Acorn cookies to spice up your Thanksgiving

Here at INHF, we’re getting into the Thanksgiving spirit! Learn how to make these acorn-shaped cookies for any holiday gathering!


1 package oreos, crushed
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
Pecans, finely crushed
Pretzel sticks, broken into thirds


1. Mix oreos and cream cheese together. Blend well.
2. Take 1 Tbsp. of the mixture and form into an oval, then pinch the end to create a tapered, acorn shape. 
3. Place the acorns on a wax-paper-lined baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour or until hard.
4. Melt 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in the microwave. Take chilled acorns and dip in chocolate. Use a fork to move the acorn around as the mixture will be hot. Once thoroughly coated, remove and place on a new wax-paper-lined baking sheet. Use a toothpick to smoothly transfer the acorn to the baking sheet.
5. Repeat step 4 until all acorns are coated. Let them harden at room temperature.
6. Melt the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Take the hardened acorns and dip the wide end in chocolate again, then roll in crushed pecans.
7. Dip one end of a pretzel stick in chocolate, then press onto the top of the acorn.
8. Allow pretzels and nuts to set, then serve and enjoy!


Take a bite of summer


(Photo by Evan Feekes)

Are you ready to pie-cycle your way across Iowa? For a tasty treat during RAGBRAI, consider making this fun pie! While pie is always in season, summer brings a multitude of fruit for fillings. One of the new staff favorites here at INHF is this raspberry pie with chocolate crust. Continue reading

Beat the heat with ice cream


(Photo by Evan Feekes)

Happy National Ice Cream Month! We know you’re in need of a cold, sweet treat as you enjoy the summer sunshine. Consider making your own ice cream with berries and flowers found in Iowa—like mulberries, honeysuckle or multiflora rose. Continue reading

Celebrate National Trails Day with a historic snack—trail mix

flickr trail mix

Photo by Cary Bass-Deschenes on Flickr via Creative Commons. No changes were made.

IowaByTrail_main1 COPYHappy National Trails Day! We know you’re gearing up to get outside and explore Iowa’s trails with the Iowa By Trail app, so consider bringing along a satisfyingly sweet and salty snack — trail mix.

Trail mix, or gorp (said to be an acronym for “good old raisins and peanuts” or “granola, oatmeal, raisins and peanuts”), has ancient roots. Nomadic tribes used to mix together dried fruit, nuts and meat together to take on long journeys. They needed lightweight, high energy, nutritious food that didn’t require cooking and could be stored for long periods of time. Native Americans had their own version of trail mix — pemmican, which consisted of dried buffalo, moose, or caribou mixed with dried berries and animal fat — that lasted for months.

Despite this history, two companies, Harmony Foods and Hadley Fruit of Orchards of California, claim that the name “trail mix” was invented by surfers who mixed together peanuts and raisins to keep up their energy. In New Zealand, trail mix is called scroggin, which supposedly stands for sultanas, chocolate, raisins, and other goody-goodies including nuts (but that’s most likely just folk etymology). Many European countries named the mix as a staple for students, a cheap snack usually accompanying a drink. For example, in Denmark, it’s known as Studenterhavre, “student oats,” and in Germany it’s known as Studentenfutter, “student feed.” Whichever word or meaning you choose to use, this treat will still taste delicious.

Trail mix in a great on the go, and can be made easily with whatever you have on hand. The key is to mix salty and sweet flavors and crunchy and soft textures. You can find an easy, versatile recipe for trail mix here. Some of my favorite additions to trail mix are coconut chips, crystallized ginger, pumpkin seeds, sesame sticks, pretzels and dark chocolate chips. Fuel up for the trail with your own favorite combination, and continue to explore trails with Iowa By Trail all summer long!