Upcycling For Christmas

I started my Christmas crafting today. I’m hoping to do a fair few homemade presents this year and this year’s gifts started with some upcycling.

For years, I have had a gel candle sat in my bedroom – do you remember when they were all the rage? Well, a few weeks ago, I went to burn it, only to find the wick was non-existent, so I scooped out the gel and gave the glass vase a good wash. It looked far too good to just put in the recycling.

So, today, I got out my brand new mini-glue gun and some sparkly beads and took to decorating it.

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I started with just one swirl around the vase, but I was hooked! I did two more swirls and a rim around the bottom. I’m pretty pleased with the result and I’m hoping my Mum will like it too.

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Have You Tried A Giant Jelly Baby??

I was recently given a giant jelly baby by a friend and last night, I attempted to eat him. I have long had an eye on these things, wondering what they’re like – I’m just a big kid at heart – so I was really excited to get one.

But there was one major question – HOW do you eat them?? Would it be a case of just picking him up and biting, or would a knife be required? I can tell you, no knife was getting through that baby and as I reached for the kitchen scissors, I quietly muttered ‘sorry’ as I cut through his leg.

I was shocked by the texture. Expecting a literal giant jelly baby, he – should I be referring to it as a he?! – was more like a giant block of gelatine, the kind you buy to make a jelly! And the flavour was pretty much the same too, so you don’t want to be over indulging in one sitting.

Good fun and I shall look forward to many more sugar rushes from him!

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I’m not sure this picture shows just how big this guy is – he’s bigger than a dinner plate!

You can get your own Giant Jelly Belly here

Breakfast Muffins

Like many of us, I am partial to the occasional takeaway breakfast. But I’m also aware of how unhealthy they are and that they’re pretty expensive, so, I thought, ‘why not have a go at home?’.

So, I did! Only, we had this for dinner instead of breakfast. This is what I did.

I started with a pack of sausage meat, which I bought from the butcher, to which I added one very finely chopped rasher of bacon, some onion salt, black pepper and an egg and squished it all together with my hands until nice mixed.

Then, I made round patties, the size of an English breakfast muffin, and added it to a hot oiled saucepan – listen for that satisfying sizzle! Give it a couple of minutes on each size to cook through properly.

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Take a toasted muffin, put a slice of cheese of your choice on the bottom half, then the sausage patty and finally a poached egg, before topping with the other half of the muffin.

And there you go, a takeaway breakfast muffin at home!

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I used egg poacher silcone cups to get uniform eggs, which made it easier to stack my muffins. They’re really easy to use, just pop them in boiling water and poach away!

Pasta Chicken Corden Bleu

Now, I’m not really sure I should be calling this Pasta Chicken Corden Bleu as it doesn’t involve any breadcrumbs, but hey-ho, I think it fits! This is such an easy meal to whip up and if, like me, you opt for supermarket budget ingredients – with the exception of the chicken, which I got from the butcher – it can be super cheap too.

Start off by slicing up a leek and sautéing that off with a minced garlic clove. When the leek has sweated down, add two diced chicken breasts and allow to colour before putting in one rasher of very finely chopped bacon.

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After allowing the meat a little time to cook, add a handful of slice mushrooms of your choice – I used white mushrooms.

Now, take a small tub of soft cheese and put that in the pan and allow it to melt down, before adding a generous handful of grated cheddar cheese and let that melt together with a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard. This will help to create a thick and very cheesy sauce. When it’s all melted together, grind in black pepper.

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Serve with pasta – personally, I like a drizzle of olive oil too.

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Crafty Time

Tonight, I’m taking some of my crafts along to my partner’s dance club. It’s the first time I’ve done taken my crafts out in public for sale for several years. I used to do it fairly regularly when I was younger, but then work and life just got in the way.

With Christmas coming, I’ve been working on some more Christmassy bracelets with the Loom Bands that I’ve recently started using.

I will also have my semi-precious gem bracelets with me, along with some that are more aimed at children, made with colourful dice beads.

It’s also time to drag out my handmade cards too.

I’m a little nervous about starting this up again, but at the same time, I’m quite excited! So, fingers crossed, that things get off to a good start for me!

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Sausage Casserole

With the clocks now turned back and the official end of British Summer Time, I figured it was time to think comfort food. For me, that means a good casserole. So, for dinner tonight, I knocked us up a tasty sausage casserole and it’s so simple to do.

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Start with any sausages you fancy or have in and brown them off in a frying pan, before transferring to a casserole dish. Then sweat off a chopped onion, a minced clove of garlic and two diced carrots and add those to the casserole.

For the stock, I used a beef stock pot and a red wine one, which I dissolved in around a pint and a half of boiling water and added a cornflour slurry (two teaspoons of cornflour dissolved in cold water), which helps to thicken the gravy whilst cooking. Add the liquid to the casserole, along with two bay leaves and a handful of chopped mushrooms, a spoonful of English mustard, a squeeze of tomato puree, some mixed herbs and salt and pepper and give everything a good mix together.

Next, add sliced, raw potatoes to the top of the casserole and sprinkle with oil and rosemary, before putting the lid on and popping in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 40minutes. After that time, take the lid off and return the pot to the oven for another 20minutes.

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Make sure the potatoes have a nice crisp top and then serve.

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 A casserole dish like this is perfect.

Chicken & Mushroom Pilaf

I was inspired to have a go at this after watching the Pioneer Woman on the Food Network this morning. If you haven’t discovered her yet, do check her out!

Ree was serving up a mushroom pilaf with a fillet steak, however, we don’t often stretch to the luxury of a fillet steak! I figured, instead of a side dish, I’d just serve it up as a main course with some chicken.

I didn’t follow Ree’s recipe, mainly because I couldn’t remember it! However, this is what I did:

I started by melting some butter in a large saucepan and added a finely chopped onion and three cloves of garlic. After allowing them to soften for a few minutes, I added six or seven chopped mushrooms – I had white mushrooms in the fridge, but you could use any you fancy. Allow them to soften a bit too and then add rice to the pan, give it a stir and pour in around a pint and a half of stock. I opted to use those stock pot things and used a chicken and a white wine one for added flavour.

Whilst the rice was cooking, I cooked two diced chicken breasts in a separate pan, before adding that into the rice along with some mixed herbs and a good grinding of black pepper. Then it was ready and time to dish up.

The feedback I got from Himself was ‘very tasty’ and he ‘really enjoyed’ it. It was ready in minutes, so if you need something quick and tasty this could help. And a big thank you to the Pioneer Woman for the inspiration!

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