Very quick mince pies – perfect for Christmas Eve

I am a terrible girlfriend. Unbelievably so. When I first moved in with D a few weeks ago I made a grand promise of doing him a homemade Christmas cake as he is extremely partial to one. November rolled on and I kept being sidetracked. By mid December I had purchased (an admittedly rather nice) one from Lidl during a rather impractical Christmas shop. The truth is the spiced fruity baking traditionally associated with the festive period isn’t something I particularly enjoy. However, I do love the smell of it and I was happily sniffing the air. Plus they were pretty popular with D, I made them on a Friday evening and by the next afternoon 4 were gone. I also made a batch for my family (the mincemeat is enough for 2 batches made with 1 pack of pastry) and they were pretty fond of them too.

To make these you will need

1 pack pastry (makes 18 – 24 depending on your pastry cutter)

200g icing sugar

Cake cases

For the quick mincemeat (this makes 2 batches so you can keep some back in the fridge)

250g mixed fruit (including mixed peel)

4 tbsp dark or spiced rum

50g pecan nuts or walnuts (chopped finely)

50g butter

100g Demerara sugar

a pinch ground cinnamon

a pinch ground allspice

the zest of 1 orange

a peeled and grated Granny Smith Apple

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put your dry mincemeat ingredients in a bowl. Heat the rum in a small pan until it simmers. Remove from the heat then add the butter and use the residual heat to melt. Return to the heat again briefly so that it simmers again. Pour over your dry ingredients and mix well.

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I bought ready rolled out dough (I was feeling lazy) but if not roll out your dough and cut out circles using a large pastry cutter. If you have dough left over smush it back together and roll out again to make more circles.

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Place the circles in a lined cupcake tins (I didn’t line mine at first then had to rescue them) and prick with a fork in the middle so it doesn’t puff up as much.

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Fill each circle with a teaspoon of mincemeat. Then bake in the oven for approx 20 minutes (until the pastry is golden brown).

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While the pies are cooling combine the icing sugar with water (add a tiny bit at a time) and ice your mince pies.

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Serve these bad boys with a cup of tea, coffee or a glass of mulled wine. Stored in an airtight container and they will keep a good number of days.

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Merry Christmas to all of my lovely readers. I hope you have a wonderful festive period and get everything you wish for xxx

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Christmas Gift Ideas for the Lady (especially if she is a total magpie!)

So I can’t claim to be a style expert or a representative of what women everywhere might want; everyone is different (variety is the spice of life etc.) but mainly this is a list of things that have caught my eye. Possibly because they are shiny or smell lovely. Anyway, if you’re stuck for ideas there are some things that I hope somebody would find lovely to open on Christmas morning.

1. Shakespeare Literary Quote Art Print

quote

Basically I think this is incredibly cool. At home I like to think I am in charge and i can be a bit bossy at times. This quote from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” shows that Shakespeare’s words can still fit into a more modern context. (Just look at his Sonnets, for example).

2. Lightening bolt hairband

lightening

This falls safely into the category of “I like this because it’s shiny”. If your hair is anything like as unruly as mine gets then the glitter will distract from the fact that your hair is sticking out in about 6 different directions. Always a winner.

3. L’Eau D’Issey Gift Set

issey

My parents (in particular my Dad) are absolute legends when it comes to choosing fragrances. Last year I asked for something girly and they surprised me with this. Not only does it smell divine, but I get complimented on it a lot too. It has a spacial place in my heart as I wore it on my first date with D so the smell brings back happy memories.

4. L’Occitane Fabulous Oil

l'occitane

I can’t remember when it was but I was in L’Occitane Harrogate with my friend ED not too long ago and I was sniffing all of the lotions and potions they sell and this one grabbed me. It’s a bit pricey but if you want to give someone a treat, this is the one for you – perfect for women of all ages. Like I said in my previous post, sometimes with Christmas gifts the real treat is more about buying someone something they long for that they would never buy themself.

5. A throw (I like this one quite a lot)

throw

Basically my mother and I are both quite partial to snuggling up under cosy things watching tv in the winter. When I shared with 2 other girls we used to sit watching tv under fleece blankets. It’s an enjoyable part of winter, especially on the coldest days. Plus a pretty throw can update a tired old sofa more than you’d think (something I found out when I was renting).

6. Arran jumper

jumper

I love a traditional looking jumper and this red one brightens up any cold january day (plus it is handily baggy so you can hide your post Christmas stomach).

7. Modern Family Box Set

This is genuinely going on my Christmas list this year. It is one of my favourite shows – I think its hilarious and occasionally touches on “issues” but without being patronising.

8. How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran and NW by Zadie Smith

Anyone who knows me even a tiny bit knows I have always got a book on the go and spend a lot of my spare time reading. These are two books I could not put down – I recall stirring absent mindedly while cooking with my Kindle in one hand.

9. This Necklace

necklace

So frigging pretty! It will go with everything and basically class up any outfit. Plus its a bit of a one off, what’s not to like?

10. This ring

cat

I like cats as much as the next pet affictionado, but I am not one of life’s “crazy cat ladies”. So why can’t I stop looking at this ring? Imagine how happy it would make someone who owned a cat (or 3!)

Christmas Gift Ideas – For the Foodie

Well its now December and Christmas Themed blog posts are well underway – but I can’t bring myself to think about Christmas shopping while it’s still November. Of course, this has its drawbacks in that I always end up getting into a mad panic as the days go on thinking “what do I buy Mum/Dad/big brother/D/the bunnies?”. The answer to my life problems always seem to spring from a good list so I hope if you have not completed your Christmas shopping you enjoy perusing my gift guides (no Dad, you won’t be able to guess from these what you’re getting!)

1. Radnor Preserves – Jam Selection

Gift selection

Jam always goes down exceptionally well as a gift in my house, and these handmade jams would look the business on any Christmas breakfast table. Twists on popular flavours will add a certain decadence to any slice of toast (or croissant if you prefer). I am desperate to try Blackcurrant and vanilla.

2. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Jerusalem

To anyone who has been in my house it is no secret that I have a stack of cookbooks. However, this is on my wishlist. My father owns a copy of this and it is filled with truly wonderful recipes that I am desperate to try. Everything that has been cooked for me from this book makes my stomach very happy indeed.

3. Pinnygirls Aprons

pinnygirls

I got sent an email advertising these aprons and I absolutely fell in love. Possibly these are more something for the female foodies out there – but how lovely would these be to wear when you are cooking for a crowd, or just to cheer yourself up when baking on a rainy day? They brighten up your outfit and your kitchen effortlessly and they probably make it look like you went to a great deal of effort preparing any dish.

4. Sophie Conran Carving Set

carving

Enhance your silverware collection with this beautiful carving set. Especially handy for carving your Christmas dinner with a flourish. This has heirloom written all over it.

5. Their favourite tipple (I have added one of mine to illustrate my point)

hendricks

Call me boring – but most people love to receive some nice whiskey, champagne, wine or something they wouldn’t normally buy themselves. Every time they drink it will feel like a treat – and doesn’t everyone deserve to feel treated?

6. Betty’s Chocolate Connoisseur’s Gift Box

Betty's

I thought I’d rep a local brand on the blog, but this gift set is a veritable feats for any chocolate lover (you’d just have to hope they shared this with you!).

7. Arthur Price Cheese Knife Set from Debenhams

cheese

I never met a cheese I didn’t like. these cheese knives are the perfect gift for any cheese lover. I mean, obviously if you adored cheese possibly a big cheese wheel would be a better investment, but wouldn’t that start to pong a bit outside of the fridge come Boxing Day? Anyway, these knives look beautiful and mask what fools might call “excessive cheese consumption” with an air of sophistication.

Stay tuned for the next installment of my Christmassy gift guides and other festive posts!