Homemade Christmas Wreath

I love a nice, fresh Christmas wreath, but they are so very expensive to buy (the good ones anyway), so its a great idea and a nice seasonal activity to make your own.

The first thing you need to decide upon is what kind of base to use, I’ve used a wire ring and covered it in moss, but you can also get a foam one that you soak first to keep the foliage fresh. Both are fairly inexpensive, but a wire one is reusable.

The only other equipment you need is some florist wire, some wire cutters and a hook for the door if you don’t already have one – I used a Command hook that is temporary as I didn’t want to screw a hook into my front door!

If using a wire ring, it’s a good idea to cover it in nice fresh moss that will keep the base moist and help your foliage last longer. You can buy moss from a florist, or you can take a basket and go foraging. The best time to go is after the rain. I found some in my garden, but for the majority, I went to the local woods and found plenty at the base of the trees. Just take care not to take too much from the same place.

Using the wire, wind it around the moss to cover the ring completely. Covering the ring with moss can be a messy business, so its a good idea to do it outside!

Once you have covered the ring in moss, its time to attach your foliage of choice. I foraged some, but also bought some nice Christmas stems too. I also used cinnamon sticks, dried lotus heads, pine cones and dried orange slices tied on with twine. I couldn’t find any crab apples, or else I would have used some of those too.

I’ve gone for a simple, traditional wreath, but the designs are unlimited. Just be sure there are no wires sticking out of the back that might scratch the door.

Once a week, spray with water, or if you have a foam ring, you can soak it to help stop the foliage drying out

Smoked Salmon Devilled Eggs

I love devilled eggs and eggs with smoked salmon are so good together, I think this might be my new favourite devilled egg recipe.

Smoked salmon devilled eggs2

I’ve added horseradish, cream cheese and dill to my eggs, but Dijon mustard can be used if you don’t like horseradish. If you are using horseradish though, make sure it’s the smooth kind. I bought some a while ago that had big chunks of horseradish in and it wasn’t good at all!

I’ve topped the eggs with a little scroll of smoked salmon, but you could top with capers if that’s your thing. I’m a bit hit and miss with capers, but they do work well with the eggs and salmon.

I think its worth paying a little more for your smoked salmon too. Whenever I have been tempted to buy some ‘cheap’ smoked salmon, I have always been disappointed. A lot of it is slimy, salty and fishy. Really good smoked salmon is a joy to eat.

Devilled eggs are the perfect finger food for a buffet, Easter brunch table or any party.

Smoked salmon devilled eggs1

Ingredients:
12 extra large eggs
75g cream cheese
1tbs mayonnaise
200g smoked salmon – finely chopped, plus a litte extra for garnish
1-2tbs prepared horseradish or Dijon mustard
1tbs lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh dill

Method:
You want the yolks in the middle of the eggs when you halve them. There are a couple of ways to do this – either lay the eggs on their sides a couple of hours before you boil them, or give them a gentle shake. This will centre the yolk, making it easier to scoop it out.

To boil the eggs, I like to place my eggs in cold water, bring them up to the boil, turn off the heat, put the lid on and leave them for 16 minutes. This is for room temperature, extra large eggs. If you use them straight from the fridge, they will take a little longer.

When the eggs are ready, place in iced water, before carefully peeling them.

Slice each egg in half lengthways and scoop the yolks out into a bowl.

Smoked salmon devilled eggs

Mash the yolks with the cream cheese, mayonnaise, horseradish, lemon and black pepper until completely smooth, before mixing with the finely chopped smoked salmon and a little chopped dill. Taste to make sure it’s just right. I haven’t included any salt as I think there is enough, but adjust to personal taste.

Place the filling in a piping bag, fitted with a star tip and pipe the filling into the waiting egg halves.

Garnish with a little snipped dill and top with a scroll of smoked salmon.

Smoked Salmon devilled egg

These are a delicious alternative to chocolate eggs for Easter!

Mulled Cranberry Apple Cider

This is very similar to my mulled cider recipe here, but I have given it a Christmas tweak.

Cranberry Mulled Cider1

You can totally make a non-alcoholic version of this to make it family friendly, just substitute the cider for apple juice (and leave out any rum or brandy!)

I love creating recipes that make me think of cozy evenings in front of a crackling log fire, with perhaps snow falling outside, or a storm raging on a winter’s night, while I am warm and snuggly inside!

Cranberry Mulled Cider4

If a snow storm was raging outside and you are indeed sitting by that crackling log fire, then this will definitely warm the soul too.

1.5 litres of hard dry cider (use good quality apple juice if making a non-alcoholic version)
0.5 litres of pure cranberry juice
3-4 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1 orange, stuck with 10 cloves
1 punnet of fresh cranberries
¼ fresh nutmeg – grated
2 small apples, cored and cut into chunks
2 clementines, cut into segments
½ cup (packed) brown sugar
Maple syrup or honey – adjust to preferred level of sweetness
Brandy or rum to spike – optional

Mulled Cranberry Cider3

Add everything, except the maple syrup or rum if using and heat gently over a low to medium heat and allow all the flavours to mingle. Leave on a low heat for around 20 minutes. Don’t allow the cider to boil. You can also do this in a crockpot or slow cooker if you have one.  Taste and add a little maple syrup or honey to sweeten a little.

Serve hot in heatproof glasses or mason jars with a shot of brandy or rum if desired and decorated with a cinnamon stick.

Cranberry mulled cider

The non-alcohol version would be lovely for Christmas morning, opening presents with the children.