Thursday, 31 December 2015

My "Baker's Dozen" favourite Foodie Adventures in 2015


We're on the final day of 2015 and time to reflect on the year that has passed and that just to come. The 9 photos above are my most popular on Instagram. You are following me over there aren't you?! I'll also be doing a round up of my top 10 most popular recipes from the blog but you'll need to wait until next year for that. Suffice to say that both my Irn Bru Pulled Pork and Ham will be featuring. Today I'm sharing some of my favourite adventures of the past year. I was aiming for 10, but it crept up to 12 and because I was struggling with what to leave out its ended up as lucky 13. A baker's dozen seems somewhat appropriate for a food blog. Without further ado here are my favourite foodie adventures of 2015. In time honoured top of the pops fashion they come in reverse order...







Monday, 28 December 2015

SPAMbled Eggs and SPAM Fries

We're now at at that strange time in between Christmas and New Year. I believe the official name that has been coined is "twixtmas". We've all eaten and drank ourselves silly and after days of slaving over a hot stove just want to get back to some kind of food normality. The recipes I'm sharing today are super quick and easy to make and use an iconic ingredient that over the years has been maligned, celebrated and musicalised. We're talking SPAM - chopped pork and ham. It was one of my absolute favourite school dinners back in the day in the form of Spam Fritters and the two recipes below give a new twist on a traditional family favourite. 


SPAMBLED™ eggs (serves 4)

Ingredients
1 x 200g tub or can of SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham
3 x large eggs
3 x tablespoons milk
2 x spring onions - finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
15g butter

Method
1. Beat the eggs, milk and salt and pepper together in a mixing bowl.
2. Fry cubes of SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham, turning until golden in a dry frying pan. Keep warm.
3. Melt butter in a frying pan on a medium hot heat, sauté the spring onions lightly then add the egg mixture. 
4. Scramble with a wooden spatula until still soft and glossy.
5. Add SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham and mix.
6. Serve with extra black pepper.


SPAM® Fries

Ingredient
1 x 340g can of SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham - cut into 1/2" sticks

Method 
1. Preheat oven to 350f 180c/160c Fan
2. Spread the SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham sticks on a baking tray and place on top shelf of preheated oven for approximately 12 minutes until golden but not crisping up
3. Serve in an empty SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham can with a selection of dips


Further recipes and information on SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham products can be found at www.spam-uk.com  

Links below to some more quick and easy SPAM recipes from fellow food bloggers for once you're fed up with eating Christmas left overs.


Fab Food 4 All - SPAM Salad with Garlic Croutons & Gruyere
A Glug of Oil - SPAM Mac 'n' Cheese

Recipes from A Pantry - Open faced Omelette with Sweet Potato, Okra and SPAM
Fab Food 4 All - Chilli SPAM & Eggs



Disclosure - This is a sponsored post for SPAM®. All views expressed are my own. Recipes and images courtesy of SPAM®.


Monday, 21 December 2015

Festive Tortilla Pizzas

My final post before the big Ho Ho Ho. I can't believe Christmas is almost upon us. My two don't finish School until Tuesday night but for those who have already finished up, today's festive food idea would make the perfect lunch in the countdown until Santa arrives. Like yesterdays Party Ring Christmas Wreath Biscuits I actually feel a wee bit of a fraud sharing a recipe/instructions as once you've seen a photo of them you know exactly what to do. 





Festive Tortilla Pizzas
Cut out Christmassy shapes from tortilla wraps using large cookie cutters or go freestyle with scissors. 
Place on a baking sheet and spread on Tomato Passata then sprinkle with Mozzarella Cheese. 
Finish with a selection of your favourite pizza toppings which can also be cut into festive shapes. 
Cook for 6-8 mins at 200c








Disclosure: Festive Tortilla Pizzas commissioned by Good Family Food

Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - Food Year Linkup

Festive Food Friday
Link up your recipe of the week

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Party Ring Christmas Wreath Iced Biscuits

Christmas Wreath cookies for Santa. Turn kids favourite Party Ring biscuits into edible festive wreaths with the adition of icing and sprinkles. A great fun no bake treat - great for kids to help make.


I am so pleased with the festive food idea that I'm sharing with you today. These Party Ring Christmas Wreaths are so so simple to make but very effective. I actually feel like a wee bit of a fraud sharing a recipe/instructions as once you've seen a photo of them you know exactly what to do. I can't believe that I haven't seen these all over Pinterest, could I really have invented them?! (probably not!)


Use a pack of kids Party Ring biscuits as a base for your festive wreaths. Squeeze on some green writing icing and decorate with an assortment of Christmas Sprinkles, Hundreds and Thousands and Edible Glitter. I made mine without the assistance of kids so was able to be very exacting (yup, OCD tendancies!) with my decoration however a more random approach would work just as well. They'd be great fun to make for Santa on Christmas Eve. Just don't forget a carrot for the reindeer and a dram for the big man.


For further quick and easy festive treats take a look at my
♥ Pin me for later...

Monday, 14 December 2015

Tunnock's Teacake Christmas Tree Baubles

Every time I post something about Tunnock's Teacakes there is an outpouring of love for them. When I made a huge batch of Christmas Puddings with them for the School Fair I carefully removed their foil wrappers as I had plans for them. I've got a wee bit of a collection of foodie themed Christmas tree ornaments and I'd tweeted about looking for some new additions and was told of Tunock's Teacakes Baubles being sold at craft fairs by Bumble Buttonz. I got in touch with them but unfortunately they are based in Glasgow and don't do mail order. Only one thing for it. Make some myself!







Click on > to play and view


Tunnock's Teacake Christmas Tree Baubles

Cheap Plastic Baubles (mine were 10 for £1)
Tunnock's Teacake Wrappers - 2 for each bauble you want to make
PVA Glue
Red & White String

Carefully remove the foil wrappers from your Teacakes and flatten them out.
For each bauble you will need one whole wrapper and the circular section cut out from a second wrapper.
Brush PVA glue over the front half of the bauble and the hanging cap. 
Stick on the whole wrapper and ease it over the bauble and the cap.
Brush glue onto the back of the bauble and continue to flatten down the foil. 
Trim off any excess.
Brush glue on the back of the second circular section of foil and stick it down. 
Smooth down any lumps and bumps. 
Use a skewer to poke a hole through the foil in the hanging loop and tie on a loop of red and white string.



My Tunnock's baubles have now joined all my other foodie decorations on my Kitchen Christmas tree. Do let me know if you have a go at making them and how they turn out. I was pretty ham-fisted with the first one I made but it gets easier! Don't worry about getting them all smoothed out and no lumps and bumps. If you look at the foil on an actual teacake you'll see plenty of creases and that's exactly the look you are aiming for! If Pinterest is your thing the photo to pin and share the Teacake love is the one below. Happy Crafting! 



Thursday, 10 December 2015

Brussels Sprout & Cranberry Pasta Bake


I can't quite believe that I'm posting a a Brussels Sprouts recipe. I doubt I've ever eaten them at any time other than as part of a Christmas dinner. Even then its only because I feel obliged to do so. They are the Marmite of the vegetable world and seem to have more haters than lovers. There are jokes a plenty about mother in laws putting them on to boil in August so that they are ready for 25th December. However over the past few Christmases I have found a most palatable way of eating them. Sophie Grigsons Brussels sprouts gratin with bacon, cream and almonds. This year will be its forth appearance on my Christmas table. Its so good that last Christmas I pondered that it could perhaps be turned into a pasta dish so when the little green cabbages started making an appearance in the shops I bit the bullet. I've lightened the recipe up a bit by replacing the double cream with single and losing the butter. I've also made it vegetarian by removing the bacon lardons and adding fresh cranberries in its place for a further seasonal twist. Give it a go, you might be converted!


Brussels Sprout & Cranberry Pasta Bake

300g Pasta shapes
450g Brussels Sprouts, trimmed
50g fresh Cranberries 
20g flaked Almonds 
300ml Single Cream 
2 teaspoons Lemon juice 
Salt and freshly ground black Pepper 
40g Breadcrumbs 
50g freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

Preheat the oven to 200c
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and return to the pan. 
Meanwhile place the sprouts in a pan of salted water and cook for 4-5 minutes, until almost, but not quite, cooked. Drain thoroughly, allow to cool slightly, then cut in half.
To the pan of cooked pasta add the halved sprouts, 25g of the grated Parmesan, cranberries, almonds, single cream and lemon juice. Warm through and season to taste with salt and black pepper. 
Remove from the heat and spoon into an ovenproof gratin dish.
Mix the breadcrumbs and remaining Parmesan cheese together in a bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the top of the sprout and pasta mixture. 
Place into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the top is golden and the cream bubbling. 


I'm going to be on BBC Radio Scotland's Kitchen Cafe at lunchtime today (Thursday 10th December) talking all things sprouts along with Chef Neil Forbes. I suspect we will have our fair share of both lovers and haters among the audience. However we'll also be taste testing one variety of sprout that will undoubtedly leave everyone asking for more. Chocolate Sprouts and Boozy Sprouts from Quirky Gift Library. I bet these won't get pushed around and left on the side of the plate.




I asked around my food blogging friends for their sprout recipes and got plenty of inspirational ideas. 



First up, Easy Peasy Foodie gives us not one but seven ways to make sprouts interesting




Christmas Soup - Knead Whine

Caraway, Apple & Brussels Spout Slaw - Recipes from a Pantry 

Sensational Sprouts - Munchies & Munchkins



Finally, if you're still not converted Butcher, Baker, Baby Blog shows us how to make a Brussels Sprout Wreath.




Festive Food Friday
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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Christmas Gift Guide for Gin Lovers


It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Gin so for the last of my Christmas Gift Guides it's only proper that I offer some Festive Ginspiration. Gin has really taken off in recent years so there is plenty of choice out there for the discerning Juniper connoisseur. Included in my roundup are a selection of gins, mixers, festive offerings and quirky gin related gifts. I recently read that the perfect Christmas stocking comprises of something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. I reckon I've managed to cover pretty much all of those bases and provide inspiration if you are shopping for the Gin lover in your life. If the Gin lover is you, do feel free to forward a link to the significant other in your life. I find a direct approach works much better than subtle hints.





Plant 'n' Grow

£15.95

I made a beeline for the Gin Garden when I spotted it at the BBC Good Food Show. It's the perfect gift for a green fingered gin connoisseur. A couple of hand blended cocktail infusions so you can get sipping straight away plus all you need to sow and grow your very own Gin Garden comprising of Basil, Cucumber, Rosemary and Thyme. Plus a fab wee cocktail and recipe book to top it off. Your G&T definitely counts as one of your five a day when you've grown some of it yourself! 


£7

When Pinkster make Gin they infuse it with fresh British Raspberries. Boozy Berries are a natural by product of this process. Wonderfully inebriated, I can confirm that they are particularly amazing when popped in a glass of Prosecco. Or how about in a boozy trifle, dipped in chocolate, turned into sorbet, served in a pavlova. The possibilities are endless.


Hotel Chocolat

What better than Gin? Chocolate and Gin! The folks at Hotel Chocolate know their Cocoa and have combined it skillfully with Gin in a range of products. Boozy Truffles, sophisticated chocolate bars and and award winning Cocoa Gin. Made by expert artisan English distillers working in small batches using the copper-pot stills the gin combines the flavours of Saint Lucia – lemon zests, juniper, coriander, mineola and angelica, with peppery notes of roasted cocoa shells and the richness crushed macadamia nuts.


£2
Another fantastic Scottish brand that I discovered this year at the BBC Good Food Show. Poporopo make amaizing air popped gourmet popcorn right here in Scotland. Collaborating with Arbikie Highland Estate they have created a fantastic Gin & Tonic popcorn. It really does taste of Gin but not overpoweringly so. A fab wee stocking filler.


Aldi
Gin & Tonic Flavoured Crisps 99p
Try as I might I haven't been able to track any of these down. The concept intrigues me but I am yet to put them to the taste test. Dear Santa, I need a packet of these in MY stocking!


JK Fine Foods
Gin & Tonic Smoked Salmon 100g £4.95

What could be better than scrambled eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast on Christmas morning? Why scrambled egg and Gin & Tonic Scottish Smoked Salmon of course! I have to be honest and say that if I didn't know it was G&T I don't think I could have identified the flavour, however the award winning salmon itself is amazing and has a fantastic zestiness from the lemon peel. A peculiar infusion, but in a good way and sure the tickle the tastebuds of gin fans.


£33.85

Now this is something very special. Sacred Christmas Pudding Gin is made, not by simply distilling Christmassy botanicals, but by distilling actual whole Christmas puddings. Made according to Gin Master Ian's Great Aunt Nellie’s recipe, there's even a copy of it on the back of the label. 30lbs of Christmas puddings were steamed for 8 hours and then macerated with English grain spirit for 2 months and redistilled. A real labour of love! There's also a wee bit of frankincense in it for even more Christmas spirit. It makes a great festive G&T or serve as a shot straight out of the freezer. A refreshing alternative to Figgy Pudding and the most gorgeous bottle. This is top of my festive tipples.


Pickerings Gin
Gin-filled Christmas Baubles
£30
A picture paints a thousand words. Gin baubles for your Christmas tree. You KNOW you want them.


Eden Mill
£59.95
Forget about drummers drumming, maids a milking and swans a swimming. All that I want my true love to bring to me are the 12 Gins of Christmas. No partridges or pear trees required.


4 x 200ml £6

When you've splashed out on a good Gin you really should also splash out on a good Tonic. Walter Gregor is a relatively new kid on the block. He's the first and only Scottish Tonic Water and pairs perfectly with the abundance of Artisan Scottish Gins, particularly those of a coastal or floral nature. 


330ml £1.49 750ml £2.39

A number of years ago I discovered an amazing cucumber mixer for my gin whilst on holiday in Spain. Alas at that point there was nothing similar available in the UK but that's all changed now thanks to Qcumber. This is a fantastically refreshing blend of natural cucumber and spring water. G&Q is the perfect alternative to G&T. 


Classic Tonic, Light Tonic, Pink Tonic, Elderflower Tonic, Bitter Grapefruit 
£1.69


On the trail of interesting mixers I was delighted to discover a brand new range from Bottle Green. Perfect in cocktails, as mixers and dare I say it even sans Gin. Bitter Grapefruit is my absolute favourite. 



101 Gins to Try Before You Die
£12.99
Gin The Spirit of Britain
£10.99

Everyone needs a book at Christmas. Both of these offerings beat the traditional Beano or Dandy Annual hands down. Educational, informative, a wee bit of history and plenty of Mother's Ruin. Just the tonic for a gin lovers bookshelf.


Shaken Cocktails
The Best Gin Cocktails You've Ever Made £25
Three Month Gin Cocktail Gift Subscription £85

Do you like your Gin shaken not stirred? Shaken Cocktails will take you on a voyage of discovery kicking off with all the boozy ingredients you need for five drinks: four cocktails and an extra measure of gin left over as a nightcap. If that's not enough opt for the 3 month version. Premium ingredients, classic cocktails and modern variations plus tips and tricks of the trade so you can shake up bar quality beverages at home.


North Hop Festivals
Craft Beer, Cider, GIN, Cocktails, Street Food and Music. North Hop will be in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh in 2016. Tickets are the gift that keeps on giving. Excitement on the day and something to look forward to at a later date.


Not On The High Street
Everything above is from the fantastic NOTHS. Just type in GIN in the search box and you will be spoilt for choice.




Tanqueray Gin
£26.60 (1L bottle)

Tanqueray London Dry Gin comes in a striking and iconic green bottle inspired by the traditional three-piece cocktail shaker. What's better than mulled wine? Mulled Gin of course. This fab recipe for Mulled Tanqueray sure packs a punch.

Mulled Tanqueray Punch
35ml Tanqueray London Dry
60ml Pressed Apple Juice
25ml Spiced Sugar Syrup
15ml Fresh Lemon Juice
Cinnamon stick
Whole Fresh Apple
Whole Fresh
Orange Cloves

Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and add cloves, cinnamon and orange peel, heat up and serve into a latte glass with a clove studded apple slice. (You can multiply the recipe to make a large batch if you are entertaining friends)


Pinkster
£33
The by product of Boozy Berries. Or perhaps its the other way around?! Deliciously dry, with a hint of fruit, an exceptionally smooth finish and an awesome colour. Colonel Pinkster advises that for the perfect serve you should Spank The Mint.

Thomas Dakin
Available from Harvey Nichols, Booths and Wine Rack. Price from £29.00
A classic style, juniper led single London Dry Gin. Zesty notes or orange and citris combine with Red Cole, a savoury root botanical.

BLOOM
Available from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Tesco and Harvey Nichols. Price from £24.00
BLOOM is a delicate floral London Dry Gin, inspired by the natural flora of an English country garden. Its perfect serve is with Strawberries.


Berry Good
Strawberry, Raspberry, Blackcurrant Gin Trio 3 x 10cl £20
Made in Caithness with Scottish fruit. Also available to buy in larger 50cl bottles for £20. Free from artificial colours or flavourings, these drinks are 'Bursting with Berriness'

Christmas Edinburgh Gin
£35
Infused with the traditional festive spices of frankincense, myrrh and nutmeg. The stunning bottle has been crafted with Bruni glass and features an opulent art deco style label. £1 from every bottle sold will be donated to Trussell Trust Food Banks in Scotland.

Gordon Castle
Plum Gin Liqueur & Raspberry Gin Liqueur £28 50cl
Gordon Castle Scotland Gin married together with fruit form the historic Gordon Castle Walled Garden in Moray. Delicious on their own or with a glass of fizz for a festive tipple.

Pickerings
Triple Tipple Miniature Gift Pack 3 x 5cl £17
A triple whammy. Pickering’s Gin, Pickering’s Naval Strength - bottled at 57.1% (100 proof) for a pinch more punch and Pickering’s Original 1947 Gin.



It's beginning to look a lot like Ginmass

For a further Gin Gift Guide take a look at fellow gin loving blogger Emma's Gin-Tastic Gift Guide and for non Gin Gifts you could do worse than my Christmas Stocking Fillers for Foodies Gift Guide and my Gadgets for Foodies Gift Guide

Happy Shopping!


Disclosure : Thanks to all the brands and PR's who provided products for review. All views expressed are my own.