Friday, December 10, 2010

Handmade Christmas - Mrs. Wheeler's Party Mix

One of the most memorable holiday foods in my life is Mrs. Wheeler's Party Mix. She would make it every year around Christmas and give it in those old fashioned butter cookie tins (you know, the royal blue big round tins?). As long as you returned the tin Mrs. Wheeler would refill it. She had no limits on refills either. We LOVED Mrs. Wheeler's party mix in our house. I remember in high school my sister and I fighting over it, and hiding the tin from each other so we could hoard it.
When I got married and was living in Florida, thousands of miles away from Mrs. Wheeler, I really missed it and craved it once December rolled around. I decided to call her for the recipe so I could make some, and I was glad I did. She mailed me the recipe, all typed on a 3x5 card and a $20 bill to buy the ingredients. She was a special lady. Mrs. Wheeler will always hold a special place in my heart. Every year that I make her party mix I remember the love and generosity she exuded to all those around her.
This makes a wonderful handmade Christmas gift when you package it in a pretty Christmas tin. It is affordable to make and can really be made tailored to your special tastes (I like it extra seasoned). Here is Mrs. Wheeler's recipe (see picture below) and I will also share how I make it.
Ingredients:
1 stick of butter or margarine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
few drops Tabasco sauce
1 scant tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp onion salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
4 cups Corn Chex cereal
4 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup Wheat Chex cereal (this is our least favorite, and it comes in a much smaller box so it makes sense to decrease for economical reasons)
2 cups pretzel sticks, broken in half
1 1/2 cups salted mixed nuts (or your favorite nut, I used whole cashews here)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large roasting pan, place the stick of butter or margarine and place in oven to melt. While the butter is melting, mix the cereals, pretzels and nuts together in a large bowl.
This is easy and fun and you can have your kids help too!
Once butter is melted, add remaining ingredients to pan (Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and salts). Mix well.
Add the cereal, pretzel and nut mixture to the butter mixture and stir well to get everything coated.
Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees, stiring every 15 minutes. Cool, and package for gifts. Just to warn you, those nuts are hot when this first comes out of the oven. I burnt my tongue. Just warning you. I know the smell is so amazing that you can't help yourself...but try. You want to be able to taste it later, and if you kill your taste buds, well I can't help ya there.
I like to line my tin with a clear plastic bag, then gather it together at the top and tie with a ribbon. Then clip the excess bag off the top. It really looks more like a gift when you package it nicely in a tin.
Doesn't that look pretty? Guess where I got these pretty Christmas tins? Yup, the Christmas Tree Shop. I think they were only $0.69. Yes, I do love a bargain. The ribbon came from Target's dollar bins.
And there you have it. An easy, tasty, handmade Christmas gift to make and gift this Christmas.
Photography by T-Cracka (who is actually Travis Sharkey, but my son calls him T-Cracka which I find hilarious).
Enjoy.

5 comments:

  1. My aunt makes this exact same party mix every Christmas!!! And it's one of my favorites, too. I put in my request for some each Christmas.

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  2. looks so yummy!..... My mouth always waters when I see your posts!!! :)
    Glad I got to meet Mrs. Wheeler!

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  3. Wish I had a dollar for every batch of this I make. I up the worcestershire sauce to 3 T and use a scant T of seasoned salt to season. My kids love that I bring this to every family gathering (we live long distance from them) and I give some as Christmas gifts. This year, I'll be making at least 11 double batches.

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  4. Looking forward to trying out the recipe but I have another reason for commenting. Would you mind if I asked where Mrs. Wheeler lived? It's my maiden name and I'm always curious when I stumble across a Wheeler. :) My email is MovinForward1 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

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  5. This party mix is so good! I was just going to make this for us to enjoy, but decided to make more (on batches 2 and 3 now) and hand it out as gifts to Ian's teacher's and bus driver's.
    Thank you so much for posting this! I will be forever grateful! ;)

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