The Secret to Grandma's Extra-Special Party Mix

Whenever I'd visit my Grandma in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, she'd quickly put out "nibbles" for us to snack on. Often it was crackers and Merkts Cheese Spread, which was yummy (to our family's delight, it's now being sold in Rochester at Tops Friendly Markets). But even better was her party mix. And, like so many other things she made, her mix was better than anyone else's. I often got my Mom's evil eye for eating more mix from the bowl than was polite.

When I was making my goodies for Christmas, I thought I'd make a batch or two of her mix, but a search through her old recipe box turned up only The Original Chex Party Mix. That's good stuff, but Grandma's always had a square of something that tasted the best. Luckily, my cousin Erin immediately knew the secret ingredient: Quaker Oatmeal Squares in the blue box. In fact, Erin said Grandma used to make her batches of just Oatmeal Squares and the coating. Sure enough, Erin was right on the money. They add a slightly sweet flavor and a great texture to the mix.

For the rest of the ingredients, Erin and I had different recollections. I remembered Cheerios and she didn't. I also remembered things like cheese Goldfish and sesame sticks. We concluded that Grandma, being frugal to the core, probably used up things she had in the cupboard. So with her in mind, I'm calling her party mix...

Grandma's Extra-Special, Use-Up-The-Box Party Mix

3 cups Quaker Oatmeal Squares
4 cups Chex® cereal, preferably 2-3 flavors (wheat, rice, corn)
2 cups of whatever other sturdy cereal is in the cupboard (Cheerios, Crispix, mini Shredded Wheat, or more Chex)
1 cup assorted nuts (I prefer peanuts and cashews, but dump in whatever package is open. If there's an allergy, just add another cup of salty snacks.)
2 cups bite-size salty snacks (This could include bagel chips, pretzels, sesame sticks, Goldfish crackers. It's nice to include some cheesy crackers for flavor and color.)
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Heat oven to 250°F. In ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings. Dump in the crunchy stuff and stir it until it's evenly coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.