Scorching would be an apt description of our current weather conditions. Apparently, we are experiencing the hottest week of our summer — right now — as I’m typing. Really! It’s true. I’d go outside to show you, but it’s too hot, and I’m typing, and what with me being an air conditioner weeny and all — I just think it’s best you take my word for it.
Even as warm as it is, now that school is in full swing, I can’t help but let my mind wander ahead to fall. It’s my all time favorite season and this last little burn-off of summer is making me even more excited to have the crisp, cooler weather of fall visit our neighborhood. I love the smell of the air, the vibrant, earthy colors and the crunching of leaves under foot. I love being able to pull on a sweater, but still not need a coat, when I head outdoors. I also love what fall does to my kitchen and the way I cook. The warm, spicy aromas and the fresh-baked smells that waft through the house in cooler weather are so homey and inviting. So, as you can imagine, the timing was perfect when I was asked to create recipes for fall – one that utilized the limited edition Fall M&Ms and one that put a creative twist on apple cider, using Mott’s Apple Juice. Hmmm…chocolate and fall and recipes and … umm…..YES! I think I can do that.
Let me introduce you to crisp, sweet and salty M&M Puppy Chow Snack Mix and smooth, creamy Apple Cider Milk Shakes! They would be great family movie-night snacks, or as a treat after raking leaves. They would be a hit at a birthday party or sleepover and you would definitely move up the scale of rock-star moms, if these showed up as after-school snacks! The recipes are pretty simple and the flavor pay-off is big!
If you know what Puppy Chow is, then you’ll see that this snack mix simply substitutes M&Ms for the chocolate chips and then blends the finished product with some crunchy, salty snacking goodness. I LOVED what the Fall M&Ms did to the texture and color of the puppy chow! The chocolatey centers melt really well and some of the shells melted, too, but there were still colorful bits of candy coating floating in the creamy, smooth melted chocolate which added gorgeous little fall colored speckles to the Puppy Chow coating.
- 2 (12.6 oz) bags Fall M&Ms (I used Milk Chocolate)
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup peanut butter
- 2 Tablespoons pure vanilla
- 9 cups rice cereal squares
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 cups pretzels twists
- 2 cups salted mixed nuts
- Measure 9 cups of cereal into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- In a microwave-safe dish, combine the butter, peanut butter, M&Ms and vanilla.
- Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir. Here's how mine looked after 1 minute.
- Return to microwave and continue melting, stirring at 30 second intervals until the mixture is completely melted. (There may be fine flecks of candy coating still visible.)
- Pour the melted candy over the cereal and stir to combine, coating each piece of cereal, as you stir.
- Pour the powdered sugar over the chocolate covered cereal and stir to completely coat each piece.
- That's puppy chow!
- Now, make it into snack mix by adding the pretzels, nuts and second bag of M&Ms. Mix to evenly distribute the ingredients.
- This is a deliciously quick and simple snack!
My guess is these shakes could be made with apple cider, as well as juice, but I liked the idea of being able to use the Mott’s Apple Juice and know that everyone from the youngest to the oldest was going to enjoy it. When I think of cider I think of citrus and warm spices, so I incorporated those and the apple juice into vanilla ice cream and created the most heavenly Apple Cider Milkshake.
- 4 cups vanilla ice cream
- ½ - 1 cup Mott's Apple Juice, (depending on how thick you like your shakes and how soft your ice cream is)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- zest of one lemon
- Put ice cream and Mott's Apple Juice into your blender pitcher.
- Add spices, vanilla, lemon juice and zest.
- Blend until smooth and serve immediately.
- I garnished with some curled apple slice roses, but these would be pretty decorated with apple wedges, orange slices and cinnamon sticks, too.
What creative ways do you have for using M&Ms? Have you tried the limited edition fall varieties?
And, if you’ve never had an apple cider milkshake, there’s no time like the present to start experiencing those warm, spicy aromas and tastes of fall! Make this delicious treat for your own family! Enjoy!