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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Foodie Christmas Book Wish List

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. 
All opinions are mine alone.
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Family members often say that they never know what to buy me for Christmas, and I suppose I don't help them out much by saying "I'll have a think" or "oh don't get me anything", after all, Christmas is all about the kids, right? Truth be told, I LOVE it when I get a big pile of presents from my husband but there has always been a joke about how many of them will get returned in January. He's got better over the years and I don't think anything got returned last year, and he has even started taking notice of my subtle hints (it's only taken 14 years!)

Without fail, he buys me a cookery book, although he has been known to buy me one that I've already got, so I thought I would help him out a bit this year, with my book wishlist (It'll be just my luck that he won't read this blog post!)

I popped along to WHSmith to get some inspiration for my list of ten books.

Upon entering our local WHSmith it doesn't appear to be a very large store, however there is an upstairs that is mostly dedicated to books. On the lower level there are a few stands displaying half price books and books for £5, which is where I began my search.



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Primrose Bakery Christmas - Martha Swift

Primrose Bakery Christmas - Martha Swift
I'm a sucker for Christmas books, which I use for inspiration during the eating season and this one is full of tempting recipes for cakes, cookies, edible gifts and more.

The Way I Cook - Lisa Faulkner

The Way I Cook - Lisa Faulkner 
I've been a fan of Lisa Faulkner recipes since I saw her make a nut roast on tv a few years ago, as it's become a favourite on our Christmas dinner table ever since (even for meat eaters)

Family Sunday Lunches - Mary Berry

Family Sunday Lunches - Mary Berry
It's Mary Berry making Sunday lunch, what more is there to say!

Great Outdoors Cookbook - Phil Vickery The 

Great Outdoors Cookbook - Phil Vickery
This book is full of inspiring recipes and ideas for cooking and eating outdoors (and we all know that food tastes better outdoors). There are sections on how to make a Dutch oven, cooking on a bbq (including the Christmas turkey) and open fire, as well as cooking a feast on one or two rings (a necessity when camping), and 'from the flask'.

The Camper Van Cookbook - Martin Dorey

The Camper Van Cookbook - Martin Dorey
This book looks like a great read as it's not just a cookbook and instead seems more like an essential handbook for the camper van owner. We may not own a camper van but after enjoying our recent motorhome holiday it's definitely something I want to do again. There are music play lists, essential kit lists (including cooking equipment and games to take), as well as cocktail recipes, how to tell the time without a clock and surfing tips. It looks like a really entertaining read.

Mug Cakes - Mima Sinclair

Mug Cakes - Mima Sinclair
I've made cakes in a mug before but this is a complete book dedicated to mug cake recipes, including a Christmas cake, honey cake and a black forest cake, to name a few.

Salad Love - David Bez 

Salad Love - David Bez
I love salads and Salad Love has a different salad for each weekday, with a full colour photo for each recipe, made from fresh ingredients with the minimum of effort - a must for everyone wanting to get more of their 5 a day.

Men's Pie Manual - Andrew Webb 

Men's Pie Manual - Andrew Webb
Well, I know I'm not a man but I couldn't resist giving this book a mention, as I love the 'Haynes Manual' style and the delicious looking pork pie on the cover, and step by step instructions for some of the recipes.

River Cottage Fruit - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

River Cottage Fruit - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (I bought this one)
If you love fruit then this book is definitely for you; full of all manner of recipes for different fruits from summer berries to tropical favourites, with a colour photo for every recipe (which all cook books should have, in my opinion).

River Cottage Fruit - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall River Cottage Fruit - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Nigella Express - Nigella Lawson (I bought this one too)
'Good Food Fast' is what this book is all about - fast food, short-cuts and time saving ideas. It's worth buying for the Lazy Loaf recipe alone; an easy to prepare muesli bread that takes seconds to prepare and 1.75 hours to prove & bake.


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After watching Tom Kerridge's Best Ever Dishes on tv I'd like to add an 11th book to my list now too, as everything he made looked 'proper lush'.

Tom Kerridge's Best Ever Dishes



So here is my final top 11 foodie cook books for Christmas 2014

Primrose Bakery Christmas - Martha Swift
The Way I Cook - Lisa Faulkner 
Family Sunday Lunches - Mary Berry
The Great Outdoors Cookbook - Phil Vickery
The Camper Van Cookbook - Martin Dorey
Mug Cakes - Mima Sinclair
Salad Love - David Bez
Men's Pie Manual - Andrew Webb
River Cottage Fruit - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Nigella Express - Nigella Lawson
Best Ever Dishes - Tom Kerridge

Creative Uses for Christmas Leftovers

Christmas dinner is the highlight of holiday celebrations for so many families. Maybe you make your Gran’s stuffing recipe year after year, or spend a month soaking your traditional Christmas pudding in brandy baths. Whatever your clan is noshing this year, you’ll want to make it stretch even further after the holiday, so you don’t waste a single bite of this homemade holiday deliciousness—and you get to do a little culinary exploration beyond the basic sandwich.

To help you out, here are six favourite recipes for using up the leftovers from your Christmas feast.

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Turkey burgers

Turkey is lean and healthy, but it can go dry easily, so you’ll want to be clever in using up the bird. We love the idea of making burgers with leftover turkey, so you can get all the health benefits and none of the dryness. To boost the moisture and flavour, this recipe uses stuffing instead of the usual bland breadcrumbs to hold it all together. Don’t have a meat grinder at home? That’s no problem. This recipe works with finely chopped or shredded meat, so you can either go at it by hand or in your trusty food processor.

Turkey curry

If burgers feel a bit tame (the you can’t yet stomach the thought of more bread), why not use your leftover turkey for a flavourful and healthy curry base? All of the ingredients for this vibrant curry are easy to find in your local shops, nothing too exotic needed (if the mango chutney poses any problem, you can substitute with any sweet chutney you like, such as date or apple). This recipe really is as easy as curry get, especially when you use stock rather than water—the flavours of the stock really add a special richness to the dish, without requiring any time or effort from you except what it takes to open the can!

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Cheeseboard and onion tart

If you’ve gone to the trouble and expense of buying lovely fresh cheeses for your Christmas meal, don’t let it all go mouldy in the fridge! This tart is a savoury way to use up the odds and ends of multiple cheeses, and combine them into a rich and satisfying take on a quiche. The crust is simple enough to whip up, even if you’re sick of holiday baking—just pulsing the ingredients quickly in a food processor gets the crumbly, buttery dough all ready in two ticks, with no tiresome kneading or cutting in butter chunks. While you could serve up this treat plain, the addition of onion adds sweetness without adding cost, or much effort.

Fruit squares

This tasty bar bake is a fabulous trick for using up figgy pud, cranberry sauce, mincemeat, extra raisins from baking, or any other fruity bits lying around the kitchen. Sandwiching these rich sweeties in two layers of dough will give you a bar that’s sticky and scrumptious on the inside, but neat to pick up on the outside, with the creamy buttery goodness of the pastry to balance the intensity of the fruit flavours. Once baked, these also freeze beautifully and make for an extra-special surprise tucked into a child’s lunchbox or brought to a New Year’s party.

Mulled wine sorbet

If you’ve gone to the trouble of mulling wine for a holiday party, don’t let it all go to waste! Even if you’ve had it sitting on the heat or in a crock-pot for a while and lost some of the alcohol, that’s no problem—this sorbet recipe starts by boiling off the rest of the booziness, anyway, until you’ve got a rich, delicious syrup to freeze into cubes and blend with yoghurt or cream. The final product is smooth and low-effort. You will want to set aside some time in advance for the boiling and freezing, but it’s easy to keep these going along in the background of tidying the house or preparing the rest of the meal.

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Eggnog Pancakes

For a real transformation of a humble ingredient, look no further than these eggnog pancakes. A simple tweak to a basic pancake recipe, using eggnog in place of milk in the batter, makes for a subtly cheery breakfast treat. The extra fat in eggnog will make sure they are moist and fluffy, and you don’t have to feel bad about throwing out unfinished ‘nog after everyone’s had a sip and half (about the most anyone can ever stomach, we find!).


There are plenty of creative uses for all your lovingly prepared Christmas dishes. Who knows, maybe you’ll even invent a new Boxing Day food tradition!


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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Fruits of the Forest Christmas Cake

Traditionally the last Sunday before advent is known as Stir It Up Sunday. On this day families gather in the kitchen to make the Christmas pudding and cake, and all take turns in mixing the ingredients, and making a wish.

As this Sunday is Stir it Up Sunday, Urban Fruits will be hosting a twitter party from 2-4pm where you can put your questions regarding your Christmas baking to them. Just make sure you follow @UrbanFruit and the #StirUpSunday hashtag.

Here's Jack helping out with our Fruits of the Forest Christmas Cake, which is based on my Nan's old recipe. The full recipe can be found on the Great British Chefs website here.

Fruits of the Forest Christmas Cake Fruits of the Forest Christmas Cake

If you need further inspiration to make a not so traditional Christmas cake then check out the other blogger recipes involved in Stir it up Sunday with Urban Fruit.



This recipe has been commissioned by Great British Chefs

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Christmas Dinner Is Served

A few days ago I shared my Christmas dinner preparations for a simple family Christmas dinner. This post is about the table decor and the meal itself.

I decided to go with red and white this year and Homebase did not let me down with the accessories they had on offer. I managed to pick up everything I needed (and more) to set our table, including a table runner, plates and bowls, lighting, snack bowls, candle holders, crackers, tree decorations (which I used to fill a glass jar) and a gorgeous reindeer cushion.

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My favourite item is the Christmas tree light, which has a long cable and can sit on the dinner table or sideboard. It's so nice that it will be a shame to put it away after Christmas (I loved some of my Christmas lights so much that they have stayed up for the last 3 years!)

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Once Jack returned home from his swimming lesson, Christmas jumpers were donned (albeit a bit snug), we all sat down, pulled crackers and ate dinner, whilst listening to Christmas music (yes I know it's only November, but it was fun!)

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Figgy's Christmas Pudding
possibly the best Christmas pudding we have eaten!

After dinner we had a family game of Scrabble before it descended into chaos as Mum had too many vowels and Sam didn't know where to use his 'q' and Hanna insisted that she needed to do her homework!

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Christmas at Homebase


this post has been commissioned by Homebase

Christmas pudding provided by Figgy's

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