Christmas is quite a divisive thing, like Marmite or Fleetwood Mac. A lot of people claim to hate Christmas, which I find crazy – mainly because I can’t see how anyone could hate a time of year focused around parties, food, mulled beverages and John Candy films.
I think the thing that gets to everyone is the stress and expectation heaped on this time of year – you have to buy presents for people; you have to watch the IT team get smashed at office Christmas bash in a soulless hotel function room; you have to cook for a bunch of people with assorted dietary requirements.
Us three SaucyPans ladies all love the festive period, and so Lia and I have gathered some of our simplest recipes to help guide you through the next fortnight with as little work as possible, so you can save your strength for making Snowballs (the cocktails, obv.) and fighting over the last roast potato.
I like using rum for this recipe, and a mix of Digestives and Ginger Nuts; however, as is always my recommendation – feel free to use your initiative and experiment a bit. Amaretto or whiskey also work well, and you can use most types of biscuits – it just depends on the flavour you want, and how much money you want to spend. You can also top them with chocolate, icing, chopped nuts or dessicated coconut.
100g Digestives biscuits – blitzed/bashed to a fine crumb
100g Ginger Nut biscuits – blitzed/bashed to a fine crumb
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons golden syrup or agave
2 tablespoons rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional extras – desicated coconut/chopped nuts/melted choc for topping
Blitz or bash up the biscuits, then add all the other ingredients – add a dash more of each until you get the flavour/texture you want. You want the mixture to be fairly firm so you can roll in to balls, but not too grainy or flakey as the balls will not hold together. You can always add a bit of milk (or coconut/soya milk if you want to keep it vegan) if you want to give it a bit more moisture without adding more syrup or rum. These treats don’t need cooking so are good to be eaten straight away, or frozen/refrigerated until needed.
Cheesy Chorizo Chillies
I’m always surprised by how quickly these disappear at any party; they taste amazing and are so easy to make. Be sure to wear gloves when de-seeding the chillies unless you want your hands to be on fire for the ensuing 5hrs.
1 packet of chorizo slices (optional – leave out if making veggie!)
1 packet of Boursin (or goats cheese or any herby soft cheese)
20 large common red chillies, de-seeded
Roast the chillies in the oven on a medium heat for 10mins to soften them up, then set aside to cool. Once cool, stuff with the Boursin, then wrap the slices of chorizo around the chilli. Place back in the oven for 5mins to make sure that the chorizo stays in position. Done!
Festive Brussel Sprouts
When the festivities are dying down and you’ve had enough of your gluttonous ways, but your eco warrior inside will not allow any of the three tons of leftover food go to waste, there are definitely different ways to eat your leftovers, rather than cold or between two slices of bread. Here are three simple ways to bring your leftovers back to life without anybody even noticing they are leftovers at all!
Leftover Turkey Chilli
After Meat, gravy, more meat and more gravy, I think your body needs something a little zingy. Something spicy to get your motors and taste buds going again. So with any leftover turkey or poultry meat, you can quickly turn those into a spicy chilli!
The beauty of turkey meat is that it’s quite absorbent of flavours, so any spices will quickly penetrate the meat. Don’t waste anything and even keep the brownish meat, it is full of flavour!
300g leftover turkey meat or any other poultry pulled apart into small bits (if you don’t have as much leftover, you can substitute with vegetables or leftover sausages!)
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 Tbs of tomato puree
½ tin of kidney beans or chickpeas
1 heaped tsp of ground cumin
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp of oregano
1 tsp of smoked paprika
chilli, either fresh of chilli flakes, as much as you dare
½ litre of chicken stock
½ tsp Worcestreshire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Fry the onion garlic in a big saucepan on a medium heat, until softened. Now add cumin and paprika and gently fry the spices.
Add the turkey and fry until warmed through (and any other vegetables or meat you put in). Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and oregano and stir until all is mixed. Bring to boil.
Add chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon, beans and chilli and the sugar, stir and lower the heat. Put a lid on and gently simmer the chilli for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
When the hour is up, taste the chilli and adjust seasoning to your taste, either salt, pepper or more chilli!
If you find the taste to be a little flat and one dimensional, instead of salt, add ¼ of a chicken stock cube, stir and taste again and either add more or be happy with it. Serve over Rice or enjoy with some doritos!
Leftover Christmas Pudding Truffles
Now, you love tradition and tradition dictates that you will have a monster of a Christmas pudding; the heaviest of puddings after a Christmas dinner that could have easily fed 3 people. It’s likely that you and your family will eat it for the sake of it, but only a very tiny piece, drowning in brandy butter or cream.
What now with most of the Christmas pudding remaining untouched? Re-heating it the next day will definitely not make it any more appealing. But you know what is always appealing? Chocolate – little chocolates especially! This recipe was originally done by the kitchen goddess Nigella but I have adapted it slightly because I don’t like Sherry; so shoot me.
350g Christmas pudding, cooked and cooled down
125g Dark chocolate
3 Tbs Golden syrup
1 Tbs of rum, red wine or whatever other alcohol you have to hand
Crumble the Christmas pudding into a big bowl. Make sure there aren’t any huge chunks of it. Melt the dark chocolate; I usually do it in the microwave, blast for around 10 seconds, stir, another 10 seconds, stir, until melted. This will prevent the chocolate from burning and ut’s easier than a water bath.
Line a baking tray with cling film. Add the melted chocolate, golden syrup and alcohol to the pudding and mix thoroughly. The chocolate will start getting cold again and the mix will be stiff, so work quickly.
Moisten your hand with water and roll a walnut sized truffle and put it on the tray. Repeat until the mixture is gone; you should get around 30 truffles. Put in the fridge to set. You can melt some white chocolate and dip the truffles in if you like or eat once they are set! Delicious and incredibly rich.
Christmas Dregs Punch – Dark Spirits
If you are like me, you will have as much alcohol at Christmas as possible. This naturally doesn’t mean all will be drunk.
If you have a quarter left here and a quarter left there, it will take up room and probably end up being drunk during an impromptu house party when all other booze has gone. Instead of waiting for that to happen, how about making a delicious punch and enjoying that with your friends?
For dark spirits like rum or whisky, use the following recipe:
3 cups dark rum or whisky
1 cup pineapple juice
juice of 2 limes
4 cups of orange juice
4 dashes of bitters
1 tbs of brown sugar
Mix sugar with lime juice in a big bowl until it’s a paste like consistency. Add the rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and bitters. Mix until combined. Add crushed ice and slices of oranges to decorate. If you feel festive, add a dash of nutmeg!
Christmas Dregs Punch – Clear Spirits
The dreaded vodka and the remnants of gin! Make a super delicious cranberry punch!
Frozen carton of cranberry juice (1litre)
1 litre lemonade
1 tin of pineapple pieces in natural juice
3 cups of vodka or gin
2 cups of ginger beer
In a big bowl, mix slightly thawed cranberry juice with the pineapples, including the juice. Add lemonade, ginger beer and vodka, and stir. Chuck in some ice cubes and slices of oranges to decorate.