Chocolate & Pretzel Cereal Treats

Dear Mrs. Harolds,

I may have been in 3rd grade with a fledgling worldview and a tiny stature, but if there was one thing I understood, it was justice.

Justice (and, incidentally, righteous indignation) were bred into every last molecule in my stubborn, pint-sized being. Thus, even though children often unwittingly grant adults unbridled authority and unquestioning amnesty, I knew on that gray day in the middle of November that you were being unfair.

There was precedent for said unfairness. I had a nervous habit (and still do, actually) of picking at my lips, which were always dry for some reason. One day you walked by and roughly pushed my arm down while I was standing in line, and I remember the shock of the physical correction. In the confusing moments that followed, I tried to evaluate whether or not that was an appropriate action for a teacher to take. I finally decided that it most certainly was not.

There was also that time when Logan stole my troll doll pencil. He’d been eying it all day while Chris and I used it to produce elaborate troll doll plays. When it went missing, I confronted him and, while he looked decidedly uneasy, he denied any knowledge of its whereabouts. When I informed you of this, fully trusting that you would remedy the situation because that’s what adults are supposed to do, you shrugged. “If he says he doesn’t have it,” you said, “there’s nothing I can do about it.”

My tiny heart burned with indignation. There was sure something I could do about it if you wouldn’t intervene! I marched right over and yanked Logan’s bookbag open before he even had a chance to protest. There, looking happily up at me from on top of a social studies book, was my troll doll pencil. I grabbed it and stalked away as you watched in surprise.

But this was a wholly different situation. This time, you were implicitly criticizing my dad. Perhaps you didn’t know this about me, but that’s one of the last things you want to do in my presence.

It all started with that chocolate rice cereal treat. It was snack time at school, so I pulled the treat from my bookbag and began to tear open the foil wrapper around it. I’d been bringing the cereal treats for my snack ever since my tapioca pudding cups had, without warning, become inexplicably gross to me. But for some reason on this day, my cereal treat was like a magnet for your keen eyes. You strode over to me before I’d even taken a bite.

“You can’t eat that for snack time. Snack time is for healthy snacks.” I looked around at others’ crackers and chips, confused as to why my snack alone warranted this criticism (indeed, if I’d known what I know now, I’d have retorted that crackers are about as worthless for you and a lot less fun).

“Well, this is what my dad bought for me for snack time,” I responded, unsure of how to proceed.

“You can’t eat them. Don’t bring them anymore.” I thought of the box of cereal treats sitting at home designated for my snack time. I thought of my parents’ slim budget. I thought of how hard they both worked to provide for our huge family. You didn’t know it, Mrs. Harolds, but you’d just planted the seed of a lifelong grudge.

I didn’t throw the cereal treat at you or throw a crying fit, although my 3rd grade brain probably considered both of those options. Instead, I mourned about it all day and, with considerable angst, revealed to my parents that night that I couldn’t bring cereal treats anymore. Lest you feel victorious about that fact, however, I’d like to remind you that I’m sitting here 20 years later writing a vindictive description of you for the amusement of the general public. For good measure, I may even tell folks about your nose hairs and the time you threw whiteboard markers at us.

Not only that, but I’m doing all of this in a post that shares a recipe for some indulgent, sugary, chocolatey, salty-and-sweet cereal treats. Some particularly marshmallowy ones, even.

I don’t know, but I’d say I had the last laugh.


P.S. Or, I don’t know, maybe the fact that I’m still annoyed at you 20 years later does mean you win. Grr.

And another P.S. to my readers: Have you ever had an unfair teacher? Here’s your space to vent! Unless you’re one of my students, in which case, go do your homework.

Chocolate & Pretzel Cereal Treats

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, adapted from Kellogg’s
Yield: about 12 bars

These are cereal treats on steroids! You can mix any kind of cereal you like, but here I’ve chosen to combine chocolate and plain rice cereals. The addition of salty pretzels and gooey chocolate chips make these treats indulgent and delicious. As a bonus, they’re super easy to make!

1/4 cup butter
4 cups miniature marshmallows or 1 package (10 ounces) large marshmallows
2 cups chocolate rice cereal
2 cups plain rice cereal
2 cups pretzel wheels (broken into pieces, but not pulverized), plus whole pretzels for topping
3/4 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips

Spray a 13 x 9-inch pan with cooking spray and set it aside. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir in the marshmallows (I use a spatula coated with cooking spray) until they’re completely melted and remove the pan from the heat.

Add the cereal, pretzel pieces, and chocolate chips and stir until they’re thoroughly coated. Pour the mixture out into your prepared pan. Use a sheet of wax paper to press the mixture into an even layer in your pan. Quickly press whole pretzels in rows all along the surface of the bars.

Let the treats cool completely (and maybe even drizzle some melted chocolate over them!) and then cut into squares to serve. The treats can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for two days, or can be frozen (separated by wax paper) for up to 6 weeks.

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Overnight Yeast Rolls

When I was little, my family enjoyed packing into the car and driving to Quincy’s Buffet. I don’t even know if Quincy’s exists anymore. Even if it does, it’s probably not the magical wonderland of food my childhood brain made it out to be. At any rate, I so loved making the pilgrimage to it back then. My memories from the all-you-can-eat buffet include ravaging the macaroni and cheese and visiting the soft-serve ice cream dispenser. I’d get a chocolate vanilla swirl cone with lots of random candy, sprinkles, nuts, and goo for good measure. But the most memorable part of Quincy’s — the part we all raved about before and after our visit — were the warm, fluffy yeasts rolls with honey butter smeared all over them.

Those are fond memories, but even Quincy’s yeast rolls were just a pale imitation of the light, soft, and buttery rolls my mother would make from scratch a few times a year. In the middle of the nights following Thanksgiving, I would creep out of my downstairs bedroom and warm up some leftover rolls with butter, turkey, and gravy tucked in each one. It might be easier to head to a restaurant, but you won’t regret spending a bit of time in the kitchen to make these homemade rolls. As a bonus, this same dough can be used to make phenomenal cinnamon rolls, as my mother does each Christmas morning.

Overnight Yeast Rolls

My rolls in the pictures below are a bit darker than normal because, for this batch, I used part wheat flour in an attempt to make these healthier. While they’re good either way, I’ll stick with all-purpose flour all the way next time around. No reason to mess with a good thing!

Overnight Yeast Rolls

Recipe By: Clyta Lundsford
Yields: Makes a big, rectangular pan and a half


2 packages yeast
2 1/2 cups water
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 cups all-purpose flour


Soften yeast in water. Add sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and 4 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Let sit 1 minute, then add rest of flour and mix well. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to bake, pinch off dough and form into rolls and cover with a towel. Let rise for 1 hour (or until doubled in size) in a warm place, such as on top of the preheating oven. Then bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Let the tops get a little browner than you think they should to ensure the rolls aren’t doughy in the middle. Brush the tops butter when the rolls are done to soften. Can use 5 cups white flour and 3 cups wheat flour for a slightly healthier, slightly less delicious version.

Dough rising in the refrigerator.

Rolls rising on top of the oven.

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