Oh my goodness, it’s Christmas next weekend. How did that happen? I feel like I’m not entirely ready for it yet so want to get a move on with planning my recipes for the festive period. I shared a round-up of my previous Christmassy recipes last week (including 2 types of gingerbread, coffee shop hacks and some Christmas cake ideas) but my favourite part of Christmas cooking is preparing snacks. I love to have hot crunchy savoury treats in the oven throughout the holidays (and mince pies too, of course) just in case a guest arrives. Surely, there’s nothing better than being welcomed into a home with a big plate of nibbles and treats, is there??I’ve made star tarts, pastry rolls, pizza twists and leftover pasties in the past but never have I attempted to make my own crisps. While I loooove crunchy crisps, I do worry about how healthy (or not!) they are, and I know that I’ll be tempted over Christmas. So when I began craving fried snacks I started to do some research into healthier ways to make my favourite treat. Let’s face it, I’m going to want to eat them all month long, and will definitely be dishing out bowls of crisps on New Years Eve too!It turns out that it IS possible to make crisps without a deep fryer, and all you need is a microwave. Considering that I got a new Panasonic steam combination microwave about three months ago, I was feeling very confident that I’d be able to pull off making my own crisps. It’s got a great range of power settings so knew I’d be able to adjust the power accordingly to get that perfect crunch. Well, noone wants a soggy crisp, do they? Here’s how I got on and the recipe for (wait for it…) parmesan and smoked paprika potato chips.Ingredients: Potatoes (1 ‘jacket’ sized potato will make a small bowlful of crisps), olive oil (or you could use Fry Light for an even healthier version), salt and pepper, dried parmesan and smoked paprika.
I thought I’d share round-up of my favourite festive recipes this Pieday Friday. The idea was to get you in the mood for all the Christmas baking to come but, in fact, I’ve actually started craving most of these recipes now, so I’m sure I’ll be whipping up some tasty this weekend! Below you’ll find links to my top twelve “12 days of Christmas” recipe blog posts, starting with these snowy dark chocolate cookies and cream-filled snowball meringues – enjoy! It wouldn’t be Christmas without gingerbread. Last year I made a gingerbread sleigh but the recipe can be used to make traditional gingerbread men or decorations to hang on your tree. You can find the classic gingerbread recipe in this blog post plus there’s a festive spiced banana muffin recipe in the gingerbread blog post too, bonus!Even though I first made this chocolate gingerbread recipe for halloween, it’s definitely going to be baked again in December. The chocolate makes a nice change to the traditional gingerbread biscuit recipe, and you could make a batch of both types for Christmas, mmm.
I’ve got a big Christmas party taking place at the weekend and my sisters and I have taken over the food preparation for our annual family gathering. As much as I love sausage rolls and frozen party snacks, I wanted to create something a little bit special this year so this week I tested out a recipe for cheesy Christmas stars. Well, I say recipe but really it’s just a matter of constructing the stars rather than cooking them; here’s what I mean… The ingredients comprise of 1 roll of ready-made, ready-rolled light puff pastry, deliciously flavoured Primula (I chose cheese with ham and cheese with smoked salmon – yes, real chopped salmon!) and a grating of mature cheddar. How cute are these limited edition Christmas tubes of Primula?! I’ve stocked up the fridge with them, ready for cheese ‘n’ cracker occasions over the festive period. So, as you can see, all I needed to do was put the cheese stars together, rather than mix up a recipe. Of course, you can make your own puff pastry for the stars if you wish, but I’m short on time and want to make the preparations for the Christmas party as easy as possible. Here’s how to do it: Roll out the pastry and cut into squares. I managed to get 24 squares out of my roll of pastry and cooked them in two batches. Use a sharp knife to cut into the corners of the squares, leaving space uncut in the centre of each square for the cheesy filling. Squeeze some tasty Primula into the centre of each square before folding in the corners to create a star shape. Take each alternating corner and bring them together into the centre of the star. Pinch them together in the middle to seal the tips of pastry together. Brush with a little milk and grate over a sprinkling of mature cheddar. For my second batch I also sprinkled the stars with paprika at this stage to add colour and even more flavour. You could also add diced ham into the cheese centres or sprinkle on chopped chives to create a range of different flavours.Put the stars in the oven at 200 degrees for around 15 minutes or however long your packet of pastry recommends! Some of my centres popped open during the baking process but you can easily press them back together into the centre of the stars while the pastry is still warm. What do you think? I can tell you now that these little cheesy stars taste delicious and I’ll definitely be making them again this weekend for the party! Continue reading “Pieday Friday recipe – Cheesy Christmas stars & party snacks hacks with Primula” »
Does anyone else feel like there’s a celebration on the horizon? Perhaps it’s the school holidays or the long Easter weekend, or maybe it’s hubby’s birthday, my impending 1000th blog post or the May bank holiday? Whatever it is, it’s making me want to invite the family over and bake party food! I’ve just got that urge and I had to give in to it this week when I made one of my party favourites – cheese and ham pastry rolls. These little bites of joy are my festive speciality and they are great for taking on picnics or for light lunches too. They are super-easy to make and might be good to try out over the Easter holidays if you’ve got the children at home because they can help you sprinkle the cheese and roll up the pastry.
It’s a little too simple to call a recipe really because I like to buy ready-made puff pastry – and if you’re feeling super-lazy, you can even buy ready-rolled like I have! – but feel free to make your own rough-puff pastry if you prefer. So here’s what I do:
- Roll out the pastry on a sheet of baking parchment (this will make it easier to roll up into a tube).
- Spread the pastry with cream cheese before laying out slices of ham all over.
Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese all over then lift the baking parchment and use it to roll the pastry into a tube lengthways.
- Slice the long roll into bite-size pieces and place onto a greased baking tray.
Brush with a little milk before baking in the oven according to the pastry instructions
Ta da! Impressive ‘homemade’ party snacks made in minutes! Let me know if you have a go at making your own pastry rolls and tweet me a photo @Cassiefairy.
One more thing – I have a Freebie Friday giveaway running on Twitter today to win this gorgeous Bon Prix dress in navy chiffon (worth £29.99) to add to your Spring wardrobe! Click here to see the competition tweet and enter by simply RTing & following me 🙂
If you’re having a new years party and want to bake some treats yourself but don’t want to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen, check out this tutorial for creating impressive star-shaped tarts in super-fast time.
- Grab yourself a pack of ready-made puff pastry. Use the ready-rolled kind, or roll out your pastry to the thickness of a 1 pound coin
- Cut the pastry into small squares approx 3 inches x 3 inches. Make a cut into the square at each corner but not all the way to the centre
- In the centre space add a teaspoon of your filling – jam, apple sauce or mincemeat for a sweet treat or a cream-cheese & chive mixture or pesto & sundried tomatoes.
- Fold in alternate corners and squeeze together in the centre.
- Brush with a little milk and sprinkle a little sugar or parmesan onto the arms of the star.
- Bake according to the instructions on the pack until puffy and golden-brown.
When I’ve had visitors over the Christmas period I’ve often popped into the kitchen to make a cuppa for my guests and am able to rustle up some of these puff-pastry stars while the kettle boils – then they only take a few mins in a hot oven. And my friends always get a nice warm mince-pie with their drink, so they are very happy!
Assembling these tarts only takes a couple of minutes, but the result is very impressive and you can easily make a big batch of these pretty stars in advance for your new years eve party, keep them in the fridge and then pop them in the oven when you’re ready to eat. Let me know how you get on, and I hope you have a great new years party!
- Pieday Friday – Traditional mince pies (cassiefairy.com)
- Pieday Friday Recipe – Butternut Squash & Stilton Soup (cassiefairy.com)
- Pieday Friday Recipe – Bombay Potatoes (cassiefairy.com)