I’ve returned from the land of palm trees and 80 degree weather and am now back in Dallas. I can’t believe Christmas has come and gone again! Every year it seems to fly by faster and faster. This was a particularly busy Christmas break. I was only able to spend a few days in the valley. It was great to see some of my high school best friends though. We don’t see each other nearly enough! And one of them got engaged over the break! So exciting. She is the first of our close high school friends to get engaged. Her boyfriend (now fiance) flew in to the valley on Christmas day to surprise her.
Christmas at the Cook’s house was very relaxing. The weather was almost perfect, around 80 degrees, but very windy. And the palm trees were as welcoming as they always are. If it wasn’t for the wind and occasional hurricane threat, the valley would be a nearly ideal place to live. I definitely see why there are so many “winter texans” down there. Lizzie had an awesome time as well. My parents “backyard” is a golf course, complete with a sand pit and water hole. Lizzie doesn’t go near the water hole, but the sand pit is her mecca. She races through the it doing figure 8’s throughout. It is hilarious to watch but I don’t think the golfers appreciate it. But what can you do…
Instead of doing a big Christmas Eve dinner like we usually do, my mom decided to have very heavy appetizers and desserts. It worked out really well since we ended up having a huge Christmas day dinner. She invited over several groups of neighbors and had a great spread including sweet and sour meatballs, bacon wrapped crackers, veggie plates, fruit plates, shrimp cocktails, several different chips and dips, and a variety of other things. Our dessert spread was pretty impressive as well… pumpkin cheesecake, cranberry bread, chocolate slice, butter tarts, pecan tarts, and little thumbprint cookies. The pumpkin cheesecake was the same recipe as the one I talked about last week. It was a hit again. And the cranberry bread is a recipe that I can’t seem to stop making. It is so yummy and simple to make. I found the original recipe on the Tasty Kitchen website but have made a few modifications.
Cranberry Nut Bread
2 cups Flour
1 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
½ teaspoons Baking Soda
½ teaspoons Salt
1 whole orange, zested and juiced
½ cups Walnuts, chopped (you can use pecans if you are out of walnuts)
2 cups Fresh Cranberries
1/2 cup softened butter, plus an extra tbsp or two
¾ cups Granulated Sugar
1 whole Egg
Sprinkle of brown sugar
In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, orange zest, walnuts and cranberries.
In another bowl, whisk together softened butter, sugar, and egg. Once the mixture is creamy, mix it into the larger bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir until combined, then add in the juice from your orange. The mixture will be fairly dry, but should hold together if you pick up a piece and push it together with your fingers.
Press mixture into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar, or turbinado if you have it. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 to 55 minutes. The top of the loaf will be a light golden color when finished.
I have probably made this loaf five times over the course of the Christmas holiday, and will most likely make it a few more times before its all said and done. I gave away three loafs and have eaten the other two. It is delicious with a little but of butter or orange marmalade on top. And it makes a great gift tied up with pretty ribbons.
And here is a slice of it on my pretty snowfall splendor Christmas set. I love these plates so much.
I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas. Happy (almost) New Year!!