Sunday, 9 August 2015

Great Free Fonts #2


Heres a great selection of the best free fonts i've found out there for you guys. Some you may recognise more than others but they are all super useful and look great - Enjoy!


Learning Curve Pro

(2 styles available for free)
Credit to FontSquirrel.com


Quicksand

(7 styles available for free)
Credit to FontSquirrel.com


Porto

(1 style available for free)
Credit to UpperType.net

Bellaboo Regular

(1 style available for free)


Remember to always read the licences that come with each font if you are thinking of using them for commercial work. And if you are unsure just drop the creator an email to double check - better to be safe then sorry!



If you liked this selection of free fonts keep an eye out for the next 'Great Free Fonts' post coming soon!

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Monday, 27 July 2015

Travel Tips - Austin

A bit of a late post (sorry about that, it's been in my drafts for ages and I haven't had a chance to finish it) but in May this year I went to Austin with my work for a few days to visit our US offices. So here are all the cool things I saw and experiences while I was out there and out of office hours - Enjoy!

First of all, if you're heading to Austin be prepared for all the meat and massive portions. It's like nothing i've ever seen before...And on the second day there we all went on a food tour! Heart attack waiting to happen I know. But you have to think of it this way; this food isn't like Mc Donalds and processed, it's fresh local meat, veg, fish! 


Via 313 Pizzeria (I think that was the name anyway...)


I can't remember the name of this pizza place but I think it might have been Via 313 Pizzeria? Anyway, the pizza flavors were great, but i'll be honest i've tasted better. But it all depends on what type of pizza you like really. I prefer thin stonebaked pizza, but this was really heavy thick pizza - I could only manage one slice... So if you love thick crust pizza you will LOVE this place. And the huge selection of beers (as you can see from the picture) plus a lovely outdoor seating area really tops it off.


Freedmon's BBQ


This is where I got my fill of meat (I had to take my belt off completely!) but my god it was worth the massive belly. We had a selection of things that we shared at the table like the brisket which was cooked to perfection. The brisket is so tender, it literally just falls apart when you try and pick it up! And it's coated in pepper and something else (not sure what it was) but it complimented it so well. Added to that it's served with a assorted house-made pickles, barbecue sauce, and
focaccia bread - YUM! We also had a few sides like the horseradish potato salad and the grilled cabbage slaw which really helped balance out all that meat. Hungry yet?


Hey!… You gonna eat or what?


I think this food truck was in a food trailer park near Barton Springs? I didn't know what to expect when we pulled up but we got what the owner calls a 'The Shiner Monte Cristo' sandwich which doesn't look that great in the picture above but I would definitely recommend giving it a try if you're going to Barton Springs! It's pretty much a deep fried sandwich. Sounds horrible right? Well you'd be wrong my friend. This was surprisingly light and the ham, turkey and cheese filling worked so well with the homemade cherry and fig jelly.


Odd Duck





I guess Odd Duck was the poshest restaurant I went to while I was in Austin and the food was amazing but by this point of the food tour I just couldn't stuff anymore in! So I tasted everything but didn't eat much really. So some of the things we tried and are in the photos above were the 'Goat lasagna, spinach, bechamel and brussels sprouts', the 'Grilled pompano, rhubarb salsa, bok choy and sumac' and both of these were delicious. And then for dessert we had 'Avocado ice cream with sesame seeds' which in my opinion wouldn't have worked without the sesame seeds. We also shared some 'strawberry, jasmine and rhubarb cream puffs' which I actually prefered to the ice cream, which is weird because I don't normally like strawberry jam. 


Frank







Shiner's Saloon

So we was on the way home late one night, desperately trying to find somewhere to get some food. We saw this door with arrows saying food...great! We went up a narrow flight of stairs and had no idea where it was leading us (it really didn't look like somewhere to get food from) and we started regretting our choice. Then we found ourselves in this stereotypical southern bar with the most talented country singer i've ever heard! It was a fantastic experience and we ended up staying for ages just for the music. So if you go to Austin, late one night, go to a country bar and listen to some talented artists - you won't regret it!


Have you visited Austin before? Would you recommend any other places to visit? Any questions about my experience in Austin?
Let me know in the comment box below, i'd love to hear from you!
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Saturday, 25 July 2015

Bloggers Food & Drink Festival


I'm sure if you hang out on Twitter a lot you would have seen many bloggers getting pumped up and excited about The Bloggers Hub Food & Drink Festival event last Monday - and I was one of them!

This was my first blogger event I had been to where I was a blogger (all the other times i've been working at the event) so i'll admit I was a bit nervous at first! But i'm sure we've all been there and there's a first time for everything. But once I started chatting, the nerves just disappeared - then the fun began!

So as you can imagine, when you go to a food & drink event you're going to have a lot of yummy samples and sometimes they're not all as fantastic as they promote themselves to be or maybe just not to your personal taste. But I swear I went to every stand at this event and everything I tried was DELICIOUS. And to make things even better, all the representatives of the brands were so lovely and really helpful with giving tips and information about the products.

Here are just a few of the brands that really stood out to me:

The Good Brownie co.

The first impression I got was how amazing the brownies smelt at the stand. I think I was hooked by that alone. But once I started having a chat I found out that all the brownies are actually wheat and gluten free! I think a lot of people have the idea that when food is wheat and gluten free that it will taste different or maybe not as nice. But trust me when I say this. They taste way better then any brownies i've ever had! 
Unfortunately I was too busy to take pictures of the samples the same night and then on Tuesday I wasn't well so I didn't get around to it until now. That's 2 days after getting my brownie sample. I thought it would have dried out by now like most brownies, but I just took a bite and it's so soft, gooey and fresh! They also offer sugar and dairy free, vegan and protein options so they really are for everyone. 
Go order yourself some now (you won't regret it) or even find The Good Brownie co at these upcoming events


Sukrin

I would have taken a picture of the adorable little muffins that Sukrin was giving out at the event...but within seconds of getting home my boyfriend had eaten them! But from the noises he was making, I think they tasted pretty damn good!
I did have a great chat with the Sukrin representative at the event and the main thing I got from it was how passionate these guys are about their products. They really care about food and quality! If you have a sweet tooth and just love to bake these guys will be your heaven. They have a huge range of products that are all-natural with zero calorie sugar alternatives, naturally gluten-free and fat-reduced flours and low-carb, sugar and gluten-free easy to bake mixes.
So check out their website, you can order all of their yummy products online!


Mallow and Marsh

This was one of the brands I had heard of already and had seen their products in shops but I had never actually tried - but I was itching to! I'm not personally a fan of factory made marshmallows, I always think the taste and texture isn't right and tastes a bit...plasticy? But Mallow and Marsh are on a whole different level. When you try them you'll notice how light, bouncy, gooey and fresh they taste! Unlike most marshmallows, these gooey cubes of heaven have no additives or preservatives and are made with 100% natural ingredients. Mallow and Marsh say "We make creamy bundles of gooey deliciousness" and that really is the truth! They also have some kick ass recipes to try using their products, check it out here
You can order online and find them in Sainsbury's, Whole Foods, Coffee Republic, Moonpig.com and East of England Co Op - Enjoy!


Wahta

When I first saw this product I was really interested because i've never heard of maple water before... I was a bit sceptical at first, I thought it would taste SUPER sweet and be like taking medicine as a kid. But I was pleasantly surprised! I guess when you see the words 'maple' you instantly think of the thick sweet syrup - this is nothing like that. 
I tried it chilled like it recommends and it's actually really refreshing! A very subtle maple flavour and not sickly or overpowering in anyway! To make things better, it is a nature drink (No added Sugar or Preservatives, it's Gluten Free, dairy Free, Vegan and Non GMO) and has benefits like 46 naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, electrolytes and prebiotics! Boy that sounds like a good drink right?! 
You can find all the locations Wahta is sold here.


Speculaas Spice

The first thing you will notice with Speculaas Spice is the amazing smell! For some reason it first made me think of that fresh cooked brownie smell...but spicy? At the event they were giving out these cute little biscuits that made been made with the Speculaas Spice mix in the adorable wooden moulds they also have available for purchase with the spices. To make things even better, all the products are free from artificial flavours, colours and preservatives as well as being either organic, Fairtrade sourced or both!
But back to the spice mix biscuit....which was incredible, imagine a ginger biscuit but way better. And the great thing about these spices is that you don't have to stick to any rules. Don't like biscuits? That's cool! Apparently this mix works wonders in a tagine or a curry too.
And there are loads of recipes you can try out here.



Have you tried any of these products before? What did you think? What were your favorites? Let me know in the comment box below, i'd love to hear from you!

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Saturday, 27 June 2015

Easy Meals #4 - Chicken and Chorizo Paella



Not including spices/seasoning you can make this meal for around £7 for four people 

Estimated time: 35-40 minutes


Ingredients

-  1-2 peppers 
-  Chicken (400-450g)
-  Tsp of lazy garlic (or fresh garlic depending on what you want to use) 
-  225-250g rice
-  Chorizo
-  1 red onion
-  Chopped tomatoes (or tinned)
-  3 chicken stock cubes (dissolved in 600ml of boiling water)
-  Chilli (optional)
-  Paella herb mix (optional)

Instructions

1.  Start getting your pan warm and add some oil. While this is heating up you can chop your red onion up. Once heated spread the oil around the pan, chuck in the onions and your two chicken fillets and let them brown off on both side. The first time you turn your chicken cut a slit down the fillet and spread your tsp of garlic in the slit you've made so the chicken can soak up all the flavor. 

2.  While your chicken is cooking, chop up your chorizo and pepper(s) and put them in the pan as well. The chorizo will start to release all the lovely oil as it begins to heat up with will soak into your chicken and taste delicious! As soon as your chicken has browned off on both sides you can chop it into chunks. I don't do before cooking the chicken because I find the garlic falls off the chunks and burns in the pan. 

3.  Crumble 3 chicken stock cubes and dissolve in 600ml of boiling water. Sprinkle your 225-250g of rice into the pan and then pour your 600ml of stock all over it (making sure you mix the rice well so it's all covered in the stock). Bring the stock to a boil then covered and leave it to simmer cook for 15-20 minutes, checking and mixing it every so often.

4.  As soon as your rice is soft and soaked all the stock up that's it - ready to eat!


Hope you enjoy and please let me know what you think!


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Saturday, 20 June 2015

Why I picked a Sony over an iPhone



Value for money

The biggest factor of why I started off using Android phones was because they were far more affordable than iPhones. These days it isn't always the case, some Android phones are very expensive and others not so much. 

Apple: 16GB - £539
Sony: 16GB - £429


What about the specs?

iPhone 6
138.1mm x 67mm x 6.9mm, 129g
8-megapixel iSight, LED flash, 1080p video
1.4GHz Apple A8 dual-core Cyclone, 1GB RAM, Apple M8 motion co-processor
1,800mAh (Standby: 250 hours)

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
127.3 x 64.9 x 8.6mm, 129g
20.7-megapixel, LED flash, 1080p video
2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 2GB RAM, Adreno 330 GPU
2,600mAh (Standby: 880 hours)


What I look for in a smartphone

So for me the main things I look for in a smartphone is for it to have a long lasting battery, compact and a good camera. So when I got a new phone about 5 months ago I didn't feel like there was a lot of choice. Most choices were either huge displays with long lasting batteries (which is no good for me because I have tiny girl hands) or smaller displays with rubbish specs and batteries. In the end the best I had to choose from that ticked most of the boxes was the iPhone 6 and Sony Xperia Z3 Compact.

When it comes to technology i've always used android phones mainly because they were affordable. Like most parents, mine wouldn't spend £500 on a phone for me which is completely understandable! But now I work and pay for my own things it's a different situation. I started to consider buying my first iPhone and I began to compare the iPhone 6 and Sony Z3 Compact and I honestly hoped the iPhone 6 battery would be incredible because it's a great looking phone - but no. When you compare the battery life there is just such a difference and battery means everything to someone always on their phone using social media, sending emails and taking photos. 


Is it an Android vs iOS thing?

Not at all, I find the whole Android vs iOS thing really stupid. People can get so angry over that type of stuff! When it comes to smartphones it's as easy as this...i've always had Android phones because they are more affordable as I mentioned before. So i've got used to them and i'm comfortable in how they work but i'm totally open to change. As I said, I was considering the iPhone 6 but in the end I just felt like long battery life meant more to me then anything else.



What do you look for most in a smartphone? Do you have a phone you would recommend or one that you would send back if you could? Let me know in the comment box below, i'd love to hear from you!

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Monday, 15 June 2015

Creative Agency Apprenticeships



What is an Apprenticeship?

An Apprenticeship is a where you work and learn on the job while you also work towards a government funded qualification which can be the equivalent of anything from 5 GCSE's to an NVQ Level 4 and above, or a foundation degree.


Isn't that the same as an Internship?

No, an internship is normally where you work for a company for experience for a short period of time (anywhere from a month to a year) and in most cases is unpaid or minimum wage.


So...what do all the different job titles mean?

One of the most important things I discovered by doing my apprenticeship is how many job are out there that I had no idea even existed! Now I look back I think how obvious it is that there must be people employed to write the words that go on adverts, or people that come up with the concepts for them, but at the time it just didn't occur to me. So here are some of the main positions in a creative agency that you may or may not have heard of:


Managing Director - is the big guy/gal at the top of the agency. Some agencies (often the bigger ones) find Managing Directors and Creative Directors at the same level. 

Creative Director - is the head of everything creative in the agency and is responsible for the quality of the final creative work as well as guiding the teams (Design, Copywriters, Art Directors and Developers). It takes years of experience as well as a special something to become a Creative Director.

Art Director - is responsible for the visual output and concepts of advertisements and large print jobs. Art Director's and the Copywriter's work extremely closely together on campaigns to create both visual concepts and copy that works in harmony. These generally work in advertising or creative agencies and usually work under the supervision of the Creative Director.

Graphic Designer - like all jobs, can specialise in a specific field. But in creative agencies a Designer can be expected to work on any of these: logo design, branding, newsletter design, direct mail, publications, web banners or web design.

Artworker - basically takes the creative design concepts from the designer, cleans them up or reworks the design to create an entire document and making the file print ready. An Artworker may also be asked to design visuals or mock-ups to show how a finished design could look.

UI/UX Designer - determines user experience across multiple platforms and devices. This person will be driven by finding out how and why people use products.

Copywriter - can create anything from the words, slogans or scripts for an advertising campaign. Copywriters are highly creative and have a special way with words!

Engineer/Developer - these guys bring the designs to life and code it to operate and interact as planned. They work closely with designers to create anything from newsletter emails to apps.

PR/Marketing Executive - can work both promoting and publicising the creative agency, or for the agency’s clients. They will be building, maintaining and managing the clients’ reputations (or the agency) using a range of social media.

Web Producer - combines parts of journalism, design and marketing into one role. They are responsible for driving traffic to web pages and focus on the user experience of it.

Project Manager - have the important job of ensuring projects stay within timescales and budget. As well as structuring projects, liaising with clients and members of the creative team to make sure everything runs smoothly and to the brief.

Account Manager - is the link between the creative team and the client. Usually liaising between the client and other parts of the agency to coordinate campaigns and ensure that the work matches the client’s brief.

Traffic / Creative Coordinator - pretty much help project managers stay on task. They are key in busy creative agencies and are often the bouncers for the creative time. They maintain schedules and track progress to make sure work gets done on time as well as making sure the creative team is not taken advantage of.

HR Manager - (Human resource manager) deals with issues related to people such as compensation, hiring, performance management, organisation development, safety, benefits, communication, administration, and training.


Pros:

-  Confidence grows
-  Great to add to your CV
-  You can make important contacts with people in the industry
-  Advice from experienced professionals
-  Possibility of a job after
-  Learn new skills that will push your career forward faster than university
-  Help you to decide what you truly want to do and discover what you definitely don't
-  Paid to learn


Cons:

-  Some days you will be bored
-  Throwing yourself in the deep end can be scary!
-  Low pay can be stressful
-  You won't get the best tasks - you need to fight for them and prove yourself
-  No guarantee of a job at the end
-  Juggling college and coursework while working and learning
-  The coursework is mind numbing and doesn't always relate to your specific apprenticeship


Want to find out more? Check out 'My Creative Pioneers Experience' post here



Have you done an apprenticeship? Want to work in a creative agency? Anything confuse you? Let me know in the comment box below, i'd love to hear from you!


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Thursday, 11 June 2015

Granger & Co - Clerkenwell


This was my first experience of the Granger & Co restaurants and the first thing I need to say is that they do DELICIOUS food.

I had lunch in the Clerkenwell restaurant and my first impression as I walked in was how trendy and clean the place looked - you definitely don't feel like you're going for a cheap lunch! But at the same time you don't get that uncomfortable feeling that you get when you go into a posh restaurant underdressed. The restaurant was really airy and spaced out (I hate having to scream over the table for someone to hear what i'm saying). The staff were very professional and friendly and were happy to give me nut free versions of dishes which for someone with an allergy is great! Especially because I feel like I always like the sound of the dish that has nuts in the ingredients...



I tried something a bit more adventurous for my drink (yes that green thing above) called 'Bill's Greens' (£4.80) which has green apple, cucumber, ginger, silver beet, chia & coconut water in that tiny glass and it packed a punch! I wouldn't recommend getting it without water because the flavours are just so strong. The little chia seeds felt a bit weird (kind of slimy) and you don't get them until you reach the bottom, then they call come at once. So it's an acquired taste?

The food menu on the other hand was really difficult to choose from - it all sounded so good! I was torn between the 'shrimp burger, jalapeño mayo, shaved radish salad, sesame gochujang' and the 'yellow fish curry, spiced butternut squash, roast peanuts, jasmine rice & cucumber relish' (I know they both sound mouth wateringly good). But after the waitress said they could do the 'Yellow fish curry' (£16.50) without the peanuts, that pretty much decided it for me. I made the right choice my friends. The curry was the perfect blend of sweet and creamy with spices that reminded me of a Thai red curry? I didn't expect the cucumber relish to work so well but it added a refreshing balance to the dish which helped as it was really filling with the rice, fish and butternut squash. I also ordered 'green beans, garlic & chilli' (£3.80) which came out as a huge portion but tasted great, really well seasoned.

I can also say from what other people had at my table that the 'Full aussie' (£13.80) which is 'scrambled eggs, sourdough toast, bacon, cumin roast tomato, miso chestnut mushrooms, chipolatas' is also a great choice. I had a taste of the eggs and they tasted amazing (really fluffy but very filling) but personally I would say could do with a little more seasoning.





Overall:

The food was well seasoned and tasted great, as well as the bonus of it all being quite large portions, which I didn't expect for a nice restaurant. For an everyday lunch it's out of my budget but for an occasional lunch treat it's a great choice for good food at a reasonable price and good value for London.

Have you been here before? What did you think? 
Let me know in the comment box below, i'd love to hear from you!


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Sunday, 7 June 2015

#2 Etsy Shops You Need To Follow

I love browsing Etsy to find new and unique shops and as a fellow creative I can't stress enough how important it is to support the creative community and the talented artists that form Etsy. I only wish I had more money to purchases all these beautiful pieces myself - but for the time being here are my favorites this month!



Ohhio

Ohhio sells a beautiful range of woolen products from scarves to blankets. Anna uses a wool from the Australian merino sheep, which is what gives the thick stitch look but also very light. You only have to look at these to see they radiate quality. I really hope I manage to save up for one of these beauties in the future!



Confetti Riot Shop 

Confetti Riot produces unique handcrafted homeware items with a beautiful combination of organic and graphic patterns. One of the things that really drew me to Kathryn's work was the way she uses modern but very calming colours. If I had it my way I would fill my home with her pillows and ceramics.



Lambater

Lambater is a homemade lighting shop run by Grego who you can see by his work is hugely inspired by vintage styles. His passion for vintage has led to him collecting old lamps and parts to create a recycled masterpiece.

I have to be honest, until I moved out for the first time I never really had an interest in lighting. But as soon as you move out something snaps in your head and you suddenly because obsessed with homeware. I never realised how creative you could get with lighting until I started making massive wish lists filled with home decor. This shop in particular has been in my wish lists many times - i'm just obsessed with these unique lamps! 


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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Travel Tips - Venice


This was the first time me and Alex had been on holiday over Christmas and even though we didn't have our family on Christmas Day it was such a beautiful and memorable trip.


I recommend...

-  Going to Midnight Mass at St Mark's Cathedral in St. Mark's Square! It's one of those experiences where you don't have to be religious to appreciate how beautiful it all is. We didn't spend very long at the service as it was all in Italian so we couldn't understand what was being said. But the smell of incense, the choir, the stunning interior of the Cathedral and the hundreds of people cramming in to be part of the Midnight Mass was truly special. 

-  There are also loads of tiny independent galleries hidden around back streets so my main bit of advice is to explore! For example we stumbled across this really cool book shop that was stuffed full and in the back of the shop the owner had created a platform and stairs out of books for you to look over the wall at the river. But there are bigger galleries that are also worth a look like the Artistic Murano Glass Gallery.

-  As you can imagine, there are plenty of beautiful Cathedrals dotted around Venice. Don't be deceived by the small Cathedrals hidden down little streets or squares - they can be just as beautiful as the big famous ones! But if you want to visit any specific ones how about Santa Maria della Salute, St. Mary of the Friars or Scuola Dalmata S.ti Giorgio e Trifone,

-  You can't visit Venice without a gondola boat ride down the iconic waterways. I did it at night and it was beautiful! If I remember correctly, 8am-7pm was €80 for 40mins and 7pm-8am was €100 for 40mins. So not the cheapest of things to do but you only do it once so why not!

-  A great way to see Venice is a trip down the Grand Canal on board a vaporetto (a large boat). You'll get to see lots of the big Cathedrals at the side of the Canal as well as all the beautiful architecture. The boat has stops all the way down the Grand Canal so you can hop off at any point if you see something you want to explore. Tickets for single trips are around €6 I think so it's pretty reasonable.  

-  Relax with a Spritz (Aperol Spritz with Prosecco). You'll notice lots of bright orange drinks being served in a lot of cafés and restaurant/bars - that's it! It's a bitter sweet drink so expect the bitter after taste. There are two versions of this drink, the bitter sweet version which they called a 'sweet spritz' which is bright orange and a really bitter version which is a bright red colour (I really didn't like the red one).

-  Bridge locks - Rialto bridge, the Ponte degli Scalzi and the Ponte dell’Accademia. But be careful! But the locals have got frustrated over the years and since 2011 authorities have started fining people that they catch attaching locks.

- And lastly. Walk and explore as much as possible! You will discover so many beautiful things that you can't plan or find in a guide book if you walk around like you lived there. It could be something simple like a street painting or a great coffee shop but they could be the things that make your trip special.



Have you visited Venice before? Would you recommend any other places to visit? Any questions about my experience in Venice?
Let me know in the comment box below, i'd love to hear from you!

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Sunday, 31 May 2015

Easy Meals #3 - Stuffed Peppers


Not including spices/seasoning you can make this meal for around £9 for two people (and if you don't eat it all it's perfectly fine to microwave one of these stuffed peppers the next day for lunch) 

Estimated cooking time: 45 minutes


Ingredients

-  Whole peppers 
-  Goats cheese or Feta (whichever you prefer)
-  Baby spinach
-  Chicken fillets
-  Garlic
-  Thyme
-  A side of your choice (I had flavored rice)

Instructions

1.  First of all pop your oven on so it can start heating up while you prep, I normally put it on 180c.

2.  Slice your chicken fillets into smaller chunks that you can fit into the peppers and season them with garlic and thyme. I normally pop my chicken into the pan for 5 minutes to start it off.

3.  Chop the top of your peppers off and scoop out the seeds. Then fill it with a mixture of your chicken chunks, spinach and goats cheese or feta. Stuff in as much as you can because as it cooks it will reduce in size (especially the spinach and cheese).

4.  By now your oven should be heated, simply put your stuffed peppers on a baking tray and put them in the oven on the middle shelf for around 40 minutes (check at about 30/35 minutes in that your peppers aren't burning, a little chargrilled is fine though)

5.  Now you're stuffed peppers should be all done (be careful when you eat them as the inside will be super hot) you can pare these with whatever you fancy. I normally put a side of flavored rice or couscous but you can mix it up with anything you like!

Hope you enjoy and please let me know what you think!


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