Leftover Mince Pie Ice-cream.

First of all, I’d love to say a massive Happy New Year to all of you. I hope that you had a great Christmas. I know that some of us have a rough ride over Christmas and New Year, not to mention through the winter months but I hope that my little blog helps to cheer people up in a small way. The past few months chez SmartCookieSam have been very hectic, hence me being very quiet on here recently. I really miss blogging and sharing tips but I’ve really struggled.

I’m determined to be kinder to myself in 2019, although I’m not one for making resolutions. This includes having some time to myself and finding ways to de-stress which don’t involve comfort eating and putting my mental health at risk. One way of making myself organised and to get myself back into blogging is to set myself an achievable challenge. I would love to be one of those bloggers that bakes something everyday but that is just not going to happen. So instead I found a 30 Day Cooking Challenge image from Google and thought I would use this to base my blog posts, baking and family meals on. Each month I’m hoping to choose a theme/ chef or book to concentrate on. Whether this will work later on in the year, I don’t know but I’m going to start the year on a positive note.

This is an example of a 30 Day Cooking Challenge template which I’ve found on Google Images.

For January, I am starting off by using the three Eat Well For Less books. I love these books and enjoy watching the TV series. Although a few of the participants do make me want to scream at them as well as it being blooming obvious that the families know they are being filmed walking around Tesco. But having said that, the books have some fantastic recipes in. My job can be hit and miss being a supply teacher, so at leaner times of the year the Eat Well For Less books have been an enormous amount of inspiration to me. As January is usually a time when I do cut back after the excesses of Christmas, I am looking forward to seeing what I can make fitting into the 30 Day Cooking Challenge. As January is a 31 day month, I will simply choose another savoury recipe to add to the challenge.

The three Eat Well For Less books. I’ve used the first two a bit, but the latest one which is the yellow one is new to me!

Day one for the challenge is meant to be soup. As it is New Year’s Day we are still in family meal mode and we usually have a roast dinner with leftover Christmas Pudding. Any New Year’s Eve leftovers get eaten today, too! For lunch we have had what was left of the antipasti with Italian meat and olives, as well as doughballs and garlic dip. In a little while I will be putting on the oven for a roast pork dinner with all the trimmings with Christmas pudding to follow. Instead we are swapping and having Day 2, which is dessert on Day 1 in the challenge.

Only there will be something else to go with our Christmas pudding leftovers. Mince Pie Ice cream! This is really a cheat’s recipe but a fantastic way of using up leftover Mince Pies. I’m really surprised we have any left to be honest, but this idea from Eat Well For Less is so versatile. In fact “you can do this with whatever you fancy- leftover Christmas Pudding, chocolate cake, cookies, shortbread or even a jar of Dulce de Leche to make your own caramel swirl.”

All you need is a 500ml tub of plain vanilla ice cream. I used Mackies Ice Cream which is one of my favourite vanilla ice creams. And what is more, it was on special offer in Morrisons when I bought it. But you can use any brand you like. All you have to do is to take the ice cream out of the freezer and let it soften for 15-20 minutes. When it is soft enough, tip the ice cream into a bowl and squish it slightly. Then add in your leftover mince pie pieces all crushed up. I used 4 of my leftover mince pies, leaving 2 left for Mr SmartCookieSam to have with his cup of tea. Fold in the added mince pie pieces, put into a freezerproof container and return to the freezer until you need it.

One of my favourite vanilla ice creams- Mackies.
I used four mince pies to flavour my ice cream.
Softened up vanilla ice cream.
The chopped up mince pies were stirred through the softened ice cream.
Perfect accompaniment to left over Christmas Pudding as a New Year’s Day treat.

Our New Years’ Day Tradition- Steak and Mushroom Pie.

Happy New Year!  I hope that 2017 brings you luck, health and happiness. 2016 was a mixed year for a lot of people and I just hope this year doesn’t continue in the same way.  I feel a different person to the one I was at the beginning of 2016 and now I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I will be going back to Slimming World after not being able to make recent group meetings as well as trying to breathe life into this blog. It’s been a bit neglected recently.  This I would love to change.

Every New Year’s Day in the past we have usually eaten a big lunch at home and then gone out for a walk afterwards.  I tend to bake a pie and serve it with lots of vegetables and gravy.  This year things were different.  My son had been out at a party and got back in the afternoon from his friends’ house.  My daughter was working from lunchtime until the evening.  Our family New Years’ Day lunch ended up being a quiet tea time instead.

I chose to bake a Steak and Mushroom Pie this time as I had some braising steak in the freezer.  It was a cinch to make as I made a cheat’s shortcut. Not with the shortcrust pastry- that was homemade but with the pie filling.  I love Gordon Rhodes’ Gourmet Sauce Mixes and buy them regularly from my local farm shop.  I used their Slow Comfortable Stew mix with braising steak, a large onion, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a little water. Cooked for about 6 hours on a low heat in my slow cooker, it made the beef melt in the mouth and taste deliciously tender. I can’t bear tough beef. The sauce mix also suggests adding in chopped potato and carrot but I didn’t do this seeing as I wanted to serve these with the pie. Instead, nearer the end of the cooking time I put 250g of halved mushrooms into the slow cooker to soften for the last half hour.

The shortcrust pastry was made with 175g cold butter cut into cubes, 350g of plain flout and ice cold water to mix.  There was plenty of pastry dough left over so I gathered it into a ball, wrapped it in cling film and put it in the freezer for another time.  I bet I’ll forget about it, go to the freezer in a few week’s time and think “What the hell is this?”

As it was New Year’s Day I found my large number cookie cutters and cut out 2017 to stick on the top.  Mr SmartCookieSam said it looked too nice to cut up.

Not a scrap left of the pie. I’m beginning to feel like who ate all the pies here after all I’ve eaten.  But I won’t give up baking, I’ll just have to keep myself away from it!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx