Christmas Countdown

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Rudolph Day

The countdown begins, only 3 left after this one, which is a slightly scary thought! I have most of my cards still to make though, i've only made a couple and haven't taken any photos yet. I do take a picture of each card I make - mostly because some of them i'm quite proud of and others I can learn from my mistakes! I have stocked up on quite a few embellishments and have lots stuff from last year too. So my goal between now and September Rudolph Day is to make at least a dozen cards.

I have again gone through my gift list and decided to make up some Cookie in a Jar gifts for some of the people on there. I'll be using this recipe from Little Munchkins blog. I need some more ink for the printer though as my writing isn't good so i'll be printing the recipe tags for them.

Over the past few weeks I have also picked up a few books for India, some Dora and Diego ones at 39p each from Home Bargains. Hopefully by Christmas she will be having a good go at reading them herself. I have one or two ideas for my stepsons - itunes vouchers - one collects Monopoly's so i'll be getting him a Coronation Street one that i've found (he likes the soaps too!), some books, they have both started reading a bit more over this past year, which is a great help for presents. They are so tough to buy for even knowing their tastes but luckily they seem happy with whatever we do get them.

I really need to start planning for Mistletoe too. I already have plans for some Christmas Lego to add to what she has -i'm thinking Mistletoe will be playing with it one morning. A quick search on ebay and I can see quite a few different pieces. I think Mistletoe will have a post all of his own very soon.

However you celebrate Rudolph day have a good one!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Friday 5 - Meals to Cook

Taking part in another Friday 5 this week, one that is quite close to my heart as it's about food! I have to say though that my favourite's change all the time but i'll go with these as they get made throughout the year.

1. Risotto, this is my favourite dish, I could eat mounds of the stuff! I do a basic recipe - onions, garlic, mushrooms, rice, a handful of frozen peas and lots of good home made chicken stock. Then I add whatever I have to hand - turkey, chicken, a little bacon, leeks, butternut squash. I don't think there is a Risotto i've not liked! I sometimes like to add a little grated cheese and chilli flakes on top!

2. Shepherds Pie, a good comfort food (though technically mine is Cottage pie as it's with beef!) I use beef stock cubes, tomatoes, mince, onion, Worcester sauce, I add peas and carrots and then add mashed potato to the top with sliced tomatoes and cheese on top of that before it goes in the oven - yum!

3. Turkey & Noodles, this one is just a really simple meal, mostly it's a favourite because it's quick and easy! I cook carrots, green beans, baby sweetcorn, frozen peas, pack choi and turkey in chicken stock, soy sauce and Chinese five spice and add medium noodles a few minutes before serving.

4. Sunday Roast, what can I say, can't beat it, roast beef or chicken with stuffing, Yorkshire puddings, mash, roast potatoes, veg and gravey.

5. Soup - any kind, I love to make soup. Our favourite is the squash soup which we had with our Christmas meal last year. Though right now I have some broccoli soup in the freezer and before that white bean.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Friday Five - Christmas Wish List

Thanks to Dawn over at This is Me i'm taking part in the Friday Five this week!Though it's a tough one - only 5 things!! The first two are a little indulgent but then I guess it wouldn't be a wish list otherwise!

1) I think the top of my wish list would be the Kitchenaid Artisan Food mixer. I have wanted one of these for years. Despite not having a huge kitchen, this would be one item that I would be happy to have out on my worktop permanently. Not sure it would be so good for my waistline though as i'd be whipping up a cake every other day!

2) A new laptop - one with plenty of memory and a couple of USB memory sticks for back up. Purely for all the photos I take. I have had to back up (twice) most of my photos and take them off our pc as they take up too much space. I'd love to have them all in one place to browse whenever I like - photos are a bit of a passion, I have thousands!

3) Birds Britannica by Mark Cocker, birds are my secret (not so much now!) passion. I'm a bit of a birder and this book has been on my wish list for a while. It's a bit more than the usual guide and I can't wait to read it.

4) Binoculars - for reasons as mentioned in no. 3! My binoculars are big, bulky and you have to squint to see properly through them!

5) This one is purely for entertainment - CSI box set DVD's any series any season, love them all!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Baking Day

We spent a day trying out some new recipes last week with some good and some not so good results! First up we made an old favourite - flapjack - knowing this always turns out good and we all love it.

India got quite excited!

India received a lovely recipe book from Pip over on OCE and we tried out a couple of recipes from there. We made sweet treat biscuits using cherries in the middle though you can use nuts also. These looked great and were easy for India to do too. They tasted very sweet but very nice too. Big thumbs up for them and they are going on my list for Christmas.

I made up some Honeycomb, now this melted lovely, we added the bicarb and it frothed really well - we were impressed. Tipped it into the really well greased tin (India did it, she used loads!) and it stuck in there! I ended up just bashing it into pieces to get it out of the tin so it was just a mess of broken bits and crumbs in the end. However it tasted just like cinder toffee, which is one of hubby's favourites and he ate the lot! I'm not sure on this, it definitely tasted good but how do I get it to come out of the tray better?

Peppermint Creams - now these I have also made before but not for a few years. I added some red food colouring once the dough was nearly done so the colouring was streaky rather that a solid colour - thought it may look a little more festive? This was something India could easily help with - which is why most of the creams are different shapes and sizes!!

Last of all we tried an Easy Fruit Cake from the Bero recipe book, which as most people in the UK will be aware is a bit of an institution here. It involved simmering the fruit first on the hob, which i've never done before.

It wasn't as nice as my normal fruit cake recipe and was really crumbly but it was certainly easy to do and didn't taste too bad. I don't think I will make it again.

Sweet Treats

200g Ground Almonds
100g Icing Sugar
100g Golden Caster Sugar
Grated Lemon Rind
1 Egg

1. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 160C
2. Mix all the dry ingredients
3. Add the egg and mix to form into a ball
4. Divide into about 12 small balls
5. Push a hole in the middle and place a glace cherry, a nut of choice or jam
6. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Christmas in the Kitchen

After receiving this cute ornament in my Christmas swap last week I have decided to think about what sort of theme I can have in my kitchen this year.

I don't have a huge amount of space for decorations but always have some. I normally use silver baubles in vases, a silver star with baubles on ribbon for the door, then some wooden ornaments that hang from the handles on the cupboards.

What I'm really wanting is items that are kitchen based for decor rather than leftover baubles and beads, which is what I use right now (if you know what I mean!).

So I have already picked up a Christmas salt and pepper pot that I think I will just use as decor rather than for actual salt and pepper.

Then i'm thinking maybe using some cookie cutters to hang from the handles - I already have some large ones but I'm sure I remember seeing all sorts of different shapes and sizes in the pound shops or bargain shops we have around here. Of course i'll have to wait for the stock to come out - which is usually after the kids are back at school in September. I should mention I can't afford to be buying lots of new ornaments so I am looking for the cheap or home made options!!

Over the pantry doorway we have a curtain that is mostly just for show (we never close it) and i'm wondering if I can get some material from ebay to make a Christmas curtain. I'm not the best sewer but I could do a curtain if I can find some nice (and cheap) material.

My next step is to browse the net for some ideas, see what I can come up with - of course if you have any suggestions they would be welcome too!