I’m kicking off December with 25 days of holiday treats! Expect cookies, candy, cakes, and so much more!

And for the big kickoff, here’s one of my all-time favorite holidays treats. I worked at Starbucks many years ago and their Cranberry Bliss Bar was always my favorite holiday pastry. This is almost exactly like the Cranberry Bliss but (should I even say it?) better!

The base is kind of a hybrid cake/cookie with cranberries and white chocolate chunks mixed in. And then the topping is pretty much a cream cheese frosting with chopped dried cranberries sprinkled over top.

So delicious and rich enough that you only need one to satisfy your sweet craving.

Cranberry Bliss Bars
For the cake:
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 6 oz. white chocolate cut into chunks
For the frosting:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
For the drizzled icing:
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Make cake by beating butter and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger and salt and beat well. Gradually mix in flour until smooth. Dice cranberries.
  3. Add 3/4 cup cranberries and white chocolate chunks to batter and fold in. Pour batter into a well-greased 9 x 13 baking pan, spread evenly. Bake for 35 minutes or until cake is lightly browned on the edges. Allow to cool.
  4. Make frosting by combining cream cheese, icing sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Frost cooled cake, using spatula to spread evenly
  5. Sprinkle 1/4 cup diced cranberries over freshly frosted cake
  6. Whisk together 1/2 cup icing sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and shortening. Drizzle icing over cranberries.
  7. Chill cake in refrigerator for several hours before slicing. Serve cold.

So, I’m totally cheating. This week for CEiMB we were given the opportunity to choose whatever recipe we wanted and were asked to serve it at our Thanksgiving meal if at all possible. Well, after being told numerous times that I’m not allowed to bring anything to Thanksgiving, I decided to be a cheater. (I’m not cheating by posting late though, I promise. We’re allowed to this week!)

Today I bring you Ellie’s vanilla spice oatmeal. I’m a huge oatmeal fan, I have it probably 4 mornings out of the week. You just can’t beat it when it comes to nutrition AND taste. Normally I cook it with a banana and a tiny bit of brown sugar so I found Ellie’s Vanilla Spice Oatmeal to be a little sweet as it contained raisins, vanilla, and brown sugar. The sweetness was a nice change though and I gobbled it up.

I’ve adapted the recipe for 1 serving and made a few small changes but otherwise, a very good oatmeal recipe.

Vanilla Spice Oatmeal
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt optional
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 1 tablespoons walnuts coarsely chopped, optional
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoons dark brown sugar plus more, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Stir in the oats and raisins, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, place nuts, if using, in a dry skillet over a medium-high flame, and toast, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  3. When the oats are cooked remove pan from the flame and stir in the vanilla and nutmeg. Swirl in the brown sugar and place the oatmeal in serving bowls. Top with toasted nuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

It’s days like this when I question why I participate in the BBA challenge. And by “days like this” I mean days where I’ve got 3 loaves of fresh baked French bread sitting on my counter and haven’t a clue what to do with them. I’m just not a bread person. None of us in my household are really.

I definitely love making bread though. (And the crowd says “Duh!”) It’s not fair. I should be one of those people who love making cookies that way nothing would ever go to waste.

I do have to give this bread credit though. It’s good bread, especially for a 2 day’er. I have a French bread recipe that was given to me from a friend that’s instructions are literally “stir with wooden spoon, rest, stir again” and from that, you get awesome French bread in about an hour and a half. So I was especially harsh on this one.

There was nothing difficult about it, except I really hate spraying the oven with water and using a steam pan. I don’t know why since it’s not a whole lot of work, it just annoys me. It just seems like I could’ve gotten the same result without all the steam.

It reminded me a lot of Panera’s bread. Almost too chewy but you eat it anyway because it’s that good, you know? I don’t know if I’ll ever make it again but it was a fun recipe and I think it would be good for an event that called for a whole lot of bread.

So what did I do with the bread? Two loaves have become croutons (which caused my husband to say “Well, isn’t that a lot of work for something that you could’ve bought for a buck?”) and the 3rd went wonderfully with a big pot of spaghetti sauce.

As always, check out Peter Reinhart’s book if you are interested in any of the breads I post about. And check out the BBA blogroll to see where everyone else is in the book.


Peppermint Bark Buns - sweet rolls stuffed with chocolate, topped with white chocolate cream cheese frosting, and sprinkled with peppermint bark. Perfect Christmas breakfast!

Ridiculous. That’s what these are. Pure, chocolaty ridiculousness.

Last weekend I went to the store for one thing. And as usual, I wandered down the Christmas aisles where I found these guys:

Peppermint Bark Buns - sweet rolls stuffed with chocolate, topped with white chocolate cream cheese frosting, and sprinkled with peppermint bark. Perfect Christmas breakfast!

I had no idea that I even liked peppermint bark until that day, in the Walgreens parking lot, where I inhaled 5 of these without shame. When I finally stopped stuffing my face, I knew what they were destined for.

Peppermint Bark Buns - sweet rolls stuffed with chocolate, topped with white chocolate cream cheese frosting, and sprinkled with peppermint bark. Perfect Christmas breakfast!

Nope, not cinnamon rolls. That would be a chocolate filling. And then you know what I did? I made a white chocolate cream cheese frosting for the top. And then I chopped up the last 3 pieces of Dove Peppermint Bark (that I had to hide from both my boys) and sprinkled them on top.

I don’t think these babies will last until breakfast tomorrow morning.

Peppermint Bark Buns - sweet rolls stuffed with chocolate, topped with white chocolate cream cheese frosting, and sprinkled with peppermint bark. Perfect Christmas breakfast!

Peppermint Bark Buns
For the dough:
  • 1 cup warm milk 110 degrees F/45 degrees C
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 packet dry active yeast
For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons butter softened
For the icing:
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips melted
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • peppermint bark candy roughly chopped
  1. Dissolve yeast in warm milk in a large mixing bowl. Mix in sugar, butter, salt and eggs. Add flour slowly until combined. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a large greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size.
  2. Once dough has doubled in size, combine sugar and cocoa powder in small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Preheat over to 350. Roll out dough to a 16 by 21 inch rectangle. Spread butter evenly over dough and sprinkle with cocoa powder mixture. Roll up dough jelly roll style and divide into 12 rolls (I used dental floss for pretty cuts.) Cover and let rise until doubled.
  4. Bake rolls in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. While rolls are baking combine white chocolate, cream cheese, and powdered sugar. Spread frosting over warm rolls before serving. Sprinkle with peppermint bark candy.
Peppermint Bark Buns - sweet rolls stuffed with chocolate, topped with white chocolate cream cheese frosting, and sprinkled with peppermint bark. Perfect Christmas breakfast!

My 9 month energy burst has officially hit. I want to clean, clean, clean which is tough since, you know, hi big belly. The urge to clean is so bad that I’ve actually started going through the thousands of photos stored on my computer. And lucky for you, I’ve found a few food pictures that I had forgotten about.

This is one of our favorite sides and I had completely forgotten about it in my pregnancy haze. I used to make it anytime I made enchiladas, burritos, anything like that. I don’t know how authentic it is but I’m a fan of anything with lots of cumin.

It’s especially tasty with shrimp enchiladas.

Mexican Rice
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 onion finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and chopped
  • 1 to mato seeded and chopped
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon cumin depending on your taste
  • salt and pepper
  1. Bring broth to boil in a medium sauce pan. Add rice, onion, jalapeno, and tomato. Season with bouillon cube, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to low. Let simmer for about 20 minutes.