Where did all that heat go? Suddenly, we are back to winter warmers and soups instead of salads. The pool has been covered; the logs have been delivered and out came the quilt for the bed. I can’t believe how quickly the time goes and here we are thinking about Christmas again! Below you will find a few recipes that can be used anytime, but especially over the Christmas period and all really easy to do. I perfected the Sugar-Free Mincemeat recipe several years ago as my husband is diabetic, but it’s well worth a repeat. The Chicken and Vegetable Pie is a real winter warmer and a great way of using up the leftover turkey and vegetables as is the soup. Finally, I’ve added a dessert that couldn’t be easier, but will impress your guests.

Buen Apetito y Feliz Navidad

Sugar-Free Spiced Mincemeat

225g cooked apple
225g currants
225g sultanas
225g raisins
115g dried figs
1 grated carrot
100ml apple juice
Rind and juice of 1 lemon
Rind and juice of 1 orange
200ml brandy
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground mixed spices
125g shelled walnuts chopped
125g almonds
125g mixed peel (optional)

Place all the ingredients except the nuts into a large bowl and soak for a minimum 12 hours or overnight. Place mixture into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Leave all to cool and then stir in the nuts if using. Use in cooking, or spoon into containers or jars. Mixture will keep in the refrigerator for up to three weeks, but does not freeze well.

Sugar-free Christmas Puddings

115g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g breadcrumbs
50g margarine
3 eggs
550g sugar-free mince meat

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and beat well until evenly mixed. Lightly grease pudding bowl to be used. Put mixture in bowl and cover bowl with foil. Steam for 2 hours. Alternatively, if you don’t have a steamer then place in large saucepan with water up to halfway of the bowl. Steam for 2 hours, checking the water level occasionally and topping up when necessary.

Chicken Soup with Dumplings

1.1kg chicken
1 medium onion
1 litre chicken stock
350g carrots
Salt and pepper
100g celery sticks (diced)
50g pearl barley
40g butter
2 eggs
Salt and pepper
Pinch of grated nutmeg
100g semolina

Peel and chop onion and carrots, slice chicken and put all three into a saucepan with the stock with the pearl barley and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Make the dumplings by melting the butter, whisk the eggs and add to butter. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Gradually whisk in the semolina to form a thick paste. Allow to stand for 5 minutes to thicken. Shape the dumplings and drop into soup along with the diced celery. Simmer for 20 minutes and serve.

Chicken and Vegetable Pie

250g puff pastry
1 egg
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
60g butter
2tbsp plain flour
284 ml milk
350g cooked chicken
Selection of cooked veg

Preheat the oven to 200º. Melt the butter in a saucepan and gently fry the chopped onion and crushed garlic. Add the chicken pieces and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add seasoning and flour and stir until all flour absorbed. Add the milk and stir until smooth and add any cooked vegetables and stir in. Remove from heat. Roll out the pastry and place in dish, add chicken mixture and cover with pastry lid and coat with egg. Cook in oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Chestnut Fool

225g unsweetened chestnut puree
150g low-fat plain yogurt
25g fructose
25g sugar-free chocolate chopped

In a bowl, beat together the chestnut puree, fructose and yoghurt until smooth. Transfer to four small serving dishes and sprinkle with chocolate. Serve straight away or chill.