Friday 31 October 2014

Some last minute Halloween baking !

When I popped into Lidl this morning to pick up some tomatoes, they were clearing out their Halloween baking range. The kits looked fun - bubble gum flavour icing and pumpkin-shaped rice paper shapes were enough to sell them ! - so I told Pierre to grab a box of each.

The Halloween Cupcakes kit contained a sachet of chocolate cupcake mix, a sachet of icing sugar that turns bright green (and smells of bubble gum !) when you add milk and some orange sprinkles.

The Halloween Iced Cake Bites kit contains a sachet of whoopie mix, a sachet of icing sugar (that turns blood red !) and some cool pumpkin cake toppers.

Pierre got down to business, cracking an egg to add to each and mixing in the milk, oil and margarine, as per the instructions.

Half an hour later, here was the finished result.

The bubble gum icing is a bit sickly but the kids liked them and they certainly look the part for Halloween !

After this we headed off for some trick-or-treating.

After wandering around the neighbourhood, here was our sweetie stash - including the packet of Jaffa cakes !

So did you do anything for Halloween this year? Sophie's highlight was still her 1D carved pumpkin !

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Have a (Carved) Heart This Halloween !

Getting ready for our #Doraandfriends twitter party !

Excitement levels are mounting for the Dora and Friends Into The City party that we'll be hosting on Monday ! 

And here's why - the postie has dropped off this fabulous party pack. I can see a pinata, some cupcakes, popcorn, pass the parcel, colouring and much much more but you'll have to come along on Monday to find out more !

You can follow our party live on twitter on Monday 3rd November from 4-6pm. During the party there will be online spot competitions and more fun and games to take part in, so make sure your laptop, PC or smart device is ready to go as the party starts. Keep an eye on the #doraandfriends hashtag and @NickJrUK's twitter feed, as well as mine at @cherylp59. These live twitter parties are always a bit manic so it should be great fun ! Hope to see you there !

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Madhouse Diaries : Best geocache ever !

Madhouse recipe : Spicy Tuna & Tomato Quiche

As I was just telling you, Princes have challenged us to get creative with their range of canned fish for a new blogger challenge. (You can get involved too on the website.) Here's my first creation, and it's one that the whole family loved.

Spicy Tuna & Tomato Quiche

ingredients :

1 pack of ready-to-roll flaky pastry
2 cans of Princes tuna in brine, drained
1 small onion, very finely chopped
3 tbsp tomato puree
3 tbsp tomato & chilli relish
3 eggs
salt & pepper
1 tomato, sliced
50g grated cheese
a handful of olives

Use the flaky pastry to line a flan dish, stab all over with a fork and put in the oven for 10 minutes to precook.

In a bowl, break up the tuna with a fork. add the tomato puree, relish and onion. Stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Break three eggs into a pint glass (or measuring jug) and whisk. Top up to the 1 pint mark with milk. Add to the tuna mixture and use to fill the pastry base.

Arrange slices of tomato and halved olives on top.

Sprinkle with the cheese.

Put in the oven at 200° for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and completely set. Serve hot or cold, with salad.

Disclosure : Princes sent me a hamper of ingredients in order to take part in the blogger challenge.

If you think you can do better, make sure you head over to share your fish dish on the website !

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Madhouse recipe : Figgy Pizzas

Cooking with a Tagine : Chicken & Preserved Lemon Tagine

Mealtimes Fit For Princes !

I was very excited a few weeks ago when Princes got in touch with a fabulous recipe challenge for us. I always love cookery challenges, especially when they use classic store cupboard ingredients. This was to highlight the fact that Princes have launched a major on-pack promotion on 4-packs of tuna, urging people to share their Favourite Fish Dish for the chance to win a prize. All you have to do is to enter a code from promotional 4-packs of tuna at and share your recipe online.

Princes sent us a lovely selection of their products to help inspire us. I'll be getting creative in the kitchen with tins of tuna, mackerel and salmon, as well as some tasty looking Deli Fillers.

They also sent us through a recipe booklet to give us some ideas and I was very impressed at the wide selection of quick but delicious-sounding meals in them. Crispy Tuna Burgers on Ciabatta or Tuna Niçoise Baguettes?

Salmon Noodle Bowl or Red Salmon, Potato, Green Bean and Radish Salad?

Moroccan Mackerel with Flatbreads and Chickpea Salad or Mackerel Pasta and Tomato Bake?

There's much more to canned fish than a tuna mayo sandwich !

I'll be sharing some of my own ideas with you over the coming weeks, starting with a rather tasty Spicy Tuna and Tomato Quiche that we ate yesterday (and very nice it was too !)

If you think you can do better, make sure you head over to share your fish dish on the website !

Disclosure : I received a hamper and a shopping voucher in order to take part in the challenge.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Globe-cooking recipe : Beetroot Salad with King Prawns (Thailand)

What's Cooking At The Madhouse? menu plan 31/10/14

Well, it's back to work and into a slightly crazy week with two parent-teacher evenings so Madhouse Daddy will be in charge of the cooking on those days as I'll be home around 9pm. I'm predicting that he'll either make soup or throw a frozen pizza in the oven, but he may surprise me !


lunch - I'm thinking homemade hamburgers and chips or fajitas - I'll throw it open to a public vote !

dinner - soup but not sure what - maybe Mexican black bean, maybe vegetable


lunch - roast dinner - the Madhouse grandparents are over for the day

dinner -  leftover soup


dinner - chicken curry with rice and naan


dinner - a Madhouse Daddy night - soup?


lunch - cheesy salmon fishcakes with mash and beans

dinner - macaroni cheese


dinner - another Madhouse Daddy night - there might be some leftovers to use up hopefully


dinner - mackerel and potato salad

***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 30 October 2014

Our Halloween Baking with Yolli

A couple of months ago, got in touch and offered to send us through some goodies for us to get busy in the kitchen. It was a website I'd never heard of so I went to have a look and might have let out a little squeal ! They've got everything you need for making cakes, sweets and chocolates, including bags, ribbons and lolly sticks for making the perfect edible homemade Christmas gifts.

 They sent us through a little selection including a cookie cutter, fondant imprint mat and some ready-to-roll icing. When I saw the colours - orange and black - I knew that it would be perfect for some Halloween baking and put it in the cupboard until nearer the time.

Yesterday we pulled it all out and decided to get creating a ghoulish Halloween cake.

I'd never seen a fondant imprint mat before but it's a very clever idea. You roll your icing out on it and it picks up the pretty star design that is embossed on it. (There are other designs available and they only cost £6.98 so you could invest in one of each.)

We rolled out the orange icing , which didn't actually get as big as I was hoping. We'd made a big banana and chocolate cake (using up some over-ripe bananas from the fruit bowl that would have looked perfect for Halloween if I'd left them any longer !). I used the recipe that I'd used for banana and chocolate muffins but made one big cake instead. I'd planned on covering the whole cake - top and sides - with orange icing but one pack was only big enough to cover most of the top. 

The mat is totally flexible so you just roll it back to peel off the icing.

The patterns come through really well.

The only problem was, it did stick quite a lot so I didn't get a perfectly smooth finish and I had to seal up a couple of holes.

It was good enough for a Madhouse cake but I'd need some extra practice before using it for a birthday or special occasion cake that needs to look perfect !

I used the black icing for creating some eyes and a mouth to complete our Halloween pumpkin design. Meanwhile, Sophie was carving the real thing - but it ended up with a 1D design rather than the traditional Jack o' lantern face !

If you like getting creative in the kitchen, make sure you head over to to see what they have in stock. I have my eye on the multicoloured melts and the fillable Christmas decorations at the moment.

for more information :

Disclosure : I received some goodies in order to write an honest review.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

ASDA Witches Hat Cake Pop Kit review

Kiddie Kitchen Fun : Cheerios Frankenstein's Monsters

Madhouse Diaries : Best geocache ever !

The weather hasn't been great this week so we decided to make the most of a sunny afternoon to get out into the fresh air. We started off with a trip to the swings.

Then - yes, you guessed it ! - popped over to a nearby wood to see if we could grab a few geocaches before the sun went down.

We found a couple of regular caches then stumbled across this one which is a work of sheer genius ! In the cache is a doorbell.

You push the button then listen carefully and the chimes lead you to the actual cache, hidden below the other part of the doorbell that has been stuck to a tree !

This had us in stitches because we had Pierre at one location, pushing the button, while the rest of us went crashing through the surrounding trees trying to locate the source of the sound !

Sophie got there first !

We found this cute travel bug inside. CITO stands for Cache In Trash Out which is a call for geocachers to tidy up the countryside as you go. We do tend to do this, even uncovering a stolen handbag hidden in the undergrowth at a park on one occasion !

Pierre investigated the insects with his magnifying glass again !

Then we collected some autumn leaves for a crafts session at home.

Pierre played with a pile of logs.

And Juliette uncovered a geocache that wasn't even supposed to be there !

I would think the woodcutters uncovered it by accident so we checked the proper coordinates and put it back in the right place.

The kids wanted to carry on but it was getting late so I thought we'd better head for home. We'll definitely be back to find some more from this series though.

Just time for some last minute puddle jumping before the bus arrived !

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Madhouse Diaries : Uncovering Hidden Corners of Dunkirk

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