Jen's Kitchen offers a fresh approach to home cooking with exciting recipes and blog posts that emphasise hands-on cookery using local and organic produce.

The Gingerbread Wreath

About 2 years ago I obsessed with making a Gingerbread man wreath, I made SO much gingerbread that I actually haven’t made gingerbread since.  But plan to make some more again this year.

The basic gingerbread recipe is a traditional Finnish recipe, given to me by my Finnish sister-in-law.

  • 350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g soft butter
  • 175g light softbrown sugar
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup

To decorate

  • Writing icing
  • cake decorations

 

Preparation method

  1. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of your food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 1800C. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
My reindeer

My reindeer

 

  1. Roll the dough out to approx mm thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them, if not doing the wreath.  If you are doing the wreath, see below.
  2. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations.

Wreath Preparation method

  1. Draw a circle on greaseproof, using a dinner plate, in pencil.
  2. Place the men, “holding hands”, using a pastry brush, paint water on the bottom hand, then press the top hand on top.
  3. Place in the freezer for ten minutes prior to cooking.

Leave to cool on the tray before threading ribbon through the little men.  This is NOT my pic, but I will pt mine up as soon as I have it made!

gingerwreath

The old favourites are the best- iced Christmas cookies

I always use this recipe when making batches of biscuits for icing; it’s my twist on a Nigella Lawson Classic

A cup of treats

A cup of treats

for the biscuits

  • 300g plain flour (plus more for dusting)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp ground cloves
  • 1tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 100g soft butter
  • 100g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 4 tablespoons runny honey

for the icing and trimmings

  • 300 g instant royal icing (from packet)
  • decorations

Method

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/350ºF.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and pepper in a food processor and, with the motor on, add the butter and sugar, then, slowly, the beaten eggs and runny honey, though don’t use all of this liquid if the pastry has come together before it’s used up.
  3. Form 2 fat discs and put one, covered in clingfilm or in a freezer bag, in the fridge while you get started on the other.
  4. Then dust a work surface with flour, roll out the disc, also floured, to about 5mm / ¼ inch and cut out your Christmas decorations with cutters of your choice.
  5. Re-roll and cut out some more, setting aside the residue from this first disc, well covered, while you get on with rolling out the second. When you’ve got both sets of leftover clumps of dough, roll out and cut out again, and keep doing so till all the dough’s used up.
  6. Arrange the pastry shapes on the lined baking sheets and cook for about 20 minutes: it’s hard to see when they’re cooked, but you can feel; if the underside is no longer doughy, they’re ready. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  7. Make up the instant royal icing, beating it until it’s thick enough to be able to cover the biscuits with a just-dripping blanket of white.
  8. Carefully ice the cold decorations, using a teaspoon (the tip for dripping, the back for smoothing), and scatter sparkles or sprinkles as you like.

Love, Dinosaurs and Clauses…..

Coming into work this morning the DJ announced it was only 30 days to Christmas and promptly started playing “God only knows”, by the Beach Boys from one of my favourite films, Love Actually.  And it got me thinking, about Chrismas, and all my favourite films at Christmas.

Love Actually being right up there, as it came out on TV when my son was 6, and he spent Christmas in New Zealand, and the song- All I want for Christmas is You, meant so much more as we were apart.  To this day I regularly cry if I hear it, 10 years later!

My favourite bit from the film is where Hugh Grant is dancing on the stairs…

My other favourite films include, all the Santa Clause Films with Tim Allen, I think they are very funny, and definitely have a feel good factor associated with them, though number one is still the best.

And then we move onto upcoming films.  I was SO excited to see the trailer for the new #JurassicWorld, that was until I watched the 20 seconds of it! I know there has been a tendency to give too much of the story away in the trailer, but that 20 seconds gives nothing away!!!

So what’s your favourite film to watch at Christmas?

 

 

 

 

 

More Adventures in Wine….

I entered, as you know, the Cono Sur Food Bloggers Competition this year, and have really enjoyed the experience.

I was on Facebook the other day, and spotted an event they are running this Monday in The Shelbourne Hotel, in association with TheDiningRoom.  As I am in Dublin that day I am definitely going along!

Cono Sur

While I’m at it, BEST OF LUCK to Billy and Clare Lyons heading to Paris this weekend as part of the Cono Sur Food Blogger Competition, I hope they bring back the silverware to Ireland.

 

 

Bake, Knit, Sew; Blog Tour

I was very lucky to have been selected to compete in the Chef de Jour in Fenn’s Quay in Cork in 2011, when I competed in the first round I heard all about the wonderful Evin O’Keeffe, but never got to meet her as she was very busy bringing Liam into the world.

At the next round in 2012, Evin was once again a judge, and I was delighted to meet her, and have made a very good friend.

Whenever I need a recipe or an idea, she’s there.  Whenever I need a friend, she’s there.

So when I heard of the kickstarter project for her book, I was absolutely delighted to take part, initially as a recipe tester, and now as part of the blog tour!

#BakeKnitSew

#BakeKnitSew

Last year as I was struggling to find a recipe for pumpkin pie, Evin came to my rescue, and I was delighted to see that she has an excellent version of it in the book, and I made this version this year.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie #BakeKnitSew Pic

You can purchase your very own copy of Bake Knit Sew from Anchor & Bee. Evin has also been an inspiration to me as a blogger, and I follow her (award winning!) blog here.  She has inspired me to now try to sew, I think knitting is still beyond me, and although we were destined not to meet for lessons earlier in the year, I am now determined, book in hand, to get a tutorial before she is too busy being famous!

Here is the upcoming schedule for the blog tour:

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE
Monday, November 10 – Reckless Knitting
Tuesday, November 11 – Fibre Friends
Wednesday, November 12 – Jen’s Kitchen
Thursday, November 13 – The Dublin Knit Collective
Friday, November 14 – Crafty Tails
Saturday, November 15 – The Writer’s Journey
Sunday, November 16 – Lisa Bogart Thoughts
Tuesday, November 18 –  TanisKnits
Wednesday, November 19 – Lilly Higgins
Thursday, November 20 – Calso Cooks
Friday, November 21 – By Eline
Saturday, November 22 – Yarn Poetry

Hope you enjoyed my post and I look forward to the next stops on the tour!  I learn so much from each blog and read, and am amazed at the talent and enthusiasm in each blog.

Pumpkins

Food Photography

I think, for me, good food photography is nearly better than seeing food “in the flesh” so to speak, it’s what draws you in…  I came across this blog post this morning, and was fairly wowed by the food photos, check it out..

http://www.shutterstock.com/blog/best-food-photography-creative-artists?customer_ID=12625585&campaign_ID=shutters.10158325&launch_ID=10094705&utm_source=sstkemail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=SS_20141104_Content_Marketing_EN

My plan of action this evening is to track them down on instagram.

 

 

Halloween Planning

The kids are a bit disappointed this year, as between one thing and another, we haven’t had time to put up the decorations.  But I do plan to do some cooking.

Halloween decorations

Halloween decorations

I plan to make these cute little buns to bring to the party my Mum & Dad are hosting for the cousins.  They live in an estate, not the back of beyond like us, so within 20 minutes we should have bags of treats!

Halloween Cake

I made this cake before, and it went down very well, but this year, I think a more unusual cake is called for.  I look forward to rooting through my cookbooks for ideas.  Although it won’t be had until after the event, it will be demolished all the same!

Setting your Goals for 2015- Guest Post by Pamela Caldwell

Did you know that most New Year’s resolutions, despite all of our good intention never happen?

In fact according to Forbes just 8% of people achieve their resolutions. 

The Top American Resolutions are as follows:
21% Weight loss
14% Improve finances
14% Exercise
10% Get a new job
7% Healthier eating
5% Manage stress better
5% Stop/reduce smoking
5% Improve a relationship
3% Stop procrastinating
3% Set time aside for self
3% Start a new activity/hobby
2% Improve my work habits
2% Stop/reduce drinking alcohol
1% Assertion/learn to say no

Do any of these ring true with you?

Would you like to achieve positive change in any area of your life in 2015?

Well…I am here to help !  Through my own personal journey and by putting many of my learnings into action I now know that I can do, be or have ANYTHING I want in life – WOW how amazing is that!

Every January I make my new Vision Board for the 12 month ago ahead with I absolutely love the process because as I am listing down my goals and finding pictures and images to match what I was to achieve I absolutely KNOW with every inch of my being that my goals are going to come true !

You see a Vision Board is a tangible map of your future, it is a tool you can use firstly to define your goals and then keep yourself honest and on track to achieving those goals.

Here are some soul searching questions you can ponder while working out what you want to put on your 2015 Vision Board

1. What is my life’s purpose – we are all here for purpose to share our unique talents and gifts with the world – what is your life’s purpose? Some clues will lie in thinking about what you are passionate about.
2. What are my dreams?
3. Then what are my goals?
4. What am I grateful for in life?
5. What makes me happy?
6. What is something I have always wanted to do?
6. Where would I like to travel
7. What career would I ideally choose for myself?
8. What are my financial goals?
9. How can I give back in my community?
10. Which causes or charities would I like to be more involved with?
11. If I could change the world, how would I make it a better place?

Arm yourself with a  scissors, gluestick, pictures and images you want to put on your Vision Board, some bright coloured pens and of course the Board itself.  I always use a board that is thick enough to stand up on its own and it big enough to capture all of my dreams on it.

Keep your vision board in a place where you will see if several times a day and as you are passing it stop and ask yourself

“Am I on track with the future of my desires?” and

“What action can I be taking on a daily basis to keep moving forward with confidence in the direction of my dreams?”

When you look at your goal, your words and the image you have chosen to represent your goal imagine that you have already achieved it. You need to emulate those feelings of “having it now” in your body – allow yourself to actually feel the success pumping through your veins – feel it now !

You need to take action in pursuit of your goal. If for example your dream is to buy a Motorhome to explore Europe in over the coming years then you have to actually start to shop for your perfect motorhome. Even though you might not have the money now or any idea where you will get the money from to buy it you need to ACT AS IF you are in the market to buy one. You see its not for us to figure out the HOW’s – that is the job of the Universe. We just need to ASK and BELIEVE that achieving the goal is possible.  Go test-drive a few models – figure out what layout will best suit your needs. Research the places you will go and explore, where will you stay? Caravan parks, free camping, what are the other options? What festivals and events will you go to now you have a home on wheels. Tell your family and friends of your desire to buy a motorhome – in fact tell anyone who will listen to you! The most you step out of having a dream into reality of actually getting inside one and talking about it the faster you will manifest it to you.

There are 3 main roles for you in all of this willing your dreams to you malarkey!

  1. You have to BELIEVE that your goal/dream is going to come true (I mean REALLY BELIEVE).
  2. You have to TAKE ACTION in pursuit of this dream. (make some quiet time for yourself every day to hear the messages the universe will pass onto you – little ideas on what you need to do to make it happen – these are also called “inspired thoughts”)
  3. You have to FEEL GOOD as feeling good means you are on track with the future of your desires. If you start to feel any negative emotions (fear, resentfulness, depression, sadness, anxiety, boredom etc) then you need to become AWARE that you are feeling bad and CHANGE IT. Switch the dial, tune into another frequency, block the negative feeling and REPLACE it with a positive one (happiness, love, joy, gratitude) and put yourself back on track.

“It’s not that easy to do that” I hear you say – well please try it. The next time you are feeling bad put on your favourite piece of music – the one that has you rocking in the car or singing into your hairbrush, go for a walk in nature, hug a loved one or a pet, look at a photograph of a really happy time in your life, remember a place you went to on holiday which you absolutely loved….there are many strategies you can use to make yourself feel better and in doing so you put yourself back on track with the future of your desires.

So I hope I have given you enough information and inspiration to make you want to create your own Vision Board for 2015. If you need any more help or would like to come to one of my “Dare to Dream Vision Boarding Workshops” then please email me on info@circleoffriends.co

Circle of Friends Vision Board

Circle of Friends Vision Board

Here’s to 2015 being the best year in your life yet

Pam Caldwell

Hen Weekend!

Things have been quiet on the blog the last week, as family took over. But this is a warning of the kind of pictures that may be floating around!
Liverpool is our destination, and luckily we are flying from Waterford. Not sure what the plan is but we’ll go with the flow!!! See you all Monday!

images

Back to School Cooking

Lots of people write about school lunches and “back to school” cooking, but here I plan to give you an idea of my weeks cooking.  Now that the kids are both Day -boarders, I don’t pick them up until 17.30 every day except wednesday. Thankfully I don’t need to supply gargantuan boxes of sandwiches as they get a 3 course “lunch” in school.  But they are still absolutely starving by the time they get home.  Especially as most days they either have music or dance after I collect them, meaning we don’t get home until 19.30.

clock

Which means dinner has to be either very quick, or alternatively I have to be organised and have it in a preset oven ready for when we collapse in the door.

Tonight is an easy one; Roast chicken, our own baked potatoes, and roasted carrot and parsnips.  I always like to have some green in the meal, so it will be salad.

Vegetables a plenty

Vegetables a plenty

Last night was not too bad either as I had roast loin of pork, with left over mashed potatoes and fresh green beans.

If I don’t get a chance to put anything on in advance pasta is usually the option.  Carbonara is a very definite favourite of us all, and really only takes 10 minutes.  But chicken in my really quick sauce is a favourite too, but needs a little forethought. http://www.jenskitchen.ie/grease-lightnin-dinner/

Lightening Quick but ultra TastyLike all of these blogs, I think for me, the most important thing is to have a plan.  Even if it is just to get a take away.  And I don’t feel guilty that I’m not slaving away over the stove for 4 hours before we all sit down to eat, we do plenty of cooking together in the kitchen at the weekend.  And that’s what we really enjoy, cooking and eating together, especially with the extended family.

Party Time!

Party Time!