The scent of Christmas – Mulled Wine

That time of year again! Hope you are enjoying the first days of Christmas.

I¬†will be making this at the weekend…

Really enjoy the process and the scent that it leaves in the house. For children, if you boil the red wine rather than keep it on really low heat, you will eradicate the alcohol. This drink can therefore be served to them aswell…(or just heat some plain ribena – that is gorgeous warm!) ūüôā

Click on the link below to be taken to the recipe.

The scent of Christmas – Mulled Wine.

Salt Dough Ornaments and Reindeer Food!

So, we have almost got there! Christmas is less than five fingers away…that is how it works with my four-year old anyway!

It is getting harder for the children to sit still and activities that get them concentrating for more than two seconds are always welcomed!

The first one is a great one for all ages, but specially for those that are able to spell a few words on their own. It is making little salt dough ornaments for the Christmas Tree that the children can initial, write a note on or simply decorate. The dough can also be used to make name tags for gifts which is very cute, or simply little gift tags with messages on – like the one in the picture above.

Salt Dough (recipe also found here)

300g flour
150g salt
200ml water – ish!
 
  • Pre-heat oven to 150C
  • Place flour and salt in a bowl
  • Pour water in as you stir – when dough comes together stop adding water!
  • Get your hands in the bowl – knead¬†the dough¬†– if it feels a bit dry add some more water – if it feels too sticky add a bit more flour
  • Let your children have a piece of dough each, give them cookie cutters as well as rolling pins. Another great tool is a toothpick! They can draw faces, write notes or simply make their shapes look like hedgehogs (my youngest decided that was best use of them!)
  • Make sure you put a hole in the top, using toothpick, if you want to hang the ornament on the tree or place on ribbons for gifts
  • Once decorated – glitter is good here – put the shapes in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 1 hour – may be less if¬†the¬†shapes are rolled thinly¬†– keep an eye on them. They should be light brown.
  • Transfer to a wire rack and let cool – once cool paint with acrylics or leave as are
  • Hang them on the Christmas Tree, string onto gifts or decorate windowsills in your home

REINDEER FOOD

The second activity, and this is a MUST of course, is Reindeer Food making. How will Santa and the Reindeer know where to land if this is not sprinkled on the lawn or in front of your house?

This may look like sparkly cereal to you, but believe me, to a child it is magic! So simple and so sweet to see how excited about it they get. Mine decided to make quite a few of the little parcels and we went to a few friends of theirs and handed them out.

Reindeer Food

1 tbsp oats
Half a weetabix
1 tbsp bird seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp raisins
Glitter of your choice
 
  • Add all the ingredients in a bowl – the children can have a tablespoon each and combine it.
  • Good stir
  • Then add sprinkles – lots! This is what¬†lights the way in the night….
  • Fill little baking parchment parcels with a few tablespoons full of¬†“food” and wrap¬†up.

  • Save them for the evening of the 24th
  • Let your children write this little poem to go with it – or just read it to them! You can make up your own of course!
  • Make sure Santa does stop by….:-)

Reindeer Food Poem

                                                                                                                                                On the 24th at night
When the stars are shining bright
Be sure to take this magic food and sprinkle on the lawn
On Christmas, Santa’s reindeer travel miles before the dawn
But here’s a secret I have to tell, one you must try to keep
That Santa’s reindeer only come when you are fast asleep
So quickly put your jammies on and get a story read
Then sprinkle this magic treat outside and hurry off to bed!
 

All that is left for me to say is Have a Lovely Christmas РI hope you have a really special and memorable evening and morning Рand that your wishes come true! Thank you for reading along and commenting, it really makes me smile when you do!

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

Are you a fan of luscious and chocolatey peppermint mocha? Do you like hot chocolate to be rich and creamy Рwith marshmallows melting on top? I DO!

Mint and chocolate go hand in hand, specially at Christmas time, and marshmallows definitely go hand in hand with hot chocolate..so what better than peppermint marshmallows? I craved them…so I made it the children’s Advent activity to feel less guilty! ūüôā Sharing is caring, right?

Very easy¬†to make¬†but patience is needed….You must whip/beat the mixture for a good 20 minutes. This first batch..well…I didn’t wait – the flavour was stunning and the way they melted in hot chocolate divine¬†– so creamy – but¬†they did not have the right marshmallow texture.

So, second time around¬†I switched from food processor to hand-held¬†mixer half way through as I smelt burning and the mixer felt very warm…didn’t want to ruin any appliances…did mix for a full 20 minutes though…and they are stunning! The children particularly enjoyed licking spoons for this one…the batter is almost too good to cook!

These are really lovely wrapped up in clear bags, with ribbon, as a Christmas treat or gift.

Peppermint Marshmallows (adapted from Annie Rigg recipe)

Handful of peppermint sweets – your choice
2 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
6 tbsp cold water
2 tbsp powdered gelatine
400g granulated sugar
250 ml water
50g golden syrup
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1 tsp peppermint flavouring – optional and only if you like them really strongly flavoured
green food colouring (if wanted)
 
  • Preparation is everything – especially if you are making this with the children! Set out everything, weighed, in little bowls and let them tip ingredients in and stir etc
  • Mix icing sugar and cornflour in a bowl
  • Grease a square baking tin¬†– or any shape to be honest – square just makes the marshmallows more symmetrical. It should be at least 4-5cm deep and not bigger than 23cm wide. Dust the tin with the cornflour and icing sugar mixture making sure to keep any leftover mixture
  • Place 6 tbsp cold water in a bowl and sprinkle the gelatine into it – set aside
  • Place 250ml water and the sugar and syrup in a saucepan (looks cool!)¬†and place over medium heat – stir to dissolve sugar

  • Bring mixture to the boil and¬†cook for about 10-15 minutes – ideally the sugar mixture should come in at 120C¬†on a sugar thermometre – but if you do not have one (I do not!) – drip some of it into a glass of water; it will be ready when it creates a hard ball rather than dissolving
  • While this is cooking, bash up your peppermints by placing them in a freezer bag and hitting them with something hard! Once crushed – put aside for later

  • Remove from the heat and¬†add the now spongy gelatine –¬†stir thoroughly¬†to combine and dissolve the gelatine
  • Whisk the egg whites in a bowl with a pinch of salt (helps to stiffen them) – make sure you can turn the bowl upside down without the egg whites moving! That is your sign that they are whipped enough
  • While stirring, add the peppermint flavouring if you are using this, the crushed peppermints and the hot syrup in a steady stream. Keep stirring for 20 minutes or so – what you want is for the mixture to be really thick and creamy. And I mean VERY thick…no cheating or you will have very “wet” marshmallows!
  • Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin – add food colouring to the other half if you want them to look a bit green – and then add the coloured mixture on top of the white one

These are my second batch – made them pink as my daughter requested it! ūüôā

  • Leave the tin, uncovered (FAR away from your children who by now have realised this is tasty stuff…), over night
  • When you are ready, dust a work surface with the cornflour/icing sugar mixture and tip the marshmallows out. You may need to pull a little at it to get them out and the bottom will be a little sticky. All good.

  • With a sharp knife –¬†cut to shape!

Made mini marshmallows for the children

If you do not like peppermint – just add vanilla essence and leave out the peppermint sweets and flavour!

You can also make shapes Рsimply use a spoon and dollop the marshmallow mixture onto greaseproof paper. A bit tricky to get off the paper but do-able! Having learnt-by-doing, trick to this is to make a ginger bread biscuit or other biscuit in the shape you would want, and then dollop the mixture on top. Marshmallow biscuits! Yum!

The best though, and we all agreed, is this:

Make yourself a large cup of real hot chocolate and throw in these peppermint marshmallows!¬†As they are fresh…the way they melt is like¬†nothing I have ever tried. Heaven in a¬†cup!

Perfectly melted!