From her perspective, in matters as important as food, tradition should rarely be tampered with, and that includes her “Texas Trash,” aka Chex Mix. But, alas, her daughter is an endless culinary tinkerer and so, having had my annual fix of Mama and Papa’s vintage “Trash” over the Christmas holiday, I came home wanting to give some food gifts to my treasured local freelance clients and wanting just as much to try a new Chex Mix riff I’d been fantasizing about. Airplane travel lends itself to such ruminations.
Though there are some four or five bastardizations–to my mother’s way of thinking–on the back of the Rice Chex box, I had in mind an Asian-inspired version that would borrow the ground Nori sheets from my delectable Vegan Hurricane Popcorn with a Twist. Not knowing how the recipients would feel about seaweed in their Chex Mix, I went easy, creating just a subtle hint. But if a pronounced flavor is more to your liking, use an extra sheet–or two–of Nori.
Consider yourself warned: this stuff is habit-forming. Even my husband–who prides himself on not eating snack foods, yet his normal non-vegan diet is far from anything to brag about–loved it. And its addictive qualities cannot be traced to one ingredient; rather to the contrasts of textures and shapes and, most especially, to the way the seasoning seeps into and adheres to certain tidbits more than others–creating a buttery richness here and a tangy saltiness there–so that no two bites taste quite the same.
Note that, as with all baked goods, the cooling process is just as important as the baking itself, so be sure not to shortcut my quick and easy instructions.
Once cool, the mix can be beautifully stored for keeping or giving in cans–coffee, nut, Pringles, etc.–wrapped in decorative paper. For the uncoated cardboard-lined cans, like the Pringles ones that students give me, I like to place the mix in a resealable sandwich bag first. Actually, I do it for all for extra insurance.
Go ahead, just try and resist!
12 cups Rice Chex (1-12 ounce box)
2 cups Wheat Chex
5 cups “Sesame Nut Mix” (I use this Kroger brand mix of sesame sticks and roasted and salted peanuts and cashews; if your grocery store does not sell something similar, just combine roughly equal amounts of the three key ingredients; substitute crispy noodles from the Asian food aisle or even thin pretzel sticks of you can’t locate sesame sticks, and add a drop or two of sesame oil to the butter mixture if desired.)
1 cup vegan butter, melted (I use Earth Balance, but this is a good opportunity for me to tout my vegan friend and fellow blogger and cookbook author, Bryanna Clark Grogan’s, homemade palm oil-free “Buttah”)
2 tablespoons soy sauce (feel free to use a “lite” variety)
2 to 3 sheets Nori, one sheet at a time torn into small pieces and ground in a spice grinder until very fine, but not quite a powder)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
3/4 teaspoon Seasoned Salt (I use Lawry’s brand)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Optional: pinch of red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 3oo degrees. In a large roasting pan, combine cereal and sesame nut mix. Stir soy sauce, Nori, nutritional yeast, seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and optional red pepper flakes into melted butter. Drizzle evenly over dry mix and combine, using your hands, trying to coat every piece with the butter mixture. Place pan in center of oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring really well from the sides and corners to the center, every 1o minutes. To cool, spread mixture out in a thin layer on kitchen counter or baking sheets lined with paper towels or brown paper grocery bags. Cool completely. Store in airight containers or in ziplock bags inside airtight containers for extra protection for about a week.