Monthly Archives: February 2015

pasta bake title pic

Cheesy pasta bake

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Triple Cheesy Pasta Bake

pasta bake content picOk. This is a creamy and naughty cheesy delight.

I wouldn’t recommend having this too often if keeping your waistline in check is a top priority.

But if you’re looking for some comfort food that’s quick and easy to prepare then this triple cheesy pasta bake is a must try.

It’s super simple and takes less than 25 mins to rustle up. And what’s more you could prepare it in advance. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and then throw it in the oven when you’re ready to devour it – a great time saving dish! (Allow a little more time if cooking from chilled).

You can use different pastas and cheese too if you like. See some suggestions below.

Ingredients:
Penne Pasta (enough for the number of people eating)
Olive oil
2 tsp of green pesto
3-4 chopped chestnut mushrooms
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 handful grated cheddar
1/2 a ball of mozzarella cut or torn into dice size chunks
1 handful of grated parmesan
Black pepper and salt (optional)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 deg. Add the pasta to a pan of boiling water with a teaspoon of olive oil and salt if desired. Cook pasta till it’s al dente (firm to bite).

2. While the pasta boils heat a spoonful of olive oil in a pan and add the mushrooms. Stir often to prevent it from catching. Add the mixed herbs and stir. Turn off the heat when the mushrooms are soft.

3. When the pasta is cooked drain and return to the pan. Add the pesto (enough to coat the pasta evenly). Add the mushrooms, black pepper, (salt if desired) and the cheddar. Stir together.

4. Pour into an ovenproof dish. Top with the mozzarella and parmesan. And if you like pepper as much as I do then add another couple of crushes of it at this point.

5. Place in the oven for 10-15 mins till the top is brown and crispy and the cheese is melted and gooey.

6. Remove from the oven and serve with a side of your favourite green veg and a couple of slices of warm garlic bread.

Switch it up!

For the meat lovers out there you could add a breast of chicken for extra flavour. Cut it into bite size chunks, cook it separately and season it with fresh thyme and black pepper and salt. Then stir it into the pasta with the other ingredients.

Or try with pancetta or smokey bacon for a salty meaty kick.

If penne ain’t your thing then fusilli or rigatoni will work perfectly as alternatives. And you could try it with smoked gouda or goats cheese for other cheese ideas.

Where possible use organic and locally grown produce

Title and content images courtesy of Nat Millie.

Pearl Grace Life Thanks

Happy tears

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Happy tears

think of you Pearl Grace LifeI cried the other day when I watched this video.

I confess they were happy tears but I felt so moved by this sweet video that I couldn’t hold them back.

For so many reasons the topic and content really resonated with me.

I wanted to share it in hope that it may do the same for you.

After I watched it I was left thinking about the people in my life that I’m eternally grateful for.

The people who have shown me relentless support, backed me in every endeavour, been my biggest champions and who have always been there when I needed them.

Can you think of people like that in your life? – I’m sure you agree that those individuals are pretty special.

By the end of the video I was inspired to take action.

It was time to take my feelings of gratitude to the next level.

Last weekend my brother and his girlfriend came to stay.

This provided me with the perfect opportunity to express my gratitude.

I love my brother. We’ve been through a lot together and although we’ve not always agreed, I’ve always known that our bond was unbreakable.

We’re closer today than we ever have been and our relationship goes from strength to strength.

He’s an incredible person and means so much to me. So, I decided to tell him precisely that when he stayed over.

He was touched and so was I by his reaction. Together we all had a beautiful weekend; great food, drink, fresh air, conversation. That weekend we created some happy and lasting memories.

But I wasn’t done.

As the weekend came to an end I turned my grateful eye to Drew.

We say we love each other all the time and as lovely as that may sound, we do run the risk of saying it so much that the words lose their meaning.

So, I decided to write him a card outlining the reasons why he’s so special to me.

Granted we do this in cards to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries but this time there was nothing specific in the calendar and no event that the rest of the world we’re participating in.

Because there was ‘no official’ reason to writing such a card, it surprised him.

He said it meant so much. It now sits proudly on his bedside table so he can see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

I didn’t realise how much expressing my level of love and gratitude for other people would affect me.

It’s been incredible.

I’ve felt in a really good mood since. Happier, if that’s possible. It’s hard to explain…

All I can suggest is that you give it a try yourself and see the benefits work for you and those you love.

One final point…

Here’s the thing, we all think beautiful and magnificent things about other people (or at least we should) but rarely do we tell them.

Chances are those people that you adore and think the world of have no idea how you truly feel and the difference that they’ve made to your life.

Tell them why you value them so much. Tell them how much they’ve influenced you. And how special they are to you.

It might feel a little uncomfortable at first – even if you’ve known that person for your entire life – but you’ll start to feel better when you really get into it.

You may feel nervous and tempted to hold back a little but try not to. Allow your anxieties to dissipate and open up your heart.

And here’s the cherry sweet bit in all of this… What you give to others you get in return.

The goodness you put out into the world will find its way back to you but you have to start by giving.

As Jim Rohn said, “Giving starts the receiving process”.

Trust me, the love will boomerang back to you because that’s the nature of the universe.

I know if you’re reading this then you’re a happy and loving soul so doing this will be in alignment with everything you stand for and hold dear.

Just remember, you’ve gotta show love and express gratitude from a sincere and genuine heart felt place.

No flattery, ok. Mean what you say and say how you truly feel.

Go all out and express yourself fully. Feel it to the point of happy tears.

So, why not pick up the phone and make that call? It might be the best chat you ever have.

Who are you grateful for and why?

Please share with us in the comments below.

 

Title image courtesy of www.huffingtonpost.com

Content image courtesy of pixshark.com

chilli pearl grace life

Chilli

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Slow Baked Chilli

chilli PGLMy slow baked chilli is a great winter warmer and a fantastic dish for a casual night of entertaining with friends.

My slow oven baked chilli is packed with tons of veg and bags of flavour. Plus it’s a great way of ensuring you reach your quota of 5-a-day!

After a few minutes chopping, the rest of the cooking is simply spent throwing the ingredients in a pot, stirring and placing in the oven for a couple of hours.

Enough time to take the dog out for a walk, do a spot of cleaning, reply to emails or catch up on an episode of Game of Thrones.

You can adapt this super simple recipe to suit your own palette but here’s my take on the classic Chilli Con Carne.

Ingredients:
Oil (Hemp, Olive or your preferred cooking oil)
1 onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic chopped
2 carrots chopped
400g of lamb mince
3 red chillies – 1 chopped finely and 2 halved to add to the chilli before placing in the oven
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp chilli powder
5 large tomatoes par-boiled, peeled and chopped (if from a can, add a level teaspoon of sugar to balance out the flavour)
300ml of stock (1 tbsp of bouillon or stock cube)
1 courgette chopped
1 sweet pepper chopped (red, yellow or green)
6-8 chestnut mushrooms chopped
400g of kidney beans (if from a can, drain and rinse before adding)

Method:
1. Preheat oven 180 deg F. Heat a large pot (that’s oven proof) on medium with a tablespoon of oil.

2. Add the garlic and onion let them sweat a little. Add the carrots and stir till slightly soft.

3. Add the mince. Turn up the heat. Stir until the meat browns a little.

4. Add the chopped chilli and spices. Stir together.

5. Add the tomatoes and let it boil and bubble for a bit. Add the stock and stir.

6. Add the courgette, pepper and mushrooms. Mix together. Allow to bubble. Add the kidney beans and stir. Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven.

7. Cook in the oven for 1 hour. Take out stir and taste. Add the halves of chilli pieces if desired. Return to the oven uncovered for 1 hour stirring half way through or as often as required.

8. Allow to cool a little then dish up with your favourite rice, warm tortilla wraps and a dollop of fresh yoghurt or soured cream on the side.

Switch it up!

You could traditionally use beef mince instead of lamb – I just love the flavour that the lamb provides.

Alternatively you could skip the meat altogether and make this a vegetable dish adding extra peppers, a selection of different mushrooms, various beans, with butternut squash or sweet potato in replacement.

Where possible use organic and locally grown produce

Michaela DePrince

Badge of Honour

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Badge of Honour

Michaela DePrince Pearl Grace Life I was wondering, have you ever felt like you were different? Like you just didn’t fit in?

Have you ever let the feeling of being different stop you from going after the things in life that you truly want?

Or perhaps you were convinced by other people that you could never be anything more than your present situation or than the conditions you were born into…

Well, today, as you embark on a new week, I wanted to urge you wear your difference like a badge of honour.

Let your quirks and your unique qualities be the beautiful aspects of your character that you celebrate and that you proudly show the world.

Never let anyone convince you that you are inept of achieving all that is possible in the world and possible for you.

My wish for you this week is, that you find it in your heart to turn those parts of yourself that you were once ashamed of, or embarressed by, or felt insecure about, into a badge of honour that you show the world with your head held high.

Be proud to be different; to look different, to speak different, to work differently and to dream differently.

It’s OK to stand out from the cloud. It’s OK to be different. In fact it’s incredible.

You’re a star like everyone else so shine bright. You deserve to soar like an eagle to the heights of your biggest, scariest and most triumphant goals.

To rise to the pinnacle of your heart’s deepest desires so you can actualise your dreams.

That’s what I wish for you this week. And I’ll do the same.

Let this week be the turning point.

Be proud of who you are – every single part of your being – and share your splendour with the world.

After all, how dull would the world be if we were all the same?

Michaela DePrince… 

I’m sure as you watched and listened to Michaela’s story you were moved.

I first discovered her a couple of years ago when I watched the documentary, First Position, and I was deeply touched by her story.

The tale of a war-orphan that was rescued and became a ballet dancer. As she says at the beginning of the clip, her life is the stuff of fairy tales.

But hearing her describe her life in her own words you can see that her life was anything but that.

Her vitiligo and her struggles are the badge of honour that makes her special and that makes her beautiful.

They have aided her in becoming the incredible dancer that she is today.

They make her an inspiration to so many young girls and women around the world.

In sharing her story she has decided to wear her differences; her tragedies, challenges and ultimately her triumphs like a badge of honour.

What ‘differences’ have you once struggled to overcome that you can now wear as a badge of honour? 

 

Title image courtesy of www.teenvogue.com

Content image courtesy of www.dailymaverick.co.za

bruscetta

Bruschetta

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Bruschetta with a twist

bruscettaHere’s a special twist on the classic bruschetta.

In theory you could add your favourite toppings to satisfy your taste buds but this is one of my favourites.

Ingredients:

2 slices of spelt bread (or a crusty and seedy wholegrain option works beautifully too)

1 ripe avocado (diced or mashed – up to you)

2 large ripe vine tomatoes, chopped (or 4/5 small/cherry ones if desired)

A drizzle of Hemp oil (or Olive, Rapeseed or your whatever you like the taste of)

Crush of black pepper and Himalayan salt (or sea salt)

Scatter of chilli powder or flakes (optional)

Method:

1. Toast the bread

2. Top one slice with the avocado and the other one with the tomatoes

3. Season as desired and drizzle with your favourite oil.

Can be enjoyed at anytime of the day, breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Switch it up!

For an alternative flavour, try a slice with a combination of pitted olives. It’s delicious.

Or add a healthy dollop of hummus on the toast before spooning on your topping. Nutritious and yummy.

Fresh herbs are also an option. Fresh thyme or basil work marry well with tomatoes.

Where possible use organic and locally grown produce

Scrubs Love

Love

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Love: The gift of choice this Valentine’s Day

JD and Turk LoveLove is in the air. Can you feel it? 

The day of love is fast approaching.

I know its the day we’re supposed to shower our beloved with gestures and tokens of affection.

Now don’t get me wrong, I welcome little boxes of chocolates, bouquets of  flowers and sentimental gifts like every other lady on the planet.

But if we strip away the commercialism and clever marketing that sells us on the idea that February 14th is in someway more special than any other day in the year, then we have to admit to a certain degree that Valentine’s Day is mostly hype – albeit fun and O.T.T but hype all the same.

Now, I’m not hating on Valentine’s Day. In fact I love it.

It presents us with a wonderful opportunity to be playful, silly and over the top.

Some childish fun can provide us with a welcome break from the adult trappings of our daily lives.

I say, indulge in all the alluring Valentine’s Day pleasures available to you. After all it’s only for one day.

But the truth is your main squeeze should know you love them 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

Regardless of all the teddy bears, balloons, presents, frolics and fanfare your feelings should be clear.

So, I was thinking the other day…

What if we looked at Valentine’s Day from a different perspective.

What if this year we used it as an opportunity to celebrate all kinds of love?

Check out Turk and JD in Scrubs expressing their “Guy Love” in a truly awesome way!

Here’s the thing.

February 14th rolls by and we tend to focus the majority of our attention on our intimate relationship.

There’s nothing wrong with that – in fact it’s lovely.

But love is love – romantic love and platonic love. It’s all beautiful.

So what if we extend our focus this Valentine’s Day…

What if we expressed our love to more than just the person with whom we share our bed with?

How memorable would that Valentine’s Day be?

For example, if you knew someone spending the day on their own. You could send them a little message of love or invite them round for a bite to eat or a cup of tea…

How wonderful would that be?

Not only would it brighten up their day but it will surely fill you with a feeling of true abundance.

I can practically guarantee it.

And what’s more, the impact of such a gesture is likely to last a lot longer than anything you could buy.

The person on the receiving end would never forget how you made them feel and that’s definitely a gift worth giving. Worth sharing.

LOVE. Give it to as many people as you can this Valentine’s Day

So, how can you demonstrate love in a more meaningful way this Valentine’s Day?

Love Nat x

 

Title image courtesy of galleryhip.com

Content image courtesy of www.hollywood.com

 

A Path Appears

A Path Appears

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A Path Appears – Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

“Our world is now a global village” – Desmond Tutu, A Path Appears

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunnI love that quote because it reminds us that we are all connected.

Devastating events that take place on the other side of the world affect us, affect the whole world.

Perhaps not physically but we are human beings and we are programmed to feel.

We are designed to be touched, to be moved and to be affected by what we see and hear.

I was moved by this video so much that I knew I had to share it with you.

It’s definitely a message worth spreading.

Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn highlight some of the most severe cases of human oppression that takes place around the world in their latest documentary A Path Appears.

They are joined by actors and activists Malin Akerman, Mia Farrow, Ronan Farrow, Jennifer Garner, Regina Hall, Ashley Judd, Blake Lively, Eva Longoria, and Alfre Woodard.

Travelling throughout the United States, Colombia, Haiti and Kenya they uncover the harshest forms of oppression and human rights violations that are truly devastating.

They also offer up solutions that are being implemented to overcome these problems and ultimately provide the women featured in the film with hope.

It’s always worth remembering that we can overcome even the most devastating and spirit crushing events when we see or are shown a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Even if it’s just a flicker in the distance we should always consider it as a symbol of hope.

Its in the belief that things will get better and that our situation can change that gives us the strength to keep our chin up.

Whatever challenge you may be facing, and God knows I couldn’t imagine how painful it is for you, I hope you never lose the belief that you can survive and and you can thrive.

There is always tomorrow. You are stronger than you know.

The book A Path Appears was released September 2014. The documentary premiers January 2015 on PBS. (Not sure where/when it will appear on UK tele but I’m sure it will be available online at some point – keep your eyes peeled)

Please visit http://apathappears.org for more about A Path Appears

Title image courtesy of www.youtube.com

Content image courtesy of www.amwa-doc.org

blank page

Masterpiece

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Got a blank page…Write an awesome story. Create your Masterpiece

masterpieceYour life is a masterpiece.

As you embark on a brand new week and on another month I wanted to remind you of that incredible fact.

It’s always worth remembering that you are your own hero.

You are the star of the show you’re performing in.

You are the author of the story you create and the true creator of the world you design.

Embrace the start of a new month, of a new week and of every single rising sun that marks the beginning of a new day.

Each and every time this happens you are presented with a clean fresh page watermarked with your name on it.

A personalised page to design the life of your dreams.

It’s been given to you so you can inscribe the next chapter of your tale so make it count!

It’s your responsibility to write, draw, colour, paint and decorate your page however you  wish.

It will be as unique as you are.

It will be as original and as bespoke as you want it to be.

It can be quirky and whacky. Bold and striking.  Soft and gentle. Whatever you want.

It will be all yours but the world will get the opportunity to enjoy it, marvel at it, and value it every single day.

They’ll do this in every word you speak and in every move you make.

Ensure your actions and words are an accurate representation of the ‘masterpiece’ you’re creating on a daily basis.

Don’t let yesterday’s troubles hold you back from doing what you were destined to do or prevent you from becoming who you were born to become.

Today is a new day. A fresh start. A new beginning. Start your story now.

“Today, is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten.” – Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten

Title images courtesy of musingtestament.com

Content image courtesy of www.quotessays.com/blank-page.html