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Cherry Cake Squares

Cherry Cake Squares

What a miserable horrible lousy rotten day it is out there today.  Windy, rainy, cold . . .  but at least its not snow!  In any case the lighting for my photos is horrible, but I hope you don't mind too much, and that it won't deter you from making one more holiday square for your cookie trays! 

Its an old, old Maritime Recipe from back home.  You will find it printed on the pages of many a community or church cookbook. This is a pretty regular bake for most family celebrations over the holidays.

Its a pretty basic batter . . .  a  Blondie type of bar, but with white sugar instead of brown . . . but it bakes up dense and chewy . . . . 

It is filled with lots of glace cherries.  I have used a mix that I was able to get which had golden, dark and light red and green cherries.  Jewel like!  You could use maraschino cherries if you can't get the glace ones.

Whichever cherries you use, rinse them well and dry them so that they don't all sink to the bottom when the squares are baking.

 They are slathered after baking and cooling with a luscious butter cream icing.  Oh boy  . . .  so good. 

These are so rich and sweet, that only a small square will suffice per serving.  I cut them into 1 inch squares.

They do sink in the middle when you take them out of the oven, but don't worry about that.  They are supposed to do that. I just trim off the edges and keep them as cuts to enjoy with hot drinks . . .  the centre part is the bit I ice and save for good. 

These freeze very well.  Even with the icing.  Just ice, decorate and cut, then freeze them in an airtight container.

I put baking paper between the layers to keep them separate and from sticking together. 

They are a really pretty addition to your holiday baking/cookie trays!

Todd had to enjoy one right away with a hot cup of herbal tea. I will have to hide the others, or they will be gone.  I know enough not to eat these myself.  I would be suffering if I did.  Far too sweet for me to be able to enjoy, even the offcuts.

Yield: 25

Cherry Cake Squares

prep time: 15 minscook time: 55 minstotal time: 70 mins
An old Maritime recipe from back home. Wouldn't be Christmas without these dense glace cherry filled Blondie type squares topped with a sweet butter cream icing! These also freeze very well and are a great addition to the Holiday Cookie Tray.


225g butter, softened (1 cup)
300g granulated sugar (1 1/2 cups)
2 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp each soda and salt
280g plain flour (2 cups)
190g glace cherries, quartered (1 cup)
(rise with warm water and dry)

To ice:
260g sifted icing sugar (2 cups)
115g butter, softened (1/2 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 - 2 TBS milk
halved glace cherries to decorate


Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Line an 8 inch square baking tin with baking paper and set aside.
 together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs,
 one at at time.  Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.  Whisk
together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt.  Stir into the creamed
 mixture until well combined.  The dough will be very stiff.  Fold in
the prepared cherries.  Spread into the prepared baking tin in an even
layer.  Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes until golden
brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Set on a
wire rack to cool completely, before frosting.

 make the icing, beat together the sugar, butter, vanilla and just
enough milk to give you a thick, fluffy, creamy mixture.  Spread evenly
on the cold squares.  Decorate with halved cherries.  Cut into 1 inch
squares to serve.

Created using The Recipes Generator 

I wish I could show you how lousy the weather looks from my window near where my desk it.  Its just horrible.  If it was snow, we would be in the middle of a blizzard! Now that would be perfectly charming.  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner
Melted Snowman and Rudolf Chocolate Barks

Melted Snowman and Rudolf Chocolate Barks

I wanted to make something special for the children of our Ministering brothers (father and son, church thing)  for Christmas.  They are always so good at visiting us.  When Todd 
 had his cancer and was going through treatments, the children came over to us one night and had made him cards and had some cookies they had baked for him along with some cards they had made. 

They are a lovely family.  Their dad was coming over yesterday to pick up our tropical fish which we have re-homed with them and so I thought I would make them some goodies to enjoy over the holidays as well.

I had seen melted snowmen bark all over the internet and so decided to make some for them.  It was really simple to make. You just melt white chocolate and spread it out on a prepped pan . . .  I used Dr Oetker white chocolate for bakers, broken into squares. (Melted in the microwave according to the package directions.)

Add halved mini peanut butter cups for the hats . . .  some googly eyes . . .

Black candy balls for the buttons. (I picked out the dark balls from the Dr Oetker Midnight magic cake decs)

Yellow and orange candy strands (Again I picked them out of a bottle of mixed candy strands from Dr Oetker) for the noses  .  .  .

And broken pretzel sticks for the arms.  In between I scattered white snowflake candies, then popped the tray in the fridge to chill. 

For the Rudolf bark, I used Dr Oetker milk chocolate for bakers, broken up  . . .  which I melted in the microwave and spread out on the prepped pan. (Make sure you don't overheat your chocolate or it will seize. I do it for one minute, then let it sit, stir, and if it needs more then reheat at 10 second intervals. Just what the package says.

For the antlers I used white chocolate coated smallish pretzels.  You can easily cut them in half without breaking them by using a sharp knife and carefully sawing down through the centres.

I put the googly candy eyes on first . . .  and then I placed the antlers above, trying to place them with the cut edges outwards, rounded edges in the middle/bottom . . .  (don't look too closely as I messed up a few by putting them on backwards, lol)

I used red smarties for the noses.  I actually bought  tube of "Rudolf noses" to use for this.  They worked perfectly, but you could use any kind of red candy that you can find so long as it is size appropriate. 

Once again, in between I scattered some candy snowflakes, which really added a lovely festive touch and a bit of contrast with the darkness of the chocolate.

Altogether they turned out really nicely.  I think they did at any rate, and the children's father was oohing over them when he came to pick up the fish.  I really think that the children will love them.  I can't imagine any child not enjoying something like this! 

Yield: 2 different kinds

Chocolate Christmas Bark

Children love this. Its fun to make together.  There are two kinds.  Melting snowman using white chocolate and Rudolf using milk chocolate.  This also makes fabulous gifts!


For the Melting Snowmen:
300g white chocolate, created for bakers (26% cocoa butter) (10 1/2 ounces)
6 mini Reese's peanut butter cups, carefully cut in half
24 candy eyes
Orange or yellow sugar strands
(you will need to pick them out of a container of mixed strands)
36 small dark navy candy ball decs
Pretzel sticks
small candy snowflake decs

For the Rudolf:
300g milk chocolate for bakers ( with 35% cocoa solids) (10 1/2 ounces)
24 candy eyes
12 white chocolate covered pretzels, carefully cut in half through the middle
12 red smarties
small candy snowflake decs


Line two separate baking trays with baking paper or
waxed paper or aluminium foil.  I like to make one batch first and then
the other batch after.

Melt the white chocolate
 for the snowmen in the microwave according to the package directions,
in a microwave appropriate bowl.  Pour onto one of the baking sheets and
 spread out to a 1/3 inch thick layer.   Place all of the snowman parts
onto the chocolate spreading them out and building one at a time.  The
half peanut butter cup is the hat, then the candy eyes, a sugar strand
nose, navy candy ball buttons and broken pretzel sticks for the arms.
Repeat until you have used them all up. Scatter snowflakes in between. 
Place in the refrigerator to chill while you make the other one.

 the milk chocolate for the reindeer in the microwave according to the
package directions, in a microwave appropriate bowl.  Pour onto the
other prepared baking sheet and spread out to a 1/3 inch thick layer. 
Build your Rudolf's as follows and one at a time.  Put the googly eyes
on, followed by a red smarties nose just below.  Place two pretzel halves
 (rounded side in and loop towards the eyes) on top to resemble
antlers.  Repeat until you have used all the ingredients.  Scatter small
 snowflakes in between.  Place in the refrigerator to chill.
 break into pieces, using a knife to guide the breaks.  If you are
giving as gifts, leave whole and present on a board wrapped in
cellophane and tied with a ribbon.

Created using The Recipes Generator

If you are keeping this you can break it up.  I find it best to mark lines with a sharp knife first and then break it on the lines.  If you are gifting this, pop it onto a small cutting board, wrap in cellophane and tie up with some coloured ribbons.  Very festive! 

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Marie Rayner
Mother-In-Laws Swiss Steak

Mother-In-Laws Swiss Steak

My ex Mother in Law was a wonderful cook.  Early on in my marriage (1978) she hand wrote me a little notebook filled with family recipes.  I know I have spoken of this book in the past.  It is old and falling apart now, love splattered and the writing fading.  It is one of my great treasures and this recipe I am sharing with you today comes from those care worn pages.

Every month I am the lucky recipient of a Degustabox.  Once a month, around the middle of the month, I am sent one of these lovely boxes which contain a delicious assortment of all things foodie.  I just love these boxes. Opening each one is tiny a bit like opening a Christmas gift. Always a surprise, and always filled with things that pique my interest and desire to try. Degustabox is a monthly foodie subscription service that sends out a range of 10 to 15 specially selected foodie products.

There's always a great mix of new products that I haven't tried before, as well as plenty of treats from more established brands. Quite often you will have the opportunity to try  new products before they arrive in the shops, so it can be a bit of a sneak peak! Each Degustabox costs only £12.99, delivery costs are included in the price, and there is no fixed contract involved - you can cancel at any time. I love getting these boxes! They are great value for money spent.  

 Each month I challenge myself to come up with a recipe using at least one article from the box. As soon as I saw the Amy's Kitchen soups, which happened to also be the product of the month, I knew what I wanted to make. Mother-In-Laws Swiss Steak was calling to me.  More about that a bit later, first here is what was in the November Box,  also known as the Festive Box!

These Mallow & Marsh Cranberry Marshmallows were included in the box, but not on the information sheet.  I think they were meant to be a gift.  In any case they have been well received.  Delicious as always!  Cranberries!  I'm in!

Make mornings smooth with Weetabix on the go for kids. With four single serve boxes in a multi pack, you can be prepared for those busy mornings.  There are three delicious flavours, and they contain Vitamin D, calcium, fibre and protein with no artificial flavours, sweeteners or colours.

Reese's Peanut Butter Snowman 1 X £3.00

A great Seasonal treat, a peanut butter filled snowman with a chocolate coating.  The perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter.

Tabasco Original Red Pepper Sauce 1 X £2.00

Marking its 150th anniversary this year, Tabasco red pepper sauce is made with just three ingredients: red peppers, vinegar and salt. It has 0 calories and is vegan. 

We love it on all sorts.  Its great splashed on scrambled eggs!

Nick's Coconut  Bar 1 X £1.45

Rich and delicious, this naturally sweetened coconut bar is coated with milk chocolate and no added sugar.  The perfect choice for a delicious guilt-free indulgence.  Find their products on and use the voucher DEGUSTA2 for a 20% discount.

The Bees Knees Non Alcoholic Sparkling Wine 20cl 1 X £1,89

The Bees s a sophisticated, vegan friendly alternative to sparkling wine Made from grapes and inflused with green tea, it offers floral aromas with refreshing acidity. It looks and tastes like a sparkling wine, but without alcohol, lower sugar, gluten free and around half the calories of the average fizz.

Jules Destrooper Almond Thins & Belgian Chocolate 1 X £2.19

The classic Jules Destrooper, crisp and nutty almond thins biscuit with a thin coating of just enough Belgian milk chocolate to make the perfect indulgent combination. 

Can you say moreish?

Kallo Organic Vegetable Stock Pots 1 X £1.80

Kallo Organic Vegetable Stock Pots are the perfect partner to enhance all your family favourite, home cooked delicious dishes.  Natural, organic and no added MSG or artificial ingredients.  They simply add delicious flavour and nothing else.

I am a big fan of these.   I use all of their organic stock pots.

Jack Daniels & Light Cola 2 X £2.00

A perfect mix of Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Tennessee Wiskey & light cola. Convenient, perfectly mixed drinks whether you're on the go or staying in with friends.  Best served chilled

Get your crunch on with new Emily Veg Crips Swet Potato sticks.  Try classic sea salt with a sprinkling of salt over traditional yellow and bold purple sweet potato, or zesty Chilli and Lime with a beautiful mix of spice with sharp, tangy lime.

Another moreish snack!

Amy's Kitchen Organic Chunky Tomato & Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup 2 X £1.80

Amy's Organic soups start as vegetables, not as broth.  Their soup base is created by slowly sauteing tender organix vegetables with herbs.  This modern method of making soup allows for the unique flavours of each soup to com forward. 

No stranger to Amy's Kitchen, I am a huge fan of their products and especially the Chunky Tomato Soup, so it was no surprise that I decided to highlight it with a recipe!  Although I have to say it is plenty delicious all on its own with some crackers on the side or crusty bread!

It was perfect for this recipe I am sharing today.  My mother in laws version of swiss steak.

Its a pretty simple recipe with very few ingredients . . .  just steak, onions, soup and seasonings.  You want a really nice flavoured soup for this, one that shines with lovely tomato flavours, and Amy's Kitchen Chunky Tomato soup does just that!

I like that there are plenty of chunks of tomato in the soup, which makes it perfect for this recipe.

We like lots of onions.  Oh boy but it smells so tasty when it is cooking . . . 

The steak is browned along with the onions and then slowly simmered in the oven with the soup and some water.  My mil added nothing else except for a beef boullion cube. 

And of course you can certainly leave it as its most basic and it will still taste pretty good.  I have added a few things through the years . . .

Specifically some Worcestershire sauce and a bit of balsamic vinegar . . .

I tend to season the meat very well prior to cooking also, with seasalt, black pepper  . . .

And a bit of onion and garlic powders, but that is a personal preference.   You could also add herbs if you wished.  I think Thyme would work very well. 

Left simple, or amped up, this is delicious and very simple to make.  We love it served with piles of fluffy mash and a few vegetables on the side.  It always goes down a real treat! 

Yield: 4

Mother In Laws Swiss Steak

prep time: 15 minscook time: 2 hourtotal time: 2 hours and 15 mins
An old family favourite which is very simple, uses simple ingredients.  Long slow cooking insures fork tender steak. We like lots of onions in this.


1 pound stewing steak, well trimmed and cut into serving pieces
salt and black pepper to taste
garlic and onion powder
a small knob of butter
1 tin of tomato soup, along with 1 tin of water (In North America, using the condensed soups
use 2 tins of water)
1 beef boullion cube
1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 TBS good balsamic vinegar
4 large onions, peeled cut in half and then cut into half moons


Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/gas mark
4.  Melt a knob of butter in a large skillet.  Add the onions and saute
until beginning to soften.  Transfer to a large casserole dish with a

Season the steak pieces all over with
salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders.  Brown on all sides in the
skillet, adding more butter if you need to.  Remove to the casserole and
 nestle amongst the onions.

Add the soup and
water to the skillet, scraping up any browned bits from cooking the meat
 and onions.  Crumble in the boullion cube and add the Worcestershire
sauce and balsamic vinegar. Bring to the boil, then pour over the meat
and onions in the casserole dish.  Cover tightly and cook in the oven
for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is fork tender and the juices have

Serve  with some of the onions and gravy spooned over top and plenty of mash and a vegetable or two on the side.  Delicious!
Created using The Recipes Generator

DEAL: Get your £5 off your first box, plus get free bonus item and delivery! Use coupon code HELLOSUBSCRIPTION18. 

 In the US but just looking for fun? Use code HELLOSUBSCRIPTION7 to get your first US box for $12.99! You’ll also get free shipping and a free bonus gift!

So, that was the November Degustabox - a nice selection of products as always. We loved it. The price of each Degustabox is £12.99 (including delivery). To order your box, visit 

 Many thanks to Degustabox UK for sending me this box. I have to say I really look forward to getting my box each month. There are always lots of things in it to enjoy and new products to try out. I highly recommend. You can also tailor the boxes to your own likes and dislikes by filling in your own Taste Profile.  Do you like the sound of this box? Why not sign up now! I find them to be really good value for money spent and I really enjoy trying out new products that I have not tried before.  

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Note - Although I was sent a box free of charge any and all opinions are my own.
Bon appetit!  

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Marie Rayner

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