture between the two pans and spread out evenly.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool 15 minutes.
  • Break the cereal into bite-sized pieces and let cool completely, another 30 minutes.
  • Serve.

Pizza Rolls using the Vortex

I make a lot of chicken on my Vortex. Wings and ‘fried’ chicken are my favorites. And sometimes there’s a bit of space left around the grill. That’s when Totino’s pizza rolls make an appearance. Nothing fru-fru, nothing complicated. But, oh so tasty. Roasting them using the Vortex gives them an extra-special crunchiness that you just can’t get in the oven.
Pizza Rolls using the Vortex

Pizza rolls using the Vortex don’t take as long as chicken to cook, so you can either put them on later if you want them with your chicken, or start them at the same time so you have a little treat to much on while the chicken is finishing. If you are sharing space on the grill with raw chicken make sure that the rolls and chicken don’t touch. I like to put them on opposite sides of the grill.

I like to serve my pizza rolls with a bit of warmed pizza sauce for dipping.

Also try chicken fingers on the Vortex.

Pizza Rolls using the Vortex

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Cook Time 25 minutes
Author Mike

Ingredients

Ranch Sourdough Pretzel Bites

You can sit down and eat pretzel bites out of the bag and think, “Hey, these are pretty good”. Or with just a few more ingredients, you can sit down with a bowl of these Ranch sourdough pretzel bites and know that you’ve just had something truly incredible. Each bite has a hint of butter. A hint of herby Ranch dressing, and a really awesome citrusy pepper flavor that’s just barely there, but oh does it make a difference.
Ranch Sourdough Pretzel BitesI often make appetizers like these Ranch sourdough pretzel bites using just oil, or melted butter. I recently came across the idea of using popcorn oil, which of course combines both oil and butter. The flavor is more fantastic, and it doesn’t get any easier than just measuring the oil out of a bottle. I’ll definitely make all my snacks this way from here on.

I couldn’t find my lemon pepper seasoning (I am reminded that someday, maybe, I’ll arrange the spices in my pantry in alphabetical or at least some sensible order). I substituted lime pepper seasoning I have to say it was fantastic. The citrus flavor in either case isn’t going to scream out at it, it just adds that special something.

Also check out my balsamicpizza,and spicy garlic Ranch, deluxe cheddar and Buffalo Ranch sourdough pretzel bites! They are all out of this world good too!

Ranch Sourdough Pretzel Bites

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 1 pound

Ingredients

  • 1 16 ounce bag pretzel bites
  • 1/2 cup Orville Redenbacher popcorn oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Ranch dressing mix half of a packet
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning lime pepper is also fantastic!
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 200 F.
  • Place pretzel bites in large bowl.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the oil, Ranch dressing mix, lemon pepper, garlic powder and dill weed.
  • Pour the oil mixture over the pretzels and toss to coat well.
  • Pour pretzels bites out onto a large baking pan and spread out evenly.
  • Bake for 1 hour, tossing every 20 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly before serving.

Cheesy Ranch Chex Mix

I’m a big fan of making snack mixes for Anita to take to work and share with her co-workers. They’re usually easy to make but awfully good. Like this cheesy Ranch Chex mix. Just a few ingredients and just a little time are all that’s needed to make a big ole bowl of treats, great to share at work or serve at a party. I doubled the recipe because I knew it would disappear quickly. And it did.
Cheesy Ranch Chex Mix

I like to use a little bit of each kind of the traditional flavors of Chex cereal in my Cheesy Ranch Chex Mix. You know, mix it up a bit so to speak. You can also add roasted peanuts or pecans, but don’t add too much.You might want to cut back on the pretzels if you do.

Also try my Southwestern Snack Mix.

Cheesy Ranch Dressing Mix

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Main
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Cooling 30 minutes
Servings 20 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 8 cups Chex cereal rice, wheat, or corn or a combination
  • 2 cups mini pretzels
  • 2 cups Cheez-It crackers
  • 3 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 ounce package Ranch seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 250F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Combine cereal, pretzels, and crackers in a very large mixing bowl.
  • Drizzle butter over the cereal mixture and stir until evenly coated. Sprinkle with the dressing mix and cheese and stir gently.
  • Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Cool before serving.

Red Velvet Popcorn

I’ve made my share of savory popcorn snacks before. Crab boil popcorn for example has long been a favorite of mine. This time I decided to go the sweet route and add in Anita’s favorite: red velvet cake. It’s just that easy too. Make a simple red velvet cake from a box mix (or just buy a cake or cupcakes from your bakery) and add to popped popcorn. Every bite has that wonderful chocolaty red velvet flavor and hey, it looks cool too.
Red Velvet PopcornYou could use any cake recipe you want. This is also a great way to use up any cake that you might have leftover from a birthday party. It is a messy (but tasty) way to eat cake, so make sure you have plenty of napkins on hand.

I use an old Stir Crazy popper for making popcorn. It’s easy and always makes perfectly popped kernels. Nothing fancy but it does the job.

Also try my crazy-good crab boil popcorn.

Red Velvet Popcorn

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 8 cups

Ingredients

  • 8 cups popped popcorn from 1/2 cup un-popped kernels
  • 3 cups leftover red velvet cake with icing, curmbled

Instructions

  • Place the popcorn in a large sealable container.
  • Sprinkle in the cake crumbs.
  • Seal and shake the bowl. A lot. A whole lot. You want the cake to get evenly distributed throughout the popcorn.
  • Devour!

Buffalo Ranch Pretzel Bites

The reason I made such a big batch of these Buffalo Ranch pretzel bites isn’t because I needed a huge amount for a family get-together. Sure, I needed some, but not a ton. Nope, I made a big batch because I wanted more for myself. Sorry, but it’s true. I was being selfish, but for a good reason. I love them. Crunchy, and a bit buttery, they taste a bit like spicy Buffalo wings dipped in Ranch dressing.
Buffalo Ranch Pretzel Bites

You don’t have to use pretzels to make these Buffalo Ranch pretzel bites. If you prefer, any cracker will do, specially oyster crackers or saltines. Just don’t substitute something that is strongly flavored and might not go well with the Buffalo Ranch seasoning. That would make for a bowl of sadness.

Also check out my balsamicpizza,and spicy garlic Ranch and Ranch sourdough pretzel bites! They are all out of this world good too!

Buffalo Ranch Pretzel Bites

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 1 pound

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 200 F.
  • Place pretzel bites in large bowl.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the oil and seasoning.
  • Pour the oil mixture over the pretzels and toss to coat well.
  • Pour pretzels bites out onto a large baking pan and spread out evenly.
  • Bake for 1 hour, tossing every 20 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly before serving.

Spicy Red Onion Rings

Oh, all those years spent eating (and enjoying!) onion rings made from white or sweet onions. Not wasted years, but years of missed opportunities of eating spicy red onion rings. Spiced up with a fantastic kick not only from hot sauce but from that red onion bite, these rings are the things dreams are made of. The batter is perfect. No batter loss here, the coating sticks perfectly and comes out crazy crunchy. These are what rings should be.
Spicy Red Onion RingsAlthough there’s certainly nothing wrong with ketchup on spicy red onion rings, I prefer something a bit more ‘deep’ so I made an easy dipping sauce of mayo and a few other ingredients I had on hand. The dipping sauce is also great for dipping fries, potato chips, carrot sticks, you name it. And it’s also fantastic on burgers!

This is yet another great recipe I found in Margaritaville: The Cookbook. It is absolutely full of great dishes!

Also try my fried onion strips with a wonderful dipping sauce.

Spicy Red Onion Rings

Note: For a little extra spiciness, let the rings marinate in the buttermilk/hot sauce mixture for 1 hour before battering and frying.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 large red onions cut into thick rounds, rings separated
  • Vegetable oil for frying

For the dipping sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce
  • Couple dashes of kosher salt and black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat 2" of oil to 350 F in a deep fryer or Dutch oven.
  • Whisk the buttermilk and hot sauce together in a pie plate.
  • In another pie plate, combine the flour, cornstarch and salt.
  • Working in batches, dip rings in buttermilk, then flour. Repeat.
  • Transfer to fryer in batches. Do not overcrowd. Fry for about 2 minutes, flip and fry another 2 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
  • Serve with dipping sauce.

For the dipping sauce

  • Whisk together all ingredients.

Harvest Chex Mix

You want to talk about disappearing fast. This Harvest Chex Mix was gone in just minutes when Anita took it into the office to share with her co-workers. It’s a wonderful combination of sweet treats, mixed in with cereal, Bugles and pretzels. All coated in a delicious buttery brown sugar coating. You cannot just eat one handful, that’s for sure!
Harvest Chex Mix

You can pretty much add whatever your autumn favorites are into the Harvest Chex Mix. Just make sure that you let the baked mixture completely first. You don’t want a melty gooey mess!

You will need a very large bowl or container as this recipe does make a good-sized batch of mix.

Also try my Southwestern Chex Mix.

Harvest Chex Mix

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Cooling time 30 minutes
Servings 20 servings

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 1 cup butter melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

For the mix

  • 12 ounce box Rice Chex cereal
  • 7 ounce bag Bugles
  • 4 cups mini pretzel twists
  • 1 cup candy corn
  • 1 cup candy corn pumpkins
  • 8 ounce bag Reese’s Pieces

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 275 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Whisk the sauce ingredients in a bowl until the brown sugar is dissolved.
  • Place the Chex, pretzels and Bugles into a very large bowl. Stir gently to mix. Pour the sauce over the mixture and stir gently to coat evenly.
  • Divide the mixture between the two baking sheets and spread out evenly.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, stirring gently every 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for 20-30 minutes.
  • Add mixture to a large bowl. Add the candy corn, pumpkins and Reese's pieces. Stir gently to combine.
  • Store in an airtight container.

The Best Chicken Fingers

Oh my goodness. Give me a plate of these chicken fingers and some of the dipping sauce and stand back because I’m going in! Calling these the “best” is not only accurate it’s an understatement! The chicken is moist and tender. It isn’t dried out like some of the chicken finger recipes we’ve all made. The batter adheres perfectly and has just the right crunch. No batter loss here and no breading that’s so crunchy you’d swear you were biting into pebbles. This is spot-on great stuff here!
The Best Chicken Fingers

Although this recipe calls for adding a bit of hot sauce to the marinade I wouldn’t let that scare you off from making them for your We-don’t-like-spicy friends. The chicken is by no means spicy hot. The heat is very subtle. If you have to go without it substitute apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. Personally, I’d double the amount of hot sauce and add a bit of cayenne or chipotle powder to the breading next time!

Dip your chicken fingers in my copycat Zax sauce!

The Best Chicken Fingers

Course Appetizer
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings
Author Inspired by Butter With A Side Of Bread

Ingredients

For the chicken

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins

For the marinade

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon Frank’s RedHot Sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the breading

  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup regular breadcrumbs Italian-seasoned is fine
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying

For the Chicken Finger Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Couple pinches of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

For the chicken

  • Cut into strips or nuggets. Try to make the pieces as close to the same size as possible.
  • Whisk together the marinade ingredients. Add in the chicken pieces and coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Combine the breading ingredients in a pie plate or bowl.
  • Heat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven until 365 F.
  • Working in batches, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade. Shake off excess and transfer to the fryer. Fry 2-4 minutes per side, flipping once. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
  • Serve with the Chicken Finger Dipping Sauce.

For the Chicken Finger Dipping Sauce

  • Whisk together all ingredients.

Plank-Smoked Camembert

Disappeared. Like that. Plank-smoked Camembert is creamy, lightly smoky, and just incredibly delicious. Oh, and it has just a little kick. Don’t be afraid of it. That little heat offsets the sweetness perfectly. You won’t be able to get enough. I couldn’t.
Plank-Smoked Camembert

I could easily see making several variations on this plank-smoked Camembert for a party. You have to make this recipe as-is, for sure. Then maybe try a few different jellies. Try a few without jalapenos. Mix it up. They’re super easy to make, look amazing, and taste fantastic.

You’ll also love plank-smoked Twinkies and my cedar-planked Bloomin’ Onions.

Plank-Smoked Camembert

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 cedar plank
  • 8 ounces Camembert cheese
  • 3 tablespoons jalapeno pepper jelly
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper sliced thin
  • Crackers for serving

Instructions

  • Fire up your grill for direct and indrect cooking.
  • Place the cedar plank over direct heat and grill until it is singed. Flip and singe the other side. Remove and let cool slightly.
  • Unwrap the cheese and place in the center of the plank. Top with the jelly, spreading it out over the top. Add the jalapeno slices.
  • Return the plank to the grill, this time over indirect heat. Grill until the cheese is starting to melt, 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove the plank from the grill. Serve with crackers.