December 21, 2015

Star-Topped Mince Pies

there's only four more sleeps 'til Christmas, but I'm not counting... The smell of pine and wood fires, the feeling of cosy knitted socks and the sound of sprightly festive tunes played on many a repetition can only mean one thing: Christmas is here. And Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the taste of warming mulled wine, sparkling prosecco and a copious amount of mince pies. I kid you not when I say you can't just eat one of these. And Santa might want a little more left at the bottom of the chimney this year; after all, he's travelled all this way. 

This is by far, my absolute favourite recipe. Though I'm intrigued to try new and unusual variations on the classic mince pie (frangipane is my next adventure), Nigella's recipe wins hands down. Less is definitely more and when you have the most crumbly, mouth-watering, Christmassy bitesize mouthful to devour, there needn't be a thickly clad coat of pastry and a bubbling dam-bursting overflow of sweet mincemeat inside. Go gently and you'll be rewarded. 

With the last minute panic of Christmas shopping and food planning galore, decorations and a flurry of cards through the letterbox, it can be overwhelming to even consider home-baking mince pies. However, there's certainly no excuse for not having mince pies over the festive season (don't you dare buy store-bought varieties, it is a crime against Christmas!!) and this recipe will not only put you in jubilant spirit, but it can be done in a matter of minutes (ok, maybe a little longer) if you purchase some good-quality mincemeat as opposed to making your own. It's by far the best thing to indulge in over the holidays. 


December 05, 2015

Chocolate and Hazelnut Granola

nutella used to be my favourite treat as a child; slathered onto sandwiches cut length-ways or spooned, glossy, mountain-like, into my mouth straight from the jar. I've come to learn that having a hearty breakfast in the morning can begin your day with triumph and leave you bouncing with energy for the few hours to see you through to elevenses. Nutella, unfortunately, isn't one of them. As they say, breakfast should be eaten like a King (or Queen in my case) and I honestly believe that if you kick off in the right fashion, the rest of your day with follow suit. 

A healthy breakfast needn't be boring - you just have to open your mind to the endless mouth-watering possibilities there are. Recently, I have not been so inventive when it comes to the first meal of my day yet when your days are as choc-full of endless to-do lists, these are the times breakfast should take precedence. 

I hate to break it to you, but this recipe is no Nutella. However, it does add decadence to the mundane morning routine. The honey and cinnamon take the bitter edge off the warming cocoa powder and a pinch of salt ties up the sweetness and balances the flavours. Add in some roasted chopped hazelnuts, full of protein and some slow-release carbohydrates and you're on to a winner! Serve with sliced banana and fresh cold milk.