Category Archives: Homemade Gift Ideas

Maple Cinnamon Toasted Granola

March is National Nutrition Month & tomorrow is Registered Dietitian Day! I like to celebrate with a bold nutritious dense cinnamon delicious treat. I made this blend to honor my Clinical Team. RD day is a way to celebrate the wonderful profession of nutrition and dietetics and to honor hard working dietetic professionals. 

Granola is very versatile!  You can put just about anything in it. You can make it sweet or savory. You can eat granola dry, or add a splash of milk, or top off your yogurt with it. I like to incorporate it into Ina Garten’s Banana Muffins. They are my most requested muffin recipe. 

Yields: 4 cups 

Servings: 8 (1/4 cups)


2 cups 100% rolled oats (not quick or instant)

1 cup puffed brown rice 

1/2 teaspoon Vietnamese ground cinnamon 

3 Tablespoons brown sugar (not packed)

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup 100 % pure maple syrup 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup dried cranberries, low sugar

1/4 cup lightly salted roasted sunflower seeds

1/8 cup pepita seeds


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 1/2 sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl mix together the first 4 ingredients. Set aside. 

3. In a small bowl mix together canola oil, maple syrup,& vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry oat mix. Give the mixture a good stir. Make sure all the dry ingredients are coated with liquid goodness.

4. Pour the oat mixture on the prepared baking sheet. Place the pan in the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes. 

5. After 15 minutes elapsed use spatula to toss the granola on the pan. Allow to bake for another 5 minutes and continue to repeat until you reach desired golden brown hue. It took about 20 additional minutes. Add the seeds and craisins. All to cool on pan entirely. Enjoy! 

Creamed Cinnamon Honey Roasted Pecans

My team at work for Christmas gifted me a lovely bag of North Carolina Local Gems. 

I couldn’t wait to open the Creamed Cinnamon  Honey! I made some Carmellized Banana Pecan French Toast with it this morning to coincide. 

This is a tasty way to utilize local ingredients for a delicious snack or gift. The finished product reminded my husband ,and I of a fancier version of Cracker Jack’s since that is the texture they portrayed. 


1 pound of raw pecan halfs

1/4 cup creamed Honey with cinnamon 


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place raw pecans on the baking pan. Place the pecans on the sheet in the preheated oven on the center rack. Bake for 6-8 minutes. 

2. In the meantime place a two quart sauce pan on low medium heat and melt the creamed honey. Once the timer has elsapsed on the pecans place the pecans in the sauce pan with the honey. Allow the pecans and honey to merry. Use mini spatula to incorporate the honey throughout. Allow the ingredients to heat for 6 minutes on low. 

3. Pour the pecans on wax paper and allow them to cool. The pecans will remain tacky. Allow for them to cool on the wax for about 1 hour then place in ziplock sealable container. That is if they make it past the cooling part! 😉

Homemade Vanilla Extract

My husband and I love making homemade gifts for every occasion. We really enjoy tasty treats for presents for our friends and family. 

This year we couldn’t wait to try making homemade vanilla extract after visiting the Hawaii. 

We heard from locals that Hawaii has it’s own vanilla company? What?? I was so excited!  I told our national volcano tour guide! I have a food blog and I practically put high quality vanilla in everything! I mean everything! 

When we looked up the Hawaiian Vanilla Company, we saw that they offer tours! So luckily there were a few spots left on a tour the day before we were heading home. We signed up for the general tour but not the lunch tour. The general tour does come with delicious vanilla tea, coffee and ice cream! 

Warning if you love vanilla like me or even just like using higher quality ingredients for cooking and baking this tour is a must! Don’t pass this family run business and tour up. 
I love d the gift shop; it was filled with everything vanilla from beans to salt to body spray! So many good gift ideas for souvenirs or for yourself. 

The owner is very easy going and extremely knowledgable of the vanilla harvesting process. He loves sharing his passion for vanilla which really engages the audience. Also the whole family is invested in the business; 5 kids. 
One of my favorite parts of the tour was seeing the vanilla orchids and learning how delicate they are and all the work behind them. I have a better understanding why I pay so much for high quality vanilla. 

My favorite part was I brought some vanilla beans home to make my own vanilla extract for gifts. 


3 vanilla beans split

12 ounces of vodka 

12 ounce glass sealable container 

patience (9-12 months worth)


1. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise with a sharp knife down the center of the bean. 

2. Place the split beans in the glass jar, fill the jars with vodka. 

3. Close the jar, & date the jar with a sharpy on the bottom so you know when to open it for use. 

4. Keep the vanilla extract while it rests in a cool, dry, dark area for 9-12 months before using in your cookies or cakes. 

Enjoy !