A few weeks ago, we were invited to try the festive menu at Pizza Express. I jumped at the chance as Pizza Express is one of my favourite chain restaurants and we eat there quite regularly anyway. We went to our local branch in Intu Merry Hill at about 3pm on a Sunday afternoon and were seated promptly. Thomas and Daniel were given hats, stickers, crayons, a little colouring/puzzle book and some Christmas cards to colour in during our meal. After a look at the menu, we ordered and then eagerly awaited our meal.
Tag Archives: Christmas
Hello everyone! Here is my first ever Christmas Gift Guide. I am planning on making it at annual event from now on, so if you are looking a for a gift for the foodie in your life, then look no further! Here we go!
Selfridge’s Christmas Products
This year Selfridge’s have a wide range of products guaranteed to please the foodie in your life (or anyone for that matter!) They have a wide range of hampers, interesting sweet treats including Toffee Coal (It’s delicious!), Brussels Sprouts made out of Marzipan and you can even get personalised jars of Nutella and chocolate bars made to your exact taste by Mighty Fine. Find out more about the personalised gifts available instore here.
Getting Personal Products
I do not know about you but Stuart always tells me things, we have run out off when I get back from the supermarket. It is so annoying! I am putting this Personalised House Slate Chalkboard in the kitchen so he can leaves me notes and I can check it before I go shopping and hopefully stop any confusion. This is perfect for the disorganised person/family in you life!
Here is a brief selection of some of my favourite cookbooks of the year that would make ideal Christmas presents:
Chicken: The New Classics By Marcus Bean – Think chicken is boring? You won’t if you read this book. Chicken is much more than just a Sunday Roast as Marcus Bean shows us. Perfect if you need more inspiration in the New Year
Southern Italian Family Cooking: Simple, healthy and affordable food from Italy’s cucina povera by Carmela Sereno Hayes – Looking for simple family food, then look no further! Tasty filling Italian food to feed all the family. Well done Carmela!
The Hairy Dieters Book 3 Good Eating By Simon King and David Myers – I am looking to lose a a bit of weight in the New Year and intend to use this book to help me. This book is full of inspiring ideas that are full of taste not calories!
Fifty Ways with Spuds: 50 brilliant ways to cook potatoes by Gary Fenn – I bet you thought that all you could do was mash, boil and roast potatoes? Well think again and let Gary show you how. Simple, easy and in Kindle format so you are never short of a potato recipe!
Here are some of my most useful kitchen gadgets of the year that would make perfect Christmas presents:
Tefal Actifry Family 1.5kg - I have only received this recently but it is a very useful addition to my kitchen. I am even cooking my roast potatoes in it on Christmas Day. You can read my review here.
VonShef Premium Digital Automatic Multifunctional Fresh Soup Maker Machine & Smoothie Maker – This may seem a kitchen gadget too far, however it will turn quickly turn anything you have into a soup and you only have one pot to wash up. You can read my review here.
Magimix CS 4200XL Food Processor - This is the Rolls Royce of appliances in my kitchen. It can make cake batter and bread dough in seconds, whisk egg whites or cream and can even chop vegetables. You can read my review here.
Crockpot Digital Countdown Slow Cooker – as a busy working mum, I always have a smug face all day when I know I have dinner in the slow cooking waiting for me when I get home. This is one of the best ones I have tried. You can read my review here.
Tefal Gelato Ice Cream Maker – This is yet to receive the full Jo’s Kitchen test (review to follow asap), however, what can be better than homemade ice cream?
Beer 52 Selection
Stuart has recently been tasting a selection of craft beers from Beer52. They will send you a case of 8 beers, chosen by their experts from craft breweries around the world. Stuart is still working his way through the section above (his favourite so far is the DNA beer on the right). This would make an ideal gift for the beer lover in your life this Christmas.
If you are after a gift for the chocolate lover in your life, then look no further then these from Godiva Chocolates. The stocking is very sweet and full of the finest white, milk and dark chocolate figures perfect for adults or children. Inside the snow topped house, you will find gorgeous little limited edition dark and milk chocolate carres filled with biscuit and puffed rice. Perfect for the chocoholic that has tried everything!
Thank you to Selfridges, Beer 52, Getting Personal and Godiva Chocolates for supplying samples for review. All kitchen appliances mentioned were sent for review purposes too. Everything else has been purchased by or for myself. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. There are affiliate links in this post.
My only negative with the Actifry is how noisy it is while it is in use. It sounds like an airplane is taking off! I am sure I will get used to it over time. However, bar from that it is really simple and easy to use. It has clear digital timer display and is easy to clean either in the dishwasher or by hand.
One of my favourite Christmas #GuiltyPleasures is goose fat roast potatoes. I love them and could quite happily eat a plateful of them and forget the rest! Did you know that goose fat is actually better for you than butter or lard? It is also high in monounsaturated (55g compared to 19.8g in butter) and polyunsaturated fats (10.8g compared to 2.6g in butter) which are both good for the heart (Source: here) However, all fats need to be eaten in moderation and although I usually cook roast potatoes the traditional way in lots of goose fat, I decided to see if the Actifry could give the same or similar result using a lot less fat.
Overall, I was very impressed. I let them cook for 45 minutes removing the paddle after 30 minutes to let them crisp up and prevent any smaller ones falling apart (using oven gloves and being very careful – you can remove it completely if you want to and turn the potatoes yourself using tongs. The Actifry pauses during cooking when the lid is opened.) I used two tablespoons of goose fat (it is Christmas after all!) although you could probably get away with one. I melted goose fat in a small saucepan before putting it in the Actifry as I wanted to ensure they were coated evenly. You can skip this step if you want too. I will definitely be making my roast potatoes this way on Christmas Day itself. They are healthier for you and it’s one less thing in the oven as far I am concerned!
I nominate Sarah of Taming Twins to take the #GuiltyPleasures challenge next!
Actifry Goose Fat Roast Potatoes
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 2 generous tablespoons of goose fat
- 1kg of Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks (usually thirds or halves depending on size of the potato)
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Melt the goose fat in a small saucepan until clear and runny.
- Put the raw potatoes into the Actifry, drizzle evenly with the goose fat (be careful, it is hot after all) and season with salt and pepper
- Set the timer to 50 minutes and either remove the paddle and turn manually during cooking or remove the paddle 30 minutes in (using oven gloves and being very careful!) and then turn manually a couple of times until cooking is finished.
- Serve with your Christmas dinner or with a quick midweek roast chicken dinner like I did above. Enjoy! (And remember the pleasure is not so guilty now!)
Hands up, who has a jar or 1/2 jar left of mincemeat in your cupboard? I did and I am sure many of you do too. This year I was determined to put my leftover mincemeat to good use. With a baby due any day now (hopefully ASAP!!) I have been looking for easy to make filling snacks that I can eat while chasing round after a toddler and a newborn baby. This fits the bill nicely and I think it proves that mincemeat is not just for Christmas but can be used all year round to make delicious treats!
Mincemeat Flapjacks (makes 12-16 small squares)
- 125g unsalted butter
- 100g golden syrup
- 300-350g mincemeat
- 350g jumbo oats
- 100g glaice cherries, chopped
- In a saucepan, put the butter, golden syrup and mincemeat and heat gently until melted. Turn off the heat.
- Stir the oats and glaice cherries in until well combined. Then pour into a foil Traybake tin (from Lakeland) or a well lined small roasting dish.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 30-40 minutes until golden brown on top.
- Allow to cool completely then cut into squares. Eat and enjoy!
Sorry I am really late with my entry into #bloggersknowbest -3: Christmas. This is the monthly recipe linky I host dedicated to the Hairy Bikers. The joys of being heavily pregnant and getting ready for Christmas and the new baby at the same time leave little time or energy for blogging. The baby can make an appearance whenever it likes now as I have cooked the Christmas dinner, had bubble & squeak, had turkey curry and made my traditional Boxing Day gammon which are my food traditions every Christmas.
This year, for my Boxing Day gammon I adapted this recipe from the Hairy Bikers. I kept the cooking method the same by boiling and then roasting the gammon with the glaze on. However, I added a couple of extra mustards to the glaze including wholegrain and a Dijon mustard with honey already in it. I roasted the gammon with the glaze for about 40 minutes, adding more glaze on top at regular intervals. Once cooked and cooled, I took the gammon to my mom and stepdad’s, they said it was my best Christmas gammon yet so I will definitely make it again soon!
There is still a few days left to enter into the linky so if you have cooked anything from the Hairy Bikers this Christmas, then why not take part. More information and the linky here.
I was recently contacted by John Lewis and asked if I would like to try one of their Christmas hampers. A few days I received via courier a Vintage Holly hamper. The hamper was well packaged in an outer box and the items were well secured in the box pictured above with lots of polystyrene balls which went all over my living room as I opened the box the wrong way. (Muppet LOL!!) The hamper contained the following items:
I was very impressed with the selection in the hamper and most of the brand names in the hamper were well known to me beforehand. I am looking forward to trying the Christmas pudding on the big day itself and my friends and I loved the mini mince pies on our coffee morning. The Christmas cake is very sweet and is the perfect size for a treat for a couple of people. The toffee chocolates, cheese biscuits and shortbread will give you plenty to nibble on over the festive period. I think this hamper would make a lovely gift for a foodie couple or one lucky person if you do not really know what to buy for them this Christmas.
Disclosure: I received a John Lewis hamper for review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
A short while ago, I was sent a Christmas hamper from hampergifts.co.uk. As I am pregnant I decided to try a non-alcoholic hamper called The Noël. We were very impressed by the speed of delivery (via courier) and how well packaged and presented the hamper was. Everything is held in place with cellophane and there is a large bow on top suggesting that there are lots of treats inside.
The hamper contained:
- Olives Et Al Chilli & Garlic Olives 150g
- Dark Chocolate Coated Marzipan Loaf 100g
- Cottage Delight Spicy Mango and Ginger Chutney 340g
- Edinburgh Tea & Coffee Co. Fresh Ground Breakfast Coffee 56g
- Large Christmas Fruit Cake 500g
- Milk Chocolate Coated Almonds 150g
- Alice McPherson's Petticoat Tails Shortbread 150g
- Olive and Sesame Savoury Breadsticks 100g
- Triple Chocolate Gourmet Cookies 100g
- The Wooden Spoon Cranberry and Orange Sauce 113g
- Walkers of London Milk Chocolate Fruit & Nut 240g
- Buchanan's Chocolate Russian Caramels 100g
- English Breakfast Tea x 10
Overall, we were very impressed with the hamper. There are lots of well known quality brands inside and the contents was very varied so there is something that everyone will like in it. The free teddy bear that came with the hamper is a nice touch especially for a younger member of the family. I have not sampled every product that came in the hamper yet but I can confirm the triple chocolate cookies, shortbread and Russian Caramels are divine! This would make an ideal present for a family who likes foodie things but who you are unsure what to get them.
Disclosure: I received a hamper to review. All views are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.