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Christmas Cake Boxes

Christmas Cake boxes

I’ve been busy making Christmas cakes. As some of them are for others, like teacher thank you presents, they need to go in nice Christmas Cake Boxes.

Here are my favourite Christmas cake boxes that I use for small gifts.

I find all of these just perfect for small gifts, not just at Christmas but obviously at Christmas they get used more.

Firstly there are the Cube boxes

Christmas cake boxes

If you need something to put a small cake in then these are great. Approximately 10cm cubed they will hold a small cake or a large decorated muffin.

I made these Christmas cakes in a large muffin tin (it has 6 holes in the tin not 12 so you can imagine the kind of size). My mum tells me she used to make Christmas cakes with her school pupils in baked bean tins, so I think these boxes would work for those too.

By the way – do you like my snowman decoration on the cake?

Secondly there are the mini boxes

These smaller boxes will hold a standard cupcake or muffin. They will also hold sweets, chocolates, homemade biscuits etc.

Christmas Cake BoxesChristmas cake boxes

oooh – or a surprise!

The base of these is about 6cm square and there are 5 in a pack.

I’ve also used these mini boxes for ‘party bags’ at my children’s birthday parties. I discovered pretty early on that when children get party bags all they were really interested in was the sweets! So not wanting to give out a huge bag of sweets I tried these on our guests. They went down a treat as they looked so different it was more like giving out a present to unwrap and I think the children liked that more.

So if you’re in need of Christmas Cake Boxes for those small homemade gifts then look no further.

PS I’d love to know what you put in yours. Do comment and share with us, or post a picture on my Facebook page.

 

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10 Gift Hampers I’d like to receive…I mean give (obviously!)

Pamper basket Phoenix Trading card gift hampers

Have you always loved wicker baskets and have always dreamed about receiving a hamper gift? However, you have this idea that they are really expensive. Well here is a list of some gift hampers that I’d love to send (and receive!). Gift hampers that seem afforable, as well as quirky and lovely.

Here are 10 gift hampers with something for everyone.

(Confession – most of the links in this article are links that I will receive a small payment from if you choose to buy anything. However the opinions expressed are my own. I decided which hampers to include by doing my own research.)

 

Percy PigPercy Pig

Not actually a hamper but a Percy Pig gift bag from M&S and let’s face it – we all love Percy Pigs don’t we?

Sweeties

Retro Tuck BoxThis Retro Tuck Box selection of sweeties has something for everyone. My daughter adores Double Dips but there is no way she’s getting her hands on my Kola Cubes! Hampergifts.co.uk have some other amazing hamper combinations too, worth checking out.

Chocolate

Cadbury Team HamperThere are lots of chocolate hampers on the market but this one from Cadbury Gifts Direct caught my eye because it was aimed at work teams. I’m all in favour of boosting morale in the workplace. I think gifts to the ‘team’ like this are a great idea for Christmas, or any other occasion for that matter.

Drink

I did have a look at wine hampers but couldn’t choose between them and as I was looking at them and picnic hampers I saw this Amethyst hamper – it’s purple, what more do I need to say!?

Food Glorious Food

This was a difficult choice – as you can imagine there are loads of food hampers out there but I plumped for the Breakfast Hamper. Don’t you think it looks versatile and could be sent just as a gift. It suits a wedding, anniversary, birth of a grandchild or just for a special couple. To be honest I just can’t resist smoked salmon!

Halloween

Fortnum and Mason Halloween hamperNo list of gift hampers would be complete without a Fortnum & Mason choice and yes, I have to be honest most of them are way out of my price range. However, I couldn’t help but notice one that was a bit different. How cool to have a Halloween Hamper delivered to the host of a Halloween party? Nice touch I think.

Cake

I like cake, I also like cookies so imagine my delight to find a hamper that contains cake and cookies and flapjacks! This is another choice from Hampergifts.co.uk and I think an affordable choice too.

Pamper

Heather and honey hamperI think the Heather and Honey Hamper from Virginia Hayward is a pamper hamper that would suit most people’s tastes. It’s affordable and subtle and contains products that anyone would use.

Activity

As a mother of small children I’ve heard of Toucan boxes but I didn’t realise that you can actually get Mister Maker boxes. Not quite hampers but a great idea. How often do you watch Mister Maker with your children and think how great the activities are? But you don’t have a wall filled with endless craft supplies and therefore don’t have all the bits and pieces you need to make his makes. Well, now you can. A great idea for busy parents who want to encourage their little ones creativity.

Make Your Own

This wicker basket from Hobbycraft is perfect for filling with your recipient’s favourite foodstuffs – or how about, while you’re at Hobbycraft anyway, a craft hamper? Does your recipient love card making, scrap booking, button pictures, painting, baking – it’s all there to fill your basket.

You might also like Christmas Eve Boxes.

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Millionaire Tartlets

dairy free millionaire slice

Been dying to try out something I thought would make a great alternative to caramelised condensed milk and this worked a treat. Have always loved Biscoff biscuits and when I discovered Biscoff spread I started wondering….Biscoff spread

Ingredients

200g biscuits (I use mainly digestives with a few gingernuts)
50g melted dairy free spread (I use Pure)

1 jar Biscoff smooth spread

200g dark chocolate

Small tartlet cases with removable bases

Method

Whizz biscuits in a food processor, add melted butter and continue whizzing till biscuits are broken and begin to clump together slightly.

Pack biscuit mixture into tartlet cases, press and flatten firmly with back of a metal spoon. Put in fridge to chill and firm up, for say half an hour.

Spoon Biscoff spread evenly over biscuit bases, shake the cases and tap them to even it out a little, it is quite thick but does go pretty flat.

Melt dark chocolate in microwave or over a double boiler. Pour over Biscoff and add a decoration (we used dairy free white chocolate buttons) then allow to set.

When set, remove from cases and eat!

Definitely not part of a calorie controlled diet but very scrummy.

PS I made these with my 4 year old, really simple and unfortunately for me the kids couldn’t quite eat a whole one so I had to eat lots of leftovers – bummer!

Coming soon Banoffee Pie….

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Bottled Strawberries

Bottled strawberries

With a glut of British strawberries this summer we’ve taken great delight in having an ‘excuse’ to support local strawberry farmers and go ‘pick your own’ing.

Well, with me, hubby and three children able to pick (the 3 month old is probably just too young…next year for him)…you can imagine that of course we came home with more than we needed.

Pancakes made topped with strawberries and devoured, cupcakes made and decorated with strawberries and devoured and generally a couple more punnets just devoured I was left with a couple of punnets that were left over and not going to last too long I decided to bottle some. It’s something we’ve done before, really simple and they lasted well in the bottles. Great to have British strawberries in the winter long after the season is finished.

There are different ways to do this but either way you need an equal weight of sugar and water to make a syrup, sterilised jars and strawberries. That’s it!

Method 1 – Bring sugar and water to the boil for about 5 minutes, make sure the sugar has dissolved. Add the strawberries and simmer for about 10 minutes until soft. Put the strawberries in the pre-sterilised bottle/jar and cover with syrup. Seal and leave to cool.

Method 2 – Pack warmed jars with fruit and cover with syrup solution (as above with sugar dissolved) Leave jars/bottles with lids but not closed/sealed in the oven at 150 degrees C for about an hour.

Bottled strawberries

(You can pre-sterilise jars/bottles by putting them in the oven at about 120-150 degrees C for 10 minutes before hand – no need to do this with method 2 but better if the jars are warmed before you put the fruit in or they might crack when you add the warm/boiling syrup).

When eating don’t throw the syrup away! Either spoon over a pudding (ice cream is great), put in a glass and top up with fizzy water for a lovely drink or use some gelatine and make into strawberry jelly. I’m guessing if you boiled it up you could get it to set as there is probably enough natural pectin but I’ve never tried this. Would love to know if anyone has tried this.

The fruit does rise to the top but that’s normal.

Now, anyone for tennis?

If you liked this – you might like to make waffles to go with your strawberries.

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Waffling away

Waffles, sugar free

One of my children doesn’t eat much in the way of eggs and I think they’re a great food so quite often we have waffles for breakfast.

Take very little time to make in the waffle maker, doesn’t even matter if the batter is lumpy.

Here’s my healthy recipe.

Ingredients:

3 eggs
knob of melted butter (we use ‘Pure’ dairy free)750ml milk
1 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
750g wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Method:

1 – Mix eggs, milk, butter, syrup together in a large bowl until well combined.
2 – Whisk in cinnamon, flour, baking powder and salt- don’t need to be completely smooth, a few lumps are fine.
3 – Pour just under a ladle full of batter on your waffle maker (actual amount will obviously depend on the size of your maker – trial and error, you’ll soon know how much to use).
4 – Cook as per waffle maker instructions, a couple of minutes each usually.
5 – If you can keep them warm till all are made – impossible in our house, little fingers grab them off the plate as soon as they’re made.

Serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup!

As you can see, Phlicity, my Flamingo fairy helper enjoyed them!

empty plate of waffles!

If you like these you might like Sugar-free chocolate brownies

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Mud Cake?!

chocolate mug cake

My daughters have been having healthy week at school the past week. With much excitement my oldest came home on the first day saying, ‘Mum, do you want me to make you a mud cake?’…well that’s what I thought she said – turns out she was actually saying ‘mug cake’.

So later on when she was speaking to her granny on the phone all I could hear was ‘no, mug cake’….’mugggg cake, granny’…..’MUGGGG’…….’cake in a MUGGGG’…!

She’s been making them all week. Three ingredients and no sugar! Just cocoa powder, banana and egg. This particular daughter will only eat eggs if they’re in a pancake or a cake so this is another great way to get an egg in to her now and then.

Later in the week she asked if I could share her new recipe with you all…turns out she’s up-ed it to 4 ingredients with the addition of grapes. Personally I suggest you stick with the original 3 but it’s up to you.

Mud Cake Ingredients:

1 egg
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 banana (eat the other half!)
(3 grapes – optional!!!)

Method:

Watch the clip!

Let us know what you think!

PS If you like this you’ll love Sugar-free chocolate brownies

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Sultana Cake

Sultana cake, dairy free

My husband’s favourite cake!

OK so it’s maybe not the prettiest of cakes or the most difficult to make but if you’re looking for a tea time treat then this is it. Plus it has fruit in it so it must be healthy right?

Phoenix Trading cards, chocolate warning, carla koala…and it won’t make dresses shrink like chocolate does will it?!

Ingredients

6oz butter (we use dairy free ‘Pure’)
6oz sugar (golden caster sugar, unrefined sugar is just bad not really bad like the white stuff!)
1/2 tsp vanilla or lemon essence – optional (the Sicilian lemon oil supermarkets are stocking is great!)
3 large eggs (free range of course)
grated rind of a lemon (unwaxed if you can find them)
6oz sultanas
8oz plain flour
2 tablespoons milk (we use oatmilk)
1 1/2 level tsp of baking powder

Method

Grease and line a 20cm round springform tin. As this is going to take a while to cook I would double line it to stop it burning on the edges.

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (150-155 fan oven)

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Whisk in the lemon oil and lemon rind

Whisk in the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of flour to stop curdling (but don’t worry if it does, I find it always curdles with the dairy free stuff anyway, still looks and tastes just as good).

Whisk in the milk with a tablespoon of flour.

Fold in the sultanas with a metal spoon.

Fold in the remaining flour sieved together with baking powder with a metal spoon.

Put mix into cake tin, smooth top with back of spoon. Bake for 1 1/2- 1 3/4 hours till golden brown on top and cake tester comes out clean when inserted into middle.

Remove from oven, cool in tin for 5 minutes then remove tin to a cooling rack. Peel off paper when cold

Store in an airtight container, should keep a week easily, maybe two…like it’ll get chance!

Sultana cake, dairy free

Eat in big slices with your favoutite cuppa!

Dairy book of home cookeryThis recipe comes from one of my most used cook books ‘The Dairy Book of Home Cookery’. It was published and sold by the Milk Marketing Board about 40 years ago. My mother had a copy and I found mine in a charity shop for £1. While I find a lot of my recipes online now this is one book that I still use – simply because it has so much in it and all those recipes for basic cooking. Definitely one cookery book I would not get rid of. I wonder if you have it too?

If you like this you might like Elderflower, strawberry and almond cakes

PS Do leave a comment if you like this or any of my other recipes

 

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Sugar-free chocolate brownies

sugar-free chocolate brownies davina mccall

Lately I’ve been trying to cut out white flour and refined sugar almost entirely. It’s not easy when I’m nearly 8 months pregnant and craving chocolate, cake, crisps, biscuits, sweets….constantly. So I’ve had to find a few ‘sweet’ alternatives. I found this recipe for sugar-free brownies online by Davina McCall.

Sugar free chocolate brownies

As usual I didn’t quite have all the ingredients to hand and I’ll tell you what I did differently, but essentially the were the same. I would love to try them again and make them gluten free too – maybe tomorrow!?…and yes I did sprinkle a little icing sugar on the top but only a little and wouldn’t have if I wasn’t showing them to you!sugar-free chocolate brownies davina mccall

Ingredients

125g Dark Chocolate (100% cocoa)
100ml milk
100g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the tin
175g honey
150g maple syrup
Seeds scraped from ½ split vanilla pod
50g cocoa powder, sieved
3 eggs
150g wholemeal spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder

My variations!

Chocolate – I only had 50% chocolate to hand but would like to try again with darker, my 50% was dairy free though.
Milk – I use oat milk as we’re dairy free, it’s great for baking.
Butter – as we’re dairy free I use Pure sunflower spread in all my baking, it’s perfect, you wouldn’t know the difference – unless you need a ‘buttery’ taste.
Honey – didn’t have much honey left in the cupboard so made up with maple syrup, obviously made it a bit more expensive but yummy!
Spelt flour – didn’t have spelt flour in the cupboard so used ordinary wholemeal flour, figured it was better than white.

Preheat the oven to 190c/170c Fan/Gas 5.

Grease a 30cm x 20cm brownie tin and line it with baking parchment. Leave the paper sticking up at the sides to make it easier to lift the brownie out when it’s cooked.

Method

  1. Put the chocolate, milk, butter, honey, maple syrup and vanilla seeds in a saucepan. Warm over a very gentle heat, stirring regularly, until everything has melted and you have a rich, glossy – looking batter. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder.
  2. Allow the mixture to cool for a couple of minutes and then beat in the eggs. Finally add the flour and baking powder. The mixture at this point will look grainier than usual because of the texture of the flour.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake it in the oven for about 15 minutes until it is just set in the middle but still nice and gooey
  4. Remove the tin from the oven and use the baking paper to help you slide the whole brownie on to a cooling rack as soon as possible so it doesn’t continue to cook
  5. Cut into squares when cool

SERVES: Makes 15 squares
PAN TO PLATE IN: 20
FROM NEW BOOK: 5 Weeks to Sugar-free

 

This is the first time I’ve made brownies and cooked them perfectly – usually they’re either too soggy in the middle or too hard on the outside because I’ve been paranoid they weren’t cooked right – these were just perfect. I would try them again with spelt flour, or with gluten free flour, or maybe just with ground almonds instead and definitely with darker chocolate and possible dark chocolate chips – or just chunks!

PS If you liked this recipe then you’ll love coconut oil chocolate fudge!

PPS I am a little obsessed with cake, that’s why I became a Flamingo Partner – cos eating cake is part of the job!

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“Coconut and orange scented rice pudding” Recipe

Coconut orange rice pudding recipeCoconut and orange scented rice pudding

This recipe is completely vegan and completely delicious (just cause it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s not delicious!). It has a mellowness from the coconut milk and a tartness from the orange juice taste. It’s also very healthy for you. The ginger and orange zest livens the pudding and makes it a memorable experience. You can eat this as dessert, breakfast or even as a snack. The pudding is fresh and pungent.

400
milliliters of Canned coconut milk
1
cup of Water
3/4
cup of Orange juice
2
teaspoons of Natural vanilla extract
1
pinch of Kosher salt
1
cup of Basmati rice
4
tablespoons of Honey
2
teaspoons of Cinnamon
2
teaspoons of Ginger root, chopped
2
teaspoons of Orange peel, chopped

In a sauce-pan mix the coconut milk, water, orange juice, vanilla extract, salt, and rice. Put the pan over a medium heat. Bring the mixture to the boil and then turn the heat down so that it comes to a simmer. Slightly cover the pan leaving a small space for the steam to escape. Stir the rice every 5 minutes so that it doesn’t stick and burn. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Once most of the liquid has been absorbed turn the heat off and place the lid over the pan. Let the cooked rice sit for about 5 minutes.

Mix the honey, cinnamon, ginger, and orange zest in a bowl (leave a little ginger and orange zest for the garnish). Pour this mixture over the rice and mix gently with a fork.

via “Coconut and orange scented rice pudding” Recipe.

 

If you like this, you might also like Coconut Oil Chocolate Fudge

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Lime and Courgette Cake

Courgette cake with lemon and lime marmalade

I took this to a coffee and cards and told everyone it was a lime cake, not a courgette cake, it was very strongly lime flavoured. It makes a lovely moist sponge and with the lime was quite ‘refreshing’ according to one taster. Courgette/zucchini cake with lemon and lime marmalade

The original recipe for this lime and courgette cake comes from Nigella Lawson’s book ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’…but as usual I modified it quite a bit!

There are reasons why I modified it but they all hinged around making this a dairy free cake. That meant I didn’t try and do a cream cheese icing on top (dairy free cream cheese is, in my opinion, just yuk, though with plenty lime it might have been ok I didn’t want to risk it). Then there was supposed to be a lime or lemon curd filling and as I didn’t have the time or energy to make my own I shop bought one, only to realise seconds before putting it on that it contained butter, if I had made my own I could have made it dairy-free.

So here is my version:

Ingredients

250g courgettes (2 large ones – zucchini if you’re across the pond)
2 large eggs
125ml vegetable oil
150g golden caster sugar
225g plain flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

2 x 20cm sandwich tins, greased and lined (I only lined the bottom but it is definitely easier if you line the whole tin!)

Filling
1 jar lemon and lime marmalade (in my case a last minute decision, and a home made marmalade found hiding at the back of the cupboard!)

Icing
300 g icing sugar, sieved
100g dairy free spread (I use ‘Pure)
juice of 1 lime

To decorate
2-3 tablespoons of chopped pistachio nuts
lime zest curls

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C

Wipe the courgettes, don’t peel them and grate but not too finely as they can go a bit soggy. I squeezed out some of the excess juice before I added them but you can decide how squishy they are.

Put the eggs, oil and sugar together in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer until creamy. Sieve in the flour, baking powder and soda and beat again until well combined. Stir in the courgette, pour mixture into tins and bake for 30 minutes. They should be slightly golden and firm to the touch. Leave in tins for about 10 minutes then cool on a rack.

To make the icing, beat the icing sugar and dairy-free spread with a hand whisk and add the lime juice. Add more icing sugar if necessary to thicken it. (To be honest I guessed the quantities above, I just made it up when I did it!)

Spread the marmalade over the bottom layer. Stack the second layer on top and cover with the dairy-free ‘buttercream’ icing.

Sprinkle with lime zest curls and pistachios just before serving (best to allow the buttercream to set a little first).

When serving you can decide what to call the cake. I started calling it lime cakeinstead of courgette cake and I did own up to the courgette after they’d eaten it!…and as for the lemon curd, well my husband loves the stuff and was delighted to be told he’s got a whole jar that’s been opened and needs to be eaten!no

Update August 2018, I can now get an Oatly dairy free creme fraiche which I think could be used to make an alternative topping with lime juice and some icing sugar. Haven’t tried it yet but confident it would work.