Wednesday, 21 September 2016

tB Cooks: Homemade Fish and Chips

Wonky but wonderful!
Any person in the UK will tell you how amazing fish n chips is, especially the closer you are to the sea as the fish is so fresh and the chips so fluffy. 

But why can we not enjoy this at home? Let me show you how I like to make my own homemade fish n chips.

What you will need: recipe makes two portions

  • fish (of your choice - here I have used plaice) 
  • 1-2 pieces of frozen bread (putting it in the freezer the morning you are set to cook this is fine)
  • Potatoes - King Edward or sweet potatoes are the best - here I use sweet potatoes
  • Any other veg of choice - for me, I love brocoli
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil and paprika
  • 1 egg
  • plain flower (about half a cup)
  • 1 lemon
  • sauces to serve
Equpment needed:
  • Baking tray
  • 3 bowls (for flower, egg and bread crumbs)
  • fork (to whisk the egg)
  • A blender (to make your breadcrumbs)
  • plates and cutlery to serve
  • sauce pots (if you have them, or give it a healthy dollop on the plate.)
Step one
Preheat oven to around 180 degrees. chop sweet potatoes into chip like shapes. (This does not need to be neat, the more rough they look the more rustic I say!) Then you have a choice... either pre-cook the potatoes in boiling water and then drain before fluffing them up in the colinder, or be lazy and stick them straight in to the oven once coated with seasoning. Your choice. Both work well, but the uncooked chips may take longer to cook. Anyway, once you have made your choice, coat the potatoes in oil and season well with salt, pepper and a healthy load of paprika. Put in to the oven for around 30-40 mins. Cheeking checking on them and turning whilst cooking. 

Step Two
Blend the frozen bread to create bread crumbs and set aside in a bowl. Meanwhile beat the egg and put in a separate bowl, then you are ready to coat the fish. Take your fish and dust with flower, dunk it into the egg and then cost it in your bowl of breadcrumbs. Repeat with second fish fillet and put on to a lined baking tray. Put in to the oven after the chips have been on 15-20 minutes, and leave it all in for 20-25 minutes. 

Step Three
If you are like me and love a bit of green with my food. wash and chop your greens and put in to boiling water on the hobb for around 8-12 minutes depnding on whether you like them a little crunchy or super soft. Meanwhile, cut your lemon into wedges and place on to the plate and prepare your little sauce pots. I like to fill mine with ketchup, mayo and bbq. 

Step four
Remove the chips and fish from the oven when they are golden brown. Arrange on the plates with the broccoli, lemon wedge and your favourite sauces. 

et voila! Tasty and comforting on a chilly autumnal evening. 

Hope you enjoyed this - let me know if you gave it a go!

Much Love,
Alissa Marie


Sunday, 11 September 2016

tB Reviews: Aladdin the Musical

For some Bank Holiday fun, two weeks my mum, sister and I went to see the new hit West End show – Aladdin, at the Prince Edward Theatre London. Now I had extremely high expectations of this particular show as did my sister. Because being the hardcore Disney fans we are, we needed a nice bit of romance, magic and all of the wonderful songs that Disney has to offer.

I must admit I had very mixed feelings about this one. I cannot say I didn’t enjoy it, but I felt it lacked the class of many of the other West End Productions I’d seen. Let me try to explain myself. So imagine a Christmas panto minus the dame and with a budget of zillions and you get some idea of this musical extravaganza. For those of you who are unaware of the story, Aladdin is a poor boy who falls in love with a princess, Jasmine, and, with the aid of a genie, outwits a wicked vizier to win her hand.

Trevor Dion as the Genie. Photograph: Deen van Meer/ Disney

My favourite character hands down has to be the genie, hands down, played by Trevor Dion Nicholas who was also the original genie in the Broadway production in 2014. He treats the audience as if we were guests at his private party, cart wheeling around the stage and dazzling during the show’s biggest number, 'Never had a friend like me.'

The songs themselves are a mixed bag: the big romantic number ‘A Whole New World’ is completely upstaged by the carpet. Not that I would say the carpet is particularly magical. It’s a rigid and thick apparatus that fly’s quite quickly around the stage distracting the audience from possibly one of the best known Disney love songs. In order to disguise the fly ropes holding the carpet up they have made the scene very dark, which is very fitting with the animated classic, but it was hard to actually seeing anything much with that little lighting.

Dean John Wilson and Jade Ewen as Aladdin and Jasmine. Photograph: Deen van Meer/ Disney

Dean John-Wilson, however, is very a likeable and sensitive Aladdin; and Jade Ewen is a fiery and somewhat spoilt Princess Jasmine. Both of whom were good (not great) but I could not ignore the extremely strong Americanised accents really preventing me from truly believing in their performances. But I enjoyed Don Gallagher as the scheming vizier, Jafar, who brought comic relief styled very much in a pantomime way. He was however to my satisfaction, very much like the Jafar in the Disney animation even if he was slightly more amusing and less scary.

Overall Aladdin was a very enjoyable experience for a Sunday afternoon. I wouldn’t say it is worth possibly going to see for a few more months yet (wait till the prices come down a little), but then I feel at a more affordable price it’s a fun show and will certainly put you in a cheerful mood to start your Monday off. What it isn’t is a serious, high flying West End musical to rival The Lion King or Les Miserables. So be sure to know that before being disappointed.

Do let me know if you have also been lucky enough to see this musical and let me know if you agree or disagree, as I’d be keen to hear your thoughts.

Much Love,
Alissa Marie

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

17 stress busting top tips – if they work for me, they'll work for you!

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Picture courtesy of

Everyone goes through stress at some point, and it is nothing to be ashamed of or complacent about. Stress can occur at work with deadlines or a nasty boss, at home when you are worried about a friends or loved one, or even within oneself such as worrying about your own ability and your lack belief in yourself. Whatever is causing it, stress will look different to everyone and it could be that it makes you very tired, very grumpy, or you may feel very emotional and upset. Firstly, I know it is easy for me to say – but try not to worry. It will get better. This has been something I have been telling myself for the past two days as I am trying to look and apply for new jobs, sort two of my best friends birthdays, organise dress try fittings for my role as Maid of Honour, get my work done to very tight deadlines, ensure I am keeping up with my blogging commitments of two articles per week,  and on top of that viewing houses and arranging mortgage meetings. (Cor – it looks mental when I write it all down!?) Stress won’t last, but I will. I am strong, I work hard and I will be okay. And you know what? So will you! I have compiled some of my own top tips as well as some of my favourites across the web. I hope that these help you to break free from your worries and find your smile again.

1. Try doing some breathing exercises: Sit still and focus on your breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply for eight seconds, then exhale slowly for eight seconds. Repeat this five or six times. It helps bring more oxygen to the brain. (You can do this at home or at work. Just find somewhere quiet to go so you don’t look mad at your desk!)

2. Stretch. Being stress will tense all of your muscles, setting of headaches and goodness knows what else! Try lowering your chin down, slowly roll your head from shoulder to shoulder to release tension in your neck and shoulders. If lying down, starting from your toes and working upwards. Squeeze and tense each muscle in turn before relaxing them. This technique really helps me, and afterwards always seems to help me fall asleep!

3. Make faces (try imitating Jim Carrey) in a mirror to stretch out tense facial muscles -- and provide a good laugh, too!

4. Be optimistic. Think of ways to turn difficulties into opportunities.

5. Count your blessings. (I love this one!) Make a list of everything you're grateful for and keep it handy for when you need reminding. (I like to stash mine in my purse.)

6. Find a stress-free sanctuary. Go to a spot where you can find some peace and privacy, even if it's a bathroom cubicle.

7. Go for a 20 minute walk. Getting some fresh air will not only boost endorphin's through exercise but will also get you some fresh air and help to clear your head. Feeling better already?

8. Visualise. Breathe deeply and think of a place that gives you comfort: a private beach, a garden, a cozy room, you bed? Be creative and get taken away!

9. Have a tech free zone or turn off your tech for a few hours. Sometimes it is just the thought that you may get a call or text that has us worrying. To properly switch off – turn them off!

10. Have a banana. It'll boost your energy and replace potassium, which is depleted quickly during times of distress. (This is something I did not know before. But from experience and a whole bag of bananas later – I can tell you it really does work!!!)

11. HUG. I love hugs. Go find a friend, family member or partner who will give you an amazing hug. Human contact helps to make us feel safe and happier. Also hugging yourself can help to comfort you too. Who knew?!

12. Make yourself a cuppa. Long hard day? How good does it feel to sit and unwind with a really good cup of builders tea. (If any of you guys aren’t from the UK, you may not understand the significance of a really good tea – but trust me. It’s a life saver!) Or for herbal drinks, I also love a good cup of Chamomile tea too!

13. Minimize your self-criticism. Delete the chatter in your head and choose constructive ways to look at yourself and the situation. One way of doing this is to try and focus on what you're doing instead of how you're doing.

14. Keep a stash of de-stressers on hand. This could be a holiday snap of your favourite spot, a book poems or a letter from someone you love. Or for the less gushy types, how about  an item that's guaranteed to give you a good chuckle: maybe a hilarious picture of you and you friends on holiday, or a video of your mum dancing at your sisters wedding….. anyone? Oh just me then!

15. Try using calming scents. Essential oils such as lavender, geranium, petitgrain, sandalwood, neroli, ylang-ylang and bergamot are supposed to help soothe and relax. Combinations of these oils can be used in either spray, roll-on or diffuser form, or as a few droplets added neat to your pillow or a hanky.

16. Find a stress busting pal. Work with your friend to help cheer each other up in times of need. How about trying the "5 x 5" method? You each take five minutes to talk about your problem or whats worrying you and another five minutes to work on a solution. Then swap!

17. Get a massage. (This is possibly my favourite one haha.) Whether you pay for a full blown hour long full body massage, or ask your partner to give you a quick 15 minute neck and shoulder massage. They will have the same effect – and you will feel so much more relaxed and ready to tackle the world. Better ye, use some of the oils I mentioned in point 15 and you are sure to feel and smell awesome in no time.

I hope you enjoyed these top tips and that some of them prove helpful. Let me know which ones are your favourites, and which ones you like to use.

Breathe everyone. Only two more days till the weekend. WE CAN DO THIS!!!!

Much Love,

Alissa Marie

Sunday, 4 September 2016

5 Top tips for getting through Monday morning

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A number of articles suggest that Tuesday is the worst day of the week – but why does dragging yourself out of bed and in to work seem that much harder on a Monday? With rain forecast for tomorrow’s weather, get reading my top tips below for a much better wake up.

11) Don’t turn that alarm off. As much as you want secretly tell yourself, having an extra 5, 10, 20 minutes will not help you rise and face the world. Instead roll of bed and get yourself into the shower – this will wake you up and help you feel fresher and in a better place to start the day. (Warning: take the shower too warm and you may find vertical napping a new problem.)

22) Use good products. In the shower use a good body scrub to rid your sleepy skin of the dust and cobwebs, and polish your morning skin to perfection. A good choice is the scrubs by The Body Shop and Sanctuary Spa. (Cherry and peach are our favourites!) For the face, try the range by St. Ives, which are tailored to all skin types. All it will take is 5 minutes maximum, and it will leave you more awake and feeling fresher. What’s not to scrub?

33)   Eat. As much as you’re feeling slightly… bleugh. Yes bleugh! You need to try and fuel your body for the day. The best options would be porridge with fruit and seeds thrown artistically on top, or perhaps some scrambled eggs to keep you full till lunch. But don’t have time for that? Down a glass of water, Grab some almonds, a piece of fruit, and a yoghurt to give your body the boost it needs to get you to tea time at 11am.

44)    Walk this way. Sitting snuggled between two burly commuters or propped up against the window for a nap is dangerous of knocking you off of your high and making you late for work. Instead try and get the blood flowing and get off of the train or bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way. Come rain or shine it will do your body good and help you to focus on the day ahead. Problem solved.

55)    Keep hydrated. Throughout all of this, you need to be keeping your intake of water high. Without it, our bodies very quickly go into hibernation mode and it can cause tiredness, headaches and can cause you to eat more in order to keep your strength up. That’s a one way ticket to weight gain – and no lady actively wants that!

I hope you found some of my top tips helpful. Do you have any that you can share with me?

With that in mind, I think I’m gona go prepare my food for tomorrow, get out my clothes ready and get a good old early night!

Enjoy your weeks guys!

Much Love,

Alissa Marie
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