Shop Local- My Top 5 Local finds

Hello to you all, a bit of a different spin for my blogmas day 2 post.

I thought today I’d share with you my top five Local food and drink delights that are close to my home town of Stratford upon Avon. When I can I do try to support local businesses, I know they can cost a few more pennies ( sometimes) but the quality is often tons better and you are helping such things like a family business to make a living- every one’s a winner.

So who makes my top 5 ( in no particular order)?

1. Monsoon EstatesA family run business fronted by Anne and Chris who roast and sell the BEST coffee. This is an actual fact. My personal favourites are Papa New Guinea Enorga and the Monsoon Malabar. Both dark roasts with such smooth flavours that work well in lattes and cappuccinos and espresso shot as well. I really recommend you try a flavour.

2. Wilde Nuts Located in the heart of Stratford this company sells nuts, raw granolas and trial mixes and some gorgeous vegan fudge. All gluten free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. ( I obviously have a stash at work, well away from mini me).

3. Paxston & whitefield – Cheese, cheese and more cheese. I know not strictly an independent as they were founded in London and have about 4-5 shops, but one of those is in the town, and has been for as long as I can remember. They also stock locally made cheeses. All are delicious- The Stilton and Shropshire Blue being my top picks. This is a must for my Christmas cheese board.

4. Weston On Avon Farm shop. This really is a hidden gem. All our veg that we don’t grow ourselves comes from here. A family farm selling out of a converted garage. Often the produce is picked fresh from the field. You can guess where my winter vegetables are coming from.

5. Shakespeare Distillery Another local business, the creators of the Stratford Gin and about 4 miles away from my home. G&T is one of my favourite tipples, and this is one of my Christmas drink staples.

So there you have my round up of my top 5 Local food and drink suppliers. Have you tried any of these products? If so let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. All views are my own.

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Cranberry Sauce 

Boring title I know, but personally I don’t think you can have a Christmas dinner without cranberry sauce. I know as well that it is easy to open a jar, but I find something deeply satisfying in making it myself. Oh and did I mention it is almost effortless to boot. 

 

Ingredients 

  • 1 pack of fresh cranberries ( roughly 250g) 
  • 100ml Orange juice and zest if 1 orange
  • 100g caster sugar
  • Optional- a good slug of port. 

Method

  • Pour the juice,  zest, port and sugar into a pan, heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. 
  • Pour in the cranberries 
  •  Stir in the cranberries and start to simmer. 
  • The cranberries will start to burst when ready. You can either give them a vigorous stir to break them down, or leave them in their glorious half burst textures. 
  • As the sauce cools it will thicken. 

Serve as part of your Christmas dinner or with Brie in a toasted sandwhich. 

Allergy Friendly Cupcakes 

Welcome one and all ( old English christmas speak ) to Blogmas day five. I hope the new week brings you some more festive cheer, me on the other hand have a beauty of a cold and a three year old to entertain. It wasn’t fairing too well but we hit on a winner with baking cupcakes. 

They are easy to make and if your kids are like mine then the decorating will keep them entertained for a bit, then you get another 5-10 minutes for eating their creations – result. I take no credit for the recipe either, it’s adapted from your traditional sponge recipe just made allergy friendly. 

I’ll reiterate that mini me did a lot of the decorating, but to add on a more serious note Waitrose Christmas cake decorations are largely free of gluten, nuts and soya. B&M have gluten free cupcake toppers to. 

  

Ingredients 

  • 125g self raising flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g butter ( or dairy free alternative) 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract 

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  • Cream together butter and sugar
  • Add the eggs one at a time. 
  • Add vanilla extract
  • Sift in flour and stir until well combined. 
  • Put in cupcake cakes and bake in the oven until well risen and firm to touch. (15 minutes roughly) 
  • Cool on a wire rack and decorate to your hearts content. 

After all that hard work, have a well earned 5 minutes eating one of these creations until your kids utter the dreaded words “I’m bored!!!” 

That’s it from me for now. Have a great evening and I’ll be back tomorrow x 

Review- Tesco Free From Truffles

Hello and welcome to Blogmas day 3/4 , its a bit late but here none the less , all best intentions were lost as I’ve been struck with the dreaded lurgy. 

I hope you are getting into the Christmas spirit? A grotto visit has got mini me super excited and we still have 3 weeks left- wish me luck. 

  
Anyway today I thought I’d share my thoughts on this new find from Tesco.  Free From Fondant Truffles, they are a mouthful to say, and a mouthful to eat.  Anyway the bonus is they are wheat, gluten, egg and milk free. ( I’m waiting for confirmation of nuts). 

  

So how do they taste? The thick chocolate outer is a pleasant milk chocolate, that doesn’t have that cheap  Artificial sweetness to it, however the soft fondant centre is very very sweet. If I’m honest they are not for me but then I do prefer dark chocolate. For me they sit well with a coffee after dinner ( which I assume is their intent). What is brilliant though is that there is a grown up, affordable (£2.00) dairy free truffle on the market now. 

Have you tried these? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Eggnog Smoothie

Welcome to day 2 of my Blogmas posts. I thought a recipe would go down well for today.  I say a recipe, but that makes this super easy smoothie sound harder yo make than it is.  Fear not it’s incredibly easy and tastes fantastic. 

 Edit   
To me there is nothing more satisfying that the festive taste of an eggnog, it’s rich and oh so moreish and contains all the right spices that just scream christmas. However I can appreciate as much as the next that A) not everyone likes the idea of eggs in a drink and B) it’s fairly  calorific as a drink, but hey it is christmas so a treat is ok.  With all this in mind this version has all the taste but without the egg or refined sugar. I can’t (and won’t) be jumping on the clean wagon with this. There is still sugar in it- so you know every thing in moderation, but this can be vegan friendly, it’s all down to your choice of milk used. 

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 dates or a dash of maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • Top up with milk of your choice ( almond works brilliantly) 

Put all ingredients into your blender and blitz until well combined.

 Edit   
Enjoy in between wrapping, putting up decorations or, in my case, as a reward from stopping the cat from wrecking the Christmas tree. Cheers 

My November Favourites 

Happy 1st of December, excited yet? Yes I am to, also very selfishly I cannot wait to open my advent calendar ( M&S beauty one in case you were wondering). I love Christmas so I’ve decided ( foolishly probably) to do Blogmas as well. You can expect recipes, ideas, reviews and a giveaway to. 

 

I digress this is about November, or my favourite finds anyway. 

First up Aldi, or their new free from section anyway.  Christmas wise they have mince pies, Christmas puddings and cakes all gluten free. The free from range in my local store is growing, and includes Newburn BakeHouse and Nairns. The prices are amazing  £1.29 for flour ( although I’ve not tried it yet) seems a great buy. The downside is that not all stores have the range yet, as some of my followers have sadly told me. Fingers crossed it will continue to be rolled out. 

 Next up is a new company Angels and Cookies they offer allergy friendly cookie dough free from the top 14 allergens, and what’s more they are delicious so if you fancy a treat for Christmas Eve grab some and get baking. 

  
Next up is Moma Bircher muesli. I found via Ocado but they sell direct to. It’s great add your juice and yoghurt leave for minimum of 5-10 minutes and eat. No added sugar either. My only down side is it has a may  contain with nuts but in fairness I keep mine at work so not a problem. 

A few more things to add, Sainsburys have both gluten free, dairy free and nut free Christmas puddings and cake ( I’ll add a picture when I get them) and keep an eye open at M&S their party food is coming in and a lot is gluten free. My personal favourites are the mini chicken Kiev and Asian belly pork. 

That’s it from me today, I’m back to the hell of trying to find a Hatchimal and de icing the car. See you tomorrow. 

Bread Sauce, Gluten Free

As promised, here is a quick post with my gluten free bread sauce ( although it can easily be made with most white breads)  I know this is considered an very important part of any Turkey feast but this is also great with chicken dishes as well. 

  
Ingredients 

  • 750 ml milk
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5-6 cloves 
  • 6 slices of bread ( made into breadcrumbs of torn into small chunks) 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Knob of butter. 

Method 

  • Pour the milk into a pan, add the onion, cloves and bay leaves. 
  • Bring to the boil then add the bread
  • Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until the onion is soft
  • Season with salt and pepper 
  • Remove the cloves and bay leaves 
  • If you have used bread crumbs you are nearly done, if you have torn the bread you can pour the sauce into a processor to make finer. 
  • Before serving stir in the butter so it melts into the sauce
  • Season with more pepper if you wish. 

Serving with your turkey feast, then sleep it off later. 

Have you got a favourite Christmas condiment? Let me know in the comments below. 

Gingerbread Biscuits-Gluten & Nut Free

Well Christmas is nearly upon us and you cannot beat the festive inspired fragrances of mixed spice, ginger, and mulled wine (it’s Christmas you’re allowed to) wafting through your home. I hope this conjures a suitable image for you, which I’ll now shatter if you decide to let your kids help. 

My kitchen looked like a snow storm, my daughter kept stealing the dough and eating it, and the cat ended up wearing it, but never the less we soldiered on because there’s a houseful descending this week and it’s great to have a supply of nut friendly treats, a should add if you can handle the mess it’s great fun for all involved. 

  
Ingredients 

  • 350g plain flour (I used Doves Farm ) 
  • 1 tsp bicarb of soda 
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon or mixed spice 
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (if doing gluten free) 
  • 150g soft brown sugar 
  • 125g butter 
  • 1 egg 
  • 4tbs of golden syrup (or four good squeezes from the squeezy bottle) 

Method 

  • Making these couldn’t be easier. Set your oven to 180 degree C 
  • In to a food processor sift the flour, bicarb, spices and xanthan gum. 
  • Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 
  • Stir in the sugar. 
  • Beat the egg lightly 
  • Add the golden syrup to the egg and beat again. 
  • Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and pulse until a dough is formed. 
  • Turn this out and kneed together. 
  • I let it rest for about 5-10 minutes in the fridge. (15 if using gluten based flour) 
  • Dust your surface and roll dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. It needs to be thinner to get a good “crunch” 
  • Cook biscuits on a lined tray for about 10-12 minutes
  • Let cool completely on a wire rack and decorate if you choose to. 

  
Enjoy with your kids, or make a small hole and hang on the tree or as a snack for Santa on Christmas Eve. I should add these go perfectly with a Baileys laced coffee. So there you go an easy recipe perfect for the festive period. 

Right I have more recipes to perfect and a mound of presents to wrap, wish me luck….