Christmas: The Wild Cards

Okay, seriously. Let’s knock out Christmas with a one-two punch, shall we? I can only drag my feet in the snow for so long.

In figuring out what I was going to make for Christmas, I mentioned wild cards. Something other than cookies. I also have failed to mention the other two items (other than these Sugar Cookies) that I must always, ALWAYS have during the holidays.

So, here’s the last of the Christmas food posts! I know you’re as ready as I am!

First up, the wild card. In looking for foolproof desserts that can be made ahead of time, I always look to ice cream. In this cold climate, it’s unexpected, but fun to serve up a nice bowl of frosty, creamy, typically boozy custard. I think my friends are starting to expect it from me, too. That’s fine. I’d love to be defined as the ice-cream-connoisseur in our circle.

This year I went with Jeni’s Eggnog Custard. Festive, eggy, with a nice warming bit of whiskey. It hit the spot. Unfortunately, I make all of my ice creams at night and somehow failed to take any photos, but trust me when I say it was delicious. Pretty much like an alcoholic version of the Salty Vanilla Custard I can’t get enough of.

The other two wildcards are, once again, staples of my childhood and adulthood. Two things I cannot live without during this time of year.

One: Snack Mix

My family consumes this homemade, anytime treat after breakfast, as a lunch substitute, or a right-after-dinner snack. Really, any time is a good time. My Mimi has been making it for as long as I can remember and we’ve called it Nat Nix or Nat Mix equally as long. The best part about being an adult and making your own Nat Nix is you get to pick what you put in. Oh, the power! If it were up to me, I’d put in all Cheez-Its and Goldfish crackers, but, alas, I live with someone else.

Here’s our version before it received its armor of margarine and spices.


Again, sorry. These are phone pics because I was making it at night. But, here’s an after shot once it had been roasting away for hours.


True Story: I ate most of this myself. And don’t regret a damn thing.

You can really put whatever you want in the base mixture. Mimi adds mixed nuts (we went with peanuts only) and, sometimes, shoestring potatoes sticks. We went with cheddar pretzels (which were AMAZING), goldfish crackers and a blend of cereals. You know what would also be good? Bugles.

Here are some other suggestions, though: Rice Chex, Corn or Wheat Chex, Cheerios, Pretzel Sticks, Goldfish Crackers, Mixed Nuts, Cheez-its, Potato Stix. I wouldn’t recommend putting anything sugary in there due to its oven time. This is no place for trail mix m&ms or craisins!

Whatever you choose, place it in a large roasting pan. (I buy the biggest disposable option at the store for easy stirring.) Dump everything in and then smother with this mixture and make sure it’s coated evenly:

Mimi’s Snack Mix

3 sticks margarine, melted
1 Tbs. garlic salt
1 Tbs. onion salt
1 Tbs. celery salt
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. red pepper (to taste, optional)

Then, preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cover with foil and bake one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional hour, continuing to stir every 15 minutes.

And there you have it. My absolute favorite snack…or should I say my favorite Nat.

Here’s a better shot that I took a few years ago. This is best enjoyed scooped into paper bowls or cups, surrounded by family playing a game. Preferably Mexican Train Dominoes. It’s the Jackson Way.

Snack Mix 1

Next up would be my Christmas-morning go-to breakfast. CINNAMON ROLLS….that we call SNINNY ROLLS!


It’s impossible for my family to just call something by its real name. Sorry, not sorry.

My mom has made these as gifts for years and I started making them maybe nine or ten years ago (for just us, ha!) and haven’t looked back. Well, that is until I moved to Utah, where high altitudes are wreaking havoc on every yeast dough I try.

Sadly, these were no different.

See, they are supposed to rise and be an overlapping mountain of warm, sugary goodness. But mine stayed small, opting not to rise a second time, so we enjoyed baby cinnamon rolls this year. It’s probably for the better, but I was missing the real deal.


Babies! Come on, look at those gaping spaces between them! You rolls are supposed to be ginormous! Like this:


It’s hard to really tell the size difference in this close-up photo from years ago, but I assure you it’s an astounding difference. At least it tasted the same.

So, focus on this old photo and try your hand at this easy (especially-when-at-sea-level) dough that will knock your socks off!

Cinnamon Roll 1

Paula’s Cinnamon Rolls

1 c. water or milk
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. shortening
1 packet of yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. warm water
2 eggs
2 Tbs. vanilla
5-5.5 cups flour

Filling mixture:

2 c. sugar
2 Tbs. cinnamon
1/4 c. oil
1/4 tsp. salt


½ box powdered sugar
1 stick margarine, melted
pinch of salt

Mix water/milk, 1/3 c. sugar, salt and shortening in a saucepan.  Heat till shortening is melted.  Cool to lukewarm.  Mix yeast, 1 tsp. sugar, and water in a cup.

When first mixture is lukewarm, add about 1/2 of the flour.  Beat with wooden spoon.  Then add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add yeast mixture and vanilla and stir.  Add the remaining flour and knead 8-9 minutes.  Allow to rise 2 hours.

Sprinkle board lightly with flour.  Punch down dough, turn onto board.  Roll out dough to 3/8 inch thickness.  Spread with one stick of butter, melted.  Sprinkle with filling mixture.

Roll from long side and pinch the dough to seal.  Cut slices 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick and place cut side down in greased 13×9 pan (you’ll need two).  Allow to rise one hour.  Bake at 350 degrees 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

For icing: Mix powdered sugar with melted margarine; add a pinch of salt and enough hot water to make the mixture runny.  Brush over baked rolls.

Freezes well.


7 thoughts on “Christmas: The Wild Cards

  1. OK. Mind blown about the cooking technique of the snack mix. My family has been doing it the long hard way since I can remember. Which has prevented me making it on my own. Now, Nat Nix all year round!

      • We would make small batches in an electric skillet, it took hours and was so inconsistent. Dad was always in charge. It gave me the worst heartburn. I buy store bought chex mix all the time because our method seemed so complicated.

  2. My mom and grandmother used to make a variation of the chex mix, but called it TV Trash (I guess because we ate it while watching tv), but we snacked on it while playing dominos too. The cinnamon roll recipe looks delish, but because of your altitude issue and the long hours for rising, I would like to suggest the recipe I tried recently from ATK. It involves 1 chance for the dough to rise (30 min only) because it involves yeast and baking powder combination. Love the cream cheese glaze they used as well.

  3. Pingback: Friday Five: Christmas 2015 Sweets and Snacks | hashtag marci

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s