Spice Crispies

January 27, 2012

Sometimes when I am at my cooking maximum, I somehow find the energy to add one more thing.  I’m tapped, I’m tired, I’m starting to make stupid mistakes, and then I see something that sparks me – makes me perk up.  I somehow find time to squeeze in this one more thing even though that bit of time could be of more value in other ways.  And sometimes there is pay off, even though it may not seem that way at first.

What am I talking about?  Well, this has been quite a week for me and it’s not over yet.  I taught classes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and today I will be spending the entire day in the kitchen prepping lunch for tomorrow’s yoga retreat on Bainbridge Island.  Everything has to be done today because I take a 7:55am ferry over there tomorrow.  Normally, I spend a couple of days prepping but because of all the teaching, everything will be compressed into one day.  Did I mention that my husband has been out of town?  Yes, that too.  I’m getting through by literally taking one day at a time.  I can’t even think about the next project until I finish the current one.  Nothing that can’t be used that very day gets made or done.  Stay Focused Dana has been my mantra.

So yesterday, precisely 40 minutes before I had to leave to pick up my children, precisely 2 hours before my students started knocking on my door, with precisely 57 different dishes in the sink or scattered around the counter, I decided to make Spice Crispies.  The recipe caught my eye as I was making my favorite Chex Mix and suddenly, I was overtaken with the urge to create yet more dirty dishes and food.

Fast as lightning, I preheated the oven, gathered ingredients, poured, sautéed, stirred, scraped, baked, washed, wiped, and as I was cursing myself because now I was even more behind than I had been before, a most amazing smell started wafting from my oven.  I pulled the tray out, whisked it off to the dining room for a quick photo in the fading light, and took a taste.  Weird.  Interesting.  Not sure.  Waste of time?  Maybe.  And then off to finish out my evening, the Spice Crispies all but forgotten.

After the class and after the clean-up was over, I remembered that I had stashed the tray in our study and a miraculous thing happened while they cooled completely and set up.  These little clusters of cereal and spice had become something totally addictive and truly tasty.  Even the raisins, which had become hard little nuggets, kind of like what happens to them in oatmeal raisin cookies, had their own unique appeal.  I have a feeling that I am going to get a lot of questions about this little snack mix this weekend – it is intriguing.  I wish I had the time to come up with beautiful metaphors describing the unusual yet delicious flavors in this snack, but I have a task list a mile long for today.  Just trust me when I say that I really should be doing 100 other things rather than writing this post and yet, here I am doing just that.  Have a great weekend.

One Year AgoRoasted Tomato Salad with Croutons, Meyer Lemon Risotto Cakes
Two Years Ago:  Chickpea, Chard, and Couscous Soup, Soba Noodles with Crispy Tofu and Vegetables
Three Years Ago:  Orange Pound Cake

Spice Crispies
Adapted from Food & Wine
Makes about 4 cups

If you want to keep the raisins from getting totally crunchy, I imagine you could add them half way through the baking time. 

2 cups Rice Krispies or other puffed rice cereal (2 ounces)
¼ cup salted roasted cashews
¼ cup salted roasted peanuts
¼ cup wide coconut flakes
¼ cup raisins
3 tbsp. peanut oil
1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds (DT:  I used brown)
½ tsp. fennel seeds
½ tsp. cumin seeds
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
4 large fresh bay leaves (DT:  I used dried)
3 tbsp. light corn syrup
Juice of half a lemon
½ tsp. kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, toss the rice cereal with the cashews, peanuts, coconut flakes, and raisins.

In a small saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering.  Add the mustard seeds and cook over moderately high heat until they begin to pop, about 1 minute.  Add the fennel and cumin seeds, crushed red pepper, and bay leaves and toast, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minutes.  Add the corn syrup, lemon juice, and salt and bring to a boil.  Drizzle the hot syrup over the cereal over the cereal and nuts and toss with a spoon until evenly coated.

Spread the mixture on the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the nuts are golden.  Let cool; discard the bay leaves.

(Can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.)


  1. Yum! What a creative idea!

    Comment by Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — January 27, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

  2. I cut that recipe out of Food & Wine but didn’t make it because I thought I’d be disappointed that they weren’t EXACTLY like the original Spice Crispies at Poppy. But based on your description, I will reconsider!

    Comment by emmycooks — January 27, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

  3. I expected this to be sweet so had to check out the recipe when I saw the bay leafs. What an interesting snack mix!

    Comment by Ashley — January 27, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

  4. Ok question number one- do you have to use the seeds, or could you use ground spices? I am so excited to make this!

    Comment by Clara — January 27, 2012 @ 10:30 pm

  5. This sounds like the perfect late-night movie snack. How do you think it would taste with a glass of port?

    Comment by Mary Miller / A Passionate Plate — January 27, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

  6. yes I know that routine well.
    mine comes in recipes of 3 per day; about 2x a month.
    love those days when you’re super-charged.
    mustard seeds are tasty AND really good for you!

    Comment by vanillasugarblog — January 28, 2012 @ 12:01 am

  7. There just seems to never be enough time in the day! Especially for a blogger!!!
    This sounds amazingly delicious!

    Comment by leslie — January 28, 2012 @ 1:35 am

  8. I’m not much of a finger foodie/snacker, but with all these Indian spices I can see why you had to stop the presses and start making these. Even amidst towers of dirty dishes. I’m fairly certain I would have done the same. Good luck this weekend!

    Comment by Joanne — January 28, 2012 @ 4:45 am

  9. It sounds like spontaneity paid off for you, even if you had to squeeze it into a busy day. I love it when that happens!
    I’ve never made anything like this but it sounds sooooo good and even relatively healthy!

    Comment by Rachel — January 28, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

  10. I love the sound of this Dana!! Little sweet and a whole lot of spice, yum. As for being busy, it does seem to be a crazy time right now – just make sure to find some time of your own.

    Comment by kickpleat — January 29, 2012 @ 5:26 am

  11. Love the sweet-savory combo—such a great appetizer idea!

    Comment by $35 a Week — January 30, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

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