Cranberry Sauce – The Easy Way

So, we are 4 sleeps away until the big man arrives. We are all quite chilled here, the kids have been helping me out in the kitchen this afternoon. We’re having so much fun. Today we’ve made Cranberry sauce – it’s so easy, the kids actually did most of it. Of course, pick up a jar if you don’t have time to make up fresh. We don’t judge, whatever works for you! However, if you do have 8-10 mins then give it a go.

Ingredients;

350g Fresh Cranberries

200ml Fresh Orange hioce

150g Light Muscovado sugar

Method;

Place the sugar and orange juice into a saucepan and gently bring up to boiling point, stirring occasionally. Add the cranberries and reduce to a simmer.

Cook for 8 – 10 minutes until most of the cranberries have split. Remove from the heat. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Merry Christmas everyone, we hope your preparations are going well xxx

Rudolph the Red Nosed Cupcake

We absolutely loved making these cute little reindeer, so much so that I barely did anything – my little Miss did pretty much ALL the work!

When I posted the pics, so many of you asked for the recipe…so, here it is. They are super-simple to make, and they taste absolutely delicious. You can also switch the nose or antlers for other things, depending on how fussy your eaters are.

The cupcake recipe is an old favourite from my trusty Cupcake Magic book by Kate Shirazi, which has been my go-to for cupcakes since I bought it in 2008, and it’s helped me emerge from a baking disaster-zone, to a much improved baker who is now able to teach my little Miss how to bake up a storm (she’s fabulous).

Ingredients (Makes 12)

Cupcakes
110g Self Raising Flour (sifted)
110g Caster Sugar
110g Unsalted Butter or Margarine (Marg will stop your cakes rising into a little peak)
1tsp Baking Powder
2 Large Free Range Eggs

Chocolate Butter Cream
3tbsp Cocoa Powder
Splash of hot water
225g Icing Sugar
100g Softened Unsalted Butter
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Decorations
One pack edible Googly-eyes (or you can use icing)
Glace Cherries (or you could use red Smarties)
One pack of Matchmakers (we used Salted Caramel, yum) or you can also use Pretzels for the antlers.

Method
Pre-heat your oven to 160 and line a 12 hole baking tin with cupcake cases (you can use festive cases, or grab whatever you have in the cupboard – guess which one we chose!).

Pop all the ingredients in a mixer (or if you don’t have one, pop them in a large bowl and put in some serious elbow-grease) and mix until all the ingredients are combined, and your mix is smooth and shiny (hint: don’t over mix here as your cupcakes will be more rubbery than light and fluffy!).

Grab a teaspoon and plop spoonfuls of your lovely fluffy cake mix into the cases, being careful not to slop any over the sides of your cake cases. Bake them in your oven for about 20 mins (keep an eye on them, my oven is fierce and usually cooks them in about 15). When they are ready they’ll be golden, firm and springy.

Pop them out of the cake tin, and leave them to cool completely before you attempt to ice them!

Beat your icing sugar, butter and vanilla extract together (it’s a bit messy!) and if it’s still a bit heavy, you can pop a tsp of hot water in to help. Then, mix your cocoa powder with the hot water until you have a thick, gloopy paste (we like to mix ours in a large mug) and pour into your buttercream mixture and mix well until smooth and glossy.

Using a teaspoon, spread your buttercream onto the cupcakes and tidy the edges with the back of a table knife. Pop your googly eyes and cherry noses on (we like to start with the nose in the centre) and then break your matchsticks in half and then break the remaining halves again, so there is a long piece, and one shorter piece to make your antlers.

Enjoy! These little beauties lasted for approximately two minutes in our house. If you can manage to display them before they’re all scoffed, pop them on a festive plate and smile at those cute little reindeer faces peering back at you.

Merry Christmas, lovely people.
X

Christmas Tree Mini Pizzas

Ho Ho Ho….we had some neighbours round recently for Cheese and Mulled wine & the kids made these festive mini pizzas for their friends. They used cookie cutters for the bases. How cute do they look? Check out the link below for the quick no proving required pizza base:

https://mumsinreallifecouk.wordpress.com/?s=Scone+base

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas xx

Christmas Preparations – Bread Sauce

Bread sauce really seems to divide opinion so love it or loathe it, here is a tasty recipe which can be made well ahead of Christmas Day and frozen until needed. As youngsters, my Mum always made Bread sauce from a packet mix, just adding milk. It became my little job to make on Christmas Day, I loved it! As an adult, I’ve learnt that it is so super easy & quick to make and the smells it creates are wonderful in the kitchen.

Give it a go! To serve eight, you’ll need the following.

Ingredients:

2 onions, halved

8 cloves

2 bay leaves

650ml milk

4 slices of fresh white bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs

8 peppercorns

Grated nutmeg to dress

Method;

Start off by preparing the onions and bread crumbs.

Stud each half of onion with 2 cloves.

Place the onions into a saucepan. Add the milk, peppercorns and bay leaves and slowly poach on a low heat for about 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat, drain the sauce through a sieve. Return the milk to the pan and add the breadcrumbs, stirring gently. Add a splash more milk to loosen, if necessary.

Transfer to a bowl, and grate over Nutmeg if using within the next 5 days. If you want to freeze it (it keeps for 1 month) leave to cool and place into the freezer. When required, defrost in the fridge for 24 hours, warm up in a pan and if required, loosen the sauce up with a splash of milk or cream (it is Christmas, after all!). Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl and grate over the nutmeg. Perfect with Turkey. Bon appetite!

Christmas Preparations – Week 2 – Sloe Gin

Our Christmas preparations are in full swing and we are loving it. Next up is Sloe Gin – we’re a few weeks behind in the Gin department but it should just be ready in time for Christmas Day, if not then definitely for the New Year. Fingers crossed.

Ingredients;

100ml Caster Sugar

700ml Gin

450g Sloes

Method;

Wash the sloes and remove the stalks. Prick each sloe a couple of times & freeze the batch over night.

Once frozen, place the sloes into a sterile container. Add the sugar and gin and store in a cool, dark place. Every couple of weeks, gently turn the containers to mix it all up.

Once ready (normally 3 months), use a Muslin to strain the drink and store in sterile bottles. You could also decant into smaller sterile vessels and give out as Christmas presents.

Enjoy!

Christmas Preparations – Week 1 – Yorkshire Puddings

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s never too early to start preparing for feasts that are coming our way. This week we’ve started with Yorkshire Puddings – my family go crazy over these – I’ve made a few batches and they are now in the freezer. On Christmas Day, I’ll pop them onto a tray and they’ll go straight into a hot oven for 4 minutes. This is such a time hack and removes unnecessary stress when preparing your Christmas meal.

I have tried numerous Yorkshire recipes over the years and this is my tried and tested, fail safe method.

Ingredients:

4oz plain flour

2 medium eggs

300ml milk

1/2 tsp salt

Oil

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C Fan) has Mark 7 and pour enough oil into the Yorkshire pudding tins to cover the bottoms. When the oven is ready, pop the Yorkshire tin in to heat up the oil (usually takes about 7-8 minutes).

Measure out the flour and place into a large mixing bowl. Mix in 150ml milk and beat in the 2 eggs until smooth. Season well and add the remaining milk. Transfer to a large jug.

Remove the tray from the oven and place over a medium heat on the stove. Evenly pour the batter mix into the tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes until well risen, golden and crisp. Leave in tins for a couple of minutes and then place on a wire rack. If freezing, leave to completely cool before bagging up and placing into the freezer.

Enjoy!