Category Archives: Food Gifts

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!


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.

Salted Dark Chocolate Coffee Bark

Salted Dark Chocolate Coffee Bark @ NancyC

On chilly mornings, I like to have a hot cup of coffee to start my day. With cream. I don’t like black coffee or sugar in my coffee, but I love having cream in my coffee! But cookingwithcoffeeapparently you can do so much more with coffee, as I discovered when I received a review copy of Cooking with Coffee by Brandi Evans. It’s a hardcover book with 60 recipes and lots of color photos.

The book begins with a brief history of coffee, benefits of coffee, different brewing options, and popular ingredients to use with coffee. Then you’ll find recipes for baked goods; homemade coffee creamers; drinks and smoothies; sauces, dips, and toppings; savory foods; and sweets and snacks. Recipes include:

  • Espresso Banana Muffins
  • Coffee and White Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
  • Salted Chocolate Coffee Creamer
  • Peanut Butter Mocha Smoothie
  • Chocolate-Coffee Gravy
  • Coffee Maple Vinaigrette
  • Chicken Enchiladas with Quick Coffee Ranchera Sauce
  • Triple Chip Espresso Cookies

I decided to try the Salted Dark Chocolate Coffee Bark, because I thought it would be a great recipe to keep in mind as a food gift for the holidays. It’s easy to make and only has 3 ingredients, so you can whip it up easily and quickly. You just need to give the bark enough time to harden, at least an hour, before you break it up into pieces. It makes a great sweet treat for coffee and dark chocolate lovers! The recipes says to use 10 ounces of 60% dark chocolate, so I used one 10-ounce bag of dark chocolate chips and that worked perfectly!


Makes about 2 cups pieces of bark

  • 10 ounces 60% dark chocolate or semisweet
  • 1/4 cup whole coffee beans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons large flake sea salt (I used less salt-more like 1 teaspoon, and that was salty enough for me!)

Over a double boiler or in a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate until it’s just warm enough to completely melt when you stir (a few minutes over the double boiler or 1-2 minutes in the microwave, checking every 30 seconds).

Pour the chocolate onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and smooth out into an even layer.

Sprinkle the melted chocolate with the coffee beans and the sea salt.

Let the chocolate set at least 1 hour, then break into bite-sized pieces.

Like I mentioned earlier, this bark makes a great homemade food gift. Or you may want to give the book itself to a coffee-loving friend. Are you a coffee-lover yourself, and do you use coffee in any recipes?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, FoodieFriDIY, Sunday Features, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Tasty Tuesday, Wow Us Wednesdays, Wake Up Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Share Your Style, Thursday Favorite Things, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Create It Thursday, Fabulous Foodie Friday.


S’mores Granola The last time I made granola, I made Chocolate Chip Cherry Granola. It was the first time I had added chocolate to granola and I loved the combination! And now that summery weather is here, it seemed like the perfect time to try making S’mores Granola. S’mores are such a classic summer treat, so why not make a granola version? I used Jet-Puffed Mallow Bits, mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, and Golden Grahams cereal to mimic the chocolate-marshmallow-graham cracker flavors, and these all worked really well with my granola base.

This S’mores Granola makes a good snack to munch on any time of day and you can also spoon it over vanilla yogurt for an easy breakfast or dessert. If you like sweet cereal, you could also serve this granola in a bowl with milk.


Makes about 10 cups

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 3 Tablespoons non-GMO canola oil or light olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick oats)
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ or ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 3 cups Golden Grahams cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups Kraft Jet-Puffed Mallow Bits
  • 1 1/2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chop an equivalent amount of Hershey bars into small chunks)

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a 10 x 15″ or 13 x 18″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl or container, heat the honey for about 30 seconds so it’s thinner and easier to stir; then mix the honey, oil, and salt together in a small bowl; set aside.

In large bowl, toss the oats, wheat germ or flaxseed, and chopped pecans. Add in the honey, oil, and salt mixture and toss again, combining all ingredients well.

Spread mixture evenly on your parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 325˚F for 20 minutes; remove pan from oven to stir and toss mixture for even baking. Return to oven for an additional 15 minutes, until mixture is golden, and remove from oven.

Stir granola, then let it cool completely on pan (if the granola isn’t quite crunchy, it will get crunchier as it cools). When completely cool, put granola mixture in an extra large bowl and stir in the Golden Grahams, Jet-Puffed Mallow Bits, and mini chocolate chips (or chopped up Hershey bars). Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

S’mores are such a classic treat and it’s fun making variations on the chocolate-graham cracker-marshmallow combination. Did you have S’mores often as a kid and do you make them now?

Linked to Full Plate Thursday, Let’s Get Real Friday, Inspiration Thursday.


Gourmet Gift Baskets for Mother’s Day and a Giveaway!


I received a nice surprise on my doorstep the other day–a beautiful gift basket from It was carefully packaged in a box and arrived in perfect condition with a festive bow wrapped around the basket. You have a chance to win this gourmet basket of goodies, too (a $99.00 value)–see the end of the post for details! If you’re not familiar with, it’s a family-owned business that is one of the fastest-growing online gift companies in the U.S. They’ve been featured on Food Network and in many magazines like Bon Appétite, Gourmet, and Food & Wine.

Mother’s Day is next weekend and if you’re needing a last-minute gift for mom, you’ll find lots of special Mother’s Day Gift baskets to choose from–one of these gourmet baskets would make a wonderful gift for her! Here are some of the different baskets you can choose from:

MothersDayGourmetGiftsI wanted to point out that in the golf gift basket, the golf bag holding the gourmet goodies is actually a cooler that mom can use on the golf course–how great is that? There are even more gifts and goodies at the website–including a special Mother’s Day Cake and Cookie Cake–with a variety of price ranges to fit your budget. Click here to see the full selection. The gift basket I received was the Bountiful Harvest Fruit Gift Basket which included fresh fruit, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Artisan Crackers, Caramel Fruit and Snack Dip, Peanut Brittle, several kinds of Gourmet Cookies, Peanut Crunch, Roasted Peanuts, Snack Mix, some chocolate candies, and Gourmet Popcorn.


What a wonderful combination of goodies! Who wouldn’t love to receive a gift like this? Well, now is your chance to win the same kind of basket that I received from–they will send your basket directly to you!

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 9.10.38 PMTHE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations to commentor #22, Kendra, on winning the giveaway!

If you’d like to enter the giveaway to win the Bountiful Harvest Fruit Gift Basket, leave a comment on this blog post between now and Monday evening, May 4 at 8 p.m. (CST). The random drawing will be made from the comments on this post only! The winner will be chosen randomly via and announced later on Monday evening, May 4. Winner will be notified via email (if winner does not respond within 24 hours, I will do another drawing). Giveaway is limited to readers in the Continental U.S.

First entry: Leave a comment on this post letting me know what your favorite Mother’s Day gift basket is from the Gourmet Gifts Baskets collection.

Bonus entry: If you are a new or existing follower or subscriber, you can leave one extra comment telling me the way (or ways) you are following.

Note: If your comment doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry–it just means I haven’t had the chance to click on it to approve it before it becomes visible!


Easter Trail Mix


Something that’s hard for me to resist when I see the long aisle of Easter candy at the store are those malted milk Robin Eggs–malt balls covered with a candy coating. I buy them every year and eat way too many of them! This year, I told myself I would not buy them unless I used them in a recipe. And since I’ve been short on time lately, it needed to be something pretty simple. So I came up with an Easter Trail Mix–a blend of chocolatey sweets mixed in with some healthy ingredients. The mini robin eggs and pastel M&M’s give the mix plenty of chocolatey taste and spring color, and the other goodies include raisins, sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, peanuts, and mini pretzel twists. This recipe makes a large bowl of trail mix, so there’s plenty for everyone to munch on!


Makes about 13 cups

  • 1 (13.7 oz.) bag Mini Robins Eggs (almost 3 cups)
  • 1 (11.4 oz) bag milk chocolate easter M&M’s (about 1 2/3 cup)
  • 1 cup raisins (you can use golden or dark raisins)
  • 2/3 cup roasted and salted sunflower kernels
  • 1 cup sweetened dried coconut flakes
  • 1 (16 oz.) container cocktail peanuts or dry roasted peanuts
  • 3 cups mini pretzel twists (you can also use mini pretzel sticks or mini pretzel snaps)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, stirring with a large spoon. Eat right away or store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Makes a great food gift, too, packaged in treat bags!

Are you a fan of those Robin Eggs too? Are you using them in any Easter recipes this year?

Linked to Full Plate Thursday.


Gift Wrap Ideas for Valentine’s Day


Valentine’s Day is just a few days away…if you still need ideas for ways to wrap or package your Valentine gifts, treats, or candy, here are some fresh ideas!

Above, Valentine Present Toppers from Julep look really easy to make–see instructions and downloadable heart shapes here.


Lots of great downloadable Valentine labels for jars, gift bags, and other containers are available here at World Label.


Speaking of jars, here’s a pretty way to dress up a jar and put a gift inside…like a food gift or candle. From The Pleated Poppy.


Also at World Label, special treat labels and stickers for coffee or hot cocoa cups, chocolate bars, and goody bags. See instructions and downloadable designs here.


Check out these Candy Huggers…a fun way for kids to give Valentine Candy! See downloads and instructions here at Lia Griffith.

Hope these ideas give you some inspiration for Valentine’s Day!🙂

Linked to Thursday Favorite Things at Katherine’s Corner.


Egg Nog Mini Loaves


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 pretty much always have some left over after Christmas. Which is great, because it gives me an excuse to bake some egg nog goodies! Like these Egg Nog Mini Loaves, for example.

After having lots of super-sweet holiday treats, I was wanting something just a little sweet, and these little loaves turned out to be just the thing! They’re moist, slightly sweet, and have a mild egg nog flavor, so even those who aren’t crazy about egg nog may like them. These mini loaves rise really nicely, too (Note: I also tried making this recipe as a 9 x 5″ loaf, but since it sunk a little in the middle, I think it works best for mini loaves, and probably muffins, too).

If you’d like to sweeten these loaves up a little more, sprinkle on a dusting of powdered sugar after they’ve cooled or add an egg nog glaze on top (try the glaze that I used on these Egg Nog Muffins).


Makes three 5 x 3″ mini loaves

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup egg nog
  • 1/3 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons rum extract
  • Optional: Egg Nog Glaze

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour three 5 x 3″ mini loaf pans; set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In medium bowl, beat eggs, egg nog, yogurt, sugar, butter, and vanilla and rum extracts, blending well. Add this mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just enough to moisten.

Pour into prepared mini loaf pans. Bake at 350˚F for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (I baked mine for 32 minutes).

Cool loaves for 10 minutes in pans, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. If desired, glaze with Egg Nog Glaze (click here for the recipe–I’ve used it before on some egg nog muffins).

As the holidays wind down, these Egg Nog Mini Loaves are the perfect treat with some coffee or tea. Hope you had an enjoyable holiday and wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy New Year!


Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Muffins


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 year! You can top them with cream cheese icing if you want, but I like them plain if I’m having them in the morning–they’re sweet enough on their own. These are perfect for a holiday breakfast, brunch, or snack and this recipe makes 32 moist, delicious muffins–so you’ll have plenty to eat, share, and use in your goody packages!🙂

CRANBERRY PECAN PUMPKIN MUFFINS by NancyC, adapted from MyRecipes

Makes 32 muffins

  • 3/4 cup  (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Optional: Cream Cheese Icing (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line muffin cups with paper liners; set aside

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.

In medium bowl, combine flour and next 6 ingredients (baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg). Add chopped pecans, dried cranberries, and golden raisins to flour mixture, tossing to coat. Then add the flour mixture to butter/sugar/egg mixture alternately with the pumpkin puree, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in vanilla.

Spoon batter into lined muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake at 350˚F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in muffin pans on wire rack for 5 minutes; remove from pans and let cool completely.

If desired, frost with cream cheese icing. These muffins are so tasty, you don’t really need icing on them. But here’s the recipe if you want to try it…


  • 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Half & Half (light cream)

Blend cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until creamy; gradually add powdered sugar, mixing until smooth. Add Half & Half, 1 Tablespoon at a time, mixing until it has a spreadable consistency (the icing will be thick–add more Half & Half if you’d like a thinner consistency).

It’s hard to believe Christmas is coming up so quickly! Are you getting everything done that you’re needing to?


Royal Riviera® Rogue Valley Salad


A few days ago, I found a nice surprise on my doorstep–a box of beautiful Harry & David® Royal Riviera® Pears! And Harry & David® is also extending a special offer to me and my readers–a 20% discount on your next purchase of anything on their site when you enter the code NANCY20 during checkout! So if you still need some gifts, you’ll want to check out their site!

I learned a little about the history of these pears, too. These sweet and juicy pears, traced back to 19th century France, were brought to Oregon’s Rogue Valley in 1897, where they thrived in the climate there. And for 80 years Harry & David® have been shipping these pears from their southern Oregon orchards.

I was wondering why there was a spoon in the package, and then I saw a note explaining that, in celebration of Harry & David’s® 80th anniversary, and also in honor of National Pear Month (yes, December is National Pear Month!) they were inviting some pear lovers to take the “Spoon Test Challenge” to see if their claim that Royal Riviera® Pears are really “so big and juicy, you can eat them with a spoon” is true. So I did take the Spoon Test Challenge, which involved letting the pears ripen for 1-2 days, slicing them in half, and using a spoon to eat the juicy pear. And I am happy to verify that yes, these pears really are juicy enough to eat with a spoon! They are really, really good. If you like pears or know someone who does, these are a real treat!

Here are some serving suggestions for these pears:

  • Halve, core, and eat with a spoon (makes a wonderful, healthy dessert!)
  • Slice and serve after dinner with an assortment of fine cheeses
  • Slice pears for salads
  • When slicing pears for salads or dessert, Harry & David® recommends peeling them first, then sprinkling with some lemon juice to keep them looking fresh

Here’s a recipe for a salad you can try–this recipe was included in my package of pears, so I thought I’d share it with you. This would make a great salad for your holiday meal! You can also find more salad recipes at Harry &

ROYAL RIVIERA® ROGUE VALLEY SALAD (recipe and photo from Harry & David)

royalFor the dressing:

  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup walnut oil
  • Whisk together the first 5 ingredients. Gradually whisk in the walnut oil. chill for 20 minutes.

For the salad:

  • 1 head butter lettuce, washed and dried
  • 1 large or 2 small Royal Riviera® Pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2/3 cup Rogue Creamery or other blue cheese
  • 2/3 cup Harry and David® candied pecans, roasted pecans, or roasted walnuts

Gently tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces. Arrange on four chilled plates. Top with fans of pear slices. Sprinkle blue cheese evenly over the pears and lettuce and top with nuts. Drizzle the dressing generously over the salad and serve.

Are you a pear-lover, too? What kinds of recipes do you like to use pears in?


Cranberry Pumpkin Bread and Mini Loaves


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 I decided to try making some pumpkin bread with fresh cranberries added in–it sounded like a great combination for the holidays! These loaves baked up so nicely, with rounded tops and a dense, moist texture. The fresh cranberries add to the moistness and flavor.


This recipe will make one 9 x 5″ loaf or three 5 x 3″ mini loaves…or double the recipe and make a large loaf for you and your family and 3 mini loaves for giving away! If you do double the recipe, make sure you use an extra-large bowl for easier mixing.


Makes one (9 x 5″) loaf or three (5 x 3″) mini loaves

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil (or non-GMO canola oil)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour one 9 x 5″ loaf pan or three 5 x 3″ mini loaf pans; set aside.

In large bowl, blend the flour, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together; then add the spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, blending everything well.

In medium bowl, blend the pumpkin puree, light olive oil, and eggs, mixing well. Add this mixture to dry ingredients in large bowl, blending well (batter will be thick). Fold in the chopped cranberries, stirring until evenly distributed in batter.

Spoon batter into prepared 9 x 5″ loaf pan or 3 mini loaf pans.

For 9 x 5″ loaf: Bake at 350˚F for 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

For 3 mini loaves: Bake at 350˚F for 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool in pan or pans for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack.


If you’re giving these loaves as gifts, wrap them individually in plastic wrap and add a ribbon around them tied in a knot or bow to make them look extra special! For inspiration, see these wrapped mini loaves here.

I still have more holiday baking I need to do–wish I had more time! Are you getting all the baking done you want to this season?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy and Inspiration Monday at Your Homebased Mom.