Festive Recipes

Christmas is the best time of the year to be at home. Outside the days are short, the weather is wet and shopping is mayhem – so why not take a break from all that and channel some of the children’s excitement about Christmas into making lovely festive goodies with them.

A great recipe for turning a baked potato into a delicious mouth watering treat for Christmas and it is guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone’s face….
Butternut squash is very rich in vitamin A which is important for healthy skin, eyesight and fighting infection.
Alternatively for a simple version scoop out the potato flesh and mash it together with a little butter milk and cheese, season to taste and pile it back into the potato shells.
4 medium baking potatoes (approx 225g each)
a little vegetable oil
∏ (half) medium butternut squash (approx 300g)
55g butter
1 tsp Dijon mustard
40 g fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp milk
40g grated Cheddar cheese
Cherry tomatoes
Twirly crisps
Peas for eyes
Preheat the oven to 190C/ Fan 170 / Gas 5. Prick the potatoes in several places, place on a baking tray and brush all over with the oil. Bake for 1 to 1 π (one and a quarter) hours or until they feel soft when pressed.
Cut  the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place in a baking dish, skin side down. Melt 20g of the butter and brush it over the squash, then  bake in the oven for about 40 minutes or until tender.
When cool enough to handle, cut the tops off the baked potatoes and scoop out the flesh.  Scoop the flesh of the cooked butternut squash off the skin and mash together with the baked potato flesh, mustard, parmesan, milk and remaining butter.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Put the mixture back into the potato shells and top with the grated cheddar.
Preheat the grill on the hottest setting. Place the potatoes on a baking tray or suitable dish and grill for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
Add twirly crisps for antlers, peas for eyes and cherry tomatoes for the nose..

 Mini Turkey and Potato Pies 

 Suitable for Freezing

 Children eat with their eyes as well as their tummies. Making individual portions in ramekins is so much more appealing than a dollop of food on a plate. Sweating the vegetables slowly with the thyme and then reducing the white wine vinegar gives a lovely flavour.  These tasty Turkey Pies also freeze well so you could serve one and freeze three for days when you don’t have time to cook..
30g/1oz butter
1 small shallot, diced (40g)
1 medium carrot, diced (100g)
1/2 small leek, thinly sliced (30g)
1/4 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
4 tsp white wine vinegar
20g/2/3 oz cornflour
400ml chicken stock
2 tbsp crème fraiche
225g/8oz  cooked  turkey (white and dark meat) cut into bite sized pieces
500g/1lb 2oz potatoes, peeled and cubed
15g butter
3 tbsp milk
1 egg white lightly beaten (optional)
Melt the butter and sweat the vegetables and thyme for 10 minutes, until soft. Add the vinegar and boil until the vinegar had evaporated then stir in the cornflour. Add the stock a little at a time to make a smooth sauce then add the crème fraiche and season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow to cool.
Boil the potatoes in plenty of salted water for around 15 minutes, until just tender. Drain the potatoes then mash well. Beat in the butter and milk and season to taste.
Preheat the oven to 200c/400F/Gas 6/180 Fan.
Put the turkey into the base of ramekins or small dishes (I use 9.5 cm diameter ramekins) and spoon the sauce on top. Spoon over the mash and fork the surface of each pie. Put the dishes on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes The tops can be browned further under a hot grill and if you brush them with a little egg white they will brown nicely.
To freeze –do so before baking stage. To serve, defrost overnight in the fridge and follow the baking instructions above.

These are not to be missed,  they are one of my favourite cookies and so quick and easy to make.
Suitable for Freezing
150g  plain flour
∏ tsp bicarbonate of soda
∏ tsp salt
25g (1 oz) ground almonds
150g (5 oz) soft brown sugar
50g (2 oz) porridge oats
50g (2 oz) dried cranberries
40g white chocolate chunks
150g (5 oz) butter
1 large egg yolk or 2 small egg yolks
Butttercream Filling (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F. 
Sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large bowl.
Stir in the ground almonds, brown sugar and  porridge oats.
Melt the butter in a small pan and stir this into the dry ingredients together with the egg yolk.
Stir in the chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
Mix well, then using your hands form into small walnut sized balls and arrange on two large non stick baking sheets.  Gently press them down to flatten slightly in the centre, leaving space between them for the biscuits to spread.
Bake in the oven for 12 minutes.
Prepare six different sizes of star cookie cutters and make two stars from each cookie cutter . Once the cookies are cool, pile up the stars from large to small securing them with a mixture of icing sugar and water. Drizzle over the white icing sugar for the snow. 
The unbaked cookies can be frozen on baking sheets lined with baking parchment for 2 to 3 hours, until solid. Transfer to resealable boxes and store for up to one month. Bake from frozen, adding 1 to 2 minutes to the baking time.
You can also simply use this recipe to make delicious ginger biscuits in fun Christmas shapes..
Suitable for Freezing
225g plain flour plus extra for dusting
Quarter tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
Half tsp baking powder
50g butter
100g soft dark brown sugar
100g golden syrup
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp milk
Approx 170g royal icing
You will also need a set of 6 star cutters in various sizes ranging from 11 .5 cm  to 2 .5 cm
Sift the flour, salt, ginger and baking powder into a large bowl. Put the butter, sugar and syrup into a pan and heat gently , stirring occasionally until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and  leave to cool slightly.
Beat the egg and milk together and stir in the cooled butter and sugar, then pour the contents of the pan into the dry ingredients and stir to form a soft dough. Transfer onto a piece of clingfilm and wrap tightly, then refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until firm.
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to around 3 mm thick. Cut out 4 cookies with the largest cutter, then 4 with the next largest and so on. Transfer the cookies to baking sheets, spacing them about 2 ∏ cm apart and grouping the larger cookies and smaller cookies together on separate  sheets. Re-roll the trimmings and cut more cookies as needed. Chill the cookies for 10 minutes in the freezer, then bake for 8 to 10 minutes for the small cookies and 11 to 12 minutes for the larger ones, until turning darker around the edges. Cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.
To assemble the trees make up the royal icing according to the packet instructions. Take 2 of the largest cookies and sandwich them together with a little of the icing, making sure the tips of the stars are slightly askew. Carefully stack the remaining cookies , in descending size, on top of the base, securing in place with icing. Do the same for the second tree. Reserve the smallest stars for the tops of the trees, but leave to dry for one hour before adding the top stars. Stick them together with more icing and drizzle  over any remaining icing as decoration. Leave to dry for 5 to 6 hours before serving.