Christmas Baking(?): Cranberry Jam!

Okay okay, its not exactly baking but I promise the coming weekend, I’ll get back on it and I’ll bake A LOT!  I have a few things bookmarked to do already.

But, this weekend, I promised my mom that I’d try my hand at making some cranberry jam.  It not exactly Christmas related but its red so still feels very festive 🙂

Plus, jam is relatively easy to make.  Just need to stand around while it boils in water and the mixture gets a bit more solid.

Cranberry Jam

Cooking Cranberry Jam

Here’s the instructions adapted from a recipe on the Martha Stewart site:

This was originally a Spicy Cranberry Jam, however, my mom and I aren’t much of “spicy” people so we took out the jalapeno and compensated with a little bit more sugar, something like 1/2 cup to 1 cup more sugar to make it not so sour.

I tasted it with some whole wheat bread and it was pretty good. The consistency is perfect, just like fruit  jam/jelly. Its more a jelly form.  It tastes sour but not so much that its hard to swallow.

Healthy choice for sure 🙂

What jams do you like to make?

Banana-Nut Bread!

I’m slowly getting back into the baking thing.  It takes time which I don’t seem to have as much recently.

On Saturday, I realized that we had some extra ripe bananas and I wanted to bake something before we headed over to my boyfriend’s place. We came to the conclusion to make banana nut bread.

banana nut bread

Banana nut bread

I found the recipe in Looneyspoons recipe book called Sweet Home Alabama. Its supposed to make two small loaves but I just made one bigger one.

Makes 2 small loaves/ 8 slices each


1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup oat bran

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 medium or 3 large)

3/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogourt

2 eggs

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 tbsp butter, melted

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray two 8×4 inch loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.

2) In a large bowl, combine flour, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Mix well and set aside.

3) In a medium bowl, whisk together bananas, buttermilk, eggs, brown sugar, butter and vanilla until well blended.

4) Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.  Do not overmix batter.

5) Divide batter evenly among loaf pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  Cool loaves in pans over a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove loaves from pans and (1) slice and eat warm, or (2) cool completely on rack, then store in plastic wrap.

banana nut bread sweet home alabame

Banana nut bread

I made a few modifications to the ingredients.

– Substituted buttermilk due to lactose intolerance to vanilla flavored almond milk

– Omitted vanilla (none left)

– Substituted brown sugar with white sugar (none left)

– Substituted chocolate chips with slivered almonds

Banana nut bread

Banana nut bread

Despite all the replacements, the banana nut bread turned out pretty good.  The nuts gave it a nice chew and the bananas kept the bread soft and moist.  There wasn’t too much sugar (and you can always put less) if you’d like to.  Plus, the recipe is rather straight forward and easy and then 30 minutes later, its ready to eat.

I’d call that one a winner for sure! 🙂

Cherry Swirl Coffee Cake

VOILA! I promised you baking and I got right down to business on Friday night! Still working on my Valentine’s lineup of treats so hopefully by next weekend, I will have something up. For now, here is one that I have been meaning to do: Cherry Swirl Coffee Cake.  I haven’t made coffee cake since I was 15 probably.  So that’s over 10 years now and I seriously forgot how simple it was. Although, this one was a bit layering so it took a bit more time.


Recipe: Cherry Swirl Coffee Cake (from Betty Crocker’s Christmas Cookbook)

Makes 18 servings


Coffee cake:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening

1 1/2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp almond extract

4 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling


1 cup powdered sugar

2 tbsps water


1. Heat oven to 350F.  Generously grease 15x10x1 inch pan with shortening or cooking spray (Oops…forgot to do that!) . In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, butter, shortening, baking powder, vanilla, almond extract and eggs with electric mixer on low speed, scraping bowl constantly.  Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  Stir in flour.

2. Spread two-thirds of the batter in pan.  Spread pie filling over batter.  Drop remaining batter by tablespoons onto pie filling.

3. Bake about 45 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

4. In small bowl, mix glaze ingredients with spoon until smooth and thin enough to drizzle.  Drizzle glaze over warm coffee cake.  Serve warm or let stand until cool.


I love recipes that go straight to just mixing almost all the ingredients in then adding flour at the end.  Most of the recipes actually would work like that too.  I have a hand mixer so the whole standing around holding it for 3 minutes was testing my strength a bit, but it did work like a miracle to turn up the speed.  There was one slight change that I made for this recipe and it was lowering the sugar to 1 cup.  My mom is into healthy living so I lowered it so that she could enjoy it more.  Also, I modified the glaze to 1/2 cup powdered sugar so that I could just put glaze on one half and the other half was made to not have glaze so it was also less sweet.  It tasted fruity and had a crispy crust on the top.  The texture was moist around the middle fruity layer and more crumbly at the bottom.  I love this type of  texture in any sorts of desserts so I loved it. My mom thought that it was perfect (without the glaze).  As for my boyfriend who isn’t a huge fan of cherries, he still really enjoyed it.  This recipe tends to taste better when warm so keep that in mind before you serve it or eat it.

What do you all think about coffee cakes?  Fans? Any other flavors you’d recommend to me?

Christmas Baking: Peppermint Swirls

I’ve been a bit silent with this Christmas baking but the next 2  days, I’ll get your mouth watering from desserts.  I promise you that.

I made myself start my Christmas baking on Saturday night with fun cute cookies called Peppermint Swirls.  Although you will see that when it comes to these cookies that need artistic touch, it doesn’t always turn out the way I want it to.  Next time I do it, it’ll be better. Still, I’d like to share them with you because despite them looking more like Peppermint Smushes, they tasted AMAZING!


I found this recipe in my Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook.


Makes 4 dozen cookies


1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp peppermint extract

1/4 tsp red food colour

2 tbsp granulated sugar


1. Heat oven to 350F.  In large bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed.  Stir in flour.  Divide dough in half.  Stir peppermint extract and food colour in 1 half.  Divide each colour of dough in half

2. Shape each piece of dough on generously floured surface into rope, 12 inches long.  Place 2 ropes, 1 red and 1 white, side by side, Twist ropes.  Repeat with remaining 2 pieces of dough.

3. Cut twisted ropes into 1/2 inch pieces: shape each into a ball.  On ungreased cookie sheet, place balls about 1 inch apart.  Flatten to about 1/4 inch thickness with greased bottom of glass dipped in granulated sugar.

4. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until set.  Remove with cookie sheet to wire rack.


For this one, I chose to use butter.  Somehow my body is alright with that despite being lactose sensitive. Its also my first time using food colouring and peppermint extract.  The extract is the same as always but the red food colouring was the problem.  I had a hard time mixing with the dough so thats why we see a slight swirl of dough and red dough on the supposed to be red side.

Also, something to note is that if you do try this out, the dough will be a bit more crumb-ish. I had to knead the dough for maybe 5-10 minutes before they would become more like a complete piece of dough and still the side that wasn’t red was not as stuck together because it was drier.  Because of that, I had a hard time putting the ropes together and therefore, the results were more smushes than swirls.

This may not look too appealing, although after looking at it a few times, the “red” is a nice touch so it makes it look acceptable, the cookie itself is very good.  However, I covered the twisted red and normal dough piece in sugar on both sides before putting it in the oven and if you cover it with enough sugar, the taste combination is perfect.  You can smell a nice minty refreshing smell and taste mixed with sugar that melts in your mouth when you take the first bite.

This one is a bit more time consuming and if you are more skilled in the artistic decorative way in terms of baking, this one is a very good choice to make.

What do you think? Maybe someone else has done this with another recipe, what would make the dough a bit more like a dough to start off? Any ideas or suggestions?

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I promise you a lot more Christmas baking recipes coming up.  For now, I’ll leave you with this and head off to make my next batch.

Happy Christmas Eve’s Eve!

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

I’m still wondering if I posted something similar before, nonetheless this is a new recipe so it deserves it own posts.

The past weekend, I decided to make Oatmeal Cookies and since it was for my boyfriend’s parents, I added in some Chocolate Chunk on the top of them.  If you’ve been following me for a bit, you know that I can’t eat chocolate.  I can tell you one thing: They were a hit.  The moment my boyfriend’s dad had the plate in this hands, he started munching on the after another.  As someone who likes baking, I enjoy seeing the happiness others get from what I make.


Makes 20 cookies

2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats

1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

Chocolate chunks for topping

1) Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

2) Combine oats, flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Mix well.

3) In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter on low speed of electric mixer until mixture resembles wet sand.  Add applesauce, egg and vanilla and beat again until well blended.  Add oat mixture to sugar mixture.  Using a wooden spoon, stir until dry ingredients are moistened.

4) Drop dough by spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet.   Use about 2 tbsp dough per cookie and space 2 inches apart.) Flatten cookies to 1/4 inch thickness using fork.  Dip the fork in water to prevent it from sticking to cookies.  Place a few chocolate chunks into the top of the cookie dough.  Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully remove from cooling rack.

This should turn out to be soft and chewy.  It was originally a recipe for oatmeal raison cookies inspired by Looneyspoons Collection.  If you’d like to do those instead, then instead of chocolate chunks as topping the cookies, you mix it in after the dry ingredients are moistened in Step 3 for 1/3 cup raisins.

What do you think? Are you going to try this one out?

Peanut-BETTER Gingersnaps!

I “heard” from David at Lead.Learn.Live that it was National Cookie Day yesterday.  I’m not really sure if “national” includes Canada but that doesn’t matter.  In celebration for that, I’m giving you the cookies that I made last weekend.  Plus, gingerbread cookies are my  iconic treat for Christmas but last year I learned that Gingersnaps are amazing as well.

This year, I took it in my own hands to make these beautiful cookies called Peanut-BETTER Gingersnaps from Looneyspoons Collections.



Don’t they look awesome?


Makes 20 cookies (supposedly)


3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon, divided

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp each salt and ground allspice

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup light peanut butter

3 tbsp butter, at room temperature

1 egg

2 tbsp molasses

1 tsp vanilla



1. Preheat oven at 350F.  Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together both flours, baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, ginger, salt and allspice.  Set aside.  Combine granulated sugar, and remaining 1 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl.  Set aside.

3. In another medium bowl, beat together brown sugar, peanut butter and butter on medium speed of electric mixer for about 1 minute.  Add egg, molasses, and vanilla.  Beat again until smooth

4. Using a wooden spoon, stir flour mixture into peanut butter mixture.  You will be making a stiff dough.  Using your hands, shape dough into 1.5 inch balls.  Roll balls in reserved cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Place cookie sheet at 2 inches apart (they spread a lot while baking).  Flatten cookies slightly using a fork.

5. Bake cookies for 7 minutes.  Remove cookies from oven and cool on pan for 1 minute, then transfer from pan to wire rack to cool completely.


This one didn’t take a lot of modifications.  I own a lot more assorted ingredients than I used to 6 months ago.  The only ingredient I needed to replace was allspice.  I used nutmeg instead.  Another thing was, “a stiff dough” didn’t really happen for me, but it still worked.  I did end up with bigger cookies so I separated it too big so it yielded less than 20 cookies but rather about 15 or so.

Peanut-BETTER is definitely right.  I usually am not a big fan of peanut butter but man, this one was a perfect mix.  The absolute perfect one and I think its because of the peanut butter.  I used the healthy type which is not even light, its just purely with peanuts and not other additives or preservatives.  The taste was less sweet and it brought out the gingery taste.  The texture was amazing.  I have to say that this ranks as one of my MOST favorite cookies that I’ve done so far.  And I don’t think I’m the only one as I gave some of these to my boyfriend’s parents and apparently, it vanished the next day.

A pure hit and very delicious and also very quick to make.  So quick that you have to be careful of it when its in the oven and you run off to do something else, my suggestion: Don’t do it..just sit next to the oven for a little bit and it’ll be ready for you to take out before you know it!

Have fun! Tell me if you liked it if you do try this out!

Why type of desserts or cookies do you like to eat during Christmas? More minty? More chocolate? Shortbread?


Glow in the Dark Cupcakes!

Last night I went to the Halloween party and being inspired by a recipe from another blog, I decided to make chocolate cupcakes with glow in the dark frosting.  I had asked my boyfriend’s sister and she went to get the black light to make it all work.  Originally, I had wanted to do a test run of these cupcakes first but ended up doing the Pumpkin Spice Muffins instead, so I brought some of those as well as a backup plan if the others ones weren’t enough or others weren’t interested.  It will also be the first time that I used my frosting piping set that I had bought last month.

This is how they looked like at my place before going to the party:

Later on, I’ll show you what they look like under the light.  First of all, I’m going to show give you the link for the recipe.

The cupcakes are called Devil’s Food Cupcakes found on Sweet Little Thang’s blog:

She also came up the Glow in the Dark Frosting which can be found here:

See them glowing? The top ones are more obvious.

First off, I’d like to say that my cupcakes are lacking a bit of decorative skills. I tried my best though and I guess they look okay.  I will try to practice more.  Now for the changes I made to the cupcakes recipe.  Instead of cocoa powder mixed with hot water, I just melted Semi Sweet Chocolate Chunks.  I also decreased the portion of butter and sugar because that just looked way too fattening.  I used 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar (not sure about the sugar modification). As for eggs, I used 3 extra large ones.

As for the frosting, I just kept it the way it was and I think it tasted alright.  The only thing was that I ran out of time so when it said to dip 4-6 times, I only had maybe 3 or 4 times.  I’m just glad it glowed so all the hard work wasn’t wasted and plus, the friends that ate the cupcakes seemed to enjoy it.  The only thing is that with the frosting process, the green ones need to be in the freezer for an hour so it was still pretty hard when it got to the party.  Although it sat in the fridge for a bit afterwards and I think it helped a bit.  Still, it seemed to be a hit.

The whole glow in the dark concept of it as it gave a little extra Halloween spirit to the dessert.  Extra because the place was decorated with spider webs and body parts, and everyone that came was dressed up really nice to the theme.  I’ll have another post touching on that soon.  As for anyone that wants to do this, try to schedule in maybe 2-3 hours from making the cupcakes to doing the frosting and making them glow in the dark, if you plan to do it all in one day.  If not, just do the cupcakes first and then the frosting and all the remaining work another day.

So what do you think about it? You think that it would be something interesting to do? Anyone going to give this a shot? Anything special that you usually make for Halloween?