In Good Taste

Slow cookers are not just for main dishes but are great for party mixes. This fall-inspired party mix will leave your kitchen smelling wonderful!

SLOW COOKER MAPLE PUMPKIN SPICE PARTY MIX

6 cups Chex cereal (or try Cheerios, Golden Grahams, etc.)

2 cups dried fruit ( dried cranberries and dried cherries; try (golden) raisins, etc.)

1 1/2 to 2 cups nuts ( honey-roasted cashews and honey-roasted peanuts or a combination)

1 1/2 to 2 cups pretzels

1 1/2 chopped graham crackers, diced in large 1-inch pieces (about 5 full-size graham crackers)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup maple syrup (pancake syrup or sugar-free pancake syrup is good too)

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 to 2+ tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

salt, optional and to taste

In a 5 to 6-quart Crock-Pot, add cereal, dried fruit, nuts, pretzels, and graham crackers. Recipe is very flexible. If you don't have something, don't like something, etc. use something you do have on hand or omit.

In a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.

Add the maple syrup, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice (recommend at least 2 tablespoons if you want a more pronounced pumpkin flavor), vanilla, optional salt, and whisk to combine.

Slowly and evenly drizzle wet mixture over the dry ingredients in Crock-Pot and stir very well to combine.

Cook on high power for about 2 hours, stirring well every 15 to 20 minutes. If your slow cooker does not have a tiny hole in it to let air escape, it may collect too much condensation which could make the Chex Mix get too soggy. If that is the case, I recommend placing a towel underneath the lid of the slow cooker to collect the condensation.Start keeping a more careful eye on mix at about 1 1/2 hours to make sure pieces on bottom don't start burning. All slow-cookers and ingredients vary, and cooking times will vary. Cook until there's no visible liquid pooling and pieces have dried out. They will not be 'dry' and will be more on the sticky and tacky side even when done, but do dry out more as they cool.

Turn mixture out onto baking tray and allow to dry for at least 2 hours, overnight is better. Mix will keep airtight for up to 5 days.

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