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.

Marshmallow-Topped Sweet Potato Casserole

Marshmallow Topped Sweet Potato Casserole @ NancyC

I made this sweet potatoes casserole this past Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I was kind of craving it again, even though you normally don’t think of having sweet potato casserole in January! But it’s one of those classic comfort food … Continue reading

Veggie Black Bean Chili

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If you’re wanting something to eat that will warm you up during this chilly winter season, this Veggie Black Bean Chili is definitely the recipe to make! It’s easy to put together and healthy, too–with black beans, onion, garlic, green bell … Continue reading

Egg Nog Mini Loaves

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Egg Nog is one of those foods that signal the beginning of the holiday season. I first noticed it this year in the grocery store about three weeks before Thanksgiving. I usually buy a few cartons during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and … Continue reading

Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Fudge

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If you haven’t had the chance to use up your candy canes before or on Christmas, here’s a yummy sweet treat you can make with those leftover candy canes! This Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Fudge is super-easy to make and the … Continue reading

Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Muffins

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After baking quite a few mini loaves for the holidays, I thought I’d try some muffins! I really like these muffins because they have dried cranberries, golden raisins, chopped pecans, and lots of spices–they just seem perfect for this time of … Continue reading

Mini Cannoli Cups

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Here’s an easy recipe I made with Nasoya® Won Ton Wraps. I had never used these wraps before, so I was interested in trying them out when I was offered some complimentary product from Nasoya® (they also provided a gift card to cover … Continue reading

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread and Mini Loaves

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I hadn’t made anything with fresh cranberries yet this year, so I decided it was time to do something about that! Plus, I still needed to make more mini-loaves for holiday giving. My Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread turned out well, so … Continue reading

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread and Mini Loaves

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I’ve been wanting to make pumpkin bread with chocolate chips in it for quite some time and I thought while I was at it, I’d make some mini-loaves too. Mini-loaves make great food gifts for the holidays, and just about everyone … Continue reading

Apple Pear Pecan Salad

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It’s always fun trying out different ways to make salads–it makes salad-eating a little more interesting! In the summer months, I like adding strawberries and blueberries to my salads. So I thought I’d try making a more “wintry” salad with apples and pears, inspired by this recipe. There’s also creamy crumbles of feta cheese mixed in, along with some healthy pecans that give this salad a nice flavor and crunch! I learned recently that pecans are rich in antioxidants and contain heart-healthy mono and ployunsaturated fats. They’re also rich in fiber–a handful of pecans contain the same amount of fiber as a medium-sized apple! I had received a complimentary sample of Bergeron Pecans through the National Pecan Shellers Association, and they were a perfect addition to this salad!

APPLE PEAR PECAN SALAD by NancyCreative, adapted from Kraft Foods

Makes 6-8 servings

  • 8 cups of packaged salad mix (about a 5.5-ounce package) or coarsely chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries, divided
  • 1 medium or large apple, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium or large pear, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese, divided
  • 1 cup pecan halves or coarsely chopped pecans, toasted or untoasted, divided (I used Bergeron Pecans)
  • 1 bottle of your favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (regular or lite)

In a large salad bowl, toss together the lettuce, half of the dried cranberries (1/3 cup), and all of the chopped apple and pear. Then add in half of the crumbled feta cheese and half of the pecans (1/2 cup) and toss all ingredients together. Sprinkle the remaining dried cranberries, pecans, and feta cheese on top. Serve on individual plates and drizzle each serving with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing.

Toasting Pecans: For more crunchiness and flavor, you can toast your pecans in the oven by spreading in a single layer in a shallow baking pan; bake at 350˚ for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. To toast pecans on the stove top, place them in an ungreased skillet and cook on medium heat until golden brown, stirring frequently. To toast pecans in the microwave, place up to 1 cup pecans in a microwaveable shallow dish; microwave on high until crisp, stirring every 30 seconds.

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This salad is great with a meal–a larger serving of it can even be a meal in itself! What types of recipes do you like to use pecans in?

Linked to Tidy Mom–I’m Loving It.

Cranberry Orange Banana Smoothie

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I usually have a few bags of frozen cranberries in my freezer this time of year. During the holidays, I buy a some extra bags of fresh cranberries and freeze them so I can use them later–for recipes that I come across like this one, which I found at Williams-Sonoma. The cranberry-orange flavors in this smoothie are so good together and I used honey to sweeten it (you can also use agave nectar). It has just the right amount of sweetness and if you like cranberries, I’m sure you will love this smoothie!

yogurt-24_vanillaI like using thicker, creamy yogurts in my smoothies, like Greek yogurt, but in this smoothie I used Green Valley Organics Lactose Free Vanilla Yogurt. I had received a complimentary sample to try out, and I really liked it. This yogurt has a thick, creamy texture–perfect for smoothies! In addition to being organic and lactose free (which is important for those of you who are lactose intolerant), it’s also gluten free and has less sugar than other yogurts, so it’s very healthy!

Hope you get to try out this yummy winter smoothie–perfect for a quick, easy breakfast. Maybe not in zero-degree weather, but great for a warmer winter day! :)

CRANBERRY ORANGE BANANA SMOOTHIE by NancyCreative, adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Makes about 20 ounces, or 2 (10-ounce) servings

Add all ingredients to your blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

It feels good to eat a little healthier after all that holiday food! Are you trying to eat healthier after the holidays too?

Linked to Tidy Mom–I’m Lovin’ It.

Decorating Ideas for Next Christmas

It never fails…when Christmas is over, I come across ideas I wish I had seen earlier in the season so I could have tried them out. Well, I’m saving these ideas for next Christmas! Maybe you’ll find something here you’ll want to try next year, too!

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From My Picture-Perfect Life–Top photo: display ornaments in a variety of glass containers or covered plates or stands. Even larger vases work great! Bottom photo: Silver and gold are a great combination–add fullness to a silvery Christmas tree with decorative gold stems.

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From A Fanciful Diversion–a Shabby Chic lantern filled with a collection of snowy, glittery treasures.

Eileen

My artistic friend Eileen had a similar idea this Christmas, making such a pretty arrangement, above, on her table!

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From Carpe Diem–Glttery gold ornaments paired with rustic and natural elements–and more lanterns surrounding the bottom of the tree.

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Love this outdoor lantern on a vintage sled–from Self Architecture. Gives any porch a warm and welcoming look!

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A great way to add a touch of Christmas to bedrooms–hang stockings at the foot of the bed and add a Christmas pillow on top! From Passion Decor.

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Top photo: Pinecones go great with the other rustic decor in this Shabby Chic display, from Seda y Nacar. And from the same site, a festive bannister with gifts and greenery.

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What a cozy entryway from Texstil Design!

Christmas tree

Cute little Christmas trees add a nice touch on tables indoors or out. From Jaynes Cozy Corner.

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A glowing, golden vintage village warms up any room. From Old, but gold.

Well, we will sure be prepared for next Christmas, won’t we? :) Have you collected some ideas you are saving for next Christmas?