Monday, 19 December 2011

Easy Christmas Dinner

OK so I am sort of of the Nigella school of thought on putting in minimal effort with cooking but I am also someone who would only serve up the best of grub to visitors or on special occasions. I have a multitude of cheats secrets that over the years I have come up with. Generally I came up with them as I like to be able to socialise at a special occasion and am someone who doesn't understand why anyone does the cooking and organising if its just going to end up with them exhausted and stressed to the hilt during and afterwards.

I went to catering college when I left school and my tutor there was very much an old fashioned cook as well as a good chef and gave me a lot of pointers on how to prepare and safely store foods in advance. One of these was turkeys and over the years I have adapted how I do Christmas dinner to suit myself and now I believe the way I do it is the only way to do it if you wish to sit and relax at all on Christmas Day. Otherwise you will spend all day peeling chopping and sweating and who really enjoys their dinner after all that effort??? I know I don't.

So here are my secrets for the easiest Christmas Dinner for the designated cook.

Firstly I always buy frozen turkeys with the giblets in. I usually do this at least 3 weeks in advance and defrost it as soon as I get home. Once defrosted properly (checking for ice crystals as we all do and removing the giblets) I smother it in butter then cover the breast meat totally in oak smoked dry cure streaky bacon, season and throw it in the oven for its designated time. When its done I check the legs and breast juices run clear and rest for over an hour in the foil. Remove the bacon and put to one side and carve your bird as you would for Christmas day. I always buy foil containers with lids and lay the turkey slices in there overlapping as much as you need to.

Next I cook my sausages in bacon and stuffing as per instructions ( I usually buy fresh pork sage and onion as I like it best) and together with the bacon from the turkey I put these in a foil container too. I then use packet turkey gravy which I make up and pour into each container covering the turkey and all the trimmings. Leave it all to cool totally then put the lids on and freeze. Job done.  Remove from the freezer before you go to bed on Christmas eve and by the morning it will have defrosted ready to go in the oven for Christmas lunch. You can throw it in in the containers. I usually remove the lids and cover with foil instead as the lids can go a bit soggy when defrosting.

If you leave it all to the last minute there's nothing to stop you cooking your bird on Christmas eve and putting the containers in the fridge overnight ready to put in the oven on Christmas Day.

TOP TIP : Remember to always use your foil shiniest side down towards the food as it reflects the heat and cooks things evenly.

I usually throw all the bones from the turkey in a large pan after I have carved and picked the carcass and boil them up with water, an onion (not peeled just cut in half) 2 celery sticks cut in half and 2 carrots and leave on a slow boil for 4-6 hours but now i would probably throw in the slow cooker on low for 24 hours. This makes a fantastic stock for a soup for your Christmas day starter or for any other time.

My roast potatoes I noticed other people doing this year too but this was a trick I was taught by my gran for great roast potatoes and easy to do. Par boil a pan of potatoes for 10-15 mins depending on the size of the chunks. I usually half mine so do 15mins. Drain and leave to cool for 5-10 mins with the lid on. Shake the pan slightly to fluff the edges add a few table spoons of plain flour to the pan, season with salt and pepper and shake it up again. then pour onto a baking tray covered in the oil of your choice. Pour more oil over until potatoes are covered and once completely cooled put into sealed freezer bags and lay in the freezer. One the day you can defrost and cook or cook from frozen whichever you prefer. I always add a tiny bit of extra oil to be sure before throwing in the oven for 30 mins.

TOP TIP: buy foil containers to cook everything in. Saves in washing up after dinner.

These are all real cheats ways of sprouts and all the trimmings.
I buy frozen sprouts as they are just as good, I boil for 2/3 of the allocated time and add a jar of ready prepped chestnuts for the last while. I usually do that in the morning then heat by toss in a pan with prefried streaky smoked bacon in before serving.
Cranberry sauce and bread sauce all are generally jars and packets and I buy my gravy in the tubs in the meat aisle for the table.

Bish Bash Bosh, Christmas dinner all ready to go. No dirty big roasting trays to wash up after either.

Images from google images.

Monday, 5 December 2011


Hey there everyone. Check out my guest post today over at the lovely Honest mummys blog.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

I'm Back

I'm back, well, for today anyway. I've managed to persuaded myself to sit down and actually write something. It's getting the time to actually open a laptop these days here. Both kids are busy busy and its been a trail of birthdays after birthdays and a lot of goings on for me over the last few months. So, I felt the need to sit and get some things up to date here.

My big news which most of you know is I am pregnant with baby number 3. It's very very early days and although I'm putting it out there so early I haven't told many folk in real life. Our parents know and closest friends but I needed somewhere to vent my worries and general moans so chose to put it out on twitter this week when I turned 5 weeks and both sets of parents had been informed. It's been good to have some where to feel positive about it. Every one's been lovely and encouraging me to banish my worst fears until I need to. I had an early miscarriage at the end of September there and believe me there are plenty of worries for me. The lovely @the_moiderer has helped with a recording of fabulously positive thoughts for me and its working a treat. Thanks D. So I am 5 weeks and 1 day and counting. I should be 12 weeks around New Year so keep everything crossed for me til then please. Right now I will breathe a bit easier if I can make it past 6 weeks.

It's my little man's 3rd birthday on Sunday coming and I've been wracking my brains what to do for it.

 We have a winter fair in the town on Sunday with Santa arriving by helicopter and the Christmas lights being switched on so I want to go to that and make the most of the celebrations there as he will love that but then with it being his birthday it is one of those busy busy days and with my energy levels as they are right now I am trying to work out what's best for it. I'm a little bit aghast that 3 years has passed so fast and cannot grasp that this time 3 years ago he was already overdue. He's such a fabulous little man and I adore him in every way. I can't wait for him to be a big brother because I know he will be amazing at it. Anyway, at least the cakes decided. Sophie picked a Winnie the pooh cake in Marks and Spencer's one day recently so I am going to collect it at the weekend. Little Caleb will love it and for the first year with both kids I haven't made cakes but I am enjoying the rest.

On another note altogether I have started my Christmas shopping and hoping to finish it in the next couple of weeks. I want to be organised because stupidly we have arranged to have our main room redecorated in December and that will cost us so I want the kids stuff sorted now. I also hate the rushing round on Christmas eve so I want to avoid that stress this year.

We're having a huge Christmas dinner at my mums this year with everyone there and we're all contributing to cooking and booze. We've each put £100 in the kitty and taking money out to buy our share of the meal and booze/decorations/entertainment. Mums using two huge tresssle tables and we're decorating it for everyone. There should be around 20 of us. I think it will be lovely and cuts out the worry of who to see for Christmas which means I'm actually looking forward to it this year. As long as the mother in law doesn't demand our company at her annual crap Ttesco buffet day on boxing day. I hate boxing day and we always have it at home to recover and have some us time. There's a fall out every year over it and last year she was told so fingers crossed she's got the message.

Anyway, its good to be back. I promise I will try to keep up with everyone else's blogs a bit better and can't wait to keep this updated with my most recent adventure.

Monday, 24 October 2011

A Month?

Its been a whole month since I blogged?? Blimey!

I've found with everything that's been going on here I haven't had that much to say or time to say anything really.

Quick summary of the month....

Ill health.
School holidays.
Mine and Sophies birthdays.
Hubby car hunting.
Lovely friend and her friend and child visiting.

Theres got to be a few posts in there but it's finding the time.

Anyway I will be back. Soon.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Utterly Scrummy and Beyond.

I've said it before that I haven't been feeling too great this last week and had been struggling a lot with some stuff I have going on. My energy levels are beyond gone and I've been pretty down. I had a lovely surprise from a good friend the other day as I said which helped lift my spirits and then when I was on twitter the other day I mentioned what had been going on and the lovely Michelle from Utterly Scrummy asked if she could send me some of her brownies to cheer me up. My reply......... OHHHHHH YESSSS PLEASE!!!! It was a lovely offer and very very kind of her.

Today they arrived and as I was having a lie in this morning, Hubby brought them up to me in bed followed in quick pursuit by Caleb. The fact the box had the name of its contents on it might have explained their enthusiasm.

They were packaged beautifully and so fresh. Each one came sealed for freshness and you could tell they were newly made. YUM YUM YUM.We had a lovely picnic in bed before I'd even woken up properly.

Now I say brownies. These are no ordinary brownies. These are Uber yummy brownies. Hubby doesn't normally like brownies and these have converted him.He agreed they are so amazing.  Caleb who is a cake connoisseur was in cake/chocolate heaven. The two of them sat waiting for me to open more. Little pests.

S'cuse me. More please!!! Also note hubby hovering in the background. 

 Anyway I managed to rescue 3 for my personal consumption when they're not around. These brownies very much require private mummy time to appreciate their gorgeousness.

 I can honestly say I've never tasted brownies like them. They are for sure 'Utterly Scrummy.  Thank you again Michelle. I will certainly be ordering more of these brownies for myself and also as gifts for others. I looked at the website today after receiving them and they are so reasonably priced it makes a great gift idea.

If you fancy having a look or ordering yourself some pop over to , and order yourself some. I promise you wont be disappointed. They are worth every penny.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Gene

What is it with men and clothes? Mine spends a fortune on them and then proceeds to take them off every opportunity he can ( and no, not how you think, just for lounging around). He comes in from work has a shower and puts on pjs. He's ruddy half naked at all times in the house. Sends me nuts. I can't send him to the shop or to take the bin out or anything...................................................hold on.............. is that the ploy????? *lightbulb moment*. Well, anyway, even if it is that his sons not much better. My gorgeous boy cannot keep his clothes on. As soon as we are in the house for the day he systematically undresses as the day goes on. Often seen streaking past a door in either a Rab.C.Nesbit ensemble or bottomless. If we ever have to dash out for some reason I have to start dressing him again. Drives me potty.

None of us like shoes. I hate wearing shoes and always have. I spend most of my summer totally barefoot indoors and out whenever I can. Saying that I own a lot of mad huge platformy heally shoes that are beyond gorgeous and make you want to lick them but day to day all I wear are either Uggs or flip flops. I've tried to diversify. I own countless amounts of boots and various colours of converse all stars which I am happy in with ripped jeans, a hoodie and beany hat on lazy days but after an hour or two I cant wait to release my piggies and run barefoot. Again, Caleb hates shoes. Before we even get in the door he demands 'shooz off'. I hate people in my house with shoes on so it suits me but he is very adamant he hates shoes. We tried every kind of fitted shoes from various kids stores and I'm sure it was what hindered his walking for months. We would take his shoes off indoors and he'd plod around happily. Stick him in fitted measured leather shoes and he would demand to be carried and not even attempt a step. As soon as I invested in Uggs for him and converse he was happy to walk but still demands them off before we even reach the doorway.

Maybe we have created a fussy lazy man monster, who will refuse to wear clothes or shoes and drive his future wife nuts. Erk!!! Its really in the Genes isn't it!!! The poor love doesn't stand a chance then.

Sunday, 25 September 2011