Dec 222014
 

xmas

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:

Apple-Cranberry-Pistachio Bread

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 12-16 servings

Calories per serving: Around 180

From: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/apple-cranberry-pistachio-bread/5a7637ac-2edc-4d58-8bf4-8ac68367d2bd

Ingredients

  • Bread
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded peeled apple (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pistachios
  • Topping
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bottom only of 8x4-inch loaf pan. In large bowl with wooden spoon, mix flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. Beat in oil, 1/3 cup cider and eggs until smooth. Stir in apple, cranberries and 1/3 cup pistachios. Spoon and spread evenly in pan.
  3. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  4. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
  5. In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and enough of the 2 to 3 teaspoons cider for desired glaze consistency. Spread over top of bread. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons pistachios.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=45071

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Dec 092014
 

Every year I’ve said I wanted to do the whole “go to a tree farm and cut your own tree down” thing. I never had this experience as a kid, and still haven’t done it as an adult. Well we finally did it!

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On Saturday there was a break in the rain and so we trekked over to the tree farm near our house. I’d seen the sign that said $20 ANY tree! U-Cut! Sign me up. We walked all over the tree farm to find the perfect tree. I tend to like the smaller trees (around my height or shorter) and Michael wanted a taller tree. I also tend to gravitate towards the derpy trees that no one else wants. (Same with animals: perusing rescue websites I always want to adopt the animal that is missing a leg or something.)

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Anyways, we found half a dozen trees that seemed pretty good but kept looking. Then we got to the point where there were SO many options we had to just pick one. We picked one.

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It was a happy medium sized tree that was fluffy and only had one bald spot. :) Which was okay, that side of the tree would be against the wall. No one would know!

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We took turns sawing the tree, but Michael did the bulk of it. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be and didn’t take too long to chop down. I carried it downhill (humble brag) with only one hand! Thank you Warrior Room!!

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We got the tree home and trimmed the bottom, put it in the stand and spent the next hour putting the lights and ornaments on. I remember how much I HATE the light part. It’s my least favorite part of the Christmas tree experience. The ornaments? It’s the best part.  I had a few new ornaments to put on the tree, including one from my friend (more on that later). Bella supervised from the couch. Oddly enough the cats were nowhere to be seen. They are usually right underneath the tree the second it gets in the house.

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It was a good day!

The weekend didn’t stop there. I stopped in to the Eastside Distillery for a little Christmas shopping. I saw this new product and HAD to have a sample! They had samples of all their products in the bar. I tried the egg nog liqueur first. It was pretty good, really strong, but I didn’t think it was necessary. Get a jug of nog at the grocery story and spike it with your favorite booze and you have a great drink. The Peppermint Bark Liqueur however? That stuff was gold! It was AMAZING. It was a shot of chocolate peppermint goodness. It was so tasty and I almost bought a bottle. Almost. It was really expensive, sadly.

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I also recently went to a new(ish) restaurant with my cousin Anna. I had a Groupon for the new Salvador Molly’s restaurant that opened in Sellwood. There used to be one on SE Belmont Street, a trendy area here in Portland. I’d been to that restaurant like a over a decade ago and I remembered liking it so when the Groupon came out I was excited to try it again.

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The prices are affordable. The drinks were super cheap, too. Anna got the Angry Pineapple (what a great name) — it was pineapple juice, lime juice and infused Thai chili vodka. It had a kick! I got the Coco-Tini, a coconut rum martini. It was like drinking candy. Both drinks were delicious but not very strong, so that was slightly disappointing. They also had a great beer list, too.

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Anna got the kahlua pork entree and I got the Bulgogi Korean tacos. They were steak bites in Bulgogi marinade topped with spicy aioli sauce. It came with dirty rice and black beans on the side. It was so fantastic. The taco meat was flavorful, slightly sweet, and spicy. I loved them. I would eat ten more of these tacos! So good!

I want to go back and get more of those tacos. And…I kinda want that peppermint bark liqueur. I keep thinking about it…Wouldn’t it be a nice adult beverage next to that Christmas tree?? I think so!

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