Posts tagged cranberries
Valentine's Coconut Ice

Valentines is such a commercial holiday…but then again, any cause for celebration is good enough for me!

I’m not really the type to celebrate Valentines in a big way, I much prefer showing a little love at any other time of the year and not when I’m ‘told’ I should. But since I have no Valentine of my own it’s a little bit pointless debating my options (or maybe I’m just a tad jealous)!

A thoughtful gesture always means so much more than anything money can buy. A little homemade gift is sure to raise a smile... and a tasty yummy treat all the more!

I have a few simple Valentine’s ideas to post over the next few days.  These would be perfect any time of year….another little way to remind someone how much they mean to you.

No Valentine? Then treat yourself, you best friend or your mum. Plus since these treats are super healthy you will all be smiling all day long.

First up, pretty pink coconut ice. 

You can use any dried red berries here- I used cranberries but cherries would be fabulous! The result is a lovely speckled pink cube of delight with a light crumbly coconutty texture and hints of delicate sweet berries. You could use any shaped moulds you fancy, just make sure to firmly press in the mixture whilst still soft and warm.

Recipe: Valentine's Coconut Ice

Makes approx. 12 cubes (1 ice cube tray)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut butter (make your own)
  • 2tbs cashew or almond butter
  • ½ cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 2 tbs agave nectar plus tiny pinch stevia
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Melt the coconut butter then combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a thick smooth paste is formed.  There should be ‘flecks’ of the red berries in the mixture as opposed to a solid colour. Whilst still warm, spoon the soft mixture into an ice cube tray or other candy moulds and press down firmly into each mould.

Freeze briefly to set and then store in the fridge.


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‘Twelve Days’ day 7: Mincemeat- simple and sugar-free!

When I pulled open my blind this morning I realised we’d had our first snow! Ok, so it wasn’t really much to write home about and wasn’t particularly photo worthy either…but it was still snow! Wohoo!

It now feels much more like winter, a little boost to the Christmassy spirit!

So far this year it’s been very mild outside, I’ve barely had to scrape my car at all in the mornings before heading off to work but in the last week or so there has definitely been a winter chill in the air and snowfall was only a matter of time.

Time, to cosy up indoors with snuggly slippers a dressing gown and maybe a glass of mulled wine?   No… I’m saving that for Christmas! A mug of herbal tea with have to do.

It’s time like this I really wish I had a crackling fire to sit next to as I write…no such luck, although the glow of the tree lights is nice.  Actually an open fire would probably be a bad thing…I’d fall asleep in no time!

In all the talk of warmth and spices, Christmas is not complete without mincemeat….. Oh no, I can see some of you pulling a face…stop and re-consider.  I’ve never really liked mincemeat, it always seemed full of too many currants, mixed peel  and things like that and for someone who previously disliked dried fruit it just wasn’t my thing. 

I’d never even considered making my own and certainly not realised how simple it really can be! Now I'm brimming with ideas using this basic concept...for example a 'summer fruits' or 'tropical' version for summer time- who says mincemeat is for Christmas only?

It's simple…pick the dried fruits you like (ok so ideally there should be some sort raisin/sultana combo going on but you can add other things too) blitz together and you’re done. No cooking, no sugar, not fat and no mess. This will easily store in a jar for a few weeks and freezes well too….so make it now to see you through the holidays.

As noted above this recipe is fat free and sugar free….it’s just pure and simple and needs nothing more. The dates along with the other fruits give it all the sweetness it needs.

I have a couple of mincemeat recipes coming up.  I had planned on including the first recipe as part of this post, however the daylight faded before I’d finished in the kitchen so the photoshoot will have to take place tomorrow with recipe to follow.

Recipe: Mincemeat

Makes approx. 2 ½ cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (I used the sweetened variety since I could not find unsweetened at the time)
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • ½ cup coarsely ground dates
  • ½ cup whole blanched almonds
  • 2 small to medium apples
  • grated rind of one orange
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • 1 tbs arrowroot/tapioca flour (or any fine flour) optional
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice or nutmeg
  • 1 tsp rum extract (optional- I did not include this as it tasted great without)

Method

Peel and core the apples and chop into quarters. Chop the dates in a food processor to get a course meal. Add all the ingredients and process until you have a sticky chunky mixture. I added a tbs of arrowroot to absorb a little of the liquid and help bind the mix together but this is not a necessity. 

When I tasted the mixture I felt it really didn’t need the rum extract but feel free to add some at the end before a final whizz if you fancy. You could also include actual rum or brandy but again I didn’t feel it needed it and it would also have changed the consistency of the mixture.


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‘Twelve Days’ day 1: Spiced cranberry orange cake

At my mum’s house, traditionally we wouldn’t put the Christmas decorations up until a couple of weekends before Christmas. However this weekend my sister had popped back home from uni and so with all the Christmas baking plans that I was busy drafting up we decided that we’d break that tradition and get full on into the swing. 

Yesterday afternoon was spent with boxes of decorations all around us on the floor- trying to decide which ones to use and which ones were just a bit too old/battered/silly to put up this year. Nostalgia usually gets the better of us and we end up with a Christmas tree ornament collection that looks so random it is almost an embarrassment to visitors who might not appreciate the odd shaped and badly stitched felt stocking that my brother made in primary school about 20 years ago!

So this year, we tried to keep to more of a theme with just a few of the most important nostalgic decorations allowed permission on the tree. It looks so much better!

We don’t go overboard on decorating the whole house from top to toe, but fairly lights are essential! I love fairy lights- I’d keep them up all year round if I could. They give such a warm happy glow to a space and make me want to twirl around the room! Ok, well maybe that is just me…?

Once the tree was up it was time to sit back with a glass of mulled wine. This year I thought I’d try making my own- it was based on a Jamie Oliver recipe that involves first making a syrup base to mix into the red wine. It was lovely, and I’ve bottled up the remaining syrup to have over Christmas itself. 

Along with mulled wine came dessert... a spiced orange and cranberry cake! This dessert becomes the first of the ‘Twelve Days’ of recipes and is super versatile in that it can be served warm as a dessert with custard, served cold as a slice of cake or even baked in muffin tins.

We ate ours warm with custard (Alpro soya custard in fact as I just didn’t have time to make my own).  Mmmm, it was good- dense, moist, lightly spiced and sweet but not overly so with a crisp tang from the cranberries and a warmth from the citrus and spices. Those who like a very sweet dessert may want to increase the sweetener slightly to compensate for the sharpness of the cranberries.  I imagine this cake would freeze well, but I can’t imagine this one being around long enough to test that out!

Recipe: Spiced cranberry orange cake

Makes one 7” cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup rapadura plus ¼ tsp stevia (add a little extra if a very sweet cake is preferred)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 4 tbs apple puree
  • 2 tbs coconut butter (melted) or coconut oil
  • 2 tsp orange zest or 1 tsp orange extract
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 banana- mashed
  • Small tin of mandarins or two clementines peeled in to segments and roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries partially chopped

Method

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.  Blend together the wet ingredients (other than oranges and cranberries) in a food processor until well mixed and then add to the dry ingredients. Lastly add the oranges and cranberries to the mixture and mix through gently to break up the oranges but do not over mix. Pour the mixture into a greased  7” round cake pan. Bake at 180C for approx. 25 minutes loosely covering the cake for the final 10 minutes if the top begins to brown before the middle is cooked through.

For a similar cake idea but with a lighter sponge see this post with apples and blueberries.


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