Saturday 31 May 2014

Globecooking recipe : Turkish Kofte Meatballs

We've been on holiday to Turkey twice already (to Antalya and Bodrum) and we'll be going again this year (to Kusadasi) so I decided to try my hand at a Turkish-inspired meal. I'm trying to use up some of the more unusual spices on my spice rack which is why I used sumac, but you could substitute this for any other herbs and spices that you have.

Turkish Kofte Meatballs

ingredients :

500g mince (beef, turkey or lamb - whatever you fancy)
1 cup cooked rice (great for using leftovers or a sachet of microwavable rice is ideal)
1 onion, very finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 tbsp sumac (or substitute for other herbs/spices if you like)
1tbsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper
persil, mint (fresh or dried - whatever you have)
3 eggs
1 cup flour
2 cups toasted breadcrumbs 
olive oil

Put the mince, onion, garlic, rice and spices in a bowl, roll up your sleeves and squish it all together with your hands until everything is perfectly combined. Beat one egg and add to the mixture to help hold it together. Press it together into one large lump (keep kneading it until it all comes together) and place the bowl in the fridge for an hour.

Line up your dishes - first the bowl of meat mixture, next a plate of flour, then a bowl with the remaining two eggs (beaten) and finally the bowl of breadcrumbs. (I actually used up some stale savoury oat biscuits, crushing them in a freezer bag with a rolling pin, which gave them a lovely, slightly crunchy texture.) Don't forget to keep a baking tray or plate handy for putting the finished kofte on before you cook them. Pull off a piece of meat (a bit bigger than a golf ball), roll it in your hands then slightly flatten it between your palms. Gently dip and roll it in each bowl - flour, egg then breadcrumbs.

Heat a generous glug (enough to cover the bottom of the pan) of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the kofte until totally cooked through - about 5 minutes per side until they've gone golden brown and the juices run clear when they're stabbed.

I served these hot with Spanish potatoes but they would also go really well with couscous and salad - maybe Moroccan-style orange and carrot salad for a change. The leftover kofte are also delicious cold, dipped in garlic mayonnaise, so they'd be great for picnics or lunchboxes.

Link up your recipe of the week

Join in with the No Waste Food Challenge at Utterly Scrummy this month

Linking up with Food of the World which is focusing on Turkish food

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Globe-cooking recipe : Simple Feijoada with Golden Rice (Brazil)

Friday 30 May 2014

Giveaway #394 : Win 2 x TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES DVD collection - closed - winners Kim Neville, Cathryn Bowen


Experience the best of the original animated series of ©TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES® in this cowabunga collection of DVDs which are themed for each character.

Enjoy three ‘turtally’ awesome episodes starring the pizza-loving, shell-busting Leonardo™, Donatello™, Raphael™ and Michelangelo™ when the collection is released on 26th May 2014.

From their origins on the comic book page to the depths of Dimension X and beyond, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with the guidance of their Sensei, have been delighting fans for decades with their turtle power.
Whether it’s facing fierce enemies Krang™, Shredder™ and Lord Dregg™, saving humanity from near extinction, or battling against life-altering mutations, the half-shell heroes are always ready for heart-stopping, straight-outta-the-sewer action!

To celebrate the release of the turtle-tastic DVDs, I have two box-sets to give away to lucky Madhouse Family Reviews readers. Fill in your entries on the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 14/6/14

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook, twitter 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 a week, 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 !

Other giveaways you may be interested in :

Pampering treats to welcome in the summer

The weather really doesn't know what it wants to do at the moment, switching from balmy days to torrential downpours and huge thunderstorms with barely a minute's notice. We did have a weekend of gorgeous weather last weekend though so it was great to wander about in T-shirts, soaking up the sun (without forgetting the sun cream - there were some very sore, red arms and faces on show as we wandered about - not ours, I might add !).

It's not just clothes that need to be revamped for the summer though - my beauty regime needs to be stepped up a notch in the run up to summer too. After a whole winter hiding under trousers, my legs need some serious TLC before they're ready to be bared to the world in shorts ! Sloughing off dead skin cells and moisturising are both high on my list of priorities, so I was delighted to receive a little selection of pampering goodies to put through their paces and help get me ready for the summer.

First up was Wilkinson Sword's Intuition razor for dry skin. I wasn't overly keen on the colour of this one - is it just me that likes girly pink or vibrant colours on the bathroom shelf ?!- but I do love the fact that it contains coconut milk and almond oil to help nourish your skin while you shave. This did seem to work as I didn't suffer from any irritation or discomfort after shaving, which I often do. I love the fact that it foams gently when it comes into contact with water so you don't have to bother with shower gel or shaving foam - that will save a bit of space in your suitcase when you head off on holiday !

The next product that I received is an old favourite - St Ives Apricot Scrub which is a really refreshing exfoliating scrub, perfect for revealing fresher-looking skin without feeling too gritty or scratchy. You can read a full review of this product here from when I tried it out a couple of years ago.

The final product was a Be Surprised body spray from Impulse. Well, I was surprised actually because I remember Impulse from my youth, way back in the eighties, and they've come a long way since then. All Impulse fragrances are developed and inspired by fine fragrance perfumers in collaboration with Ann Gottlieb, who is the fragrance expert behind prestige blends for Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs and Oscar De La Renta. I love the exotic, oriental-inspired blend of violets and red fruits that is really refreshing and uplifting, but if that doesn't sound like your thing, there are a wide choice of other fragrances available - Into Glamour, Romantic Spark, Very Pink, Loving Words, Hint of Musk, True Love, Tease, Temptation, Sweet Smile and Secret Smile. It's great to see that they still have names to make teenage girls giggle and squeal as they try out the testers in Superdrug, just like I used to with my schoolfriends - some things never change !

St Ives have also shared their top tips for detoxing your skin and soul :

- Use St Ives facial scrub in the evening to rid your face of all the dirt that it picks up during the day or in the morning to create a perfect canvas that leaves you with a naturally radiant glow.

- Drink herbal teas : nettle, ginger, dandelion and sarsaparilla root are known to improve liver and kidney fucntion, speeding up toxin removal.

- Fill a bath tub with hot water and add Epsom salts. This can draw out dirt from the pores and relieve joint pain.

- Aim to drink three litres of fluid daily. This will help rid your body of toxins and give your skin an even healthier natural glow.

- Increasing the fibre content of your diet not only helps combat bloating, it has a tremendous benefit for your skin.

- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. A diet of acidic and alkaline based foods will balance the nutrients that are fed to your skin

Disclosure : I received the products in order to write an honest review.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Radox Fresh & Fruity Shower Gels review

It's not too early to break out the sun cream !

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 30/5/14

Last week was a totally crazily cosmopolitan globe-cooking week of brand new recipes so I thought I should balance things out with some old favourites this week !


lunch - pan-fried chicken breasts (with So Juicy cooking sheets) with sweet potato/potato wedges

dinner - homemade soup - vegetable or Mexican probably


lunch -  BBQ hopefully, otherwise roast dinner

dinner -  leftover soup or porridge/cereal


dinner - meatballs in tomato sauce with onions/peppers/chickpeas and couscous


dinner - cottage pie


lunch - fishfingers, mash and beans

dinner - spaghetti bolognese or maybe carbonara - either can be thrown together at a minute's notice !


dinner -  cauliflower cheese


dinner - tartiflette

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

Meal Planning Monday

Want to see what everyone else is eating ? Head over to Meal Planning Monday at Mrs M's blog !

Thursday 29 May 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys from Flair review

Cowabunga, dudes ! As you may have noticed in our previous blogposts, Pierre is a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan. He loves dressing up as his beloved heroes in a half-shell and playing with his pizza-munching toys.

He even likes sitting down to a specially prepared turtle pitta sandwich !

So it was certainly no surprise that he was over the moon when Flair's latest additions to the TMNT range arrived at The Madhouse for him to roadtest.

The first item that he discovered was this child-sized turtle shell which is great fun for dressing up. It is worn like a backpack with adjustable straps so that you're guaranteed the perfect fit as your child grows and the sticky-out brown bits on the back are for holding your ninja weapons when you're not using them. It also has a handle on the inside so you can take it off and wield it as a shield instead, if you so desire. It's sturdily built and can withstand a lot of play fighting ... which leads me nicely on to the next item.

Turtles Soft Foam Weapons ! Show me a child anywhere in the world who wouldn't love the opportunity to bash his (or her !) siblings and friends with big, realistic-looking foam weapons ! We got Michaelangelo's nunchuck but all of the Turtles' signature weapons are available. They're made of soft foam but nevertheless, they're quite firm so your kids could potentially hurt each other a bit, although not inflict any long-term damage, if their rough-and-tumble play gets a bit out of hand ! Using the shell as a shield is definitely a good option !

Finally we discovered the 16" Practice Pal Plush Turtle Figure which features over 10 phrases and sounds, using the proper turtle voices. I couldn't work out why it was called a Practice Pal at first but this soon became obvious - you have to punch, kick, chop, slam or throw your turtle pal against the wall to make him speak ! This had the Madhouse Mini-testers in fits of giggles, especially as he often lets out cries or yells that seem to respond to their play-violence ! Once they've finished beating him up with their ninja moves, he's actually very soft and cuddly so they can make it up to him by taking him to bed for some cuddles. (You might want to take the batteries out first so he doesn't actually start yelling in the middle of the night if he gets laid on or elbowed !)

(Huge apologies for the lack of action shots in this review - I totally drained the batteries in the camera with all my cookery photos and by the time I'd recharged them, the kids had moved on to playing with something else. Typical ! I'll come back and add some at a later date though - promise !)

It's a great collection of toys that will appeal to any little turtle fan, regardless of their sex, if Juliette and Pierre are anything to go by. They're suitable for children aged 4+. The dress-up items are great for imaginative play and Pierre has already decided that he'll be wearing the shell and weapons for Halloween this year. (Nothing like a bit of forward planning !)

If you have a TMNT fan in your midst, I have some great news for you - I'll have a giveaway coming up very soon where you can win a fab turtles dvd. Cowabunga - watch this space !

Disclosure : I received the products in order to write an honest review.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Power Sound FX & Ninja Combat Gear review

Globe-cooking recipe : Simple Feijoada with Golden Rice (Brazil)

The whole planet's about to go footie-mad so anything and everything relating to World Cup host country Brazil is hot news right now. I decided to get in on the action by trying one of Brazil's most famous dishes, Feijoada, creating this simplified version which uses nothing but things that I already had in the cupboard.

Simple Feijoada with Golden Rice


3 onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped
800g smoked sausages
400g tin of red kidney beans
beef stock (I used 2 Knorr stock pots)
1tsp smoked paprika

basmati rice
1tbsp Annetto seeds (known as Urucum in Brazil)

I had two packs of smoked sausages in the fridge which made up the meaty element of the dish. For a more authentic feijoada, you should also add 2 pork chops and some pork belly, chopped into small pieces - that sounds like a great way of using up leftovers from a roast pork joint. To get even more authentic, you can add pigs trotters, pig ears and pig snouts, but I think I might give that a miss !

In pan number one (for the rice), pour in a glug of olive oil and start frying 1/3 of the garlic and onion on a low heat.

In pan number two (for the feijoada), do the same with the rest of the onion and garlic.

For an authentic-looking golden rice, toss in 1tbsp of annatto seeds. I had these from a previous Kitchen Nomad box but don't go out and buy them specially - you could add 1tbsp turmeric instead to give it a yellow colour.

The Annetto seeds instantly start releasing their colour into the oil and onions.

Add the rice and cook for one minute; stirring constantly, then add boiling water and cook as normal, following the instructions on the pack.

In the second pot, add the red and yellow peppers and the sausages. Cook for 10 minutes, until the sausages are cooked through.

Add the tin of red kidney beans. (It should be black beans for a truly authentic feijoada but if you can't get them, red kidney beans will do just fine.) Add some beef stock - I plopped two Knorr Beef Stock Pots straight in and melted them, before adding water. If using stock cubes, dissolve in water beforehand.

Add enough water to come halfway up the feijoada and simmer for 10 minutes until the stock reduces and creates a thick sauce.

Adjust the seasoning - as my smoked sausages were very salty, I didn't need to add any salt but you may, depending on your ingredients. I also stirred in 1tsp smoked paprika for good measure. Serve over the golden rice.

I'm joining in with the World Cup recipe challenge over on the Cooking Around The World blog

Tasty Tuesdays on

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Globe-cooking recipe : Cuttlefish-ink Paella (Spain)

Madhouse Diaires : Geocaching turned into discovery trail !

Yesterday I was itching to get out in the fresh air and try to find some new geocaches, so we set off on foot to have another go in a local park where there are a series of caches which we didn't have much success with at all the last time we tried.

On the way, we discovered a new play area so we stopped for a while.

Then we wandered along a lovely green pathway next to a lake and had a first easy find, stuck under a strategically placed bench. (It's amazing that this lovely green landscape is just yards away from a motorway - you can see it in the background actually !)

We moved into the next field and had a look at the vertical archery equipment - I still have no idea how this works !

While Pierre and Juliette used the steps as a climbing frame, me and Sophie found and logged cache number two. So far so good !

We followed the path around to the next cache, spotting dozens of rabbits on the way - this took us down a bank to a lower  pathway that we had never discovered before and this trailed us around to a bridge that led us under the motorway. A very handy find because I didn't know this area was accessible on foot so that's just opened up lots of new places for us to explore on the other wide of the morotway (even if there aren't any more geocaches around there !). After a bit of hunting and a very close encounter with a big green grasshopper and a ladybird, we found and logged our third geocache.

We doubled back to the park and the younger Madhouse Mini-testers went chasing rabbits !

This is our favourite wildflower meadow - there was much rolling down banks and daisy-chain making here last year but the ground was far too damp today !

Pierre stopped every few metres to dig about in the puddles with a stick !

On to the next cache that we'd failed to find last time. It has been found since so it's still there apparently. This is a magnetic one, attached to a bridge, and as far as I can tell, you have to go halfway down the bank to find it on the underside of the bridge. I scrambled about like a mad woman, looking in all the nooks and crannies, but still didn't manage to locate it. We did find half a torn logbook on the ground though so we were definitely in the right place.

We may not have found the cache but we did find some very intriguing animal skulls under the bridge. Not sure what this one is.

But this one is almost definitely a duck or a swan. I'd never thought about a beak being made of bone before but I suppose it's obvious really ! Sophie - who is fascinated by fossils and owl pellets and all that kind of thing - thought that these gruesome finds were fantastic and carefully packed them away in an empty biscuit box to show them to her biology teacher at school ! 

On to the next play area and we saw a very cute little duckling, swimming extremely fast whenever its parents got a little too far away !

Sophie found a pretty feather to add to her collection of nature finds.

We spotted a heron on the far bank.

We went looking for another geocache which we didn't find, but we did find a bird's egg - something else to add to the special finds box ! The kids were so excited, it was even better than finding the cache !

Our luck had obviously dried up - we ended with two more "did not finds", one in the brambles so I didn't look too hard and one in a tree that I'm sure was staring me right in the face but I just couldn't see it. Maybe there are more leaves now than when it was hidden ! (It was a micro too so was probably tiny.)We had a quick read about the fort - it was built from 1906-1908 and ended up being used as a resting place for exhausted soldiers in the First World War before they headed back to the front, as well as a shelter for the terrified civil population, then at the end of World War 2, it was used to accommodate prisoners of war.

One final find on the way home - this huge plastic bee in the middle of a roundabout !

We didn't even find half of the caches that we were looking for, but we did have a lot of fun and make some rather surprising discoveries !
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