Beer Gummy Bears

I’m a sucker for kitchen gadgets and gizmos, so when I spotted gummy bear moulds for just £1 on Wish.com, I couldn’t resist. My parcel arrived with a tray to make the bears and a pipette to fill it with. Now, all I needed was the jelly to fill it with.

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My husband and his two grown sons are big fans of Belgium beer, so I thought it might be fun to have a go at some beer gummy bears. On my travels around Pinterest, I found this recipe, which requires just beer, sugar and powdered gelatin – I found one sachet is just over a tablespoon, so I used three sachets when making mine.

I measured out a cup of beer the best I could with the head frothing up and added it to a pan with the sugar and stirred on a low heat until the sugar dissolved, before adding the gelatin and mixing until that too had dissolved.

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Then, using the pipette, I filled the teddy moulds, making sure each teddy was filled to the top, gently popping any air bubbles. I found I had way too much liquid, so ended up filling anything I could find. But the recipe I followed does say you need three teddy bear mould trays.

I popped everything in the fridge for a few hours until set and then turned them out. There was a mixed response from the boys – my husband liked them, but his two sons, not so much. I thought they reminded me of the pint pot sweets I used to get as a child, but with more alcohol in them! In all seriousness, these do hold a lot of their alcohol content, so that’s worth keeping in mind if you’re driving.

I plan to try other concoctions now including gin and tonic and prosecco, so hopefully they’ll work too.

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Brighton Snailspace Trail

We’ve been giant animal hunting again! As the Snailspace trail around Brighton and Hove entered its final day, my husband and I finally got around to going to find as many as we could.

With the weather perfect, we couldn’t have chosen a better day to walk some 15 miles around the city, looking for the sculptures, which came both as large snails

 

and smaller ones, which had been designed by schoolchildren.

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We started off at the train station and worked our way through the Laines, where we came across a Martlets shops. Martlets is the hospice benefiting from the trail and thankfully, stocked trail maps, which made our task that little bit easier. We also nabbed ourselves a ‘snuck’ – cross between a snail and a duck – as a little memento of the day.

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After finding most of the Brighton-based snails, we decided a little lunch was in order, before pushing on into Hove.

It was a packed day along the seafront, but with the weather so glorious, it wasn’t hard to understand why. In total, we probably found around 50 of the snails, both big and small. We knew we wouldn’t find them all – there was over 100 in total – but some were too far out to find on foot. We made full use of the app – £1.99 to download – which added a little extra fun to the day. We collected several rewards, but couldn’t use many of them, but I shall be going through them again today to make sure all competitions have been entered.

We found our final snail as the sun was setting and it was a sunset worth watching.

By the time we returned to the city centre to head towards the train station, the Christmas lights had come on, which really added something to the day – I’m a huge Christmas fan.

 

 

This is the second time we have completed one of these trails in Brighton – we did the Snow Dogs a couple of years ago – and it’s always great to see how the city embraces the idea. There was a lot of excitement in the build up to the event and if you missed the event, there is still a chance to see all of the snails at their farewell event on the 30th November to 2nd December at St Augustine’s Event Centre in Brighton. This is a ticketed event, which can be found online. The snails will then be auctioned off for the Martlets and these things always go for a lot of money, which is fantastic for the hospice. If you think you can give one of the snails a home for life – and they are ridiculously cute – check out the website, where you can also make a donation or grab your own Snailspace merchandise.

I’m looking forward to whatever trail arrives in Brighton next, but currently I’m not aware of any, anywhere in the country that are coming up. So, if you know of any, please do let me know!

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Turkey & Ham Pie

So, the turkey is drawing to a close and last night, part of the leftover meat was transformed into a tasty turkey and ham pie. It really couldn’t be easier and my fiancé loves it.

As you should know by now, I find life too short to make pastry, so I just bought a pack of ready rolled shortcrust and a pack of ready rolled puff pastry. Grease a pie dish and gently place the shortcrust in, making sure it’s nicely tucked down, with all the sides covered.

Then add in chunks of turkey – I use leg and breast – ham, stuffing and I sweat off a leak in some butter to pop on the top. For an extra treat, I sprinkled over some grated cheddar cheese.

In a saucepan, start by making a rue with melted butter and plain flour.

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Allow the flour a little time to cook out, before adding in a splash of milk and whisking together. Keep adding milk slowly, whisking all the time, until you have a thick sauce. I also added some of the jelly from the turkey juices for added flavour and a grind of black pepper.

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Pour the sauce over the meat

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and pop the puff pastry on the top. Give it a milk wash – I use milk rather than egg as it’s cheaper – and cut a little cross in the top of the lid to give the steam somewhere to escape.

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Place the pie on a baking tray – just in case it boils over – and place in the middle of a 180C oven for around 30-40mins. Again, I’m a horror when it comes to timing things, I just watch and go by gut, but as long as your pastry is nice and golden brown and the filling piping hot, you should be fine.

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We had ours with mashed potatoes, sprouts – leftover from the Christmas shop! – and in my other half’s case, gravy.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all and may 2018 be everything you hope it can be.

Coming into the new year with me, is the remnants of the Christmas turkey, which today will join the ham in making the second pie of the season – I like to buy a big turkey that will really stretch. So far, the turkey has, of course, provided Christmas dinner (which we had Boxing Day this year), many, many sandwiches, and the two pies, with the bones already boiled up as stock, ready for some meat and stuffing to go in for a tasty soup. Of course, it also served for the general ‘picking’ at cold meat. I also like to collect the juices after roasting the bird, which separates into jelly and dripping – these can be used for gravies, roast potatoes, adding flavour to sauces and in my case, eating on toast – don’t knock it until you try it!

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The ham – also a good size – has joined the turkey in sandwiches and the pies. It was just too big for the pan, so I cut some off to freeze before cooking, which will go to a lovely split pea and ham soup.

We also have a tonne of vegetables, so veggie soup will also be on the card, which will probably be joined by some of the cheese mountain we amassed over Christmas. I really don’t like waste, so I will do all I can to stop anything from being thrown away.

It’s been a truly lovely festive period for us, which properly began on Christmas Eve, when my now-fiancé proposed!

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We had family down to stay for the Twixmas part of the season, before a party and then New Year. Now, we start the busy task of planning the wedding and juggling work.

Have a truly lovely 2018 and I’ll be back with more posts very soon!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Stirrers

If you have leftover candy canes from Christmas, you could try this little idea that I did as a gift for friends this year.

Inspired by a social media post, I thought I would try out candy cane spoons – mostly because I have some silicon spoon moulds that I had never used.

I started by smashing up those red and white peppermints – similar to candy canes and to be honest, I didn’t even think about saving the hassle of finding these mints and used candy canes instead!!

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Pour the crumbs into the moulds – this will be very sticky and pop in the oven at 150C and allow them to melt. I cannot stress how vital it is to keep and eye on this stage as I forgot on my first attempt and ended up with a bubbling, sugary mess. You may need to top up after the first melt, as the candies can pack down a bit.

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Once you’re happy with the thickness of your spoons and they’re completely cool, carefully remove them from the moulds.

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Whilst the spoons are cooling, melt some chocolate – of your choice – in a double broiler with a touch of butter and fill some baby fairy cake cases with the chocolate. Dip your spoons into the chocolate, just far enough for them to stand up unaided.

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Get them in cellophane bags as soon as possible, otherwise the spoons will become tacky. And there you go, peppermint hot chocolate/coffee stirrers.

Festive Firelighters

I can finally write about these, as my friends whom I made them for have received them as part of a hamper, which they were allowed to open early for Christmas.

I got this idea off the TV the other day with Kirstie Allsopp in her Homemade Christmas series, which I love – festive firelighters. They looked easy, so I thought I would give them a go.

I started by drying some orange peel strips in the oven at a low temperature. It only took around 10 minutes – much quicker than I expected!

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Then I took 6 tealights out of their metal containers and popped them in their own individual Christmas cupcake cases and put them in the oven at around 150C I think it was, and allow the wax to melt. Again, this didn’t take long and I kept an eye all the time – just in case!

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Take the cases out of the oven, and carefully move the wick to the edge and whilst the wax is still molten, add your orange peel, cinnamon sticks, star anise and cloves – or a mix of what you like – and allow the wax to cool.

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The idea is my friends can now light the wick, pop the whole thing in their open fire and their home should smell like Christmas as the fire burns.

So, thank you Kirstie for the idea, it works and was a lovely addition to the hamper.

Christmas Tree Cake

I’ve had my first go at icing a cake that wasn’t a standard round Christmas cake. For my birthday this year, I was given a Christmas tree cake tin and we thought we’d have a chocolate cake for our Christmas pudding this year.

As a trial run, I made a dummy run, which was going to be delivered to my in-laws, only for the snow to hit, so we had to eat it ourselves!

I won’t talk you through the chocolate cake, but I used Mary Berry’s recipe and it turned out really nice – well, she is the Queen of Cakes to me!

For this cake, I made two sponge cakes and after a slight wrestling match with the tin, I managed to get them out. Note to self, cooking spray isn’t enough, always line!

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The two chocolate trees were filled with freshly whipped cream and a whole jar of strawberry jam. Then, I used ready-rolled (short cut) marzipan to top the cake, before rolling out green icing (I used two packets, but three would be better) and for the trunk, I used a pack of chocolate icing, which I rolled out.

To top the cake off, I used edible glitter spray in gold and silver, some little red sugar balls, silver sugar balls and some edible snowflakes. To get them to stick, I used a little bit of gin – vodka works well too.

I didn’t think I did too bad for my first attempt and was gutted I couldn’t get it to its intended recipients. I’ll now be having another go ready for Christmas next week.

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