Saturday, 22 September 2018

#KitchenClearout recipe : Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry

I recently went looking through some of the foodie blogs I follow, to see if there was anything in their archives that would appeal to the kids. Since Madhouse Daddy died, I find myself with a cupboard full of food that nobody wants to eat - or rather, that I would eat, but that the Madhouse kids would instantly turn their noses up at ! Time to get creative ...

One of the recipes that I discovered was Hunan Chicken, over on the Dinner Then Dessert blog, which I'd never heard of and, importantly, neither had the Madhouse kids ! It was easy to throw together, even though I admit that I adapted it to suit the contents of my kitchen cupboard. The Madhouse kids had a mixed reception - mainly because of the broccoli - but I thought it was very nice !

Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry

ingredients :

1kg chicken fillets
2tbsp cornflour
a drizzle of oil
2 cloves garlic
1tbsp minced ginger
about 200g mushrooms
1 courgette (optional)
end of a bag of frozen broccoli
1 can bamboo shoots (optional)
2 chicken stock cubes + hot water
2 tsp cornflour
6 tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp chili paste

Chop the chicken into chunks and dredge it in the cornflour.

Heat the olive oil and fry the chicken for a few minutes on each side. Reserve.

In the same pan, fry the garlic and ginger, the broccoli and mushrooms (and any other veggies you are using, for example courgette and bamboo shoots).

While the veggies are cooking, sort out the stock. In a bowl, prepare the stock and water, adding in the cornflour, the soy sauce, the rice wine vinegar, the sugar and the chili paste. Stir well.

When the veggies are just cooked, add the chicken back into the pan and pour in the sauce. Cook for a few minutes, stirring everything together.

Serve with rice.

This was a great way of using up odds and ends from my seasonings cupboard, as well as the end of a bag of frozen broccoli, so I'm adding it to this month's #KitchenClearout linky.

Fab freebies of the week 22/9

Welcome to the weekend. We made it !! Here's the latest round-up of the week's best freebies while we let off some steam. Enjoy !


Sign up for your FREE "Don't be a space invader" sticker pack from Highways England

A new campaign from The Insiders : We are looking for 1,500 new parents with a baby aged between 5 and 36 months to try NestlĂ© CERELAC® over a campaign of six weeks, and then let us know how their little one enjoyed it.

If you want to try giving vaping a go, you can get a free myblu Vape Pen Start Kit (worth £19.99) using code code WP2018 at their checkout page - you still have to pay postage though.

If you've just tried that, there is a free e-liquid worth £5 available at My Vape Box (postage £1.50)

Use code 0138 to win a personalised lunchbox from Anchor - they have 2500 to give away!

Villeroy & Boch have a great competition running for their anniversary - 270 prizes for 270 years !

Del Monte also have a fab tennis-themed giveaway running

Sign up for the brand new Olay Daily Facials campaign on the Savvy Circle website

You can also get involved with the Pampers Premium Protection Nappies test

Become a VIP Tester for Good Bubble kids' toiletries

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Giveaway #695 : Win Drumond Park's Foxy Pants game - closing date 6/10

Where is the time going lately? We've been back to school for three weeks now and I'm pretty sure the evenings are starting to draw in too. Rather than going outside and playing with their bikes and footballs, the Madhouse kids are more interested in diving under their quilts and logging on to their computers. Well, I had something to do about that ... I've been trying out various new games with them lately, starting with Foxy Pants from Drumond Park (age 4+, rrp £22.99, for 2-4 players).

Getting the game set up only takes a few minutes. You just need to stick a few stickers on the fox - his eyes and the pictures that go on his underpants - and you're good to go. Pierre decided that he wanted to give him googly eyes, but that's not an obligation !

To get started, it couldn't be simpler. You just lift Foxy’s arms up, turn him upside down and pull the string which will release his trousers. Pull them up around his waist and push his arms back down, then place him in the middle of the playing area. Put the chickens together next to him and give each player a Chicken Coop. Now the fun begins!

After the competition for the best chicken noise to see who goes first (I swear I'm not making this up !), play can begin. Roll the dice to see how many chickens you must put in the pants, then press Foxy’s head once (until you hear a clicking sound) and if nothing happens, play passes to the next player. 

But watch out! Foxy is a sneaky, greedy kind of guy, and when his pants get full, they might just fall down! When they do - and believe us, it all happens in an instant ! - all players must quickly grab as many chickens as they can, one by one and with one hand only, and place them safely in their chicken coop. Each coop has 5 spaces and the first player to fill all the spaces in their chicken coop is the winner.

It's a great game to play because it only takes seconds to set up before play can begin. The action is very fast and all players are involved the whole time - there's no boring waiting around for your turn to get involved.

For more information and stockists visit

The social media team at Drumond Park Games would love to hear about what your children get up to when they’re playing this fab game – send pictures, too! Just get in touch on Facebook or Twitter and catch up on all the news on their crazy blog.

In the meantime, I have one copy of the Foxy Pants game to give away. Fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : /10/18

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize. 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Book review : Petals and Stones - Joanne Burn

Having lost both her parents back in her student days, Uma has settled into married life with her husband Daniel. Just one page into the book, she receives an accidental text message to her husband from a woman. His woman on the side. In shock, Uma talks to him on the phone and he declares they will talk when he gets home. She mentally prepares herself for this shattering of her hopes and dreams, only to be interrupted by a policeman : Danny has had a fatal accident on the way home and they will never have the much-needed conversation.

The story then jumps back and forth, showing us what led up to this moment, including their previous half-truths and traumas. There was a very stressful moment when they first got together, when Uma had a traumatic medical reaction to an abortion and ended up back in hospital, being looked after by her old friend Aaron. 

Uma ends up taking off to a remote seaside cottage, where she takes time to go swimming in the chilly sea, cooks the Keralan dishes of her youth and switches off the phone, giving herself time to think without being constantly bombarded by her mother-in-law. Taking the time to grieve, and to connect with a new lover, things start looking up ... then someone from her past puts in a new appearance and everything gets complicated again.

Having lost my own husband a few months ago, I wasn't sure what I'd make of this novel, but Uma has a very definite backstory that inspires her to be strong. Finding a new way on with her in-laws is a tricky necessity and taking the time to focus on herself in the perfectly imperfect seaside cottage is an absolute necessity - luckily for me, I don't have one available, because, believe me, I'd be tempted to get away from it all for a while !

It's a well-written and well-constructed novel that deals thoughtfully and believably with some tricky personal dilemmas.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £8.99 (paperback), £4.99 (Ebook)

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (6 Sept. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1787198162
  • ISBN-13: 978-1787198166
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm

Disclosure : I received a copy of the book in order to give my honest review.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The September 2018 Degustabox (review)

I don't know if it's psychological, because the kids have gone back to school, but it seems to me that summer is definitely behind us now. The conkers are starting to look ready to drop and I was surprised to learn that it's actually quite dark when I get up in the morning to go to school now. Before we start feeling depressed though, the postie called by my house yesterday and dropped off the latest Degustabox - yay !

After a quick bit of unpacking, the Madhouse kids were squealing in delight and trying to get their mitts on the goodies ! First of all, I smacked away their prying hands and laid everything out for the pictures !

Wow, where to begin ! Well, the Madhouse kids were most excited by these two products :

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (3 for 89p) - The perfect combination of smooth chocolate and peanut butter. The only bad thing is, they don't last long enough and there are only 3 in each pack so I didn't even get a look-in - boo hoo !

Jules Destrooper Butter Crisps (£1.80) - I did tuck into these ones though ! With a rich taste of butter, caramelised sugar and a hint of spice, these are a fabulous Belgian classic. Perfect with a nice cup of tea ... or without ! 

On to the drinks ...

Firstly, a bottle of a2 Long Life Whole Cows' Milk (£1.50) - I always have a bottle of this in the cupboard for the days when we run out of ordinary milk. This natural cows' milk is produced without the A1 protein, so it's gentle on sensitive tummies, easy to digest and less likely to trigger symptoms associated with milk intolerance. We don't have any problems with milk intolerance, but we do like the flavour of this product, both hot and cold.

Juicy Fuel Cola (£1.50) is the brand new craft Cola from the Juice Shed Company. It's made from 100% natural ingredients with no added sugar, chemicals, e-numbers or anything else that doesn't need to be there. Oh yeah, it tastes pretty fab too !

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Cider (£2.29) - As the name would suggest, this is a blend of crisp apple cider with smooth Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whisky. Distinctly refreshing but unmistakably Jack to the core. I've popped this in the fridge so far but I haven't sampled it yet.

As it says on the bag, these Mallow & Marsh Raspberry Marshmallows are whisked to gooey perfection. They contain no artificial colours or flavourings but they taste lovely, with a gorgeous 70% dark chocolate covering. Lovely !

Karg's Tomato & Mozzarella Wholegrain Snack (£1.60) are an organic blend of grains and seeds, sun-ripened, baked not fried and fibre-rich. Combining luscious pieces of tomato and soft, mild mozzarella, they make a nice, additive-free snack. 

Yes ! Yes ! Yes ! That's the three Yes ! Fruit & Nut Bars (£1.20) tucked away in the box ! They are delicious, wholesome snack bars that count towards your five-a-day and contain no unnatural sugar. We got Delicious Beetroot & Apple Fruit Bar, Sumptuous Cranberry & Dark Choc Nut Bar and Tempting Dark Choc, Sea Salt & Almond Nut Bar. All very nice. 

Good Hemp Hemp Seed Hearts (£3.99) are high in protein and omega 3 and they're perfect for sprinkling on anything from cereal and salads to cupcakes and cookies. They have a delicious light and nutty flavour.

Indie Bay Snacks Spelt Pretzel Bites in Smokin' BBQ flavour (99p) are a delicious, crispy snack in Indie Bay's latest attempt to use alternative flours, including spelt and quinoa, in their snacks. They taste surprisingly good and they're also relatively low in calories (99 calories per bag).


Choc Go Organic Cacao Nibs with Yacon (£1.85) offer a super-food combination packed full of ant-oxidants, magnesium and iron. The kids are happy to eat these sprinkled over yogurt or scattered over cakes.

And finally, new Cadbury Oreo Hot Chocolate (£2.99) is the latest addition to the range, and very nice it is too ! Just add 4 teaspoons to a mug, fill with hot water and stir. This is very tasty, not to mention quick and simple to prepare.

Along with the info card this month, you get another invitation to join in with their photo contest.

There's also a recipe for some Raw Triple Chocolate Cookies which look very nice, and make sure you look out for the voucher which will allow you to get some more free a2 Milk.

A subscription to Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery, with each box having a value of much more than that, but the great news is, I have a discount coupon code for you which means you'll get the first box for just £7.99 - enter code 0BS6T at the checkout.

for more information :

Also now on Instagram @DegustaboxUK

Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review. As a Degustabox blogger, I receive all of the products that go into the monthly boxes, but subscribers may not get exactly the same selection.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Book review : Want To Play? - P.J. Tracy

Back in May, I read Live Bait (click through for my review), the second novel in the Monkeewrench series by mother-daughter writing duo P.J. and Traci Lambrecht. When I was on holiday in Bulgaria this year, I happened to spot a copy of the first novel in the series, Want To Play?, in the book-swap library of the hotel we were staying at, so I swapped some books around and brought it home with us. I couldn't wait to jump in and see how the book series had started out. 

It's autumn in Minneapolis and an elderly couple are found murdered in a church. As a few more bodies are discovered, a games-creator called Grace McBride calls in the detectives to tell them that the murders seem to be following her recently launched new game. Local detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth end up heading the team of detectives following the clues and at first, they don't know where to start. The group of games creators are hostile and it turns out that they were wrapped up in a previous killing spree, changing their identity and location. Are they in the clear or should they be kept under observation? 

It's a fast-paced operation, with the body-count rising fast while the police run around following up leads and trying to work out what went on. It's all a bit idealistic and you know that the main characters are all going to survive, as there's a whole series of books to come, but it's still an enjoyable read.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £6.99

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (1 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405915641
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405915649
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm

Monday, 17 September 2018

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2018 week #38

And here I am again, writing up another weekly menu plan. I slept for two hours on Saturday afternoon and another two hours on Sunday afternoon, so I think I should have caught up on my sleep now ! I'm still working my through my overflowing freezer at the moment so let's see what's on the menu this week !


dinner - There are some roast chicken leftovers, and some roast potatoes too, from yesterday - depending on how much is left over after Juliette has tucked in for lunch, I'll make up a pie, with a sachet of frozen veggies


dinner - slow cooker pizza casserole


lunch - beefburgers, chips and beans

dinner - Hunan chicken, which is a stir-fry recipe, made with chicken and broccoli, served with plain white rice


dinner - steak, mash and veggies of some variety from the freezer


 dinner - either leftovers, or Berber pizza


lunch - kids' choice of fast food (we went to the pizza restaurant last week, so I bet it'll be back to McDonald's this week)

dinner - leftovers/snack food


lunch -  roast dinner - probably chicken, with roast potatoes, carrots, mushroom, onions and lashings of gravy

dinner - fridge grazing or leftovers

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***


Sunday, 16 September 2018

Giveaway #694 : Win The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas book - closing date 30/9

How are your kids getting on at school this year? Are they hugely enthusiastic about everything they're learning, or are they finding it hard to get back into routine? Well, if it's more a case of the latter, look no further ! I have the perfect book for you.

Hold the world in your hands and come face to face with the many wonderful animals that inhabit our extraordinary Earth. This bright, colourful Animal Atlas is designed specifically to make the vast reaches of our planet tangible for a young audience.

 It features beautiful, detailed maps that children will love to pore over, discovering something new each time. A fabulous "pop-up" map shows the world's animal biomes at a glance and the accessible text is packed full of amazing facts on record-breaking animals, creatures to beware of, and animals that work alongside people.

Three lavish fold-out pages show the habitat and wildlife of major continents, along with a fabulous pop-out map of the world. In total, there are over 500 colour photos of animals, so you're bound to spot at least a few new critters that you didn't know much about.

The accessible text is packed full of amazing facts on record-breaking animals, creatures to beware of and those that work alongside people. It's a great book to share with your kids.

The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas | 9781783123797 |
Author: Jen Green
Paperback | £9.99 | Published: August 2018 |

Carlton Kids have kindly offered to send a copy of the book to one Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries via the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 30/9/18

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize. 

#MySundayphoto #SundaySnap 16/9

When we were on holiday in Bulgaria this summer, we took a tourist cruise and Pierre won a bottle of champagne for being one of only two people to catch a fish !

OneDad3GirlsSunday Snap

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