Thanksgiving Menu and To Do List

Thanksgiving Table

November 2017 Update: It’s been a long while since I posted. Life is busy, good busy, but busy; we have two in high school, one in middle school and a 77lb puppy who thinks she’s a lap dog. My passion for cooking and all things food related still runs strong (not to worry- we are eating over here at White House Red Door!), but finding the time to sit down to document recipes and edit photos seems to be elusive at the moment. I’m hoping to make carving out time for the blog a priority in the new year.

As I was wrapping my head around Thanksgiving prep, I pulled up this blog post. Immediately, a feeling a calm enveloped me… the day to day planning, core recipes, and to do list set my mind at ease. I’m reposting in the hope that it helps you too.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving!                                         ~Jean

Throughout November, I’ve posted some of our traditional family Thanksgiving recipes. You may have noticed that there are no appetizers. This is not without thought, we have so much food for dinner, that I don’t want people to fill up beforehand! We’ll have a few nibbles out…  nuts and a “relish tray.” It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without one.Celery, Olives, and Pistachios

At our house, a relish tray is simply a small platter of olives and celery sticks lying side by side; the celery sticks bathing in the salty brine of the olives. Every year my mom would set the tray on the dining room table before anything else. The grown-ups would walk by in passing and grab an olive or celery stick.

Cranberry Pineapple Sauce
Cranberry Pineapple Sauce

As a child I thought this was incredibly sophisticated, and by default, if I ate the olives and celery I, too, would be incredibly sophisticated- braces and all. I willed myself to eat the green olives stuffed with pimento, chasing them down with celery. A fake grin pasted on my face, I proudly showed my younger sister and brothers that I was well on my to adulthood. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I actually enjoyed the relish tray, the crunch of the celery alongside the saltiness of the chilled olives is terrific and definitely whets the appetite. So I will continue the tradition, setting out a tray of my own. The kids will reach for it when they’re ready, a culinary right of passage.

Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing
Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing

Do you set out appetizers? Or, is it all about the main event and desserts?

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie
Sweet Potato Meringue Pie

Happy Thanksgiving from White House Red Door!

Apple Cream Pie dusted with powdered sugar.
Apple Cream Pie

Thanksgiving 2015

  • Servings: varies
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Ingredients:
Turkey- this year my husband will be cooking the bird on his Big Green Egg. In previous years the turkey has been fried or roasted in the oven. This is the first time doing the turkey on the Egg, I’ll let you know how it goes!
Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Candied Yams
Green Beans with Almonds
Peas with Sautéed Mushrooms and Roasted Red Peppers
Creamed Onions
Cranberry Pineapple Sauce
Apple Cream Pie
Sweet Potato Pie with Maple Meringue

Instructions:
Monday:
* Make cranberry pineapple sauce
Tuesday:
* Cube bread for stuffing and allow to dry overnight.
Wednesday:
* Brine turkey
* Make stuffing
* Make pecan graham cracker crust for sweet potato pie
* Roast sweet potatoes for pie and puree
* Roast sweet potatoes for candied yams and slice
* Prepare topping for candied yams- chopped pecans, brown sugar, and butter
* Sauté mushrooms and dice roasted red peppers for peas
* Toast silvered almonds for green beans
* Set table
* Organize and label serving platters/pieces
Thursday:
* Cook turkey
* Make apple cream pie (morning)
* Finish sweet potato pie (morning)
* Make creamed onions (morning- stove top)
* Make mashed potatoes (afternoon-stove top)
* Finish candied yams (afternoon- oven)
 *Finish green beans and peas (afternoon- stove top)
* Have a drink!

Longevity Noodles

Longevity Noodles in serving dish with chopsticks

Noodles have long been a part of Chinese cuisine. In fact, back in 2005, a bowl of 4,000 year old noodles was unearthed at an archeological site in northwest China. On birthdays and during Chinese New Year celebrations, Longevity Noodles are often served; the longer the noodle the better, and to be able to eat the noodle without cutting or biting ensures an even better, longer life. This Longevity Noodle recipe comes from Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, a chef and author of 11 Chinese cookbooks.

Tip: The fresh egg noodles are quickly cooked, then rinsed and drained. It’s important that the noodles are drained well, the drier the strands, the better they will absorb the sauce at the end.

Tip: Once you start stir-frying, the recipe comes together very quickly, literally in minutes. Have everything prepped and ready to go; even the sauce should be made in advance so that all you have to do is pour it in.

The Longevity Noodles can be enjoyed on their own or as part of a larger meal. They would be wonderful with grilled chicken, shrimp, or tofu. We enjoyed the dish as is, adding a squeeze of Sriracha and a dash of extra soy sauce at the table.

Wishing you a wonderful Year of the Monkey and best wishes for a long and healthy life!

Longevity Noodles in serving dish with chopsticks

Longevity Noodles

  • Servings: 4
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*slightly adapted recipe by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo for Food & Wine

Ingredients:
2 quarts water
5 oz mung bean sprouts
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ lb fresh Chinese egg noodles
¼ low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 Tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
One ¼ inch thick slice of fresh ginger, lightly smashed
4 oz snow peas
6 canned water chestnuts, sliced ¼ inch thick

Instructions:
Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Put bean sprouts in a strainer, lower into the boiling water and blanch for 10 seconds. Remove the strainer and rinse the sprouts in cold water; drain well.

Add salt to the water in the sauce and bring back to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Drain the noodles thoroughly in a colander and rinse them in cold water and drain. Rinse again, then drain, lifting them carefully to separate and dry the strands.

In a small bowl combine the chicken stock with the soy sauce and sesame oil to make the sauce.

Warm a large skillet or wok over high heat for 45 seconds. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat the skillet. Stir in the ginger and cook for 10 seconds. Add the snow peas and stir-fry until bright green, about 1 minute. Add the water chestnuts and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the bean sprouts and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Stir the sauce, then add it to the skillet and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and stir-fry until they absorb the sauce, about 2 minutes. Transfer noodles to a platter and serve immediately with Sriracha and soy sauce for passing.

Longevity noodle ingredients: noodles, bean sprouts, snow peas, water chestnuts, ginger, peanut oil, soy sauce, chicken stock, and sesame oil.
Prep and gather all your ingredients, including making the sauce. This recipe comes together in minutes, so it’s important to have everything at the ready.
Blanching bean sprouts
Blanch the bean sprouts for 10 seconds. Remove strainer from water and rinse sprouts under cold water. Drain well.
Peanut oil in skillet
Warm a skillet or wok over high heat for 45 seconds. Add peanut oil and swirl to coat pan.
Add ginger to skillet
Add ginger and cook for 10 seconds.
Adding snow peas to skillet
Add snow peas and stir-fry until bright green, about 1 minute.
Adding water chestnuts to skillet.
Add the sliced water chestnuts, and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
Adding bean sprouts to skillet
Add the bean sprouts, and stir-fry for 1 minute.
Adding sauce to skillet
Stir the sauce, add it to the wok and bring to a boil.
Adding noodles to the skillet
Add the noodles and stir-fry until they absorb the sauce, about 2 minutes.

Longevity Noodles in skillet

Longevity Noodles in skillet

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup in serving bowl

Happy Chinese New Year! Monday, February 8th marks the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Monkey. Billions, that’s right, billions(!) of people are expected to travel within China over the next couple of weeks. It really is a mass migration as people go home to celebrate this holiday with their families. And when families get together over holidays, there is sure to be delicious food.

Bowl of Clementines

The foods associated with Chinese New Year are very symbolic and are meant to bring good fortune, longevity, and happiness. Oranges and tangerines are often displayed and eating them is said to bring prosperity and luck. The Chinese words for gold and orange sound alike, and the word for tangerine is similar to the word for luck.

Red Snapper

Another play on words is associated with fish. The Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for abundance. Fish is often on the menu for the Chinese New Year, and is served whole signifying a good beginning and ending to the New Year. To serve two fish is even better, one on New Year’s Eve and the other offered on New Year’s Day, guaranteeing good fortune year after year.

Red Snapper

One of my favorite Chinese dishes (New Year’s or not) is Hot and Sour Soup. Unfortunately, so many restaurant versions are too thick and viscous, almost coming off as slimy, victims of cornstarch added by a heavy hand. This homemade version is infinitely tastier. Instead of cornstarch to thicken the soup, eggs are whisked in to add body without muddling the bright tangy flavor of the vinegar or heat of the pepper. Ground pork is not traditional, but is faster than roasted pork. The original recipe comes from Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery and Myers and Chang restaurant in Boston. I’ve cut the ground pork in half, and doubled the amount mushrooms. You can easily make this completely vegetarian by eliminating the pork all together and using a vegetable broth instead of chicken stock. You’re in complete control of the tanginess and the heat, both quickly adjusted to your taste by ramping up or toning down the rice vinegar and Sriracha sauce.

Now, I’m off to make Longevity Noodles. The key is not to cut the noodles… the longer the noodle, the longer your life. Will post Friday!

Hot and Sour Soup in serving bowl

Hot and Sour Soup

  • Servings: 4
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adapted from Flour, Too by Joanne Chang

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
1 Tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger (about 1 ½ inch piece of ginger)
4 scallions, white and green parts, minced, set aside 2 Tablespoons sliced for garnish
4 oz ground pork
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 lb block firm tofu, (not silken or extra firm) cut into ½ inch cubes
8-10 medium button mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2/3 cup rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon Sriracha sauce
2 large eggs

Instructions:
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and ground pork and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. Break the pork into smaller pieces, but don’t worry about breaking it down completely. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.

Add the tofu, mushrooms, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce and bring the soup back to a simmer over medium high heat. (Taste the soup. If you want it hotter, add more Sriracha; if you want it more sour, add more vinegar.)

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. With the soup at a steady simmer, slowly whisk in the eggs so they form strands. Bring the soup back to a simmer. Divide the soup among four bowls and garnish each with a sprinkling of scallions. Serve immediately. The soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Hot and Sour Soup ingredients on cutting board
Prep your Hot and Sour Soup ingredients: garlic, ginger, scallions, ground pork, chicken stock, tofu, mushrooms, sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha, and eggs.
Ground pork, garlic, ginger, and scallions in a saucepan
In large saucepan heat oil over medium high heat. Add garlic, ginger, scallions, and ground pork. Cook for 1 minute, breaking up pork, but not completely breaking it down. You want some chunks.
Adding chicken stock to ground pork, garlic, ginger, and scallions
Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
Adding tofu to soup
Add the tofu…
Add mushrooms to soup
Add the mushrooms…
Adding sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha to soup
Add sugar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha (I had all these ingredients in one bowl, as I knew they would be going in all at once).
Adding rice vinegar to soup
Add the rice vinegar and bring the soup back to a simmer over medium high heat.
hot and sour soup in saucepan
Bring soup back to a simmer.
Hot and Sour Soup garnished with scallions in serving bowl
Garnish with scallions and serve immediately.

Homemade Gifts

Candied Peanuts

We are all so busy nowadays and quickly grabbing something from the store is an efficient and easy way to tick the boxes off your gift giving to do list;  you’ll get no argument from me!  But that’s what makes homemade gifts so special, taking the time to make something from scratch and presenting it to someone who also has a lot on their plate (no pun intended!). Think about teachers, neighbors, friends, hostesses, as well as those who help keep our worlds moving smoothly, like school bus drivers and postmen.  Those people (and their families) will appreciate the time spent creating thoughtful gifts for them.

Christmas is naturally a wonderful season to share homemade presents with those around us.  But these gifts work well all year round, anytime you would like to say “thank you” or just brighten someone’s day.  My passion lies in the kitchen, so baking gifts is where I turn. Your strength may lie in photography, flower arranging, knitting, crafting, gardening, etc.  If you’re able to, please consider sharing your talents!

Below are some of my favorite homemade gifts to give… nothing exotic, over the top, or containing hard to find ingredients. But, they are all heartfelt and give me great joy to share.

Granola in mason jars.
Maple Nut Granola
A jar of homemade mulling spices.
Mulling Spices
Candied Peanuts
Candied Peanuts
Cranberry Nut Bread- sliced on a cutting board
Cranberry Nut Bread
Dark Chocolate Bark on a silver tray.
Dark Chocolate Bark

Aunt Annie’s Plum Duff (Plum Pudding)

Plum Pudding with holly sprig

Plum Pudding is a traditional Christmas dessert and very common in Two plum puddings decorated with holly sprigs.England and Ireland. For Americans, the name itself is rather confusing as this dessert contains neither plums nor is it a pudding in the Jell-O sense of the word. The “plums” are actually a pre-Victorian term for raisins and pudding is a reference to dessert in general. Some compare plum pudding to fruit cake, but I respectfully disagree. My family’s plum pudding is not heavy and dense like a fruitcake. It is light in texture, but very rich in flavor; heady with cinnamon, cloves, mace, and brandy.  Served with a dollop of chilled hard sauce which begins melting as soon as it hits the warm pudding… it’s like tasting Christmas.

As I discovered during research, plum pudding has a lot of history. Dating back to medieval times, it is a steamed or boiled cake traditionally made on the Sunday before Advent begins. This generous lead time (and a bit of brandy) allows the cake to “ripen” during the weeks before Christmas. In addition to raisins, the cake contains nuts, breadcrumbs, sugar, suet, eggs, milk, brandy, and spices. The highlight of Christmas dinner, the pudding is steamed again to warm through, doused with more brandy, topped with a sprig of holly and set ablaze just as it’s presented to guests.

My family’s plum pudding recipe dates back over 100 years. Aunt Annie, born in the 1880s, was my grandmother’s aunt. Though I don’t know where she got the recipe, I do know that my grandmother made it Two plum pudding moldsthroughout my father’s childhood, and then passed the recipe on to my mother, who continues to make it to this day. The handwritten recipe from my grandmother refers to the pudding as “Aunt Annie’s Plum Duff.” It seems that centuries ago, the pudding would have been steamed or boiled in cloth, but during the Victorian era the cloth was replace by pudding molds. That said, modern recipes for “duff” do exist and usually instruct the reader to boil the pudding in cloth rather than “pudding” recipes that use a mold. Perhaps my great great aunt originally boiled her pudding in cloth? Unfortunately, I’ll never know. What I do know is that my grandmother steamed her puddings in coffee cans lined with buttered wax paper. And today, I use pudding molds.

This year, the pudding almost didn’t happen. It is getting tougher and IMG_8488tougher to find suet (NOT the kind you get at the garden store to feed the birds). I actually stumbled across some quite by chance at a butcher shop in Boston just a couple of weeks ago. The other ingredients are pretty standard pantry items, and though it’s a two day process, most of the time is hands-off and the technique is very easy. Once the mixture is in the molds, they are steamed for a couple of hours and cooled. After cooling, they are removed from the molds. The molds are washed, the puddings rewrapped in clean parchment, returned to the molds, splashed with more brandy, and tucked away in the fridge until Christmas Day. Before serving, the pudding is steamed again to warm through. Hard Sauce is passed along with it… a creamy combination of butter, confectioners sugar, and- you guessed it, more brandy!

What does it say about me as a child that even then I loved Aunt Annie’s Plum Duff? I knew that this was no ordinary dessert… a generations old recipe, a “cake” steamed in coffee cans on the stove, then steamed again and served with a boozy butter + sugar concoction, plus the whole operation completed a month in advance. This was definitely not happening at my friends’ houses.

I am so grateful for this splattered and tattered heirloom recipe, a direct connection to my past, written in my grandmother’s hand. If you are up for an old fashioned dessert, do try this. You don’t even need to light it on fire… but if you do, please have a fire extinguisher nearby. Safety first!

Aunt Annie’s Plum Duff (Plum Pudding)

  • Servings: 2 puddings
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Ingredients:
2½ cups of raisins
1 cup finely chopped fresh white beef suet (pick apart and remove membrane, then chop)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1½ jiggers brandy (4½ Tablespoons)
4 cups lightly packed breadcrumbs (large loaf of day old bread, crusts removed, and pulled apart)
2 cups milk to which 2 teaspoons baking soda has been added
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup packed brown sugar
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground cloves
¼ teaspoon mace

Instructions:
Combine raisins, suet, walnuts, and brandy. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day-
Butter molds and line with parchment paper.

Combine breadcrumbs, raisin-walnut mixture, milk, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and mace. Mix well.

Carefully spoon pudding mixture into lined molds, filling 2/3 full. Top each with another piece of parchment, then covered with lids. If you have extra pudding, it can be steamed in a buttered mason jar.

Steam in gently simmering water for 2 hours. Maintain water level so that it comes halfway up the sides of the molds.

Serve warm with hard sauce or soft custard sauce.

The pudding can be eaten the same day, but traditionally it is allowed to “ripen” for at least a week, or as long as a year. If you aren’t serving it right away, remove molds from water and allow to cool. Carefully remove puddings from molds, peeling away parchment. Thoroughly wash and dry and molds, then reline with parchment and return puddings to molds. Drizzle a splash of brandy on top of each, cover with additional piece of parchment and place lids on top. Refrigerate until ready to use. Before serving, steam puddings again for 2-3 hours. Serve with hard sauce* or soft custard sauce.

*recipe follows below

Raisins, chopped walnuts, suet, and brandy
Raisins, chopped walnuts, suet, and brandy are ready to mingle.
Raisins, walnuts, suet and brandy mixture
Mix the raisins, walnuts, suet, and brandy. Cover and refrigerate overnight. You’re done for today.
Ingredients laid out for plum pudding.
After the raisins, suet, and walnuts have soaked overnight in brandy,  it’s time to make the pudding.
IMG_8459
Add the breadcrumbs and spices.  Mix well.
Eggs and milk are added to the raisin/walnut mixture.
Add the well beaten eggs and milk (don’t forget to put the 2 teaspoons of baking soda in the milk!)
Pudding mixture is ready to go into the molds.
The pudding mixture is ready for the molds.
Pudding Mixture in Molds
Carefully spoon pudding mixture into parchment lined molds, filling 2/3 of way up.
Parchment paper is place on top of each pudding before steaming.
Place an additional piece of pleated parchment paper on top of each pudding. The pleats allow room for the pudding to expand as it steams.
Plum pudding molds on top of a rack set in boiling water.
Place the molds on a rack set in gently boiling water. The water should come halfway up the sides of the molds. Cover and gently boil for 2 hours. Keep checking water level and replace as needed to maintain a height of halfway up the sides of the molds. In this picture you see a regular mold and a foil topped mason jar. I had a small amount of pudding mixture left over, so I steamed it in a buttered 8oz sized mason jar, rubber banded with foil. The other mold was boiling away in a separate pot.
Plum Pudding after boiling for two hours.
Two hours later…
Plum Pudding after two hours boiling.
the big reveal!
Plum Pudding
Plum Pudding
Two plum puddings decorated with holly sprigs.
Plum Puddings

Hard Sauce

Ingredients:
1½ cups powdered sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
brandy or whisky to taste

Instructions:
Using an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter. Add brandy or whisky to taste.

Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. The hard sauce should be still be cool and firm, but easy enough to scoop.

Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Nuts, Dried Fruit, and Flaky Sea Salt

Dark Chocolate Bark on silver tray.

My grandparents grew up in Ireland and for as long as I can remember my grandmother’s preferred chocolate was Cadbury’s. Among all the Cadbury choices, the Fruit and Nut bar was her favorite. However, it wasn’t always easy to get Cadbury chocolates in the US so she had to find an alternative to satisfy her sweet tooth. Success was achieved when Nanny discovered the Chunky Bar. Do you remember Chunky Bars? They were thick cubes of chocolate studded with nuts and raisins, all wrapped in silver foil.

Dark Chocolate Bark on a silver tray.I’m not sure which came first… did the Fruit and Nut Bar or Chunky Bar inspire this bark, or did the taste memories come flooding back after the first bite? In either case, this treat would definitely meet Nanny’s approval. It’s the perfect blend of a fruit and nut studded candy bar and chocolate bark. Like a candy bar, the sweetness of the dried fruit, partnered with the crunch of the nuts, encased in dark chocolate is such a fantastic combination. Spread thin and topped with more dried fruit and toasted nuts brings it closer to a bark. Sprinkled with sea salt pushes it over the top. Excellent with a glass of red wine after dinner or a quick pick me up mid-day; another option is to leave out a small platter of the bark so that every time you walk by you grab a nibble. Not that I’ve ever done that. No judging here.

Dark chocolate bark with toasted nuts and dried fruit.

Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Nuts, Dried Fruit, and Flaky Sea Salt

  • Servings: about 1 lb
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Ingredients:
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or one 11.5oz bag of bittersweet chocolate chips)
2/3 cup mixed toasted nuts, roughly chopped (such as walnuts, almonds, cashews)
2/3 cup mixed dried fruit (such as raisins, cherries, blueberries, cranberries)
sprinkling of flaked sea salt

Instructions:
Line small baking sheet with foil.

Melt chocolate in heatproof medium sized bowl set over saucepan of simmering water, stirring until melted and smooth.

Stir in half of toasted nuts and half of mixed dried fruit. Pour melted chocolate mixture onto foil, spreading with offset spatula to thickness of scant 1/4 inch.

Scatter remaining nuts and dried fruit over chocolate. Cool slightly. Sprinkle with flaked sea salt.

Chill until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes. Peel off foil and cut bark into irregular pieces.

Chocolate Bark ingredients- dark chocolate chips, toasted nuts, dried fruit, and flaked sea salt.
Four ingredients and 15 minutes is all it takes to make chocolate bark.
Melting chocolate in a double boiler.
Stirring occasionally, melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over simmering water.
Melted chocolate in bowl waiting for toasted nuts and dried fruit to be added.
The chocolate is melted and ready for the toasted nuts and dried fruit.
Stirring toasted nuts and dried fruit into melted chocolate.
Stir in half of the toasted nuts and dried fruit.
Spreading melted chocolate mixture onto foil lined baking sheet.
Using an offset spatula, spread the melted chocolate mixture onto a foil line baking sheet. The chocolate should be about 1/4″ thick.
Topping chocolate bark with remaining nuts and fruit.
While chocolate is still melted, top chocolate bark with remaining toasted nuts and dried fruit. Press lightly to be sure nuts and fruits adhere.
Sprinkling flaky sea salt on top of chocolate bark.
Sprinkle pinch of flaky sea salt on top of the chocolate bark.
Dark chocolate bark cooling.
Chill, allowing chocolate bark to completely cool and harden, about 30 minutes. Break into irregular pieces before serving.

Dark Chocolate Bark on silver tray.

 

 

Cranberry Nut Bread

Cranberry Nut Bread- sliced on a cutting board

Quick post today. It’s a busy time of year for everybody… school concerts, Nutcracker performances, decorating the house and tree, sending cards, shopping for gifts, and events every weekend. It’s incredibly easy to become overwhelmed and miss the magic and beauty that is Christmas… the twinkling lights, carols being sung, and the warm spicy scent of pine. When I do feel like I’m becoming engulfed in the frenzy, I escape to the kitchen, put on some Christmas music and start baking… nothing elaborate though, believe me! You will not find homemade gingerbread houses or meticulously cut out and decorated cookies worthy of the front cover of a magazine. I’m more of drop or roll cookie maker (think gingersnaps or Mexican Wedding Cakes) and quick bread baker. Being in the kitchen is like therapy for me, and if I tried to make photo shoot worthy decorated Christmas cookies, I would royal ice and silver dragee my way straight into real therapy!

This Cranberry Nut Bread is quick, coming together in about 15 minutes, then off to the oven for an hour. Golden brown crust, slightly tart, and studded with cranberry jewels and sweet pecans, the bread is perfect for breakfast, late afternoon snack, or even dessert. It’s also ideal to share with family and friends over a cup of tea, enjoying each other’s company and the season for even just a quiet moment or two.

Cranberry Nut Bread

Cranberry Nut Bread

  • Servings: 1 loaf
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*recipe adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup orange juice (fresh or bottled)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped cranberries
¾ cup chopped pecans

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender. Stir in orange juice, lightly beat egg, and zest. Fold in cranberries and nuts. Scrape into prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Pastry blender cutting butter into dry ingredients.
Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients
Chopped cranberries in a food processor.
Chop the cranberries by hand or in a food processor.
Roughly chopped pecans on a cutting board.
Roughly chop the pecans.
Orange, zest, and juice on a cutting board.
Zest the orange so that you have 1 Tablespoon set aside, then juice the oranges to yield 3/4 of a cup. I need three navel oranges to get the right amount of juice.
Wet ingredients and dry ingredients in mixing bowl.
Add juice, lightly beaten egg and zest to dry ingredients and mix.
Batter in bowl with wooden spoon.
Using a wooden spoon, combine the wet and dry ingredients.
Folding in the cranberries and pecans.
Fold in the cranberries and pecans.

Cranberry Nut Bread Batter

Cranberry Nut Bread batter in a greased loaf pan getting ready to go in the oven.
Scrape the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes.
Testing the bread for doneness with a bamboo skewer.
Bake until a cake tester- or bamboo skewer in this case- inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cranberry Nut Bread- sliced on a cutting board