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Whether it’s a sturdy whole-grain product or one of the less nutritious sugar-infused varieties, we Americans love cereal. In most households it’s customary to consume a bowl of cereal and milk at least three times a week.
But those trusty boxes of flakes, puffs or crisps have uses beyond breakfast foods. There are many creative ways to incorporate cereals into baked goods, desserts and even main dishes. Here are a few favorites.

SIX WEEKS RAISIN BRAN MUFFINS


It’s so named because you can keep this batter in the refrigerator for up to six weeks. Use it in batches and have fresh muffins whenever you want.
3 cups sugar
5 cups flour
5 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup canola oil
1 quart buttermilk
1 (18 ounce) box raisin bran
Three or more days before baking, combine first 4 ingredients in a very large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the liquid ingredients. Add all at once to the flour mixture, stirring until smooth. Gently stir in the cereal, stirring just until combined. Do not over-mix. Cover and refrigerate at least three days before using. When ready to bake, set oven to 400 degrees. Spoon generous scoops of batter into 12 spray-coated or paper-lined muffin tins and bake 16-20 minutes, or until nicely browned on top. Cool slightly before serving. Entire recipe makes about 4 dozen muffins.

WHEATIES COOKIES


The “Breakfast of Champions” forms the basis for a tasty cookie. You can also substitute Special K and have equally delicious results.
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded coconut
2 cups Wheaties
In a large bowl, with mixer on medium, cream both sugars with the butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. In a small bowl, gently mix the flour with the next 3 ingredients, and at low speed, add to the bowl. Stir in the coconut and Wheaties.

Drop by tablespoonfuls, two inches apart, onto greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Do not over-bake. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets on wire racks for before removing them to cool completely. Makes about 4 ½ dozen.

GARDEN MEAT LOAF


Virtually every meat loaf recipe includes some sort of grain as a binding ingredient, usually bread cubes or bread crumbs. In this treatment, fiber-rich oatmeal is used along with chopped vegetables to create a healthier meat loaf. These extra ingredients also allow you to stretch a pound of ground beef.
1 pound ground round
2 eggs
½ cup finely chopped celery
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
1 ½ cups rolled oats
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Place the beef and eggs in a large bowl, and work them together with your hands. Add all the remaining ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Press the mixture into an 8 ½-by-4 ½-inch loaf pan and bake 60 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool 10 minutes before slicing. Serves 4.

ADULT RICE KRISPIES TREATS


That Rice Krispies-marshmallow concoction was a mainstay of childhood. A few sophisticated ingredients are added to fashion a treat for adult palates.
3 tablespoons butter
2 to 3 teaspoons curry powder
1 (10 ounce) bag miniature marshmallows
2 cups roasted, salted sunflower seeds
5 cups Rice Krispies
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry powder, and stir for a few minutes. Add the marshmallows, stirring until melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the sunflower seeds and Rice Krispies. Press into a buttered square baking pan and cool to room temperature until set. Cut into squares. Makes about 2 dozen.