Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Paella Mixta (Mixed) Spanish Homestyle

One very pregnant day, I had a craving for PAELLLA. I searched high and low for a place and found http://www.olespaindelishop.com a few minutes from my home. I fell in love. But they only made Paella Tuesdays and Fridays. What was a pregnant wife to do?

So somehow I was able to convince my loving husband to take me to BARCELONA.

While there I had really good paella and some no so great paella.  My absolute favorite was a place the locals go to get their paella fix called LA FONDA.

Just hearing the name makes my mouth water.

look at that pregnant lady ready to devour that paella.

I had to have paella at my beckoned call, so hubby and I took a Spanish cooking class while in Spain and learned how to make a home style paella mixta. They used local ingredients not readily available in California but I tried to stay authentic as possible and gave approximate measurements.  

Let's talk about the pan first. You will need a paella pan to cook this. Mine is 13 inches in diameter (from one end to the other). You can use a deeper skillet if you really can't find one. But you can Amazon one or even get one at World Market or even TJ Maxx. The recipe I have is for a 13 inch pan or service for 4. Please adjust accordingly. I learned that you don't want to cook all the rice you can, you need the rice to just cover the pan, this is not a rice cooker, you will need less rice than more. 

Paella takes a long time to cook and can be very time consuming. But you can break it down into quicker preparation times since the Sofrito, the paella sauce can be made ahead. We are starting a little backwards usually you cook the meat first but I want to start with the sofrito so that we have the option of storing and making ahead. Start with onions, garlic, and bell peppers cooking in olive oil.

Directly grate your tomatoes into that pot and add the diced squid because squid is tough if not cooked a long time.
 I found my squid packaged at 99 Ranch and used 1/2 the package.
 It will cook for about 30 minutes. Medium heat. Clean up while you wait.
 If you cook it in a mount, it will not burn. Do not let it burn. If the heat is too high, lower it.
 Remove the sofrito from the pan and freeze for future use. I like to double the recipe and freeze 1/2 for future use.

Take the chicken and the chorizo and stir fry in more olive oil. Season with kosher salt and Spanish paprika.

I use Cantimpalitos because I like the smaller size over the chorizo bilbao. I found this at http://www.laespanolameats.com for those in Los Angeles or http://www.olespaindelishop.com for those of you in Orange County. 
 Remove just the chicken when it cooks all the way through and reserve.
 Pork needs to cook well and I like the chorizo to be super cooked and slightly blackend. So I leave it in the pan and cook the shrimp with it. Shrimp cooks very quickly. Two or three minutes each side. It turns pink when cooked. Once cooked, remove and save for later.
The secret to paella is layering of flavors. DO NOT discard any of the oil that the meat and shrimp is cooked in.
This is usually the part where people start their sofrito but since ours is already done, just add it to the pan grease with 2 cups of bomba or valencia rice. Saute the rice for approximately 3 minutes so that it can soak up all the flavor left in the pan as well as the sofrito and chorizo grease.

Paella rice is different from Asian white rice because it is a special rice that really takes in flavor. Bomba rice is the authentic rice used in paella in Spain but Valencia rice will do the job as well, it just needs more liquid to cook and is about 1/2 the price. I found my rice at the two Spanish stores mentioned above.

Add 4 cups of chicken stock to the rice and saffron powder. Note that for a truly authentic flavor, I suggest using home made broth with no carrots. Carrots are used in canned and traditional stock but adds a sweetness to your paella that is not authentic but tasty. Spaniards do not add carrots to their chicken stock

Saffron will give your paella that nice yellow color but is not necessary. I use a saffron powder and throw it in with the chicken stock. Since saffron is an expensive ingredient most home cooked traditional Spanish paella stays brown in color and omits saffron all together. Spanish restaurants however, do use it for the color.

Simmer the paella on low medium heat. Watch for burning. I do not include muscles and clams but now would be the time to include those in the mix. Remember the center of the rice will cook first. You will need to watch it the first time you cook it by gently lifting the rice in the middle. The edges cook last. If you find that the middle is cooking too fast, lower the heat. Again this is trial and error and you will figure this out depending on your stove. But be very careful not to burn the rice. The burned rice will give a burned flavor to the entire dish, remember, the Spanish rice takes in flavor.

 Once the rice is cooked add frozen peas and start arranging chicken and shrimp around the pan.

Remove from heat and cover the pan with foil for 15-20 minutes and ENJOY.

Recipe is for 13 inch Paella pan (Serves approximately 4 people)
For the Sofrito:
1 Cup finely chopped green and red bell peppers
1 small/ medium Onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic minced
2 Grated Roma tomatoes
Squid 1/2 package or 1/4 lb
Extra Virgin Olive Oil


1/2 lb or 4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken thighs chopped into two inch pieces
1/2 lb  unpeeled large Shrimp
1/3 lb Cantimpalitos (Spanish style cocktail sausage) or Chorizo Bilbao

2 cups Valencia Rice/Bomba rice
4 cups or 2.5 cans of chicken stock/broth

saffron powder (optional)
Clams and muscles (optional)
frozen Peas

13 inch Paella Pan


Cook the shrimp in your paella pan with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. lightly salt Remove shrimp and set aside. DO NOT DISCARD oil.
Add more oil and cook the chicken lightly salt and paprika. Set aside.

saute and cook the bell peppers and onion for approximately 10 minutes on medium heat to allow browning. Grate the 2 tomatoes directly in the pan. Add your chopped squid and cook in a mount for 20-30 minutes more.

Add rice, stir and fry about 3 minutes, and add the chicken stock. Add the saffron powder

Do not move the paella. Add the muscles and clams while the rice is 1/2 cooked. Once the rice on the edges are cooked the dish is done. If the rice is still under cooked and broth has evaporated, add water or broth.

Turn off heat, cover the pan and let stand 15-20 minutes.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

This girl's tongue is a Fire

 So I never intended this blog to be a place for me to vent my confessions but here goes another one.

For those of you who know me, you know I have a big mouth and am a fighter for injustice. Today I was reflecting on James 3. 

JAMES Chapter 3 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.
See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men.

Then later today, I got into a little bit of an issue with my big mouth and sensitive heart and I wrongly accused someone of something. My first instance was to confront this person on Facebook because I thought they were shooting at me with a remark they made on their wall.

I thought I used my better judgement but simply just sending a strong email. I read it twice to make sure the shrew in me did not come out. But of course, it did. And here I was patting myself on the back for not starting a cat fight on Facebook. 

Then the awkward moment you realize you were being an idiot and got it all WRONG. Man, I just read James 3 THIS MORNING. Harsh lesson learned. Thank you Lord.

When the person responded, I realized that I got it all wrong. It just so happened that three minutes after I posted a picture, this person also posted a statement on their wall and I assumed that it was targeted toward me.

My husband's response was "CHICS". And really, this happens so much when I deal with other females. Why do we as females take offense so easily? 

I remember a retreat I went to where the speaker said, we need to grow thicker skin like bark and be strong. We need to empower one another and if we all grow thicker bark and become strong trees, we become a forest and great things happen.

Tonight I realize I must grow thicker bark and not jump to conclusions. I also need to reflect on why I thought such statements were targeted toward me and why I was offended. So while I think some more and really get to the root of my stupidity and pray to be more grounded in the WORD as I write an apology email, remember that words and our tongues need constant taming. 

Until next time.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fortune Cookie Valentine and Printable

 So today we have another Valentine printable I made for all of you to download and print.

You will need a box of individually wrapped fortune cookies. I got mine at the 99 Cent Store. Each box has 12 so each Valentine will cost you less than 9 Cents each!

Print out the printables below, cut on the lines and voila!. Fold the printout in half and staple shut right on the fortune cookie wrapper. Just print, cut. staple. If you want to be super fancy, dip each cookie in chocolate and re-wrap.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Valentine's Printable

I love Valentine's Day. I am probably late sharing all this so, there will be a stream of posts. Here is a Corinthian's 13 free printable I created. Just right click and save on your computer.

Loomatic- Loom band Valentines 5 free Printables

So, I bought a Rainbow Loom for my daughter and it turns out it was too difficult for her. So like any crafter, I went away on my loom. So now there are bracelets and other loomables that I decided to give as Valentines. Here are some of the printables I found online.

Visit Kori over at Paper & Pigtails for a cute and colorful Loom Band Valentine. http://paperandpigtailsparty.com/2014/01/rainbow-loom-class-valentines/

 Mique at Thirty Hand Made Days has an IL-LOOM_INATING printable just for us. http://www.thirtyhandmadedays.com/2014/01/loom-valentines-idea-printable-card/
Jen at Heyjenrenee posted the coolest printables.

 Thank you Rebecca for not one but two Loomentine options. http://www.thecraftedsparrow.com/2014/01/loom-band-printable-valentine.html

Until Next time,

Monday, February 3, 2014

Reflecting on 'TO WIVES: BEFORE YOU WERE “MOMMY”' Part 1

After reading http://www.scissortailsilk.com/2014/01/24/before-you-were-mommy/, it really hit home with me. My marriage has entered into the years where most marriages begin to fail. In the course of my marriage so far, I went into Mommy Mode twice with the birth of each of my children. I forgot I was a wife first.

He was charming, handsome, and oh so smart. I would get excited when I would get to see him. I woke up for work everyday and was excited to go because I knew I would get to see him and have lunch with him. He was smooth talking and knew the way to my heart. I would smile as soon as I saw him. His tall towering frame would hover over me and I would feel so safe in his strong muscular arms. When we were together everything was so magical. We endured tough times and proved to those around us that LOVE CONQUERS ALL. After dating for 6 years, I was so blessed that day that I was able to call this man my HUSBAND. Then....

Our first daughter was born with a congenital heart defect and I ended up quitting my job and being a full time stay at home mom. I was in full on Mom overdrive. Everything was about this little being. From the endless doctors appointments to the adjusting to being a new Mom, it was a very difficult time for me. At that time I think I also started to lose my identity, the person I was. I was just sitting in being overwhelmed and I resented staying at home. I had a career I wanted to see take off. Instead, I was cleaning, cooking and taking care of a small being. I was so inwardly focused on myself and how much it sucked that I neglected  the love of my life, my partner in crime. He became like a roommate.

It is only today as I write this that I realize that I forgot him. That handsome face that would light up the room as soon as he walked was now just there. In those days, I was maladjusted. We moved 4 blocks from my in-laws and were practically newly weds (honeymoon baby), I did not seek a support network and my family members although close (30 miles) were also so far. Since I moved to a new area, no friends were there, and I was in a new church and not involved.

Oh, my poor husband. The entire pregnancy was about me. I had a difficult pregnancy both times. He was protective of me, served me, and got me anything I wanted to eat. He made me feel beautiful even though I was the size of a tanker truck. He would drive me to all my doctors appointments and was comforting me when we found out the baby had a funky heart.

My poor sweet husband endured being unloved and I only noticed now, in hind sight. Our marriage became rocky and we disconnected. Then, I started seeking Christ and my life was changing. In short, I learned to accept and enjoy my calling as a house wife.  My husband took notice, and our marriage survived its first three and a half years. Then... I got pregnant again.

Again, my selfless husband poured into me. He took care of me and our daughter when I was just so exhausted that I could not do anything. Dinners were uncooked, the laundry not done, and chores left for later. Baby number two came. Again, we had to adjust to two children. The adjustment was not so bad. But our marriage was.

There was no more laughter, no kind words, no connection. My spouse was drained and I did not even realize it until now. My pregnancies were all about me that I did not take the time to make it about him--ever. Life was all about the children. He would come home to the chaos and me overwhelmed and not excited about his coming home because I was excited to see him but because he could help me with the kids. On top of it all I was feeling unloved and was expecting someone that I was not pouring into to love me. I was being an unfaithful wife through my self pity, selfishness, and failures. I could not see things past my own nose and I accused him of being selfish while he suffered silently.

Finally, we sought out help. We began to see a Christian marriage counselor and have been able to get our marriage back on track. Through that process, I have began to realize that it happens to all marriages. Some marriages never come out of that dark place and eventually end in failure. I have seen days where I thought our marriage was really over but by the grace of God, we worked it out. Today, our marriage is in a much better place. We have our good days and bad days but at the end of it all, we know that love will see us through.

For all you wives out there reading this, don't forget the one you love. We can so easily forget and get distracted from being a wife first. Remember your vows, for better for worse. I am by no means blaming my children for anything but all couples get hit by the challenges of child rearing and parenthood. Like all things, I am realizing that it is a season. There will be chaotic days and days where the house looks like a tornado hit it. But don't lose sight of the big picture and remember your partner in crime. Remember you are a wife first.