Build-Your-Own Trail Mix

Game nights require snacks that are easy to eat one-handed without being messy. A DIY trail mix bar is perfect for long nights of gaming!

Game nights require snacks that are easy to eat one-handed without being messy. A DIY trail mix bar is perfect for long nights of gaming! //

Our friends Adam and Laura are visiting all week, which can only mean one thing – lots and lots of board game playing! We’re now working around nap times and bedtimes for their little girl, but we’ve still managed to squeeze in at least 2-3 games a day during her sleeping hours. We’re nothing if not determined to get in all the game time we can!

We’re also ramping up our game time with our other friends as well. Now that the weather is getting decidedly more chilly, more and more of our social activities are headed indoors. Hosting game nights are one of our favorite ways to entertain because they can be as low-key or energetic as you’d like – it all comes down to the games you choose!

NatureBox snacks are a great addition to any homemade trail mix //

Because it is nearly impossible for me to entertain without providing some sort of handmade food or drink, I’ve been on the search for more game night-friendy snack options. This means snacks that are easy to eat with one hand between turns. They also shouldn’t require piles of napkins – nobody wants to wash their hands between every turn!

Snack mix and candied nuts are obvious choices, but I’ve been wanting to find something a bit more interactive and fun to serve. So when NatureBox offered to send me a few of their snacks to try, I realized that a DIY trail mix bar would be perfect.  I’d put out my NatureBox goodies with a bunch of bite-sized sweet and savory snacks and let people build their own mix!

Naturebox Snacks //

The NatureBox snacks were a perfect addition to our trail mixes. I chose a variety of their sweet and savory options: praline pumpkin seeds, honey crunch crisps, oat bran dipping’ stix, baked cheddar potato sticks and mango orange fruit chews. All of the crunchy snacks arrived fresh and crisp, while the fruit chews were specially packaged so that they didn’t become rock hard before we could eat them. The honey crunch crisps were my favorite, with a subtle sweetness that would work well in both sweet and savory mixes. But I’m also enamored with the praline pumpkin seeds – I think they’d be good in pancakes, too!

If you want to make a build-your-own trail mix bar for your next party, here are some snack ideas:

Anything bite-sized from the NatureBox catalog

Mini marshmallows

Chocolate chips or candies

Raisins or other dried fruit

Candied nuts (I also like NatureBox’s sweet blueberry almonds, based on past experience!)

Crystallized ginger

Shredded coconut

Cheese crackers

Air-popped popcorn

Breakfast cereal



Roasted nuts or seeds

Just put everything out in small bowls or ramekins, give your guests some bowls and let them go to town!

Want to try some NatureBox for yourself? They are offering Savvy Eats readers a free trial box with a full-sized bag and four single-served pouches to help with your healthy holiday snacking. If you choose to subscribe and join NatureBox, you’ll receive five different snacks every month. You can choose the snacks you want from the catalog, or let them surprise you with their carefully curated selections!  Each of their snacks contains wholesome ingredients, with no artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors, zero grams trans fats, and no high fructose corn syrup.

Click here to start your free trial with NatureBox! *

*Fine Crumbs: Free trial is available for new and US subscribers only. Not valid on gift subscriptions and may not be combined with any other offers.

P.S. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that help make Savvy Eats possible.

Pepper Jelly Bites

This pepper jelly recipe is a quick and simple appetizer that you can put together in 15 seconds or less. Enjoy the flavor balance between spicy pepper jelly and smooth cream cheese!

Pepper jelly bites are a simple and quick appetizer - perfect for dinner and cocktail parties! // savvyeat.comI have to confess something: I feel a little ridiculous even posting this pepper jelly recipe. I mean, there’s a grand total of three ingredients and you could assemble each appetizer in about 15 seconds.

I debated long and hard as to whether or not this was worth posting and every time, it came down to two things:

1. The flavor combo is too good to miss and

2. Who doesn’t need a super simple appetizer?


So much time gets poured into the entree, side dishes and desserts at most dinner parties or holiday gatherings already. Do you really want to spend another hour prepping an appetizer that will be devoured in three bites or less? Yeah, probably not. Make something simple like these pepper jelly bites instead, and you’ll be able to actually relax and enjoy the night with your guests.

Just spread some softened cream cheese on a cracker and cover with a thin layer of pepper jelly. The cream cheese absorbs some of the spice from the jelly, leaving just a subtle heat behind. That’s it, you’re done! I prefer this on thin, crisp crackers.

We also love pairing the pepper jelly with a sharp cheddar. In that case, choose a sturdier, more buttery cracker. It will hold up to the stronger cheese a little better! I think this would definitely be worth trying with creamy goat cheese instead of cream cheese, too.

Welcome to another edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary. GIVEAWAY!! This month’s theme is a Cocktail Party celebrating Creative Culinary’s 3rd year of Friday Cocktails. Be sure to hop over to Barb’s post where she is giving away a gorgeous wine bottle opener to one of our Progressive Eats readers.

Check out the great recipes from my fellow Progressive Eats members:




PS: Here’s how to make your own pepper jelly. Use some for easy appetizers, and save the rest for holiday gifts!