Hazelnut & Chocolate Stollen

This version of the traditional Christmas Stollen is absolutely delicious!

If you make just one thing this Christmas let it be this ‘Chocolate & Hazelnut Stollen’ bake filled with the colourful sweetness of cranberries, apricots, chocolate chips and the delicious blend of Christmas spices.

We enjoyed a slice of this warm with some delicious warmed spice apple juice. It’s so quick to pop on this delicious warming drink while you wait for the dough to rise and it makes the perfect accompaniment with a slice of Stollen by the fire. I have included the recipe below for you.

Spiced Apple Juice Recipe

4 liters of apple juice

1 sliced apple

1 handful of dried cranberries

2 cinnamon sticks or 4tsp of cinnamon

2 tsp of ground cloves

2 tsp of allspice

Pour all of the juice into a huge pot, I love my huge cast iron pot for this with the lid. Add all the spices, apples and cranberries and adjust to your tastes. Simmer for an hr or so and leave on a low heat to serve all evening.

This lasted us a few nights but you could also half the recipe. Its also important to use good quality pressed apple juice instead of concentrate which tends to be too sweet.

Stollen Recipe

100g of dried cranberries

30g of chopped hazelnuts

50g of dried chopped apricots

200ml of warm apple juice (you can use the drink above too, it works really well just make sure its not too hot)

1tbsp of dried yeast

250g of strong white flour (an additional 50g when fruit is added)

2tsp of cinnamon

2tsp of allspice

1/2tsp of ground cloves

80g of chocolate chips

10g of coconut oil

2tbsp of icing sugar

100g of chocolate chips (for melting)

Soak the dried cranberries, hazelnuts and dried apricots in 100ml of hot water and set aside (you can increase the quantities of fruit if you prefer it sweeter).

Add the warm apple juice to a small jug and sprinkle in the dried yeast. Stir gently and set aside to bubble and activate for 15-20mins.

Add the flour, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and coconut oil and mix together. I use the dough hook on my kitchen aid for creating the dough but you can, as described in this recipe, knead by hand.

Once the yeast has been left to activate add it into the flour and spices in the bowl. Mix together to create a smooth dough, adjusting the flour or adding a little water if necessary. You should have a relatively non sticky dough which can be handled without feeling too sticky in your hands. If its too sticky add a little extra flour.

Remove the dough from the bowl for kneading. Add a little vegetable oil to your hands to reduce sticking whilst kneading. Knead for 10 minutes until completely smooth and pliable.

Place in a bowl which has been lightly oiled and cover with a clean dish towel and leave to rise somewhere warm for one hour.

Remove from the bowl again. Drain the soaked dried fruit, nuts and chocolate chips and add to the dough. You might need some additional flour at this point so that the dough doesn’t become sticky due to the extra moisture. Knead for a further 10mins.

Leave to rise again for another hour in the same warm place.

Shape into a rounded loaf shape and bake at 180oc for 30-40minutes or until lightly brown and when tapped on the bottom it should sound hollow.

Leave to cool on a wire cooling rack for around half an hour.

Add the icing sugar into a small bowl with a little water to create a thick but runny paste. You can either paste this onto the whole top of the loaf and finish with a dusting of icing sugar or you can drizzle it as I have in the image above.

Melt the chocolate and drizzle across the loaf. Sprinkle with some additional chopped hazelnuts and slice to serve.

Enjoy!


Christmas Nibble Board

Christmas nibbles…ah!…so many happy memories of our family nibble platters at Christmas time!

I’ve seen many a delicious plate of nibbles in my day, from the excitement of my Mum and Dad bringing out our faves at Christmas to visiting Grandma and Grandad at Hogmany and feasting on scrummy hot nibbles all night when we were wee and then to us as parents ourselves bringing out warm plates of nibbles to our own excited kids!

There’s been many a happy memory around food in our household at Christmas young and old.

I made this somewhat healthier version of a nibble platter to feed the kids the day we collected the Christmas tree, because who has time to prepare huge meals when your all singing Christmas songs and decorating the tree with twinkling lights.

I used fresh fruits, vegetables, homemade crumbly feta almond cheese, sticky mango and sweet chilli sausage bowls and mushroom based sausage rolls. Yummy!

It’s super easy to prepare and assemble and you can of course vary the ingredients loads.

Ingredients

Sliced fruit and vegetables of choice

Vegetarian/vegan sausages

Vegetarian/vegan sausage rolls

Crispbreads for spreading

Crisps

Mango chutney

Sesame seeds

Sweet Chilli sauce

Chopped Spring onions

Cranberry sauce

Black olives

Sun dried tomatoes

Almond Feta Ingredients

2 cups of whole almonds

1 shallot or half a red onion chopped

2 chopped garlic cloves

1 lemon

1-2tbsp of plain yogurt (I used coconut) (optional)

Salt & pepper

Almond Feta Recipe

Soak the almonds in boiling hot water in a bowl for a couple of hours and peel off the skins. Pop the peeled almonds into the blender. Add the chopped onion or shallot, garlic, the juice of 1 lemon, yogurt if using, salt and pepper.

Blend in a high powered blender until completely smooth and taste, adjusting the seasonings as necessary. Add a little water if necessary too. You should have a really thick ‘stick to the spoon’ paste texture.

Lay out a muslin flat on the counter and spoon out the almond mixture onto the muslin. Wrap up into a tight ball and squeeze out the excess liquid over the sink. Tie a knot and hang into a jug, place in the fridge over night. If you don’t have time just squeeze out as much liquid as possible and then shape into a ball. Place in a glass dish and bake at 160 for 30mins or until golden and crispy on the outside.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with chopped herbs, sun dried tomatoes or olives etc. Serve with thin crispbreads or oatcakes.

Sticky Sausages Recipe

Cook the vegetarian sausages on a medium heat in the oven. Split into two bowls, coat one batch in mango chutney and the other in sweet chilli sauce. Serve in two small bowls, sprinkle sesame seeds over the mango sausages and spring onions over the sweet chilli ones.

Lay the cheese and sausages out on a chopping board and display the sliced vegetables all around the bowls to make it all look pretty and edible.

Enjoy!


Monthly Food Planning

Hey Everyone!

I have saved so much time and money by shopping and meal planning on a monthly basis. I wanted to share my method with you all and hopefully you will also benefit from this method in some way.

Budget

So lets talk money first! I budget £25 per person per week, my children are all eating fairly large meals now but If you had smaller children you could perhaps budget £25 per adult and £10-15 per child. It is entirely up to your own requirements and circumstances but I feel £25 a week per person works out well for us.

So as a family of five our monthly food budget is £125 x 4 = £500 per month

Meal Planning –

I use cookbooks and my own family recipes to plan our meals for the whole month. I usually just plan for Monday to Friday as the weekends can be pretty busy and we tend to eat out sometimes at the weekend so I like to keep options open for the weekend.

I plan all the evening meals, two soups for the week, two baked snacks(cake etc.) for the kids, I also buy several sandwich fillings and have a soup and sandwich most days. I keep the breakfasts pretty loose and buy in ingredients to have porridge, eggs, smoothies etc. Sometimes if I have extra time I will plan a few different smoothies for each week but I tend to make up my own super food smoothie recipes if I am not using my smoothie book.

I also buy in all of the kids school snacks, lunch box items and any other snacks that they like to eat. We don’t really buy biscuits and sweets apart from the odd bar of chocolate but do eat treats when we are out and about. I find if we stock lots of unhealthy snacks in the house the kids and myself included will eat them up too quickly.

I buy all the toiletries and household goods in bulk and any other items needed on a daily basis. I also like to bulk up on a couple of items for the larder/pantry cupboard and choose a couple of things to bulk up on per month such as rice, pasta, tinned foods etc. I find it works out cheaper this way and reduces my monthly shop overall in the long run.

Shopping –

I split the budget up as follows –

1 Monthly Bulk Shop – around £200-250

3 Weekly Mini Top Up Shops – £30-£50

1 Monthly Bulk Order of household, toiletries, larder/pantry goods (usually from amazon) – £100

Sometimes I will have money left over, sometimes I am slightly over budget but it all works out in the end.

This method saves me so much time, money and effort I can’t imagine swapping it for any other at the moment.

Click on the videos below for a look at my monthly hauls and weekly mini top ups. Any questions drop me a line.

Love and happy meal planning!