OUR QUICK AND EASY CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE RECIPE

OUR QUICK AND EASY CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE RECIPE

As the weather begins to brightening up, and as cake lovers we thought what better way to enjoy the new season than baking and eating cake! Packed with gooey chocolate chips throughout, we chose to make our go to chocolate chip cake which is so easy to make and is perfect for any occasion. You could serve with a dash of cream or ice cream, as a sweet dessert, or simply lovely to enjoy with a cup of tea. This chocolate chip cake can also be made into chocolate chip muffins (see one of our previous posts).

Ingredients:

250g self-raising flour

2 tsp Baking powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 cup of Milk

1 tsp vanila extract

200g Unsalted butter

200g Granulated sugar

3 eggs

100g chocolate chips

100g white chocolate chips

Method:

1: Pre-heat the oven to 200°F, then combine all of your dry ingredients which includes the salt and baking powder to the flour. Whisk through thoroughly so it has a smooth effect with no clumps.

2: Pour the vanilla extract into the milk. In another separate bowl add your butter and sugar, then whisk until your batter is light and fluffy. Next crack in your three eggs one at a time. The egg helps combine the mixture and also adds moisture.

3: Add a third of your dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture. Then add half of your milk and vanilla extract mixture and mix it in. You want to alternate the dry ingredients and the milk and vanilla mixture until it’s all eventually in, and mix with your hand mixer. Your batter should look smooth and creamy.

4: Now it’s time for the chocolate chips. Put a fare amount of both chocolate and white chocolate chips into your bowl. But leave a little bit of your chocolate chips to the side to add at the end. Begin to mix so your chocolate chips are thoroughly distributed into the mix. Next pour your batter into your greased baking tin. Always make sure you have greased your baking paper before adding your batter, as it prevents your cake to stick. After placing your mix evenly into the tin, sprinkle the last of your chocolate chips on to the top.

5. Lastly, place your mix into your pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the cake comes out clean and not sticky.

Shelley & Michelle xx

5 WAYS TO KICKSTART A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE IN 2022

5 WAYS TO KICKSTART A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE IN 2022

Invest in yourself: Always make time for you, it may sound a bit cliche but not taking care of yourself won’t give you the ability to be your best self in everyday life. This is easier said then done, as the days can disappear before our eyes so quickly… I mean we are at the end of January already! Try and find ways to show yourself some love and keep your stress levels down, whether it’s getting your hair done, buying that new outfit or a piece of jewelry you’ve had your eye on. Retail therapy can be a good remedy to feel good. Lastly investing in your wellness, for example vitamins is a good way to get through those long winter days. We have a lot of vitamins and minerals in our foods, but if you are suffering with those January blues and needing that extra boost, invest in the vitamins you need to help give you energy.

Make time for sleep: Getting enough sleep is one of the most important health benefits ever! It reduces stress and improves your mood, leaving you refreshed and alert for the day ahead. Without enough sleep the brain cannot function properly. A healthy sleep also helps the body remain healthy. It’s not easy for us all to drift off to sleepy land straight away and to get in the recommended six to nine hours a night, but if you try getting into bed at a decent hour most nights, and making it a point to shut out all the distractions such as phones, you may see a difference. Enjoying a hot bath with your favorite bath salts is a great way to help sooth the muscles, unwind and clear the mind. We love spraying lavender mist on our pillows before sleep which helps get us to sleep quicker. If that’s not for you, you can never go wrong with a good book before bed.

(Photo credit: Susan Wilkinson)

Choosing healthier food options: We’re not fans of diets and tend to eat what we want and also enjoy, all in moderation of course! If you are watching what you eat then the best way to monitor this is by evaluating the time of day you have your meals. We find that when we make time for breakfast, lunch and dinner we snack less during the day. A substantial breakfast is not on the cards for us every day due to busy mornings. When on the go grab that banana or fruit pot so you don’t miss out. Try eating at fixed meal times daily, this will help control your hunger. Just have fun with your meals, we are foodies and like a variety of different cuisines. Experiment more in the kitchen and bring fresh tastes to your dining room table.

(Photo credit: Claudia Soares)

Exercise: Being able to fit the time in to even get to the gym a few times a week is a miracle. So when life gets hectic, being physically active throughout the day helps. You don’t need to hit the gym every day to burn calories, deciding to take the stairs over the lift, taking a half an hour brisk walk at lunchtime. And even try a ten minute quick Yoga and Pilates session first thing in the morning or just before bed at the end of the day. Sticking with this routine will keep your fitness levels on track.

Mind and soul: We all have our own way to de-stress, clearing the mind is also important for overall health. Learning to switch off from your day fully is a mindset, to achieve this, you can meditate, pursue a hobby, listen to music and watch a great tv series. Why not treat yourself to the cinema or theatre. Put yourself first, when you try to do that you will feel happier and be able to tackle whatever life throws at you.

Shelley & Michelle xx

DINNER AT LONDON’S MINT LEAF LOUNGE

DINNER AT LONDON’S MINT LEAF LOUNGE

If you fancy a chilled evening dining out, and to experience exquisite dishes filled with great herbs and spices. Then Mint Leaf Lounge is the place for you. The cosy restaurant provides a great atmosphere with soft lighting and relaxed music.

Based in the City of London, the restaurant offers a variety of different menus to suit everyone, from a romantic meal for two, to a group dinner, and even business lunches.

Diners have the choice from a selection of set menus as well as an à la carte menu to choose from. And as always great cocktails, wines and spirits are on offer. We chose to sip on chardonnay wine for the evening which went down nicely with our meal.

To kick start the evening we chose the Chilli Calamari which was perfectly crisp fried and tossed with roast cumin and green chilli. Alongside a plate of Tiger Prawns with black onion seeds and spiced yoghurt. Both dishes were so tasty, we wanted more!

It took a little longer than usual to choose what we wanted to eat, as everything on the menu looked too good. So we decided on a dish each, and to share the love lol.

We enjoyed the Murgh Tikka Makhani which is a free range chicken, chargrilled in fresh tomato and fenugreek sauce. With Lamb Rogan Josh that included a braised leg of lamb with brown onion, tomato and Kashmiri chilli and Saffron Pulao Rice. Both dishes tasted really well together.

Mint Leaf Lounge is located near to the Bank of England in the heart of the City. If you are based in London the restaurant is easy to travel to, and a great choice to enjoy chic and sophisticated dining.

Shelley & Michelle xx

Soul Review: Disney Pixar’s Newest Animated Film Starring An All-Star Voice Cast

Pixar is the brains behind many film classics such as Toy Story, The Incredibles and they have now gained yet another classic to add to their franchise. Pixar’s latest release Soul was a great but emotional watch. The award-winning animation skipped the cinemas and was released by Disney+ on Christmas Day last year, becoming the first Pixar movie to debut exclusively on the streaming service.

Soul is Pixar’s first animated film to feature an African American lead character. The film hosts the voices of a stellar cast including Jamie Foxx, Graham Norton, Angela Bassett and many more. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Norton’s voice, appearing as Moonwind, a spiritual sign twirler. I’m so used to watching him on the Graham Norton show, it was good to see Graham make his first ‘voiced’ movie debut.

Soul tells the story of 46-year-old Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), a music teacher who isn’t totally happy with his career and is still waiting on his life to begin. He has a lifelong love of jazz music and fortunately gets the chance to play the piano at one of the best jazz clubs in New York City, for the legendary jazz musician and band-leader Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett). Joe cannot believe his luck as he begins his walk through the streets of Queens, New York with an extra spring to his step. But he is on his phone, distracted and not paying any attention to what’s going on around him. Joe’s walking into roads without looking, nearly getting knocked over by several cars on his travels. This scene left me feeling quite nervous and on the edge of my seat as Joe narrowly misses death several times, until he falls into a deep open manhole.

My first thought was “Is Joe dead or alive?” then “Really… he’s actually died so early on in the film?” It turned out though, that he isn’t quite dead. Joe has crossed over to The Great Before – this is a place in the clouds where unborn souls are living – and are assigned different personalities before they go to earth.

The ‘souls’ reminded me of characters in the 90s classic ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost.’ Their mentors are allocated to souls that need a little help to give them the push and encouragement they need to truly live.

Joe, who wants to return to life, is paired with Soul 22 (Tina Fey), who has the total opposite view to him and is adamant that she wants to stay put. But Joe learns that she is a lost soul and tries his best to explain and show her the joys of living. Soul 22 accompanies Joe as they evaluate his life and embark on a wonderful journey. Throughout the film they end up being mentors to one another as Joe reminds Soul 22 of her time on Earth. She eventually goes back to Earth and Joe accompanies her until he heads back in line for the Great Beyond. As he awaits his turn, Joe is stopped by “counsellor” Jerry who works at the Great Beyond and tells him that he gets a second chance at life.

I had to stop myself from blubbering as Soul is most definitely a film that pulls at the heartstrings. It really gets you thinking about life and portrays the Great Before, as many of us have only ever heard of the afterlife and not life before your own human existence. It was a great watch, which can be enjoyed with the whole family. There is one thing that Joe says in the film that will stick with me forever “Life is full of possibilities, you just need to know where to look.”

Shelley & Michelle xx