So you’re down to the wire and need something quick, easy, and Christmas-y to share with colleagues, gift to neighbours, or top up your party spread? Here comes your lifesaver: Cheats Christmas Fudge.
I must confess the only thing Christmas-y about this fudge is the crushed candy canes on top. That’s kind of a blessing though- it means you can whip this up at anytime of the year by swapping out the topping for another of your choice. Nuts are the first thing that come to my mind but I’m sure you have plenty of suggestions. Crushing the candy canes is a job undertaken very enthusiastically by toddlers in my experience. Stick a handful of candy canes in a plastic bag, seal it, hand a rolling pin to any child who needs to release some pent up up energy, remove all breakable objects from the vicinity, and let them at it. Tea towels are a good idea to protect your bench top.
If you exclude the candy canes this recipe only has two ingredients. That’s correct. Two.
1 can sweetened condensed milk (395g)
3 cups chocolate melts (I used milk chocolate but you could experiment with dark)
- Line a slice tin with aluminium foil
- Place a double boiler (or if you’re like me and don’t have one, a bowl over a saucepan will suffice) on the stove and pop the chocolate and sweetened condensed milk in the top
- Heat gently until the chocolate has melted, then stir to combine
- Quickly pour the melted mix into your lined slice tin, smooth the top, and decorate with toppings of your choice (crushed candy canes in this case) or leave plain
- Stick the whole tray into the fridge to set for a couple of hours
- Once set cut into squares and package or plate as you see fit!
You can also experiment with flavours added to the fudge mix itself. This time I added a few drops of peppermint essence but you could also try vanilla, or almond essence would be great with blanched almonds on top! Just be careful when adding to the mix as any water will make the chocolate seize.
Are you a fudge fan? What other flavour combinations can you come up with?
One of the things I dislike about pregnancy is the restricted diet. Australian guidelines are very full-on regarding what pregnant women can and cannot eat. Of course my pregnancy hormones appeared to have taken a look at the ‘do not eat’ list and decided to crave everything on it, well and truly putting my willpower to the test!
The very same day I gave birth my darling husband went out and bought me a great big hunk of blue vein cheese. Be still my beating heart.
I’ve very much enjoyed my coffee (not too much as I’m breastfeeding), soft cheese, and charcuterie post-birth. And smoked salmon! Oh how I love smoked salmon. It can be cost effective if you just use a little in a dish too.
I’ve made this Salmon Rillettes recipe a couple of times since Earle was born. It’s a great recipe for us as I take the kids for a walk down to the fish markets to pick up the salmon fillets (I use tail as it’s boneless, cheap and gets flaked up anyway) and smoked salmon. It doesn’t involve a lot of cooking or fussing as you can prepare the salmon by pouring boiling water over it and leaving it to poach. Too easy! It’s a wonderful dish for summer as it doesn’t require you to heat up the kitchen.
2 x 150g salmon fillets
75g smoked salmon, roughly chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tbs capers, finely chopped
2 tbs lemon zest
handful of dill, finely chopped
3 tbs natural yoghurt (you could also use creme fraiche or sour cream but I make my own natural yoghurt so this is cheaper & easier for me)
salt, to season
- Poach the salmon by placing the fillets in a bowl, pour boiling water over the fillets, and leaving the bowl covered with a plate for 15 min
- Remove salmon skin (it peels away very easily after poaching) and flake the flesh into a bowl
- Add all the other ingredient and mix well
Serve with crusty bread. You can toast any stale bread you have lying around or purchase a French baguette and slice it up into little rounds. It’s great as an hors d’oeuvre for a dinner party, or as part of a larger spread for a casual light dinner (how we usually enjoy it as per the image above). Hope you like it as much as we do!
Risotto is a great winter meal. You only need one pot, some arborio rice, stock or broth, and whatever flavourings you like. What makes this dish extra easy is a pressure cooker. Seriously. The first time I made risotto in the pressure cooker I was dumbfounded. Then I got on the phone and called my Mum because I just had to share how amazing this was. It was so easy and so quick! No stirring. No watching like a hawk. Ingredients go in, lid goes on, seven minutes later you have perfectly cooked risotto. That’s right, SEVEN MINUTES! Who knew?!
1 cup arborio rice
2 cups stock
1 onion diced or 1 leek sliced
Olive oil and a knob of butter
Salt & pepper
- Heat the butter and olive oil in the pressure cooker
- Add the onion/leek and cook until translucent
- Add the rice and and stir to coat, cooking until the rice changes colour
- Add the stock, stirring quickly to deglaze the pan, then put the lid on
- Once the cooker has reached the appropriate pressure (high) cook for 7 minutes
- Once the time is up remove the lid and stir to allow any excess liquid to evaporate if needed
- Grate some parmesan into the pot and add salt & pepper to taste
- Increase/decrease the recipe using the ratio of 1 cup rice : 2 cups stock
- Replace half a cup of stock with white wine (use this to deglaze before adding the rest of the liquid)
- Add protein such as chicken or bacon when you cook the onion/leek
- Add any veggies you like, such as mushroom, pumpkin, peas etc.
Risotto is a bit like soup in that you can use up whatever veggies and protein you have lying around and you bulk it up with the rice. This makes it very cost effective, which is great for those of us on a budget! Have you noticed most of my recent posts have been about food? Sorry about that. I think it’s the pregnancy- I’m obsessed with food! I’ll get onto something different next post, I promise!
Baking with kids is a great way to get them interested in where food comes from, introduce measurements such as weight, volume, and temperature, and keep those little hands busy on rainy days. As the attention span of a toddler isn’t particularly long these River Cottage Ten-minute Chocolate Chip Cookies are perfect for making, baking, and devouring before they lose patience and concentration. The recipe can be found online here or in the River Cottage Everyday and Family cookbooks.
What do you think of my new recipe book stand? We have wanted one for a while now after using the one at my parents’ place but haven’t been able to agree on a design or find one appropriate for our budget. The other day I had to pick up a parcel from the Post Office and when we arrived the queue was out the door! I normally avoid the peak periods by going either side of lunch time during the week but this was a Saturday morning and I wasn’t early enough to beat the crowds. Apparently I was meant to run late that morning because whilst I was standing in that queue my eyes browsed the shelves of envelopes and knick-knacks and what do you think I spied? Why a lovely recipe book stand on the very bottom shelf of course! I picked it up to check the price and I saw the sweetest thing, a big red ‘reduced’ price tag. That’s right, the previously $39.95 recipe book stand was now $6.99. Success!
There are few pleasures as delicious as licking the bowl and spoon after baking. It’s also a great way to get little ones out of the kitchen for a couple of minutes while you restore some semblance of order! I’ve heard some people wont let their kids lick the bowl for fear of getting sick from raw egg but as long as your eggs are fresh there really isn’t anything to worry about. There are plenty of things we eat that contain raw egg- homemade mayonnaise for example. Let them enjoy this childhood treat, it will surely feature in their memories.
When this batch came out of the oven the biscuits had spread so much I couldn’t fit them in my biscuit jar and had to resort to using my Great Great Aunt’s beautiful casserole dish. Of course they didn’t last long so airtight storage wasn’t a big concern. These were so good I might just have to bake another batch right now! Do you have a favourite recipe for rainy day baking or keeping the kids entertained?