Iron Chef 2012

This past weekend my entire family gathered at my parent’s house for our yearly “Remix”.  This unique family celebration came about because we were all in need of a weekend full of laughter, lots of sugar, and little sleep somewhere between our Christmas celebration at Labor Day and our annual camp-out over the 4th of July.

Since we invented the holiday, we decided to invent our own traditions too – and thus our annual Iron Chef competition was born.

The secret ingredient is announced in advance and everyone is welcome to bring as many entries as they wish.

This year’s secret ingredient was cereal.

As always, there were many amazing entries –

Iron Chef entriesBut I had a favorite.

My sister Sandy’s kids went above and beyond to create a masterpiece. Surely you remember the Rice Krispie sculpture of William Tell from three years ago?

This year they made a giant cereal bowl out of cereal complete with a cereal spoon!

rice krispie cereal bowlBut that’s not all!

Oh no! These kids decided that a special bowl needed a special cereal – so they invented 2 kinds.

The first was Uncle Rod’s Adventure cereal. Uncle Rod loves cereal. Especially sugared cereal. Since his favorite part of the cereal is the toys inside – they decorated an empty cereal box and filled it with plastic baggies full of plastic adventure toys!

But the second kind of cereal was my all-time favorite. Why? Because they named it for me!

Auntie M's Organic O'sIt even had my picture on the front!

But the best part was what was inside!

I opened the recycled cereal box and pulled out a plastic bag that looked like it was full of Cheerios. But – as I kept pulling, I discovered the cereal was just a disguise.

The bottom of the bag was full of mini chocolate candy bars!

One of the kids called out, “Because Aunt Melinda is always hiding her chocolate!”

Those kids know we too well!

Not that I would ever dream of hiding my chocolate at the bottom of a box of organic cereal! 🙂

But I did keep the box – just in case!

Caramel Snack Mix

Chex MixHere it is!

The super yummy – diet busting snack mix I promised you – just in time for swimsuit season! 🙂

Dagmar entered this mix as her entry for the annual family Iron Chef competition and won second place in the “Yum” category.

It was first place in my heart! It’s an addicting sweet and salty combination – think Chex Mix meets caramel corn.

I literally couldn’t stop eating it.

Frosting True confessions here – if you look very closely at the picture of  Butterbuns Iron Chef entry that I posted last week – you will see a pink arm in the background.

That arm is mine.

It is in the bucket of Caramel Snack Mix – where it spent the weekend.

My nieces and nephews had to wrestle it out of my hands just to save me from myself.

It’s that good.

I hope my family enjoyed it – ’cause I’m not sure the scale will allow me to ever make it again! 😉

Caramel Snack Mix

1 – 12 oz. box Crispix
1 cup peanuts
1 cup almonds
1 cup cashews
6 ounces mini pretzels or sticks
2 sticks butter or margarine
1/2 cup Karo syrup
2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix together the Crispix, nuts and pretzels sticks in a large bowl. (We used 3 cups of mixed nuts in ours.)

In a 3 quart saucepan combine the oleo, Karo syrup and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Add 1 teaspoon soda. Stir. It will foam up.

Pour over the cereal mix and stir.

Bake in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes stirring every 5 minutes.

Dump out on the table to cool and harden.

Now – I dare you not to eat the whole thing!


I’ve linked this post up at Tasty TuesdayTempt My Tummy Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table.

So How Do We Iron Chef – 2011

What a week-end!

We gathered at my parents with all my siblings, their spouses and children for our traditional spring gathering that  we’ve dubbed The Remix.

Part of the crazy fun included our annual Iron Chef Competition! This year’s secret ingredient was a Mix. We could bring anything made from a mix – or a mix of things (ie: Chex Mix or Trail Mix.)

I did not have an entry this year – I just didn’t have time.  (But it’s okay – that date day with my husband was worth it!)

The  kids did though – Angel Girl made a yummy brownie -filled cookie that we found at The Picky Palate that used a brownie mix. Buddy made our favorite Hot Chocolate Cookies using hot chocolate mix and Dagmar made a new -absolutely wonderful – diet busting treat – Caramel Chex Mix. (Yes – I will share the recipe!)

Pedro went a little outside the box and put together a mix of music on his Itouch as “food for the soul”!

He wasn’t the only one that thought outside the box!

Some of my nieces and nephews blew me away with their entries!

There was the winner in the Best Represents the Family category – Sweet Prairie Memories.


This delightful jello concoction (jello is a mix!) recreated out of candy many of the things that the grand-kids love about Papa and Nana’s house.

You can see candy grandkids inter-tubing down the river, Nana playing bear in the trees, the prairie playhouse and Papa Jim on the lawn mower pulling wagons full of grand kids.

Then there was Butter Bun’s entry. (You may remember Butter Buns as my very creative 7 year old niece.) This time she “mixed” food with technology and made the amazing “cake froster”.


The mustard bottle in the middle holds frosting. You can then rotate it around the cake and squirt as much or as little frosting as you desire on your piece. 🙂

Watch for in a stores everywhere!

The grand prize in the Best Use of the Secret Ingredient Category went to my nieces Lexie and Molly for the triple layer cake and pie concoction.

Minecraft cakeThink “Turducken” meets the pastry world. Each layer is a pie baked with a cake surrounding it.

I’m serious people.  Each layer has a pie baked right inside a cake.

There were three layers.

With frosting.

And a mural on the outside in frosting complete with green creepers and a pink pig made out of caramels.

That thing was huge! They had to custom design a carrying case for it out of springform pans, a mixing bowl and duct tape just to get it there!

Talk about creativity!

Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t have time to make an entry – I’m not sure I can compete on this level! 🙂

Those nieces and nephews of mine have just raised the bar for future Iron Chef Competitions.



Caramel Apple Crumble

Carmal Apple Cobbler I told you all about our family Iron Chef competition a few weeks ago…

Well… I just got the recipe for my favorite entry of the weekend!

My nine year old nephew invented this delectable dessert that had all his aunts swooning!

It was a caramel and apple combination on a cake base that was truly memorable.

Caramel Apple Crumble

1 package french vanilla cake mix
2/3 cup evaporated milk (separated) – ( this equals one small can)
3/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
1 can apple pie filling
14 ounce package of caramels

Mix the cake mix with the melted butter and 1/3 cup of evaporated milk.  Add the pecans if desired.

Press 1/2 of the mix into a 9 x 13 greased cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the caramels with the remaining 1/3 cup of evaporated milk and set aside.

Remove from the oven and spread the can of apple pie filing over the crust. Pour the melted caramels over the apples and dot with the remaining cake mix.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the cake is not doughy.

PS: My home canned apple pie filling works great in this recipe!


So How Do We Iron Chef?

One of our favorite family traditions is our Annual Iron Chef Competition at the Remix.

Since we are a family of foodies (people who love to read about, talk about, think about, make, and eat food) our very own Iron Chef Competition just makes sense.

Our rules are simple. The official judges (Nana and the grandkids) chose a secret ingredient and announce it a few weeks in advance. Any one – of any age – can enter as many entries as they wish.

The day of the event all of the entries are placed on a table, labeled and given a small plastic cup to hold the votes. Whenever we are all assembled and quiet (now that’s a major undertaking!), each chef shows their dish and describes the ingredients.

Our Iron Chef Dishes

Then we all go around the table taking samples of everything. We each have a small cup of M & M’s that we use for voting by putting them in the cups of our favorite dishes.

This year’s secret ingredient was apples.

We had everything from apple muffins to apple salads. We had apple brownies, apple snacks, and apple desserts. We even had apple butter pancakes!

Some of the amazing entries were:

Thick Skinned Apple

The simple: “Thick Skinned Apple” – an apple that was peeled, then peanut butter was used to re-apply the peel.

Chocolate Bars

The Chocolate: Caramel Apple Bars

Apple Salsa

The Unique: Apple Salsa

William Tell's Son Cake

The Artistic: A Rice Krispie sculpture of William Tell’s Son complete with apple and arrow!

It was a fun and delicious family activity!

How Do We Iron Chef?

We’ve just returned from a fun week-end with my family. We traveled four hours north to my parent’s home where we met the rest of my siblings and their families for our annual spring “Remix.” Since distance and weather have made it difficult for us to get together during the winter months, we meet in early spring for a whirlwind weekend of food and fun.

One of our traditions during the Remix is our very own “Iron Chef” competition. Inspired by the show on FOOD Network, we choose a “Secret Ingredient”. Speculation and rumors start circulating months before the competition about what secret ingredient will be chosen!

When the officials (usually a group of grandchildren under Grandma’s watchful eye) have made the decision, they send word via email a few weeks before the event. This gives everyone time to think and come up with creative and amazing ideas. All family member’s are encouraged to bring an entry to the Remix using that ingredient.

Then during the remix we have our “competition” when all the entires are labeled and laid out on a table. We choose 2 or 3 family members to be judges. I even found chef jackets at a thrift store for the judges to wear so they look more “official”!

After the judges have tasted everything, they go off to deliberate while we sample all the goodies. Then each entry is given a creative prize title.

This year our secret ingredient was cheese. We had everything from a castle sculpted from cheese to Velveeta cheese fudge. There was the traditional entries, such as a cheesecake baked by my nine-year-old nephew. But we also had the silly entries, like the cheese popcorn that my brother in law took from the package and labeled “moon pebbles”.

There was a snowman cheese ball, cheesecake brownies, cheese straws, Red Lobster cheese biscuits, pain d’ fromage, artichoke cheese fondue, and even, believe it or not, Velveeta cheese truffles. (Which were not a hit!)

All ages participated, from the youngest grandchild (2 years old, with Mom’s help) to grandpa, whose Greek mozzarella bread won the prize for the best use of ethnic ingredients.

It’s a family tradition that combines creativity, laughter, and food, three things that define our family and every family gathering!

What a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon!