Thursday 31 January 2019

Globecooking recipe : Tiropita (Greece) #readcookeat

As you'll know if you're a regular reader of my blog, there are two cooking challenges that I love to take part in : discovering new international recipes in my globecooking section, and being inspired to cook recipes from the books I read for the #readcookeat challenge. Well, this recipe for tiropita - little filo-pastry cheese parcels - lets me kill two birds with one stone !

I came across a mention for tiropita in Prodigal, a book by Charles Lambert that I read and reviewed back in October. (Click through to read my review.) It follows the rather complicated life of Jeremy, who is a gay, soft porn writer, trying to reconnect with his sister at his father's deathbed. He looks back over his life, including a trip to Greece when his mother died some thirty years previously, when they catch up with his mother's new man.

p208 At the most, it's a matter of days, he explains to them this first afternoon, as they stand together in the hospital car park. They have left her sleeping, eaten tiropita bought in a local bakery, drunk soda water from small glass bottles.

From looking around online, there are numerous variations of cheesy mixtures that can be used to stuff tiropita, so I just went with what was in the fridge. Feel free to mix things up though - the only obligatory ingredients are filo pastry and cheese.


180g feta
80g parmesan
80g ricotta
1 egg
1 pack filo pastry (9 sheets)
milk or melted butter

First of all, I had a good look through for the fridge for different cheeses and found some parmesan (grated and chunks), some ricotta, some feta and some mozzarella. I decided to use the first three.

Put the feta in a bowl and use a fork to break it up into small pieces.

Mix in some grated parmesan and some ricotta.

And finally beat in an egg.

For pretty little regular triangles, you'll need rectangular filo pastry but mine was round - oh well, never mind ! Lay three sheets on top of each other, brushing them with milk or melted butter. Cut the pastry into two halves.

Time to start folding it all up. Place a heaped spoonful of cheese mixture on one end.

Fold one corner across to make a triangle.

If using rectangular sheets of pastry, you'll be able to flip the triangles back and forth very neatly. If using round sheets, well, just do the best you can !

Try to keep all the corners tucked underneath if you can. 

Lay them out on a baking tray and brush with some milk.

Bake at 180° for about 15 minutes until they are lovely and golden. Careful - the cheese filling stays very hot for quite a while !

Joining up with #readcookeat over at Chez Maximka.

*** Don't miss my globecooking recipe index ! ***

Fancy trying some more Greek cuisine? How about some of the following :

Wednesday 30 January 2019

The Recovery-themed January Degustabox review

This week saw the arrival of the year's first Degustabox. What would be hiding inside the package? I predicted a New Year's Resolution type of theme, with diet-friendly goodies, as in previous year's January boxes, and I wasn't far wrong ... this month's theme is Recovery.

The Madhouse kids excitedly buzzed in the background as we unpacked the products and, while they found a few things that they were interested in - the chocolate biscuits, the strawberry Liobites and the jellies, in particular - they didn't get as enthusiastic as usual. They may change their minds once we've taste-tested everything though.

Dipping into the box, we pulled out three Yes! Fruit & Nut Bars (RRP £1.20). These wholesome snack bars are a pretty healthy option, as they contain no added sugar (besides naturally occuring sugars) and count towards your five-a-day. They have found their way into my bag so that I can have a mid-morning snack at school - delicious !

Next, I discovered a small bottle of Willy's Apple Cider Vinegar (RRP £2.95), which starts its life amongst the 200 acres of pristine orchards in the beautiful Herefordshire countryside. The write-up tells us : "From apple to bottle, Willy's ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) provides you with your daily dose of probiotic goodness. Our raw and unpasteurised ACV contains the mother and is sustainable and recyclable". I shall investigate - on the bottle, it says it is delicious as a tonic or a dressing, and I've seen people on their website saying it is a delicious and healthy drink when mixed with warm water, honey, lemon and ginger.

LioBites Freeze Dried Strawberry Crisps (RRP £1.50) got a cheer when they emerged from the box - the kids love them, but as they're a pricey treat, we only tend to eat them when they're in Degustaboxes ! Fresh fruit is picked in season and freeze-dried, creating a delicious snack that is full of flavour, vitamins and antioxidants. Very tasty.

Next was a brand that we'd heard of but a product that was new to us : Pipers Matar Paneer Crispeas (RRP £1). These offer bold Indian flavours in a gluten-free, wheat-free and barley-free snack, that is packed with protein and fibre, while only containing 91 calories. We love the concept but weren't keen on the Indian spices so I'll be looking out for other flavours.

Kallo is a brand I was familiar with, after trying other products in previous Degustaboxes, but Kallo Protein Packed Lentil Cakes (RRP £1.30) were a new one for us, alongside the more classic Kallo Organic Lightly Salted Wholegrain Low Fat Rice Cakes (RRP £1.30). I'll be honest - they're not something I would fantasise about eating, but if you want something low-calorie (just 30 calories per cake), as a luch or a snack when you're dieting, they can be topped off with a variety of sweet or savoury toppings for a guilt-free option. It is January after all !

Miso Tasty Original Ramen Noodle Meal Kit (RRP £3.50) contains everything you need for a two person meal (or for two single serving meals) : non-fried noodle nests, Miso Tasty white miso pastes, seaweed & spring onion garnishes, sesame seeds and sesame oils. You can add your own toppings, it's ready in 6 minutes and is a vegetarian option. I made a Beef & Veg Ramen Stir Fry last time, which was very tasty and appealed to the whole family.

Ryvita have been around for years, but Ryvita Protein Red Quinoa & Sesame (RRP £1.59) was a new one for us. I'm going to have to start taking a packed lunch rather than going to the canteen in order to use up some of these savoury snack options ! They are made with pea protein and rye to offer a high protein, high fibre, vegan option that can be eaten with hummus or your favourite veg for a guilt-free lunch or snack.

PB Fit Peanut Butter Powder (RRP 75p) is not something that I would have bought as I had no idea what it could be used in. The info card provides some useful ideas though : "PBFit is everything you love about peanut butter, made better. Whole-roasted peanuts, pressed to perfection, means PBFit contains up to 90% less fat than traditional peanut butter and about 1/3 the calories. Great in smoothies, shakes, baking and more." The product in the Degustabox is only available in the US, but you can buy a 225g tub of PBFit from Amazon, Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrison's, Lakeland, Ocado and more.

Now, I was quietly excited about these 10 Cal Hartley's Jellies (75p), in fabulous dessert-inspired flavours, such as Black Forest Gateau and Lemon Cheesecake. They're fabulous for when you want to snack on something or if you fancy a guilt-free dessert.

Finally, the kids' top pick, Bahlsen Pick Up (£1.69) in milk chocolate flavour. You get a lovely slab of chocolate sandwiched between two biscuits so you won't get messy eating it - great idea ! They're individually wrapped so can be packed in bags or pockets for eating later. Delicious !

The recipe card this month suggests making a PBfit Berry Smoothie, which looks like a tasty option.

This is a great selection if you're watching your waistline and trying to eat healthily for the New Year, but it may not appeal to families so much. I'm sure things will be back to normal, with alcohol, chocolate and sweets a-plenty, next month though ! 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 £7.99 - 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.

Tuesday 29 January 2019

Giveaway #711 : Win a Milton antibacterial bundle - closed - winner Sharon Martin

Milton has been a leading name in sterilising for over 70 years. During that time the ‘Milton Method’ of cold water sterilisation has been used by millions of parents, and in homes and hospitals throughout the UK and beyond. But that's not all !

 Many of their products can be used around the home or when out and about and, during the winter months, they can be a great way of avoiding the spread of germs if anyone has got a cold or the flu. Here are some of the most useful day-to-day products :

Antibacterial Surface Wipes

Ideal for travel and quick clean ups at home or on the move with baby. Kill 99.9% of germs including bacterial and fungi. Can be used on highchairs, toys, changing mats. Also handy for on the go when using public transport and restaurant toilets. Fragrance free and no need to rinse.

RRP – £2.35. Stockists: Asda, Babies R Us, Sainsbury’s, Superdrug, Tesco and Precious Little One.

Antibacterial Surface Spray

Bleach-free formula cleans, disinfects and freshens all surfaces - including kitchen worktops, potties, high chairs, fridges and baby’s changing mat. This 3-in-1 antibacterial spray kills 99.9% of germs including bacteria and fungi, leaving a lovely fresh fragrance.

RRP – £2.29. Stockists: Asda, Babies R Us, Sainsbury’s, Superdrug, Tesco and Precious Little One.

Antibacterial Hand Gel

Milton’s new plant based Antibacterial Hand Gel is designed to help ward off germs. The gel is effective in just 30 seconds on bacteria, mycobacteria, fungi, viruses and 99.9% of germs. 100% plant based, the active ingredient is produced from beetroot certified to be GMO free. The gel is fragrance and colour free, reducing the risk of an allergic skin reaction. It is hypoallergenic and tested dermatologically making it ideal for multiple daily use on both big and little hands.

The 100ml version retails at £2.26 and is available from Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Boots, Waitrose and Ocado and specialist Baby stores. The 500ml versions retails at £3.99 and is available from Boots. The packaging is 100% recyclable

Milton has also launched a new eco-friendly Baby Bottle Cleaner, specifically to remove milk residue, made with 100% plant based cleaning agents. The 100% biodegradable cleaner has been designed to ensure thorough cleaning of babies feeding equipment before sterilising.

The new baby bottle cleaner is dermatologically tested and formulated for sensitive skin, making it kind to hands even after washing up multiple times per day. The transparent gel is fragrance, colour and paraben free. It comes in a 500ml dispenser bottle with push and pull pump, releasing the correct amount of liquid to create a foamy lather for cleaning a range of products, including babies’ bottles, teats, teethers, toys, breast pump components, breastfeeding accessories and family dishes.

All baby feeding equipment must be pre-cleaned to be sterilised effectively; milk often creates a white film on feeding equipment which can be difficult to remove especially around the rim of a bottle. Milk residue left on bottles, can create a dangerous breeding ground for bacteria growth.

The Baby Bottle Cleaner retails at £2.99 and is available from Boots, Ocado and specialist Baby stores. The packaging is 100% recyclable.

Milton products are available nationwide and can be found in Asda, Babies R Us, John Lewis, Kiddicare, Kiddisave, Mothercare, Ocado, Precious Little One’s, Sainsbury’s Superdrug, Tesco and many independent retailers, online stores and pharmacies.

For more information:

I'm delighted to have a fabulous package of Milton products up for grabs, including 1 x Milton Antibacterial Hand Gel, 1 x Antibacterial Surface Spray, 1 x Antibacterial Surface Wipes and 1 x Baby Bottle Cleaner. Fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 13/2/19

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook 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 28 days, 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. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize. 

You may also like to enter my other giveaways :

Giveaway #710 : Win an Ultimate Eye Twisters book - closing date 9/2

Monday 28 January 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #5

Sophie's back from her trip to Italy - she had a great time ! - so it's back to a normal week. In other words, no more fish on the menu - boo ! I've been having a scroll through my bookmarked recipes, so there are lots of new dishes to try on this week's menu - I'll share the recipes once we've tried them.


dinner - Bangers and mash, cottage pie style - with some veg on the side or maybe mixed in with the sausages, not sure yet !


dinner - Khachapuri, Georgian-style cheese pizzas - these look really tasty so I'm hoping they'll work out !


lunch - spaghetti with cheese & bacon sauce

dinner - Prawn Chow Mein


dinner - fricadelles (spicy Belgian sausages) with chips and beans


 dinner - Chinese orange chicken with rice


lunch - kids' choice of fast food - probably the old favourite, McDonald's !

dinner - sandwiches and fridge clearout - I'll try making some Tiropita (Greek cheese pastries) for anyone who wants them too


lunch -  the classic Sunday roast - roast chicken, stuffing, gravy, carrots, mushrooms, onions

dinner - sandwiches and/or fridge clearout

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


Sunday 27 January 2019

Supporting your immune system with Sambucol Black Elderberry (review)

I was reading in Yahoo News the other day about a whole school that has shut down due to the flu - about half of the teachers had it and a load of pupils too, so they shut it down to prevent infecting the rest, I suppose. I had a text message from my sister-in-law last week to say they had flu too. So far, here at The Madhouse, we've managed to stay healthy, but as a teacher, it can be hard to keep the bugs at bay. I spend half of my time moaning at pupils who cough and sneeze without covering their mouths, and we're talking secondary school pupils here ! I did have a bit of a sore throat the other day and I have a slightly bunged up nose, so I'm just crossing my fingers that it doesn't get any worse.

I do have an ally luckily. I received some Sambucol Black Elderberry products to review, which can help build immunity and limit the duration of cold and flu symptoms. They have a lovely, fruity flavour and the pastilles are just like sweets, so it's really no fuss eating them or convincing the kids to eat them.

Rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins, the range is known for its immune health benefits, providing a distinctive mode of action called AntiVirin, which helps protect healthy cells, inactivate infectious viruses and boost immunity. Sambucol Immuno Forte also contains Vitamin C and Zinc, both well known for their ability to support the immune system.

The Sambucol Immuno Forte range is available in four formats - a delicious liquid, easy-to-swallow capsules, effervescent tablets and pastilles - so you're bound to find one that suits your tastes. Personally, I love the pastilles for sheer simplicity. It is recommended to start taking the range to build antioxidant levels - if it helps prevent us coming down with colds and flu, it's definitely worthwhile !

RRP : Sambucol Immuno Forte Liquid: £9.99, Sambucol Immuno Forte Capsules: £13.99, Sambucol Immuno Forte Effervescent: £8.99, Sambucol Immuno Forte Pastilles: £6.99

for more information :

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

Saturday 26 January 2019

Fab freebies of the week 26/1

Well, it only seems five minutes ago that we were sitting down to Christmas dinner, but now January's pretty much been and gone ! Where does the time go? Ah well, grab yourself five minutes and catch up with some of the week's best freebies :)


Pun-tastically Soft, Eco-tastically Safe
We're giving away 1000's of Eiffel Towels. Enter your email below to get one!

As a member of the Stylist Beauty Council, you’ll also get the chance to try out the latest beauty products, and receive exclusive invites and offers for all things beauty.

Win A Free Sample Pack from ALLES Body Care

Grab a free Cacharel Yes I Am fragrance sample

We've joined forces with Sweatcoin to launch our Less Is Amore menu so that you can turn steps into prizes! Download the App here and you’ll receive 5 free sweatcoins, which will buy you two soft drinks with us at Bella Italia and you'll be entered into a prize draw to win 30,000 sweatcoins - which you can trade for prizes like £1,000 or an iphoneXS!

Hmm not sure about this one !! ... Nothing beats the sweet, soulful aroma of KFC gravy.
So this January, why not fill your home with Finger Lickin’ good vibes thanks to our limited edition KFC Gravy Candle.

Grab a free bottle of Robinsons Refresh'd and Nestle Cerelac on Shopmium

Grab yourself a free Valentine's Day card from 1ClickPrint

TRY MINÉRAL 89 HYALURONIC BOOSTER - COMPLETE THE FULL FORM to request your free samples of Minéral 89 from Vichy

In honour of Blue Monday, grab yourselves a code for a free bottle of Becks Blue alcohol-free beer

Visit your nearest Dior beauty counter for a 10-day sample or discover Forever now on

Grab some Free Herbal Essences Shampoo & Conditioner on Super Savvy Me

On the Pentel facebook page : Happy National Handwriting Day! To celebrate we’re giving away 100 EnerGel Xm retractable pens!

100 runners up will win the full range of Ryvita Crunchy Rye Breads to get creative with.

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

Friday 25 January 2019

#readcookeat recipe : Hogslop (Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw)

I recently read Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw: Excursions In The Great Weird North by Will Ferguson (click through to read my review), which is a collection of essays about various trips to towns and regions across Canada. My #readcookeat radar was on high alert, scanning the pages, looking for a mention of something decidedly delicious-sounding that I could recreate. Well, sadly, I didn't actually find much, but there was this mention :

p208 This cafe is on St George Street, and it's called The Copper Kettle or The Iron Griddle or The Brass Bucket. A very friendly place. With very friendly service. Our waitress is cornfed and all smiles, and she deals us our menus as though they are a pair of oversized playing cards. Though I don't know why she bothers with menus, because she has, in her cheerful way, already decided for us. "Try the hogslop," she says, beaming.
Ian and I exchange glances.
"You're telling us we should try the hogslop?"
"Oh yes, it's very good."
"Okay. Two hogslops."
Turns out hogslop is not a communal practical joke played by Dresdenians on hapless outsiders. Nor is it an actual slop à la hogs. No, hogslop - a Dresden speciality, it seems - is a churned mix of potatoes, bacon, ham and onions. It has the texture and aroma of, well, hogslop. But it tastes mighty fine (potato, bacon, ham, onions : how can you go wrong?), even if the effect that follows it is not unlike how one might feel after consuming a half-sack of wet cement.

Well, despite the reference to a sack of cement, this actually really appealed to me, as a kid-friendly globecooking recipe. I decided to go looking on google for inspiration, and I did find two recipes that initially sounded promising - Hog Slop Casserole and Pig Slop. However, on closer inspection, they were actually nothing like the original meal. Hmmmm. Not one to give up, I managed to find an archived copy of the menu card for the Burns Restaurant in Dresden online, which has this mention on it : "Two scrambled eggs mixed with our hog slop mixture of diced ham, bacon, onions, Italian sausage and diced potatoes, then hollandaise sauce and shredded cheddar." Well, that sounded like a bit of a meat overdose, so I went back to the original recipe from the book, using just bacon, onions and potatoes. It was very tasty, with a fried egg on the side.


ingredients :

2 packets of bacon lardons
1 large onion
4 medium potatoes

Peel and chop the onion and put it in a large frying pan with the bacon lardons. Fry over a gentle heat for 10 minutes or so until the onion is soft and the lardons have taken on some colour.

This would be a great recipe for using up leftover baked potatoes (or roast potatoes or mashed potatoes - whatever you've got) but I microwaved mine for 15-20 minutes, until they were cooked all the way through. After removing them from the oven, I put them on a plate one at a time and crushed them with a masher. I still left them in quite large pieces though, but this is down to personal taste.

Add the mashed potato the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes, for everything to heat through. The potatoes will soak up all of the fat from the bacon, but you could always add extra butter, if necessary. I had a quick taste and it was salty enough, but feel free to add extra, if you want.

I decided to serve a mound of hogslop with a fried egg, which was a stroke of genius, as it saved the hogslop from being too dry. This would be great for breakfast or brunch, as well as lunch or dinner.

Linking up with the #readcookeat challenge over at Chez Maximka.

*** Don't miss my globecooking recipe index ! More recipes from Canada here ***

Adding to the #KitchenClearout linky as a great way of using up leftover baked potatoes.

Thursday 24 January 2019

Giveaway #710 : Win an Ultimate Eye Twisters book - closed - winner Samantha O' Donnell

Ultimate Eye Twisters is a bumper collection of crazy and mesmerizing optical illusions and visual puzzles, guaranteed to appeal to the whole family. It contains hours of eye-boggling, mind-twisting fun for kids who love the challenges of visual trickery. 

Pierre loves looking up optical illusions on youtube, so I was pleased to see that he is just as interested in book form. He was spoilt for choice and loved showing me the different pages.

From strange faces to colour-changing shenanigans, illusory moving patterns to visual paradoxes, your brain will be saying it's impossible but your eyes will still be seeing strange shapes and movements !

There are even examples and explanations to help you set up your own optical illusion photos, so you can still have fun even when you've finished working through the book.

Ultimate Eye Twisters | 9781783124480
Author: Gianna A. Sarcone
Paperback | £8.99 | Published: January 2019
Age: 7+

for more information :

Carlton Kids have kindly provided me with a copy of Ultimate Eye Twisters to give away to a lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

UK only. Closing date : 9/2/19

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook 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 28 days, 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. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize. 

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Madhouse recipe : Brownie-style cookies

Now, these may not look like the most appetising biscuits in the world, but they were great for clearing out the kitchen cupboards and they tasted delicious. They were based on a recipe for Texas Sheet Cake Cookies over on the Little House Big Alaska blog, which I transformed to suit European measurements and ingredients. Hmmm I may have to make some more, as this first batch disappeared very swiftly !

Brownie-style cookies

ingredients :

100g butter + 2tbsp butter
75g caster sugar 
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
135g flour 
30g Cocoa Powder

icing ingredients :

75g butter
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp milk
450g caster sugar (or brown sugar - add sparingly until you reach the sweetness you desire)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Melt 2tbsp of butter, 75g of sugar and 30g cocoa powder together (in the microwave is simplest) and leave to cool.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the egg and vanilla.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.

Stir in the sugar/egg mixture ...

... and finally mix in the cocoa mixture.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper and divide half of the cookie dough into twelve discs. Bake for 7/8 minutes until just starting to set. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Put on a cooling rack after a couple of minutes.

Put the butter, cocoa powder and milk in a bowl and zap it in the microwave until melted. Whisk together.

Mix in the sugar - I used up a bag of brown sugar but you can use regular white sugar. This is originally an American recipe, so you may find it too sweet - add the sugar sparingly and taste until you hit the right level of sweetness.

Once the cookies have cooled down, dip them in the icing (or spoon some over the top if you prefer).

Put them back on the kitchen paper to set then dig in ! They're not the most good-looking cookies I've ever made, but they tasted delicious and the kids couldn't get enough of them !

These used up some odds and ends from the baking cupboard - notably some brown sugar and cocoa powder - so I'm adding to this month's #KitchenClearout linky.
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