Oh I’m so excited for Stocking Stuffer Sundays! They were easily one of my favourite series I’ve ever done on the blog and, perhaps because I am such a huge lover of all things Christmas, I’m so jazzed to be starting it up again!
Just like last year every Sunday I’ll post a fun edible gift that you can make and give. And just like last year there will be a cute fun free downloadable gift tag option! Only this year, with my mad new photoshop skills that I learnt at Blogshop a couple weeks back, I was able to design the tags myself.
On a side not, how fun is photoshop? I was so intimidated for so long, but no longer!
So without further ado here is one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever find on this site- Irish Cream. Sometimes known as Bailey’s, it literally takes 5 minutes to make, but instead of being full os preservatives this stuff is just cream, condensed milk, whiskey, vanilla and coffee.
But I hope you look at this as a jumping point- add in more coffee if you want a darker flavour, stir in some melted chocolate, or caramel for a more dessert flavour. Basically, mix it up as you like, this is just the beginning!
Click here to get the FREE downloadable labels!
1 cup Cream
1 cup Whiskey
1 can Sweetened Condensed Cream
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
1 oz. Very strong coffee, or a shot of espresso
pinch of salt
Mix all your ingredients into a blender and mix for 30 seconds. Don’t over mix of it
Merry Almost Christmas!
Oh I love Christmas. I really do. The lights, the family, the warmth, the present buying. It’s all wonderful thing.
Christmas is also hectic. It’s running around, it’s trying to see everyone, and in my industry it’s Christmas baking for the masses and making cakes for Christmas parties, and this year there was also a huge winter wedding that required two wedding cakes just a couple days ago. Which has made this holiday season a little more crazy even than the usual.
So this is a bit last minute, which is too bad, not only because it’s acknowledging my total break in organization, but it’s also dissapointing because this is one of my favourite in this line of Stocking Stuffers that my amazing friend Jen and I did together.
I am not a coffee drinker. It kills my stomach and gives me terrible acid reflex, and it’s just generally a terrible idea for me. But when I was waking up at 4am to bake bread a few years ago I needed something that would give me a kick and wake me up that was just a bit more gentle on my belly, and that’s when I became obsessed with Chai.
It’s a potent mix of flavours, the cardamon meddling with the cinnamon , balancing off the dark black tea, it’s a truly wonderful thing. Traditionally it’s served very strong and steeped in milk, but I will happily drink it black, and even, often, with soy instead of cows milk- because my sensitive stomach doesn’t like dairy much either. It’s the perfect thing first thing in the morning for someone like me.
Once again Jen Cook has blown the packaging out of the water, these little bags are so charming and so easy I’m just blown away, as I have been every week as we’ve been making these stocking stuffers. So please, even if you’ve made all your Christmas presents already, make this as a gift to yourself, to keep you warm on cold mornings.
Chai Tea Mix
4 5” Cinnamon Sticks
40 Green Cardamon Pods
3tbsp Black Peppercorns
3tbsp Whole Cloves
1 cup Ceylon Tea
In a small pan over low-medium heat toast the spices seperately, until they are fragrant but not smoking.
Pulse them in a spice grinder until they are just broken up but not ground finely.
In a bowl mix the spices with the black tea and then evenly put them into four bags.
Tape the bags shut and put them into the boxes and give them out at will- or keep all the chai for yourself!
At the restaurant I work at I recently served a couple who were seeing each other for the first time since they had broken up. It wasn’t going well, and the guy was clearly trying to combat this the way, let’s be honest here, many of us do, by drinking. He wasn’t drunk by any means but he was definitely out pacing the pretty girl across the table, and after one particularly long silence between them he decided he wanted a shot. She said she didn’t want to join him in that, so I did instead, and when he asked what I wanted to drink I said bourbon.
“Oh, uh, okay… bourbon. Man I’m emasculated right now.”
He shuddered but took it down like a champ, albeit an unhappy one.
I love bourbon. Don Draper drinks Old Fashioneds, and you always read about Hemmingway in his pre-Cuban years sitting down with a bottle of the brown stuff. I’ll confess here, I decided I wanted to be the kind of girl that went to a bar and ordered bourbon, so I drank it until I liked it. This stubborn method has also made me like blue cheese and olives, tastes that are a bit harsh to the uninitiated. I now thoroughly enjoy it, it’s what I always order when I go out, and it’s what disappears the fastest from out liquor cabinet.
Good bourbon is very smooth and round and soft , but also very pricey, so here’s the trick to make even Wild Turkey palatable: you spice it. Several years ago this was told to me by a very talented pastry chef, who said if you bought cheap bourbon and stuck a vanilla bean in it for a day, at the end you would get significantly smoother bourbon, and over the years I have learnt that the more you add, the mellower it gets.
Spices cover a magnitude of sins when it comes to bourbon.
It also, with these spices, tastes just like the holidays. The warmth, the cinnamon, the hint of apple, all makes me forget my tiny messy apartment and fills my head with visions of crackling fireplaces, deep voices, and someone else making dinner. Add a little apple cider to the mix, and you’ve just about got Christmas in a glass.
Once again, the amazing Jen Cook has kindly made us some beautiful labels which you can download for free here. She is all kinds of talented, she made my site here, and she sells vintage clothing here.
Apple Spiced Bourbon
1x 750mL Bottle of Cheap Bourbon
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Vanilla Bean
1 Black Cardamon Pod
Wash the apples thoroughly, I used soap to make sure all the pesticides were off, or you can buy organic. Either way make sure the flavours of the sprays they use aren’t going into your drinks.
Chop them up and put them in a large jar. Cover with the bourbon, close the jar firmly and let sit for 2 days.
Carefully split the vanilla bean in half, and scrape the seeds out with a small knife. Put the seeds and the pod into the jar with the cinnamon, clove and cardamon.
Let these meld in there for another 6 hours, and then strain out, pour into jars. Print up the labels, these can be used as stickers, like I did, or you can tie them on with string.
Jordan introduced me to mulled wine many years ago. The slow cooking of red wine with spices and congac that makes any amount of snow dissapate instantly has been a favourite of mine for some time now, but my love of it really cemented a few years ago when I was in France.
I was just puttering about feeling a bit lonely, it was near the end of my trip, when I stumbled across the most incredible Christmas market. They had closed down about ten blocks of the Champs Elysee and had lined both sides with little white cottages filled with the most wonderful little treats. Candy makers, nut roasters, cutting board sanders, and doll sewers all had stands filled with gorgeous things to eat and buy, but all of it was made better by the vendors who sold “vin chaud”. Hot wine, or as we call it here Mulled Wine is all kinds of wonderful, it’s the most soothing thing I can think of it tastes exactly like Christmas.
Jordan makes a great mulled wine, so we thought we would make these little packages of all the spices you need and sew them together with these sweet tags and attach them to wine bottles, which makes a lovely stocking stuffer or a slightly more personal hostess gift.
So with this recipe also comes a free download for the labels, which are double sided, because of the wonderful generosity of a very dear and extremely talented friend, one Miss Jen Cook. Jen is the genius behind my entire website and my logo, and shes is just about the most patient person I know to put up with me as a client. And when I casually mentioned this project to her she jumped at the chance to do some labels for me.
So, without further ado, here is the recipe, the methodology and the free printable downloads for Mulled Wine Kits. If you do make it I’d love to hear about it so let me know in the comments!
Mulled Wine Kits
Click here for your FREE downloading label
1 Long Cinnamon Stick, broken in half
1/2 Star Anise
1/2 Vanilla bean
1 Long strip of orange zest
Fold a long thin rectangle of cheesecloth in half, making a shorter rectangle.
Place all the ingredients on top.
Fold the Cheesecloth over the spices creating a pocket.
Sew carefully around the spices in a square.
Tie a piece of twine onto the pouch and tie the other end to your label.
Tie around a bottle of wine and c’est finis!
I relented and bought a new umbrella today. I thought that I wouldn’t need to replace my last lost one because it was May. Because the sun should be shining, and life should be swell but instead it rained all day. And all yesterday, and the day before that. There are these brief moments where the sun almost shines through the clouds and it’s almost like there isn’t a blanket of white and grey over us. And then the moment passes and the sun is completely invisble again. And I go back to day dreams of summer days and picnics on Wreck Beach and drinks on patios watching the sunset.
This is a recipe in preparation for those times, and it also makes use of one of the last reminants of the citrus season, the key lime. This makes an afternoon G & T into something glorious, this with a splash of vodka and some sparkling water is the perfect post work wind down drink. This means you never have to run out to the store to get lemons and limes before a party, because this is better. This is not the lime cordial you buy at the store with fruit juices from concentrate. This is so fresh you can hardly tell it wasn’t squeezed just for your drink. This you want in your house at all times.
Key Lime Cordial
Adapted from the Lime Cordial recipe by Stephanie Alexander.
*You can make this with regular limes if you can’t find them of course, but there is a soft sweetness to a key lime that elevates this. I’ll admit that they take work, i had to squeeze 30 key limes but I also got over 2 litres of cordial, so that’s okay by me.
**I bought both citric and tartaric acids at a gourmet shop near me, but you can also buy them both at make your own wine stores.
300ml Key Lime Juice (about 30 key limes)*
30g Citric Acid**
30g Tartaric Acid**
Bring a large pot of water to a boil
Wash 2x 1L jars or bottles carefully then place them and their lids in the pot of water and sterelize them.
In the meantime bring the water and sugar up to a boil.
When the sugar has totally dissolved add in the acids, and bring back to a boil.
Now add the juice and bring it back to a raging boil.
As soon as it hits that mark, turn off the heat. Take the jars out of the water and set them straight on a clean counter. Pour in the cordial leaving a 1/4 inch of head space and put on the steralized lids. It can be tricky to judge how much to pour in because of the bubbles, if your unsure add a little extra.
Allow to cool slowly at room temperature making sure the lids seal properly.
This will keep for ages, and if you don’t feel like sealing the jars it will last a long time in the fridge with a screw cap.
I had big dreams when I got off work today friends. Big dreams. I was going to make one of those cakes that are made of layers and layers of crepes, ganache, and poached pears. I had it all planned out. Then as I left work I realized it was pouring rain. And I had a flat tire. And I couldn’t find the bike repair place. And then I walked home without an umbrella. It’s a half hour walk. I was cold. Very very cold, the kind of cold that makes your spine hurt because your hunching over so much. And then, I really didn’t want to make 25 crepes. I didn’t want to peel a dozen pears and poach them. What I wanted was to drink hot chocolate and watch season 2 of “Bored To Death” Jason Schwartmans clincically funny television show. So, heres a wonderful recipe for hot chocolate.
You could easily use all milk chocolate or dark chocolate, but I usually have both on hand, so I usually use both. It’s very chocolaty hot chocolate, but using some cocoa powder I find helps thin it slightly, so it’s not just a drinkable ganache. And it’s exactly what you need on a freezing cold rainey day. I’ll make marshmellows soon, I promise. But not today. Today was for whip cream. And it was glorious.
1 1/4 cup Milk
1tsp Cocoa Powder
1oz Milk Chocolate
1 oz Dark Chocolate
- Whisk milk, sugar and cocoa powder together and bring to a simmer over medium heat
- Meanwhile finely chop both chocolates
- Once milk mixture is barely boiling take it off the heat and mix chocolate in until completely disolved.
- Pour into your favourite mug and top with whip cream!