Spiced Crispies (Chivda, or Indian Snack Mix)

I’m not a psychologist or anything, but I feel uniquely qualified after a recent shopping trip to characterize the following 5 stages of grief involved in holiday grocery shopping.

I was all set to make this chivda (which, by the way, is a fantastic Indian snack mix that you need a huge bowl of right now) after two trips to the Indian grocery store. The only ingredient I still needed was a box of golden raisins. ONE STUPID BOX OF GOLDEN RAISINS. Little did I know the wide range of emotions I was about to experience.

STAGE ONE: Denial.

Mike and I arrived at a Walmart that almost certainly exceeded its maximum occupancy. A sea of cars greeted us in the parking lot, followed by a sea of frustrated faces perched paradoxically above jingly Christmas sweaters inside the store.

We combed the aisles for raisins before finally locating them in the baking aisle and finding that the shelf had been — there’s really no other way to describe it — ransacked. Like, tiny ninja elves had climbed all over it and kicked packages around in a game of tiny ninja elf football. I glanced over the mess. No golden raisins in sight. Mike shrugged and, just like a man, offered, “Guess they don’t have any.”

I was obviously the more sane of the two of us. “THEY HAVE TO HAVE THEM,” I replied, shuffling through every single box. No golden raisins.

I argued with the reality staring me in the face: “ALL GROCERY STORES HAVE THEM.” I shuffled through every single box a second time.

As if perhaps this information would help, or as if Mike were, like me, continuing a deluded search through the shelves, I added, “THEY’RE LIKE RAISINS, BUT THEY’RE GOLDEN.” He stood behind me, hands in his pockets, letting the scene play out. I must have gone through the shelves five times in all, positive that at any moment, I was going to see that little yellow box peeking out at me from behind the dried cranberries. Mike backed a little farther away when I started talking to myself.

STAGE TWO: Anger / Delirium.


Finally, he tried, “Why don’t we go to a different store?” which only produced another round of angry grunting.

STAGE THREE: Bargaining.

As I combed through other aisles, thinking perhaps that the golden raisins were shelved with the canned fruit, or with the snacks, or with the holiday display, or with the toilet paper (I don’t know!), Mike tried another line of reasoning. “You know, with the time we’re spending here looking for them, we could already be at another store.”

“It’s not the time, it’s the inconvenience. I’d rather sit here for 2 more hours looking for these flippin’ raisins than check out, walk all the way back to the car, drive to another store, and repeat this whole process. I seriously will walk around until I find them. If I just walk around long enough, I have to find a box.”

STAGE FOUR: Depression.

After walking down all of the possible aisles three separate times, I stood morosely by the freezer section, watching Mike select turkey burgers. He debated over two brands while I moped. Who even cared which brand of turkey burgers? It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered.


Normally this stage of grief is where you can finally accept your loss. There are no golden raisins, you’re still alive, the world will go on.

If you’re like me, though, this is not acceptable. There will be no acceptance! Not a bit of it!

I looked around and noticed the pallets being unloaded around the store. It was that unique time of night when the Walmart folks start stocking the shelves for the next day. Suddenly, I knew what I must do. “The pallets!” I shouted, taking off and leaving a confused Mike standing with a box of turkey burgers still in each hand.

Sure enough, a huge pallet of boxes stacked twice as tall as me sat by the baking aisle. I ran around it like a toddler around a Christmas tree until — GLORY, GLORY HALLELUJAH! — I saw the little Sun-Maid raisin box near the bottom. “Come help!” I yelled to Mike, who was walking up and only just now realizing how crazy I really was. He reluctantly started shifting boxes.

A Walmart stocker, who probably hated people like me with every ounce of her being, asked, “Do you need any help?”

“Oh, no, I’m sorry. I just need a box of golden raisins. Is this okay?” I asked, still frantically shoving boxes around to get to the Sun-Maid box. I pulled off the top and pulled out the prize — that beautiful yellow box! The stocker nodded and walked off, clearly avoiding saying any of the things she probably wanted to say to me. Mike and I neatly stacked the boxes back as penance.

I looked up after our wonderful adventure to find Mike shaking his head incredulously. “I told you I was going to get them,” I said, grinning. “And you do realize that this is the worst kind of reinforcement for me.” Glowing with triumph, I walked out of Walmart (after paying, duh), feeling like the hero of my new reality.

* * *

Annnnd then, lucky for Mike, I got home and burned the entire first batch of chivda — and all my beautiful golden raisins with it. I have learned two lessons: one, Mike is a saint. Two, reality bites.

One year ago: Brown Butter Cookie Dough Pretzel Bars
Two years ago: Magic Bars
Three years ago: Taco Stuffed Crescent Rolls

Spiced Crispies (Chivda, or Indian snack mix)

Recipe by: adapted from kimberlite8, inspired by Poppy
Yield: about 3 1/2 cups of snack mix

Chivda is a common Indian snack mix (think of it as Indian Chex Mix!) also called Bombay Mix in the U.K. This version salty-sweet mix is a flavor explosion, to say the least: it combines sultry curry leaves and toasted spices with toasted nuts and golden raisins. You’ll be addicted in no time. I provided substitutes for the few Indian ingredients you need, but it’s really worth it to pop over to an Indian grocery if you have one — especially for curry leaves and sev. The whole recipe is super quick — about 20 minutes, flat — so prepare your mise-en-place ahead of time (have everything set out.)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
3/4 teaspoons poppy seed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons corn syrup
3/4 teaspoons dry mango powder*
1/2 scant teaspoon kosher salt

heaping 1/4 cup roasted, salted cashews
heaping 1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup roasted, salted pumpkin or sunflower seeds
2 cups puffed rice cereal (like Rice Krispies)
1/2 cup sev**
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/8 cup golden raisins
about 2-3 fresh curry leaves, chopped finely***

* Dry mango powder can be found at an Indian grocery. You should be able to substitute using a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, but I haven’t tried that.
** Sev are crunchy “noodles” made from chickpea flour and can be found at an Indian grocery. You could also substitute chow mein noodles or small pretzels, but sev is seriously so good.
*** Curry leaves are also found in an Indian grocery and add such a great flavor, texture, and color to the finished product. If you can’t find them, I think you could add about 1/8 teaspoon of curry powder in with the red pepper and turmeric, though I haven’t tried this.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, place cashews, pecans, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, puffed rice cereal, and sev. Next to this bowl, set two big spoons sprayed with cooking spray.

This is a recipe where you want to have a great mise-en-place before you begin, because cooking goes quickly! Prepare three prep bowls: prep bowl #1 with mustard seed, fennel seed, poppy seed, and cumin seed; prep bowl #2 with ground red pepper and turmeric; and prep bowl #3 with corn syrup, dry mango powder, and salt. In a large saucepan, heat vegetable oil over medium heat until it shimmers (test with a cumin seed — it should bubble very slightly when dropped in). When oil is ready, add all the seeds from prep bowl #1 and let them begin to sizzle for about 30 seconds, stirring occasionally. Add in the red pepper and turmeric in prep bowl #2 and let the mixture continue to sizzle for another 30 seconds or so, stirring occasionally, until spices are lightly toasted and fragrant. Add mango powder, salt, and corn syrup from prep bowl #3 and let cook until corn syrup is bubbly, about 30 more seconds. Pour this mixture all over the puffed rice cereal mixture in the large bowl and use your sprayed spoons to toss and mix it gently until well-coated.

Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet, breaking up any large clumps gently, and bake for 12-15 minutes, tossing every few minutes and sprinkling the 1/2 teaspoon sugar on halfway through, until nuts are toasted. Once removed from the oven, pour the mixture back into the large bowl and toss with golden raisins and chopped curry leaves. Serve hot or room temperature. Store, fully cooled, in an airtight container.

Biscoff Spread Sandy Buddies (Cinnamon Muddy Buddies!)

Can we all please agree that, “I’m sorry if that offended you,” is totally not a real apology? And that, in the event you offer it as one, you should fully expect to get a dishtowel upside the head? Just so we’re clear.

While we’re at it, tell my students that none of that I’m-sorry-with-an-eye-roll business counts, either. And don’t waste your breath with, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

When it’s time to apologize, only a straight-up, sincere, “I’m sorry,” will do. If you want to add some groveling, it will be happily accepted.

It’s with this knowledge of what constitutes an acceptable apology that I come to you today to express my regrets. I am sincerely sorry . . . ’cause I’ve been totally thinking you guys were nuts.

Awhile back, the interwebz exploded with enthusiasm about Biscoff Spread. Tons of food blogs were abuzz about the alleged deliciousness of said product. Based on the posts I read, I was pretty sure there were people composing songs in homage to it and creating oil paintings of the jar to hang in their living rooms.

I automatically became the Biscoff Spread Grinch.

This is totally just what I do. I’m too hipster, apparently, to like something popular (fortunately, being a hipster is also popular, so I’m also snotty about that). When things are trendy, I have a reflexive urge to scoff at them (except Gotye. You know you like that song.)

Also, I kind of assumed that the Biscoff Spread buzz was a farce to drive blog traffic increases. Basically, I thought bloggers were creating recipes with it mostly to tap into how excited people were and get more readers. I KNOW. That is so flippin’ cynical of me. I am ashamed.

I always intended to take my Grinchy, cynical self to the grocery store and buy a jar to confirm or disprove my suspicions, but never seemed to get around to it. In the meantime, I continued to be a total hater. I was drinkin’ the Hatorade.

Finally, though, a couple of weeks ago I was feeling lazy. I didn’t want to do a bunch of baking. Sometimes you want to Cook Hard Stuff and sometimes you want to make a simple, no-bake treat and then accidentally eat it all before you get a chance to take it to your holiday party, resulting in simultaneous feelings of self-disgust and dessert-induced euphoria.

I could have just made regular Muddy Buddies, also called Puppy Chow, which is basically a chocolate and peanut butter coated version of Chex Mix, but this was the perfect time to take Biscoff Spread out for a spin! I picked up a jar and created Sandy Buddies, a cinnamon and Biscoff flavored version of the original recipe. And um…

Y’all, I’m just gonna be honest. I ate an entire jar of Biscoff Spread with a spoon before I ever got a chance to try this recipe. Then I made two batches of this recipe (ostensibly to “tweak” it). Then I took it to work in an attempt to avoid eating it all. Then I still ate most of it at work.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m sorry. You were right: Biscoff Spread is the bommmmb (do people still say that? Are my students laughing at me right now?) You should buy 3 jars: 2 to eat with a spoon, and one to make Sandy Buddies repeatedly.

What trends are you way too cool to like?

One year ago: Make-Ahead Gingerbread Coffee Cake with Cranberry Pecan Streusel
Two years ago: Dining in The King’s Kitchen (recipe: Southern Pimento Cheese with Lavash Crackers)
Three years ago: Roast Chicken and Onion Jam Panini with Sweet Potato Fries

Also, can I just tell you how excited I am to try the Oreo Cookie Spread over on Buns in my Oven? Now that I’ve put away the Hatorade, I’m all, “SPREAD ALL THE COOKIES!”

Biscoff Spread Sandy Buddies

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, based on Muddy Buddies by Chex
Yield: 2 cups of Sandy Buddies — a good amount for around two people

This recipe is quick and easy, but so yummy and delicious! If you love Muddy Buddies and Biscoff Spread, you’ll love these. If you don’t love Biscoff Spread, stop being a grinch. (I kid, I kid!) Feel free to multiply this recipe a few times for a gathering.

2 1/4 cups Chex cereal
2 tablespoons cinnamon chips (such as these)
3/8 cup (about 6 tablespoons) Biscoff Spread
2 tablespoons butter
powdered sugar for coating (I mixed in a little Cinnabon sprinkle topping)

Place cereal into a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, microwave cinnamon chips, Biscoff spread, and butter for 1 minute. Stir. Heat for 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until mixture is smooth. Spoon mixture into cereal and gently mix to combine all ingredients.

Place powdered sugar with option Cinnabon Sprinkle topping into a gallon resealable bag. Spoon in cereal mixture and shake to coat. I like to then pour this into a colander and shake some of the excess sugar off. Then spread them on wax paper to cool. Place in a festive bowl to serve!

Note: Lotus (the Biscoff people) and Chex were not involved in this post, nor did either of those companies sponsor it. Cinnabon sent me some of their Sprinkle Topping to try for free, so I used it here, but I’d never mention a product I didn’t genuinely enjoy, free or not!

Snack Attack #2: Chili-Lime Roasted Chickpeas

You’ve had sweet (with a little tart thrown in for good measure). Now it’s time for the other side of the snacking coin: salty. Salty, spicy, tangy, bright, crunchy, provocative. Wait, can food be provocative?

I think so. Especially if the words chili-lime are involved.

I’ve seen roasted chickpeas cropping up all over the interwebs and have been all in a tizzy wanting to try them. They just look so scrumptious and snackable. I headed over to The Kitchn where there are about a billion (okay, fifteen) seasoning suggestions for roasted chickpeas. I needed some inspiration.

And oh, did I find inspiration! The Kitchn lists Garlic, Pepper, Rosemary chickpeas; Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Chili Powder chickpeas; and Brown Sugar, Rosemary, Cayenne Pepper chickpeas, just to name a few.

Chili powder, cumin, and lime all seemed like popular seasoning components, though I couldn’t seem to find a recipe that put them all together. They’re a match made in tex-mexy heaven, though, so I threw them all in my chickpea seasoning mix. Sure enough, the finished product tasted exactly like I’d imagined — spicy and addictive. I crunched down chickpea after chickpea while watching the first few episodes of America’s Got Talent on Hulu (no spoilers, please — except one. Feel free to tell me if anyone knocks Piers Morgan’s block off after a particularly snotty critique).

Are you in a snacky mood? These are so simple to make and they taste better than those greasy potato chips. The spice flavoring would also be wonderful on popcorn. What’s your go-to salty snack?

Chili-Lime Roasted Chickpeas

Recipe by: Adapted from chowmama
Yields: about 1.5 cups roasted chickpeas

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed, and blotted dry
3-4 teaspoons chili powder*
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lime juice
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 teaspoons cumin*
Pinch of dried herbs of your choice (I used a little rosemary and thyme) OR chopped fresh cilantro

*Note: start with the lowest amount of spice, then add more to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray. Spread chickpeas out in a single layer over the foil. Once oven is preheated, bake chickpeas for 45-50 minutes, stirring and flipping every 15 minutes or so. Chowmama includes a note saying that the cooking times can very; the way she looked for (and thus the way I looked for) doneness is taking a few chickpeas out, letting them cool for a minute, and then biting into them. Take them out when they’re really crunchy.

Near the end of the chickpeas’ cooking time, combine oil, chili powder, lime juice, sea salt, and cumin in a medium bowl. Whisk to mix. When chickpeas are done, let them cool for just a minute before pouring them into the oil mixture. Stir to coat all the chickpeas well. Eat immediately, or store in an airtight container (after cooling completely) to eat later.

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