Gingerbread Granola

Gingerbread Granola @ NancyC

It was time for me to make granola again and I love trying out different flavors! I had thought about making Gingerbread Granola during the holidays, but didn’t get around to it. I still wanted to try it this winter season, though, and I thought adding some dried cranberries into the mix, a little touch of red, would make it a wonderful granola not only for the holidays, but for Valentine’s day, too. So this is a perfect granola for all winter long…for breakfast, brunch, or a healthy sweet snack. And people love receiving treat bags filled with granola–it makes a great homemade food gift!

As you might be able to tell from my photo, I mixed in both dried cranberries and golden raisins into my granola.  I really like the sweetness and color they add.  I also like the rich molasses flavor blended with the other spices in this!

GINGERBREAD GRANOLA by NancyC

Makes about 6 cups

  • 4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 2/3 cup raw shelled sunflower kernels (if using roasted and salted kernels, add them to the mixture after baking)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil or non-GMO canola oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries or golden raisins (or 3/4 cup of each)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 10 x 15″ or 13 x 15″ baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the oats, flaxseed or wheat germ, sunflower kernels, chopped pecans, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. In small microwaveable bowl, heat molasses for about 15 to 20 seconds to make consistency thinner and easier to stir. Then in a medium size bowl, blend molasses, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract, stirring everything well (the oil may separate from the other ingredients, but blend it as well as you can). Add this syrup mixture to the dry oat mixture, mixing until everything is thoroughly coated.

Spread granola mixture onto prepared baking sheet and bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes, until mixture is golden, stirring every 15 minutes so granola bakes evenly. Remove from oven; stir in dried cranberries and/or raisins, if using, and then let the granola cool completely (the mixture will get crunchier as it cools). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks (or you can store a little longer in the refrigerator).

I have a good-sized jar of organic ground ginger, and I used some of that for this. I still have quite a bit of ground ginger, so I may be making more gingery recipes! Are you a fan of gingerbread-flavored treats?

Linked to Fiesta Friday.

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Homemade Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix

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If you like making homemade Christmas gifts, here’s a great idea I found at MyRecipes. Just about everyone loves hot cocoa, so you really can’t go wrong giving this! You can get jars like the one above at Wal-Mart, or you can use whatever kind of jars you like. This recipe makes enough to fill a 1-quart jar (12 servings; I upped the amount of the mini chocolate chips and crushed peppermint candy from the original recipe, since I had some extra room in my jar). If you want to use smaller jars, you can divide the mixture up equally between those. A ribbon tied around the neck of the jar makes this hot cocoa gift really festive, too. And you’ll need to add a tag that gives directions on how to make the cocoa (directions are included in the recipe below).

This is a rich, chocolatey cocoa mix that makes a great cup of hot cocoa! And it has a nice touch of peppermint, so it’s perfect for the holidays. If I have the time, I may just make my own hot cocoa mix from now on!

HOMEMADE PEPPERMINT HOT COCOA MIX adapted from MyRecipes.com

Makes about 12 servings, enough to fill a 1-quart (32-ounce) jar

  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy or candy canes (I used 3/4 cup)

In a 1-quart jar, layer powdered milk, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, chocolate chips, and last of all, the peppermint candy on top. Cover jar with lid, tie a pretty holiday ribbon around the neck of the jar if desired, and attach a homemade gift tag with cocoa-making instructions on the back.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR BACK OF GIFT TAG: “Mix contents of jar in a large bowl. For each serving, place a slightly heaping 1/3 cup cocoa mix in a mug and stir in 1 cup boiling water. Store remaining mix back in jar or another airtight container.”

NOTE: This mix will fill a 1-quart jar (about 12 servings, with each serving being a slightly heaping 1/3 cup), but if your containers are different sizes, just keep the ratio of ingredients constant.

Are you making any homemade Christmas gifts this year?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.