Happy Monday ya’ll! I’ve been sick for the last couple of days and then I look up and suddenly it’s the second week of November! (Why, time? WHY?) Most people are probably already in the thick of their Christmas preparations. Oddly enough, even though I know how close Christmas is by counting down the days, it still feels quite far away.
Is it just me or does Christmas feel like such a remote idea this year? I haven’t seen a lot of houses and shops putting up Christmas decorations yet, which if you’ve lived in this country your whole life can be a bit bizarre. Decors go up as early as Mid-September or early October, not to mention the weather is supposed to feel a lot cooler. Right now it feels just like any other time of the year.
I suppose everybody’s attentions are diverted one way or another. (I can think of quite a few reasons why…) To be honest I’m not thinking about Christmas as I’m feeling quite drained from work at the moment. To me around this time of the year that can be rather normal. It is the tail end of the year after all. It would be a gross understatement to say that I’m looking forward to the Christmas-New Year Holidays; aka the only long vacation I can legitimately get in a year. But there are still several weeks ahead before that happens.
I’ve been trying to set aside some Sundays lately to become my “Rest Days”– as in days when I do nothing remotely related to working or exerting myself. This is my attempt in trying to stock up on energy so I can go full speed ahead on my vacation activities, including getting into the jolly old Christmas spirit. I would hate to be the only sour fruit in a room full of excited Christmas partygoers. Seriously.
And on my Rest Days, I like to start with a breakfast filled with my favourite things. That means a cup of hot coffee and some warm pan de sal, plus a bowl of cereal or granola with some cold milk. And did I mention I give bonus points for homemade granola for breakfast?
What do you guys like to do to relax? Me I try to stay out of the kitchen. Sundays are mostly my only chance to test out recipes for the blog, so I’m usually “working” on Sundays too, but I’ve been trying to schedule some day-off’s from blogging duties as well. When I get started in the kitchen I can tend to keep churning out recipe after recipe… Usually at least three! The amount of elbow grease required depends on the difficulty level of the recipe. And in my case, we must not forget the shoot and the clean-up that follows after all the cooking and baking! Then comes the part where I sit in front of the computer and try to figure out which recipes will come out on the blog on which day (or which don’t end up coming out at all).
I think most people looking from the outside have no idea that this food blogging thing can be quite a challenging hobby to have, but I love it and that’s enough of a reason for me to just keep going. Yet I cannot deny that some Sundays I just want to unwind.
On my Rest Days, I draw or paint or write or read books. I take the opportunity to catch up on TV shows I follow, and maybe go through my YouTube subscriptions as well. And then there’s that dangerous thing girls love so much called shopping. As much as I love physically (window) shopping, I like browsing online stores like ZALORA and Sephora too, even though I don’t necessarily want to buy anything. I like looking at pretty things and knowing what’s new and trendy, plus I’m always on the lookout for any massive deals and discounts at ZALORA Philippines. I also like looking through H&M’s online catalogue so that I already know what I want to buy once I step into the actual store. It saves a lot of time!
Nothing quite like retail therapy to lift the mood, said every girl ever. Hahaha! I promise I’m not a shopaholic. I just like to reward myself every once in a while for working hard. 🙂
But like I said, before I get to all of that I need to start my day with my favourite breakfast foods. I’m a cereal lover through and through but ever since adapting the habit of reading the nutritional labels in the supermarket I’ve been extra picky with my cereals. (I have a soft spot for Post‘s Honey Bunches of Oats with Strawberry though.) The healthier alternative is granola, but it can be pretty dang expensive in the supermarket, which is why I figured I’d just make some myself at home. This way, I can even customize the flavours to my liking!
And after my first try, I never bother looking at supermarket granola again.
This one is a Chai flavoured granola, and I know that it’s not really everyone’s cup of tea. However in the case of this granola, the scent packs a bit more punch than the flavour does. It has that signature spicy fragrance of Chai, but with a milder flavour that I think even non-Chai lovers will enjoy.
I didn’t use to like Chai until this little Chai Coffee Cake changed my mind, and now I quite enjoy it even in its full tea form. Chai is originally a mix of spices used to flavour tea, but it works so well in baked goods too, including this Chai Granola recipe.
Makes about 7 cups
For the Chai mix
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the granola
- ½ cup honey or agave nectar, warmed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2 cups favourite nuts, whole or chopped according to preferred size
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- 2. In a small bowl, mix together spices to create your Chai mix. Set aside.
- 3. In another small bowl, whisk together warmed honey, oil, vanilla, and almond extracts until combined. Set aside.
- 4. In a large mixing bowl, mix together oats, nuts, and Chai mix until evenly combined. Add in honey mixture and mix until the dry ingredients are evenly coated.
- 5. Pour the granola mix out on the prepared baking sheet, spreading into an even layer. Bake initially for 20 minutes, removing the sheet from the oven halfway through to stir the granola for even cooking.
- 6. At the end of 20 minutes, remove the baking sheet once more and gently stir the shredded coconut into the granola mix. Return sheet to the oven and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or just until the coconut and nuts are toasted.
- 7. Remove sheet from oven and cool on a wire rack. Once completely cool, store in an airtight container to retain its crisp texture. Granola can keep for up to 3 weeks, but it's best if finished during the first week.
Seeing these pictures puts me in the mood to collect more granola recipes. What kind of awesome flavours will I find next to help me start my day in the best possible way? Let’s wait and see!