As a Midwest lady living on the East Coast for six years I have noticed a variety of difference in food cultures. Here in New York there is a predominant Italian and Jewish influence versus the Midwest with its more German and Polish influences. For example, I had never heard of a chicken cutlet before moving to Brooklyn and most of my coworkers seem to cook with them several times a week. I was also unfamiliar with rice balls, garlic knots, rugelach, rainbow cookies, and a fresh deli sandwich on every corner. Luckily, my culinary education has been a delicious experience.
Despite my lack of familiarity with many of the common foods out here, there are several foods I grew up eating and enjoying that are equally as foreign to the non-Midwesterners. For example, every Michigan girl knows that cheesy hash-brown casserole accompanies every ham at family parties and potlucks. I also grew up with stuffed cabbage and kielbasa & sauerkraut. And let us not forget Fat Tuesday, or Puczki Day as it is known in Metro Detroit!
One such food I pride myself on introducing to my East Coast family is Puppy Chow, also known as muddy buddies. Muddy buddies is a stupid name and I will use it no longer. Cereal mixed with butter, peanut butter, and chocolate, then tossed with powdered sugar is a total Midwest comfort food – fatty, easy, and made of pantry staples. Best of all, one batch makes enough for a crowd, a large crowd.
With the oven out of commission, it was time for some puppy chow, and why make plain puppy chow when you can toss in a jar of nutella? Obviously the right choice. The nutella is a great alternative to peanut butter and adds extra chocolaty goodness, the hazelnut flavor comes through the most when the puppy chow is chilled. I had to keep the puppy chow in the fridge because of my complete lack of control.
Very soon after making the puppy chow I brought it into work and knew none of it could come home with me. I also had too much for my coworkers and I to eat at lunch, so I shared with my 8th period class. (They might be my favorite class out of the 5 I teach, but shhhhhhh, teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites…) When I told the students what it was called they asked it was meant for dogs. Once I gave the ingredient list they dived in and left me with tables with powdered sugar finger prints! Go ahead, cross cultural lines, make puppy chow.
One Year Ago – Sweet and Salty Guinness Pie
Nutella Puppy Chow
Adapted from Lovin’ from the Oven
Yield – 1 gallon (easily feeds 30-40 as a snack)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (13 ounce jar) nutella
1 box (12.8 ounces) rice Chex cereal
2-3 cups powdered sugar
- Melt the butter and chocolate chips over low heat on the stove. Once melted, stir in the nutella. Mix until combined.
- In your largest bowl layer the Chex and chocolate mixture. Wash your hands really well and then toss the mixture by hand. This will take several minutes, but keep mixing to gently coat all the cereal without breaking it up into too many pieces.
- Add half a cup of powder sugar to a 1-gallon ziploc bag. Add in a few large spoonfuls of the chocolate covered cereal. Layer the cereal and powdered sugar. Use about half the sugar and half the chocolate mix. Shake the bag and break up the big chunks. Make sure all the pieces are covered with sugar. Dump into another bowl.
- Repeat with the rest of the cereal.
- Store in an airtight container out of reach so you don’t eat it all!