Maple Rum Granola

Can we talk granola today? WHY don’t we make it ourselves? It’s ridiculously easy and totally adaptable. (and if you’re looking for a last minute/budget friendly gift for the people in your life, this granola will make you a rock star. Can you say Pinterest-Mason jar win? Huzzah!). I forget how much I actually enjoy making it…until this weekend.

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I like my granola to be interesting, and by “interesting,” I mean that it should have as much stuff as I can find to throw into it. Texture is huge.

This granola has a wonderful rummy undertone…because I can’t leave well enough alone and made it boozey.

The recipe below makes a pretty big batch if you want to share it, and if not granola will last for quite some time in an airtight container. Breakfast on the run or purse snacks, anyone?

Maple Rum Granola

What you’ll need:

10 cups oats

1 ½ cups pecans, coarsely chopped (I just broke apart with my hands)

1/2 cup hemp seeds

1/3 cup ground flax seed meal.

1 cup sunflower seeds (unsalted)

2 cups coconut  flakes (unsweetened)

1 cup cocoa nibs

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. sea salt

1 ¼ cup maple syrup

1 cup olive oil

1/3 cup dark rum

1 splash vanilla

Dried cranberries-to your taste- I threw in a few handfuls.

What to do:

Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 325.

Combine all dry ingredients except cranberries in a large bowl. Note:  Don’t have a big enough mixing bowl? A giant soup pot works really well!

Heat maple syrup, olive oil and dark rum in a sauce pan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a low boil for about two minutes, stirring occasionally. Then turn off heat. Let cool slightly and stir in vanilla.

Add your maple mixture to dry ingredients and toss until evenly coated.

Pour granola onto 3 lined baking sheets and bake in pre-heated oven for about 50 minutes or until granola is golden brown, taking out once to toss (so your oats don’t burn).

Allow granola to cool completely, then mix in dried cranberries and store in an airtight container. 

Happy eating!


Current Obsessions and Farmer Ben

Hi Friends!

Hope you’re having a great December! I wanted to stop in with some randomness today….

I have a lot of obsessions. Does that mean I have an addictive personality? Probably.

Here are some (mostly food related) things I’m too into right now.

1. Homemade Vanilla. I took a cue from Joy the Baker and starting making my own (the first batch was bourbon vanilla). A while back, we had picked up a bottle of fancy-schmancy bourbon vanilla at Homegoods or TJ Maxx…last night, I happened to glance at the price tag-$12 and the normal price was $17 for an 8 oz bottle! Gah! I just started a batch of Jameson Vanilla… the whole bottle of Jameson is somewhere around $25 and vanilla beans are around $1 a piece. Plus, if you get cute little bottles, these would make perfect presents for the foodie in your life (Note: there is a 6 week infusion period, so if you start a batch now, it would be perfect for Valentine’s Day!)

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Freshly bottled

2. Maple Syrup. Yes, I live in Upstate NY, so I’ve always appreciated (real) maple syrup…but lately, I have really taken the plunge. I’ve been using it as a replacement for regular sugars in recipes (like these carrot muffins) and adding it in my coffee smoothies or hot tea.

3.  Ninja Blender… Farmer Ben and I got a Ninja Blender as a Christmas/house-warming present (did I mention that we moved in November?) and I cannot tell you how much I love it. We’ve had it just over a week and I have used it almost every day. I’ve made two kinds of nut butter, pumpkin smoothies, carrot muffins… the possibilities are endless!

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Finished coconut peanut butter

4.  Healthy Skoop products. Remember when I did that review for their B-Strong protein powder? Well, I liked to so much that I decided to become a skoop retailer. Did you know that for every serving of Skoop sold, a serving of fruit and veggies is donated to a school lunch program? Pretty awesome, right? You can check out my shop here. AND, if you use the code cheers25 you can get 25% off your entire order from now until January 4.

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5.  Homemade deodorant…I sweat a lot… And a lot of natural deodorants don’t really work. But, I’m determined to find one that does. I used this recipe (is that the right word when applied to deodorant making?) I’ve only been using it for a couple of days, so I will keep you posted on the pit situation. To date, no crazy rashes or burning, and Farmer Ben doesn’t mind sitting next to me, so that’s a good sign!

Speaking of Farmer Ben, he turns 32 today! Happy birthday Darlin’, I love you!

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Ragnar ADK 2014

Your turn: What are you obsessed with (eating) lately?! 


Food Goodness-The Weekend

It was an amazing weekend for food. I can’t even tell you.

But I really want to tell you… so here are some photos.

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Meatloaf “Cupcakes” (made with local, grass-fed beef) with Mashed Potato “Frosting” and rutabaga fries.

The meatloaf cupcakes and rutabaga fries were served with Farmer Ben’s ketchup and NYS Red Wine. Homegrown goodness all around.

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Grilled Cheese on Homemade Basil Bread with Monterey Jack  Cabot Butter and Ben’s Maple Horseradish Pickles/pickled onions. Mind=Blown.

The Grilled Cheese was served with the spiciest tomato-like soup I’ve ever eaten (I say tomato-like because it actually had stewed tomatoes, vegetable juice, butternut squash, rutabaga, scallop squash and a million other things in it…including about half a jar of hubby’s super spicy chili sauce). So good!!!

Another win? Ben & Jerry’s BOGO! Hello Coffee Heath Bar Crunch (for me) and Boston Cream Pie (for him)!!!!

I also drank way too much coffee …but that’s nothing new.

Food-Winning all around.

What did you eat this weekend? 

Happy Monday!


Of Lunch and Lettuce

Something amazing happened on Monday.

Ben and I harvested lettuce from our garden. It was the first time this season and I couldn’t have been more excited. We had red oak and pirate’s butter lettuce-both were delicious (especially when mixed with spinach and sunflower seeds, topped with maple mustard, tarragon vinegar and olive oil).

Our lettuce patch as of Memorial Day… it’s since doubled in size!

It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to use fresh ingredients, especially when grown by your own hand. I admit that in this case, it’s mostly Ben… but I get such pride when I see baby basil plants poking through the dirt or beans popping up and knowing that I helped the growing process and I love learning more each and every day.

The greens were a perfect addition to my favorite kind of lunch. It consisted of salad, salmon, dilly scrambled eggs, grilled scallions(also from the garden) and green olives. Ben and I picked off of one plate. and just enjoyed the different flavor combinations and the first tastes of the season… all these things that don’t necessarily go together, but combined..they just work.

I’m loving all those greens!

This was perfect. I’m so looking forward to more salads and more fresh ingredients that we grow in our garden. I can’t think of a better way to nourish both body and soul.


If You’re Anything Like Me…

You probably wait until the last minute (or a week after) to buy your loved ones a birthday card.

You probably look at the calendar and say “Oh crap! Mothers’ Day is THIS Sunday?!”

But I didn’t do that this year. Ben and I were all over Mother’s Day…part of her gift anyway.

Anyway, here are some suggestions, if you ARE anything like me.

One of my favorite things to do with my mother is to sit down and have a meal with her, even if it’s something simple, like this pasta dish. That quality time is a gift in and of itself and I do the dishes!

I also love bringing her baked goods, like these whiskey cookies

This year, because Ben and I are both working on Mothers’ Day, we got her some amazing Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar from The Saratoga Olive Oil Company…to start.

Out of Saratoga, NY, they just opened up a shop on Church Street in Burlington, VT. This place is amazing. When you open the door, you enter a tasting room; silver vats of olive oils and vinegars line the room and little tasting cups and bowls of bread line the tables. I thought that I had died and gone to heaven. You’ll try things like Blood Orange Olive Oil, Jalapeno White Vinegar, and Roasted French Walnut Oil. Like I said, amazing. You can also order online.

Ben and I picked up this sweet little variety pack.

Another awesome foodie item? Fat Toad Farm Goat Milk Caramel. My favorite variety is the Coffee Bean Caramel. It’s perfect to stir into your morning coffee, drizzle over ice cream or dip with fruit. If you have a caramel lover in your life, check this stuff out! Their website lists locations where the products are available, or you can order online!

Perfect Morning Pick-Me-Up!

If you’re not a foodie, handmade jewelry is another winner, at least in my mother’s book. Check out my previous post, Bling-Blingin’, to see some of my friend Kate’s work. She’s got a great eye and makes some pretty awesome jewelry. Do you have any go-to gift ideas? Or something completely different? How do you celebrate your mother? 

Anyway, I hope you have found or will find the perfect gift to thank your mother. Good luck, and happy Mothers’ Day to all the Moms out there…a few days early!


Crunchy Lovin’

Good morning, good morning!

Okay…I know it’s actually the afternoon, but it’s fine. I don’t know about you, but I am feeling pretty fly today. Also, why does no one say “fly” anymore?. Speaking of flying, where has the last week gone? And why am I so crazy busy?!

Anyway, the reasons I am feeling great? I dragged my butt outta bed at 5:30 am and went for a  quick run with a friend-Shout-out to Tara!!! 

Did I mention that it was 12 degrees out? Yeah, it felt good. But, a nice hot shower felt even better.

And better still, thanks to my amazing hubs, I headed to work with iced coffee in hand (there is currently a half gallon of it in my fridge. Life is good). I also scarfed down some homemade granola and NY yogurt for breakfast. Yummo! I even managed to pack a delicious lunch. And got to work on time..on a Monday.

Top o’ the world, kiddos!

Anyway, this granola is super easy to make.  And it is full of stuff you can buy in bulk. The other good thing? There is no set way to make it, merely guidelines-so mix it up. Also, don’t judge on the surprise ingredient. Just go with it. What can I say? I’m a woman obsessed.

Side Note: This would make an awesome gift for your friends, put it in a cute little bag, with some nice coffee or tea? Perfect. It would also be a perfect brunch item. Paired with a Mimosa…or a spicy Bloody Mary if you’re like me.

Toasted Granola:

Adapted from several recipes

*Makes about 12 generous 3/4 cup servings-582 calories- full of good fats, fiber, potassium, protein, vitamins A, C and iron!) Translation: This stuff will put some pep in your step and keep you fuller loooonger! *

What I used:

5 cups oats (I used steel cut but rolled will also do)

1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)

4 tbsp. sesame seeds-I used white and black

1 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup flax seed meal

A pinch of sea salt

1 to 2 tsp. Smokey Paprika (Just trust me on this.)

1/2 cup olive oil (you could use a different oil, this is just what I had on hand)

1-4 to 1/2 cup agave nectar (or Honey)

1/3 cup dried apple rings, chopped

1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/3 cup dried cranberries

What to do: 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine your dry ingredients (except the fruit!) into a large bowl and mix until combined.

Heat oil and agave nectar in a saucepan over low heat-you don’t have to heat it up, but I found it made the nectar a lot easier to work with and thins the mixture out. Pour over the dry ingredients and toss until evenly coated.

Spread granola evenly into two rimmed (and lightly greased) baking sheets.

Bake for about 30 minutes until oats are golden brown, pulling both pans out and stirring mixture up occasionally to avoid burning.

Let cool and mix in your dried fruit. Store  in a tightly sealed container. Serve by itself, or with yogurt or milk.

Love and Granola

Note: I am not a huge fan of super fruity/sweet granola, so I started with 1/4 cup agave nectar and gradually added more. I ended up adding 2 tbsp. of honey after taking it out of the oven, mostly for the hubs. I also didn’t add a ton of dried fruit. This made the granola more savory, so adjust this measurement according to your taste. Next time I’ll probably add some pumpkin/sunflower seeds.  Again, this is just a guideline, use your imagination with your ingredients.  And trust me on the smokey paprika-AMAZING! 

Enjoy folks!

Stay tuned for… another post coming soon!!!


And Now a Short Break for ….Tortillas!

I know, I’m supposed to be writing the second part of the Restaurant Etiquette post… but I decided to marinate a little bit longer to get into the diner’s state of mind.

So, I am going to share this easy-peasy tortilla recipe instead. Seriously. This is going on the list of “Items to never buy again!”

The best part about these tortillas? Under ten ingredients. That’s it. And all things you can pronounce!

I used this recipe. It’s from Tasty Kitchen user KGSouthernComfort. If you’re not familiar with Tasty Kitchen, it was started by Pioneer Woman, basically it’s an online forum for sharing recipes. I love it.

Spelt and Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas: 

*adapted slightly from Tasty Kitchen*

You will need:

  • 1 cup stone ground whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup spelt flour (you can usually find this at your local grocery/health food store. I typically buy Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder-I use the aluminum free variety.
  • 2 tbsp. ground flax seed meal (optional)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup hot water
  • a pinch of salt (optional)

I skipped the salt but I think it would be really fun to add in some spice, I’m thinking some garlic, cracked pepper or smoky paprika…next time… 

Combine your dry ingredients.

Add olive oil and mix with your hands until mixture begins to crumb. You should have some pea and/or oat-sized pieces.

Add Hot Water and mix. It will  form a large ball.

Cover with plastic wrap… or just cover with a towel like I would…and let sit for 30 minutes.

I ended up placing mine in a Zip-lock bag and refrigerating for two days before I used it…it was fine.  

Divide the dough into twelve small balls.

Roll out one at a time on a lightly floured surface.

Cook in a hot un-greased cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Flip when bubbles begin to form on top.

Serve warm.  And that’s it.

Sorry I didn’t get any good pictures. But it’s pretty self-explanatory.