Category Archives: Cooking

Blogmas Day 7: Swizzels Stocking Fillers & Festive Sweet Tub Give Away

I cannot believe it is only 18 days until Christmas, December is flying by. I have started preparing the boys stockings that they hang on the end of their beds on Christmas Eve. As well as filling it with books, games and little toys I always add a sweet treat. Swizzels have a huge range of amazing Christmas gifts and stocking fillers to make your little ones jump for joy on Christmas morning. From sweet shop favourites to bumper bags of your favourite sweets, there is something for everyone.

There are also fantastic retro sweet hampers that you can personalise which would make the perfect gift for my Dad. He loves sweets, retro ones in particular and the hampers are a bargain at £16.99! There are also vegetarian and vegan gifts available, so there really is something for everyone.

My absolute favourites are Love Hearts, Drumsticks and Refreshers, they just take me right back to being a child when my Grandad would give us a fifty pence piece every Thursday and my Brother and I would go to the local newsagent and spend it on them. Even now when Oscar gets given them at parties and especially on Halloween I always eat the drumsticks!

Online on the Swizzels website throughout the whole of December you can get 15% off everything using the code DEC2018. After looking through the website I also ordered our whole family a packet of personalised Love Hearts each to put on the Christmas table. I will share a photo with you when they arrive.

On the Swizzels website they also have fun Christmas recipes, quizzes, jokes, cracker making tutorials and Christmas crafts. Perfect to keep your little ones entertained up until Christmas. Oscar and Archie love doing Christmas crafts and baking so we will be making the Drumstick Squashies Rocky Road and printing off the colouring sheets.

So here’s something to set your jingle bells ringing! Thanks to the lovely people at Swizzels, to celebrate Christmas, I have two scrumptious Swizzels 5kg Party Sweet Tubs (RRP £24.99) to give away. They are filled to the brim with the finest Swizzels sweeties and each tub is enough to satisfy even the sweetest of tooth right through Christmas and into the New Year! They are perfect for sharing, filling multiple stockings, or even as a staff room treat, these tubs have been packed with all your childhood (and adulthood!) Swizzels favourites: Refreshers, Parma Violets, Mr Chews, Love Hearts, Fizzers, Fruity
Pops, Drumsticks, Double Lollies and more… It’s enough to make your mouth water!

To enter this fabulously mouth-watering competition all you need to do is enter below! Merry Christmas and Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is in collaboration with Swizzels.

Blogmas Day 4: Making A Family Christmas Dinner Easy!

Some people dread preparing and cooking Christmas Lunch but I always really enjoy it and over the years have mastered different tips to make it as easy as possible. After all its only a giant roast dinner! I make my shopping lists well in advance so that nothing gets forgotten.

  • Turkey for 12 – M&S
  • Maris piper potatoes
  • Goose fat
  • Parsnips – M&S
  • Mash – M&S
  • carrot and swede mash – M&S
  • brussel sprouts
  • carrots
  • peas
  • cauliflower
  • stuffing – M&S
  • pigs in blanket – M&S
  • sausage meat – M&S
  • stuffing – M&S
  • yorkshire puddings – M&S
  • turkey gravy
  • bread sauce
  • cranberry sauce

I always lay the table on Christmas eve and just have to add the sauces on the day out of the fridge.

Our Christmas lunch is always for a minimum of twelve people and I start organising it a few weeks before. I went online last week and booked my Turkey on the Marks & Spencer entertaining website and picked a date and time slot for when I will pick it up. This makes it so easy and you can pick your size of bird when ordering so you know you will always get one as big as you require, I ordered a 12-14 person British Organic Free Range Pembrokeshire Bronze Turkey. I also ordered two portions of their outdoor bred garnish selection which consists of stuffing balls and pigs in blankets. When I go and collect the Turkey I will also grab the M&S carrot and swede mash, Yorkshire puddings and parsnips. The parsnips I buy already prepared and they just go straight in the oven in foil trays.

I have also already booked a Tesco delivery slot for the 23rd of December where I have brought all the drinks, nibbles, vegetables, sauces and goose fat for the potatoes. I also buy Bacofoil roasting trays and cook the Turkey, potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and parsnips in and then they can go straight in the bin without any washing up.

I work out my cooking schedule the day before and stick to that and everything then runs smoothly. I use a Jamie Oliver recipe I found years ago for the Turkey and that goes in early in the morning. I remove the giblets, place a large orange, a lemon and a cooking apple inside the Turkey and cover the outside of the bird with unsmoked streaky bacon. The Turkey always stays moist and tastes amazing.

I also cook a piece of ham as well and that only takes 60 mins and has a honey glaze on it. Oscar and Archie prefer it to Turkey.

The Turkey comes out of the oven 30 minutes before serving and I cover it in tea towels to keep it warm. We have two ovens so everything fits in to cook, but this is a great way of making room to cook everything else by leaving your turkey out to rest.

Greg always carves the Turkey and starts doing this about ten minutes before we serve so that everything is cooked and all on the plates at the same time and kept nice and hot. I also make the gravy whilst the turkey is being carved so its ready to go. At the same time I warm the bread sauce and cook the Yorkshire puddings.

My Mother In Law always part cooks the Christmas pudding so we leave that to finish cooking whilst were eating our lunch. I also bake a chocolate cake on Christmas Eve ready and we have mince pies as well. Along with cream, custard and brandy butter.

  • brandy butter
  • cream
  • custard
  • mince pies
  • Christmas pudding
  • chocolate cake
  • ice cream

With all the throw away cooking trays in the bin, I wash up the cutlery and the plates and dishes go into the dishwasher straight away as I cannot stand a cluttered kitchen.

And that’s it, Christmas Lunch cooked for another year!

Blogmas Day 3: Christmas Dining Table Inspiration

I cannot wait for Christmas this year! Oscar is so excited and Archie understands all about Father Christmas this year properly for the first time, so its really magical. This Christmas as usual we have both sides of the family for lunch, there are 12 of us around the table for lunch. Christmas is my favourite time of the year and I love adding personal touches to make it as fabulous and as special as possible for everyone.

I have been searching on Google for Christmas table ideas over the last few months and found so many great ideas. I have decided to stick with my usual Gold colour theme to match our fabulous Pines and Needles Christmas Tree. This is our second year of having our gorgeous tree delivered and dressed and its a show stopper! I’ve picked up lots of little bits from Christmas fairs and garden centres and online as well and thought I would share a few ideas with you. We also went to the Ideal Home Show at Christmas where I brought some new decorations.

For the last few years I have used Gold chargers on the table that I brought from Next. This year I wanted to get some gold place mats instead and again brought them from Next, one side is a shimmered gold and the other is glitter gold. I prefer the shimmer but you could alternate each mat to jazz it up a bit. They come in a pack of four with the coasters for £20.

I also follow a lot of independent sellers on Instagram and Facebook and ordered some lovely personalised wooden Christmas tree place setters from Pretty Personalised who sell lots of personalised gifts.

Last year I had a beautiful centrepiece made by Love Flowers in Rickmansworth and it looked amazing and smelt divine! I think it was about £100 and I will definitely be getting another one this year.

Last year I also found these cute wooden personalised napkin rings and brought thick disposable napkins from Marks and Spencer to put inside them. They have similar ones available from Not On The High Street, a set of 12 is £48.

To go with my Gold theme I also have Gold Cutlery from Viners. The sets come in lovely display boxes and are £135 a set for four people. The only annoying thing is I can’t put them in the dishwasher so have to wash them up by hand.

I hope I have given you a few ideas. I would love to see your Christmas Dining tables and any great ideas you have, so make sure you share them with me!

#Blogmas Day 6: The Perfect Christmas Lunch

Since Oscar was born I have always hosted Christmas Day. I love having all of the family over and we always have a house of around 14 people. I am super organised and start planning Christmas Day in November and start buying drinks and things on my weekly shop to spread the cost a bit. Up until now we have always rotated each side of the family for actual lunch and then the rest of the family would join us in the afternoon. This year as we are in the new house we have space to have everyone for lunch, 12 of us and I can’t wait!

I always order my Turkey from Waitrose and pick it up on Christmas Eve. This year as there are twelve of us for lunch I have ordered two turkeys; one large and one medium. Luckily I have two ovens now to cook them in in our new house. Any leftover goes into my Mother in laws Turkey soup for Boxing Day anyway. I make sure my Turkey is ordered and I have my desired collection slot in November as soon as I get the email from Waitrose saying the slots are available.

A couple of days before Christmas I go to Marks and Spencer and buy all of the vegetables, a couple of ready made carrot and suede mashes, yorkshire puddings, ready prepped parsnips, pigs in blankets and the sausage meat.

I have already booked my Tesco delivery slot for the 23rd. Having it delivered this day means if there is something out of stock I have time still to grab what I need from the shops. From Tesco I get all the drinks, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, goose fat, maris piper potatoes plus all the other essentials I need to get us through the Christmas period.

I always bake a chocolate cake and my Mother in law brings the Christmas pud. I also do mince pies and brandy butter and Christmas cake for desserts.

On Christmas morning I get up early and prep the Turkey. On my first time cooking at Christmas I googled ‘best way to cook a Turkey’ and followed a Jamie Oliver step by step guide. I have done the same with my Turkey every year since and it always tastes amazing. I remove the giblets, place a large cooking apple and a large orange inside the Turkey, carefully without tearing the skin put a fine layer of butter between the bird and the skin, the lay strips of bacon on top of the bird and cook for the amount of time calculated by the weight of your turkey.

I then write out on a piece of paper all of the timings, when things need to be cooked and how long for so everything is ready at the same time. It’s actually really easy if your organised.

I cook everything in disposable bacofoil trays so afterwards it can all go in the bin and then its only plates, knives and forks in the dishwasher. I also clear up/wash up as I go along so there is minimal mess.

Our finished Christmas Dinner always consists of; Turkey, pigs in blankets, sausage meat, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, yorkshire pudding, brussel sprouts, peas, carrots, white cabbage, carrot and suede mash and bread sauce and gravy. Its a good job we have big plates! As Oscar isn’t keen on Turkey yet I also cook a piece of gammon in a honey glaze for him.

Merry Christmas!