Cranberry Holiday Bread


This weekend I saw a recipe over at Two Peas & Their Pod for Orange Cranberry Bread. It looked so lovely and the flavor of cranberries and oranges is very holiday to me. I had been looking for a good recipe to gift and this was definitely it.

This bread recipe is so amazing and uses lots of orange zest and fresh juice along with FRESH cranberries (no dried or canned cranberries here!). The method also had you zesting the orange into the sugar and rub it together with your fingers as to bring out the fragrance of the orange. This was new to me and I had no idea how much it would add batter. I will surely be using this again in the future. The recipe is great on it’s own for sure, but  I wanted to add a few things to really make it my own. I decided to fold in some semi-sweet chocolate chips and then, once the batter was in the pan, I sprinkled the top with some sliced almonds. Almonds, oranges, cranberries, and chocolate? How can you go wrong?

The recipe makes one loaf, so I decided to split it into several smaller loaves that would be baked in a individual paper pans. One batch of sweet batter makes four mini loaves that are perfect for gifting.

The loaves smell so amazing baking in the oven. Our home is filled with the sweet tangy scent of oranges and cranberries. So very festive!

baking, homemade, cranberries, crafting, gifting, homemade gifts, juteTo dress the loaves up, I just used clear bags, jute, a cute gift tag, and a teeny-tiny clothes pin.

The clear bags fit the small paper pans perfectly and they come with a twist tie so you can secure the bag before tying a bow with some jute. The tag simply gets attached to the jute with a tiny, decorative clothes pin. All of these items were purchased at Michael’s but could easily be found in any other craft store or big-box store (like Target).

bread, loaves, gifts, crafting, handmade, christmasOnce the whole thing comes together it’s pretty enough to put under the tree. But not for too long. You’ll want to save one for yourself and dig in right away. The fresh cranberries burst in the batter while baking and marble the bread with their lovely pink juice. And the sweet orange glaze on top counters the tartness perfectly. Trust me, you’ll want to keep one for yourself.


If you want to make the recipe as created by Two Peas & Their Pod click through here. Otherwise the recipe is listed below with modifications.

Happy baking my friends!
The Blushing Baker

Orange Holiday Bread

Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

Ingredients for Bread:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Ingredients for Almond Orange Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (don’t over do it!!)

Preheat oven to 350° F and place four paper baking pans on a large sheet pan – no spraying or greasing needed.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a small bowl, combine sugar and orange zest. Rub together with your fingers until fragrant. Add sugar to to the flour mixture and whisk.

In a separate smaller bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Fold in the cranberries and chocolate chips. Pour batter evenly into paper loaf pans only filling about halfway full.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. All ovens vary so watch your loaves to ensure they are not browning too quickly. If they are, you may need to cover them with foil for the remainder of the baking time. I also needed to rotate my pan halfway through baking.

Remove bread from oven and place on the counter or cooling rack until cool.

Prepare the almond orange glaze while the break is cooling. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and almond extract. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the bread.

Wait until loaves are completely cool before wrapping to give.


Store Bought Mixes For The Win: Beer Bread

beer bread, baking, easy baking, mixes, bread

Our lives are busier than ever these days. Between work, home, family, and friends we don’t always have time for things we HAVE to do let alone the things we WANT to do. I would love to always have home-baked treats at the ready. But I simply don’t always have time to whip up a delicious loaf of bread or muffins or cookies after work. And quite honestly, I don’t always feel like baking after work either. And I have come to the conclusion that it’s OK!! Let’s just give ourselves a break and use a mix! There are so many mixes out there – some are good; some are not so good. Through some trial and error I’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t. Thus begins a new series…Store Bought Mixes For The Win! We start this series with an all time favorites: Tastefully Simple’s Bountiful Beer Bread Mix.

Tastefully Simple Bountiful Beer Bread Mix

baking, bread, beer, apples, cheesy, cheddar, baking mixThis mix is a pantry BFF of mine. I love it and it’s so easy to whip up. All you need is 12 oz of your favorite beer or soda (any carbonated beverage will work), 3 tbsp of melted butter, and a pan to bake it in. It’s a versatile mix that can be whatever you’d like it be, even dessert! You van visit the Tastefully Simple website for ideas or you can try the version I whipped up this weekend.

Apple Cheddar Beer Bread

sharp cheddar, apples, bread, beer, baking

1 box of Tastefully Simple Beer Bread Mix
1 12 oz bottle of Hard Cider (I used Cider Boys First Press)
1 1/4 cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup chopped dried apples
3 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Empty cider into a large bowl. Pour bread mix into the beer and stir gently – do not over mix. Fold 1 cup of the cheese and the apples into the batter. Pour batter into greased 9×5 loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes. Remove pan and sprinkle 1/4 cup of reserved cheddar cheese on top of the bread. Continue baking for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before serving. Excellent toasted!!

Until Next Time…
The Blushing Baker

Millionaires Shortbread!

I am going to try these out in my kitchen!! Now you try them in yours!!! Amazing recipe and photos. ❤️

Jane's Patisserie

Light & Buttery Shortbread topped with easy Homemade caramel, and Chocolate – decorated with Malteser’s, and Gold!


I have had so many requests for this recipe since my Blog has started, and I have neglected to post it till now – I am sorry for the wait! I hope it doesn’t disappoint!

I have always been a fan of Shortbread and Millionaires Shortbread but I often find that in bakeries these days or even coffee shops, the pieces are so small and thin! I love my shortbread to be thick and butter, along with the caramel and chocolate on top of that! I am not meaning to sound greedy, but as my boyfriends Mum said to me the other day – “Now THAT is how Millionaires Shortbread should be! Nice and thick and just how my Mum makes them!


This recipe is surprisingly easy, even if it does…

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GIVEAWAY: Win An Urban Decay NAKED Palette Of Your Choice!

Check out Confetti & Curves! An amazing beauty blogger!!


Hey Beauty Buddies…

It’s GIVEAWAY time here on Confetti & Curves as something exceptionally exciting happened this weekend – the wonderful web whizz’s at WordPress confirmed 1000 of you fab folk have jumped on the Confetti & Curves bandwagon… or in other words, hit the ‘Follow’ button to keep up with my ramblings. Oh yes, Champagne corks are poppin’ *yippppeee*


So as a HUUUUUGE thank you for all your support I thought it was high time we celebrated with an extra special little competition as one of you could win an Urban Decay NAKED Palette of your choice!

*This giveaway is open Internationally – yes, anyone can enter*

    naked palettes

Am I hearing squeals of excitement?! *listens intensely* Okay, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: how the heck to enter….


The Rules:

1) If you haven’t done so already then get following Confetti & Curves via WordPress or you can:

*Click Here* to follow…

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Christmas Night

I know that most people like Christmas morning (gifts and all) but I have always loved Christmas night. All the hub-bub has died down and it’s quiet and peaceful. Bellies are full of the Christmas feast and the lights on the tree cast a soft glow.


I hope you all enjoy your peaceful Christmas night.

Christmas Cookies Part 1: Merry Cherry Bars

holiday baking, cherries, cookies, bar cookies, homemade, desserts
For those of us who like to bake the Holidays are our time to shine. From Halloween to New Years we get to show off our skills and share our love and Christmas cheer through delicious treats. Part of how I get my shine on is via Cookiepalooza. On Cookiepalooza day, usually the first weekend in December, my Mom and I get together for a day of baking many, many cookies. I fear you may not understand when I say many. One year it was 8 different types of cookies. And when you do the math that can be upwards of almost 400 cookies. In one a day! I know: WE ARE NUTS! While we may do some shuffling of recipes from year to year there are a few cookies that are repeated (and requested) every year and I would love to share a few of them with you. First up: Merry Cherry Bars!

Merry Cherry Bars have been made since I was a kiddo. I think the recipe came from my Mom’s friend Edie who makes them every year, too. While it’s technically not a “cookie” it is a cookie bar and the fact that it’s full of tart, dried cherries and Christmas M&Ms give it a pass. The base of this bar is basically a shortbread cookie with almond extract so how can you go wrong there? When you add in the cherries and the M&Ms? KILLER! Some of the cherries and candies are also pressed into the top of the dough before baking so you can see the lovely red and green poking through. When the bars are out of the oven and cooled they are topped with a simple powdered sugar and water glaze. Not only are they so yummy, they are pretty and Christmassy, too!

Add this little recipe to your annual cookie basket and you’ll never turn back! Your friends, family, and cookie exchange attendees will be begging you to make them year after year.

Until next time,
The Blushing Baker 😉

Merry Cherry Bars

1 cup
butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped dried cherries
1/2 cup lightly crushed Christmas M&Ms
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
5 teaspoons warm water

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and almond extract. Combine the flour and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until well blended. Mix in 1/2 cup of the cherries and a 1/4 cup of the candies. Press the dough into an ungreased 9×13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining cherries and crushed candies. Press in lightly.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool completely in the pan before icing.

To make the icing, mix together the confectioners’ sugar and water until a drizzling consistency is reached.

Because I couldn’t find the recipe quickly 😦 , I copied and pasted the bulk of this recipe from and tweaked it to reflect what my Mom and I do.

Click to Applique

I love doing my nails. I find the practice of doing a manicure soothing. I know you’re thinking, “Are you crazy?” But I really do! Following the steps of the process is kind of like a ritual. Trim, file, soak, push back and nip cuticles, massage in lotion and cuticle oil, wipe nail beds with alcohol swab, apply base coat, 2 coats of lacquer, top coat, let dry. Ahhhh. The ritual. But sometimes you simply want to try something new. So I did.

A woman I work with in the office came in sporting the CUTEST nails. White and mint green chevron. DYING! I had to ask her where she had them done at. She bought them … they were appliqués. What the what?! They looked so good! Not that I’m giving appliqués a bad name, but I’d tried them before. They felt weird and peeled off in a day. Not to mention that I really didn’t like the patterns and colors I see in the stores. But these were different, she said. The ones she had on were Jamberry Nail Appliqués. She gave me her niece’s website and immediately went to see what else they had.

I loved so many of them.

I ordered four patterns.

I rejoiced when they shipped.

I squeed aloud when they arrived! (at the office…sorry, cube-mates!)

When I calmed down a little, I read the instructions on how to apply them. The application process is a bit different than I thought it would be. One big difference is that you need to heat them before you apply them. (Check out the YouTube videos on the website which are really helpful). But all in all, the process didn’t really take that much longer than doing my ritualistic manicure – plus they didn’t need to dry. BONUS!! The nail art patterns are really cute, too. I am OK at doing nail art Image(see, not bad, huh?) But not intricate patterns like the Jamberry appliques.

One drawback is that you are stuck (no pun intended) with set sizes and some of them didn’t fit my nail beds perfectly, however I kind of expected that as this is how the appliques work. I’m also noticing on day 2 of this manicure that the appliqués are starting to lift on the tips. Rookie error in the application? Not sure. The next set I apply will let me know for sure.

photoHere’s the finished product with my Jamberry Appliques… Cute, right? I really like this pattern. This one is called Navy Quatrefoil

So, am I a nail appliqué convert? No, not completely. I still want to do perform my nail ritual, not to mention I have too many polishes to count. Seriously I have a problem (ask the hubby, he will confirm.) But will I use these every once in awhile so I can enjoy some great nail art without paying $5 a nail at my local salon? You bet!!


Until next time …

The Blushing Baker 😉

Beautifully Baked Beginnings

Growing up in (über) rural Illinois as the daughter of two baby-boomers I learned a thing or two about cooking, baking and beauty from a young age. But I think to learn about me, you’ll have to learn about my boomer parents first…

My Mom grew up in suburbs of Chicago, the second eldest of six children. Mom’s daddy was a tall, lanky man from South Carolina stationed at Navy Pier and her Mom was one of the twee-est women I’ve met (she was raised in Chicago). I have two pictures of them – their wedding photo (with Grandpa in his Navy whites and Grandma in this gorgeous hat and killer shoes) and another a few years later (she has another pair of great shoes and he’s wearing a dress shirt and suspenders. Those were the days!) My teeny grandma had to learn to cook the southern yumminess that Grandpa had grown up with (biscuits, gravy, grits, pies, cakes, cobblers, crisps…sorry. I need to stop. I’m drooling.) That’s the kind of food my Mom learned to cook. She also learned from her Grandma who was the cook at a camp for under-privileged kids in the suburbs. Almost every one of my Mom’s summers were spent at the camp helping her grandma in the kitchen, riding the horses, and making new friends.

My Daddy grew up pretty close to where I did, the youngest of twelve siblings. His family was pretty poor. His Dad was grave-digger for a few local cemeteries and his Mom…she had to be resourceful. With twelve kids to feed on a small salary, you’d have to be! My Dad spent his time with his Mom around the house because he was the youngest. He learned to garden, raise poultry and cook with her. They didn’t have much, but they made do. I don’t have any pictures of Daddy’s parents though. His Dad passed away when he was thirteen. His Mom died not long after my parent got married. I never got to meet my Daddy’s parents but I did get to know them through stories from aunts and uncles over the years.

Now that know who raised me let me tell you a bit about me. Baking and beauty have always been a part of my life (save the short time in my youth where I was a tomboy and then my freshmen year of high school when I embraced the grunge culture). I can still remember the smell of my Mom’s meatloaf cooking. I can also remember the smell of her makeup bag as she was getting ready for a night out with Daddy and her dress coat that always smelled of Lady Stetson (it was the early 90s people!) So I learned to cook and to bake right alongside my Mom and Daddy. I remember baking an apple pie from scratch for the first time and being sure to use all the crust bits that were leftover (don’t waste anything!). It was so rewarding seeing everyone’s face as they took their first bite. Utter satisfaction! Likewise I remember the first time I did my best friend’s hair and makeup for prom. She was a sophomore attending junior prom with her boyfriend. I went over to her house to see her in all her splendor – but she was so unhappy! Her hair didn’t turn out at all like she wanted and her makeup was smearing from her tears. I grabbed a brush and some bobby pins and went to work fixing her distressed tresses. Next it was time to fix her makeup. I reapplied her liner and shadow and applied some blush and concealer. As I sit here and recall watching her face as she looked in the mirror I feel myself getting a little wet around my eyes. She was so happy. She was so excited. She was (and is to this day) so gorgeous. And I helped. I did that. Oh the wonderful power of apples in crust. What strength we can wield with some powder and a brush. I was hooked…by both.

So here I am a thirty-something that migrated to the suburbs of Chicago after attending a small, private college there (and meeting the love of my life and now hubby – Squee!). While I am an Admin Assistant by day I am also an amateur baker/cook and licensed esthetician/makeup artist by night (or weekend, depending on the day.)

glitterThere is something magical about slowly peeling the paper liner from a gorgeous cupcake with your glittery nails. Or enjoying that first, warm spoonful of a sweet and tart peach cobbler all the while making sure you don’t smudge your lipstick. Why can’t we love more than one thing? Why can’t we be really good at more than one thing? If my parents taught me anything, it was that you need to do what you love because life is just too darn short not to! I love to make people look and feel beautiful. I love to make scrumptious treats. And I want to share these loves. So I’m going to. I am going to share with you how I do both everyday…and I can’t wait!