Sunday, 22 January 2023

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 4


Well, as I always say, the menu plan is there as just a rough idea, so that I know what I can cook with what's in the cupboards and fridge. Last week, I did the plan BEFORE going shopping, then I gave Sophie my bank card and sent her off to do the shopping while I was at work. She came up with various things to cook that weren't on the plan (and cooked them, so no arguments from me !), then at the end of the week, Juliette headed off (after school on Friday until Sunday morning) to stay with Sophie in Lille to visit the further education day. With just me and Pierre to cook for, we ended up going completely off plan too ! I could therefore just re-use last week's plan, as 75% of it didn't get made, but I've already been shopping this week so I'll be working with what's in the fridge. Phew, I need to get back on plan !

Monday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home 

dinner - meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta

Tuesday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner- filet mignon (pork) in cream with rice & peas

Wednesday

lunch- leftovers 

dinner- chilli con carne and rice

Thursday

lunch - another national strike day (against the government's decision to raise pension ages) and I don't think there will be buses this week so I'll probably walk home after work. Leftovers or a sandwich.

dinner- Cuban chicken (recipe as inspiration as I don't have an Instant Pot) with leftover rice/pasta

Friday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner - Brunswick stew

Saturday

lunch- chicken (or minced beef) fajitas with guacamole

dinner- chicken soup

Sunday 

lunch- roast dinner

dinner-  Homemade Crunch Wrap Supreme  (to use up the leftover wraps)


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

Sunday, 15 January 2023

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 3


Sophie is home for a few days so she'll probably be asking for random dishes and/or cooking. Sounds good to me ! I didn't go shopping on Saturday so I'll fill up the fridge tomorrow after work. This week's plan will therefore depend on what is in store but it'll work with a rough plan using stuff from the freezer, if the worst comes to the worst.

Monday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home (I can see Sophie and Juliette meeting up and eating in town)

dinner - chicken/brie burgers with hash browns (a dish that Sophie saw in a restaurant and wants to try recreating)

Tuesday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner- filet mignon (pork) in cream with rice & carrots

Wednesday

lunch- pork chops with pasta

dinner- chilli con carne and rice

Thursday

lunch - catching up with friends for lunch for me, fridge diving for whoever is at home

dinner- Cuban chicken (recipe as inspiration as I don't have an Instant Pot) with leftover rice/pasta

Friday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner - Brunswick stew

Saturday

lunch- I'm thinking there will be leftovers to use up


Sunday 

lunch- spicy chicken/bacon/tomato/onion risotto (this will be a recipe made up from whatever is left in the fridge that needs using up !)

dinner-  baked potatoes with cheese/beans/bacon


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

Sunday, 8 January 2023

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 2


We've all slotted back into our school/work routine with no problems but last week's menu plan was a bit hit and miss as the meat shelves at Lidl seemed half empty when I went shopping. I bought enough for what we needed but it was more a case of what they had than what I wanted. Oh well ! Pierre has set out on a health kick, trying to boost his muscles, through a combination of sport and eating lots more protein and shakes made with milk/fruit/porridge/peanut butter (is that even a thing ?!) so I'm trying to play along at the moment and fill the fridge with ham, chicken and oodles of fruit. We'll see how long it lasts ! This week was a great week for getting things done - finally managed to get hold of the electricity people so they can come and mend the protections on the cables on the front of our house so that we can (finally) get our roof fixed. Just have to wait for the roofers to get back in touch now - sigh !

Monday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner - beef meatballs with pasta and tomato/peppers/onion sauce

Tuesday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner- veal in mushroom/cream sauce with rice

Wednesday

lunch- steak, mash and veggies

dinner- pork filet mignon with rice and veg

Thursday

lunch - catching up with friends for lunch for me, fridge diving for whoever is at home

dinner- leftovers

Friday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner - baked potatoes (with cheese/bacon/onions)

Saturday

lunch- pasta carbonara

dinner- Deliveroo

Sunday 

lunch- gammon with gratin dauphinois (creamy potato bake) & veg

dinner- leftovers or toast

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

Monday, 2 January 2023

December 2022 Degustabox review : New Year & Enjoyable Moments


Ahhh Christmas is done and dusted for another year. Despite eating half of our body weight in snacks and sweets (and turkey and Christmas pudding and cake and ... well, I'm sure you get the idea !), we still excitedly investigated the latest Degustabox to arrive, with the perfect theme of New Year and Enjoyable Moments. Here's what was in the box.

 

First up, a bag of KitKat Bites (RRP £1.59) which are perfect for sharing with the family in front of a festive film. Each bite-sized piece offers a smooth chocolatey centre and crispy wafer pieces to provide the traditional crunch and chocolate indulgence of KitKat bars. The bag is resealable so you don't even have to eat them all at once (which doesn't usually end up being a problem for us, funnily enough !). Yum ! Available from most major supermarket chains.

Eisberg Alcohol Free Mulled Wine (RRP £3.25) is a great alternative to alcohol for anyone who is pregnant or just wants to avoid alcohol. As well as being alcohol free, it is lower in calories and vegan friendly. The Mulled Wine variety offers a lovely festive twist, perfect with a mince pie or a slice of Christmas cake.


Knorr Organic Chicken Stock Pots (RRP £2) are made with quality organic ingredients, slowly simmered with authentic flavours, perfect for dishes ranging from risottos and soups to more. I love throwing one into the slow cooker along with chicken and vegetables to melt down without adding excess liquid to the pot. They are also great for using up the leftover turkey, vegetables and potatoes in a stew or pie. They are free from artificial preservatives and colours. Great for adding a lovely depth of flavour in minutes.


Lee Kum Kee Cooking Sauce Collection (RRP £4.99) offers a lovely selection of sachets of sauces and oils to add an Oriental theme to your dishes. They are absolutely perfect for using up the leftover turkey but are also great with chicken, pork, beef, prawns or vegetables.


Inside the box are full-sized sachets of Hoisin Sauce, Yellow Bean Sauce and Chilli Garlic Sauce, plus two small sachets each of Chilli Oil and Sweet Soy Sauce. There is also a booklet filed with different ways to use the sauces to help inspire your imagination. Perfect for trying out some new flavours in the New Year.


Heinz Made For Veggiez Balsamic & Rosemary Sauce (RRP £2.50) is one of a range of sauces (we got to try Chilli & Miso in the last Degustabox) inspired by world cuisine. Inspired by the flavours of the Med, it can be used for dipping, grilling, marinading and roasting. I added some to some quickly fried tomatoes, courgettes, onions and red peppers before serving them up on rice (toast or pasta would work too), for a tasty and simple lunch, which came out really well. Great for perking up simple dishes. Available at Morrisons and Ocado.

Dorset Cereals Dark Choc & Hazelnut Muesli Crunch (RRP unknown as this was the mystery brand in this month's box) is a tasty breakfast option that appealed to the whole family, in a bowl with milk, straight from the box as a snack or even added into cookies for some extra texture. I've just been to investigate and we had a box in a previous Degustabox, back in October. With dark chocolate curls and caramelised hazelnuts, it's a delicious way to start the day.


Munchies Gooey Caramel & Biscuit Sharing Bar (RRP £1) was passed on to my mum as she used to buy the original Munchies sweets about 45 years ago ! As the name suggests, it's made of runny caramel and crunchy biscuit pieces, encased in milk chocolate, and is very tasty, apparently. Available at B&M, Booker, Spar, Iceland, Aldi, Poundland, Home Bargains and NISA.


Odysea Spicy Ajvar (RRP £2.75) is a spicy dip with roasted red peppers and smooth smoky aubergine. It can be smeared on bread, used to dip crisps or carrot sticks in or even stirred through leftover pasta for a quick pasta salad lunch. It has a slightly sweet, spicy flavour that is great for perking up random leftovers from the fridge. Available at Sainsbury's and on the Odysea.com website.


Plantastic Flapjacks Sweet Apricot & Ginger with Almonds (RRP £2.75) are tasty oaty fingers, packed with sweet apricot chunks, crunchy almond nibs and a little kick of ginger to wake up your taste buds. As they say on the box, they're "so tasty, you'd never guess they're plant based". Very nice and with five in a pack, they're perfect for a week's worth of packed lunch desserts or cheeky TV snacks ! Available at Tesco's and on amazon.


Vahdam Turmeric Sampler (RRP £5) is a healthy sampler pack containing four best selling turmeric teas, infused with superfoods and packed into pyramid shaped tea bags. Caffeine free and packed in India, if you like herbal teas, they look perfect. I'll be passing these on to Sophie to try out. Available at Holland & Barrett.

 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 £9.99 - enter code PKUFE 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.

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 1


Well here we are, into the final week of 2022 and the first week of 2023. We've had a lovely time visiting the family in Hastings but unfortunately, we're kicking off the new year sick again. Fingers crossed that'll be the last time for a while - it seems non-stop. I need to refill the fridge so it's ready to deal with New Year's Eve but also going back to school/work. Time to get back into routine - boo !

Thursday

lunch - probably something on the ferry

dinner- chicken burgers & pasta 

Friday

lunch- battered fish, mash and green beans

dinner - chicken fajitas (with guacamole, tomato salsa, rice)

Saturday - New Year's Eve

lunch- pasta carbonara

dinner- party nibbles - maybe pizza, sausages, olives, cherry tomatoes or whatever I pick up when I go shopping

Sunday 

lunch- probably leftovers


Monday

lunch- provençal chicken with pasta

dinner - cottage pie

Tuesday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner- chicken or pork korma with rice

Wednesday

lunch- stuffed baked potatoes (cheese, beans, bacon, onions)

dinner- chilli con carne & rice

Thursday

lunch - catching up with friends for lunch for me, fridge diving for whoever is at home

dinner- chicken in BBQ sauce with pasta

Friday

lunch- leftovers or fridge diving

dinner - Sophie's home for the weekend so Deliveroo or she can cook !

Saturday

lunch- chicken & mushroom risotto

dinner- spicy pork chops with crispy fried potatoes & ratatouille

Sunday 

lunch- roast chicken, roast potatoes, veg & gravy

dinner- flaky pastry cheese & ham parcels with mash & beans

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

Sunday, 11 December 2022

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 50


Into the final working week of the year and I must admit, I'm looking forward to a break ! Every weekend for the past few weeks, we've been going Christmas shopping so a couple of weeks of total downtime is much needed. This week will be mainly winding down the fridge and freezer.

Monday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner - leftover baked potatoes with mince/onions/mushrooms

Tuesday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner- fish, rice & peas

Wednesday

lunch- we'll all be rushing about doing an eye test so I'm guessing McDonald's or something quick

dinner- Mexican pork with rice (or maybe in tacos)

Thursday

lunch - Christmas dinner at school for me, fridge diving for whoever is at home

dinner- cheese & ham puffs, mash & carrots

Friday

lunch- leftovers or freezer diving

dinner - pasta carbonara

Saturday

lunch- leftovers or Deliveroo

dinner- spaghetti bolognese

Sunday 

lunch-  freezer diving

dinner- leftovers or toast

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

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

November 2022 Degustabox review

 

When the postie dropped off this month's Degustabox a couple of weeks ago, I hastily opened the box and pulled out the contents card to see what this month's theme would be. Something to do with Christmas maybe? Winter warmers to add some much-needed internal central heating ? Well, there doesn't actually seem to be a theme this month. Nothing on the card anyway. Hmmm maybe I should make up my own theme ? Let's go for Liven up the Leftovers and Sweet Treats ! There are some interesting looking spices and sauces that I'm looking forward to getting creative with, especially with all the festive leftovers that will undoubtedly be cluttering up the fridge very soon.


The first product will be swiftly gobbled up by Juliette (I've put them aside to stuff in her Christmas stocking) - Bett'r Peanut Butter Cups (RRP £2.99). They are a vegan and gluten-free alternative to Chocolate Nut Butter Cups and they look very tasty.


Double Dutch Double Lemon (RRP £1.20) is a tasty option to drink on its own or with alcohol (Pimms, vodka or whatever else you may fancy over the festive season). It is made with lemon, lime and quassia, which adds more piquancy than the traditional quinine. This is said to not only improve the flavour but also help with digestion - definitely a plus point with all the over-eating at Christmastime !  It is made with all natural ingredients, contains no artificial sweeteners and is low in calories and sugar. Dubbed "bottled sunshine", it offers a refreshing, tasty drink option, with or without alcohol.

Filippo Berio Truffle Pesto (RRP £4.99) is one of the few offerings from the brand that I haven't tried yet. Made with black summer truffles, it can be stirred into pasta and topped with parmesan, added to risotto or pizza or even used to make a decadent sandwich - that all sounds like some great ways of using up the leftover turkey after Christmas ! (Other Degustabox subscribers received a jar of Filippo Berio Tomato & Ricotta Pesto, which I have tried before and the whole family loved it.)


Green Sour Cherry and Orangeade (RRP 2 x 99p) are part of a range of drinks that offer a healthier and more natural option, using plant-based Stevia and real fruit juice to deliver a refreshing, fruity taste. They contain no aspartame and no added sugar. The kids loved the sour cherry while I preferred the orangeade. Available at Sainsbury's, Ocado, Holland & Barrett and Amazon.

 

Heineken Silver (RRP £1 per can, £6 for a multipack - only available in a multipack) is an extra-refreshing lager, with a lighter tasting and low bitterness profile. It is made using ice-cold lagering at -1° C to produce its unique taste. It is made with natural ingredients and has a 4% abv. I'll be putting these out with the Christmas drinks over the festive period.

Halos Chocolate & Orange Flavoured Mini Doughnuts (RRP £1.50) are orange doughnuts coated in milk chocolate then topped with gold and bronze sugar sprinkles. They are steam baked, not fried, to give a lighter eating experience. There are seven in a bag so I get to secretly munch on the extra one ! Yum !

 

Heinz Made For Veggiez Chilli & Miso Sauce (RRP £2.50) is one of a range of sauces, influenced by world cuisine and designed for coating, cooking and dipping veggies. Many people opt for veggie dishes in January, inspired by Veganuary, whether to cut down on calories, for ethical reasons or to lower the cost of the weekly shop. This sauce is a great way of adding extra flavour and excitement to mealtimes, during Veganuary and beyond. Available in Morrisons and Ocado.

The Jelly Bean Factory 36 Mix Pouch (RRP £1.50) is one of my favourite sweet options so I was keen to discover the new mix. I couldn't really tell any difference from the previous mix to be honest, but I loved all the flavours. Each bean has to be savoured one at a time which is a real test of patience and resistance ! Hmmm ! Available on Amazon.

  

Nando's Peri-Peri Seasoning Flavour Shaker (RRP £2) is one a new range of seasonings, designed to bring some zing to anything from garlic bread, pasta and roasted veg to stir fries. Having never eaten at Nando's, I can't tell you how well it relates to the flavour of their in-house dishes, but it is very tasty. Also available in Lemon & Herb or Garlic & Herb. Perfect for adding some oomph to your festive leftovers !

Pot Noodle Fusions Chilli Chicken Flavour (RRP £1.39) are ideal as a snack for hungry teens after school or as a quick lunch option. The Fusions range, which also includes Katsu Curry and Thai Green Curry, offers big flavours inspired by exotic cuisine. Perfect if you have very little time (or very little motivation) and need to fill your belly !

Tea Rex Fresh Infusions (RRP £3.85) is one of a range of products, made out of just fresh fruits, roots and leaves. Even the 100% recyclable tubes are made of sugar cane, not fossil fuels, so they are sustainable. They are totally simple to use - just squeeze and infuse in hot or cold water, using a traditional teapot, cafetière, tea strainer or infuser. You need to squeeze in 1 heaped teaspoon (10g) per cup for a good strength cup but flavour is a personal thing so you can make it stronger or weaker by how much you squeeze and how long you brew. We got Lemon, Ginger & Turmeric, but the range also offers The Real Earl Grey, Rhubarb & Redcurrant, Rooibos & Blood Orange and Turmeric & Black Pepper. Sophie is a big fan of infusions and fruit teas, so she's keen to try out the other flavours in the range.

 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 £9.99 - enter code PKUFE 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.

Sunday, 4 December 2022

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 49


Last week was the start of the conseils de classe - the end-of-term meetings for each class, with all the teachers, parents and pupil reps and the head or deputy head each time, to look at abilities, efforts provided and discipline problems. As always happens, I get home late, the kids are hungry and food ends up being whatever the quickest option is. The Laughing Cow stuffed chicken, therefore, turned into chopped chicken in a Laughing Cow and cream sauce, but it was a huge success and so simple to make. Sophie came home for the weekend so we went off plan again, as she cooked some fabulous chicken, mozzarella and guacamole bagel burgers and convinced us to opt for Deliveroo. This week is another one packed with after-school meetings so we'll probably need quick meal ideas.

Monday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner - Provençal chicken, rice and ratatouille

Tuesday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner- paprika chicken with pasta & green beans

Wednesday

lunch- leftovers

dinner- pork satay stir fry with noodles

Thursday

lunch - lunch with a couple of friends for me, fridge diving for whoever is at home

dinner- Mexican chicken with rice

Friday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner - pasta carbonara

Saturday

lunch- leftovers

dinner- I'll put Deliveroo on the plan as I usually end up getting my arm twisted !!

Sunday 

lunch-  tartiflette (stinky reblochon cheese, bacon and onions over baked potatoes)

dinner- leftovers or toast

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

Thursday, 1 December 2022

Book review : Let It Rain - Marcela Mariz


Looking at the front cover of Let It Rain by Marcela Mariz, my first thought was that it would appeal to a young adult audience - maybe late teens and twenty-something women. However, it turned out that as a woman in my fifties, I loved it and felt like it was focusing in on my own memories of growing up in the eighties and nineties. I loved all the little flashbacks to my formative years and the references to various song lyrics frequently had me humming eighties classics all day long !

The story focuses on Mandy Olsen, a 26-year-old woman who lives and breathes the eighties. Her choices of music, her lifestyle reminiscent of a Brat Pack movie and her favourite clothing (yes, she still wears legwarmers and probably also has batwing jumpers and mismatched fluorescent socks !) all hark back to the time of her life when she was the happiest. Sadly, those times didn't last.

Now an adult, she is back at her old high school, this time working in the office. The atmosphere seems very reminiscent of teenage years though, with the "cool clique" and their mean comments and low-level bullying taking on the outsiders, including Mandy. Her deep dark secret is about to be revealed and ridiculed : she still lives as if she is in the 1980's, back in the time when her life was carefree and fun and her favourite people, her mum and her best friend Joshua, were still around to support her.

Author Marcela Mariz explains that "the inspiration for Mandy came from a family friend. She was the most high-spirited and cheerful person I knew. She had this idiosyncratic way of dressing and talking, even her house was decorated as if she was still living in the 1960s. I was always fascinated by her. But when I got older, I discovered she had some heartbreaking losses in the 60s. So she preferred to pretend she was still living in the best years of her life. Behind her joyful smile, she hid a profound sadness."

As in all the best movies from the eighties and nineties, the underdog ends up coming out on top and it is heartwarming to see Mandy face her demons and turn her life around. When her life seems to be at its lowest point, she finds some much-needed support from some new friends and a few shocking discoveries reveal that life back in the eighties maybe wasn't the best time for everyone. 

It's an enjoyable read, especially if you can relate to your own memories of growing up in the eighties, but younger readers will still find Mandy's tale relevant and life-affirming.

star rating : 4/5

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0B7QC5H6J
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (1 Aug. 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 303 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8839798373

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

Sunday, 27 November 2022

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 48


I tried out some new recipes last week and the creamy paprika pork and turkey à la king were swiftly gobbled up - I even managed to sneak some peas and carrots in with the cream so they were eaten too, which is always a bonus ! This week, I'll be trying some more recipes from the same website, as they have the perfect balance of tasty but quick and simple. Just what is needed after a long day at work !

Monday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner - leftovers (assuming they didn't all get used up at lunchtime)

Tuesday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner- cottage pie

Wednesday

lunchham & cheese puffs with mash, peas & carrots (as they didn't get made last week)

dinner- Laughing Cow stuffed chicken with rice & salad (the other dish from last week that didn't get made as I was using up leftovers)

Thursday

lunch - leftovers


Friday

lunch- canteen for me, fridge diving for those at home

dinner - pork, veg & noodle stir fry

Saturday

lunch- oven-baked pork chops with potatoes and veg

dinner- fish, chips & peas

Sunday 

lunch-  sausagemeat & mushroom ragu with pasta

dinner- leftovers or toast

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

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