Wednesday 23 November 2016

Stocking the cupboards with some festive fayre (foodie roundup)

Earlier in the year, I was delighted to win £400 of John Lewis vouchers in a competition and decided to put them towards Christmas goodies. I ordered lots of presents and stocking fillers for the kids, along with a fabulous Christmas hamper. It was delivered about a month ago and it reminded of the classic festive episode of The Good Life when Tom and Margo panic because "Christmas hasn't been delivered". Just unpacking it and looking at all the Christmas food like mince pies and yule log made me feel Christmassy, but I was just as excited about the jars of posh jams, relishes and nibbles that we wouldn't usually buy. There are certain foods that I only ever eat at Christmas because it makes them seem extra special - Terry's Chocolate Orange is one, homemade chocolate truffles are another. I always think that Christmas is a great time for trying new brands and delicacies, and we've been delighted to sample lots of new foodie products here at The Madhouse in the past few weeks.

Baxters have created a range of Deli Toppers (RRP : £1.49), which will be absolutely perfect for jazzing up the leftover turkey in sandwiches and salads. We tried the Red Slaw which is great with burgers, pulled pork and cold cuts, but it is also available in various other flavours : Spicy Slaw, Jalapenos, Red Onion. I actually won my jar in a giveaway that I posted in a recent Fab Freebies of the Week roundup - they are giving away 100 a day until 5th December (that's 3100 jars in total !) and you can enter every day so you have great odds of winning one. Which flavour would you pick?

Christmas is always a time when sweets, crisps and chocolates seem to be constantly out for grazing on, which is bad news for the kids (and the adults, come to that !), so Del Monte's new range of Squeezies are a great alternative. They come in three flavours : Apple, Banana & Strawberry, Apple & Mango and Apple, Banana & Blueberry. All three got a thumbs up from the Madhouse kids. They are designed to be extra appealing to the 6-9 age group, so they have fun Mickey/Minnie Mouse packaging, as well as collectable caps that can be used to construct towers, castles and a variety of other shapes. (Each pack comes with an app with a fun card game and shape inspiration for your lids.) They are made with 100% fruit and no added sugar, they count towards your 5-a-day and are lunchbox friendly. (RRP : 79p per pouch)

The Black Farmer has added another product to his range - after reviewing their Sweet Mature Cheddar, Pulled Pork Sausages and Beef / Beef & Cheese Burgers, we've been trying out the brand new Black Farmer Chicken Flamenco Sausages this week. As the name suggests, they have Spanish flavours going on, with the addition of Roasted Red Peppers, Smoked Paprika and Rioja red wine. They're very tasty with a rich smokiness from the paprika and, just like the Black Farmer pork sausages, they're gluten-free. They seem really high quality and aren't too fatty - lovely with mash and beans or in a sausage sandwich, with some of the red slaw Deli Topper that I mentioned above. (RRP £2.99 for 6)

Macabella is a product I'll be telling you more about in a recipe post next week, but I wanted to give it a mention here too because it's lovely. It's brand new to the UK but it was Australia's 2016 Product of the Year for the Spreads category. The first of its kind in the United Kingdom, Macabella is a macadamia nut infused cocoa spread made with quality ingredients, which comes in both a crunchy and smooth (velvet) variety. Imagine a more grown up and much more refined version of Nutella ! It can be eaten on toast or pancakes, in baking or straight from the jar when you think nobody's looking ! Macabella features the highest percentage of nuts in the supermarket spreads category with a minimum 19.5% macadamias in every jar of Macabella Crunch and 15% in the Velvet. (RRP £3, available at Sainsbury's, for more info, visit @macabellaspread #SpreadTheSecret)

Tyrrell's have some fabulously festive snacking options available this Christmas, with the launch of their limited edition Three Bird Roast Crisps and Bellini Poshcorn. Both have fun packaging and flavours that are as original as they are delicious. You might want to avoid ‘foul-tempers’ at Christmas and fill up your snack bowls with Tyrrells hand-cooked, curly crisps, flavoured with the traditional Christmas trio of roast chicken, duck and turkey (RRP £2.19), or put the glamour into Christmas with the fun, frivolous and ever so slightly fizzy Bellini popcorn delight (RRP £1.59). This delightfully decadent duo is the latest to join the Tyrrells hall of fame, alongside the likes of the much-loved Mixed Root Vegetable Crisps range. If you're going to overdo the snacking this Christmas, you might as well do it in style !

Speaking of overdoing it, if you're wondering what to drink over the festive period, I recently won a bottle of Magnum Cream Liqueur, which was a brand I'd never heard of before. The official blurb says : "Magnum Cream Liqueur is a delicious blend of smooth Speyside Scotch Whisky and luscious Dutch cream. Creamy notes of chocolate, caramel and toffee play off the Scotch malt whisky for a balanced experience that is luscious but not sweet. It is distinctively packaged in a 100% Recyclable, Stainless Steel canister that makes a unique gift." Mine even came with a cute Scottish hat on top ! I'm looking forward to sampling this over the festive period :)

I've featured Naturelly, the gelatin-free jelly juice, on my blog before, and they recently sent us some of their redesigned fruity pouches to celebrate winning Gold for Best Toddler Snack and Silver for Best Child Snack in this year's Loved By Parents Awards. I have to be honest, I'm not keen on the slightly lumpy texture myself, but all three of the Madhouse kids love it ! Each pouch contains no added sugar, just 1.5 teaspoons of naturally occurring fruit sugar and 36 calories, as well as 25% of the RDI for vitamins A, C and E. Can't say fairer than that !

Have you discovered any new foodie brands and products lately? What are your Christmas essentials?

Disclosure : I received some of  the products in order to write an honest review and some were competition wins.

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