I had high (and overly ambitious) hopes this year of publishing a 'special feature piece' on a monthly basis.

I found some snazzy software, taught myself how to use it, put in place a plan, wrote a few lists (of course) and ...managed three (see here, here and here) before popping out a baby. Goodbye schedule!

6 months down the line and we are getting into the swing of this parenting caper, but add into my (or should I say my son's) schedule a house renovation and training for a marathon on top of said son ... still no monthly feature piece appearing on my horizon any time soon.

Anyhow, in my overly ambitious planning the last one of the year was, obviously, going to be Christmas focused. With that being unlikely to see the light of day (this year anyway) I thought perhaps I could bring you some of the festive recipes I had set aside for that piece.

Can you believe we have turned our minds to Christmas already? I keep saying it, but seriously, where did this year go?

Roast baby carrot salad with pomegranate, mint and a balsamic glaze
This salad pairs perfectly with leftover roasted Christmas meats and is a good way to get rid of surplus roasting vegetables. The carrots can be prepared a day in advance and the salad assembled just prior to serving.

2 bunches of baby carrots, trimmed and carrots halved
2 tbs olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
2 tbs brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
120g baby spinach
60g snow pea shoots
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1/2 cup pomegranate arils

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C. Line a shallow baking tray with baking paper. Toss the halved baby carrots in olive oil and sea salt, spread evenly in the baking tray and place in the oven to roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and coat in the combined brown sugar and balsamic vinegar.

Return to the oven for a further 20 minutes or until the carrots have softened and the glaze has become sticky but still has a runny consistency. Remove from the oven, transfer the carrots and juices to a plastic container and allow to cool completely before either refrigerating for use at a later date or before assembling to serve.

To assemble the salad take a large flat platter, cover with the spinach leaves, then the snow pea shoots. Sprinkle over the mint, lay the carrots on top and spoon over any remaining balsamic glaze. Finish by scattering the pomegranate arils over the top.

Pomegranate and white wine sangria
A bright, festive and very refreshing drink perfect for a hot Aussie Christmas!

50ml lemon juice
200ml pomegranate juice
250ml white wine (pinot gris or sauvignon blanc, my favourite is here)
60ml white rum
50ml sugar syrup
1/4 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
1/2 lemon sliced into thin rounds (optional)
handful of whole mint leaves (optional)

Combine lemon juice, pomegranate juice, white wine, white rum and sugar syrup in a large jug, stir to combine and refrigerate for 2 hours. Just prior to serving add the pomegranate arils (lemon and mint leaves if you are using) and serve in chilled glasses filled with crushed ice.

Yield: 1 litre

Spiced pecan and pomegranate cake

160g light brown sugar
120ml sunflower or vegetable oil
60ml macadamia nut oil
3 eggs
224g of plain flour
1.5tsp baking powder
1tsp bi-carb soda
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp mixed spice blend
64g pecans, chopped
96g pomegranate arils
zest of one orange

Preheat your oven to 150°C. Lightly grease a 9 inch loaf tin and line the bottom with baking paper.

Cream the sugar and oil until light in colour and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition to ensure the cake has a good structure. Sift the flour, baking powder, bi-carb soda, cinnamon and mixed spice over the egg mixture. Add the pecans, pomegranate seeds and zest then mix until just combined.

Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 55-60 minutes or, when tested with a skewer, it comes out clean. Run a knife around the sides of the cake and then allow to cool for 15 minutes in the tin before turning it out onto a wire rack.

Serve warm slices, as is, slathered in butter or allow to cool completely then top with cream cheese icing and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.