10th day of Christmas Granola

This blog was launched on a resolution, my first in years (decades?), and is a great reminder of why I stopped doing resolutions. Life changes in a year. Life changes in a few hours with kids at home. I was going at a good clip until June, when my delicately balanced house of parenting/wifing/working cards caught a little breeze and came crashing down. The details aren’t that interesting or important, but it was ONE appointment that essentially set (and then upset and reset) our entire summer schedule.

I’m pretty sure I tried (at least) 52 new recipes last year, but I didn’t keep track of them that well or share many at all, so I readily admit that failure. I over-promised and under-delivered. The former business consultant in me is deeply disappointed.

I’m going to keep cooking and sharing (when time and interest allows) and maybe writing about not cooking stuff, too. If at first you don’t succeed, change the parameters to increase the odds next time!

We finished the Christmas cookies last night. Before Christmas, I baked 4 types of cookies (Nutella thumbprints, sugar cutouts, chocolate shortbreads, and gingersnaps), a panettone, a panforte, and made horribly sticky cornflake “wreaths” with Peanut and Meatball (perhaps “roundish wads of sprinkleglop” is a better descriptor). This was down from my usual production of at least 6 types of cookie (Rangers and white chocolate cranberry oatmeal got passed over this year), the aforementioned Italian confections, and German Stollen and a traditional English fruitcake (don’t start, my fruitcake is delicious). We travelled this year and I just didn’t want it all sitting around while we were gone. Because I skipped the fruitcakes and had to buy some additional ingredients for the other stuff, I found myself sitting on an apocalypse-ready cache of dried fruit and nuts. Granola basically staring me in the face, I found a “Basic Granola Recipe” on chowhound and used it to make what I’m calling Tenth Day of Christmas Granola (it will have all the Lords a-Leaping!). Just like last year, my notes on the original recipe are in bold.


  • 3 cups rolled oats (not instant) The cheapest rolled oats at our local grocery were thick cut (from Bob’s Red Mill). I figured granola isn’t something that needs to be delicate or tender so I went for it, and I think it may have helped the oats to not burn like they often have when I have previously made granola.
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar This seemed like a lot in addition to the honey, so I used 1 tablespoon of turbinado sugar (it was the most accessible sugar in the cabinet. I’m really scientific about all of this.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt I used pink salt because ours is much finer than kosher and I wanted more even distribution (see? science!)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil Canola is my flavor-neutral, high smoke point oil of choice, so I used that.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Because I was using hazelnuts and a fruit blend, I went with 1/2 teaspoon each of orange and vanilla extract.
  • 1/2 cup small-dice dried fruit I used a whole cup of King Arthur Flour’s Fruitcake Blend, which is raisins, cranberries, dates, currants, and pineapple.
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw or toasted nuts or seeds I used about 3/4 cup of chopped raw hazelnuts.
  1. Heat the oven to 300°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Place the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine; set aside. I also added the nuts and fruit here. I wasn’t too worried about the fruit burning and I wanted the raw nuts to toast with the granola.
  3. Place the honey, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pour over the oat mixture and mix until the oats are thoroughly coated. My honey was crystallized almost solid, so I microwaved the honey and oil together before stirring in the extracts.
  4. Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Save clean up, use a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet! Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and continue baking until the granola is very light golden brown, about 5 to 15 minutes more. Despite having nearly twice the volume because of the added fruit and nuts, I was able to easily fit everything onto a half sheet pan and it cooked in the same time. 
  5. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool the granola to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (Note: It will harden as it cools.) I kind of got to typing this and forgot to stir. Things got sticky and it took a little more effort than maybe it could have to get things moving once they had set, but it still worked out and then I didn’t have to worry about step 6 because it was already all together.
  6. Add the fruit and nuts or seeds to the baking sheet and toss to combine.Store the granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. 2 weeks? Not necessary, this will be lucky to make it through the Epiphany.


So there it is, and the results are exactly what I was looking for; the fruit is chewy, the oats are nice and crispy, the hazelnuts are toasty and crunchy, and it’s not overly sweet. The cinnamon and orange are magical together. I have some slivered almonds and dried cherries for my next batch, which I’ll probably do with almond extract. I also want to try pistachios and apricots (with ginger instead of cinnamon?), or pecans and dates (maybe with maple syrup in place of some of the honey). I love recipes like this that can be made differently every time.

I can’t (okay, WON’T) commit to timing on future posts. Under-promise and over-deliver is my plan for 2018. #whatevergetsdonein2018



7&8/52 Honey Sage Bourbon Cocktail & Candied Ginger Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Not a meal. Not saying it couldn’t be. There’s fruit in it.

Susie Homemaker I am not. I’m not particularly tidy. I avoid cleaning, which means I let things go until crisis point (eating off orphaned plastic container lids and going sockless) or we have company arriving. I enjoy cooking and baking, but cuisine is one of the first priorities to go when adulting gets to be overwhelming. Any military wife will tell you that popcorn or cereal can be a meal (ANY meal) during deployment or any other service member absence (it’s never JUST a deployment). I like to think I have perfected the art of lazy feeding when my husband is gone and the three of us (plus dog) are left to our own devices. My crowning achievement was the invention of “Big Bowl of Food”, where, writhing in the throes of a back injury, I desperately assembled a lunch of snack items (crackers, raisins, nuts, Cheerios, fruit snacks?, pretzels) in a – you guessed it – big bowl and plopped it on the coffee table with two cups of milk and let the boys have at it. It’s become one of my most requested creations.

In fourteen days, this house has seen three injuries above the neck (all on the same kid, looking into having him fitted for a helmet), three days of fever (other kid), and mild flu-like symptoms (Mommy). Only the dog remains unscathed. Meals these past two weeks have been of the lazy variety. Store-bought rotisserie chicken with noodles and steam-in-the-bag broccoli for three nights, a standby meatball recipe that lasted until no one ever wants to see a meatball again (especially Meatball, who doesn’t care for them in the first place), and teriyaki chicken have pretty much seen us through, augmented with a couple of trips through the Chik-fil-A drive-thru. *Bonus recipe for teriyaki chicken: Pour one bottle Soy Vey Teriyaki sauce into slow cooker. Add 4-5 skinless chicken thighs (boned or not, doesn’t matter), cook on low for 4 hours. Serve with rice.* I’m patting myself on the back for not resorting to Big Bowl of Food and celebrating with the cocktail I had wanted to make when I did the Maple Bourbon Rosemary Cocktail.

Honey Sage Winter Bourbon Cocktail

As usual, my edits are in bold.

Honey Winter Bourbon Cocktail with Honey Sage Syrup No need to say honey twice here, honey. Winter Bourbon Cocktail with Honey Sage Syrup or Honey Sage Winter Bourbon Cocktail.

Honey Sage Syrup I halved this recipe knowing I barely had enough Bourbon for one cocktail

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 10-12 Fresh Sage Leaves


  • 2 ounces Bourbon Normally, I prefer Buffalo Trace for cocktails but it is extraordinarily difficult to find in Southern Maryland. I found it ONCE in our local booze-selling grocery but had just bought some Makers Mark and couldn’t bring myself to buy more Bourbon and now I’m kicking myself. 
  • 1 orange peel
  • 1 fresh sage leaf
  • 3 Tbsp honey sage syrup
  • Servings: 3 Nope. Three teetotaling 85 pound gymnasts, maybe, but these quantities make ONE decent drink. 


Bring the water, honey, and sage to a boil in a pot over medium high heat. Reduce to
lowand simmer 3 minutes. Turn off heat and let syrup cool.
You’ll have extra syrup unless you’re mixing for a crowd. Mine is in an airtight container in the fridge.

Fill a short glass with ice. Pour bourbon and cooled syrup over ice. Twist your orange peel directly over glass until you see the oils release. Place in glass with bourbon, stir, and garnish with a fresh sage leaf.

It really was the “Last Pass” for that bottle of Bourbon. Plane etchings adorn all of our barware. Naval Aviation wife problems.

Doing this again, I would muddle an orange slice in a shaker with the syrup and then add ice and bourbon and shake until the shaker is cold, then pour over fresh ice before adding the twist and the sage leaf. This cocktail improved as the ice diluted it and I’d rather just start there. Plus, it was a bit flat until I enhanced the orange.

This cocktail is not sweet so if you like sweeter drinks, feel free to add more honey. Eh, being almost HALF syrup makes this drink quite sweet. It’s also quite strong because the honey is the only mixer, but it certainly doesn’t need to be any sweeter. 

I’d love to try it again soon, but I used the last of our Maker’s Mark (and even had to augment with a splash of Pendleton), and I’m not sure this is worthy of the Blanton’s. Besides, I need the Blanton’s for the fast-approaching Julep Season.

I have a bit of a grocery neurosis. Whenever I come across a hard to find ingredient, it gets stuck in my head, and the next time I see that ingredient, I stock up. Like a squirrel getting ready for winter. (I’m still so mad about not buying that Buffalo Trace I saw IN NOVEMBER.) In this manner, I found myself sitting on close to a pound of candied ginger. That’s a LOT of candied ginger, even for a relatively prolific baker. So, cocktail in hand, I went to Pinterest to find a new way to use some of it up. I’d been craving cookies for a while and always have plenty of chocolate on hand (second grocery problem, I rarely leave the store without chocolate), so this recipe for Candied Ginger Sea Salt Chocolate Chunk Cookies from the Minimalist Baker caught my eye. The recipe uses sea salt chocolate, which I didn’t have on hand (but now I’ll stock up the next time I see it!) but I do have sea salt and chocolate, problem solved.

Candied Ginger and Sea Salt Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Pillowy chocolate chip cookies with tiny little flecks of homemade candied ginger and sea salt dark chocolate. I would not describe my results as “pillowy”. Tasty, certainly, but pillowy, no.
Author: Minimalist Baker
Serves: 30 cookies
1 cup + 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground ginger
pinch salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup sea salt dark chocolate, chopped I used chopped dark chocolate and then added a half tsp sea salt to the dough, then sprinkled a few flakes of sea salt on each cookie
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped

CANDIED GINGER If you feel like making your own candied ginger, here’s how. That would have defeated the purpose for me, though. If you bought candied ginger, skip to the next bold text.
4-5 small-medium pieces fresh ginger
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
To candy ginger, peel and thinly slice fresh ginger, then add to a saucepan with equal parts water and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Next, drain and place ginger on a plate or other flat surface to dry, preferably overnight but at least 5-6 hours. Lastly, toss in white sugar.

Let’s get down to business.
To make the cookies, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream butter and sugars together. Then add egg, vanilla and mix again.
Add dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing as you go. Lastly, fold in chocolate chunks and chopped candied ginger.
Scoop into rounded 1 Tbsp. balls and place on cookie sheet. Here’s where I put a few flakes of San Juan Island Sea Salt on each cookie. I’m partial to this brand but unless you have a connection to the Puget Sound, it’s hard to find. Any sea salt will do. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until set in the middle – they should hardly be brown. I will try chilling the scooped dough next time. my cookies came out flatter than I wanted them. Still delicious, but not very pretty. Also, in this manner, you can scoop and FREEZE the dough then store it in a sealed bag in the freezer and bake the cookies in single serve batches!fullsizeoutput_2b29
Leave on the tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container or bag for up to 4 days. Alternatively, place in freezer to store longer. These did not last 4 days. Storage was not a problem. 6 thumbs up because two of our thumbs were on a business trip and missed out.