An Accidental Paella Party!


Paella and I began our long romance about 25 years ago when my dear friend Cristina, invited me to her house for dinner. It was that night, I was introduced to Paella for the first time through her Cuban family’s delicious recipe. When she opened her door to greet me, it smelled like a toasty warm hug that I can remember to this day.


Paella is one of the oldest and most well-known dishes in the world. It has a beautiful heritage back to farmers in Spain. They would make rice lunches out in the fields with whatever food resources were on hand. It’s hard working roots, make it a beautifully humble dish.

For Paella to be “traditional”, I’ve learned it depends on who you ask! Some say it can have seafood, some say mixed meats only, some say all the above! I’ve learned the many Paella “rules”, stories and variety of recipes are part of it’s charm.


My love for Paella grew to new heights when I visited my oldest daughter while she was studying in Spain. Every restaurant had it on the menu. Each time I dared myself to try something new, a waiter would walk by with a Paella that looked challengingly different than the one I had in the town before. The reason it never got old, is I quickly learned that Paella was not only a pan of fresh ingredients available to the town, it was an artistic canvas for the artist crafting it. Each Paella reflected the heart, resources and creativity of the chef.


I love to cook and I have made Paella many times over the years. When my kids were little they didn’t care for seafood so it became a romantic dinner for two on a Valentine’s day or a date night in. It’s cozy and perfect for a couple but Paella is also a dish of love to be shared with many! Paella has invited me to paint with it many ways depending on the taste preferences of who I’m cooking it for.

After years of making Paella in my iron skillet or dutch oven, I decided a few years ago, it was time for a real Paella pan. I was on the chase for the “Socarrat”, the toasted, crusty, rice bottom technique that can really only be achieved with a real Paella pan, because of it’s shape! So click click on the internet I went. I found a really fun website: www.tienda.com and over enthusiastically placed my order right away!


Fast forward to a giiiiigantic box arriving on my doorstep that my hubby found first. C’mon ladies, you know that feeling when you know you have some explaining to do. My husband and I both giggled at me pulling my new, gigantic Paella pan out of the box! Oops! I did not realize it would be THAT BIG! Of course my intention was to be able to make Paella for company, but the size of this pan took it to Paella Party level! What’s wrong with that?


Nothing makes me happier than having a kitchen full of family and friends and cooking for them! To me, that’s love at its highest level and that’s what makes a house a home.


While I might have thought I didn’t order the right Paella pan at first, I believe the right Paella pan found me!

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Paella Party!

Paella Party

  • Author: Sharon Peddie
  • Prep Time: 30-45 min.
  • Cook Time: 45-60 min
  • Total Time: 90 min.
  • Yield: 4-6 generously
  • Category: Paella, Meat and Seafood Rice Dish
  • Method: Stove top, pan
  • Cuisine: Spanish

Ingredients

CHICKEN INGREDIENTS:

         1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika

         2 teaspoons oregano

         1 package of trimmed chicken thighs cut into pieces

(I make chicken ahead of time, cut into bite size pieces, set aside to add later)

 

         PAELLA:

         1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or enough to cover bottom of pan

         2 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced (you can use ground chorizo too)

         Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

         1 Spanish onion, diced 

         4 garlic cloves, crushed

         1 each, red and yellow bell pepper

         Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, keep some for garnish

         1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

         4 cups short grain Spanish rice (I like “Matiz Valenciano Paella Rice”. I get it at Whole Foods)

         6 cups chicken broth (have extra on hand)

         Generous pinch saffron threads

         1 dozen clams, scrubbed

         1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined

         2 dozen rinsed mussels 

 

         Lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions

PAELLA IS A PATIENT, ROMANTIC PROCESS:

Combine the paprika and oregano in a small bowl. Rub the spice mix all over the chicken and marinate chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator. I like to have the chicken cooked prior to starting the Paella. When it’s done, I cut into bite size pieces and set it side to add later.

 

Heat oil in a Paella pan over medium-high heat. Saute the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. If you used ground chorizo, you can leave it in the pan and move to the next step.

 

In the same pan, make a “sofrito” (sauce) by sauteing the onions, garlic, peppers and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture/sofrito/sauce caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld. 

 

Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains.  Pour in broth, add saffron threads and simmer for 10-15 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. (Have extra broth on hand to add if rice isn’t as tender as desired…taste test!)

 

Add chicken and chorizo- mix it into the rice. 

 

Add the clams, mussels and shrimp, tucking them into the rice. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook. You’ll know it’s done when it turns a beautiful orange. The clams and muscles will show you their done when they open.

 

 

 

When everything is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, the seafood looks done, turn the heat up for 40ish seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom. It will smell “nutty” and then it’s perfect. This is when Socarrat happens.  “Socarrar,” means to lightly singe and toast. Be careful not to burn! This is the key to mastering Paella. It takes awhile to perfect the technique but think of it as a challenge!  Regardless, it will be so delicious and colorful no one will know but you whether you achieved it or not! 

 

Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. During that time, add the parsley and lemon wedges-Presentation is everything! You and your guests will not help but smile at this beautiful gift you are presenting!

Notes

Check the size of your Paella pan to determine recipe size.

Keywords: Paella recipe, rice dish, spanish rice, paella, Spanish cuisine, seafood rice, meat and rice, saffron rice,


Making Paella is a fun, patient, romantic process. Having a kitchen full of friends keeping you company and sharing laughs while you make it, is one of life’s best, simple pleasures. If you want to add some love and color to your life, learn to make to Paella! The hues of red from the tomatoes, red peppers and chorizo- coupled with dark black mussels and bright orange shrimp become the adorning accessories nestled perfectly in the beautiful golden backdrop of the yellow rice. Paella is colorful, romantic, fun, gorgeous and delicious. It is a dish that says come on in, I love you!

A Purpose, A Book and A Blog…From my heart to yours.

About two years ago, I decided it was time for me to write a book. Fast forward two years, it’s written, published and has just been released! I’ll share my inspiration and motivation for writing it as I go. I have always loved to write and it usually comes pretty natural to me (unless I’m trying too hard…then nothing flows). When I was in college and it was time to decide a major, I chose to pursue a degree in Journalism and Public Relations. I really had no idea what of “what do I want to be when I grow up?”, but if it involved writing, it seemed like it would at least be a natural route to a road that was right for me.

Chasing my independence and a needed paycheck after college, I quickly got off course from a career in writing, following more of my minor in marketing and business management into the field of Commercial Interior Design and Contract Furnishings. That’s a big book all in itself but I want to stay on track telling you how I got back to writing. There are many “Sharon’s-life” chapters from then until now– but it’s my most important chapters of being a mom of 3 daughters and my experience with girls that brought me back to “what do I want to be when I grow up”.

Having girls and working with girls in many different volunteer capacities made me fall in love with wanting to protect them and help build them strong. I feel God intended me for this role and I cherish it with all of my heart. I didn’t intentionally acknowledge that’s “what I wanted to be when I grew up” but that “position” has felt very natural, purposeful and important to me. In addition to being a mom of 3 daughters, I have been involved with dance teams, sports teams, schools, children at church, sororities–you name it. I have also been a volunteer in a Mother and Daughter organization for 14 years working with girls in leadership, community service and cultural awareness. I have spent the last 26 years being around a lot of girls! Having so much time and experiences with them, I began to see how society was playing a very harmful, serious role in shaping how they felt about themselves. I hated what I was seeing. It was breaking my heart. I felt compelled to be a loving, counteractive voice to society’s harmful messages to them.

Seemingly overnight, I saw these fun, precious girls go from being happy go lucky and confident to feeling stressed that they could never measure up to what our world is expecting of them. They are bombarded with unrealistic expectations of superficial beauty, body type, and hyper overachievement in all areas-and social media is magnifying it! These relentless messages begin at younger and younger ages and are harmful to their self-esteem and well-being. Far too many young women are suffering from anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sleep issues, bullying or lack of simple joy. I wanted to explore this and offer a way to shift focus away from these pressures and help them build themselves stronger. I wanted to help them empower themselves to grow in satisfying, meaningful ways that will bring them joy, inner strength and feel their true beauty.

So, I wrote my book “Grow Yourself Beautiful”! I hope to get it into the hands and hearts of any girls and young women needing it’s message. Writing it made me realize I’ve been doing “what I want to be when I grow up” for the last 26 years! Sharing my heart, time and experience, to inspire and help other people gives my life purpose. I love helping people build their strength. Honestly, it helps build mine too!

Sharing my experience, perspective and heart through writing is just another chapter in doing what I want to do when I grow up! The fun part is realizing, regardless of age, we are all still “growing up” until the day our life on earth is done.

I like being a light in a world that sometimes can feel very dark. Whether it’s in my personal relationships, with people on my path or the ones who read my book (books?) or blog–Young or old, male or female, if someone is needing a friend in their corner to help inspire them to build themselves in ways that will add to their comfort, strength, peace and joy, I hope they find it in me…I hope they find it in the writing I share. I hope my blog brings hearts needing it to my book and I hope my book brings hearts needing it to my blog. I’m not perfect. My writing won’t be perfect. My book, blog and website won’t be perfect. But if we wait to be perfect before we begin something…we will never begin anything. Let’s grow our lives beautiful together, there is strength in numbers!

Website: www.sharoncaldwellpeddie.com

My book ‘Grow Yourself Beautiful’ is available online: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iUniverse bookstore and Walmart

https://sharonpeddieblog.wordpress.com



Why we celebrate birthdays for a whole week in our house!

Somehow over the years, birth”day” celebrations have extended themselves in our house from a day to a whole week. As I began to realize it, I was like hey, what’s going on here… haha, but I have actually come to cherish it! I love it because it honors our family member and truly takes some time to acknowledge them as one of our blessings. After all, if we do this right, our family will be our forever friends!

I love what celebrating a birthday signifies! Besides the obvious of being the day someone is born, it’s the day someone we get to love and that loves us back was born! With busy lives, days can sometimes all run into each other. So why not spread a birthday over a week in order to really celebrate someone we love and show them what they mean to our life? How often do we have a week devoted to us for people to really see us and show us they care? Not only does it make them feel special, it makes us all reflect and take stock with that person. How are they at this age? What struggles have they faced or are they facing? What are their triumphs and joys? What are their hopes and dreams for their coming year? How have we been part of their support and how will we continue to help them grow? Can all of this really take place in a quick moment or day once a year? Of course, I think this is something I hope we try to do all year, but it gets blurry during our daily routines and hustle of life.

I’m not talking about an over indulgent week of “things” just promoting a week of really paying attention to that person we love and making sure they know how loved they are. Our family birthday week plans vary a little person to person based on what they like. They may include a family hike, movie night, homemade birthday cake or pie, favorite restaurant, home cooked meal of choice or all of the above. However, we all include our “favorite home cooked meal” night. Having someone make our favorite home cooked meal warms our heart, right? If you can have everyone sit down together at the same time and share your favorite meal, it becomes soul food!

Birthdays are so special because we really don’t know how long we have with each other. Just taking a simple life pleasure like a birth”day” celebration and extending it over week has been a fun bonding experience for our family. With 5 family members, it has brought 5 extra weeks of comfort and joy into our year, making hearts brighter and souls stronger!

This past week, we celebrated my hubby’s birthday! I’ve attached a picture of his homemade birthday meal request–and the Tyler Florence recipe I used. It was Smothered Pork Chops, rustic mashed red potatoes, homemade applesauce and sautéed spinach. It was very comforting, pretty easy and so tasty if you want to give it a try! https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/smothered-pork-chops-recipe-1941069

“New Year, New Me!!”…Oh Hell No!!

Photo by Murilo Folgosi on Pexels.com


“New Year, New Me!!” How many times have we heard that since January 1st? While I understand what people mean, it’s just not for me! Personally, I don’t think it’s a healthy message to send to ourselves. It also feels like a tremendous amount of pressure right out of the gate! To me, telling ourself we need to be a “new me” feels the same as saying, we are not “enough”. There are so many places in life that tear us down and tell us we’re not good enough, let’s be determined to not be one of those places!

I wonder if it’s healthier and more productive if instead, we hit the refresh button on our self-love each year! What if we get rid of the “New Year, New Me” message and replace it with a “New Year, New Love” mindset? Each year, we learn so much about ourselves and gain so many valuable life lessons. Why on earth would we not bring that wise person into our new year? Let’s just throw more love at last year’s “me”!

We are all works in progress and the “New Year, New Love” mindset allows us to celebrate where we’ve been, how far we’ve come and where we want to go. The fuel needed to get where we want and need to go is self-love. My way to define self-love, is it’s that kind, loving and supportive conversation with yourself backed up by the choices you make throughout the day. It’s what you think to yourself, say to yourself and do for yourself. A new year is a great time to hit the refresh button on that love and remind ourselves that is our fuel!

Rather than the pressure to be new and perfect, let’s just take small steps each and every day toward a loving, healthy, productive life. Let’s remind ourselves we’re worthy and we’re enough. Self-love fuel will help us spread more love and attract more love. It will help us develop a healthier lifestyle. It will give us the strength to walk away from people and situations that don’t line up with our health, peace and joy. It will ignite dreams in your heart and make them a reality. I’ve worked too hard on the old me to ask for a new me…how about you?

So Happy New Year…Happy New Love!

You have the gift we want most.

Raise your hand if you made a list of things you want for Christmas or Hanukkah! Are you also running all over the place to get others what they think they want– or what you think they want to have? It’s all pretty exhausting for us and I think most would say it never really leaves us feeling like it’s the reason for the season.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Christmas time! I also enjoy giving and receiving gifts but as I’ve grown older, I’ve just become more sensitive to the commercialism of it all. Mostly, because I feel the gifts we all really need and want are not the kind that can be purchased. I have also become much more aware that most of those gifts under the tree go out of style pretty quickly, clutter my house or end up in a trash pile heaped on our beautiful earth.

My older self has been thinking about this a lot lately and it made me want to write about it. What I love most about Christmas is the beautiful magic of the season! So in the true spirit of the season, can we dig deeper and ask ourselves if a new sweater, a tool, a piece of jewelry or the latest tech device is reallllllly going to add to anyone’s happiness, security or quality of life? Is that really where the magic is?

When we listen to our hearts, we know the gifts we really need from each other are the gifts of love, respect, comfort, peace, joy and understanding. Those are “the items” we can really use, more than ever! We need them for good physical health. We need them for good mental health. We need them for good spiritual health. So what if we challenged ourselves to give more gifts on a daily basis that contribute to that list? I know this sounds idealistic– but realistically, it could help us all feel so much healthier, happier and settled.

The world seems to have an extra scoop of crazy on top right now. When we have to put that on top of our every day responsibilities, worries, struggles, losses, etc., it can leave us all feeling really unsettled. Life is beautiful but it’s not easy. People are really feeling the pressures of today’s world. In addition, while the holidays are fun, they are also very hectic and can bring up a lot of emotions for all of us.

Will you think about this with me? Will you explore some of these gifts from the heart?–Maybe we can all bring them closer to the forefront of our hearts and minds.

There are many people who feel lonely. Maybe you are even one of them. Can we give the gift of letting people know more often that we see them, feel them and care about they’re feeling?

What ever our political alliances are, I think many of us feel very frustrated, powerless and embarrassed by the negative climate right now. Rather than using social media to spread negative opinions, can we gift our time as a volunteer to try to make a difference ourself? We are all more powerful than we realize.

Do you have a bad habit that isn’t good for you? Can you give yourself and your loved ones the gift of quitting it?

Have we hurt someone deeply and never had the courage to apologize? Can we finally gift that apology? The gift of an apology is life changing for both sides.

Do you find yourself judging people a lot? We can all feel when we’re being judged and it’s hurtful. Can we give the gift of less judgment?

We are all trying hard in our own ways. Can we give more gifts of praise, support and affirmation to our friends, family and coworkers?

Do we return the same love, effort and respect that we take from our relationships? Can we gift a better “me” to them?

Do we have important people in our lives that need more of our time? Can we gift more of our time to them?

Humans need to be listened to, smiled at, snuggled and hugged. Can we gift more of that?

What about gifts of help in our homes. If you don’t do your own laundry, can you give the gift of turning it right side out before you throw it in the hamper? How about the gifts of cooking, cleaning up after yourself, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash?  How about the gift of a loving, sticky note on the bathroom mirror? Remind someone they’re beautiful and that you love them.

These are just a few examples. How many gifts can we give that will make life more joyful, more fun and more beautiful for each other? Gifts of love, comfort, help, peace and joy are what we all really need. These are gifts to both of us. I’m challenging myself to start giving more “beautiful gifts” from my heart, not just for Christmas but for everyday life. I’m beginning right now by sharing this blog post with you–I wanted you to know, I see you, I feel you and I’m going to share more gifts from my heart that improve all of our well-being. I hope you’ll join me!

Grow yourself beautiful–Grow your life beautiful,

Sharon Peddie, Author of “Grow Yourself Beautiful”

This is my first blog post. I hope you’ll follow my newly launched Thoughtful/Lifestyle Blog, “Grow Your Life Beautiful” and we can grow our lives more beautiful together! www.sharonpeddieblog.wordpress.com

Beautiful Self

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 1.12.39 PM My first thoughts on growing a beautiful sense of self went out to the girls and young women in our society through my newly released book, Grow Yourself Beautiful. Girls today carry a pretty heavy load of pressures from society that many don’t even realize. Our society aggressively feeds our girls harmful messages, beginning at a very early age—pushing unrealistic standards for outer-beauty perfection and high expectations of overachievement for just about all areas of their lives. Those pressures feel very defeating to young girls and are destructive to their self-esteem, potential, and overall joy of life. Seemingly overnight, too many go from being happy and confident little girls to being highly stressed, anxious, and often depressed young women, doubting they are enough or can ever be enough.

The important transition from girl to young woman is a fragile journey and should be recognized as one. Grow Yourself Beautiful acknowledges the journey and its pressures and encourages girls to take time to build a strong sense of self and foundation needed for life. Grow Yourself Beautiful provides comforting advice on how girls can shift focus away from the stressful and unrealistic expectations and empower themselves to move focus in a more positive, joyful, and meaningful direction. With an empowered, strong sense of self, they will care less about what the world tells them they need to be and grow more confident to become who they want to be.

Young or old, male or female, we all yearn to have an empowered and strong sense of self. In coming blogs, I’ll try to share inspiration for all of us to “Grow Ourselves Beautiful” in ways that make us feel good, strong, joyful and Beautiful!