Spicy Tree Biscuits

A really fun activity for big and small kids alike! A lovely thing to do together as a family, or a great idea for gifts.

You will need: saucepan, bowl, spoon, rolling pin, cookie cutters (xmas themed), baking trays, icing bag, cooling rack

Ingredients:

  • 175g dark muscovado sugar
  • 85g golden syrup
  • 100g butter
  • 3 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarb
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • for the icing – could use either white chocolate or white icing flavoured with lemon juice and then add silver balls and other sprinkly goodness.

Heat the sugar, syrup and butter until melted in the pan, add to a bowl with the dry ingredients, then add the egg and the bicarb (having been dissolved in 1tsp of cold water). Mix well until doughy. Clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least an hour. Heat oven to 170c fan and roll the dough out to the thickness of a £1 coin. Cut out your shapes and put on baking trays and bake for 12-15mins. If you plan to hang the biscuits from the tree, make a small hole in the top of the biscuits before baking. Let them cool before decorating however you like and then hanging on your tree or giving as gifts. They will remain edible for about a week, but will be good for decorations for a good while longer.

Make it different:

  • Instead of decorating with icing or chocolate, use a smaller size of the same shape cutter to cut a hole in each biscuit and scatter a layer of crushed boiled sweets (same colour) before popping in the oven as normal. Add some orange zest to the mixture if you like too.
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Stuffing Roly Poly

This was a recipe my Mum found whilst I was flicking through a massive pile of foodie mags that a good friend got me and we tried it for Christmas to many oohs and aahs.

You will need: bowl, spoon, foil, knife and board.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of Paxo stuffing (or equivalent)
  • 1 pack of good quality sausage meat
  • 24 rashers of streaky bacon
  • cranberries (if you like)

Make the stuffing according to pack instructions, stirring in the sausage meat and mixing well (you may need to use your hands). Stretch the bacon rashers by using the side of knife and running it along the rasher whilst holding one end. Similar action to when curling ribbon. Place the rashers side by side on a large piece of buttered foil making sure they fit well together. Squidge the stuffing into a sausage shape and plonk in the middle of your bacon carpet, using your hand, lightly spread it out along the bacon, leaving a border of about 2cm. Place the cranberries (if using) in the middle. Using the foil to help, roll up as if it were a swiss roll tightly and then wrap in foil and cook at 170c fan for 15 minutes, then unwrap and crisp up for 15minutes. For best results, slice and serve on a platter at centre of table.

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Apple Sauce

I got a glut of apples off my other half’s parents who have fruit trees in their garden. I whipped up some apple sauce to take to work tomorrow.

Core and slice all your apples and place in a big pan on medium heat. put in the lid and let it do it’s thing for about 40 mins, checking and stirring every so often. Once nice and mushy add in 50g of sugar and 50g of butter for every 3 apples. Mix until well combined and pour into jars and enjoy – these will make shortcut appley crumble or pie simple pimple and will go beautifully with sausages or pork.

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Sliders

This is an idea that I got from the fabulous baker brothers, but it is not a new idea, perhaps a new take on an old one.

Take 2 fresh white crusty rolls and 2 beefburgers. Once the burgers are cooked, turn the oven down and place a slice of mozzarella cheese on each one and let it melt gloriously. Spread the toasted rolls with the sauce of your choice(s) – my personal selection is american mustard and ketchup. Place the burgers in the rolls and add a variety of salad and eat with onion rings, nachos, chips – or even garlic bread – why not all of them? Ideal for a party!

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Ham and Spinach with Baked Eggs

This dish is a lovely light dinner or ideal for a midweek lunch. I came across it trying to branch out from the chicken and mince rut we had found ourselves in since I started full-time work.

Chop one small onion finely and cook until golden and soft, adding one crushed garlic clove. Mix in one can of chopped tomatoes and 100ml water with 1 jar of ready roasted peppers and chopped ham slices or ham hock (a healthy helping of each, but really use your own judgement). Once bubbling stir in the spinach and wait for the sauce to thicken -this should take around 10 minutes. Next, make spaces in the sauce and crack in four eggs – at this stage you can transfer the pan to the oven or continue to cook on the hob, whichever suits.

I served with croutons but this would go well with garlic bread, or jack potatoes or rice. A really versatile dish.

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Homemade Onion Rings

Sometimes, I just get a hankering for crispy oniony rings and tonight we had mini-sliders with just the most delightful homemade ones! They were incredibly easy and a really nice thing to make together with my other half.

You need 150g plain flour mixed with 150ml milk, as dash of oil and  2 egg yolks – retain one of the whites and whisk until frothy in a separate bowl. Mix until well combined and cool in the fridge for 30 mins. Meanwhile slice 2-3 onions into rings around 1cm thick (thinner or thicker to your liking).

Once the mixture has settled, heat up around 3cm of oil in a pan until spitting. Dip the onion rings in the batter before frying until a deep golden brown. Pop on a plate in the oven to keep warm, or wait and bake them for 10-15 minutes afterwards. ENJOY!

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Chocolate Banana Loaf

This recipe came about due to a surplus of bananas at the office – you know when they get really smelly with brown spots, super soft and sweet? Well there was over a dozen so I took a healthy bunch and vowed to make use of them before my Tesco delivery arrived.

1.5 cups of plain flour

3 uber ripe bananas mashed to a pulpy mess

1/2 cup of milk

1/4 cup of cocoa powder

2tsp baking powder

1 cup caster sugar

115g stork/butter

8 squares of cooking choc chopped into chunks

Chuck all the ingredients in a bowl and mix (if you’re feeling strong) or pop in your kitchen aid (like I did!). Once combined pour into a greased loaf tin and cook at 180c for around an hour until a skewer comes out clean. This is so deliciously bananaery with just right amount of flavour. Wait for it to cool to a warmish hot and then dig dig dig in!

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