michelle

Mulled Wine & Fruit Cake

Mulled wine just has such a beautiful flavour and a warm, happy feeling that I can’t resist this recipe each Christmas although it does seem to fit a cold Christmas more (by name that is, it tastes great in summer, to!)

You need:

125g butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal plain flour
450g sultanas (or 400g plus 50g dates, chopped)
250g dried cranberries
450g crushed pineapple
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons mulled wine

Put the mulled wine, butter, suagr, dried fruit & pineapple in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add baking soda then simmer & stir for about 5 minutes.

Allow to cool before mixing in everything else.

Pour into a cake tin (silicon one works well I’ve found) then bake at 180C for about 60minutes. Cook for up to another hour at 150C when it is firm to touch.

If it gets too brown as it cooks, cover with foil.

Cool in tin then enjoy. Serves about 24 people at a party or about two serves each in my family if we have it for dessert…

* Mulled wine can be bought in some places apparently, but it’s easy to make. If you need some quickly for this recipe, just heat some red wine gently with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and (preferably) lemon rind. what ever’s left over is lovely to drink under a Christmas Tree 🙂

Christmas Trees to eat!

These are a yummy snack for Santa but can also be wrapped to make a nice gift 🙂

ingredients

250g butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cornflour or custard powder
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon milk
200 g milk chocolate
100g white chocolate
round lollies (e.g. mini marshmallows, mini smarties)
icypole sticks (at least 12)

instructions

  1. cream butter, sugar & vanilla
  2. add egg
  3. mix well
  4. add cocoa, flours & milk
  5. mix well
  6. wrap mix in plastic and cool for at least 30 minutes
  7. cut out 24 Christmas tree (or other biscuit cutter shapes always even number of each shape)
  8. put in 180 C over for 15 minutes
  9. cool on tray
  10. spread melted milk chocolate on biscuits
  11. press icy pole stick in chocolate
  12. place matching shape biscuit on top
  13. let chocolate set in fridge
  14. melt white chocolate
  15. use piping bag or paint brush to create chocolate ‘garlands’ on trees
  16. use lollies to create Christmas balls on trees
  17. allow chocolate to set before storing or wrapping

* Makes about a dozen trees if you have a 12cm long biscuit cutter. Will make more or less depending on your biscuit cutter.

* It’s fun to make different Christmas shapes and give a couple together as a gift…

Another Aussie version of jingle bells

Damien added an Aussie version of Jingle Bells last week, but I know another one so I thought I’d give it to you as well!

Jingle Bells

Dashing to the beach
With my boogie board and towel
Look at all the waves
Hear the surfers yell, YEE HAA
Put your sunscreen on
Don’t forget your hat
Because you will get sunburnt
If you don’t remember that

Chorus
Summer time, Christmas time
Mosquitoes, bindies
BBQ’s, sausages
Tomato sauces and flies

Jump into the pool
With your flippers on
Watch the dog catch flies
Sing a Christmas song
Christmas in Australia
Is very, very hot
So snow and sleighs and jingle bells
Is what we have not got

Chorus x2

Thank you :)

My kids received their letters last week and they were just gorgeous! They were so excited to know that Santa really had noticed their good behavior during the year – and very hopeful about the potential gifts me mentioned, too!

The little surprise added in was lovely, but the craft idea on the back was fantastic. Not only have we made many versions, they are wrapped under the the tree for grandparents, aunts & uncles. It was a beautiful way to spend time with my kids and for them to learn the real value of Christmas gifts – it isn’t the price tag but the time and love that goes into them.

So thank you Santa’s Elf – and I for one am glad Santa asked for your help (not that his own letters wouldn’t be just as good!)

memorable Christmas gifts

I love giving gifts that really mean something to the other person – it takes more time than buying a box of chocolates or a book voucher, but the look on their face and the knowledge that the present will last (in their memories at least) is well worth it to me.

I remember I once gave a babysitting voucher to my cousin who had a boisterous toddler – the look of joy on her face was priceless, and she treasured that voucher above her other gifts (by treasured I mean she kept it away from her toddler whereas he could look at her other gifts!) It was a simple gift and affordable as I had little money at the time, but meant a lot to her.

Another year I gave another cousin a calligraphy set because I remembered her saying she’d love to learn calligraphy. She had forgotten telling me that so her gift was a surprise but really suited her.

What presents have you given or received that are memorable for more than the price tag?

Kouramiedes (Greek Christmas biscuits)

A Greek friend gave me this recipe – they’re very yummy 🙂

Kouramiedes

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees CMaking a snack for Santa and presenting it nicely

Beat 0.5 cups of room temperature butter ( which is about 115 grams or 8 Tablespoons)

Add 0.5 cup icing sugar and cream them (that is, mix them until they are pale yellow and fluffy)

Add 1 egg yolk, 0.5 teaspoon of vanilla essence and 1 Tablespoon of brandy or an orange liqueur.

Add 0.5 cup of finely chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds traditionally)

Add 0.5 teaspoon of baking powder to 2.5 cups of flour, then mix in with nut butter

Knead the dough then chill for a few hours – preferably overnight.

Make balls of dough and place on a biscuit tray (you don’t need to grease the tray) with a bit of space in between (4 to 5 cm)

Push a clove into each biscuit.

Bake for 15 or so minutes so the biscuits are light brown.

Roll in icing sugar while they are still warm.

They last well if stored in air tight containers.

**The outside sugar makes them a little messy to eat but that’s half the fun – and Santa won’t notice through his beard 🙂

Writing to Santa

child's hands writing a letter to Santa

Children work hard at their Santa letters – and it’s a memory worth keeping

We’re a bit behind this year so my kids have just written their letters to Santa. This was something I did every year as a kid and now my kids do it.

It personalises the whole thing and is fun and exciting – I can even justify it as writing practice seeing as the older kids have written letters at school or for homework this year!

Creating memories

I take a copy of their letters – photocopy or scan it – as their messages and spelling can be so creative I don’t want to lose them when we mail the letters to Santa. Their letters go into their scrapbooking albums (when I says their, I mean mine about them!) opposite the letters they receive from Santa to reinforce their memories later on.

I wish my mum had kept copies of the my old letters – I think it would be quite amusing to read them and they will make an interesting piece of history.

** The Love Santa letter template may help your children write to Santa, or read our tips on good letters.

Easy chocolate shortbread

Like most other people, our family is pretty busy. I love the idea of my kids leaving something for Santa (I think it shows respect and hospitality – not to mention gratitude for all those presents he leaves!)

But with school finishing so close to Christmas and my work commitments, we have limited cooking time. So I buy some shortbread – just plain basic stuff form the supermarket – and we decorate it. I melt some chocolate (white and brown) and put out 100s & 1000s, coconut and crushed nuts, and let the kids decorate shortbread biscuits.

We do enough for Santa and for gifts from the kids to their grandparents – and for us to eat all the broken ones 🙂

It’s easy, fun, messy and a family tradition for us now. Maybe this year we’ll bake the shortbread first – nah, probably not!

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