This week I am all about getting ready for school. I know I’m not alone in this out there and for a lot of you I’m sure school has already started. We are starting a little later this year, so we have a couple more days left of our summer vacation. Sadly, we are just spending them getting ready for school. On the up side though, my boys can’t wait for school to start!
I’ve mentioned on here many times before that I’m just not all that crafty. It’s probably why I, like many of you, probably pin a ton of great back-to-school ideas and super cute crafts to bond and cement that important parent/teacher relationship that will ensure that this is your family’s best school year yet. Of course all while your house is sparkling clean, children are already in bed at the perfect times and are happy and engaged every second of the day with no whining, fighting or bickering.
Anyway, the best I do for gifts, no matter the holiday, is something from the kitchen. That said, even though this is the time of year I would love to make something that is nothing short of brilliant and imaginative and themed and cute and fun, it just never happens. I just pin those ideas and then miss the boat yet again because I’m busy with, well, reality.
As are you.
I know there are crafty ladies out there who have probably been working toward this for the past few weeks, but we’re just not built that way at the Hanks house. We prefer to squeeze every last drop out of our summer vacation and then scramble to get ready for school a bit.
As my Grandpa was wont to say, “I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em.”
So. If you are like me and don’t want your kid to walk into meet his teacher empty handed, or you just need an idea for something to give them they will appreciate, use, can keep at school or take home and that you can dress up (or not) as needed, then this recipe should now go in your go-to files.
This recipe makes a massive amount. As in, that is a giant bowl, around 20-inches across. The biggest bowl I own and it was full. I can fill two gallon jars. Plenty for gift giving and some left over for you!
Our trail mix version also happens to double as our favorite after school snack and treat for munching on while we talk about our day and work on homework. You can treat it up or down according to your family’s likes and you can pretty much fiddle with whatever ingredients you want. The main part of this trail mix is less of a recipe, more of a blueprint.
The treat and recipe part comes more into play if, as shown here, you want to bulk the recipe up even more gift giving and make it more personalized and homemade by adding some homemade caramel popcorn. The recipe for the popcorn is a modified version of one I picked up from Dusty’s mom’s recipe card box a couple weeks ago when we visited them on their farm for our official summer vacation. I made it slightly less coated and replaced the corn syrup with honey to make it more of a snack and less of a candied popcorn.
However you decide to mix this up, you’re going to have a hard time walking away from eating it by the handful.
Homemade Honey Nut Trail Mix Treat
1 30 oz bag pretzel M&M’s (or other type of M&M’s, but preferably one with nuts or something in them)
1 8 oz bag vanilla yogurt raisins (or more if you like these more)
1 8 oz bag pretzel goldfish
1 11 oz box or container of dark chocolate almonds or other chocolate covered nuts
2 cups honey roasted peanuts
6 cups honey nut cheerios
1 gallon cooled honey caramel popcorn (1 batch of recipe below)
Other mix-in ideas:
Assorted small chopped dried fruit
Chex cereals or other favorite cereals
Stir all together gently to mix everything up. Store in airtight containers at room temperature.
Honey Caramel Corn
About 1 gallon popped popcorn (if making stovetop, use about 1/2 cup kernels – this was one large 4 qt pan filled with popped corn)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoons salted butter
4 tablespoons honey
pinch of fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place the popped corn in a large bowl. Set aside. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
In a medium saucepan, melt together the brown sugar, butter and honey until bubbly. Stir in the sea salt. Bring to a boil and cook 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. Pour over the popcorn and stir well to coat the kernels. Spread out on a large baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour at 200 degrees F. Remove from oven and allow to cool before breaking into chunks.