Monday, 31 December 2018

Welcome 2019

How soon this year has passed once again, time seems to pass us by too quickly. This twixmas week has been a time to just take life a little slower but it is time to prepare to welcome a New Year.

While changing the conservatory sideboard this morning from the festive reds ...

.... to my TIME plates, I once again had a thought while setting out the plates ...

TIME is different for each of us ... 

The clock plate designs all tell a different TIME 

The different TIMES can exist side by side

TIME is different for us all, we are all at different times / stages of our lives, yet we can all exist together in parallel times ...

Thank you to those who give their T I M E to visit my blog, to read, support & even leave a generous comment - it is appreciated. Thank you to those who inspire me through their lovely support & comments - they keep me inspired & motivated. 

I want to wish you all beautiful memories, treasured moments & a year filled with more blessings than your heart can know in 2019.  It is a time to start afresh & to take advantage of the 365 opportunities that the New Year brings ... 
Dee ~💕~

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Post Christmas sweet & savoury tarts using whatever you have to hand ...

Hi everyone

Please tell me I am not the only one who opens my fridge & cupboards on Boxing Day & thinks ‘why did I buy this & what am I going to do with it?

I always buy in ready made puff & shortcrust pastry rolls (shhhh some of us have never made puff pastry) to have on standby during the festive season.

The puff pastry can become pies, cheese straws, cheese & bacon palmiers etc. It is also used for my standby Boxing Day plait.

I have made a variation on this recipe for years - a great standby that looks good too.

You will need:

A roll of puff pastry

500ml of white / mustard / cheese sauce (whatever your preference)

A bowl of leftover meat, vegetables & stuffing from the festive meal

Cut the meat & vegetable in to bite sized pieces; it will be a mix of sweet & savoury which reflects the meals we eat at Christmas - sweet parsnips, carrots, broccoli, Brussel sprouts , potatoes, stuffing balls, turkey, pigs in blankets etc

Mix it with the white sauce & season very well - I used chilli flakes, salt, pepper & herbs.

Roll the pastry out & visually think of it as thirds - the centre third will be for the filling while the two end sides with be cut to form strips that will be plaited over the filling.

I put mine on a double layer of baking parchment at this stage.

The start plaiting from the side - the first part is tucked over the filling, brush the sides with water to help it stick, then it is simply one side, then the other all the way down the pastry, trying to lay them side by side to encase the filling. I put the stuffing on the top of the filling just under the pastry. We had both meat & vegetarian stuffing so that will add a nice touch similar to a beef wellington with its topping.

The last section is folded over to encase the last of the filling then the last strands are tucked over.

It will get an egg wash before being baked in a hot oven of about 200C till well risen & brown.  Ours will be served with fresh green vegetables (asparagus, beans & broccoli stems), homemade cranberry sauce (cranberries cooked with freshly squeezed pink grapefruit & caster sugar) & a warming ginger punch. It needs to go into a hot oven - 220C at first or even on to a metal tray that has been heating in the oven so that the bottom is crisp.

To accompany this I decided to make a sweet tart with a few of the lovely things in the fridge & cupboard too.

I rolled out the bought shortcrust pastry, lined a loose base, fluted pie dish & blind baked it for 10 minutes at 180C with parchment & baking beans to hold the shape. While it was baking I rolled a circle of thin marzipan, large enough to fit in to the bottom of the pie dish. When I removed the baking beans. I added the marzipan circle to the base, pricked through both & returned it to the oven for a further 10 minute.

I had 5 tart cooking apples which I peeled, cored & sliced in to wedges then briefly cooked with cloves only in the water - I did not add any sugar because I did not want any additional sweetness.

A jar of luxury mince meat (for those no familiar with it, festive mince meat is a fruit based filling used in mince pies) was mixed in a bowl with additional stem ginger, mixed peel & a little sherry.

I warmed a small tub of mascarpone cheese with a little honey till it was runny & pourable.

Once the pastry came out of the oven, I spread the mince pie mix over the base , then arranged the apple wedged in a circle on top before pouring the mascapone & honey mix on top of the apples then  returning it to the oven for a further 15 minutes till it had set.

Hot out of the oven, crisp marzipan pastry, tart apples under the honeyed mascarpone topping - gorgeous flavours that are reminiscent of mince pies with a twist. 


The proof is in the taste - it tastes if Christmas all rolled in to a stunning pie - it does not need cream because of the mascarpone on the apples. The sweetness of the mince meat flavours the apple topping & the pastry / marzipan base held up well & the combination was perfectly lovely.

What do you buy in ‘just in case’ in the holidays & how do you use it?  Thank you for stopping by at this busy time & for leaving a comment,
Dee ~💕~

Quick little pancake recipe

Hi everyone

I had a request to share the pancake recipe from the festive ones I made ...

It is a recipe I use often  because everyone has these 3 ingredients at home. To make it even quicker, I just use a hand whisk & a large mixing bowl

1 cup self raising flour
5/8 cup milk (sometimes I add a dash of cream to make it special)
1 egg 

It is my mothers old recipe & that accounts for the 5/8 cup of milk but it is a recipe that works.

You want the batter to not be too stiff but more of a droppable consistency, add a bit more milk if it needs it.

I do not add sugar to the recipe at all because it is often eaten with fruit & a drizzle of maple syrup.

For my festive pancakes, I added dried cranberries (left over from baking) and a small handful of cooking ‘fiery ginger’ strips which really gave it a lovely taste. I let them sit in the batter for about 5 minutes for the cranberries to plump up again & dotted a few extra on the top side just before I flipped them over - really good.

I add spoonfuls to a warm, not hot non stick pan (with a little butter for flavour) and when it is all bubbly on top, I add any fruit to the top (blueberries are a favourite) then flip them over & cook till done (only another minute or so)

Serve warm with yoghurt, ice-cream, fruit of your choice & maple syrup or chocolate sauce even.

Enjoy - they take a few minutes to mix & cook & so are perfect for a quick breakfast. Some inspiration for serving your pancakes ...

We do sometimes do it with fruit, bacon & maple syrup

Can you ever have too much fruit or too much cinnamon?

Our cranberry & ginger pancakes ...

Please leave a message if you make them & tell me how you served them & I hope they will become your stand by ones too.
Dee ~💕~

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Merry Christmas one & all ...

Hi all my lovely followers & readers

Our Christmas day usually starts with a breakfast in the conservatory.  Our favourite breakfast is little pancakes so I decided to change them slightly. I added fiery glazed ginger & dried cranberries to the batter, left it to rest for a few minutes while I prepared the fruit & set the table.

Don’t they look rather tasty?

No cookies for Santa but pancakes for breakfast in our house ...

 You might notice the china is from the sideboard in the conservatory where we eat a lot ...

Festive cranberry & ginger pancakes with blueberries, strawberries & pomegranates as our fruit, served with natural yoghurt, a dash of maple syrup, coffee & bubbly while enjoying the laze start to the day. 

We  used the pretty Christmas china from the dresser / sideboard, a mix of old & new. The red glasses are pretty vintage ones, as are the vintage green glass bowl; the Santa cookie plate & coffee cups are Spode, the with the red we each used are Emma Bridgewaters pretty Christmas flower plates

This tree on our conservatory table is just simple with lights & bows ... 

From our home to yours, thank you for your company, have a blessed & peaceful festive season however you celebrate it. 

Dee ~💕~

Monday, 24 December 2018

Our Christmas table is ready ...

I love Christmas but often find that there is so much to do that I like to do the things I can ahead of time. This year, I decided to prepare the table in the conservatory for us because it will be easier to just concentrate on the company & the cooking.

This was our table in 2016 

I loved the 2011 setting 

I do not use this set of gifted cutlery enough because it has to be hand washed; however as the table was set ahead of time, it was practical to use it.

The colour is the important thing - I opted for traditional red, white & gold this year with lots of greenery about too.  The glass candle sticks are usually in the dining room but they are needed here. The gold chargers are practical & they shimmer with the red glassware ...

I moved the furniture around to give us more space - sideboard, drinks tables & somewhere to pop the nuts & nibbles too. This room has a lovely garden view which  I love too ...

Don’t you love this little Christmas lady who is so sweet ... 

The lovely Oliver Bonas cheese board is ready (the lid swivels to reveal the cheese knives); I always buy nuts (oops, must find my nutcrackers ...) because we always had them at home as a child. My Dad used to sit outdoors with us children & crack nuts for us to snack on while my Mother & Grandmother did the last meal preparations so they are a lovely tradition that I keep.

Some drinks we might use are brought through - the little drink inspired ornaments always come out at this time of the year. Some more battery lights are added. 

A bit of polish to shine up the water jug & the drinks shaker ...

 I think we are ready ...

I love looking at the table & I am glad that it has been done ahead of the time so that the cooking will be easier. I have a tradition of buying a new decoration for the girls each year - this year they have sheep 

Andy has a dog at his place - not quite a viszla but a dog never the less

 All ready now - I rather love it ... 

This year, we are having an early Christmas meal together with the girls & Andy before they head north for a well earned festive break from their busy work lives - Christmas can be whenever you are gathered together & that is the best thing. 

Once again, I remember those friends & family who we have lost this year & those who are no longer with us - to speak their names is for them to live still. 

I look forward to the family gathering around the table again, thank you for your company. May you have a very blessed time with your family. 
Dee ~💕~