My sunshine paella with chorizo and king prawns

Two things I love…food and art, and if it tastes great and looks a picture why not mix the two. And speaking of love, a short story! Down a a side street in Valencia, whilst enjoying the warm sultry evening air …it was there I had my first. And yes it took me by surprise….so much more seductive than I’d expected, intense with such a depth of flavour ( haha now I’m going all masterchefy on you) I really did fall in love.
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sunshine paella with chorizo and king prawns
1 LARGE frying pan or paella pan
Olive oil
1 onion finely diced
1 large chorizo cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp smoked paprika
500g paella rice
1.5 litres chicken stock or mix of chicken and vegetable stock
Frozen green beans
Handful of frozen sweetcorn
Half a yellow pepper thinly sliced
Defrosted king prawns (as many or as little as pleases you)
1-2 lemons sliced
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Heat your LARGE pan with a good glug of olive oil. Gently sweat the onion. Add in the chorizo and seal. Add the purée, garlic and paprika and cook for a few minutes. Throw in the rice, coat it in the tomato base and cook and stir for another minute or two. Add the chicken stock and stir thoroughly. Cook for 10 minutes give it one last stir then turn down the heat and cook for another ten minutes. At this point make your “sun”, a handful of sweet corn. The rays, green beans and pepper. Throw in your prawns pushing them beneath the surface to cook. (If your prawns are very large or you are just nervous you, could fry them off in a pan first) Cover the pan tightly with tin foil and turn up the heat a little. You should start hearing the rice popping as it caramelises on the bottom. This is called the “socorat” and adds the depth of flavour authentic paella has. But be warned you don’t want it burnt but only caramelised. After three or four minutes once the prawns are cooked take the tin foil off and serve with wedges of lemon.
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Twice cooked crispy chilli beef

Aha, don’t be fooled by the posh sounding “twice cooked” title, do I sound like a girl who spends hours over dinner….ok, ok, so sometimes I do but this isn’t one of those occasions. The fact that the beef is not just cooked once is due to the fact that it’s already been cooked the night before…ie roast beef leftovers. I love a good leftovers recipe, and seeing as I cook roast beef quite regularly it’s good to have some crafty ways of reinventing it for the next days dinner!
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twice cooked crispy chilli beef
Vegetable oil
350g leftover roast beef finely sliced into strips
3 tbsp corn flour
2 tsp Chinese five spice
1 red pepper sliced
100g baby sweetcorn halved and chopped
100g mangtout
4 spring onion sliced
2 garlic cloves crushed
2in piece of ginger very finely sliced
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
Noodles to serve

Heat a couple of inches of oil in your wok till nearly smoking hot. Mix the corn flour and Chinese five spice together and toss the beef till it’s coated. Cook the beef in the oil in batches until nice and crispy. Drain it on kitchen towel.
Pour away most of the oil leaving about a tablespoon in the wok. Add the pepper, sweetcorn, mangtout, spring onion, garlic and ginger. Toss and cook for a few minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic.
In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, so sauce, sweet chilli sauce, ketchup and two tablespoons of water. Add to the wok and cook for two minutes. Throw in the beef and cook for a further two minutes till heated through and covered in the sauce. Serve with noodles.

Cake bombs…

Ever got leftover cake? No, me either! But if you do, and that cake is even a little dried out, here’s something yummy you can transform it into. Little bombs of Baileys and coffee soaked cake crumbs, encased in a chocolate shell. Pretty little treat. And it uses up leftovers, which always pleases me! Hope you like it!
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Baileys cake bombs
300g leftover cake crumbs
30 ml hot water
1tsp coffee
30ml of Baileys
200g of tempered dark chocolate

Make sure the cake crumbs are fully crumbled!

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Dissolve the coffee in the hot water. Add the Baileys. Mix well into the cake crumbs. If your crumbs were quite dry, you may need a little more Baileys. You want the crumbs to stick together when you roll them into about 16 balls.

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Dip them into your tempered chocolate and allow to set.
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A quick little dinner for you

Who doesn’t have a bit of pasta in the cupboard, and I always have some smokey bacon in the fridge, the perfect thing to make a quick and easy dinner for those nights when you don’t have much time or energy. I usually make, either a tomato sauce or a cream sauce so this is a first for me….a creamy tomato sauce! Oh, I really pushed the boat out this time, didn’t I!

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creamy tomato and bacon linguine
500g linguine
Olive oil
1 onion finely diced
1 stick of celery finely diced
1-2 garlic cloves crushed
6 slices of smokey bacon diced
1 courgette diced
500g passata
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp of dried basil
1/2 tsp oregano
100g full fat cream cheese ( like Philadelphia, I use aldi equivalent)
Grated Parmesan to sprinkle over
Cook your linguine in salted boiling water for around ten minutes or until al dente. Meanwhile sweat your onions and celery until soft then turn up the heat and throw in your bacon and fry off. Add the courgette and garlic and cook for a further two minutes. Pour in the passata and add the purée and herbs and cook for another five or so minutes. Now add the cream cheese and allow to melt in and stir it through.
Drain off the linguine and add the sauce, mix thoroughly and serve. Sprinkle over the Parmesan. Enjoy with a well deserved glass of wine!

Love… buttons!

Who doesn’t love buttons these days, they are no longer a functional commodity, we now realise their true potential and beauty. Buttons are colourful, pretty, cute and yet nostalgic all rolled into one. For me, they conjure up memories of haberdashery shops and longingly looking at the little drawers full of buttons as if they were sweets. Some shiny, some sparkly, some teeny tiny and some so big, the only thing you can imagine them stitched onto is a giants cardigan. And as you shut those funny long drawers, the jangle of the buttons tinkling together is music to your childish ears….enough reminiscing, let’s make a card with them!
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button card
You will need
Card
A ruler
A pencil
Pretty buttons
Thread
A needle
Letter stamps
An ink pad
Glue
Paper

To make your card, use your ruler to draw a line in pencil where you want your buttons to be. Place your buttons over the line. With a protective board underneath, make holes with your needle where the button holes are. This will make it easier to sow and make sure the buttons end up in a neat row. Using a pretty thread, sow on your buttons.
Now make another pencil line underneath and print your greeting neatly on the line. When the ink is completely dry, gently rub out your pencil lines. With a piece of paper the same size as your card, fold in half, glue down the centre of the card and attach to form the insert to write your message on.

Humble apple crumble muffins

I’m calling these muffins, humble because they owe their existence to four sad, lonely red apples that didn’t get eaten last week. And when the time came to restock the fruit bowl with more luscious looking new apples, I didn’t have the heart to give them to the birds. It’s not their fault that the bananas were in favour this week, and in fairness to the bananas it’s usually them that end up in a cake because they didn’t look so pretty any more. But now I’ve got this recipe, I’ll be hoping there’s apples to use up more often!

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humble apple crumble muffins
320g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
115g butter
180g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temp
180 ml buttermilk ( or milk curdled with tsp lemon juice)
4 medium eating apples coarsely grated (or a mix of eating and cooking apples )
The crumble topping
70g plain flour
60g butter
100g soft brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
Turn your oven to 180 C. Put your muffins cases in your muffin tin. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and spices.
Beat the butter till it turns paler and add the sugar and vanilla and beat for a further two minutes. Beat in your eggs one at a time. Slowly add the milk. It will look curdled but that’s ok. Gently mix the flour through and then fold the apples through. Spoon into your cases.
To make the crumble topping, rub the butter into the flour coarsely and mix the sugar and spices through. Sprinkle over the muffins and bake for 20-25 mins or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Eat warm on the day of baking!
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No eggs so flowers?!!

We’ve been getting chickens forever, and yet still no clucking going on in my garden. One day, one day, on the up side, my stash of egg boxes is stacking up nicely on top of the refrigerator but something had to be done with the over flow….
A big ball of egg box flowers? The kids love painting so this kept them entertained over the midterm break. It’s purpose apart from that, I’m a little unsure of but I suppose it’ll look pretty hanging in the girls room?

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egg box art, flower ball

You’ll need
Egg boxes
Scissors
Paint
Coloured paper clips
Polystyrene sphere
Ribbon

First of all cut I the first two egg cups from the rest of the box.

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Then cut in half so you have two cups.

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Cut one so that it has four pointy sides and cut the other so it has four rounded sides.

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Continue to cut more of each.

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Paint the rounded ones pretty colours with a contrasting dot in the middle. Paint the pointy ones green. Leave to dry.
Place the coloured ones inside the green ones. Using an unfurled paper clip the same colour as the centre of the flower, pin it into the polystyrene ball. Fill the ball up with all your flowers and finally attach your ribbon to hang!
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