baking · breakfast · brunch · cake · Christmas · comfort food · dessert · easy · Holiday recipes · potluck food · quick · snacks · vegetarian · Yummy

Cranberry Orange Bread for Christmas

I struggle hard with gift giving. There are very rare occasions that I really nail it… but it’s almost never on someone’s birthday or around Christmas. This year I agonized over presents for my family. My mom always tells me not to get her anything (classic). So I’m left guessing. I know she genuinely doesn’t care what I get her, but I have to get her something. I mean, she gave me life.

I have to be very honest here… I literally almost got her nothing. This is not a proud statement for me. I kind of just threw my hands in the air on Christmas Eve and yelled, “FUCK IT,” startling my cat and probably several neighbors. But then I got to thinking about it, and I remember that not everyone is like me. Some people like knick knacks and nonsensical pretty things. So I went to one of my favorite little shops with a certain someone who was able to finally help me make a decision. I wandered through the whole store bitching and moaning (honestly, I don’t know how he was able to put up with me) that she wouldn’t like any of it. He held up shawls and scarves. I scoffed and pouted as I continually elbowed my way through the crowds of other panicked daughters. We walked into the kitchen area where he suggested a cookbook. Sighhhh. She doesn’t really cook much – not from new recipes anyway. And she’s not a new kitchen gadget kind of person. It just ends up frustrating her, and then she asks what was wrong with the way she was already doing the thing that the gadget is supposed to make easier. “How about this?” he asked, holding up a tea steeper in the shape of an adorable animal. But she doesn’t like tea. Or coffee. I honestly thought about getting her a case of Tab (yes, in fact, it is 1976), but she flies back to Florida next week. Also, seems kind of impersonal. I was about to give up when he said something along the lines of, “She doesn’t care. She’ll love whatever you give her,” while holding a pretty candle holder that had a forest pattern on it when lit, and I was convinced. The madness was over.

My love language is acts of service. I mostly want to feed people to show I care. I want to help them with a problem, support them when they’re struggling, help them paint their new apartment, or move into a new place. That’s how I show love. That’s what comes most naturally to me. Gift giving is hard because I want everything I give to be meaningful – because I really want to be of service. Turns out gift giving doesn’t have to be that serious, and I just need to calm the fuck down sometimes. Shit. Like, what’s the big deal? Buy someone a candle and move the fuck on.

Also, who are those people that purchase the perfect gift whenever they happen to find it and then hoard it until that person’s birthday or Christmas? HOW DO I BECOME YOU?

I made this bread along with some pumpkin bread to give my family as well. Because let’s be real – I’m never going to stop feeding people.

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Cranberry Orange BreadIMG_20171223_130506

For the bread:

1 cup cranberries – fresh, frozen, dried (or a combo – I did mostly fresh and a handful of dried)

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg (at room temp… place into a warm cup of water for 5 minutes if you forget to set it out)

1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup buttermilk (Don’t have it? Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to regular milk.)

1/3 cup vegetable/canola/coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons orange zest

 

For the crumble top:

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into cubes

 

For the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice (I used the juice from the orange I “zested” for the bread)

As much orange zest as you like!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan (or several mini loaf pans!) and set aside. You’ll want to make the crumble top first and set it in the fridge, just so it’s all ready to top the batter.

For the crumble top:

Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium to small mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter in with a pastry cutter (for the fancy folks), a couple of forks (I found that to be impossible), or your hands (this is easiest!) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set in the fridge.

For the bread:

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add in the cranberries and set aside. In another bowl, mix the egg with the brown and white sugars until smooth. Whisk in buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and orange zest. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing gently but thoroughly. No lumps allowed! The recipe says to not over-mix… not sure what happens if you do. Try not to fuck it up.

Pour the batter into grease pan(s) and cover with the crumble top, pressing it lightly into the batter. Bake for 45-60 minutes (the smaller pans need less time, so check them after 35 minutes).

For the glaze:

Whisk all ingredients together. Boom. Done. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan(s) and drizzling the glaze over the top.

Give these to everyone for Christmas/Birthdays/etc. Or just eat them all by yourself. Fuck it.

comfort food · dinner · easy · gravy · Holiday recipes · lunch · mushrooms · potatoes · quick · Sauces · sides · thanksgiving · vegetarian · Yummy

Mushroom Herb Gravy and Car Shopping

Holy fuck you guys. I bought a new car just in the nick of time. It’s a fucking winter wonderland out there, and I am fully prepared with a car that has working heat (and a fully functional engine that doesn’t threaten to stop at any given moment). Hallelujah!

I bought a purple Honda Fit, and promptly named her Vivian (“Viv” for short). She and I are in love and plan to live a long and happy life together.

Car shopping is the literal worst. I went to several used car dealerships (I mean, who the fuck is out there buying new cars, and do they also have a room full of money in which they swim?), some of which were 40+ minutes away (that’s a long drive in a car that may or may not die without warning). There was one I found online that had several cars in my price range and also had good Yelp reviews. Perfect. I’m ready and I know what I fucking want. Let’s do this.

I pull up to these two wooden shacks. There’s a small sign that says the name of the dealership, and I can see a bunch of cars parked in a huge dirt parking lot behind them. So I walk into one of the buildings and see several people working at desks. No one offers to help me. After standing around with a look of bewilderment on my face, I finally interrupt one of them, a young woman with fake nails and purple highlights, to ask if someone could help me find a car. She tells me to just walk out to the parking lot – there are salesmen out there. Fantastic. As I walk towards the cars, the wind picks up, blowing dirt and sand into my face. I power on. Once I reach what looks to be a wasteland of damaged vehicles, I scan the area. There is no one out there that looks anything like a salesman. There are two couples looking at cars, one of which is asking questions of a man in dirty jeans and a hooded sweatshirt that is driving around in a golf cart. Dirty jeans. Hooded sweatshirt. A GOLF CART.

Am I at a house party in the country? What is happening here?

Dirty jeans man is, in fact, an employee. And he’s not alone! He helps direct me to a second dirty jeans man with his very own golf cart as well. Perfect. Drive me around this piece of shit lot and find me a car that isn’t covered in hail damage. K. Thanks.

Dirty jeans man #2 proceeds to tell me (while he takes me for a golf cart ride) that all the cars on the lot are salvaged. Most of them were purchased at auction and are from floods. Wonderful. He also takes me back to the office with rude purple highlights lady and tells me that I have to look through this huge book that lists all the cars on the lot. Once I find one I like, I should then find a dirty jeans man to drive me (in the golf cart) to said car.

I did not buy a car from them.

Since I was in the area, I opted to check out another dealership. This one only had one employee that I could see. He was a gruff old man that was also poorly dressed. When I walked into the lobby, he was in an office off to the side helping someone else. As that costumer left, he yelled, “Come in,” as though I was a misbehaving child being called into the principal’s office. I tentatively sat down and stated that I was looking for a used car. He asked what I was looking for specifically. I confidently stated, “Honda Civic or Fit with under 130,000 miles for less than $5,000.” At this point I already had my eye on Viv, but wanted to shop around. He let out a chuckle and condescendingly stated, “Oh, honey. You’re not gonna find nothin’ like that. Not for that price.”

I stood up and said, “I already have! But great! Thanks!”

It was a 30 second interaction. I’m proud of myself for not murdering anyone.

The whole thing ended with me getting a very fair deal on Craigslist from an older couple that was just fucking lovely. They also wore clean jeans, which is nice.

I made this gravy for Thanksgiving and it was a hit (with me and one other person, but we have good taste). It’s cold as fuck outside, and that means it’s goddamn gravy season. Am I right?! So throw this together in 20 minutes to help warm up your insides.

 

Mushroom Herb Gravy

8 oz white button mushrooms, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons butter or oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups veggie broth

1 sprig rosemary

1 tablespoon sage (minced fresh or dried)

Salt and pepper

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic plus salt and pepper and cook for another minute or two. Make sure the moisture from the mushrooms has completely evaporated. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine. While frequently stirring, allow mixture to cook for another 3-4 minutes. Let the flour toast slightly, turning a golden brown. Whisk in the broth, making sure to fully incorporate it with the flour (no lumps!). Throw in the rosemary (whole) and the sage. Stir well and allow to simmer for 7-10 minutes, or until desired consistency. Remove sprig of rosemary.

Pour that shit on everything. I scooped it onto some fried potatoes, wilted Swiss charge, and then topped it with an egg (see below).

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comfort food · easy · Holiday recipes · potluck food · sides · Stuffing · thanksgiving · vegetarian · Yummy

Vegetarian Stuffing

I spent my Thanksgiving watching the parade, drinking champagne, playing Sorry, drinking more champagne, cooking awesome food, eating awesome food, and oh, did I mention drinking champagne? And then we ended it with cake! Best. Day. Ever.

And I fucking cooked Thanksgiving dinner. I mean, minus the turkey, obviously. But still! It was a success. And this recipe from Buzzfeed was shockingly easy and delicious. We were originally planning on making stuffing from a box, but fuck that shit. For some reason, I was under the impression that stuffing is complicated to make. Not the case! It’s basically savory bread pudding. Why didn’t I realize this?

I know that looks like meat, but it’s actually vegan Korean BBQ “ribs.” I was feelin’ fancy, so I picked some up at the Herbivorous Butcher for fucking $12.99/lb. FML.

I am a carb lover at heart. When I was a child, I would routinely eat an entire sleeve of Toasteds crackers and then lie about it (I especially loved them slathered in easy cheese, but try not to judge me). It comes as no surprise that stuffing is my very favorite Thanksgiving food. I usually eat it for breakfast the next day (or several days), which always appalled my sister. Since I love bread so much, and because I didn’t actually know what I was doing, I ripped the bread into somewhat large chunks for this recipe. You don’t have to do that, but you’re missing out if you don’t. The larger chunks held onto SO much flavor without becoming mushy. It was chewy and comforting, just like stuffing should be, but I ended up having to individually spear some of the bread pieces with my fork, having to bite off half of it at a time. This is not a bad problem to have, and I still highly recommend the larger chunks. Especially for dipping them into your eggs in the morning when all you want for breakfast is stuffing, but you figure you better add an egg to it to make it “real” breakfast! I also added cooked spinach and Swiss chard to it, because I figured I needed a vegetable, too. See? You can make stuffing for breakfast seem completely balanced and normal.

Side note: Turns out I hate cranberry sauce. I mean, what is it’s point? To make literally everything on the plate tart and fruity? WHY? I just want to add it to a peanut butter sandwich and move on with my life. Stop trying to taint my food, cranberry sauce. Fuck.

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Vegetarian Stuffing (originally a Buzzfeed recipe, which shocked me)

1 loaf crusty, white bread

4 stalks celery, diced

1 large onion, diced

6 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon rosemary, minced

2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups veggie broth

Salt and pepper

Tear the bread up into smallish (bite-sized) chunks and spread out on a baking sheet. Let it sit out for at least 6 hours (or overnight) until it becomes stale (this way it won’t turn to mush when we add all the other good stuff). If it’s time to start cooking, and you realize you forgot to dry out the bread, that’s okay! Just throw it in the oven at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Throw in the celery and onion (plus a little salt and pepper) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, sage, and rosemary and continue to cook for an additional few minutes, stirring frequently. In another bowl, whisk the eggs with a big splash of the broth. We need to slowly bring the eggs up to the correct temperature, so they don’t scramble when added to the mixture. Whisk them well with a bit of broth, then add a bit more, eventually adding all of the broth little by little. If your broth is low sodium, add a little salt and pepper here. If not, just add a little black pepper. Place the dried bread into a large mixing bowl, and pour all other ingredients over the top. Mix well, making sure all the bread gets coated. Buzzfeed says to be “gentle but firm,” which is fucking perfect. Isn’t that just great advice for everything in life?

Throw all that shit into a 9×13 baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 30ish minutes at 425 before uncovering. Then bake for another 15 minutes until it gets golden brown. This serves about 6, but is super fucking delicious, so maybe only 4. If you didn’t share it with anyone, and made it on a random Wednesday in May, I would 100% understand.