Festive Family Time

Festive Family Time

Hey there,

If you follow me over on Instagram, you’ll see Christmas is already finding its way onto my grid. I’ve been sharing news about a very creative Christmassy cook-along (more info below), as well as my budget-boosting slow cooker turkey and ham recipe..

So, since it’s that time of year again, I’ve been thinking about great ways to get the kids into the kitchen this festive season.

Keep reading to find out more and to get your monthly dose of news, inspiration and recipes.

I’m glad you’re here!

Congratulations to Lily Finnegan who was October’s GEM cook-along prizewinner.

That class involved a night of frights, as we baked and decorated creepy cupcakes. I hope the mammies and daddies weren’t too scared by the end of it! Well done to all our talented young bakers – you did yourselves proud.

Even though Halloween’s over, there’s always time for a bit of spooky fun. If you missed the class, you can find the recipe here or watch back this class (and dozens of others) when you join in the fun at our Family Cooking Club.

Halloween at RTÉ

Lils and myself had a fantastic time at the RTÉ studios on October 31st. And no, we weren’t there to go trick-or-treating!

Instead, we were thrilled to do a spooky slot for the Today Show, where we showed Daithí and the viewers how to make epic Monster Burgers.

These are too much fun just to save for Halloween – why not serve them for a fun talking point at a birthday party or family night?

You can catch a highlight reel of our appearance here.

Jolene & Lil's on the RTE Today Show
Jolene & Lil’s on the RTE Today Show

It’s impossible to think about Christmas without thinking of food. Mince pies, Christmas cake, puddings, turkey and ham….and of course the tins (sadly now plastic boxes) of Roses and Quality Street that we all look forward to.

So why not harness the Christmas spirit as a great way to get your kids into the kitchen? I’ve gathered together some ideas for simple traditions you could start as a family. 

Once you start a tradition, it builds momentum like a snowball. And in a few years, you won’t be able to keep the kids out of the kitchen as they look forward to the annual event!  ↓ Read on ↓

Gifts don’t have to be expensive or complicated. Often the simplest things are appreciated and remembered the most. And if they’re delicious, even better!

My popular fudge recipe makes a moreish and indulgent present. Plus, since you don’t even need to turn on the oven, it’s quick, easy and economical. You’ll find the recipe at the end of the newsletter.

In Victorian times, the last Sunday before Advent became known as Stir-Up Sunday. On that day, many families prepared the Christmas pudding together, giving it time to build up its flavours before Christmas.

Why not rekindle this tradition in your own kitchen? This year, Stir-Up Sunday falls on Sunday 26th November.

If your family don’t like the traditional flavours, you could always try a chocolate biscuit version. If you do, perhaps choose a Sunday a little closer to Christmas.

In days gone by, Christmas preparation only got going on Christmas Eve – a big change from the months of lead-up we have today.

Make Christmas Eve special by baking something delicious together. It could be a treat to enjoy that day or a special dessert for Christmas Dinner. Either way, make it a highlight of December 24th.

Often, one poor person ends up doing all the work for Christmas Dinner. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Cooking gives kids self-esteem and confidence – especially when their creations can be enjoyed at a special gathering like Christmas.

This year, why not help the kids to rustle up a tasty stuffing? You’ll find the recipe for my sage and sausage meat stuffing at the end of the newsletter.

These magical bakes are full of family-time potential. Make a special one together, or invite friends or cousins round for a gingerbread bake-off.

Get creative by decorating with royal icing, sweets, sprinkles and much more.

If building a house seems too challenging, you can have just as much fun with gingerbread people. Who will decorate the snazziest outfit?

Sage and Sausage Meat Stuffing

Sage and Sausage Meat Stuffing

If you choose to add them in, walnuts and cranberries really take the flavour up a notch.
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  • 8 Irish pork sausages
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 100 g Breadcrumbs
  • ½ White Onion
  • 1 tbsp Dried Sage
  • 50 g Walnuts Optional
  • 50 g Dried Cranberries Optional


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan.
  • Remove the skin from the sausages.
  • Dice the onion. Chop the walnuts and cranberries in half.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, getting your hands in to give it a good mix.
  • Add the mixture to an ovenproof dish and cover with greaseproof paper or tin foil.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the greaseproof paper/foil and mix, breaking up your stuffing into little chunks with a spoon. Put back in the oven for a further 10 minutes (uncovered) to crisp up the edges.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Homemade Fudge

Homemade Fudge

Ideal for gifts- simply add to Christmas-themed cellophane bags or little airtight jars.
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  • 200 g Milk chocolate
  • 200 g Dark chocolate
  • 1 397g Tin sweetened condensed milk


  • Add the chocolates to a large heatproof mixing bowl with the condensed milk and slowly melt together over a saucepan of simmering water. Keep your heat low and the melting slow. Make sure your bowl doesn’t touch the water.
  • Add pecan nuts, raisins or a few drops of vanilla essence if you want to mix it up a bit.
  • Don't forget to add a sprinkle of love!
  • Once set, scoop out a teaspoonful of the mixture at a time.
  • When all the ingredients have combined and melted together, pour the mixture into a 9-inch square tin lined with greaseproof paper.
  • Roll each portion into a ball the size of a chestnut.
  • Let the mixture cool, then place it into the fridge to set overnight.
  • Slice into small rectangles and divide into small bags/jars for gifting.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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