Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas Gifts For Foodies

With only a few weeks left until Christmas you will probably have started to think about what to buy friends/family/secret santa recipients.  I’ve got a great range of gift guides for you this year including gifts for herhimstocking fillers and this one which is for foodies.

foodies gift guide

Some of the items in this gift guide will have their own review which will be linked within the post.


Opies Products  -From £1.40

From cocktails to cheeseboards, there is an opies product for everyone use them as stocking filler or make a hamper.  Why not create a cocktail stocking/hamper and pop a jar of cocktail cherries in or you could do an ice-cream sundae stocking/hamper with wafers, voucher for ice-cream, bowl and some Opies black cherries or what about a cheeseboard stocking/hamper with a jar of Opies pickled walnuts, crackers, cheese knife and some strong cheddar.

Pickerings gin bauble

Pickerings Gin Baubles – £30

What better gift than gin-filled Christmas decorations. Each pack contains 6 different coloured plastic baubles filled with 5cl of Pickering’s Gin. You can give the box to one person or split between 6 stockings (or just buy them to keep for yourself).

Metcalfe's popcorn

Metcalfe’s Popcorn – From £1.49

Fill a stocking or hamper with a DVD and a couple of bags of Metcalfe’s skinny popcorn (The salted caramel one is delicious) and you have the perfect gift for someone this Christmas.

Milk and more gifts

Milk & More gifts – From £2.99

Who doesn’t like to get something to eat as a gift at Christmas? These beautifully packaged items would be welcomed by anyone and I personally can’t wait to get stuck into the Rhubarb and Custard boiled sweets this Christmas.

Glen Scotia Whisky

Glen Scotia Whisky – £19.99

You can buy this set of three 5cl tasters of the distillery’s finest whisky, The Double Cask (46%) , 15 Year Old (46%) and Victoriana (51.5%) – I’ll have the Victoriana please, it’s deliciously musky with hints of vanilla – perfect.

Chocolate Sprouts

Chocolate Sprouts – £9.99

Handmade from solid white chocolate, These sprout chocolates look exactly like the real vegetable and will make a great gift this Christmas although your recipient may be a little shocked at first as these are so lifelike.

Chilli advent

Chilli Advent Calendar – £35.00

Now although this is called an advent calendar it’s so much more than that.   24 chilli’s to ll take you on a world tour of heat with the smoky Mexican chipotle, fiery Indian bhut jolokhia, and sweet prik chee fah from Thailand – without even leaving your kitchen. You’ll experience a range of heat levels. From mild to lip-tingling, right through to volcanic, each day brings a new experience making this the perfect gift for chilli lovers.  There are recipes such as fish tacos, salsa, Rogan Josh, truffles and mince pies to make your festive period a chilli taste sensation.

Apples and Pear mug

Apples & Pears Mug – £9.50

This beautiful apples and pears design china mug would make the perfect gift for any retro lovers, pop it in a hamper with some good quality tea or coffee and biscuits and put a smile on the recipients face.

Coffee pot print

Coffee Pot Art Print – £10.00

This two-colour risograph print of a French enamel coffee pot will make a wonderful gift for anyone this Christmas.  Louise’s prints vary from print to print, making each one unique in texture and depth of colour.Limited edition of 50, signed and numbered


Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé mini champagne – £12

A perfect addition to a hamper or perfect popped in a stocking, these 20cl bottles of champagne will put a smile on the face of the recipient.  Of course you may find that the bottles are too perfect to gift and you could end up keeping them for yourself and that’s totally fine too.

Ultimate Christmas pudding

Team Tilda Christmas Puddings (Available from Andrew Davies bakery)

These puddings are made each Christmas to raise funds for Fight for Sight in the hope that more research can be made into corneal dystrophy.  Matilda is local 8 year old who has a corneal dystrophy and we support this charity each year by buying our puddings for Christmas.

Sourdough crackers

Peters Yard Crispbread – £6.95

This Sourdough crispbread Selection Box which contains 3 different flavours (Spelt & Poppy Seed, Charcoal & Rye and Original) and shapes of small sized crispbread in individually wrapped trays will complement the perfect cheeseboard.

Stag cheese biscuits

Stag bakeries

If you’re looking for something a bit different for a cheeseboard or to buy as a gift I can recommend the stag rich, crumbly, fruity cake which is delicious with a strong cheddar or brie and is a great alternative to biscuits with cheese. The seaweed water biscuits are so tasty and go so well with a nice ripe piece of brie.  If crackers and cake are not your thing please do give the cheese straws with Ayrshire bonnet a try, they are probably one of the most amazing things I have tasted!


Borgo Molino Prosecco – £9.99

Available to purchase from the co-op, this prosecco will get your Christmas party started with a bang.  You can purchase a bottle on it’s own or as part of a premium pack with either a 20cl or 75cl bottle and some rich truffles.

Belmio coffee

Belmio coffee pods – £16.50 (50 pods)

Luxury coffee brand Belmio combines intensely rich flavours with pod-ready convenience, bringing you Belgian coffee at its best at the push of a Nespresso-shaped button.  I’ve tried pods before in my machine and wasn’t sure if these would live up to my usual brand but I’ve been won over completely.  The Intenso and Allegro are my favourites, the pods look really luxurious and taste incredible.

Cheese and wine basket image

Prestige hampers Cheese and Wine basket– £29.99

Cheese doesn’t last long in my home that’s for sure but if you’re not a glutton like me you will be pleased to know that the items in my basket had really good shelf lives and the cheese best before date wasn’t until January and February 2018.  I’m not a huge fan of oatcakes I’ll be completely honest but I found that when topped with the cheese and chutney the Walkers ones were not as dry as oatcakes I’ve had in the past. You can read my review of the Hamper here.

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. 

Christmas Gifts For Food Lovers

I always struggle to find the right Christmas gift during the festive period, like most people my friends and family buy everything they need during the year so it can be quite difficult knowing what to get them. We are a nation of food lovers and self confessed foodies (I hate that word) so I always think that when you have exhausted all other avenues go for something food or drink related as the market is just saturated with products. Most of the items featured in this gift guide are unisex and would suit a variety of ages, some are useful and some are quirky but best of all they are all affordable. cocktail pastilles

Cocktail Pastilles (£9.99) by Smith and Sinclair are a gift I’d love to find under my tree on Christmas Day, they are such an innovative invention and have quite a high alcohol content of 6-8% abv so not suitable for under 18’s. The box includes one of each flavour: Whisky Sour: A whisky pastille coated with a tart grapefruit infused sugar.  Cake Icing: A whisky and amaretto pastille coated with sugar.  Berry Daiquiri: A dark rum, strawberry and grenadine pastille coated with a pink peppercorn infused sugar.  Spiced Rum: A dark rum and bitters pastille coated with clove spice sugar.  Gin and Tonic: A violet infused gin pastille coated with a tart lemon sherbet.  A Spring Clean: An elderflower and gin pastille coated with thyme infused sugar.

swalk chocolates

Sent with a loving kiss have a fantastic range of artisan chocolate presented in keepsake tins, I particually like O Christmas Tree (£24.99) which includes 1 x Personalised Milk Chocolate Christmas Tree Bar, 1 x Christmas Cracker containing Milk Chocolate Buttons, 3 x Mince Pie Flavoured Milk Chocolates and 1 x Milk Chocolate Snowflake Disc.  SWALK currently have an offer on this product at the moment if you use the offer code H1403 at the check out you will receive a £2 discount.

Yankee candle

Yankee Candles are always a great gift to give and receive, Fireside Treats (£14.99) evokes the joys of camp … mesmerized by the fire, singing and laughing, while toasting marshmallows to rich, gooey perfection!  The large jar candle provides 110 to 150 hours of true fragrance enjoyment.  I’m currently burning Red apple wreath which is filling my home with the smell of Christmas.

butchers tea towel

Coconut Grass have a great range of Tea Towels, the butchers tea towel (£9.95) is my favourite by far.  It’s not only a funky tea towel but actually pretty useful to remind yourself where particular cuts of meat come from.

Macaroon phone case

I adore this Italian Macaroons phone case (£8.95) by Lemur Cases on Etsy.  The case is available for the following phones: Apple Iphone 4/4s, Iphone 5/5s, Iphone 5c, Iphone 6, Iphone 6 plus, Samsung S4, Samsung S4 mini, Samsung S5.


cheese plates


Do you know someone who loves cheese? Don’t we all? These cheese plates (£15.95) from The Cheeseworks in Cheltenham would be the perfect gift for any cheese lover.  Each plate is 12.5cm in diameter and features a different design, if you’re looking for something a little larger they also come in 20cm (£23.95).


butter knives


I have a fabulous collection of butter knives at home, I know a lot of people don’t use them but I love mine especially when entertaining and at Christmas when we have a selection of cheese and pate.  This set of knives from Culinary Concepts (£24.95) features four of the Culinary Classic designs and is perfect for spreading, not just butter, but pates and other sandwich fillings.


moonshine home brew


Mr Gourmand would love this Home-brewed beer kit from Lakeland (£27.99), we have talked about brewing our own but have not got round to buying all of the equipment yet. No other equipment is required with this set, just add 25 pints of warm water and the sachet of ‘Moondust’ yeast to the unique brewing bag, wait 14 days and your all-natural real ale will be ready for drinking and each pint will have only cost you about £1!


Emma Bridgewater mugs


And finally we have the perfect present for a couple 2 1/2 pint mugs by Emma Bridgewater (£27.95) These mugs in my opinion would make a perfect Christmas gift the only problem is who gets to keep which mug?

Will you be buying any of these Christmas gifts for your friends and family this year?


Greenvale Potatoes

Greenvale Potatoes

Some people may say a potato is just a potato but I beg to differ, I think different potatoes suit different dishes, some are good for mashing some for baking and some are good general all rounders.

When I was approached and asked to give Greevale Potatoes a try my answer was a no brainer, we are a family of potato lovers and I knew we would be able to give them a good test over the festive period.

Greenvale Potatoes are an all rounder of a potato meaning they are great mashed, baked and boiled so to put them to the test I mashed, baked, slow cooked and boiled them to see if they really could do what they say on the packet.

Christmas lunch

On Christmas Day I used the potatoes two ways, mashed and boiled and the results were great.  Sometimes it’s really difficult to get a really good mash from a potato as some types are just not good mashers.  Greenvale Potatoes make a lovely creamy mash which doesn’t require any extras to be added although I can’t resist a splash of cream and a grinding of black pepper.  When the potatoes are boiled you get a lovely earthy taste rather than the taste of nothing that you often get with a boiled potato.

Game Pie In Slow Cooker

During the festive period I also made a Game Pie filling in the slow cooker and used Greenvale Potatoes which kept their shape during cooking and added a great bulk to the dish.

Haggis and Mash

Mash was used again to accompany our Haggis and this time we left it as it was and didn’t bother adding any extras and it still tasted delicious.

Mashed Potato

The potato shown above is the inside of some baked potatoes before cheese and spring onion was added, the skins were perfectly crispy and the insides as you can see were extremely fluffy.

Would I buy them again? Yes, I have.  In my opinion these are a brilliant potato and whether you are wanting to cook crisp and fluffy roasties for a traditional Sunday lunch, smooth velvety mash, a steaming jacket or simple boiled potatoes, GreenVale Farm Fresh potatoes are perfect for them all. The potatoes are available nationally in Tesco, Ocado and through Booths in the North West for around £2.50 a bag.

*I received the product mentioned free of charge, to review from my own perspective. All words, experiences and opinions are entirely my own*

Christmas Day Desserts


In my opinion the best desserts are ones that can be enjoyed all year round not just during the festive period.  Don’t get me wrong I love Christmas pudding, yule log and stollen but I tend to eat them throughout December and like to have a couple of less indulgent desserts on offer after lunch.

You can click on the video below or carry on reading. *Video is in editing mode*



Avocado Chocolate Mousse


This Mousse might look like it’s full of cream so you might be surprised to find that it’s actually made with Avocado, yes you read that right! Avocado.   To make this mousse you need to make sure that your avocado is ripe, don’t try it unless it’s squishy or it will taste bitter.  You will also need 75ml of milk (almond, oat, soya or plain old cows milk), 2 tablespoons of agave nectar if you are serving to babies under 1 or honey if you are serving to anyone over the age of 1, 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of almond extract or vanilla extract.

Blend until smooth and decant into two bowls, chill for at least two hours and enjoy.




Fruit meringue is always a crowd pleaser, like many of my vlogmas dishes this is so simple to make and takes minimal effort.  You will need a pot of crème fraiche, icing sugar, blueberries and raspberries, mix together and sandwich between mini meringues.


I hope you have enjoyed this vlogmas series and that you can use some of my recipes or tips to wow your friends and family with your meals over the festive period.

Christmas Day Starters


We eat the same starters every Christmas day which never gets boring, we’re quite greedy and always have a choice of three. Well you never know who might pop by! Our all time favourite starter which never gets boring is a retro Prawn Cocktail, another is a delicious beetroot and goats cheese stack and the final one is a vegetable soup.

You can click on the video below to see how the starters were made or read below *Video is currently in editing mode*



prawn cocktail


My version of Prawn Cocktail is so simple and has 5 ingredients which are Prawns, Mayonnaise, Tomato Ketchup, lemon juice and Vodka. I can’t give quantities because it’s a trial and error kind of sauce, some people like their sauce thick others prefer a runny sauce.  You don’t have to use the vodka but I find it gives a nice kick.  You can serve with plain iceberg lettuce or add cucumber and tomato but you must always serve with a slice and lemon and 2 triangles of buttered brown bread.

beetroot stack


Beetroot and Goats cheese stack may look very simple and I suppose it is but it has a great flavour and makes a delicious starter.  I sprinkle my beetroot slices in dried thyme and olive oil and baked until soft, layer with goats cheese and sprinkle with sherry vinegar mixed with a good extra virgin olive oil.  Beetroot and Goats cheese is like a marriage in the mouth and really should be tried.

vegetable soup


I’m never sure if my Vegetable soup is in fact a soup or a broth as it contains pulses so I’ll let you decide what you want to call it.  What’s perfect about this is it takes less than 10 mins preparation time and cooks in the slow cooker so you don’t need to watch for it sticking.  I always use up what’s lurking in the bottom of my fridge so on this occasion I used 3 leeks, 1 swede, 4 carrots, 3 sticks of celery, vegetable stock and 1/2 a pack of broth mix.  I cook it in my slow cooker on high for 3 hours, decant some of the liquid into a jug and blitz with a blender and add back into the soup to thicken.

Christmas Day Breakfast


We’ve already shown you some quick and easy canapés, given you lots of ideas for your festive buffet table but what do you eat on the big day? Our usual Christmas day breakfast consists of selection box chocolate followed by luxury scrambled egg and smoked salmon which you can see assembled below, you can click on the video or read the instructions if you prefer.


*Video editing is taking place and the video will appear in due course*

Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and capers

You will need:

2 eggs per person
1 Bagel per person
1 tablespoon of cream per person
black pepper
smoked salmon
extra cream for drizzling

This is really as simple as it gets, if you don’t know how to make scrambled egg Delia Smith does a great version. Once your eggs are cooked stir is some cream, smoked salmon and give a good grind of black pepper.  Serve on a toasted bagel, sprinkle with capers and drizzle with cream. Voilà.

Festive Buffet Food


During the festive season I find it easier to cook buffet style meals so that I’m prepared should someone drop by unexpectedly, the option to serve yourself has always gone down well with Mini Gourmand and the following dishes are things that we always eat at this time of year.

buffet menu

You can click the video below to watch the vlog that accompanies this post or if video’s are not your thing you will find the recipes below.


*I am currently having issues uploading this video, it will appear soon*

Chicken Tikka Salad

This Chicken Tikka buffet salad will serve 8-10 alongside other dishes or 4 as a main meal.

You will need:

2 large Chicken Breasts
2 Tablespoons Tikka Curry Paste
200gPlain Yoghurt
1/2 cucumber
6 Radishes
1 Red Onion
2 Sticks Celery
1 Round Lettuce
4 Tomatoes
Mango Chutney

Marinade the chicken breasts in 100g of yoghurt and the curry paste, cook in the oven until cooked and allow to cook before slicing.

Arrange the salad into layers, top with the chicken, coriander and crushed poppadoms.  Make a sauce by mixing the yoghurt and mango chutney.

PicMonkey Collage


This Game Pie will serve 8 alongside other dishes or 6 as a main meal.  I created this dish for the slow cooker but I’m sure it will taste just fine cooked in the oven.

You will need:

500g mixed game meat
4 Potatoes cubed
1 Tomato diced
2 Carrots chopped
1 Stick of Celery chopped
300g Chestnut mushrooms chopped
200ml Red Wine
2 Tablespoons flour seasoned with salt and pepper
2 sprigs of thyme
500ml beef stock

Coat the game in seasoned flour and gently brown in a hot pan, add to the slow cooker with all of the other ingredients and cook for 1 hour on high followed by 8 hours on low.  Transfer to an oven proof dish and top with puff pastry.  Cook for 20-30 mins until the pastry is browned and the gravy is thickened.

spring rolls

This recipe will make 10 large spring rolls or 20 small ones. I cook my spring rolls in the oven but you could cook them in a deep fat fryer if you need to and of course you can add meat or seafood.

You will need:

Grated Carrot
Spring Onion
Sweet Chilli Sauce
Pack of Filo Pastry
Olive oil

Using a pastry brush paint over a sheet of filo pastry, add a small amount of vegetables and a sprinkle of chilli sauce, fold as shown in the video and bake in the oven until browned.

brie and mango parcels

This recipe will make 10 large parcels or 20 small ones. I cook my parcels in the oven but you could cook them in a deep fat fryer if you need to and of course you can add other sauces like cranberry.

You will need:

I Pack of Brie
Mango Chutney
Pack of Filo Pastry
Olive oil

 Using a pastry brush paint over a sheet of filo pastry, add a cube of brie and a teaspoon of mango chutney. Fold as shown in the video and bake in the oven until browned.

chicken curry

You could make this curry with any meat or leave the meat out and just have a vegetable curry.  This curry will serve 6 as a main course or 10 with other foods.  I cooked this curry for 8 hours on low in the slow cooker but it could be cooked on the hob in an hour if needed.

You will need:

2 onions, diced
500g diced potato
4 Chicken breasts, diced
2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 head of white cabbage chopped
200g mushrooms
2 teaspoons Cumin
1 teaspoon ground Coriander Seed
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of grated Ginger
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon hot Paprika
1 red chilli finely chopped 
1 bay leaf.

Place everything in the slow cooker pot and cook on low for 8 hours. If you need to add more water add a small amount at a time.

lamb sausage roll

The Lamb Kofta sausage rolls can either be made in pastry or served on their own.

You will need:

500g lamb mince
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp chopped mint
1 pack of puff pastry

Christmas Canapés


The first instalment of Christmas with the Gourmands is all about Canapés.  Canapés in the Gourmand household are usually eaten with drinks or before a festive meal is served.  I don’t usually bother with making my own pastry as I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions and I’m definitely not going to start doing so during the festive period when there is so many other things to be doing like eating.

Canapés come in all shapes, sizes and flavours but the one’s I am going to be sharing with you today are vol-au-vents, you don’t have to cook these in pastry cases you could be inventive and serve them in a baby gem lettuce leaf, on a tortilla chip or even on a mini pancake.


Canape meun

You can click on the video below to see how these Canapés were made or if vlogs are not your thing the recipes are below.


Avocado Prawn

You will need:

Crème Fraiche

Place the prawns in a bowl, add 1/2 an avocado a dollop of crème fraiche and a squirt of lemon juice and mash with a fork until combined.  Garnish with lemon.  I have purposely not included measurements as this is really a taste recipe, some people prefer more of an avocado taste others want to taste the prawns so I’ll leave it up to you.

Spiced Egg

You will need:

Hard boiled egg
Curry Powder
Mango Chutney

Mash the egg in a bowl with the mayonnaise and a sprinkle of curry powder.  I have purposely not included measurements as this is really a taste recipe, some people prefer more of an egg taste others want to taste the curry so I’ll leave it up to you. Garnish with a generous dollop of mango chutney.

garlic mushroom

You will need:

Wild Mushrooms

Chop the mushrooms and garlic roughly. Melt the butter in a pan and add the mushrooms and garlic, once the garlic has coloured slightly add the marscapone and stir through.  I have purposely not included measurements as this is really a taste recipe, some people prefer more of a mushroom taste others want to taste the garlic so I’ll leave it up to you.  The mushrooms do shrink a lot during cooking so keep this in mind.

Blue cheese and broccoli

This recipe is courtesy of Mini Gourmand, I have a terrible allergy to blue cheese and can’t even touch the stuff without coming out in a rash but she assures me this is a match made in heaven.

You will need:

Blue Cheese
Vegetable Stock

Parboil the broccoli, this really does have to be quite soft to work which we realised too late! add to a pan with some blue cheese and a bit of vegetable stock to form a sauce. I have purposely not included measurements as this is really a taste recipe, some people prefer more of a broccoli taste others want to taste the cheese so I’ll leave it up to you.  The picture above shows our first attempt at this recipe, although tasty we wanted to try it again with softer broccoli which worked much better but we had run out of pastry cases so couldn’t take any further pictures.

I hope you are enjoying vlogmas with the Gourmands, please check back tomorrow for more tasty festive dishes.

Note: I am aware that one of my pictures have the incorrect spelling of Broccoli (not my mistake but I didn’t have time to change it for this post)

*Vol-au-vent cases shown in photographs were provided by Pidy, a full review post will follow*

Vlogmas With The Gourmands 2013



Vlogmas with the Gourmands starts on Friday 13th December 2013 and will continue until 31st December 2013, if the thought of watching me talking on a video fills you with dread don’t worry! It’s not all about boring videos, I will still be posting blog posts and I’ve got some great reviews lined up along with some step by step instructions to help you save time in the kitchen over the festive period.

I’ve already covered money saving gift wrap over on Madame G’s Lifestyle and there is a great post on LED Christmas Lights that readers might find interesting.

Volgmas is going to include Cocktails and Mocktails, Canapés, Starters, Main Courses, The Big Day, Party food, leftovers and lots more in between.

You may find it easier to sign up to my YouTube channel in advance, you can find it here.

Christmas Wishlist With Morphy Richards

My wishlist this Christmas is as long as my arm, I think that has something to do with moving house and to a new area in August, I threw out a lot of my old items and had planned to buy new items but family life always seems to get in the way and I’ve ended up buying very little!  Here are my Smart ideas for Christmas from Morphy Richards.

When we moved house I gave away my beloved coffee maker on freecycle which was probably one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in a long time!  I’m a huge fan of coffee either in bean, ground or instant form.  During my pregnancy I’ve made sure that my daily caffeine allowance has been spent on coffee so I can still get my kick.


This Elipta espresso & filter combination coffee maker (£249.99) is something that dreams are made from! he Espresso function maintains 19 bar pressure, is compatible with both ground coffee and E.S.E. pods and has a cup warming feature.

Having this machine would mean I could still make my strong espresso for friends and family and I also have the option of brewing a pot of decaff coffee for myself should the need arise, all from the same machine!

My baby is due in March 2013 which means that I will need to start the transition from milk to solids around August time, I no longer own a food processor which always made life so much easier when I had my daughter so the next item on my wishlist is this hand blender and processor.


This Cream hand blender work centre (£69.99) will make the weaning process so much easier, I wont need to cook separate meals as I can just blend what the family are eating for dinner.    The accessories included with this machine are: blending leg, chopping blade, shredding Blades, slicing blades, 800ml beaker.

Because I’m very conscious about what my family are eating and like to ensure we get the best from all of our meals the Intellisteam food steamer (£99.99) is the final item on my list.


The unique intelligent timer ensures that all your steamed ingredients are perfectly cooked and that the whole meal is ready to serve at the same time.  The steamer is large enough to cook food for up to 4 adults meaning it can be used during dinner parties as well as family dinners.  To make life easier there are pre-set time guide for different foods including chicken, fish, vegetables, rice and sauces so no more guesswork.

As a member of the Foodies 100 this post is my entry into the Win Your Christmas Wishlist from Morphy Richards!