How to make creme egg brownies

Creme Egg brownies ingredients and recipe

Creme Egg brownies have kind of been dominating my Instagram feed for the last few weeks now. So, with Easter fast approaching, I had to have some of the delicious treats for myself. Saying this, my boyfriend beat me to it and whipped up this incredible batch of brownies for me last week.

Take a peek at our quick and easy Creme Egg brownie recipe, here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 300g of milk and white chocolate (chocolate chips or pieces)
  • 300g unsalted butter
  • 300g soft brown sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • Four eggs
  • 175g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 3 Cadbury Creme Egg’s

How to make creme egg brownies

Method: How to make Creme Egg Brownies

  1. Add the chocolate, butter, sugar and salt to a large pan
  2. Heat the mixture on a low heat until it is melted and smooth
  3. Place this aside and beat the four eggs into the mixture, following with the flour and cocoa powder
  4. Add the mixture to a lined and greased baking tin
  5. Cut your Creme Eggs in half and place them ‘sunny side up’ within the mixture
  6. Bake in the centre of a preheated 180C oven for approximately 20-25 minutes depending on your preference
  7. Allow to cool slightly before devouring these delicious easter treats

We’re naughty so add a combination to white and milk chocolate chips, put it is entirely up to you how you adapt this recipe. Do be warned, the Creme Eggs will melt during baking, and this gives a wonderful fondant flavour to the brownies.

What do you think of this recipe? What are your favourtie types of brownies? 

Stephanie xox

 

Scones at Patisserie Valerie Oxford, Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie review

A Patisserie Valerie Afternoon Tea review

Afternoon tea is one of the numerous pastimes that makes me rather proud to be British – it is a fabulous tradition. After a busy week at work, what better way to unwind than with good company, deliciously quaint sandwiches, and a selection of delicious treats?

The best thing about Patisserie Valerie is that it offers quality afternoon tea for two, nationwide – they are literally everywhere. Being my thrifty self, I indulged in a Groupon voucher (please, stop presenting me with so many good offers) and saved myself over 20% off the original price!

What is included in the Patisserie Valerie Afternoon Tea?

So, what did we get in our Patisserie Valerie afternoon tea for two? Check out the menu below:

  • A selection of finger sandwiches: cucumber, smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise and cress, ham, spinach and mustard and chicken, pesto and sunblazed tomatoes
  • Two mini vegetable quiches
  • A selection of mini cakes: mini Victoria sponge, 2 mini chocolate éclairs, mini carrot and walnut cake, mini mixed berry mousse slice and mini chocolate mousse slice
  • Four homemade scones (two plain and two fruit), clotted cream and a selection of preserves
  • A pot of tea or two hot drinks of your choice

Cakes at Patisserie Valerie Oxford, Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie review(1)

So, what did I think of the Patisserie Valerie Afternoon Tea?

My initial reaction was how wonderfully it was all presented, there is such an array of food on offer so it is all pretty indulgent. A nice touch is that sandwiches are made to order and there is also vegetarian options available.

However, I will truly be impressed if you manage to finish it all. There was far too much there for us to eat, and our lovely selection of mini pastries were beautifully packaged and taken home with us to indulge in later.

I found the staff to be a little brash, but this may have just been the Oxford branch. Some venues even cater to bubbly-fanatics and offer a glass of prosecco alongside your afternoon tea – go on, treat yourself.

Have you tried the Patisserie Valerie Afternoon Tea? Where is your favourite place to have afternoon tea?

Stephanie xox

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Ghibli by hyung86

The great Animation debate: Ghibli versus Disney

Disney is a universal brand, a timeless reflection back to our youth, brimming with fond memories of cinema trips and cosy nights in with the family. Tales of traditionally perfect Princesses, talking animals and sing-along-songs. The companies ability to hold a special place in the hearts of each generation for almost a century is admirable. So, why is Studio Ghibli, the Japanese counterpart for the East, so much more?

For those who do not know of Studio Ghibli, it was founded in 1985, around 62 years after its fair-to-say rival, Disney. The Japanese company has created over 20 beautiful animated feature films to date, with their own array of wonderfully crafted heroes and heroines.

The two animation giants undoubtedly share similar traits, their work is utterly timeless and adored globally. However, it is a belief shared by many that the East began to take over the West when it came to quality animation, and there are a fair few reasons why Studio Ghibli will always surpass Disney.

Growing up, I watched both Disney and Studio Ghibli films, and the latter continues to move me as I edge towards my mid-twenties (a scary prospect). The heart of Studio Ghibli stems from its animation team, especially from the creative brain of the former lead director, Hayao Miyazaki, who created something with a far deeper moralistic and feminist meaning.

Ghibli Posters

Why are strong female leads so important in animation?

Like many, I found myself learning far more from Studio Ghibli, with their tales of female struggle and empowerment (most films tend to have a strong female lead). Unlike the Disney Princesses, the heroines are relatable without the patronising undertone and the magic and depth of their fantasy tales awakens the attention of adults, as well as presenting important moral dilemmas and messages for children watching.

Looking at the female leads in Disney films (predominantly the Disney Princesses) in comparison to those in Studio Ghibli, a striking difference will continuously manifest itself. Time and time again in Disney, it will be seen that these princesses are overtly defenseless without the men in their lives to rescue them (Mulan, Merida and the new Princess Moana being the few exceptions).

Compare this to Studio Ghibli, and you will find feminist icons in abundance,  the majority of Ghibli films have an admirable and strong female lead. Miyazaki says:

“Many of my movies have strong female leads – brave, self-sufficient girls that don’t think twice about fighting for what they believe in with all their heart. They’ll need a friend, or a supporter, but never a savior. Any woman is just as capable of being a hero as any man.”

Not relying on a man (or anyone for that matter) is a recurring theme, everyone is seen as equal in the gender Olympic’s and this is just wonderful for the self-esteem of a small child, who doesn’t love feeling empowered and equal?

WHY is female empowerment needed IN ANIMATION?

An example of utter reliance on men is presented to us in The Little Mermaid (Disney). Our leading mermaid, Ariel, plays centre-stage under the sea, she is beautiful, feisty and terribly naive. Of course, she falls head-over-heels for the ‘wrong’ guy in the opinion of her father, whom she then desperately seeks out upon the land in exchange for her voice. He notices her, but not enough to avoid being bewitched and ensnared by a witch. Says it all but a happy ending is guaranteed, this is Disney.

old-sophie-howls-moving-castle

Compare this with female protagonist Sophie of Howl’s Moving Castle (Studio Ghibli), and you are presented with a self-conscious wallflower. Sophie is plain and unnoticed, obviously reinforced as viewers see that even her own mother fails to realise her transformation from a young girl into a twisted hag. This ordinary girl, no ‘beauty’ on her side, must seek out a wizard whose attention she had caught in her youthful state. The issue being that she cannot speak a word to anyone about the curse and therefore must lurk around until she can figure out how to break it herself, while her wizarding companion is on a quest to find himself also.

There is far more depth to Sophie, she’s opinionated, brash and stern (probably something to do with the aged state and being utterly fed up). Whereas Ariel is presented as emotionally motivated and stroppy, only seeking her happiness as an end goal and caring little for the loss of those around her (particularly her somewhat overbearing father who is terrified about her disappearance). On the other hand, Sophie seeks to help all those around her, she is a complex character whose love and compassion motivates her throughout, perhaps even at her own expense and happiness at times.

The problem with Disney is that helplessness, ‘love’ and beauty define the Princesses. With Studio Ghibli, beauty isn’t key, the female leads are admired for their strength, journey, and powerful hearts. It is a stark and reoccurring difference, just select any Disney or Studio Ghibli film.

Some critics argue that Studio Ghibli films exploit these young heroines. However, It would seem that the consensus argues that Ghibli, in fact, challenges girls to solve their own problems. Saying this, modern Disney appears to have approached this too with ‘stronger’ characters such as Mulan and Merida, to name a few. In contrast, Studio Ghibli has been doing this with his characters since day one, in a culture often perplexed by such dominating female empowerment.

Another perk is that Studio Ghibli animations provide far more cultural exploration for us Westerners and prove themselves to be culturally apt. Whereas Disney often fails to truly embrace the cultures of their Princesses in their locality.

Often you will hear of Disneyland being the ‘most magical place on earth’, its stories the basis for this magic. I argue that Studio Ghibli offers far more magic, it teaches us to be kind, to not judge, to respect and cherish our environment (nature being of great religious importance to the Japanese), that pacifism can work and childhood transitioning is tough, no one can save you from it but you.

Their stories are creative, with complex and challenging storylines, developed and iconic characters, heartwarming and meaningful messages, embellished with beautiful animation. Studio Ghibli will remain timeless to its audience, holding many an animated heart for a lifetime with their emotion invoking work. The core and important message will stay the same, despite your gender, appearance, size or background, you can achieve anything you want to, and this is why Studio Ghibli will always surpass Disney.

Does your heart remain with Disney or Studio Ghibli? What is your favourite Ghibli film?

Stephanie xox

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Bridget Jones Baby

Bridget Jones Baby Film Review

Who doesn’t love a romantic comedy? Even when you enter the cinema full well knowing that said rom-com is going to be both a charming and chaotic nightmare. You would not expect anything less from Miss Jones.

Bridget Jones (played by Renee Zellweger), first stole our hearts with her relatable and ditzy ways back in 2001 in Bridget Jones Diary, a single woman in her early 30s searching for love in all the wrong places. The first movie beautifully playing out the yearning for the notorious bad boy (Daniel Cleaver, as played by Hugh Grant) versus the oh-so-conservative, Mr. Nice (Mark Darcy, as played by Colin Firth). During which time, the leading lady relentlessly strived towards being the epitome of feminine beauty and health, of course.

After we presumed a happy-ever-after upon the closing scenes of Bridget Jones Diary: The Edge of Reason of 2004, the emotionally-constipated Mark Darcy is no more, the engagement has been called off and he has married another woman. The callous cad!

We’ve skipped forward more than a decade with the belated Bridget Jones Baby, the teenagers, and adults of the noughties filled with wonderful nostalgia and optimism for Bridget as she celebrates her 43rd birthday. The diary is long gone (hello subtle Apple promotion of the iPad), Bridget is a ‘respected’ career woman, still single (WHAT? Yes, you heard it. Single!) and secretly yearning for a future of motherhood. The ‘normality’ she sees in her friends who surround her with busy family schedules is a perpetual reminder of where she should be in life, the heart of a nuclear family.

bridget_jones_baby

On the verge of breaking point, she is tricked into a rambunctious trip to Bestival, meeting a somewhat narcissistic American (Patrick Dempsey as Jack Qwant, a multi-millionaire mogul – where on earth does she meet these men?!) for a night of no-strings-attached fun in an attempt to lessen her woes. This is shortly followed by an intoxicated rendezvous at a baptism after-party with a devilishly handsome (if I do say so myself) old flame (Hello again, Firth). With these fleeting and haphazardous intimate moments, the damage is done.

Obviously, there is a baby involved somewhere in all this madness, and the now pregnant Bridget must determine the father, having got herself in said pickle with some out-of-date vegan condoms (now there is a lesson to play responsibly, kids).

Going through the pregnancy the two men fight for her affection, doing so in a verging on patronising fashion, both desperate to be the father. Unlike the previous films, genuine heart touching moments are plentiful and you really do see the maturity and vulnerability of the characters throughout the film.

‘Sometimes you love a person because of all the reasons they’re not like you. Sometimes you love a person because they feel like home.’

Without risking spoilers, Bridget Jones Baby is a wonderful film in its own right and should be praised as the concluding chapter of the wonderful Miss. Jones life. It was not nearly as Mamma Mia as I presumed and was a touching reflection on the life of a modern day heroine/hot mess. If you are a fan, Bridget Jones Baby is definitely worth a watch.

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Spinach, Chickpea and sweet potato curry recipe

Ingredients:

♥ One sweet potato

♥ 1/2 tin of chickpeas

♥ 1/2 tin of spinach

♥ 1 tin of chopped tomatoes

♥ Half an onion diced

♥ 3 spoonfuls of curry paste

♥ Two tablespoons of olive oil

♥ Cup of wholegrain or white rice

The perfect simple vegetarian curry

Dice your sweet potato and onions and place the two tablespoons of olive oil into a frying pan at a moderate heat. Add the curry powder and the drained chickpeas, spinach, and chopped tomatoes, stirring the contents before leaving it to heat and simmer for up to 30 minutes (ensuring your sweet potato is cooked through).
Place a cup of your desired rice to boil for 10 minutes and voila chickpea, sweet potato and spinach vegetarian curry with rice!

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Total cooking time: 30 minutes

What do you think of this simple curry recipe? Do you enjoy vegetarian curries?

Stephanie xox