Cranberry Orange Granola

My favorite cranberry orange granola recipe.
I’m sure you have your own favorite granola recipe. However, I wanted to share mine.

Because 9 out of 10 people who were never asked said this was the best granola recipe for the holidays.

I love the cranberry orange flavor combination as well as the fact that this quick and healthy recipe uses whole food ingredients like coconut oil and maple syrup.

You may want to double this recipe – some for you and some for gift giving!

Cranberry Orange Granola

Cranberry Orange Granola


  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
  • 1 C unsweetened large flake coconut (optional)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • Grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (may substitute butter)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup


  1. Preheat the oven to 300.
  2. Combine the oats, nuts, coconut (if using), salt, cranberries, and orange zest in a large bowl.
  3. Heat the coconut oil (or butter) and maple syrup over low flame, just until butter melts.
  4. Pour over the dry mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into a jelly roll pan.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Granola Breakfast for Two

This is how I like to package mine:

Buy a milk bottle shaped bottles from here or you may be able to find them at a local craft store.

Paint a four pack box white.

To one bottle add coffee beans. To a second bottle add milk. To a third bottle add yogurt. To the last bottle add some cranberry orange granola.

You’ve got a darling package with breakfast for two!

This makes an amazing hostess gift, or it would be the perfect gift to bring if you are staying as someone’s house guest.

Homemade Holidays

Homemade Birdseed Brittle

I have to thank my sister-in-law for this delicious twist on peanut brittle. She brought the recipe with her when she visited this weekend and we whipped up a batch. I love cooking with someone (especially an amazing cook like my sister-in-law) almost as much as I love eating homemade candy.

Birdseed Brittle

I’m so glad she brought this recipe. Birdseed brittle has it all over peanut brittle! You get a delicious brittle and can avoid the peanut allergy issues. Oh, and it’s gluten-free and vegetarian (not vegan).

While it might be allergen and gluten free…. it does have corn syrup. I’ve never made brittle without it, have you? I understand you can make brittle with maple syrup, but again, I’ve never done it. Ever hopeful that there was some “healthified” version of corn syrup, I asked at the Natural Grocers if they carried it. I won’t say the clerk showed any outward signs of disgust at my question, I will say he wore a kind of smirk that let me know corn syrup has no place in the Natural Grocers. So we had to make a second stop at Safeway to pick it up. And here’s a little tidbit of information for you. Corn syrup lives with the pancake syrup at the grocery store. Not on the baking aisle. Not sure what logic that follows, but there you go!

This recipe can make several Homemade Holiday presents, OR it can be eaten in two days by yourself in sneaky little bites when no one is looking.

Birdseed Brittle

1 1/4 C quinoa
1 1/4 C millet
1/4 C sesame seeds
2 C sugar
1 C light corn syrup
1/2 C water
2 sticks or 1 C butter
1 t baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 325.

2. Mix the quinoa, millet and sesame seeds together. Spread mixture out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the pan occassionally. Remove and allow to cool.

3. Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, then stir in the butter. Turn the heat up to medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until it measures the hard crack stage on a candy thermometer. Stir in the toasted seeds and the baking soda. Acting quickly, spread the mixture out onto a large rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer.

4. Let cool completely until hard. Break it into bite sized pieces and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks (as if it would ever last that long!)

Homemade Holidays Have you been making any Homemade Holiday gifts?

Linked to Tasty Tuesday

How to Make Sparkling Pinecone Fire Starters

How to Make Sparkling Pinecone Fire Starters

 The original title of this post was, “How to Make Color Changing Pinecone Fire Starters.”
If you do a Google search, you’ll find that various minerals are supposed to make fire burn in various colors.

For example, Borax, which is essentially sodium borate, is supposed to turn the fire a green color.

How much do I love green? It’s totally my favorite color, right? So I was all aflutter thinking about beautiful green flames in my fire.

Here is the fire we built with a sparkling pinecone just catching fire:

Pinecone Fire Starter

None of the flames look green to me. Any of the flames look green to you?

Trust me, we watched that fire like hawks while the smoke permeated every pore of our beings and the next day we woke up smelling like we’d been in a forest fire.

You’d think I’d just trash the idea. Only check out how beautiful these Sparkling Pinecone Fire Starters look:

How to Make Sparkling Pinecone Fire Starters

They literally look like they are covered in crystallized snow!

Instead of trashing the idea, I’m making more because the decorating possibilities are literally mind boggling!

How to Make Sparkling Pinecone Fire Starters:

  • In 8 cups hot water, dissolve 3/4 C borax
  • Soak pinecones overnight
  • Allow to dry

This is simple enough anyone can do it! Now, the crystals are delicate and they do knock off easily. If you want to just create a pinecone that has white tips, dissolve 3/4 C table salt instead of Borax. Here’s what these look like:

How to Make a White Pinecone

They are still pretty, don’t you think? Plus, they don’t shed crystals, which is nice.

I plan to decorate my house with these Sparkling Pinecone Fire Starters this year. Then I plan to bag them up to use as fire starters in our fire pit and I’ll tuck a few away for camping trips. Oh yeah, I’ll give some as gifts too! They’d be pretty on a wrapped package!

Pinecone Firestarters Basket

Homemade Holidays Are you keeping up with my easy DIY Christmas Gifts that are all part of my Homemade Holidays series? If not, start with my Black Apple Tea recipe, make a cup, then sip away while looking through all the DIY Projects!

How to Make Flower and Button Clothespin Magnets

Flower clothes pin magnets

My friend Crystal at Crystal and Company has a really clever tutorial for making clothespin magnets. Not only a thoughtful gift for the moms-with-lots-of-artwork-to-hang in your life, but these could totally be done in holiday colors for displaying all the holiday cards you receive. You could even leave the magnet off and just use the cute clothespins to display cards on a hanging line strung across your mantle. Crystal also has the brilliant suggestion of making some of these up for an inexpensive teacher’s gift!

Homemade HolidaysIf you plan on making these for your Homemade Holiday, don’t forget to make up a batch of my Non-toxic glue!

Apricot Brown Rice Mix

Apricot Brown Rice Mix

During the holidays, there is no shortage of sweet treats. I’m all for sweet treats. I love sweet treats. However, I hate having to work off sweet treats.

I try to eat healthy, and I want to be an encourager of healthy eating….much to my children’s dismay. This recipe for Homemade Apricot Brown Rice Mix is in that healthy eating spirit. It’s a great hostess gift or DIY Christmas gift that is inexpensive, simple to assemble, and still says “Happy Holidays” without saying “I’m trying to give you Type II diabetes!”

Apricot Brown Rice Mix
serves 4

1 C short grain brown rice
1/4 C chopped dried apricots
2 t dried minced onions
1/3 C slivered almonds

Layer all ingredients in a tightly sealing jar.

To give as a gift, include the following instructions:

To make Apricot Brown Rice, combine rice mix with 2 cups water (or chicken broth0 and 2 T butter. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 50 – 55 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, season with salt, serve!

Homemade Holidays For the month of November, I’m featuring Homemade Holiday DIY Christmas gifts. Have you seen my Gift Bows Made from a Magazine? What about my Black Apple Tea?

Cheesecakes Baked in Mason Jars

Cheesecakes baked in mason jars

I’m willing to bet this holiday season most of us will be invited to some sort of potluck family gathering or maybe even throwing a holiday party. This recipe to bake cheesecakes in mason jars is so easy. Since each jar has its own lid, it also makes them incredibly portable. As an added bonus, they serve as a type of “portion control.” No extra big pieces, just one small satisfying dessert.

I’ve got two easy to make cheesecake recipes that can be baked in 8 oz mason jars.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes serves 12

2 C crushed whole wheat cookies (like Mi-Del Honey Grahams)
2 T melted butter

1 C pumpkin puree
1 T whole wheat flour
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
1/8 t nutmeg
2 8 oz packages organic cream cheese
1/2 C organic sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/8 t salt
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 300.

Place 12 8 oz wide mouth jars on a large, rimmed baking sheet.

Mix together crushed cookies and butter. Evenly distribute among the 12 jars and tamp down to pack. (I used a meat cleaver to tamp them down.)

Use a standard mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin, flour, sugar, vanilla, spices, and salt. Beat until mixed. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Bake for 15 minutes. The centers will be slightly jiggly. They should continue to bake once removed from the oven.

Allow to cool. Needs to be refrigerated.

Apple Pie Cheesecake Variation

2 Apples, chopped
2 T butter
2 T dark brown sugar
1 T cinnamon

In a large fry pan, melt butter. Add chopped apples and cook over medium heat until soft. Add sugar and cinnamon and cook until juices are slightly thickened.

Make the crust as you would in the first recipe. Add chopped, cooked apples to each jar.

Make the cheesecake recipe just as you would in the first recipe eliminating the pumpkin and the cloves.

Continue with the above recipe.

Either of these would make a great addition to a Thanksgiving celebration. Of course, these would make a perfect Homemade Holiday DIY Christmas Gift too!Who wouldn’t want cheesecake and coffee as a gift?

Cheesecake Gift

I used a plastic strawberry container to wrap my gift. The tops of these are perfect for threading ribbon through. I added a small bag of organic coffee and two individual cheesecakes – the perfect dessert and coffee gift for any couple you know!

Homemade Holidays This is another post in my Homemade Holidays series running all month! See How to Make Non-toxic Glue and How to Make a Bow from a Magazine Page for more inspiration!


DIY Christmas Gift: Bottling Your Cherry Bounce

Back in the summer I showed you how to make Vodka Cherry Bounce while cherries were in season. If you haven’t made any yet, you still can! However, you’ll need to buy frozen organic sweet cherries and remember to make sure you let the Vodka Cherry Bounce sit for at least 4 weeks.

What you will need if you’d like to bottle your Vodka Cherry Bounce:

  • clean, empty bottles
  • contact paper
  • skill knife
  • glass etching cream (I bought mine at Michael’s with a 50% off coupon)

Here is how I bottled the  Vodka Cherry Bounce for gifts.

I used empty maple syrup bottles. Don’t they look a bit like flasks?

Score the label and soak the bottle in hot water to easily remove the label.

Next, draw whatever you’d like to put on the bottle on a piece of contact paper. I chose to draw a cherry. Make sure it will fit in the area you want it to.

Cut the pattern out with a skill knife.

Stick the contact paper pattern to the bottle.

Apply glass etching cream according to the package directions. This is nasty stuff. Be sure to wear plastic gloves!

Wash it off and you have your finished bottle. Fill the bottle with the Vodka Cherry Bounce using a funnel. Discard cherries – they have soaked up so much alcohol they are horrible!

Present as gifts and hope who ever you present your gift to offers to share!