Christmas Cranberry Cheesecake

This quick setting light textured cheesecake is the perfect answer to an alternative to the richness of Christmas pudding… the fruity cranberry coulis cuts through the soft and creamy filling and the buttery shortbread. Happy Christmas!

Serves 10

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Chilling time: 4 hours, preferably overnight

Ingredients

200g (7oz) shortbread or digestive biscuits, crushed

40g (1½oz) butter, melted

405g can Carnation Condensed Milk Light

300g tub full fat soft cheese

juice 2 large lemons

300g pack frozen (and defrosted) or fresh cranberries

100g (3½oz) caster sugar

You will also need:

20cm (8in) spring form tin, base lined with baking parchment

Method

1. Crush the biscuits in a blender or in a double lined bag with a rolling pin. Mix together the crushed biscuits and melted butter then lightly press into the tin. Chill while you make the filling.

2. Beat the condensed milk and cream cheese together until completely smooth. Add the lemon juice and combine thoroughly – the mixture should thicken. Spread the creamy filling over the base. Chill for 4 hours.

3. Tumble the berries into a small pan with the sugar and 100ml (3fl oz) water, cover and simmer for 5 minutes until the berries are soft and pulpy. Push the mixture through a sieve and chill the cranberry coulis until ready to serve.

4. Remove the cheesecake from the tin and place on a serving plate. Gently pour the cranberry coulis over the cheesecake, spreading out to the edges to serve.

Tip

Add a sprinkling of ground almonds to the biscuit base or use different biscuits for this recipe – try dark chocolate chip cookies or digestives.

This cheesecake sets perfectly without the need for gelatin thanks to the natural setting effect of lemon juice on condensed milk.

Do you sometimes feel a bit stuck in a rut? Does the juggling of everyone else’s needs mean you get neglected? Would you like life to change and are you staring to realise only you can take charge of that?

In September, I set up an initiative where women who felt like the above could support each other and share how they were getting on. It is called #groovingmums and we have a lovely badge.

Every Tuesday, I post some challenges and I have decided to list them all here in the hope they might act as a catalyst for change both for myself and other mums out there. Will you try any of them? Will you share how you got on? Come back on Monday if you have posted about your experiences and link up.

Challenges

1. Pamper your body in a new way

2. Play a song that helps you feel like you can conquer the world.

3. Have a special breakfast

4. Be your own spin doctor and blog about how wonderful you really are

5. Buy some new underwear and if you are really brave post a pic on your blog

6. Visit your local library, look at posters and leaflets. See what you can get involved in.

7. Volunteer for a good cause. Check out the Do-It website for ideas in your area.

8. Talk to someone new

9. Post a photograph of yourself on your blog. If you already do so, do it in a different way.

10. Take part in a blog hop

11. Write the blog post you have thought about but held back on publishing

12. Embrace the spirit whatever that means to you

13. Think of a personal challenge and take baby steps towards achieving it

14. Investigate poetry and share one you like and tell us why

15. Dance even if it is in private in your lounge.

Which ones appeal to you?

If you want to check out other mums making positive changes proactively in their lives, revisit here on Monday where I will share the stories.

If you want to find some very lovely grooving mums on Twitter, just search using #groovingmums where we offer giggles, support, a listening ear and back up on the dark days.

I hope you join us and in the meantime, it is time I got my act together and started working through the challenges.

Having set up this bit of fun yesterday, one of the people I tagged who is Caroline at http://itshowlifeis.blogspot.com has challenged me to answer the questions myself. So here goes and this is what I have to do.

1) Answer the 10 questions and consider the mission.
2) Tag a blogger or two or more to do the same
3) Come back to my original blog post and tell me you have done the questions and answers.

I have tried to make the questions Ok for those who watch the television programme and those that don’t.

1. What one thing about being a parent makes you scream “Get me out of here!”

One thing! That is a bit limiting. I think it varies too according to what age your children are. Right now, the squabbling between me boys drives me insane so let’s stick with that one but I can give you more if you ask nicely, lots more …

2. What skills, if any, do you have that would be useful in the jungle?

I can cook. I would probably make people laugh even when things got bleak.

3. How are you likely to annoy people in your were stuck with them for 3 weeks?

Probably over-analysing things and talking too much. Or if I got in one of my dark days, that would be a pain in the arse to them I am sure.

4. What is the worst thing you have ever eaten?

Spinach and walnut soup. I knew I had entered an alien universe when I went to Cambridge University but the soup pretty much confirmed it.

5. What luxury item would you take into the jungle with you?

My laptop as would need to blog for sanity’s sake.

6. What is the most daring thing you have ever done?

It depends what you mean by daring. Physically, it would be when I walked on hot coals. Despite being a total wimp really, I do seem to have taken on some challenges. These might include going to an Oxbridge college as a working class kid, taking on challenging jobs and taking on step-parenting without really knowing what it would entail not to mention parenting itself.

7. Who would you miss most if you went into the jungle with a bunch of strangers?

My family. I have felt much less lonely since I moved in with my Dad. Despite the fact Him Indoors drives me to distraction, I miss him by about 10pm on the nights I am away from home. The children I think, no absolutely the children, the good bits.

8. What celebrity alive or dead would you like to have with you in the jungle?

Freddie Mercury to really question him about his philosophies on life

9. What would scare you about being in the jungle?

All the frightening animals. Knowing me, I would also be terrified of not saying the right thing and not being liked.

10. After leaving the jungle, you go to a luxury hotel. What would be the first thing you did on reaching your hotel?

Read the newspapers to find out what people were saying about me.

11th mission should you choose to accept it is to tell us why the person who tagged you is a star. (For the uninitiated, stars play a big party in the television programme)

Oh, now I get why darling step-daughter tagged me. She wants me to say nice things about her. Now to be serious I met this girl when she was 14. Despite her circumstances which were far from ideal, she had a ladylike quality about her and sort of glided like a swan through all the shit surrounding her. in fact, an awful lot of the time she reclined on a sofa as if she was on some chaise longue in Downton Abbey. She had style and poise despite the fag hanging out of her mouth.
Although me coming into her life sort of meant she would lose her Daddy’s attention in some ways, she did do all she could to encourage the relationship appearing to genuinely feel that I would make her Dad happy. I once heard her telling her little sister “Look, Dad loves Kate, that is what you have got to understand and that is a good thing”.
When the relationship had early hiccups, she would ring me up and try to get things back on track.
I loved cooking with her, being creative and she does not know it but there is a huge part of me that would like her to be my own daugher. I sort of get her and I think she gets me too.
She has gone on to create a family unit coming through some really awful challenges along the way with not enough support offered from people who should have known better. That is a huge achievement of which she should be really proud. So these days she is a wife and mother and karma has also delivered her to status of stepmum too which wickedly amuses me no end. She is now about the age I was when we met so realizes that her telling me it was great I dressed young at the grand old age of 29 was going to bite her on the bum one day.
She listens, she stops me feeling isolated and she is a friend, a different sort of friend but a friend all the same.
She is a warm-hearted, ready to help others even when she has her own troubles, very forgiving, highly intelligent and does a fine line in Baileys in coffees when he going gets tough.
Oh and she promised me a night on cocktails if I said all these nice things and I can’t think what sort of wicked stepmama she got these sort of habits from …

Now, let’s tag 10 bloggers and ask them to join in with their own answers.

1. http://pinkoddy.wordpress.com
2. http://funkywelliesrandomthought.com
3. http://butwhymummywhy.wordpress.com
4. http://myprincesskingdom.wordpress.com
5. http://mum2four.co.uk
6. http://reluctanthousedad.com
7. http://adventuresofamiddle-agedmatron.blogspot.com
8. http://katetakes5.blogspot.com
9. http://daddacool.co.uk
10. http://mishmashmum.com

I am picking up now but for much of the day my mood was so low. Black clouds weighing me down.

I hate how even with post-natal depression long gone (years ago), I can still be right back in the depths. I am not a nice person to know at such times. I get taciturn and solemn. If Him Indoors is around, I get angry and raise every real or imagined sin with him.

What were the triggers this time?

The weight gain this week and the malfunctioning scales. I have felt so in control of things for the last couple of months and then suddenly the scales were telling me either that I had not lost any weight at all or that I had reached my target weight already. It felt like I was going slightly mad and that it has finally happened, happened …

Untidiness of family. This is a bugbear for me. Am I the only person that can see when things need tidying, putting back, cleaning up? I hate how you just think you are on top of things when you walk in another room and it is a disaster zone and not of your making.

Husband texting one of his female work colleagues outside work hours. I hate this side of me but when you are stuck at home and lacking in the glamour department lifestyle wise and looks wise, I can feel really easily threatened.

Son’s birthday. He is sort of on the cusp on becoming a teenager and right now I have no faith that I am equipped to help him navigate all the challenges ahead.

So what did I do? I drank too much last night which is so very self-sabotaging. I ate too much. I had a big go at Him Indoors for anything I could think of.

My son’s birthday has motivated me to get sorted and I am Ok now, not quite as up as I would like but functioning decently enough and capable of enjoying his birthday tea and so on.

I just hate how these dark days can creep up on me and have such an adverse impact on my own life and those around me.

Before anyone has a dig at me because some mums once did saying I was too needy for them to want to know, I know that lots of mums feel this way. Blogging has taught me that if nothing else.

I am going to post later with a fun meme thing to make up for dragging readers down with this one.

Florentines

Nothing says how much you care than a homemade present – and these Florentines are so quick and easy. Make them look really professional with a celophane bag and some ribbon.

Makes 12 biscuits

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients

25g (1oz) butter

25g (1oz) light brown soft sugar

100g (3½oz) Carnation Condensed Milk

2tsp plain flour

150g (5½oz) mixed dried fruit and nuts such as apricots, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, toasted flaked almonds, desiccated coconut etc.

85g (3oz) dark chocolate

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, (160C for fan ovens) or Gas Mark 4.

2. Melt the butter and sugar in a non-stick saucepan stirring until combined.

3. Add the condensed milk and heat until just bubbling.

4. Stir in the plain flour and mix until smooth.

5. Stir in the dried fruit and nuts.

6. Place spoonfuls of the mixture onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake for about 12 minutes until turning golden brown at the edges.

7. Leave to cool on the tray.

8. When cool, melt the chocolate and spread a small amount on the flat side of the Florentine then drag a fork through the chocolate to make wavy lines.