Thursday, 5 December 2013

Cheeky Chocolate Crinkles!

Today is my newest recipe - plucked straight from the internet. I thought the picture on the blog where I saw them looked amazing, but what was even better was that when I followed the recipe, mine turned out looking exactly like the recipe - result! (This almost never happens!)

 In fact you can find the recipe that I used here on the 'Domestic Femme' blog. I plan to make lots more with peppermint essence and choc-chips.

Tonight I'll be flying down to London - I'm looking forward to my weekend away and in particular to going to dinner on Saturday night at 'Dinner' (a Heston Blumenthal restaurant)... will see if I can get some pictures!

Let it snow!

...and it actually did snow a bit today - though it was totally overshadowed by the high winds which shut the Forth Road Bridge at one point.

Today's recipe is for baked mini doughnuts (or donuts if you prefer!). I love these because they are so easy to make with no hot oil to worry about. I first made them for my class at school when we were learning about Hanukkah - as doughnuts are  typical Hanukkah fare and I thought my class might like these as a treat.
You do need the right baking equipment though - I have a silicone mini doughnut tray which works brilliantly. I think the recipe was attached to the tray when I bought it...

you need...
1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted butter
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 beaten egg
cinnamon sugar

1.  Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
2.  In a separate bowl mix together the 'wet' ingredients then whisk into the dry ingredients.
3.  Butter a mini doughnut tray then 1/2 fill each 'well'.
4.  Bake for 5 - 10 minutes at 180degrees C until golden.
5.  Remove from tray and roll in cinnamon sugar while still warm.
6.  Eat immediately!!!!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

May the fourth be with you!

Happy December 4th and it's a double whammy from me today because I also appear on the ATDML blog today - well my advent project does - as it is ATDMLs offering for the UKScrappers Christmas Blog Hop - you can find it here.

So today it's one of Jonathan's favourites - my festive sausage rolls - and they are so easy to make.
You need some puff pastry (I love the ready made and ready rolled sheets - so easy!); some sausage meat (I use really good sausages, like the Tesco Finest ones and take the skins off); you need a pack of stuffing mix (good old Paxo will do fine!); and finally some beaten egg.
Make up the stuffing mix and let it cool then lay out the pastry and put a line of sausage meat along the middle, flatten it out a bit and top it with a line of stuffing. Roll up the pastry then cut into smaller sausage rolls (or leave it big if you like!). Brush with beaten egg then bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

chestnuts roasting by an open fire...

Day three on my Kitchen countdown is very simply... roasted chestnuts. It just would not be Christmas without them (though strictly speaking I don't need a recipe for these!!). I very simply prick each chestnut and then pop them in a hot oven for just a few minutes. If you don't prick them then you risk exploding chestnuts decorating the inside of your oven!
I remember my mum making these when I was little - and being allowed a sip of sherry along with them. I perhaps have a little more than a sip these days - but 'just the one'!

When I lived in Hong Kong, one happy memory was buying chestnuts from the street vendors, they were stirred with spades in giant woks containing rocks with sugar thrown in to give them a caramelised flavour. They were the most delicious chestnuts in the world!!
When we were in Rome in October this year it was wonderful to see the decorated vendors carts selling enormous roast chestnuts...not cheap at 5 euros a cone - but it didn't stop me buying them!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Hot Chocolate & Christmas Movies

2nd December on my Kitchen Countdown is a picture and recipe for the most delicious hot chocolate which for me is an important ingredient in Christmas celebrations.

I make my hot chocolate with whole milk and Cadbury's Drinking Chocolate - stirred together and heated the old fashioned way in a pan is best - though I do often resort to the microwave! Add mini marshmallows, top with whipped cream and either a dusting of drinking chocolate or crumbled Flake. Sometimes a candy cane to stir the mixture instead of a spoon is the order of the day, giving a 'pepperminty' flavour to the hot chocolate. I have had all sorts of expensive hot chocolate concoctions - but for me this is still the best.

Watching a Christmas film with the fire on, candles lit and a big mug of creamy hot chocolate is my idea of Christmas heaven. So apart from stocking up on all the ingredients for hot chocolate I thought I'd better audit my Christmas DVD collection. Here are my top 10 Christmassy films... (I have a whole other list of favourite films - but these are specifically the Christmas themed ones)

1. Scrooged
2. Home Alone 1
3. The Grinch (with Jim Carrey - probably the only film I like him in!)
4.  Elf - so bad, it's good!
5.  The Polar Express - I have to have a hot chocolate with this one!
6.  The Snowman/ The Snowman & Snowdog (makes me cry!)
7.  The Muppets Christmas Carol
8.  Miracle on 34th Street (the newer version with Attenborough)
9.  Home Alone 2
10.  It's a Wonderful Life or White Christmas (I'm undecided!!)

I'd love to hear about your favourite 'Christmas' films and your ideas for hot chocolate recipes.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Happy Advent

Welcome December! This is such a busy time of the year for crafters - making cards, handmade gifts, decorations for the house - this alongside everything that everyone else is trying to do too - buying presents, getting our homes ready for Christmas, going to parties and Christmas events (and trying not to think about those resolutions looming in January!).
Last year I was totally not ready for Christmas - my cards never got posted and there was a lot of last minute panic! This year I resolved to be more prepared. To that end I have already made good headway into hampers packed full of homemade jams, shortbread and Christmas fayre and yesterday I finished my Christmas planner and completed a four stage Tesco online food ordering process. Store-cupboard staples arrive this week, frozen foods and larder items next week, then fresh foods/vegetables etc.  the week after and then the turkey and other short shelf life fresh items such as fresh cream, milk, bread will hopefully arrive on 23rd December.  It feels good to have all this in hand - although a little ridiculous since we live within walking distance of a 24hour Tescos which will only be closed on Christmas Day. However - I loathe visiting the supermarket at Christmas time - they are crazy places packed with stressed people all panic buying.

I love my new planner which I hope will be useful for many Christmasses to come - My goal is to share both my planner and my Christmas Kitchen Countdown here and to see how much I can blog about them both in December. Of course thanks to having to do a class for the ATDML retreat at the end of October, my Advent calendar is already made...

Christmas Planner
I made this with a wooden blank book I'd had in my stash for a while and a set of Simple Stories Christmas papers from 2011 which I loved and wanted to do something special with. I added extra pages made from Kraft cardstock. Here is the outside to whet your appetite...more to follow as Advent unfolds.

Christmas Kitchen Countdown
I actually made this about 4 years ago - but without any photos. I do a lot of cooking and baking over the Christmas period and to me food and drink are really important aspects of the season. Some things I make year after year and I am always trying to remember which cookbook or website the recipes come from - I decided that a calendar of sorts for the kitchen which featured the recipes I would be using would be a perfect addition to my Christmas kitchen. I made the calendar from an 8"x8" paper pack I was given as a gift - (I think it may have been DCWV - but I'm not sure). The numbers are cut on the Cricut and the whole thing is held together with book rings and is hanging on a 7 Gypsies book stand.
My plan is to share each page and each recipe with you - pre Christmas stress permitting. Since I am still recovering from a virus that has wiped me out for the past 3 or 4 weeks it may be a big ask! The first page is a picture of last year's Christmas gift cakes...sorry no recipe with this one, since by 1st December my Christmas cakes have long since been made and are currently being 'fed' with brandy before being decorated.
I would love to have your comments on any of the projects or recipes I post.