Mistletoe & wine part 2

What an evening! 13 people + 1 cat all crammed into our house for gossip, food, drink & cheesy party music. Thank-you to all of my friends for coming tonight & really kick starting the festive period. At school we nicknamed ourselves the fellowship because, rather imaginatively, there were 9 of us. Even though boyfriends have come & gone or become husbands & fiancés we have always stuck together.

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Just a few party pics. Happy Christmas everyone!

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine.

It’s the start of my Christmas holidays!! After a 7 week term we were all crawling to the finish line that was yesterday. After a week of pantos, parties & talent shows we were all in the festive spirit.

Today’s blog post is dedicated to my work friends, most notably Kath. After a year’s exchange from Oz we had some teary goodbyes to say yesterday which was only lightened by my spectacular fall into a puddle of mud! So this one’s for you Kath – whoop whoop, joy wrap, good paper, blah, blah, blah – we miss you already.

This Sunday evening my h2b & I are hosting my friendship group’s annual Christmas do. 14 of my closest friends will be coming round into our tiny, terrace house for nibbles, drinks & some secret Santa. I will be attempting some gluten free recipes today as one of our guests has a gluten intolerance. Wish me luck, I’m a little nervous!

I was more than a little anxious about providing enough food for a gluten free diet so I chickened out & bought a cake mix by Hale & Hearty.
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It was simple enough to mix, although I was supervised by our cat, Susie…
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This mixture needed 2 eggs and 90g of butter & made enough for a 20″ round tin.
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This is the finished product.
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I made gluten free pastry for the vol-au-vents following this recipe.
It made quite a lot so I used half and have frozen the rest. These will be topped tomorrow with gluten free white sauce & prawns, salmon or mushrooms. Photos to follow.

I also made sticky gingerbread cupcakes but with gluten free flour. They taste good but the texture is quite spongy. This is them pre-mascapone frosting.
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I hope everyone is having a wonderfully stress free festive weekend. I certainly am. There will be party photos to follow with some mistletoe and a glass or 2 of wine! Happy Christmas weekend.

A festive friends & family weekend.

Happy weekend everyone! We are creeping closer and closer to Christmas and I am so, so, so excited! This weekend the festivities continue with a trip to London with my bestie Queenie to see my friend Grace. The plan is to check out a Christmas market, drink mulled wine & go out for dinner. I’ve been counting down to this all month!!

As well as that, tomorrow we’re having a family get together at my parent’s house with my Dad’s side of the family. I have volunteered to take chocolate tea cakes so today will be my second attempt at these treats. I aim to improve them by:
1) Baking the biscuit base for a minute or 2 less.
2) Making the marshmallow thicker.
3) Sealing them with milk chocolate to make them uniform in colour.

I really should get up & baking or they’ll never be made!

I followed exactly the same recipe as last time except I doubled it to make 12 forgetting that I had leftover biscuit dough last time! I have frozen the extra though for next weekend.

I also made them heartshaped this time!
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I also added jam again as that proved a popular choice last time.

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The finished product…
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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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We’ve finally got round to putting our Christmas decorations up! This means the festive season has officially begun.

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Christmas time is a very nostalgic time of year, hence the photo of my sister and I in the picture above & my grandmother’s baubles on our tree. It’s also a time for giving. I love giving gifts & I especially love giving gifts of baked treats.

I’m a little famous in the h2b’s workplace for my cupcakes and I was told they were missed so I spent a little time this weekend baking sticky gingerbread cupcakes with a mascapone & lemon frosting…

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and lemon butterfly buns…

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Both recipes are from this book which I use a lot.

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For the sticky gingerbread cupcakes
I doubled the recipe to make 24 but this is the original minus the stem ginger.

115g plain white flour
2tsp ground ginger
3/4tsp ground cinnamon
3/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
4tbsp milk
85g butter
70g soft brown sugar
2tbsp black treacle
2 lightly beaten eggs

frosting
1tub mascapone cheese
1tbsp icing sugar
Juice from half a lemon
method
1) Heat the oven to 160°C.
2) Sift the flour, ginger & cinnamon in a bowl.
3) Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda.into the milk.
4) Beat the butter & sugar and then add the treacle. I ‘wash’ the spoon in bowling water before I put it in the treacle so it comes off the spoon more easily.
5) Add the eggs to the butter mixture.
6) Combine all the ingredients and then put into cake cases.
7) Bake for 20 minutes.
8) Combine the mascapone cheese, icing sugar & lemon juice and when the cakes are cooled spread the frosting.

I went one step further and used Christmas stencils to dust a pattern on in cocoa powder.

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I also decided to make some lemon buns, from the same book, as a lighter alternative.
for the lemon butterfly buns
115g self-raising flour
1/2tsp baking powder
115g butter
115g caster sugar
2 lightly beaten eggs
Finely grated rind of a lemon (the book suggests half)
2tbsp milk

buttercream
Icing sugar
Vanilla essence
Drop of milk
Butter
Method
1) Preheat the oven to 190°C
2) Beat the butter and sugar and then add the lemon rind.
3) Sift in the flour & baking powder and stir.
4) Add the milk and eggs & beat until smooth.
5) Put the mixture into cake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes.
6) To make the buttercream. Put a spoonful of butter into a bowl with a drop of milk and some vanilla essence.
7) When the cakes are cool, cut a dome of sponge out, spoon in the frosting, cut the done in half & then place back on top to look like a butterfly.

Finally, enjoy just as we’re doing now whilst watching ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ following our festive inspired bacon, brie & cranberry sandwich.

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Our stash of cakes to take to work tomorrow.

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Happy Sunday everyone!