Christmas Cranberry Bread


My office had a holiday potluck recently and I made some cranberry bread to take with me. I’d discovered a recipe on pinterest for an amazing looking cranberry pistachio bread and wanted to make it but it was really involved. More than I wanted to do on a Thursday night at 8pm. So I found a similar recipe that was a little more simple. Here it is:

I mixed everything in the Kitchenaid mixer (I love this thing) and then poured it into the mini loaf pan that I have. Using that instead of a regular sized pan I got 3 loaves of the bread out of it. The only change I made to the recipe was using the Splenda Blend instead of regular sugar.


Using the Splenda blend I got calories down to around 135 each slice. I baked the bread for less time than the recipe called because the loaves were smaller. The recipe called for a glaze, as well. I skipped that for a few reasons. It was late in the evening and I didn’t want to do it and I honestly don’t think glazes or frosting add a lot to a recipe except for calories!



How was the bread? It was really good! It was dense, not dry but dense. I think next time I make this I’d use plain Greek yogurt instead of vegetable oil, and maybe a little applesauce. I liked the mild flavor. There was a touch of sweetness from the cranberries and apple chunks but it was mild. It would be a great recipe for someone trying to watch their sugar intake.

Since I made the mini loaves, I had an extra one that I ended up taking to a friend’s house for her holiday party.


Every few years she throws a house warming/holiday party and then we all go and walk along Peacock Lane. Peacock Lane is a short residential street in SE Portland that gets all decked out for Christmas. It’s actually a requirement for the homeowners to decorate!

Since the 1920s, each house in this quaint southeast neighborhood has been decorating for Christmas. Mostly Tudors, the houses are adorned with not only beautiful sparkling lights, but also nativity scenes, rotating Christmas trees and stunningly life-like replicas of Santa and Frosty. Be forewarned: this is a very popular Portland tradition and the crowds can get quite thick. It is wise to park several blocks away and walk, rather than drive through the area.

It’s a fun thing to do to get into the Christmas spirit. It’s not really necessary to do it every single year, we generally go every other year or so. So I took a loaf of cranberry bread and a bottle of wine to Sam’s house and we all hung out, eating (she made these turkey meatballs with a BBQ sriracha sauce that was amazing) and drinking before walking down to Peacock Lane.


We had a great time at the party and then a bunch of us walked down to Peacock Lane. With Bella! It was raining pretty hard but we still had a good time (and got totally soaked).

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Bella did a great job! There were so many people that I think she was overwhelmed and so she didn’t bark at anyone. It was great!

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My cousin Anna and her friend came to the party and they walked Peacock Lane with us. It was fun! We chatted, they snuck a little adult beverage in non-see through cups and shared with us as we tromped around in the pouring rain looking at Christmas lights. 🙂

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I’m so proud of Bella! She’s really growing up. She’s not freaked out by strangers as much anymore and I’m excited to be able to take her more places and not worry about her being scared of everything that moves. Anyways, we went back to Sam’s house after walking Peacock Lane, soaked through and through, said our goodbyes and called it a night. All of us were very very soaked. My jacket is still drying out.

Spiced Banana Bread

A few days ago when I borrowed Michael’s car to commute to work (his car has a bike rack)  I sent him this text: “Why does your car smell like bananas?” He had no idea and it was a very strong smell. Neither of us could figure it out. Then on the drive home I discovered a bag of bananas. Ooops…they were the ones I’d bought the week before and forgot about. They were clearly not going to be eaten by me so I decided to make some banana bread with them. I consulted Twitter for the best banana bread recipe and Brittany from Eating Bird Food sent me her recipe.


Spiced Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf


  • 1 1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup 2% plain greek yogurt
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, stir.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Thankfully I’d just bought some Greek yogurt at the grocery store. I’m not sure what I could have substituted for the yogurt had I not had it on hand. I decided to use the Splenda Blend that I have instead of sugar. I bought the bag specifically for baking in an attempt to make recipes a little lower in sugar/calories…then I stopped baking for a long time. I recently re-found the Splenda in my cupboard and have been using it instead of straight sugar for various things. I decided to give it a try with this recipe.

The recipe called for 1 cup of sugar, so I used 1/2 a cup of the Splenda Blend.

This was the first time I’ve ever used our Mixer on my own. I had lots of plans with experimenting with the mixer and just never got around to it. Michael wasn’t home either, so I had to figure it out myself. And boy, is a Mixer an AWESOME thing?? The process of baking was suddenly a million times easier.

I used a blend of Whole Wheat flour and Bob’s Red Mill white flour. I also added a tiny bit of nutmeg to the mix.

The Mixer made things so easy that there really wasn’t a whole lot for me to do once I added all the ingredients. Next were the very mushy bananas.

Once everything was mixed well, I added a handful of chocolate chips. It wasn’t part of the recipe but I love chocolate chip banana bread. I figured that substituting the Splenda Blend meant I could add a few chocolate morsels…

But just a few. I baked the loaf for a little longer than the recipe called for because the center was just not cooking as much as the sides of the loaf. After about 50 minutes or so I added foil to the sides of the loaf and left the center open to bake more. Another 15 minutes and it was done.

The whole house smelled so good! Michael got home and said something smelled wonderful. I wondered if he’d even want any of it because he’s not a fan of bananas. But he said that since it smelled so good he’d have to have a piece. And he LOVED it!

After it cooled for a few minutes I sliced off two pieces for us to “sample”–just to make sure it was edible. 😉

The banana bread was delicious, and even better warm with a little bit of butter on it. I normally don’t like nuts in my baked goods but I think adding a layer of chopped walnuts to the top of the dough before baking would be really yummy. And more chocolate chips!

It’s a little higher in calories than I’d prefer but the recipe was delicious. Next time if I have bananas I need to use up I’ll look for a Weight Watcher’s recipe that’s less than this was in calories. I’d also love to find a recipe that I can add some sort of protein too…any ideas?

QUESTION: What’s your favorite “loaf” dessert?