Christmas Cocktail ~ Hot Buttered Rum

Wow, can you believe it?  Christmas is just around the corner now and I’m sure many of you are still in frenzy-mode trying to get those last minute items taken care of; I know I am!  The holidays can be a wee bit hectic with all of the gift buying and wrapping, cooking, decorating, entertaining and those annoying wonderful Christmas tunes we hear everywhere we go on constant mind-numbing repeat.

Drinking a mug of hot buttered rum is like settling down in an armchair in front of the fire with a toasting fork, except that it’s all in a mug.  It also contains maple syrup which is scientifically proven to make everything all better!

HOT BUTTERED RUM

1 tsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp maple syrup
½ tsp ground allspice
50ml/2fl oz golden rum
apple juice, warmed, to top up
cinnamon stick, to garnish                                                                                                                                   whipped cream
freshly grated nutmeg, to garnish

Place the butter into your favorite coffee mug (a clear glass one if you have it), then add the maple syrup, allspice and rum.

Top up with warmed apple juice and mix it in with a spoon until the butter has melted and emulsified in the liquid (like mixing a salad dressing).

Using a lighter or gas hob/stove, lightly warm the cinnamon stick (be careful not to burn it).

Add the cinnamon stick as a stirrer, top with whipped cream and garnish with fresh grated nutmeg.

Sit back and enjoy your mug of comfort.

hot-buttered-rum

Christmas Cocktails ~ Atholl Brose

ATHOLL BROSE

Atholl Brose became one of Queen Victoria’s favourite drinks after she first encountered it in 1842, in Dunkeld, near Perth. Not the thick Hogmanay dessert, this streamlined variation is an update on the centuries-old original.

AthollBrose

500g (17 ½oz) thick-cut porridge oats
700ml (24fl oz) whisky
225g (8oz) heather honey (or any other honey)
100ml (3½fl oz) boiling water
300ml (10fl oz) single cream

Place the porridge oats and whisky in a large jar to soak overnight.

In a second jar, combine the heather honey and boiling hot water. Stir until the honey is completely dissolved. Add the single cream and stir.

Wring the oatmeal and whisky mixture through muslin or press through a fine strainer into the cream mixture. Stir to combine. Refrigerate to chill.

You can pour the mixture into clean, sterile stopper bottles for serving, if you prefer. Shake before serving.

Christmas Drinks ~ Homemade Eggnog

Eggnog.

As much a staple for an American Christmas as Christmas Pudding is for a British Christmas.

And it’s for this very reason that I am not able to find eggnog in this country, at least not yet.  In the States you can find eggnog in cartons in the dairy section of your local supermarket.

It was always a part of our Christmas celebrations.  I remember one Christmas that is was a BIG part of my and my sister-in-law’s celebrations!  It was early years, before my niece came along.  We were celebrating Christmas at a place called Timberline Lodge in Lancaster County in Pennsylvania.  It has since closed down, but we had many a good time there.

We were in one of the cabins that was able to sleep all of us (my parents, brother and Sis-in-law and me and my ex-husband) and included a full kitchen and a fireplace.  We would bring all the tree decorations, gifts, food; you name it, we brought it as we were usually there for about 4-5 days over Christmas.  We’d even buy a tree once we got there…we usually left mom to do the haggling as she could always chew the guy down on the price!

On this occasion, we decided to make an Eggnog Punch.  (Forewarning:  Not for the calorie conscious!)

eggnog

eggnogice

Another item that you can get in the States is eggnog ice cream.  So we got a half gallon of the ice cream, a couple of quarts of eggnog and the most important item…the rum….dark rum.  Yup, three simple ingredients.  I think we started with just one quart of the eggnog and added probably a third of the ice cream and then poured in the rum a bit at a time.  Of course we had to keep tasting it to get it myersright!

I think we just about finished it off between the two of us on Christmas Eve.  Mind you, we were both worse for wear the next morning but as they say, hair of the dog, so we made more for Christmas Day!

Now for those of you in the good old U.S of A., this will be easy for you to do.  For those of us without the possibility of obtaining two of the three items listed, you can make your own.

I’m sure there’s lots of recipes out there, but this is the one I’ve chosen.  Make this ahead of time so the flavors have a chance to mix while you keep it chilled before serving.  Serve it in a large punch bowl so everyone can help themselves.

***Homemade Eggnog***

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 90g (1/3 C) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 315ml (1¼ C) hot milk
  • 125ml (½ C) dark rum (or white rum if you can’t find dark)
  • 125ml (½ C) double (heavy) cream
  • Grated nutmeg for sprinkling

Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl until light and fluffy.  Slowly add the hot milk and stir to combine.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, then reduce the heat until simmering.  Place the bowl over the simmering water and stir with a wooden spoon for about 5-10 minutes or until the mixture thickens and lightly coats the back of the spoon.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Stir in the rum.  Beat cream and the egg whites in SEPARATE bowls until soft peaks form.  Fold half of the cream into the milk/rum mixture, then fold in half the egg whites.  Fold in the remaining cream and then the remaining egg whites.

eggnogBowlPour the mixture into a punch bowl or serving glasses and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Enjoy!

♥♥ Terri ♥♥

Christmas Mulled Wine

Ah yes, the countdown has begun and it’s now a mere 36 days until you-know-who comes down the you-know-what with his bag of you-know-whats!

So that means that it’s time for me to start sharing some festive foods and beverages with you.  Today we’ll start with a beverage that is a tradition here in the UK (I don’t remember it being a big deal in the U.S.).  I don’t make this myself but maybe someday I will.  We do have a little Christmas gathering of some family and friends, but they all drink various things and no one has ever asked if we had any mulled wine!

There are various recipes for this and they’re all pretty basic.  This one is compliments of Mary Berry from her book, Real Food – Fast.

(For those of you in the US, a pint here in the UK is equal to 20fl oz.)

**CHRISTMAS MULLED WINE**

(serves 12)

4 lemons

2 large oranges

2 bottles red wine

2 pints/40fl oz water

16 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

150g/5oz caster(fine) sugar

110ml/4fl oz brandy

Thinly slice 1 orange and 1 lemon, then cut the slices into quarters.  Put on a plate, cover and reserve for the garnish.  Peel the zest very thinly from 2 lemons and 1 orange then squeeze the juice from the lemons and orange into a large pan.

Pour the wine and water into the pan with the citrus juice.  Add the cloves and cinnamon sticks.

Bring to simmering point, cover and keep at simmering for about an hour.  Stir in sugar to taste.

Strain and reheat.  Stir in the brandy and add the reserved citrus slices as a garnish. 

Serve hot with mince pies.

TIP: The mulled wine can be kept in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days.  Add the brandy and citrus slices just before serving.

♥♥Terri ♥♥

Did You Forget Something? ~ False Advertising

A well known ‘hazelnut spread’ contains the following ingredients:

Sugar (50%) and vegetable oils (mostly palm oil), followed by hazelnut, cocoa solids, and skimmed milk. In the United States, this spread contains soy products. This product is marketed as “hazelnut cream” in many countries. Under Italian law, it cannot be labeled as a chocolate cream, as it does not meet minimum cocoa solids concentration criteria. About half of the calories come from fat (11g in a 37g serving, or 99 kcal out of 200 kcal) and about 40% of the calories come from sugar (20g, 80 kcal).

OK, so you’re saying ‘so what’, right?

Well here’s the thing.  Last night while watching the boob tube, there was a commercial on for this product.  It showed a mother and her kids at breakfast, running around and trying to get out the door in time for school or work.  It showed them eating this product on bread.  Not a big deal.

Then the narrator of the commercial started to speak and said that this product was a great way to start the morning as it contained

…”two whole hazelnuts in every tablespoon, skimmed milk and cocoa powder”…

Did you notice anything missing, like the sugar??  Why didn’t they mention that?  Because they know how bad the sugar is for you and they just thought they’d let that pass.  Perhaps they thought you wouldn’t notice.  Perhaps a lot of people won’t.

SUGAR IS THE ENEMY.

Now I’m no angel when it comes to sugar, but at least I have a pretty good idea of how much I’m eating.  Usually my sugar intake consists of home baked goods that I’ve made myself or my daily square or two of dark chocolate.  In checking the label on the chocolate, one square contains 3.2g of carbs, which I’m sure is mostly from the sugar.  And considering I don’t eat home baked goods everyday, my daily sugar intake is pretty low.  I don’t eat sugary cereals and I don’t drink soda of any kind.  We cook from scratch every night and don’t have ready meals or processed foods.

I use artificial sweeteners, honey, fruit sugar or agave nectar, depending on what I’m eating or drinking.  I try to stay away from the sugar because I know what it does to me if I have too much of it.  I have hypoglycemia/low blood sugar and it’s not fun when I get an attack.

The problem is that sugar can be an addiction just like smoking, alcohol and drugs.  It takes willpower to resist but sometimes resistance can be futile.

Usually it is easier to make dietary changes gradually, however sugar has the unique ability to inspire cravings which are refueled every time you give into them. The only way to break the cycle is to stop feeding the fire. Use this challenge as an opportunity to go cold turkey and break the addiction.

And stay away from that falsely advertised hazelnut spread.  Perhaps they should really call it Sugar Spread with Hazelnuts…

♥  Terri  ♥

Beauty Really is Skin Deep

SKIN ~

The epidermis is composed of the outermost layers of cells in the skin, “epi” in Greek meaning “over” or “upon”, which together with the dermis forms the cutis. The second layer of skin is sometimes called inerdermus, Latin for 2nd layer.

The epidermis acts as the body’s major barrier against an inhospitable environment, by preventing pathogens from entering, making the skin a natural barrier to infection. It also regulates the amount of water released from the body into the atmosphere through transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

In humans, it is thinnest on the eyelids at 0.10 mm (0.0039 in) and thickest on the palms and soles at 1.5 mm (0.059 in). – Wikipedia

OK, now that we know what it’s made of and all the technical jargon to go with it, how do we take care of it, and I mean all of it?  We have skin all over us, not just on our face.  Most people focus on facial skin but it doesn’t and shouldn’t end there.  Most of us slather on moisturizer and sunscreen, but that’s just taking care of the outside.  We still need to take care of it from the inside as well and we can do that by eating a diet containing skin-saving nutrients.

Whatever we put into our bodies is reflected on the outside; our skin.

What do we put into our bodies?  Food and drink, which of course we need, but there’s other things that we put into our bodies that aren’t so great; things like tobacco smoke and alcohol.

Studies have shown that smoking is associated with premature wrinkling although it is not certain exactly how.  Some theories include the heat from the cigarette can directly burn the skin, it causes changes in the elastic fibres of the skin and it causes narrowing of blood vessels which reduces blood supply to the skin and can cause loss of collagen.

Alcohol dehydrates your body generally, including the skin, which is your body’s largest organ. This happens every time you drink.

Alcohol is also thought to deprive the skin of certain vital vitamins and nutrients. At least women have the option of make-up to hide the hangover tell-tale signs.

But that’s only for starters. Drinking more than you should over time can have other, much more permanent, detrimental effects on your skin. Rosacea, a skin disorder that starts with a tendency to blush and flush easily and can eventually lead to facial disfigurement, is linked to alcohol.

And then there’s the cellulite; many believe the toxins in alcohol contribute to its build up. Not the look you were going for? If you’re drinking heavily, however, you can take steps to cut down.

So hungover is not your best look, nor the look of someone who’s been a heavy drinker over a number of years, why not cut down on alcohol and help preserve those good looks.

OK, so that’s what happens when we ingest things we shouldn’t.  So what should we ingest to make it better?

YOGURT ~ As long as you stick to yogurts in non- to low-fat varieties with no added sugars (and you don’t go haywire with the consumption), you will be consuming lots of protein and vitamins — all which help to enhance your immune system and as a result give you clear, vibrant skin.

BLUEBERRIES ~ Free radicals caused by pollution and UV radiation attack skin cells and cause DNA damage and these tasty little treats are powerful ammo in the fight against the premature aging process.

SALMON ~ Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon are responsible for healthy cell membranes and the overall health of the various cells in the body. The stronger the walls of the cells, the more water is kept in, thus making skin cells look more vibrant, plumper and overall more youthful.

ALMONDS ~ Almonds are packed full of vitamin E and are rich in monounsaturated fat, which is a “good” fat known for lowering cholesterol and keeping cell membranes strong and intact, which is crucial for keeping skin youthful.

SWEET POTATOES ~ Sweet potatoes boast large amounts of beta carotene — an antioxidant whose protective qualities defend against the damage that sun exposure will cause.

SUNFLOWER SEEDS ~ These seeds are loaded with vitamin E,  a powerful antioxidant that decelerates the aging of skin cells, keeping us looking younger longer. Vitamin E is also known for its ability to diminish the appearance of scars.

This is just a short list of foods to help benefit your skin.  We all need to take of ourselves on the inside…so we can look great on the outside!

♥ Terri  ♥♥

BBC Good Food Show ~ Was I Impressed?

Welcome to the Good Food Show!

As a subscriber to Good Food Magazine, I see ads throughout the year for the upcoming Good Food shows that are shown throughout the country: Birmingham, London and Glasgow were the main three for some time.  Then this year, they decided to add a new one at the Glow Theatre at Bluewater Shopping Mall near Greenhithe in Kent.  Woo hoo!  Finally, one near to us.

I booked the tickets at the end of February and made sure we got the Gold Seats for the MasterChef Live show.  As a subscriber, I got a great deal; not only a discount on the ticket price, but I also didn’t have to pay the booking fee.  So two tickets for the exhibition and the Live show was a mere £27.  I couldn’t wait and was counting down the days.

We took the train as it was much easier than driving there.  The train took us right to Ebbsfleet station and from there we were able to hop on a bus which took us directly to Bluewater.  We had to walk through Marks & Spencers and out into the main area of the mall to get to Glow.  We showed our tickets and went into the exhibition hall and started looking around.  I don’t know what it was, but I felt disappointed from the moment I stepped inside…call it a gut feeling.

There were too many stands selling wine/alcohol, cheeses, preserves or spices.  Now mind you, I have no problem with any of those foodie items but I would have liked to see some stands selling things like loose tea, coffee, herbs, honey, chocolates, game meats or other unusual meats, hot pepper sauces or quirky kitchen gadgets/signs, etc.  We did not see one stand selling any of those things 😦 although we did get to taste several samples 🙂

Here's where we got the 7 sausages for £10

We did buy some things.  Got seven different dried sausages for £10, five blocks of cheese with a free bottle of wine for £12 and three jars of condiments (1 horseradish cream, 1 beer mustard and 1 spiced honey mustard) for £6.50 and when you bought 3 jars or more, you got a free jute tote bag.

Our Purchases!

The MasterChef Live stage

The MasterChef Live show was at noon so we headed downstairs to that.  We were about 10 rows back as I had ordered the Gold seats.

We really enjoyed the show with John Torrode and Greg Wallace and they had a cook-off with the MasterChef champions from the past two years.

John and Greg on stage

(Sorry, I took some video of the show but I’m having trouble posting them on here.)

Also wish I knew about the book signing BEFORE I got there…would have brought my MasterChef Bible for John and Greg to sign!

Don’t get me wrong, the exhibition was enjoyable, just a tad disappointing.

Maybe next year will be better…if we decide to go again.