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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Cheese · comfort food · dinner · easy · mushrooms · squash · vegetarian · Yummy

Farro Squash Risotto

Last weekend I went to this amazing Asian market in Minneapolis called United Noodles. A friend of mine had been meaning to take me there since he found out about my mochi obsession a few months ago. So we made an afternoon of it. As we walked into the store, he immediately grabbed a cart by the front door. Assuming we’d just grab a few snacks, I asked, “Do you really think that’s necessary?” He just gave me a look that said, “Who are we fucking kidding,” while silently pushing the cart into a goddamn candy store for adults. My eyes widened at the array of novelty snacks in whimsical packaging.

The first section we stopped at had Hawaiian macadamia nuts covered in chocolate, along with a selection of Hawaiian coffee. WHY DID I EVEN BUY SOUVENIRS IN HAWAII? It was a whole production just to get me to decide on what to purchase. Then the motherfucking TSA made me take all that shit out of my tightly packed carry-on. That carry-on was filled to the fucking brim. I was pissed. It was a goddamn Tetris game getting all my shit in there, and they wanted me to unpack? Then it took them 20 fucking minutes to make sure I didn’t hide a bomb in my snacks. I left my janky-ass hair dryer behind for this shit. I could have gone to United Noodles this whole time. Except for the fact that I’m a terrible liar, and know that I would immediately tell all my friends where I purchased their fraudulent swag. I would hand it to them with a look of guilt on my face before declaring, “It’s a LIE,” with my head hanging low.

So we pass the Hawaiian section, where I made a mental note of their price for pink Hawaiian sea salt ($5.99), and walked into the aisle full of ramen. Now, I grew up with instant ramen just like anyone else, but we only had one brand option with 3-4 flavors to choose from. This was an entire aisle of various brands, flavors, sauce options, etc. My friend started pointing out his favorites, explaining the different sauces and such. I grabbed two to try, but wasn’t that amped about it. He threw handfuls into the cart.

I was sending a video to Cortney in the middle of this store full of people, trying to share my Asian market experience. My friend turned a corner and I followed, with my nose in my phone as I sent Cortney a quick text. I heard him say my name, so I looked up. He was standing smugly with his arms crossed, nodding to his right. I looked across from him to the case of fucking mochi ice cream standing before me. My jaw dropped. HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS? I turned into an unsupervised toddler in a candy store. There was no shame at all as I shoveled the mochi into our cart both in this aisle, and in the regular mochi aisle. We literally grabbed novelty ice cream treats that didn’t have a word on English on them, and no photo. WE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THEY WERE.

The snacks were cheap as shit and we still managed to spend nearly $50. They had PLUM WINE mochi ice cream. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? I also purchased cookies and cream mochi ice cream, which tastes like a motherfucking marshmallow.

Happiness is a good Asian market in the middle of the northern midwest.

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I have been meaning to learn how to cook farro. It finally happened when I got one of those Hello Fresh meal kits last month. This recipe uses it instead of the traditional arborio rice. It’s a little nuttier, and has a chewier consistency. I added butternut squash because ’tis the season, plus some mushrooms and spinach because duh, why wouldn’t I?

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Farro Squash Risotto

1 1/2 cups farro

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed

6-8 button mushrooms, sliced

1/4 to 1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons butter

6 cups veggie stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 leaves of fresh sage, minced

3 cups baby spinach

Black pepper

1 cup grated parmesan

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)

Take one cup of the squash and toss with olive oil on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes (start about halfway through cooking everything else).

In a large pot, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the onion, mushrooms, and 1 cup of the squash, sauteing for about 5 minutes. Throw in the garlic and sage and cook for another minute. Stir in the farro, fulling coating it with the butter. Add the wine and cook for about 2 minutes (while also pouring a glass for yourself). Pour in 2 cups of the stock, along with the black pepper. Stir well and let simmer (increasing heat to medium-high) for 5-10 minutes, until the farro soaks up most of the liquid. Once it’s starting to dry out, add in another 2 cups of stock. Again, wait until it starts to dry out before adding the last 2 cups. Stir occasionally. When it looks like it’s almost done (should be creamy, not soupy), fold in the spinach. Continue simmering until it’s thick and creamy. Slowly stir in the parmesan. Serve with a fresh sprinkling of parmesan, some fresh sage to garnish, and a tablespoon or two of fresh pumpkin seeds for added crunch.

This shit tastes like fancy-ass mac and cheese. Have a glass of white wine with it. Then finished with a mochi ice cream.

 

 

comfort food · gluten free · lunch · potatoes · quick · shopping · sides · vacation · vegetarian

Homemade Mashed Potatoes and Vacation Brain

I’m going on vacation today, but my brain has been turned off for at least 2 days. It makes everything more difficult. My patience is wearing thin (and, let’s be real, it’s not great to begin with). I was up late last night frantically packing, because it’s impossible for me to plan ahead. I also insisted upon going to an acro jam, because apparently I wanted to have even less time to pack. And I showed up late to the jam (which, if you don’t know, is just a term for acro people getting together and doing acro for a few hours without a teacher), because I was starving to death. I made mashed potatoes at the last minute, which is silly because it’s not really an on-the-go type of food.

I also ended up going to MOA (for those that aren’t cool and live in MN, that stands for Mall of America) after work last night to return a swimsuit that I purchased online last week. I think I’ve complained about this before, but what is the fucking deal with plus size swimsuits(or is it all of them?)? I ordered one from Torrid with these cute little pink details and a much needed underwire… only to find that it won’t even remotely accommodate my chest. I even tried it on in a bigger size in the store, and technically it fit… but fuuuuck. I was going to have a nip slip for sure, and I don’t need that kind of stress in my life. Fuck that shit. I’m all for a sexy, low-cut look… but I also intend to be swimming and snorkeling. I need to feel secure in my swimsuit. I’m sick of all the stores carrying the some shitty styles in plus size. Like, no, I do NOT want a fucking halter top. Why is this the most common option? Can you even comprehend how heavy my breasts are? That skinny ass fucking strap is cutting into my neck. It’s horrible. And even this one that I purchased last week, which was supposedly made for my body type, is completely impractical. I was literally going to fall out the top of it, and then to make matters worse, there were padded inserts to help push me further out of the top. What. The. Fuck.

Anyway, I did end up finding something I like, but the whole experience was a pain in the ass. I’m just glad it’s not a halter and that it doesn’t have a fucking skirt attached. Stop trying to hide my body. Fuck.

While I’m so excited about all the amazing things I’ll be doing while on this vacation, one of the most exciting parts of it for me is that I will get to turn my brain off for a bit. I’m fucking exhausted. For 2 whole weeks I won’t have to worry about bills, chores, work, or (most importantly) dating. I don’t have to fucking overthink anything, or analyze intentions. I just get to fucking relax and have fun. This trip is so needed right now. And I will get to spend time with a handful of my favorite people, which just makes it even better. Plus, I’ll get to eat mochi every single day in Hawaii.

So these mashed potatoes (is it still plural when it’s just one potato?), like I said, were made on a whim when I was starving last night. I was really craving french fries, but you know, you can’t always have what you want. I’m a big fan of leaving the skin on for mashed potatoes (my mom always says that’s where all the nutrients are), but you’re welcome to peel yours first. I live alone, so I usually only boil and mash one lone potato. It works out really well, because that one potato fluffs up to double it’s size! Try it out. Making mashed potatoes for one doesn’t have to be considered “too much effort.” It’s really easy, actually. Besides, you’re worth the extra effort.

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Homemade Mashed Potatoes

1 large russet potato, unpeeled (but remove all the growths on it, because we all know it’s been sitting in your cabinet for weeks)

1.5 tablespoons butter

A large splash of half and half or milk (~1/4 cup)

Salt and pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil. You only need enough water to fully cover the potatoes. While waiting for the water to boil, wash your potato and chop up into 1-2″ cubes. Once water starts boiling, throw in the potatoes (Carefully! Splashing boiling water is no joke!). I suppose you could just put the potatoes in before boiling the water, but I like to live on the edge. Let boil for about 10-15 minutes (until soft – you’ll know by stabbing a cube with a fork, lifting it out of the water, and it falls right off). Drain and place back into the same pot. Add butter and start to mash with a potato masher. I like to wait until the butter is mostly melted before adding the half and half. Start with a small splash of half and half and mash a bit more. If it’s still too thick, add some more. Continue adding half and half until it’s the consistency you like, and then add some salt and pepper. Taste as you go. You’ll need more salt than pepper, but pepper can be a nice touch.

You could also top this with some green onion, or add in some cooked mushrooms and garlic. Roasted garlic is always good with mashed potatoes, too. But I kept mine simple last night, mostly for a lack of time. Serve with whatever the fuck you want. I did a fake chicken patty and some arugula, because that’s all I had lying around. I wouldn’t judge you at all for serving it with nothing. Just eat that shit right out of the pan while watching some Netflix if it makes you happy. Fuck going out and socializing.