Sam’s Kitchen – Home-made Granola

The other weekend, I had a sudden strong urge to bake up a batch of granola. I don’t get it because I hardly ever eat granola, and when I do, it’s usually out of a package and made by companies like Nature Valley and Quaker Oats. I’m always low on snacks around the house and I figured granola would be a “healthy” alternative to chips and cookies. I grabbed a granola recipe that my mother filed away from the Plumpjack Resort in Squaw Valley up in Tahoe that she raved was the “best granola ever.” One quick look at the recipe and I saw butter, maple syrup, corn syrup, honey. Okay, this wasn’t going to be healthy, but I’ve got the recipe in my hand and now I’m committed. I didn’t have all of the ingredients so this was my adaptation.


  • — Cooking spray or butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup whole raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup millet
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound mixed dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, raisins, currants, apricots, apples, etc.)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 300°. Prepare a cookie sheet with cooking spray or lightly coat with butter.

In a thick-bottomed pot, slowly bring the honey, butter, maple syrup and corn syrup to a boil. Boil the mixture for 5 minutes, watching it carefully as it can easily boil over.

Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients, except for the dried fruit, in a large bowl. I didn’t have millet, sesame seeds and wheat germ, so I substituted in an extra cup of oats.

Pour hot syrup mixture over the dry ingredients, stirring carefully until completely combined. Pour granola mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly.

Granola Mix

Bake granola for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until golden brown throughout, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and leave at room temperature to cool completely, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent it from forming one large, hard sheet.

Granola Toss

Add dried fruit and toss to combine. I used golden raisins and dried cranberries, but I’m thinking dried apricots would be delish.

Store in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

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Best Discovery This Season: Cookie Butter

Yeah, you read that right. The best discovery this holiday season, thanks to my brother, is Speculoos Cookie Butter from Trader Joe’s.

This spread has the texture and look of peanut butter, but the taste of a cinnamon snickerdoodle cookie. The label describes the “butter” as reminiscent of gingerbread and made of crushed cookies. It also suggests you smear this on pancakes or waffles. How great does that sound? I’ve been eating mine with Ritz Crackers. Something about the salty cracker and the sweet spread just works.

And if you’re wondering what Speculoos is, it is a shortcrust biscuit baked for consumption on St. Nicholas’ feast in the Netherlands on December 5th.

This is a seasonal item at Trader Joe’s, so stock up now before it’s off the shelf!

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Homemade Goldfish-style Cheddar Crackers

Photo Courtesy of

Sam’s niece loves goldfish. Every time she goes to Grandma’s house, she always asks for Grandma’s Goldfish. It’s not because Sam’s mom makes her own homemade Goldfish, it’s because Grandma gives the good stuff, Goldfish Flavor Blasted Xtra Cheddar! After a few run-ins with the parents on the unhealthiness, I decided to research some recipes for homemade Goldfish crackers that can be guaranteed healthier than the store bought kind.

After reading a few posts from Home Cooking in Montana and Cupcake Project, I decided to find the common elements and post a Cheddar Cracker recipe.

Homemade Cheddar Cracker Recipe

1 Cup – All-purpose flour
4 Tbsp – Cold Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces
8 oz – Cheddar Cheese
3/4 tsp – Salt
1/2 tsp – Ground Pepper
3 to 4 Tbsp – Water

1. Pulse the flour, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper together using a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. Pulse in 3 to 4 tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time, and only enough so that the dough forms a ball and rides the blade.
3. Remove, wrap in plastic, and chill for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.
4. Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper and set aside.
5. Roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. (If you roll it thicker, it will still work, but the crackers won’t be quite as crunchy. This dough rolled out so easily; you’ll wish that you always worked with cheddar!)
6. Cut out as many crackers as possible.
7. Place them 1 inch apart on the prepared baking pans.
8. Bake at 350 F until golden and crisp – 15 to 20 minutes.

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Hapi Sriracha Peas

While I was wondering around my local Ranch 99 Asian Mega Market.  I ran across these babies sitting next to the Wasabi peas.  I found that their flavor is really garlicky, sweet and spicy.  When I say really garlicky, I feel like it lingers on for quite a few hours.  But they are awesome!  They weren’t on sale, but they were $2.79.  I would actually suggest waiting until they are under $1.99 before buying them, as I’m sure they will get to that price.

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Calbee Saya Snow Pea Crisps

This is a tip for everyone that usually buys the same product at Safeway or Trader Joes.  Don’t buy it there, buy it at your closest Asian Supermarket.  The packaging might look different, but why get those tiny packages at Safeway they come out to be $1.49 to $2.00, when you can get this large family pack at Marina Market for $1.99.  That’s roughly the same price for 2 to 3 times the same amount.  Snow Pea Crisp buying community, you’ve just been served.

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