Sunday 16 June 2024

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 25


I did all my running around last week - went to the bank, paid off the rest of the holiday and put in a trip to the insurance people who discovered that my claim had been filed without being paid so I'm glad I chased that up ! Into the last two weeks of lessons, followed by a week of exam invigilating and meetings. Juliette has got all her exams this week then she's ready to shoot off on holiday with her boyfriend. Sophie has sorted out next year's studies, moving into English and German, which she hasn't done for a few years so she'll have to revise the basics over the summer. The summer holidays are nearly here - phew ! Here's this week's menu plan.

Monday

lunch- eating with a friend so Pierre can go fridge/freezer diving

dinner - sausage stroganoff tagliatelle

Tuesday

lunch- fish, rice and coleslaw

dinner- pork souvlaki

Wednesday

lunch- leftover fish, mash and peas/carrots

dinner- leftovers (stroganoff/souvlaki)

Thursday

lunch- school lunch for me, Pierre can go fridge/freezer diving

dinner- chicken burgers with pasta

Friday

lunch- leftover chicken burgers with rice & ratatouille

dinner - baked potatoes with bacon and cheese

Saturday

lunch- Deliveroo

dinner- fishfingers, mash and veg

Sunday

lunch- chicken curry and rice

dinner - lasagne

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

Sunday 9 June 2024

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 24


This week, I finally managed to sort out someone to come and finish the work on the roof, replacing all the ridge tiles. This is the final stage of the repairs from a big storm over a year ago so it's taken ages. I've paid the deposit so I'm just waiting for him to show up and do his stuff now. I have an appointment at the bank next week to free up some cash from my savings so that I can pay off the holiday and the roof repairs and Pierre's braces. This made me realise that I still haven't received the final payment from the insurance for the other roof repairs as far as I know - the invoice was taken in months ago so I need to chase that up too. School is winding down and the kids are already asking if we can play games or watch videos instead of the normal lessons. There's one week left of marking for the younger kids so they won't be very serious after that. Oh well, not long to go now. Here's what I have planned for food this week.

Monday

lunch- chicken donuts with pasta

dinner - pork lomos with rice and veg

Tuesday


dinner- Paprika pork with pasta

Wednesday

lunch- fish, chips and peas

dinner- fricadelles, rice and leeks

Thursday

lunch- school lunch for me, Pierre and Juliette can go fridge/freezer diving


Friday


dinner - baked potatoes with chicken and mushrooms

Saturday

lunch- pizza


Sunday

lunch- roast chicken, hasselback potatoes and carrots

dinner - turkey meatloaf with pepper salad and couscous

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

Friday 7 June 2024

Degustabox May 2024 review


I always like the month of May because as well as being the month of bank holidays, it also usually signals the start of the warmer weather. While the temperatures may not be as high as in the middle of summer, the hours of sunshine invariably shoot up which is perfect for putting a spring in your step. I've switched over to my warmer weather clothes and have put the jumpers to the back of the cupboard which is also lovely. What would be in this month's Degustabox to welcome in the new season? 


The first thing I pulled out is bound to be a big hit here at The Madhouse: Batchelors Cook With Noodles (RRP £2.25). Pierre always loves noodles when he's making a quick lunch at home by himself because they are so simple to prepare and I also love adding lots of extra ingredients to make a more complex meal. They're great for using up leftover cooked meat (chicken, pork, beef - whatever you have) and you can add whatever veggies you have in the fridge (red and green peppers, onions, carrots, mangetout, courgette). They're a great way of getting the kids to gobble up their vegetables, especially if you hand out chopsticks for everyone to play/eat with - we always cheat and use the ones that stay attached at the top which are much easier to use. They're quick to prepare (just 3 minutes for the noodles) and each pack contains four blocks of noodles, complete with a seasoning sachet with each one. They work out as a really good value meal if you're counting the pennies too.

 

Frobishers Sicilian Lemonade (RRP £1.79) is a lovely thirst-quencher for the warmer weather. Sicilian lemon juice is blended with juniper and lemon oil for a lovely vibrant, sharp taste. The delicate bubbles that fizz on your tongue with each sip make the whole drinking experience even more pleasurable. Available in WH Smiths.

Kellogg's Rice Krispies (RRP £3.30) are this month's Product of the Month. They have been a family favourite for many years, including in our house, enjoyed either straight from the bowl covered in milk to release their snap, crackle and pop or covered in melted chocolate and golden syrup as rice krispie cakes. They always take me back to school cookery sessions when I was in primary school ! At the moment, Kellogg's is partnering with professional football clubs up and down the country to offer 7 to 14 year olds the chance to play in the footsteps of their heroes. With access to professional coaches, they will learn from the best. Sounds like a great activity during the long summer holidays.

 

Kettle Sweet Chilli & Sour Cream Crisps (RRP £2.40) are delicious. They have the fiery hit of chilli and paprika but the flavour is tamed down by the cooling creaminess of sour cream. It's a match made in heaven for wimps like me who can't handle the heat of regular chilli flavoured crisps ! Kettle chips are cooked in small batches and made using nothing artificial. Available in Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and ASDA.

Maldon Kalahari Desert Salt (RRP £2.50) is a naturally coarse salt, selected by the seasoned experts at Maldon from the vast southern African desert. It's ideally suited to scattering on meat that is going to be grilled or barbecued to add a subtle flavour. Part of the new Merchants range, this is one of the finest salts from around the world.

 

Mr Porky Crispy Strips (RRP £1.25) are a unique snack from the Great Taste award-winning brand. They have the same taste as regular pork scratchings but they have the bite of crispy bacon rinds, so if you like your bacon crispy, these will be a big hit. They have a high protein content so they are perfect before or after a gym workout or to combat a mid-afternoon slump, but they can also be enjoyed with a drink as an evening snack.

Nescafe Azera Americano Instant Coffee (RRP £6.25) is a quick and simple way of creating a rich and velvety coffee, carefully crafted with a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. As we head into summer, you might prefer to try a Nescafe Azera iced coffee. For recipe inspiration, you can head over to their website or Instagram @nescafeazera


PhD Nutrition Milk Choc Hazelnut Smart Bar (RRP £2.50) is a great-tasting snack bar that is high in protein and low in sugar. A soft and squishy protein centre is coated in gooey caramel and protein crispies, offering the perfect combination of great taste and satisfying texture. Each bar contains 22g of protein, which will make gym bunnies like Pierre squeal in delight ! Available at PhD.com and amazon UK.


Sacla Char-Grilled Aubergine & Roasted Garlic Pesto (RRP £3.35) is a versatile veggie-friendly product that is great for keeping in the back of the cupboard in case you need to knock up a meat-free option at short notice. Made with aubergines ripened under the Mediterranean sunshine and sweet roasted, smoky garlic, it can be used in roasted vegetable tarts, coated on chicken skewers, stirred through dips or in  Pasta alla Norma, the Italian dish that inspired its creation. Available in Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose, as well as Ocado and Sacla online stores.


Swizzels Squashies Strawberry & Cream Flavour Drumsticks (RRP £1.15) are a new product that we all loved, both for the soft and squishy texture and also the fruity flavour. Strawberries and cream is an iconic flavour of the very essence of summer so these are perfect for chewing on, even if it's raining ! If we do get some much needed sun though, at least they aren't made of chocolate so they won't melt. Win-win !


Very Lazy Jerk Paste (RRP £1.99) is a simple way of bringing the taste of the Caribbean to your kitchen. The fiery heat and flavour of Scotch bonnet chillis, allspice and black pepper will set your tongue on fire but at least you can judge how much to add to your dish, adding in some cream to combat the spiciness if you so desire. Perfect with chicken wings, vegetables and rice or for jazzing up the leftovers from a Sunday roast. The Madhouse kids have become slightly addicted to Jerk chicken sandwiches !

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 5 June 2024

Book review : Better Safe Than Sorry - Mike Martin (Sgt Windflower Mysteries #14)

 

When life gets hectic and it feels like things are starting to spin out of control, I have the perfect solution for you : settle down in a comfy corner with a mug of hot chocolate and the latest adventures of Sgt Windflower. Whatever dark deeds are going on in Newfoundland, his level-headed way of thinking, combined with his deep love for his family, his enjoyment of tasty food and his links to his Cree culture, will reassure you that everything is under control with Winston in charge.


I have to admit, I was disappointed when Winston Windflower retired from the RCMP in one of the previous books and settled into a less dangerous role in his community. While he enjoyed having the opportunity to focus more of his time on his wife and children (Stella and Amelia Louise, now aged six and four) it seemed that there was something missing in his life and, when his young replacement Eddie Tizzard started to feel slightly overwhelmed and wanted to step back, who better to fill his boots and take up his former role in the RCMP? Why, Sgt Windflower of course! But only if his wife Sheila gave her approval. (Luckily for Sgt Windflower, and for us readers, he managed to convince her.)


Despite the setting in the sleepy backwater of Grand Bank, a big new crime spree has kicked off, evolving around a dangerous new drug called Green Monsters. As well as being a risk in the nearby high schools, these drugs seem to set off a serious of strange events. Winston has to deal with the wrong body showing up in a hearse, followed by another mysterious corpse. Warily, Windflower steps back into his role as the big-hearted Mountie, taking care of his Newfoundland community. I can't wait to see what he gets up to in the next book.


This is book 14 in the series and you can read my reviews of the rest of the series, as well as check out my recipes for some of Sgt Windflower's favourite foods, here on my blog. The book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel, but half of the fun is following Winston's progress through life.


star rating : 4.5/5


RRP : $24.95CAD


Available on amazon UK for £19.95


  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Ottawa Press and Publishing Mystery (7 May 2024)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 258 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1990896200
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1990896200
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.24 x 1.65 x 22.86 cm

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

Sunday 2 June 2024

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 23


Another week done and dusted. Pierre got his braces put on on Monday morning and had to go back again in the afternoon because one of the links (I don't know what they're called) came off his tooth as soon as he got home. In the afternoon, he was tired so he went for a nap and when he woke up it had come off again. He was asleep, not even eating so I have no idea why it won't stick to his tooth. He's on an emergency appointment list now but we haven't heard back all week. He's managed to stick it in place with the protective gel so it doesn't annoy him but it's not doing anything. Nothing much else to report. The kids are being nightmares at work and have discovered the joy of hiding water pistols in their clothes and squirting them at people during lessons. I nabbed a couple of girls who were taken out of class and a couple more got caught in the corridors but there are more out there. They're selling them in town 3 for €1 so it's hardly surprising but a pain all the same. Only a few weeks to go ... breathe ! Here's this week's menu plan.

Monday

lunch- pasta with tomato, bacon, onions and mushrooms

dinner - chilli con carne with rice

Tuesday

lunch- pulled pork with rice and sweetcorn

dinner- leftover chilli with baked potatoes

Wednesday

lunch- leftover pulled pork with pasta

dinner- pork filet mignon with mash and leeks

Thursday

lunch- school lunch for me, Pierre and Juliette can go fridge/freezer diving

dinner- fish, chips and peas

Friday

lunch- pasta carbonara

dinner - beefburgers and rice

Saturday

lunch- Deliveroo or pizza

dinner- bacon and eggs with potato balls

Sunday

lunch- spicy chicken and mushrooms with couscous

dinner - fricadelles (spicy sausages) with cheesy mash bake and peas/carrots

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

Sunday 26 May 2024

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 22


This week was back to normal. Well, it seemed like it but we actually had Monday off, thinking about it. The girls had fun in Antwerp for the Olivia Rodrigo concert and got there and back with no problems. Their next concert is Coldplay in Lyon which is bloody miles away but they seem to manage all the travelling by train ok luckily. This week is a normal week at work. Pierre gets a morning off tomorrow because he is going to get his braces put on his teeth. Luckily he doesn't need me there as they didn't have any appointments that fitted in with my work. Here's what is on the menu this week.

Monday

lunch- spicy pork and pasta

dinner - filet mignon with mash and leeks

Tuesday

lunch- Arizona chicken skewers with rice and sweetcorn

dinner- beefburgers and chips

Wednesday

lunch- chicken burgers with rice and onion rings

dinner- pasta bolognese

Thursday

lunch- school lunch for me, Pierre and Juliette can go fridge/freezer diving

dinner- chicken fajitas

Friday

lunch- chipolatas with pasta and green beans

dinner - pasta carbonara

Saturday

lunch- fish fingers, rice and peas

dinner- Deliveroo

Sunday

lunch- pork chops, roast potatoes, carrots and gravy

dinner - bacon sandwiches

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

Monday 20 May 2024

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 21


This week Juliette went back to Lille for her final exams (in translation so not much to revise). This week she's off to Antwerp with Sophie to see Olivia Rodrigo in concert. She almost didn't make it as her train back to Lille last night was cancelled due to an accident where somebody died (I would guess someone threw themselves under the train which is horrible). All trains kept being cancelled until late in the evening but she finally got the last train back, which was just as well as they had an early bus out of Lille to get to Antwerp this morning. Fingers crossed that's the last of their problems and the rest of the trip will be plain sailing. Today is another bank holiday - May is traditionally the month of bank holidays - but I have an afternoon of meetings on my afternoon off tomorrow so I don't really get a quieter week. Only about a month and a half of this school year left to get through though, then we're on holiday :) Here's this week's meal plan.

Monday

lunch- chilli con carne

dinner - sweet & sour chicken and rice

Tuesday

lunch- leftovers

dinner- pasta bolognese

Wednesday

lunch- bacon sandwiches

dinner- fish, chips and peas

Thursday

lunch- school lunch for me, Pierre and Juliette can go fridge/freezer diving

dinner- bacon and potato patties with mash, peas and carrots

Friday

lunch- chicken burgers and pasta

dinner - pork chops, rice and creamy leeks

Saturday

lunch- Deliveroo

dinner- chicken curry, rice and naan bread

Sunday

lunch- pork filet mignon, baked potatoes and carrots

dinner - pasta carbonara

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

Sunday 12 May 2024

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 20


It was like being on holiday again this week as there were only two days of work on Monday and Tuesday. We went into town for the annual boot sale in the town centre on Thursday with loads of stalls and good deals in the shops. Juliette bought a few clothes and we had a nice wander about. It was really sunny and Juliette ended up with a little bit of sunburn on her face and arm - I hadn't even thought about sun cream ! Sophie is off in Croatia this week with a friend. It's somewhere we knew nothing about so she's having fun exploring and said everything is cheap compared to prices at home. Back to a normal week at work but the oldest kids are in exams on Thursday and Friday so I have a few hours of exam invigilating instead of lessons. There are only a couple of weeks left to mark the oldest kids so things will chill out after that. I can smell the summer approaching ! Here's our rough plan for what we're eating this week but things tend to go off plan as Juliette finds intriguing new recipes on instagram that she wants to try out !

Monday

lunch- chicken skewers with rice and peas/carrots

dinner - sausages and mash

Tuesday

lunch- beefburgers and pasta

dinner- sweet & sour chicken with rice

Wednesday

lunch- fishfingers, rice and veg

dinner- fricadelles (spicy sausages) with baked potatoes

Thursday

lunch- school lunch for me, Pierre and Juliette can go fridge/freezer diving

dinner- cottage pie

Friday

lunch- creamy pork and mushrooms with pasta

dinner - chicken burgers in buns with chips and coleslaw

Saturday

lunch- spare ribs with baked potatoes and coleslaw

dinner- Philadelphia chicken with pasta and cherry tomatoes

Sunday

lunch- fajitas with chicken/rice/guacamole/salsa

dinner - fish, rice and peas

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

Tuesday 7 May 2024

Vow Protein Bar review


For the past couple of years, Pierre has been interested in working out, using weights to build up his muscles, alongside playing football and taking an interest in upping his protein intake. He's done that typical teenage thing of going through a growth spurt and is as tall as me now so I can understand his desire to build up his muscle mass to impress the girls ! I've switched over to a few protein-rich versions of things he likes to eat, including muesli, cereal bars, milkshakes and snack bars. I was therefore very interested to hear about the launch of a brand new range of protein bars that sounded right up his street.


Vow Bars are a new addition to the Vow Nutrition protein range, which includes Elite Whey, Protein Clusters, Protein Rocks and the innovative Sparklean Protein drink. Just glancing through the list of flavours was enough to win me over. The Protein Rocks come in the fab-sounding Salted Caramel, Cookie Dough and Birthday Cake flavours and the Protein Clusters are equally appealing, with the choice between White Chocolate Crunch, Milk Chocolate Crunch, Nacho Cheese Crunch and Smoked BBQ Crunch flavours. I'd eat all of those regardless of the protein content, just on taste alone !


The new Vow Bars have three tasty versions available - Salted Caramel, Cookies & Cream (which we tried) and Peanut Crunch. Each bar contains 16g of protein, is vegan-friendly and low in sugar, as well as Halal-certified and made with ethically-sourced ingredients. A 48g serving provides 185 calories so they are ideal for refuelling on the go or as a well-earned treat after a workout. The tasty, slightly chewy bar is topped with sweet cream and covered in vegan chocolate. The bars are Informed Sport approved so they are suitable for elite competition and they will actually be fuelling Team GB at this summer's Olympic Games. They taste great and don't have the slightly unpleasant aftertaste that some protein bars have.

The VOW Bars are available to purchase at www.vownutrition.com and will be rolled out to VOW Nutrition stockists, VOW ambassadors including Team GB athletes Joe Clarke, Matt Richards, Daryll Neita, boxer Fabio Wardley and VOW Nutrition sponsored sports organisations GB7s, London Broncos and Paddle UK later in the year. Vow Nutrition products can be bought in Boots and Holland & Barrett stores in the UK.

RRP : £29.99 for 12 bars making them £2.50 per bar (but they are currently on sale for £22.99)

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

Sunday 5 May 2024

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 19


This week was busy, as planned. Juliette has managed to kit out her new room (Pierre's old room) with a new bed, new pillows, new mattress and new rug and is now buying a few decorative bits and pieces. She still wants to claim back some bits from her old room (bedside table, shelves, storage units) but I can't see Pierre being nice and giving them back as he thinks they came with the room ! We bought new sheets and pillow cases today which helps freshen things up. We made a few cakes and cookies to use up things in the kitchen this week and hopefully this will continue as Juliette is home more ! Back to work on Monday but only for two days then it's a long bank holiday weekend with bank holidays on Wednesday and Thursday and an extra "bridge" day off on Friday to make a long weekend- bonus ! Here's the plan for this week's food. It looks like a big week for chicken this week !

Monday

lunch- sausages and mash

dinner - tropical chicken skewers with rice and sweetcorn

Tuesday

lunch- chicken burgers with pasta

dinner- spicy chicken with baked potatoes

Wednesday

lunch- Arizona chicken skewers with couscous and ratatouille

dinner- chicken and veg noodles

Thursday

lunch- chicken nuggets with chips

dinner- chicken cordon bleu with rice

Friday

lunch- spaghetti bolognese

dinner - sweet and sour chicken with rice

Saturday

lunch- Deliveroo or takeaway

dinner- pasta carbonara

Sunday

lunch- pork chops with baked potatoes

dinner - soup

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

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