It’s that time of year again!

Get ready to Deck the Halls & Jingle those Bells!

It’s my FAVOURITE time of the year!

Xmas 2017

Well after a whirlwind few weeks, we have moved house yet again! Hence why I’ve not been online! Moving is stressful at any time of the year, but right on top of the Festive Season?!?!?! Let’s just say I don’t want to be doing that again EVER! I still don’t have a working oven in the new place so we’ve been living on BBQ & whatever I can manage on the cooktop burners for our first week here, but hopefully, we should have that issue resolved shortly.

I have ‘enough’ of my kitchen unpacked now to get back to doing what I love ~ cooking up a storm to share with all of you on my blog. My Fam-bam are happy now too as they’re the ones who get too greedily devour everything I make.

And just in time too! Because today I start my Christmas Gifts From The Kitchen series! HOORAH!

Over the next 3 weeks, I shall be bringing you fabuliciouz festive culinary treats that you can whip up at home to surprise your loved ones this year with edible presents. Choose to either give them separately as lots of little gifts or combine a wee bit of everything into glorious gourmet hampers! You may even wish to use some of them as your offering on a share plate table as the parties kick in.

After our 3 weeks of Gifts From The Kitchen, I will then be launching straight into my Christmas Feast! This year is a whopper so you definitely won’t want to miss that! Plus, something EPIC is coming up which I can announce to you all at the end of the month ~ you won’t want to miss that one!

So, without further delay, let the Merry Christmas season begin!

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Fish Cakes

Golden encrusted discs housing a

fabuliciouzly soft & flavourful gift from the deep.

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I simply adore Fish Cakes & would order them every time at one particular restaurant in Sanctuary Cove on Australia’s iconic Gold Coast. I haven’t found them that good any where else in the nation……until I started making my own! Hubby goes absolutely wild for these, devouring them greedily as if he’ll never experience them again. It is such an easy recipe, but that’s what a lot of good food is ~ Simple.

Start by frying off 750g worth of fish fillets in a wee bit of heated oil. I use Basa which is about 4 fillets. Then you’ll need to flake them up into small, mince like, consistency in a bowl.

Add in 300g of mashed potato (this is a great way to use up cold left overs!) along with 1/2 a bunch of chopped up flat leaf parsley, 1 teaspoon of hot cayenne pepper & then whisk 1 egg well & pop that in the bowl too.

Combine that lot well & then season generously with salt.

Rest the mixture in the fridge for half an hour then shape into cakes, dust with a wee bit of plain flour & shallow fry over a medium heat until each side is lusciously golden.

Drain any excess oil off your Fish Cakes before serving with a colourful salad & lemon wedges.

ClapShot

A nod to my Scottish heritage,

this fancy mash is fabuliciouzly sweet.

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It’s one of the most treasured of Scottish dishes but it’s one of those oral knowledge recipes that’s usually passed down in the family rather than recorded, so here is how you can all make this classic wee bonnie meal!

Start off with 2 saucepans because the veggies take different times to cook. Place 500g of peeled & chopped potatoes in one & 500g of peeled & chopped swedes in the other. Cover both in water, add salt & bring to the boil. Let those bubble away on your cauldron until the root vegetables are soft & tender before draining them well.

Now you can mix them together in the one pot. Mash them up good & proper before adding in 50g of butter along with 75ml of double cream. Mash them thoroughly until lovely & smooth.

Season the ClapShot generously with salt & white pepper then finish off by stirring through 1 tablespoon worth of freshly chopped chives.

Hubby declares this to be the BEST mash EVER!

Spinach Dip

This Retro Classic is a breeze to whip up & with only 3 ingredients!

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This four day pseudo long weekend, created by the iconic Melbourne Cup horse race in the world’s most liveable city, always marks the start of our Festive Social Season. It’s a time where we glam up in a fashionista style unlike any other day of the year! I love pulling on my fancy frock, securing a stunning fascinator to my tresses & downing a glass of celebratory bubbles.

Alas, tis not to be this year as we must quickly pack up our belongings to depart our mountain top abode! We reluctant nomads are being forced on the move again due to the sale of yet another rental property. Not to the other side of the country this time, though, just sliding down to the bottom of this big hill.

But, I digress. It’s always lovely to have simple, easy foods to pick at & nibble throughout any party but especially at the races. This classic Spinach Dip is a proven crowd pleaser & it’s high time it made it back onto our Celebration Tables!

Simply bring a pot of water to the boil & throw in the contents from a 120g packet of fresh baby spinach leaves. Let them boil away to wilt then drain them & allow to cool ever so slightly.

Meanwhile, empty a 300g tub of sour cream into the pot & add in a 30g packet of spring vegetable soup mix then mix that in thoroughly along with the spinach.

Cook over a medium heat, stirring continuously, until it thickens up nicely then set aside to let the flavours develop for at least 15 minutes but it’s much better if you pop it in the fridge overnight.

Traditionally, this dip is served in a hollowed out round cob loaf with the scooped out bread being used to dip with but when needing Gluten Free, rice crackers & carrot sticks get devoured just as quickly!

Bolognese Pasta Bake

Layers of creamy, rich comfort!

I am sure this fam-bam favourite will be a regular at your home too.

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This is a simple recipe but takes some multi-tasking skill in the kitchen so get organised & your tastebuds will definitely thank you for it.

Start with popping a pot of water onto the back burner to come to the boil, before salting & emptying an entire 500g packet of pasta in to cook.

In a large frypan, heat up a wee glug of oil to brown off 500g of pork mince (or whatever type floats your boat), remembering to season the mince well with salt & white pepper. Pour in a 700g jar of passata, stir through then season again with salt, white pepper, paprika & dried mixed herbs. That can now set aside.

Onto the white sauce! In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over low heat. Once melted, remove from the heat to add in 1 tablespoon of plain flour & 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir that well to incorporate with a wooden spoon then pop back onto the low heat to stir for another minute. Slowly start adding in 2.5 cups of milk whilst stirring constantly. When all the milk is added, turn up to a medium heat & keep stirring until it thickens lusciously.

Ok, back to that pasta! Drain it off & then pop it back into the saucepan. Pour just a smidge of the white sauce onto it along with 2 whisked eggs, just enough to toss the pasta through to coat it evenly. This is a wee trick to add that extra luxury to the pasta that nobody quite knows why yours is so much better than theirs 😉 Season it with salt & white pepper!

Now for the layering up fun bit!

On the bottom of your baking dish, place a layer of the pasta, then a layer of the bolognese mince. Keep layering that up in your dish before reaching the top & pouring all that gorgeous white sauce over it. Finally crown your culinary creation with a copious amount of grated cheddar cheese & grated parmesan cheese which will form a lovely crust.

Whack that into a 180c oven for 20 minutes & It’s Chompin Time!

Spiced Pumpkin Bites

These bite sized Indian inspired balls of spice

could be directly from my witches cauldron for the grown up trick or treaters! 

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I had a 1/4 of a butternut pumpkin leftover in my fridge & thought what on earth can I do with that?!?! Read on to find out how scary the inner workings of my brain can be!

So, I started by peeling & chopping up that 1/4 butternut pumpkin, tossing it into a pot of water & bringing it to the boil.

Whilst that was happening, I grabbed out my mini wok to create a spice paste. How I did that was to pop in a splash of peanut oil along with 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, 1/4 teaspoon of hot cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger powder & 1/2 tablespoon of red thai curry paste. Then I turned on the heat to fry those spices off until Hubby came running with the fragrance!

By this time, the pumpkin was nice & soft so I drained it, put it back into the now empty saucepan & mashed it up. I added in a good knob of butter too!

Into the spice paste in my mini wok, I added a splash of full cream milk, just a normal amount that I’d use to make a mash (you know, how you do butter & milk to any mashed tattie or pumpkin) but I put the milk into the spices first to loosen them up so the milk I used for my mash was spiced, rather than placing the spice paste directly into the pumpkin.

Next, I mixed through some cooked rice to continue along with my Indian theme & which would act as my binding agent.

Pop that lot in the fridge to chill.

When you’re ready to eat, simply heat up some oil in a pan, roll the spiced mashed pumpkin into balls & coat in whatever crumb float your boat before frying them off to colour as it’s already cooked. Make sure you set the balls aside to drain excess oil off & serve whilst still hot.

Now these are soft, so not finger food by any stretch of the imagination, so you will require forks for these wee beauties.

 

Choc-Ginger Fudge Truffles

A delectable sticky treat to please sweet conoissuers.

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It’s getting to that time of year again when we start to look forward to rich delicacies seducing our taste buds!

These truffles are uber easy to whip up from just a few kitchen pantry staples! Enjoy them for Halloween to help get the festive season started.

Simply pour a 400ml tin of chocolate flavoured sweetened condensed milk into a small saucepan along with 200g of dark chocolate & melt it gently over a low heat, stirring constantly, until it’s nice & smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Crush up an entire packet (125g) of Gingernut Biscuits then stir through the chocolate fudge mixture.

Pour the fudge into a tin foil tray & pop in the fridge overnight.

The reason I use a tin foil tray is because this stuff is seriously sticky! It just helps to be able to peel the tray away as you go. Heat a sharp knife in hot water to cut off slices of the fudge, wet your hands & roll into balls. Use a teaspoon to coat the truffle balls in cocoa powder & put on a tray before placing back in the fridge to set.

This is a fabuliciouz little truffle that you can whip up a huge batch of using a few simple ingredients that most of us have easily at hand.

 

Churros

You won’t believe how easy this Spanish classic,

adored the world over,

is to whip up in your own home kitchen!

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When Mini-Me looked up at me with terribly sad eyes saying how much she misses her hot cinnamon doughnut treat since being required to maintain a Gluten Free diet, it absolutely shattered my heart. I mean, what was I supposed to do except go to my pantry, grab my Gluten Free Flour & make my wee poppet some Churros!

This is such an easy doughnut to make at home & this recipe will easily provide you a party platter worth of delectable delights.

Start simply by popping 1 cup of water along with 100g of butter into a medium saucepan & bringing that to the boil, stirring until the butter is melted, before removing from the heat.

Next, add in 1 cup of plain flour & a good pinch of salt. Stir with your wooden spoon to combine it well & when the dough starts to come away from the side of the pan then cover the top with some plastic wrap & allow to stand for at least 15 minutes or until it’s cooled.

Then it’s just a case of beating in the eggs. You’ll need 3 eggs in total, lightly whisk each separately to add in one at a time, beating the dough well after each addition to combine it.

Spoon the dough into a piping bag which is fitted with a star nozzle.

Heat up 1 litre of oil in a large saucepan to nice & hot. Squeeze lengths of the dough into the hot oil, using a sharp knife to cut the dough between each one. Fry for a couple of minutes until they turn a lovely golden colour. Remove from the oil to drain on a cooling wire set over a tray then dust with Cinnamon Sugar.

Meanwhile, break up 200g of good quality dark chocolate into a small saucepan & pour over 1 cup of milk. Pop that on the stove over a gentle heat to melt, stirring continuously, until the chocolate is melted & the dipping sauce is smooth & slightly thickened.

Serve the fabuliciouz Churros with the luscious chocolate dipping sauce & bask in the glory!

Swedish Cream Sauce

A fabuliciouzly versatile sauce with countless applications!

An absolute must in your culinary arsenal.

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To have a variety of sauces up my sleeve has saved me so very many times from kitchen disaster! The ability to create a fam-bam pleasing meal from standard pantry & fridge items is both totally satisfying to me & their tummies!

For this gorgeous sauce, start by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan over low heat before adding 1 tablespoon of white flour & then whisk it until it turns a lovely golden colour, just to make sure that the flour is cooked out.

Next, pour in 1 cup of beef stock, 1/4 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of thickened cream & a good splash of soy sauce. Give that lot a jolly good stir before seasoning well with salt & white pepper.

Turn up the heat to thicken up the sauce to your liking & use it any which way your imagination can dream up!

In the photo here I’ve teamed this Swedish Cream Sauce with pasta & meatballs. These basic meatballs I’ve shared before but just a quick reminder of what’s in these ones.

Into a bowl place 500g of either pork or chicken mince (whichever floats your boat) along with 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of Maple Syrup, 1 teaspoon of mixed herbs, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper & then season generously with salt & white pepper. Mix it all up well with your hands then roll into balls. Heat up a little oil in a pan & fry them off until cooked through.

Watermelon & Honey Slushie

Warmer weather on our mountain top gets us in the mood to party!

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Who doesn’t love a refreshingly cool fruity concoction on a warm day?! This combination of juicy watermelon with the sweetness of honey will definitely give your taste buds a tingle! And I’m sure that the booze hounds among you out there will very quickly work out how to sully this one 😉

It’s another easy 3 ingredient wonder of awesomeness from me to lift up your Summer!

Simply start with 6 crushed ice-cubes, add in some roughly chopped watermelon (about 2 cups worth which is a smaller wedge of the melon) & drizzle in a teaspoon of honey (I always use a local raw honey).

Grab good old Mr Buzzy (aka stick blender) to blitz that lot into a fabuliciouzly cool slushie!