Lorraine Pascale’s Caramelised Spiced Nuts

It’s nearly Christmas and today I decided to make Lorraine Pascale‘s Caramelised Spiced Nuts from the book, ‘Home Cooking Made Easy’  When we go to Pizza Express we love the spicy nuts and thought these would be a good substitute.

Nuts in the Pan

Nuts in the Pan


300g granulated sugar (I used caster)

450g mixed nuts – I used macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans,  walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tsp paprika (I used smoked)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cumin

300 ml water


1. Preheat the oven to 180C /350F/ Gas mark 4

2. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment

3. Put all the ingredients in a pan and stir until the sugar is dissolved

4. Bring to the boil and then simmer rapidly for 15-20 mins (I transferred the pan to the bottom oven in the Aga instead)

5. Drain the mixture through a colander over a large bowl, take care as the syrup may splutter

6. Tip the nuts from the colander onto the baking tray in a single layer and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes. (I put the blanking plate in the top oven and they were ready in about 12 minutes!)

Cooling nuts

Cooling nuts

7. Remove from oven and leave to cool before transferring into an airtight tin. Sprinkle with more if required (I didn’t!)

8. The leftover syrup can be poured over ice cream or poached pears.

Verdict: DELICIOUSLY MORE-ISH!  I couldn’t wait to try them and burned my tongue on the nuts, straight from the oven!  Would make a great Christmas gift in a pretty jar! Plus BETTER than those in Pizza Express! AND so easy to make!

Ta-Dah! Finished!

Ta-Dah! Finished!

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A jar full of gratefulness

There has been much in the news about how if you count your blessings every day you’re much less likely to suffer from depression. This is not a new idea; there was one study in York University, Toronto that asked moderately depressed people to complete an online gratitude survey every day and psychologist Jeffrey Rossman concluded that, “a sense of gratitude helps you feel positive about the people and things in your life, and about your life in general.  When you have positive feelings about your life, you tend to be happier, more energetic, and more productive.”   Another study by Professor Robert A. Emmons at the University of California maintains that “those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercise more regularly, report fewer physical symptoms, feel better about their lives as a whole, and are more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who record hassles or neutral life events. They are also more likely to make progress toward important personal goals.”  Sounds too good to be true and definitely worth a go!

We live in abundance and it is all too easy to take everyday things for granted. We can lose sight of how important the people around us are and how much we value their contribution to our daily lives.  I do feel especially grateful as my eldest son recently returned from deployment in Afghanistan and each day that he was away I counted my blessings that it was another day closer to his safe return.

Inspired by the virtual jar at http://www.thegratitudejar.com/ I decided to create a real jar that we could use to record the things we are grateful for and then reflect on them, either at family mealtimes or on ‘low’ days.

There seems to be an infinite number of resources that do similar things on the internet but I wanted to use my Silhouette to create a special jar personalised for my family.

First I found a suitable (ex-jam) jar and then I designed the label using the Bira font from (http://www.dafont.com/bira.font).  I do love this style as the script letters weld together very beautifully!  I decided to cut the label in blue vinyl.   I used the KG Flavor & Frames  font (http://www.dafont.com/kg-flavor-and-frames.font) that Lauren at the Thinking Closet used recently in her Sugar and Flour jar labels project http://www.thinkingcloset.com/2013/05/13/i-heart-labels-sugar-flour-jar-edition/)  for the frame. GratefulJar I then realised that the lid had printing on it that couldn’t easily be removed, so I cut a scalloped circle (it may have been a free shape of the week over at http://www.silhouetteonlinestore.com a while back) and decided to hand write a quote on the top using a fabulous white Posca pen I was desperate to try out!  Gratefullid.

The quote (from William Arthur Ward) is, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a gift and not giving it.”  I hadn’t come across William before but Wikipedia was keen to tell me that he is one of “America’s most quoted writers of inspirational maxims” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Arthur_Ward.  These words really resonated with me as I just LOVE wrapping and packaging presents and get almost as excited about the paper as much as what is inside!

Lastly, because being thankful is good for your heart (http://www.mywell-being.com/think/being-thankful-good-your-heart) I created a whole page of hearts with my Silhouette that I cut on a textured white card stock, so that we can begin to record our gratefulness. I’m very excited! Gratefuljar3

I’m really pleased with the finished project and I thought that I may extend the idea as a way of telling important people in my life how much they mean to me…. a really powerful way of expressing gratefulness. It could be for Valentine’s Day (now I’m really planning ahead!) or to cheer up a friend that is off par.   As my youngest son is about to leave primary school I thought it could be used as a way of thanking the teachers and staff in the school for all they have done for him over the years. Once you get started, the ideas are limitless!

And if you’d like to check out some more Silhouette creations, here’s a collection of projects by my Silhouette Challenge buddies…

DIY Paper Star Lanterns by Me & My DIY

Adding Easy Sketch Pen Detail to Silhouette Cuts by It Happens in a Blink

Laundry Room Labels by Unoriginal Mom

Kids Step Stool with Sass by Joy & Gladness of Heart

Magnetic Perpetual Calendar by Everydaypaper

Silhouette Fabric Ink {An Experiment} by Create & Babble

Playhouse Signs: Who Will We Be Today? by Suburble

How to Get a Second Wind Out of Your Gel Manicure by The Thinking Closet

DIY Graduation Gift by Super Sweet Life

A Silhouette Challenge by Home at Eight

Oval Coffee Table Reveal & More! by Give Me a Paintbrush

Stamped Gift Boxes by Coley’s Corner

Travel Accessories for Vacation Mementos & Business by An Elegant Touch

Interested in joining us for our group posting event next month?  We’d love to have you.  Simply contact Lauren from The Thinking Closet by email.


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Recipe of the day – Spanish-themed lunch – Part 4 – Dessert!

And now to my favourite part – dessert!

I was looking for a spanish dessert but all I could find was Creme Caramel or Churros – neither of which (tasty though they no doubt are!) fitted the bill.

So I then searched on almonds and oranges (both of which we feasted on in Seville!) and came up with this recipe from chef James Martin. http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/orange_cake_with_a_18847

If I had read the recipe all the way through before I started (*important note to self!*) I would have begun 24 hours earlier!!  The (whole) oranges need to be boiled and cooled before you begin the cake!

IMG_1672So while the oranges were cooking in the bottom oven of the Aga I got on and made the sauce.  If I make this again (which I definitely will!) I’ll cut the orange segments up so they are much smaller in the sauce – but it was delicious!

Also I’ll weigh the oranges BEFORE I cook them – as when I had pureed them and the recipe says, ‘take 450g’ I only had about 275g (they were obviously small ones!) so I had to scoop out the orange pieces from the sauce mixture and add them in for the cake!

Plus I hadn’t got enough ground almonds so I used half ground almonds and half self raising flour – it was perfect though – I think it would have been too dense with all almonds.

My tin was 10.5″ and the recipe says 9″ – so if you use the right size tin it would be deeper!


I also made a fresh fruit salad


So there was cake and sauce, fresh fruit salad and cream, and/or vanilla ice cream!  All delicious!

I had prepared cheese and biscuits but we were all too full!

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Recipe of the day – Spanish-themed lunch – Part 3

And onto the main course!



This is a wonderful Jamie Oliver recipe!  This is the recipe

The chorizo we used was more chunky than the one in the picture.  The gremolata that is sprinkled over at point of serving is well worth doing – it’s so delicious!

We served this with a green salad and leftover bread from the starter!

Tomorrow…. part 4 …. the desserts!

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Recipe of the day – Spanish themed lunch – part 2

Today I’m going to share the rest of the recipes for the Tapas starters

Tapas starters – olives, crusty bread, oil and balsamic vinegar

Red peppers with capers

Deep fried squid

Salsa, Aioli and Anchoiade

photo (91)

For the red peppers with capers I cheated by taking a jar of already roasted red peppers and sliced them, gently fried them with olive oil and a tablespoon of capers.  If I had more time I would have roasted them in the oven myself!

photo (90)

I used shop bought Aioli (garlic mayonnaise) for the squid; but I made the Anchoïade (an anchovy dip which was really scrummy!) http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/anchoiadewithcrudite_83883


photo (92)


Tomorrow…. part 3 … the main course

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Budget-Savvy Spring Sihouette Make

I love my Silhouette Cameo and I love being creative, but sometimes how much it all costs takes me by surprise (eek!)  So I decided that I would try to waste less….. So this post started as an Easter card and ended up as a spring decoration too – eggsellent!




On the first cards I made I omitted the hole in the bunny (see bottom photograph below)  I then discovered  it was so much easier to get my Cameo to cut the hole and amended the studio!

By the way, if you are interested to learn why rabbits are associated with Easter there is some interesting info on Wikipedia !

I visited a local gift shop and there they had some great spring/Easter decorations and that inspired me to use the leftover little bunnies for my spring decor!


First I took some old bangles and wrapped washi tape around them in spring colours


 Then I took my bunnies


And threaded them onto some coloured raffia and voila!


They look great as well as being super-easy and budget-savvy!  You could do the same thing with hearts, butterflies, anything to match the season!



Want to check out more Silhouette projects today?

Click on the links below to visit the projects shared by my Silhouette Challenge buddies:

D.I.Y. Canvas Date Art – The House on Hillbrook

Paint Chip Spring Ornaments – Coley’s Corner

D.I.Y. Vertical File Folders (Martha Stewart Home Office Knockoff with Free Cut File) – Whole New Leaf

Anchor’s Away! A Fabric Applique Silhouette Tutorial – Lil’ Mrs. Tori

D.I.Y. Subway Art Canvas & Free Cut File – The Thinking Closet

“Different Is Good” Autism Awareness Tee – Tried and True

A Gift! – For ‘Just a Little Nutty’ – An Elegant Touch

Mother’s Day Celebration – Creative Turn

Interested in joining us for our group posting event next month?  We’d love to have you.  Simply contact Lauren from The Thinking Closet by email

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Recipe of the day – Spanish-themed lunch Part 1

This weekend I cooked a Spanish themed lunch.  This was the menu:-

Tapas starters – olives, crusty bread, oil and balsamic vinegar

White bean, prawn and chorizo tapas

Red peppers with capers

Deep fried squid

Salsa, Aioli and Anchoiade


Main course:      Jamie Oliver‘s Spanish Chicken with Chorizo

Green salad


Dessert:             Orange and Almond Cake

Fresh fruit salad

Cream or Vanilla ice cream

Cheese and biscuits

I’ll post the recipes and photos during the week; but it was a great idea, well received and I’d certainly repeat it!  It really encourages relaxed conversation and a convivial atmosphere.

I love Tapas – there is some great info here.  We went to Seville for our honeymoon and the Tapas was AMAZING!  The best ever!  It’s certainly difficult to recreate some of the tastes and flavours but I was determined to try! Although my very favourite are the ham and cheese croquettes which I’ve never really mastered!

The only thing I’m never sure about is the portion sizes – I always cook too much as I never want to feel guests are hungry – so I did try to ensure I didn’t cook enough for a full starter size for everyone!

Recipe for Prawn, Chorizo and White Bean Tapas

– serves 6 as part of a mix of small plates

400g canned white beans (I used butter beans)

12 mini chorizos (I used about 150g)

1 tbsp olive oil

sea salt and pepper

12 large peeled prawns

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 quartered lemon


Drain and rinse the beans

Slice the chorizo and gently fry in the oil

Stir in the prawns, beans, parsley, season with the salt and pepper.

Tip onto a serving platter  and serve with lemon wedges

Notes  I made this the day before and then added the prawns just before serving.

photo (89)

Tomorrow the rest of the starter recipes……



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