Monday, 24 June 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #26

This week, I'm at work and Pierre is at school but both the girls are off now. Sophie finished her exams on Friday - phew ! Fingers crossed she'll be happy when she gets her results on the 5th July. And Juliette's stopped going in now too, but one of them will have to shift their backsides out of bed to drop Pierre off at school (although he's not well at the moment so I can see him taking a day off tomorrow, even if his class are going on a trip). Even I will finish earlier tomorrow, as the older kids are on revision - sounds good to me ! I'm having a clearout in the kitchen cupboard this week, using up sauces and odds and ends. It's supposed to be really hot so I can us switching to salads on some days !


dinner - there are lots of leftover roast potatoes, some carrots and some roast chicken - I'll heat it all up with some gravy, and I may even add some pastry on top, depending on how much there is. In fact, I have some curry sauce jars lurking in the cupboard, so I think I might use one of those, for whoever is feeling brave (probably just me !).


dinner - chipolatas with mash & veg and a sachet of Mexican spicy tomato sauce


lunch - steak in peppercorn sauce with boiled potatoes & veggies

dinner - pork chops in BBQ sauce with ebly & sweetcorn


dinner - strips of chicken breast & cherry tomatoes with pasta (& pesto for those who want it)


 dinner - chicken casserole (with carrots, onions, mushrooms) with mash


lunch - McDonald's or similar

dinner - sandwiches, salad or fridge clearout


lunch - honey BBQ pork chops & rice with salad

dinner - sandwiches, salads or leftovers

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


Saturday, 22 June 2019

Fab freebies of the week 22/6

Morning all ! Today is a beautiful sunny day - let's hope it lasts ! This week was totally manic at work, with after school shows and parties, but the good news is, there are just two weeks to get through and it's time for the long summer holidays. I can't wait ! In the meantime, here's a lovely selection of freebies (and lots of competitions this week) to help pass the time while we're waiting ! Have a great weekend :)


Quick ! On Sopost, grab a free sample of YSL Black Opium perfume

Get your free sachet of Olay Whips skin cream

Do your ear canals feel dry, irritated or itchy? Try Soothers moisturizing earplugs for FREE!

Loads of giveaways with oodles of prizes at the moment, starting with Marigold's daily game 

Or you may prefer Eyelure for some instant lashes (600 pairs up for grabs)

On facebook : Crest Teeth Whitening Giveaway - We are giving away 50 boxes of Crest Pro Effects

Another giveaway with lots of prizes - Alpen Reach Your Peak Asda Free Prize Draw : No purchase necessary. 100 experience day prizes available inc supercar driving, cooking classes and family theme park days (not available in NI). 1 prize per winner.

In celebration of all the best loved classics, Haywood & Padgett have teamed up with the Drama channel, giving you the chance to win one of 3000 limited edition Jane Eyre mugs!

The Body Shop will reward you for recycling their bottles :  If you can bring in five, clean items to selected in-store recycling facilities, you’ll receive a £5 voucher off your next purchase. There's a very similar recycling offer in John Lewis too.

If you have a Debenhams Beauty card : Prepare to boost hydration and lessen fine lines & wrinkles! From Friday 21st June, pick up your sample of the Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, as this award-winning anti-ageing cream isn't one to miss out on.

Deciding on a new colour for your home can be difficult, which is why we’re offering you the chance to try 3 for completely FREE! Can’t find your perfect colour? We can match it for you with our free colour matching service.
In order to claim your 3 free sample pots, simply enter your details into the form on this page and we’ll email you a code which can be used at any Crown Decorating Centre nationwide.
Offer applies to Crown Trade Matt Vinyl sample pots.

isubscribe have secured 300 copies of the June issue of The English Home magazine to give away in this free prize draw!

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.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Friday, 21 June 2019

Book review : Long Lost - Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben is one of those ultra popular authors that I always thought I should try out, but when I finally did, reading Fool Me Once a couple of years ago, I was disappointed. (Click through for that review.) I've heard so many good things about him though that I decided to give him another chance, and I'm very glad I did. Long Lost turned out to be a much more appealing read.

The book starts with Myron Bolitar accompanying his step-son to his basketball game and getting into an argument with the coach. This doesn't go down well with the boy's mother - Myron's girlfriend - when she shows up and, ultimately, the two decide to go their separate ways. While I'm sure this was significant for those readers following the entire series - this is the ninth book - it was totally inconsequential for this book and just left me shaking my head, wondering why I'd wasted my time on a false start.

The real action begins when Myron, who is described as a crime solver and sports agent, receives a telephone call from Terese Collins, an ex in Paris, with whom he had a short but intense affair several years ago. She fills him in on her life over the past decade - she finally got pregnant, then lost her daughter in a car crash and, to top things off, her marriage ended in divorce. Following a call from her ex-husband, requesting that she meet him in Paris, she discovers that he is dead and she is the prime suspect. Myron agrees to help her out and the investigation begins.

The action moves across the globe, from France to England and back to America, with numerous surprise discoveries to keep the reader intrigued. The foreign police investigators seemed rather stereotypical and the terrorist plotline was a little thin but the fast pace kept my interest up and I raced through the whole book in just a few days. Myron's rich friend Win, along with the two former female wrestlers, now working for him, provide all the help and background information that he needs in his relentless quest to uncover the truth and escape the bad guys, which is handy, if, at times, a little too easy.

It's a book that is full of action and surprises and I raced through it - it would definitely be a great poolside or long flight read for this summer.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £7.99

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (7 Nov. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781409150466
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409150466
  • ASIN: 1409150461

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Summer Beauty Products from Cetaphil (review)

Glancing out of the window, I can see big black clouds and lashings of rain pouring down, but nevertheless, summer is well and truly on the way. Yes, honestly, it really is - seriously, trust me on this ! In just a few short weeks, we'll be heading off on an amazing fortnight in Alaska, which we're all really excited about, and while the weather may not be too hot out there, there will also (hopefully) be lots of sunny days back in the UK during the rest of the holidays. Before we start getting all the shorts, T-shirts and swimwear out of storage, it's time to start taking care of my skin and getting it summer ready. Cetaphil have helped me out by sending over some of their products that are perfect for warm weather and summer skincare on the go.

Starting with the product on the left, we have Cetaphil Rich Night Cream (£7.99 for 50g). This is a fragrance-free, non-irritating cream that is suitable for dry or sensitive skin. It promises to help replenish and hydrate your skin, leaving it feeling smooth, soft and comfortable. I was actually pleasantly surprised - it's a rich cream but it doesn't feel overly heavy or cloying, like some night creams. This is presumably why it is labelled as a non-comedogenic cream, which means it is non pore-blocking. I slathered it on my face at bedtime then forgot all about it - in the morning, I didn't feel like I had a sticky or greasy residue on my face, just freshly hydrated skin. Perfect ! 

Next, the Cetaphil Moisturising Lotion (£8.99 for 236ml, also available as £14.99 for 473ml) is a lighter option that is perfect for smoothing over your body when you jump out of the shower. It sinks straight into the skin, giving a much needed moisture boost. It is clinically proven to bind water to your skin, reducing moisture loss, so it is perfect for providing long lasting hydration for daily maintenance of sensitive or dry skin. It's lovely because it sinks straight in without leaving a wet or greasy feeling when you're ready to throw your clothes on.

From moisturising, on to cleansing, with the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (£8.99 for 236ml or £14.99 for 473ml). This fabulous product removes dirt, make-up and other impurities, without drying out the skin, because it is designed not to strip the skin of its natural moisturising and conditioning oils or upset its natural, slightly acidic pH levels - both important parts of the natural barrier function of the skin. It can be used with warm (not hot) water, either in the morning to cleanse and refresh or at night to remove the day's impurities. However, it can also be used without water - just massage into the skin then wipe off the excess with a tissue or cotton wool. This makes it perfect for travelling and camping, when you may not have access to a bathroom with a sink. I love this as it's so quick and simple to use and really does the job you want, with no fuss.

The Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser (£10.99 for 236ml) is another option for gently cleansing your face without stripping it of its natural moisture. It effectively removes dirt, oil and impurities, while leaving your skin feeling soft, hydrated and fresh. I love the texture - a rich, airy lather - and the fact that it is so simple to rinse away. Perfect for the end of the day, especially if you've applied sun cream and your skin is feeling a little sticky !

Finally, the Cetaphil Daily Defence Moisturiser (£12.99 for 50g) is a double-action product, providing SPF50+ sun protection, as well as being a moisturiser for your face. It sinks quickly into your skin, without feeling too heavy, so it's great to apply in the morning after cleansing for optimal UVA/UVB photo protection. It can even be reapplied during the day for extra protection - the small size is perfect for keeping in your handbag or in the glovebox in the car.

Cetaphil products can currently be purchased in selected Boots, Superdrug, Sainsbury’s, Tesco Pharmacy, Lloyds Pharmacy and independent pharmacy stores, as well as online from,,, and, subject to availability.

Disclsoure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Book review : This Mortal Boy - Fiona Kidman

I've just finished reading This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman, which is released by Gallic Books at the start of August. This is the second book that I have read by this author - you may also like to check out my review for All Day At The Movies, which follows several generations of a New Zealand family starting in the post-war years.

This Mortal Boy also takes a look back at the past, but this time it focuses on one incident : the fatal stabbing of a young man in a New Zealand cafe. The offender, a young Irish immigrant known as Paddy Black, is put on trial and the book follows the chaotic background to his sentencing.

The reader gets to know Paddy, or Albert by his real name, a young man just starting out in New Zealand after taking one of the cheap emigration boats over from Ireland. We see how he interacts with everyone : his landlady and her children, as well as the young men and women that he meets. He seems like one of the good guys with a decent set of moral values. The murder scene therefore comes as a complete shock, but you still get the feeling that things may not be exactly as they seem. Was he provoked? Was it an accident? Was it the rescuers turning the victim's body over that made things worse?

Ultimately, it doesn't really matter though and Paddy is put on trial. His jury seem to be pretty biased against him, especially as he is an immigrant - I could imagine the same racist overtones today in relation to a black or Asian suspect, with the idea of it being "one of them, not one of us". Back in Ireland, his mother is desperate to help but there is little that she can do from so far away.

I enjoyed following the whole examination of the death sentence and its validity, presented through an appeal, especially in a country where it has been revoked and reinstated several times. I had never heard of Paddy/Albert Black but his case really did exist and was undoubtedly very important, coming at a point when arguments for and against the death penalty were being heatedly exchanged.

It's a book that will certainly make you think. Despite having no previous knowledge of his existence, his plight touched me, especially as he was so young when everything started to go wrong.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Aardvark Bureau (1 Aug. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1910709581
  • ISBN-13: 978-1910709580
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 19.6 cm

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

Monday, 17 June 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #25

Woohoo I'm back, after nearly a whole week offline due to computer issues - grrr ! Ah well, just in time for this week's menu plan and I did spend the whole weekend deep-cleaning the kitchen and doing those home admin jobs that I never normally have time to do so it's not all bad :) Thursday is the school show and the kids are coming along to watch while I'm working on the refreshments stall and Monday is a late night, as I have my last after-school meetings for this year and won't get home until about 7.45/8pm. Then it's a nice gentle roll into the holidays - can't wait ! 


dinner - pasta with a jar of sauce or maybe carbonara (with cream/bacon lardons) (courtesy of Sophie, unless she has a different idea !)


dinner -  chicken chipolatas with rice & ratatouille


lunch - beefburgers and chips with coleslaw

dinner - homemade lasagne with some fresh pasta sheets that I found in Lidl - I'm intrigued to see if they improve the flavour, compared to dried ones


dinner - something very quick as we're back off out for the school show - maybe frozen pizzas, maybe pasta, or we may get lucky and have leftovers from last night !


 dinner - pork chops, creamy potato bake and veggies


lunch - McDonald's or similar

dinner - sandwiches, salad or fridge clearout


lunch - roast chicken dinner with the grandparents :)

dinner - sandwiches, salads or leftovers

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


Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Lucky Fortune bracelets collectibles review

Crack ‘em, Wear ‘em, Find your Luck and Share ‘em ! Welcome to the wonderful world of Lucky Fortune, the latest range of collectibles from WowWee (the makers of the top-selling Fingerlings brand) that are designed to look just like fortune cookies. 

Inside each pack, you'll find a double-coloured fortune cookie that you can crack open to reveal its secrets : a cute charm bracelet, along with a paper fortune for good luck. You also get a Collector’s Guide which can be folded up as a Fortune Teller toy and the packaging also doubles up as a key chain with a little compartment for special keepsakes. I love the way everything is reused and recycled, to keep waste to the strict minimum.

The bracelets are very cool and will appeal to tween and even teen-aged girls (here at The Madhouse, both 14 year old Juliette and 17 year old Sophie approved !) plus, of course, any boys who want to gift them to their girlfriends and friends. There are 100 different bracelets to collect, with four levels of rarity, as well as a coveted Ultra Lucky real gold-dipped four-leaf clover to add extra excitement. The charms are regrouped into five categories, covering happiness, friendship, love, success, and adventure. They sound like the perfect life goals to me !

 Available from June 2019, Lucky Fortune retails at £4.99 each.

Lucky Fortune by WowWee is distributed by Jazwares in the UK.

Disclosure : We received the product in order to share our honest review.

Monday, 10 June 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #24

This week will be a bit crazy, with Monday being a bank holiday (yippee !), then Tuesday and Thursday as late days when I won't get home from work until 7-8pm, so hopefully Sophie will take over on the cooking for those days (although she's busy with exams too - boo !). Ah well, I have a couple of frozen pizzas ready and waiting just in case so that should cover all options !


lunch - leftover Sunday roast (roast chicken, potatoes, veggies, stuffing, gravy), all made into a pie and served with mash

dinner - spaghetti carbonara


dinner - frozen pizza or, if Sophie is up for cooking it, spicy chicken (already seasoned, just needs to be cooked) with rice and sweetcorn


lunch - fajitas

dinner - cottage pie


dinner - frozen pizza if it wasn't eaten on Tuesday - otherwise there should be some leftovers for the kids and I'll grab a sandwich when I finally get in


 dinner - pork chops with rice & ratatouille


lunch - McDonald's or similar

dinner - sandwiches, salad or fridge clearout


lunch - meatballs with couscous & a tomato/red & green pepper/onions sauce

dinner - sandwiches, salads or leftovers

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


DVD review : How To Train Your Dragon - The Hidden World

Today is a very special day as it sees the release on DVD, Blu Ray and 4K Ultra HD of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, a film that comes almost ten years after the first movie wowed audiences around the world. What were you doing ten years ago ? Can you even remember ?! I was dealing with a litter of crazy puppies and was just weeks away from giving birth to Pierre. I was also just starting to write this blog - how time flies !

This new film is the final quest from Dean DeBlois and has been hailed as “the perfect conclusion to one of the best animated trilogies of all time”. It certainly has a lot to live up to ... but it does manage to provide the perfect, fitting end to the series.

What began as an unlikely friendship between an adolescent Viking and a fearsome Night Fury dragon has become an epic trilogy spanning their lives. This final installment will finally see the heroic pair fulfill their destinies, with Hiccup as the village chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid and Toothless as the dragon leader of his own kind. However, the dragons and Vikings of Berk are to face their darkest threat yet, the evil Grimmel, and Toothless discovers his soulmate, Light Fury. The bonds of Hiccup and Toothless' friendship will be tested like never before.

The all-star voice cast behind all of the beloved characters from the previous films returns with Jay Baruchel (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, This Is the End), America Ferrera (“Superstore,” The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants), Cate Blanchett (The House with a Clock in Its Walls, Ocean’s Eight), Gerard Butler (300, The Bounty Hunter), F. Murray Abraham (Isle of Dogs, The Grand Budapest Hotel), Kit Harington (“Game of Thrones”), Craig Ferguson (Brave), Kristen Wiig (Despicable Me 3, Ghostbusters), Jonah Hill (The Lego Movie franchise, 21 Jump Street) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Trolls, This is the End).

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is available now on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™ and DVD versions feature over an hour of exclusive behind-the-scenes bonus content including an alternate opening, two DreamWorks animated shorts, deleted scenes and more.

One final thing - if you head over to the Dragon Hidden World website, you can download a whole series of fab How To Train Your Dragon activity sheets, guaranteed to keep your kids happy !

Disclosure : We received the DVD in order to write an honest review.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Giveaway #721 : Win Instant Family on dvd - closing date 23/6

Next week (10th June, to be precise) sees Paramount Home Media Distribution's release of the heart-warming, family-focused movie Instant Family on Blu-ray, DVD and Download & Keep.

The film features Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as married couple Pete and Ellie Wagner who become the brand new parents of ... a complete family ! Following on from a few comments from their family members, they decide, somewhat half-heartedly at first, to look into the possibility of adopting or fostering a child. They attend an event to introduce foster children to prospective parents and find themselves won over by teenager Lizzy. However, they soon discover that their perfect foster child comes with two other younger siblings, Juan and Lita. In for a penny, in for a pound ! ...

Speeding from zero to three kids overnight brings more than its fair share of problems. While the younger children adapt to their new situation without too many problems, things are always tougher with a teenager in tow ! I could relate to and laugh along with many of the situations presented, so I was unsurprised to learn that  writer/director Sean Anders' real-life family served as the inspiration for the film.

The film shows the good and bad sides of being a foster family, with all the regular parental angst along with the extra drama of never knowing whether the kids will be taken away and returned to their real parents. It has a 12 rating due to some of the content related to parenting a teen, but there's nothing overly shocking in there and it's all quite funny and light-hearted.

On Download & Keep and Blu-ray, the film comes loaded with more than an hour of laugh-out-loud and uplifting bonus material. Go behind the scenes and see how the cast and crew brought the story to life, meet writer/director Sean Anders' real-life family and watch hysterical deleted and extended scenes and an uproarious gag reel.

Instant Family is available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Download & Keep from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

I have one copy of the DVD to give away to a lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. To go in the draw, fill in your details in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck !

UK only. Closing date : 23/6/19

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.

You may also like to enter my other giveaways :

Giveaway #720 : Dare You To Doodle! book - closing 16/6

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Fab freebies of the week 8/6

Morning all ! It's the weekend again - woohoo ! It seemed to come around quick this week, which is great news :) To kick things off in style, here's this week's roundup of fab freebies. Enjoy !


Love the feeling of a soothed scalp and cleansed hair? Then why not try our Body Shop Ginger Anti-Dandruff Shampoo for FREE? Simply register for a voucher to receive your free Ginger Shampoo Mini (60ml) and take it to your nearest participating store.

British Airways High Life Shop have 100 hampers to be won! There's something for everyone to enjoy - from luxury snacks and premium spirits to hand-selected local products, one of luxury food and drink hampers can be yours!

Free sample packs, containing a 5ml My Clarins Hydrating Refreshing Cream All Skin Types, 5ml My Clarins Relaxing Sleep Mask, and a 5ml My Clarins Purifying Cleansing Gel will be given out whilst stocks last on a first come first served basis.

Free towel and liner samples from Bodyform

Discover Scandal A Paris, the new Eau de Toilette by #JeanPaulGaultier. Fill in the form below to receive a 1.5ml sample of the new Scandal A Paris by Jean Paul Gaultier before it launches on 19th June 2019 exclusively at Boots.

Hands up who wants a free Iced Latte 🙌? Only on the My McDonald’s app


The latest Debenhams Beauty Club freebie ... Here's one for the men... From Friday 7th June, pick up your sample of the Dior Sauvage Eau de Parfum and cream sample - the number one best-selling aftershave.

In an effort to get people more interested in skin care we would like to offer you a sample size of facial moisturizer. St. Ives Renewing Facial Moisturizer Collagen Elastin is a hydrating moisturizer for dry skin that will help capture that fresh-faced glow we all love. Fill out this quick form to have your free sample shipped to your door at no cost to you.

Try our No.1 serum #AdvancedNightRepair today. Get your FREE 7ml deluxe sample*, simply download your voucher and show it at your nearest Estée Lauder counter. #PowerOfNight

Listerine® would like 100 Mumsnet users to test out their new Nightly Reset mouthwash. This product test is open to all UK MNers.

A fantastic competition from Delmonte to win a 4 day break to the luxury La Manga Club Resort for you and your family* at Easter 2020! You could also win one of 330 tennis themed prizes! Just enter your details for a chance to win one of these fantastic prizes.

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.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Friday, 7 June 2019

Disney Pixar Toy Story : Woody's Augmented Reality Adventure book review

If you have a son or a daughter who is a fan of the Toy Story movies, I have some great news for you. Carlton Books have recently released the only Toy Story product using Augmented Reality and it's a great way to bring the whole Toy Story gang to life. They kindly sent us a copy of the book to review and we've been having great fun catching up with all our favourite characters, as well as making some brand new Toy Story 4 friends.

If you're new to the concept of Augmented Reality, it couldn't be simpler to master. You just need to download the free "Toy Story Book with AR" app and open it on your mobile device. Scan each page and you'll find all your Toy Story friends, including Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep and the Aliens, in 3D to help really bring the book to life. This is a great addition for young fans or reluctant readers (although, even as a grown up, I admit that I can't help being impressed by Augmented Reality myself !).

The book give us a closer look at all the film's characters, including Woody, the rootin' tootin' cowboy, and his trusty steed from his old TV show, Bullseye. You can check out his clothes and his trusty catchphrases before bringing him to life with the app.

You can also get up close and personal to Rex, the gentle giant, who is more scared than scary, and Hamm, the wise-cracking piggy who always makes me smile. Hamm loves taking the mickey out of Rex for his nervous nature, but I can't hold it against him because he's just too funny ! Whether you love him as bad guy Evil Dr Porkchop in Andy's adventures or as the good guy telling his friends that crime doesn't pay, bringing him to life and filling his belly with money is sure to put a smile on your face !

Mr and Mrs Potato Head always make me smile too and I may have adopted the "did you all take stupid pills this morning ?" line for occasional use at The Madhouse ! The Aliens are very cute too and piling them up then knocking them down on the app is great fun.

I won't give away all the secrets that are hiding within the 32 pages of the book, but there is so much to see and do - have Hamm thanking you when you fill him with coins, control dare devil Duke Caboom to make his death-defying jump, fire Buzz’s laser and, throughout the pages of the book, collect all the parts to create Forky, a brand new star of Toy Story 4.

The interactive element is a great addition for modern kids, who are well used to video games or apps that they can control. It's an Augmented Reality adventure to infinity ... and beyond !

Published May 2019 by Carlton Kids.
ISBN 9781783124688 Hardback £9.99

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Madhouse recipe : Spicy Pork with Pineapple & Avocado Salsa

This weekend, we had a bit of a heatwave. Sophie said that it was 30°C (or 86°F) on her phone in the middle of the afternoon, so we waited until the end of the day before heading out for a walk. The bus was full of people coming home from the beach totally sunburnt - ouch ! It reminded me to pick up some suncream when I went shopping though ! In terms of food, it was too hot for a big roast dinner, so we opted for something a little different from the Saving Dinner book that I've been telling you about recently. Last week, I shared a recipe for Cheesy Waffle-Topped Cottage Pie from the same book and, as this time, I see it as a good starting point but it's more a work in progress that needs to be swapped around a bit to be really great. In this recipe, I used pork fillets instead of chicken, as it was what was in the freezer.

Spicy Pork with Pineapple & Avocado Salsa

ingredients :

1 can of pineapple, crushed and unsweetened (or we used a fresh pineapple, as we'd just come back from the market)
1 avocado, peeled, stoned & chopped
3tbsp spring onions
3tsp lime juice
1/4tsp Cayenne pepper, optional
1tsp ginger
1tsp cumin
2tbsp chives
2tbsp chilli powder
2 cloves parlic, crushed
2tbsp olive oil
6 pork fillets (or chicken breasts)
5tbsp honey

Start by peeling and chopping the pineapple and avocado. Don't forget to slice out the tough core of the pineapple, if using fresh.

Combine the first eight ingredients in a bowl then set aside as you cook the meat. This will be the salsa.

In a small bowl, combine chilli powder and garlic. (I used BBQ seasoning instead as the kids aren't fans of chilli powder.) Stir in enough oil to make a thick paste and rub it all over the meat.

Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan and cook the meat for a couple of minutes, then drizzle over the honey. Cook for a few more minutes, basting with the pan juices, until it is cooked through.

Serve the meat and salsa along with salad, grated carrot and couscous for the perfect heat-busting meal ! I went easy on the honey, as I wasn't sure if the kids would like it, but I'd definitely add more next time. The salsa was lovely and cool - the pineapple overpowered the taste of the avocado and the lime juice changed the flavour again, so it's worth tasting frequently as you mix, until you get the exact combination that you want. It's definitely a dish with great potential though.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Fudge Kitchen Dairy Free review

A little while ago, the postie dropped off a package that had us all oohing and aahing excitedly. It was just a plain brown cardboard box inside the packaging, but as soon as we saw the Fudge Kitchen logo stamped on top, we couldn't wait to see what was hiding inside. As it says on the box, their recipes are "devilishly different" !

Without further ado, we opened the box and discovered four generous slices of delightfully decadent 'slab' fudge. What I particularly appreciate about Fudge Kitchen is that everything instantly looks lovingly handmade - it always reminds me of  the bars of soap that you can buy in Lush, with the perfectly imperfect forms, except this time, you can eat everything ! The fudge is made daily the "old fashioned way" in their seven shops, cooked in traditional copper pots over a naked flame before being poured out and “loafed and slabbed” on marble counters as it cools, to break up any granulation and create their famously creamy centre with a crisp coating. Forget all those foil wrapped offerings at the local newsagent's - this is the real-deal !

The selection that we received was created just in time for Easter and included several Dairy Free options, starting with Traditional Toffee

The next slice was some pristine white Vanilla Coconut. Hmmm, I was tempted to stop unwrapping and start tasting, but somehow we kept going !

Next up was a special Easter flavour, Hot Cross Bun, with a lovely texture full of nibbly bits begging to be devoured !

The final flavour in this special Dairy Free selection was the Chocolate Classic.

Tempting as it was to just bite off a big chunk with my teeth, I was good and carefully chopped each slice into little chunks that I shared around. Chocolate Classic was first and everyone was wowed by the silky, smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture. This is seriously good fudge.

Traditional Toffee was next and was devoured with equal amounts of enthusiasm. Unsurprisingly, this is a top selling favourite, blended with handmade caramel, made with soya milk.

Vanilla Coconut was next and I will admit, I secretly expected this to be my favourite. In the end, I loved all of them though ! Handmade using fresh creamed coconut, desiccated coconut and vanilla bean paste, this has a lovely rich flavour.

And finally, with a special nod towards Easter, the on-theme Hot Cross Bun flavour, complete with currants and a delicate blend of Easter spices. Another unanimous favourite !

I popped all the leftover chunks back in the box - it's very rich so a little goes a long way - and everyone loved dipping in for the next week or so. The sugar in the fudge acts as a natural preservative so it will last for a couple of weeks (if you can wait that long !).

There was one extra surprise waiting for us at the bottom of the box, which gave us a giggle !

A box of four flavours weighs a whopping 1050g and has an RRP of £22. Have a look on the Fudge Kitchen website for the current flavours available.

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

Monday, 3 June 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #23

Back to a normal school week this week - boo ! The weather keeps changing, going from hot summery weather to chilly days, so I'm not sure whether to go with salads or winter warmers at the moment. Maybe a mixture of both then I can swap around to suit the day :)


dinner - pasta bake, to use up whatever leftovers there are from yesterday


dinner - pork casserole with mash & carrots


lunch - tacos

dinner - sausage bake (with tomatoes, onions, peppers) and rice


dinner - BBQ ribs with couscous & ratatouille


 dinner -  probably loads of leftovers to use up by now, if not spaghetti carbonara


lunch - McDonald's or similar

dinner - sandwiches, salad or fridge clearout


lunch - roast chicken, roast spuds, veggies

dinner - sandwiches, salads or leftovers

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


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