Here’s a Festive Trifle recipe to inspire you this Christmas. Trifle always featured heavily in our family celebrations so I am delighted to share this one with you today.

Festive Trifle Recipe

Preparation timing and quantities

Serves 10-15 in a 30cm x 30cm trifle bowl

Preparation time: 45minutes

Ingredients for festive trifle recipe

• 1 x 415g can Del Monte® Fruit Cocktail in Juice (well drained)
• 1 x 415g can Del Monte® Peach Slices in Juice (well drained)
• Elderflower liqueur
• Handful of fresh cherries (stalks on)
• 100g dark chocolate, chopped
• Edible gold dust / desiccated coconut / hundreds and thousands
• Pink food colouring or 2tsp crushed, freeze dried raspberries (optional)
• Madeira Cake (shop bought 2-3 loaves or homemade)
• Custard (shop bought 1 x 400g can or homemade)
• 50g unsalted butter, softened
• 150g icing sugar, sifted
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 35ml double cream
• Berries & edible flowers for decoration

Method

1. Soak the Madeira cake (see below for recipe) by pricking the surface with a fork and gently drizzling with liqueur.
2. Prepare cherries for decoration by melting the chocolate in a bain-marie (gently melt 2/3 of the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl, set over an inch of simmering water in a saucepan. When almost completely melted, remove from the heat and add the remaining chocolate, stirring until completely melted.) Remove from heat and gently dip your cherries in the chocolate to coat completely.
3. Once set, brush the cherries with your edible gold dust until they shine. If using coconut or hundreds & thousands instead of gold dust, dip into your chosen decoration whilst the chocolate is still wet.

4. Add colouring or freeze dried raspberries to shop bought or homemade custard (see below for recipe).
5. Make your buttercream by beating together butter, sugar, vanilla, food colouring/freeze-dried raspberries and cream.
6. Now it’s time to assemble your trifle! Gently place the first layer of soaked Madeira cake into the base of a 30cm x 30cm trifle bowl.
7. Top the cake with a layer of Del Monte® Peach Slices making sure they are placed up to the edge of the sponge.
8. Then add a layer of pink custard and another layer of cake.
9. Top this with a layer of Del Monte® Fruit Cocktail making sure the fruits are placed up to the edge of the sponge.
10. Then add a layer of pink custard and another layer of cake.
11. Repeat this pattern as many times as your bowl allows, ensuring you finish with a final layer of Madeira cake.
12. Using a piping bag, pipe the top layer with the buttercream with extra dabs piped in a circle around the edge of the trifle.
13. Place your decorated cherries where you have piped your dabs.
14. Now decorate with fresh berries and edible flowers, arranged in a suitably celebratory design!

Festive Trifle Recipe

 

This festive trifle recipe has been created by London bakery owner, Lily Vanilli, to celebrate Del Monte’s 125th Anniversary. For more recipe inspiration, please visit www.delmonteeurope.com.

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How to prepare for long car journeys might be on your mind as we hurtle towards the festive season where so many of us visit family and friends at a distance.

We can all be guilty of taking our cars for granted but need to consider taking extra care when we are planning a longer journey. Giving your car a good check before you go can pay dividends in the long rum.

Make sure the car is serviced, either as part of regular servicing or as a one-off. Look after your car and it should look after you.

Basic checks should be oil, water and washer fluid – ideally every week but certainly before you depart.

Check tyres for tread depth. The law requires a minimum of 1.6 mm throughout a continuous band comprising the central three-quarters of breadth of the tread. Be aware that if tyres reach the minimum their ability to grip the road will be reduced affecting braking and steering. Consider replacing tyres before they get to this stage. Check for uneven wear – it could be a symptom of a suspension problem.

Brakes should be checked. Many local servicing centres including Kwik Fit offer free safety checks and will advise if discs or pads need replacement.

Check windscreen and all glass for scratches or other damage. Any chips in the wiper swept area are a potential MoT failure and should be repaired, possibly free of charge through your insurance policy. Make sure the screen and windows are clean and that washers/wipers are working correctly.

All lights fitted to a vehicle must be working. Many suppliers can provide a set of spare bulbs specific to your model. Check headlamp alignment to ensure that you have the best vision without dazzling oncoming traffic. If you are to tow a trailer or caravan you must also check the lights every time you attach to the tow bar.

Finally make sure you have things that will keep you warm from blankets to flasks. I always ensure we have a comprehensive first aid kit in the car and if traveling with children, make sure you have some activities that will keep them entertained to avoid the “Are we nearly there?” saga.

Check out #CarSafetyChecklist on social media for more tips.

Safe journey and happy holidays!

Education charity School-Home Support (SHS) has released its annual Impact Report, showing that the number of actions taken regarding children at risk from harm has risen dramatically. In 2016/17, the number of safeguarding interventions the charity’s practitioners had to make had more than tripled over the past six years*.

School Home Support

Safeguarding actions

SHS’s practitioners – who supported over 10,500 children and families across London and the South last year – work closely with designated safeguarding leads, Children’s Services and other agencies to ensure children and young people feel safe and protected at all times. The rise in number of incidents undertaken by SHS mirrors the national trend. The report ‘How safe are our children? The most comprehensive overview of child protection in the UK 2017’ (NSPCC), shows an increase over the last decade of numbers of children on child protection plans, public reporting of child abuse, and child cruelty and neglect offences.

Reasons for the increase

– safeguarding risks arising as a result of poverty and unsuitable housing: instances of these have risen, particularly in London where SHS carries out the majority of their work.
– tighter council budgets meaning schools have had to take on more responsibility for delivering safeguarding interventions. SHS Practitioners based in schools are therefore picking up this work.

22% of these safeguarding interventions were centered around supporting families affected by domestic violence. 10% of our safeguarding interventions concerned neglect and 9% were to do with physical abuse.

Commentary from education charity

Jaine Stannard, Chief Executive at education charity  SHS, said, “This is a staggering rise and shows that our support is needed in schools more than ever. Educational settings need dedicated staff, trained in safeguarding work and properly supervised, to ensure that no child falls through the cracks. Budgets allocated to schools must reflect this.”

Daniel Jarrett, Safeguarding Manager, said, “In my time at SHS, and previously as a social worker, I have seen how easy it is for a family’s challenging situation to become a safeguarding risk – and how important it is that there’s someone looking out for the children in these families. These figures show how vital safeguarding support is.”

ABOUT SCHOOL-HOME SUPPORT

Educaton charity, School-Home Support (SHS) have been working with disadvantaged children and families to maximise educational opportunities since 1984. They currently have 60+ practitioners based in educational settings around the South of England, and offer a free support service for all schools.

Do you need to cater for gluten-free eaters this Christmas? Here’s an easy gluten-free Christmas cake recipe.

A great Christmas cake is rich, moist, and full of festive flavours, and this version definitely hits the spot. In fact, it just might become a new family favourite!

Gluten-free Christmas Cake Recipe

Preparation time

5 minutes the night before, 30 minutes on the day

Cooking time:

2 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 200g raisins
  • 200g currants
  • 200g stoned prunes, chopped
  • 200g mixed peel
  • 200g dried cranberries
  • 40g candied fruit
  • 140g glace cherries
  • 125ml dark rum
  • 125ml port
  • 250g unsalted butter + some extra to grease the tin
  • 250 g gluten-free plain flour + some extra
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (or grate it fresh)
  • 300g dark brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs

 

Icing:

  • 700g icing sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

 

Method
  1. Combine the chopped prunes in a large bowl with all the other dried fruit and berries. Pour half the rum and half the port over and leave to soak overnight.
  2. When you come to make the cake, preheat the oven to 150°C/300ºF/gas 2.
  3. For the cake, sift the gluten free flour, allspice and nutmeg into a large bowl.
  4. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Crack the eggs in one at a time and beat. Stir in the soaked fruit and any excess juices.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture until everything is combined evenly.
  6. Grease a 26m spring form cake tin with butter, sprinkle some flour around the inside of the tin, then tip out excess flour. Spoon the cake mixture in.
  7. Bake for around 2 hours at 150˚C until golden brown. Remove from oven and poke holes through the top with a skewer.
  8. Combine the remaining port and rum together and pour over the cake while it’s still warm. Leave to cool.
  9. Prepare the icing by separating the egg whites and whisking them in a large bowl until frothy. Sift the icing sugar into another bowl then add the egg whites a spoonful at a time, mixing as you go. Stir in the lemon juice and beat the mixture until it forms stiff peaks.
  10. Place the cooled cake on a plate and decorate with the icing. For a smooth finish, use a palette knife to spread it over the top and sides. For peaks, use the knife to create texture. Leave the icing to harden before adding extra decorations or a ribbon.
  11. Serve it to your gluten-free guests or package it up as a gift. Enjoy!

Check out some more healthy Christmas recipes and ideas for treats.

Let me know if you try out this gluten-free Christmas cake recipe?

Easy Gluten-Free Christmas Cake Recipe

 

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Confessions of a New Mummy

Help for those on a low income is available and there is always hope if you are having financial difficulties. However, systems can be challenging to navigate especially when you are already feeling stressed about your financial plight.

I thought I would list things that are well worth investigating when the wolf is at the door and you are feeling stressed.

Help with rent

Rents can be very high and housing costs are often the biggest expenditure item for individuals and families. If you are renting whether on benefits or working, check if you are entitled to Housing Benefit to cover all or part of your rental costs. The roll-out of Universal Credit will see housing costs covered in a different way so check out information on that too.
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Help with council tax

Council tax can be another big strain on finances. Depending on where you live Council Tax Reduction may be available giving a discount depending on your individual circumstances.

Free prescriptions

There are quite a number of circumstances that make you eligible for free prescriptions and help with other health costs. The basic message is if you have health costs, it is always worth finding out if you can get some help towards them.

Free school meals

All pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state-funded schools are eligible for free school meals. If you are on certain welfare benefits, you may also be able to obtain free school meals for your children.

Social Fund and grants

If you are on certain benefits, you may be able to get help towards expenditure such as clothing or a washing machine via a budgeting loan. This is interest free so you only pay back what you borrow normally within a 2 year period.

You would be amazed how many organisations offer grants to those in need. The Turn2Us website helps you search for the ones that apply to your particular situation.

Food banks

There are lots of food banks so check online to find one near where you live. You can go to some without a referral but sometimes you need to be sent by someone like a GP, charity, advice agency or social worker.

When money is tight it is vital to view your options and to seek good advice from someone like the Citizens Advice Bureau Service.

Do you know of any good help for those on a low income?

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