Cranberry and Pistachio Christmas Cookies*

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Ok, I think I'm finally allowed to say how excited I am for Christmas.

Any earlier than the end of November and you run the risk of appearing a little crackers (ha - pun totally intended), but now I feel it more than acceptable to share my Christmassy joy with you. Because real talk - I've felt a little like this since late October...

So hurrah for the festive season edging closer and hurrah for the lovely folk at Waitrose getting in touch and asking me to share my favourite traditional recipe.* As Jack and I don't host Christmas yet (we're lucky enough to be invited to feast on our parents' wonderful creations), we're yet to perfect a signature traditional dish or pudding. But for the past few years we've been making a large percentage of our Christmas gifts ourselves, which has become a little tradition in itself. So when Waitrose got in touch, I knew I had to share one of my treasured gift recipes.

Some of my favourite homemade Christmas gift items are sloe gin (and I always like to make a little bottle for us, too!) cheese straws - perfect for nibbling on and pickled shallots - always great with post-Christmas cold-cuts. But without a doubt, these Cranberry and Pistachio Christmas Cookies are by far my very favourite.

They're thick, chunky and buttery and bursting with pistachios and cranberries. I love the bejeweled look the wine red cranberries and lime green pistachios give to these cookies. They just have a immensely festive feel about them. And (and now don't tell anyone...) they're a doddle to whip up. A complete doddle.

You can make these cookies up to two months in advance, so why not get cracking this weekend then pop them in the oven on Christmas Eve. This is how to win at Christmas, folks.

For Cranberry and Pistachio Christmas Cookies you will need (makes 20-24):

175g butter, softened
85g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
220g plain flour
75g pistachios, roughly chopped
75g dried cranberries, roughly chopped

Start by creaming the butter, sugar and vanilla paste together with a wooden spoon. Then stir in the flour to form a rough dough. Once you have a dough tip in the cranberries and pistachios. Get your hands in there to disperse the fruit and nuts throughout the dough.

Split the dough into two and roll into logs. Double wrap in clingfilm and chill for 1 hour or freeze for up to 2 months. If you're freezing the cookie logs then just defrost in the fridge overnight before you want to bake them. Then carry on with the following steps!

Once chilled slice your log into chunky cookies. I always like slightly thicker cookies but this then makes a smaller yield. But go with whatever tickles your pickle.
Bake on a tray lined with baking parchment in an oven preheated to 180c for 12-15 minutes.  

Once baked and golden around the edges, take out of the oven and leave to cool on a tray. 

Grab a box and your nicest ribbon and gift to your very favourite people. I hope one of my traditional festive recipes has now becomes yours. But if you're after more inspiration, Waitrose have got you covered with traditional Christmas recipes from around the world! Happy festive baking!

Winter Wishes

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

I've always been a Winter person.

As you can imagine, I was pretty excited when the cold snap hit last week. Our mild Autumn has had me frustrated. I've been yearning for long walks with rosy cheeks, afternoons spent by the fire and warming stews for dinner followed by steaming puddings for weeks now. I think I'd actually just like to live at Hogwarts, if that can be arranged? I have been waiting for my letter for some time now...

Anyway - so whilst others lamented the frosty ground and nip in the air, it was all I could do to contain my excitement. Summer sun is all well and good, but I'm happiest in chunky knits, lined leather boots and with a hot chocolate in hand.

The pictures above were taken last year and then Spring came round too quickly for me to share. Some were taken with my Mum on photography walks, others on family days. But I'm wishing for more of those times this Winter. The anticipation of enjoying the chilliest months with my favourite folk really warms my heart.

Now mulled wines all round, yeah?

Lottie Loves: 89

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Instagram of the week: Hot chocolate is the ultimate Christmas shopping fuel.

1. Paris. ❤️

2. Fancy dipping your toe into Thanksgiving celebrations this year? This Pumpkin Pie in a Mug looks great!

3. Although this leftover turkey, bacon and cranberry sandwich looks like it would be worth slaving over a Thanksgiving feast for!

4. The view of an art gallery - from the art's perspective...

5. Becky's Cosy Winter Staples make me so giddy for warm winter nights in.

6. Salted chocolate pecan pie bars (!!!)

7. 10 instagram accounts you need to be following.

8. Lazy Sunday on the agenda? Accompany with one of these 6 heartwarming films best watched a cold afternoon.

9. Craving something? This chart points you in the direction of what your body is after.

10. Chocolate Chip Pie. CHOCOLATE CHIP PIE!!!

Have a happy weekend, friends! x

Sausage, Kale and Tuscan Bean Stew

Thursday, 12 November 2015

I think I've mentioned before that I'm obsessed with my slow cooker.

It's a bit concerning really, I can't stop yammering on about it. For some reason I'm still over-awed by bunging all my ingredients in, going out for the day and coming back to perfectly cooked meal. It's a real weekday saviour and I love to use my slow cooker at the weekend too, so come the evening Jack and I can chill out together whilst the slow cooker does all the work. Told you - obsessed.

Ok - reckon I've sold you on slow cookers now. Onto the recipe! The ragu is a game-changer and is mixing up my wintery cooking game. It's deliciously warming and packing a punch with herbed sausage and red wine. The cannellini beans are creamy and add bulk and generosity to the stew, while the kale gives the subtle depth of greenery. It's real comfort food and just hits the spot. It's the kind of food where you groan oh my GOD through your first mouthful and then don't utter another word for the rest of the meal! And I've told you before about our obsession with gnocchi, but gnocchi with this ragu is next level oh-my-god delicious. They just go. Comfort on comfort topped with heaps of grated Parmesan. And I mean heaps.

It's a cracker, srsly.

For Sausage, Kale and Tuscan Bean Stew (serves 2):

1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can plum tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp tomato puree
1 small glass red wine
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
3 herbed sausages
2 big handfuls kale, woody stems removed and chopped
1 tin cannellini beans, drained
salt and pepper

to serve:
500g gnocchi
Parmesan, grated

Begin by grabbing your slow cooker. Then add the chopped tomatoes to the bowl and break them up. Add in the onions, garlic, basil, oregano, bay leaf, tomato puree and red wine.

Then grab your sausages, remove the skin and roll into little balls. Add the balls as you roll into the bowl.

Season lightly, mix together and whack on low for 7 hours or high for 3, whatever suits you.

Thirty minutes before cooking time is up add the kale and cannellini beans into the stew. Stir it up and season to taste if needed.

Then grab your gnocchi and cook according to packet instructions.

Then plate up! Get hold of a hunk of Parmesan and remember to always be generous.
Happy slow-cookering (that's totally a verb, right?)

Lottie Loves: 88

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Instagram of the week: Weekends are our favourite, as is Anthropologie.

1. Weekend brunch? This French Toast for one or two looks uh-mazing.

2. 19 movie posters significantly improved by amazon reviews. Chortle, chortle.

3. Love this quick DIY copper vase idea. Looks like the perfect festive addition to any living space!

4. Ah! How I'd love to go to Iceland.

5. I'm obsessed with my slow cooker. I love leaving it ticking away whilst I'm at work. Last week I tried this Chicken Enchilada soup with a few tweaks and today I'm having a crack at this vegetarian lasagne soup. Slow cookers forever!!

6. David Attenborough narrates over the introduction to Adele's Hello. What a dude. Also are you watching The Hunt? Of course we're loving it because David Attenborough is GOD.

7. Free online courses to sign up to this winter. Keep learning, folks *new nerd emoji*.

8. So it's likely I'll make this Chickpea Pasta Soup a bajillion times.

9. I love listening to audio books when I'm working, so will definitely be checking out Jo's list of favourites.

10. 33 acts of kindness that prove how lovely humans can be.

Have a happy weekend, friends! x

Date Night Dinner with Simply Cook*

Saturday, 7 November 2015

When the weekend rocks around Jack and I are always super excited. Partly because the weekend means we get to lie in together (something we're Olympic-level good at), but mostly because the weekend is a time for us to really take time over the meals that we eat. Weekday meals for me are all about how quickly I can throw something together that's that's still healthy and bonkers delish (no biggie, right?). They're not about making cannelloni. Something that I learned recently is not a week-night friendly meal - hello 9.30pm dinner. 
Tangent. Anyway, so on the weekend we love to take our time and indulge in a little treat yo' self time. Whether that's moseying out for brunch, picking up a cut of our favourite meat or just grabbing that perfect bottle of wine. It's all about the weekend wind down. It's all about enjoying the very best dishes. 
So when Simply Cook, a company who create ingredient blends from spice rubs to oils to pastes, got in touch and said would I like to test out their kits I didn't hesitate. I checked out their recipes and knew that they'd make great additions to our weekend date night dinners.   

Their concept is simple - to get Britain cooking. To expand the nation's repertoire of dishes without demanding us to stay in the kitchen for hours. In fact every meal is designed to be made in about 20 minutes. Nifty eh? They send you over a monthly box with four meals and each meal has three different blends.
I have to say to start with, I was dubious. I like to say I'm a fairly adventurous cook and not afraid to dabble in other cuisines, what could Simply Cook show me? I've also never been particularly attracted to meal boxes, I mean what if you didn't fancy it that week? Then what? Scuppered. But I was so, so pleasantly surprised by Simply Cook. Each box is packed with meals from different cuisines and each meal features a variation of blends, and it's already expanding my horizons in the kitchen. And if I haven't got time to cook a Simply Cook recipe one week, the ingredients won't go out of date for a good long while, so no pressure!

So the nitty gritty - are they any good? Yes. Honestly, totally yes. Anisa, Simply Cook's chef and one of the most lovely people I've worked with, has outdone herself with a varied and delicious range of blends. And her recipes are a doddle to follow! I've already given away all my recommend a friend tokens and wish I had a bunch more to hand out. If you're a fan of eating widely and well then you'll love this. You've got to try.

And I'd love you to give it a go! Simply Cook have kindly offered all Lottie's Kitchen readers to try their first box for just £1 by entering 'LOTTIE' at the check out.

So do let me know if you give me a go - and of course tag me in any of your humble brag dinner instagrams @LDHucks. I so want to dribble all over my iPhone! 

Thank you to Simply Cook for supporting Lottie's Kitchen and supplying me with some of the best spice blends I've ever tasted.

Lottie Loves: 88

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Instagram of the week: Basic food styling. My conclusion? I need more fabrics and I need more props. Food blogger life.

1. Oh man - please can I have this for breakfast?

2. Food typography. Love this! For some reason the Horseradish one reminds me of Wallace and Gromit animation... Anyone else?

3. Catastrophe! I've just caught up with the first season and love, love, love Rob Delaney. He and Sharon Horgan are such talented folk. Have you watched?

4. This Caramelized Upside Down Pear Bread looks like the perfect thing to enjoy of tea with visitors.

5. Gym real.

6. Brutally honest illustrations that sum up adulthood. Number 7 made me laugh out loud.

7. Best horror movies of the decade so far. But no Sharknado, so don't know how accurate this can be...

8. What to cook when you don't want to cook anything. Chickpeas for me, roasted with a little chili powder and salt and then smothered in guacamole.

9. Find your perfect dog based on your needs. Apparently we should get a Giant Schnauzer, which I love! So full steam ahead on that one.

10. Pets in costumes! PETS IN COSTUMES!! Happy Halloween, folks.

Have a happy weekend, friends!
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