Christmas dinner vegetables at the Stag at Offchurch

December round-up

After such a busy few months, it seemed like things would quieten down in December.

Erm, no.

There may have been fewer meals out and about, but instead there was actually (wait for it, you might choke on your cuppa) a fair bit more cooking. I know – quel surprise!

Out and about

December started off with the BBC Good Food Show Winter. Mr M and I like to go and have a little mooch, fill our faces, buy lots of treats, and maybe see a few chefs. We tried some epic cakes, I won Lisa Faulkner’s cookbook, we watched a demo by Masterchef winner Shelina Permalloo, and we eyed up a LOT of food. A good day was had by all.

BBC Good Food Show Winter 2015

Eating In

This month I was also asked to take part in a project called It’s Your Town, organised by New Amsterdam Vodka, with Birmingham’s involvement done with street food supremos Brum Yum Yum. You can read all about it in the post, but basically it saw me put my meagre culinary skills to the test and try out some street food recipes I was sent, using some goodies I also received.

I blogged about the Spirited Chicken Noodles from Buddha Belly, but later in the month I also whipped up some Bloody Mary Kebabs thanks to a recipe from White Heat. These were pretty delicious too and both recipes are going on the Manning menu for another day.

Bloody Mary Kebabs

One of my highlights of December was receiving a Christmas cockerel from Fosse Meadows Farm to try. As you probably know, Mr M and I tend to opt for meat when we have a roast dinner, so this was a break from the norm and rather nice too. You can see how we cooked it and what’s so special about the birds from Fosse Meadows in the post.

Roast cockerel

Eating Out

Of course, it wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t at least one restaurant review. For this month’s foray, I tried Tapas Revolution at Birmingham’s Grand Central. Yes, it’s a chain, but we can’t all always eat at one-off independents can we? It was, as you’ll read, a meal of two halves but here’s one of the highlights – amazing cod croquettes.

I’ve still got plenty of places in Grand Central to work my way round, so no doubt you’ll see some of Tapas Revolution’s neighbours appearing on the blog soon.

Cod croquettes at Tapas Revolution

To start the festive season, my mum and I treated ourselves to Christmas afternoon tea at Nook on the Square at Dunchurch in Rugby. I’ve written about the Nook before, when Mr M and I took his mum there for brunch, but I reckon you’ll love drooling over these cake-tastic pictures of my latest trip here.

Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Nook on the Square

Christmas

And so we hit Christmas. In the past few weeks, it’s been all about the festive food, from a bit of a peep at my own Christmas favourites to the Branagh family Christmas when my big brother and sister-in-law came to visit. Between us we whipped up an awesome family feast for our own little Christmas, including this delicious lobster arancini.

Lobster arancini

December was full of food. Far too much of it, in fact. Needless to say, there is a serious bit of reigning in that needs to take place in January. I warbled on about balance and moderation earlier this year when I admitted that yes, I do have a bit of an issue with self-control when it comes to food, so it’s time to put some of that into practice. Watch this space for some slightly healthier options that might reflect this.

But before then, let’s not forget the big old Christmas dinner. Despite Mr M being struck down by illness over Christmas, we managed to enjoy a few hours at the Stag at Offchurch where we had Christmas lunch with my mum and another huuuuuuge, but delicious, meal.

Me and Mr M at Christmas

Other stuff

Away from my own blog, it was always going to be hard following up November where I got a piece in the Independent, but I tried to help out some fellow bloggers with a few tips I’ve learned this year on how to maximise precious time when you’re trying to fit blogging in around life and everything it throws at you. I’m no expert, but I’m hoping that my post on Feeding the Blogging Beast for the UK Blog Awards blog will at least help someone.

What’s coming up?

The start of January is entirely Mr M-dependant. I mentioned he was ill for the end of December, but after four full days in bed he was just about well enough for us to head off to Resorts World in Birmingham last night for dinner at Waters Restaurant, the new home of Andy Waters, who’s worked at great establishments in and around Birmingham for years.

For New Year we were due to go off to Welshpool for a quiet two nights away, which has been pushed back by a day as I write this. Fingers crossed we make it and I’ve no doubt we’ll end up trying some food. After that, we will definitely be done with the indulgence for, oh, I’d say at least a week!

Other January plans include a cocktail masterclass, a bloggers’ get-together, and plenty of healthy homecooked meals to get rid of the Christmas bulge. Watch this space – this gal’s getting into cooking!

Hope you all had a great festive break. Would love to hear about what you got up to – let me know in the comments 🙂

Here’s to a fun, food-filled 2016!

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