Friday, January 7, 2011

Gluten-Free Puppy Chow

I'll just come out and admit it... I'm not a very good cook.

Sure, there are a few things that I can cook really well - but I'm not the type of person that can recreate recipes, cook from complicated cookbooks, bake scrumptious goodies for everyone at work and impress the in-laws with my culinary prowess.

But there is one thing that I can "cook" that has everyone drooling - Puppy Chow. Until just recently, I was upset that I'd never be able to make it since the primary ingredient in my Puppy Chow is Hyvee's generic cereal "Crispy Hexagons." Crispy Hexagons has an awesome name, but it also contains gluten which means it's unwelcome in my kitchen.

But for Christmas my grandmother got me RICE CHEX! Gluten free! 'Aha,' I thought, 'perhaps I can make awesome Puppy Chow with Rice Chex instead of Crispy Hexagons! Sure, Rice Chex does not have any geometry in its name and is therefore lamer than HyVee's cereal, but it must be comparable, right?'


As it turns out... yes, that's right!

First, gather your ingredients: Rice Chex, creamy peanut butter, a bag of milk chocolate chips, powdered sugar and butter - and not that nasty fake butter... it has to be bonafide real butter - the kind that'll make Paula Dean proud!

As you can see, I mostly use HyVee's store-brand ingredients. I mean, it's not really possible for a grocery store to mess up powdered sugar or peanut butter, and HyVee milk chocolate chips are guaranteed gluten free.

Put a huge pot on the stove. Cut up 1/2 stick of butter into smallish pieces and toss it in the pot.

Measure out a very generous 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter. And when I say 'generous' I actually mean 'almost 3/4 cups.' That's a 1/2 cup scoop in the photo! Anyway, plop the peanut butter into the pot with the regular butter.

Lastly, add the entire bag of chocolate chips to the pot. Turn the burner on to med-lo to medium heat. I usually start at med-low, then get impatient and turn it up to medium.

The next step is.... CONSTANT VIGILANCE! You don't want the chocolate to scorch, so you have to continuously stir the ingredients as they slowly melt. At the same time, you want to get two plastic grocery bags - one inside the other - and pour in a pile of powdered sugar. I don't exactly know how much, but my average sugar pile is about 2-3" high.

You know it's time to add the Rice Chex when the chocolate mixture looks like this:

Now stir gently... you will have some breakage, but that's OK - that only means you'll get a few monster-chunks of puppy chow in the batch! How much cereal to add? Ohh... uhh... about 3/4 of the box? I just add until it looks like this:

Now quickly transfer the chocolately chexy goodness into your waiting grocery bags - tie the ends shut and gently shake/roll/knead the bag until the chow has been completely covered by the sugar. Open up the bag and check it - if you think it needs more powdered sugar, just add some more and shake again!

Get a big glass of milk and enjoy your Puppy Chow... it's always best when it's fresh and warm!

PS - one of the best-and-yet-most-neglected parts about making puppy chow is... the spoon! Family tradition dictates that the spoon goes to one of the kids - the youngest, the oldest, the best behaved... it's really your choice. If you're like me and don't have kids, rejoice - you get the spoon all to yourself!

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