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Oh my, Cranberry Orange Bread

January 2, 2010

One of my favorite breads is Cranberry Orange – I just love it’s sunshiny, citrusy flavor. Here’s a recipe for you to try. It makes great bread using a loaf pan, or muffins using a 12-muffin pan, a bundt cake pan (finished off by sprinkling it with powdered sugar), or baby cakes if baked in a mini bundt cake tray (to serve as demi desserts garnished with fresh cranberries and pecans). This basic recipe is a great foundation for others. Get creative and make your own recipe using the ingredients that make your mouth water. I’m looking forward to trying a variation of Pumpkin Pecan Cranberry Orange mini bundt cakes inspired by Tongue N Cheeky’s recipe (stay tuned for the results). See below for more variations and a shortcut tip if you’re in a hurry.


  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you’d like it)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel (zest from 1 orange)
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh, canned, or frozen cranberries


  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and orange peel. I use a whisk and mix by hand rather than using an electric blender.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with juice.
  3. Fold in cranberries. If you’re adding anything else, such as raisins or nuts, do so now.
  4. Pour into a greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature.


  • Add 1 cup golden raisins for added texture and color.
  • Add 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds if that suits your fancy.
  • For darker flavor, add 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1 teaspoon ground ginger.
  • Go nuts and add 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans.


If you’re short on time, I highly recommend the Krusteaz Cranberry Orange Quick Bread or Muffin Mix. They also make a fat free version of the muffin mix if you want to cut back on the sugar and calories too. The Krusteaz Quick Bread has orange peel flavor already in the mix and canned cranberries included in the box. Follow directions on the box.


Oh my, Champagne Cake

December 28, 2009

Are you ready to count down to the new year?! 2010 is just around the corner! Parties can be so fun but they are also a ton of work. I ran across this super simple recipe for Champagne Cake posted on Sweet Harvey Letterpress blog (a design studio that writes about sweet treats, design eye candy, and delicious paper too). This recipe for Champagne Cake makes 10 servings. Garnish the rim with fresh strawberries or raspberries and display on a beautiful glass cake stand. Happy baking… and Happy New Year!


  • 2-layer-size white cake mix
  • Champagne or sparkling wine
  • Few drops red food coloring
  • 16-ounce cans vanilla frosting
  • Fresh berries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour two 8 x 1-1/2 inch round cake pans; set aside.

2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, except replace water with Champagne. Spread batter into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks.

3. Stir a few drops of food coloring into frosting to make a light pink color. Place one cake layer, bottom side up, on a serving platter. Spread with about 1/2 can of frosting. Top with second cake layer, top side up. Spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with strawberries.

Oh my, Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

December 15, 2009

For some reason this Christmas season I was in the mood for peanut butter! These cookies are a hit for a holiday party or for those of you who are at the office (pretending to work) during the week of Christmas. Here’s the simple recipe so you can join me in feasting on these delightful Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies (also known as Peanut Butter Blossoms). This recipe yields 2 dozen (24 cookies). And if you’re not up for baking them from scratch, grab a roll of ready-made peanut butter dough at the grocery store and skip straight to step 2. Most people make them with milk chocolate Hershey’s Kisses®, but I prefer to use dark chocolate.


  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 24 milk (or dark) chocolate Hershey’s Kisses®


  1. In a large bowl, cream peanut butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla; beat until blended.
  2. Roll into 1-1/4-in. balls. Place 1-2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degress for 10-12 minutes or until tops are slightly cracked.
  3. While the cookies are in the oven baking, prepare your Hershey’s Kisses®. Have them all unwrapped and ready to go when the warm cookies come out of the oven.
  4. Immediately press one chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie.
  5. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

TIP: If your kisses have some marks or gray appearance, you can spruce them up with this quick fix! After step 3, but before step 4, dip your fingertips into a teaspoon of vegetable oil. With only a dab on your fingertips, coat the surface ever so lightly with oil. Repeat this with each Hershey’s Kiss®. The vegetable oil brings back the shine to the chocolate (almost like melted chocolate), making your cookies look picture-perfect. 

Oh, My Great Pumpkin Pie

November 25, 2009

This recipe, perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday, is my husband’s favorite pie – The Great Pumpkin Pie. It’s based on the recipe from the cookbook Sweet Serendipity: Delicious Desserts & Devilish Dish. When I bake it, I prepare it with love. Which means I don’t measure to exacting standards so there may be an extra helping of sugar and spice and everything nice. The recipe as follows will yield one awe-inspiring 9-inch pie to feed 6 or more (depending on how you slice it).


  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 unbaked pie crust


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place unbaked pie crust into pie dish and set aside.

2. Mix pumpkin, sugar, spices, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

3. Add the molasses, milk, eggs and beat until fully incorporated.

4. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Even out mixture for a smooth appearance.

5. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until the custard is slightly firm.

6. Allow the pie to cool to room temperature before slicing.

7. Store covered at room temperature. Serve wedges with whipped cream.


  • 1 cup heavy cream, very cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup


Combine cream and vanilla and mix well. With an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, start whipping the cream on medium speed. Add the corn syrup slowly while beating. Whip until the cream holds soft peaks. Slather, drop, or dollop as your heart desires onto slice of pumpkin pie and serve. (Makes about 2 cups of whipped cream; up to 8 servings)

TIP: To avoid pie crust from burning while baking, cover the crust edges with strips of aluminum foil. Place the foil around the edge of the pie for the first 25 minutes of baking and then remove so the crust will brown slightly.

Oh, My Buttermilk Cornbread Acorns

October 18, 2009

Making the most of my Acorn bakeware from Williams Sonoma, I’ve whipped up some Buttermilk Cornbread. It’s appropriately seasonal for the fall to be shaped like darling little acorns. If you don’t have this acorn cakelet pan, you can use a mini-muffin tray to make your bite-sized cornbread. Since this recipe uses buttermilk, they’re creamier with a nice balance of sweet and salty. The ingredients as follows will yield 30-42 acorns or 24-36 mini-muffins.


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the acorn cakelet pan or mini-muffin pan with butter or baking spray.
  2. Melt butter. Stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended. Pour batter into the prepared pan(s).
  3. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Oh, My Texas Pecan Pie

September 25, 2009

No matter how you slice it, this Texas Pecan Pie is a hit in the South. And there are several members of my family who have a sweet tooth for this delish dessert. It’s oh so simple to make from scratch, so don’t fret. It’s best if you prepare several hours before you intend to serve it, or the day before even. This nutty recipe yields a 9-inch pie to feed 6 or more – from the cookbook Sweet Serendipity: Delicious Desserts & Devilish Dish (page 61).


  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups pecan halves (about 1/2 lb)
  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • 1 large egg yolk, very lightly beaten


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare unbaked pie crust in pie plate or dish and set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the 4 eggs to loosen them. Add the sugar and corn syrup and whisk until blended. Stir in about two-thirds of your pecans, reserving the best looking, whole pieces for later.

3. Pour the pecan mixture into the unbaked pie crust. Decoratively arrange the remaining pecans on the top of the pie.

4. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove from the oven. Be very careful as the pie filling will still be liquid and very hot.

5. Brush the egg yolk over the entire surface of the pie, over pecans and crust. Return to oven for 30 minutes more. Then, remove from the oven (the filling will still be liquid) and allow to cool on a rack for 1 hour.

6. Refrigerate or store at room temperature until completely set, which will require at least 4 hours. Slice into wedges. Store at room temperature.

Oh, My Summer Zucchini Bread

August 31, 2009

babycakes_zucchiniThis savory and sweet bread can be a great way to sneak veggies in your family’s diet without trying too hard. With zest from a few lemons added, these zucchini babycakes are a refreshing summer snack. Adjust the amount of sugar to suit your own taste; I find the brown sugar over white allows the flavor of the zucchini to shine. I’m a big fan of zucchini in just about any form! Perhaps if you have a garden, you may be searching for ways to use all the zucchinis your green thumb yields. Here’s one to try. This recipe, adapted from Baking Illustrated (pages 28-30), makes 2 mini-loaves and 24 mini-muffins.


  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound zucchini (3 to 4 medium)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 to 3 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 Tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
  • 6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour pan(s) or use or baking spray. Melt 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter and set aside to cool.

2. Cut ends and remove stems from zucchinis. Then, cut them in halves lengthwise and shred the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater, or using the grater attachment of a food processor. Toss with 2 Tablespoons of sugar, and allow to drain for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, and whist until well blended. Set aside.

4. Whisk together 1/2 cup white sugar, brown sugar, yogurt, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and melted (cooled) butter in a small bowl. Set aside.

5. After the zucchini has drained, squeeze in between several layers of paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Stir the zucchini and the yogurt mixture into the flour until just moistened. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. In this case, I used a mini-muffin pan for 24 cakes and 2 mini-loaf pans.

6. If desired, sprinkle chopped walnuts or pecans over the top of batter before putting it in the oven to bake.

7. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Rotate the pan(s) halfway through. Mini-muffins will require 15 to 25 minutes, depending on how full you fill each cup. Mini-loaves will require an additional 15 to 20 minutes, for a total baking time of 30 to 45 minutes. A full-sized loaf (9 x 5) will require 45 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least an 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.


  • Make it more of a breakfast bread by adding 1 cup fresh or thawed blueberries.
  • For additional texture and fruit-y-goodness, add 1/2 cup raisins.
  • Go nuts! Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans for some crunch to each bite.
  • Lighten up! Use 1 cup Splenda® or other sugar substitute instead of white granulated sugar.
  • Boost your fiber content by swapping out white all-purpose flour for an enriched whole wheat flour.
  • Turn it into chocolate zucchini bread with 6 tablespoons cocoa powder and 3/4 cup of mini chocolate chips.
  • For a little taste of summer, add 1 tablespoon lemon zest from 2 to 4 lemons.
  • Make it extra moist by adding 1/2 cup of sour cream to the batter along with the plain yogurt.

Betty Crocker’s Easy Design Cupcakes

August 25, 2009

easydesigncupcakesTo give you a glimpse into Betty Crocker Just Cupcakes: 100 Recipes for the Way You Really Cook, here’s the recipe for Easy Design Cupcakes. The prep time is only 40 minutes, so from start to finish (including cooling time) with this recipe, you’ll have 24 cupcakes ready to eat in under 2 hours. All said and done, each Easy Design Cupcake is a 220-calorie snack (see below for more nutrition facts).


  • 2 packages (3 oz each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 bag (6 oz/1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 box (1 lb 2.25 oz) devil’s food cake mix with pudding in the mix
  • Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
  • 1 1/2 oz cream cheese (from 3 oz package), softened
  • 4 teaspoons sugar (for cream cheese decorating mix)


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. In medium mixing bowl, beat 2 packages cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and the egg with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips; set aside.
2. Make cake mix as directed on box, using water, oil and eggs. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Top each cup with 1 tablespoon cream cheese mixture (mixture will sink into batter).
3. In small mixing bowl, beat 1 1/2 ounces cream cheese and 4 teaspoons sugar with spoon until smooth. Spoon into corner of small plastic food-storage bag. Cut 1/8 inch tip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Pipe mixture onto batter in a small design to decorate tops of cupcakes.
4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until tops spring back when touched lightly. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 50 minutes.


Serving: 1 cupcake (cake and frosting); 220 Calories, 110 Calories from Fat, 12g Total Fat, 5g Saturated Fat, 45mg Cholesterol, 200mg Sodium, 26g Total Carbohydrate, 1g Dietary Fiber.

For this and more recipes like it, see Betty Crocker Just Cupcakes: 100 Recipes for the Way You Really Cook by the Betty Crocker Editors. Click here to read my review of the cookbook.

Review: Betty Crocker Just Cupcakes

August 24, 2009

bettycrocker-justcupcakesWith recipes based on ready-made cake mixes and shortcuts for decorating, Betty Crocker Just Cupcakes delivers just what it promises – 100 recipes for the way you really cook. In this cookbook, you’ll learn how to make special-occasion cupcakes with every-day simplicity.

One of the most irresistible of all babycakes is the sugary confection of a cupcake. Just like cupcakes themselves, this cookbook is short and sweet. It includes everyday treats, seasonal recipes, celebration cakes, holiday themes, and cupcakes for kids. After each recipe you’ll also find a quick glance at nutrition facts for 1 serving, which is handy if you’re counting calories or have dietary restrictions.

If you’re looking for baking babycakes from scratch, this is not the cookbook for you. Although baking from scratch can be labor-intensive, I enjoy it immensely; but Betty Crocker Just Cupcakes, in a Sandra Lee-esque kind of way, offers some simple recipes for everyday treats with all the store-bought shortcuts and cheats. Ingredients are even built around what items (and sizes) you can most commonly find at a grocery store. Best of all, it offers some tricks for decorating that make it a valuable reference. After all, presentation is key. And if you’ve got kids around – whether they’re helping you with the mixing and decorating or just gobbling them up – Betty Crocker Just Cupcakes will be a good book to have on-hand. Next time you have a cupcake emergency, one of these recipes might just save the day.

The cover photo features the “Anniversary White Truffle Cupcake” which appears on page 82 inside the book. Every recipe has been tested by Betty Crocker Kitchens to make sure it meets their high standards of reliability, easy preparation and great taste. Get a glimpse inside the cookbook with the recipe for Betty Crocker’s “Easy Design Cupcakes.”

Oh, my Nana Banana Bread!

August 19, 2009

nanabananabreadA bundle of bananas we’re turning brown, so I put them to use for my über-moist Nana Banana Bread. Crazy delish for breakfast or afternoon snack! It’s bananas! My father calls it “monkey bread” because its so moist and banana-rich; he prefers it nutty with a handful of walnuts. On that note, this tasty recipe can be modified to suit your taste buds, cravings, or seasonal palette. See variations listed below the recipe for ideas.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 1 cup brown sugar or 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 medium-sized overripe bananas, mashed


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan with butter or baking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Any excess batter can be poured into muffin or mini-muffin pan.
3. Bake loaf pan in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Muffins will be done after 20 to 30 minutes and mini-muffins after 12 to 15 minutes, depending on size. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.


  • Go nuts and add 1 cup chopped walnuts to batter before pouring into pan.
  • Or, fold in 1 to 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips. After all, chocolate makes everything better.
  • Also, you can add 1 to 2 cups of raisins for additional texture.
  • Instead of sugar, use 1/4 cup of honey with 2 tablespoons brown sugar.
  • Or, go really rich and use 1 cup molasses in lieu of sugar.
  • To inspire autumn leaves to turn, add 1 to 2 teaspoons nutmeg to taste.


1 serving roughly estimated, 1 slice or medium-size muffin (recipe as stated above made with 12 oz bag of chocolate chips added): 142 calories, 5g Total Fat, 3g Saturated Fat, 22mg Cholesterol, 114mg Sodium, 22g Carbohydrates, 1g Fiber, 12g Sugar, 2g Protein.