Tuesday 31 March 2020

Madhouse recipe : Chocolate fondants (aka Pierre's maths homework cakes !)

Pierre's teacher is a genius. She took a sheet of maths homework (boo !) and transformed it into a recipe for some utterly delicious chocolate cakes (yay !). This is a triple bonus, because (1) it kept Pierre occupied (2) it gave us a delicious chocolatey treat and (3) it made him practise his maths. The maths part was all about converting measurements, depending on whether you wanted 10 or 20 cakes. I ended up letting myself be persuaded to make 20 and, having tasted them, I'd definitely go for the larger quantity !

Chocolate Fondants

(makes 20)

4 eggs
75g plain flour
175g butter (we used margarine and it worked fine)
125g sugar
250g chocolate (we used milk chocolate)

Preheat oven to 200°C. Put the butter and the chocolate (broken into pieces) into a bowl and zap it in the microwave, removing it every twenty seconds to give it a stir, until you have a smooth liquid.  

Place to one side.

Put the sugar and flour in a separate bowl. Add the eggs one at a time.

Mix until combined then add the next egg. You should end up with a smooth, runny mixture.

Pour the butter-chocolate into the sugar-flour-eggs and mix until combined.

Pour into silicon muffin trays (or grease and flour metal tins).

Bake for 15 minutes. 

They felt very soft on the top so I left them in for the full 15 minutes, but ours didn't have a molten middle. I'd say you can reduce the cooking time by a few minutes or reduce the temperature maybe, but they tasted absolutely lovely as they were. (By way of comparison, when we made the Chocolate Fondants from a packet mix last week, they needed to be cooked for 8 minutes at 150°, and came out with a completely molten middle.)

Happy baking !

Monday 30 March 2020

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 14

I went shopping at Lidl on Thursday and I was pleased to see that things are actually pretty much back to normal, so I should have enough to see us through to the end of this week. I might have to go and pick up some of the heavy stuff though - apple juice, orange juice and milk, which all come in packs of six bottles, so I couldn't manage those. We'll see how it goes. We stayed on plan last week, except for the day I went shopping, as I picked up some steak (reduced to 50 centimes) and some sandwiches (reduced to 20 centimes each), which needed eating quickly. I grabbed some frozen chips too as a treat, as we haven't got a freezer at the moment. The things on the menu plan were in the freezer compartment of the fridge anyway, so they will come in another day. 


lunch- breaded fish with rice & coleslaw

dinner- something with mince - lasagne maybe? Haven't made that in a while.


lunch- leftovers from last night

dinner- Provençal chicken with rice 


lunch- baked ham with mash & beans

dinner- Meatball black bean chilli with rice


lunch- Brown sugar & garlic marinaded pork chops with pasta & salad

dinner- leftover chilli


lunch- chicken cordon bleus with ... something ! I don't know what, I'm out of potatoes and I'm getting fed up of rice and pasta. I'll have a rummage in the back of the cupboards and see what I can find !

dinner - BBQ chicken pasta bake


lunch- spaghetti bolognese

dinner- leftovers or something from the freezer compartment


lunch- Black beans & rice with sausages

dinner- toast

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


Sunday 29 March 2020

Project 366 : Photo Diary Week 13

This week ended up being extra busy. On top of all the usual lesson planning and marking, our school wanted us to chase up all those pupils who haven't been logging on (there were lots of them !) so I spent an afternoon phoning around the parents. Then they dumped all the end-of-term stuff on us as "extra urgent", so we had to go through all the requests of the final year pupils to see if we agree with their choice of high school or not (depending on their grades and capacities). At home, we still managed to fit in loads of baking though, and I used Sunday afternoon to deal with all of Monday's lesson plans, meaning I'll be free on Monday morning to deal with Pierre's work - phew !

Sunday 23rd March - One of the things that we found in our rummage through the baking cupboard last week was a packet mix for Chocolate Fondants. This was something that we never got round to making before, because finding a time when everyone was in the house at the same time, ready to eat them as they came out of the oven, was a logistical nightmare. Confinement made this a lot easier though, so Pierre made them (with a little help and supervision). They were utterly delicious and absolutely perfectly timed, with a lovely molten middle. Yum !

Monday - A busy morning, dealing with getting work online for each of my classes, then sitting Pierre down to do his work. Dictation, French, maths, poem, English, plus (at some point during the week, not particularly today) making chocolate cakes (after working out the measurements, multiplying them for the number of cakes required) and doing a drawing of flowers to put in the window. Well, we did most of it, but I put some back until Wednesday (normally a day off school, so it gives us a chance to catch up). Back to my emails, marking/advising pupils, then we did some more baking, using another box for Raspberry Macaroons. I wasn't overly hopeful but they turned out great - Pierre was really proud !

Tuesday - Another busy day, dealing with my work and Pierre's work. I came across this box of Guylian chocolates, which I need to review - the kids helped me munch through seahorses, shells, shrimps and all manner of other seashore treasures.

Wednesday - A day off - phew ! Juliette took a break from working in her room and sauntered downstairs, with a big smile on her face, asking if she could make pancakes ! Well, why not ?! She looked up the recipe online, then made loads of pancakes, even showing Pierre how to make them. A great success !

Thursday - I was running out of food so I decided to nip to the shops. I put shoes on for the first time in over a week, as I've been sauntering around in slippers or socks while we've been staying indoors ! For the first time, the police were waiting outside of Lidl, checking everyone's "permission to go outside" papers. I'd copied all mine out luckily, as it's a fine of €138 if you don't have one. There were four people being checked before me, and three of them were fined - serves them right !

Friday - Friday was a manic day, doing (most of) Pierre's work in the morning, then catching up with all my schoolwork and phone calls in the afternoon. I'm so glad that 99% of my pupils take the weekend off - I need a break ! This photo is actually from yesterday - the cheap steak that I grabbed plus some frozen "pommes duchesse" potatoes.

Saturday - I needed a break, so after cleaning the kitchen and washing the floors, I chilled out watching the end of Safe on Netflix. I didn't do it on purpose but this is the second series based on a Harlan Coben novel, after The Stranger last week. I really enjoyed this one too.

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Saturday 28 March 2020

Fab freebies of the week 28/3

Yep, I just checked the date (or rather the day), it is indeed the weekend - not that it makes a lot of difference at the moment ! I've noticed that the kids from school seem to send a lot less work over the weekend though, so at least I'll get a bit of a break - phew ! I didn't think I'd be spending quite so much time doing stuff for work, but it stops me from getting bored I suppose ! How are you holding up in confinement? Have you picked up any old hobbies or started new ones? I've been grabbing some time to catch up with some series on Netflix, which is giving me a nice break from time to time. Good luck with staying sane next week. Hope you find something nice to apply for in this week's freebies.


From Quercus :  About half of the Quercus team have children who are now at home full-time, so the need for educational and inspirational material is definitely being felt. As such, we've released some of the exclusive bookseller material for Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different and Stories for Kids Who Dare to be Different online for free. We've also been sharing some of the audio material for free over on Twitter.

Every day at 11am, you can listen one of David Walliams’ World’s Worst Children stories, so sit down, take a break, and enjoy 20ish minutes of pure fun!

WIN BetterYou’s Magnesium Sleep Lotion…100 Up For Grabs

Claim your free sample of DryNites pyjama pants.

Don't go shopping just for freebies, but if you're there anyway, Shopmium are offering Espresso Monster at Sainsbury's,  Arla kids' yogurt at Tesco, Bodega Bay Hard Seltzer 4% alc.

brüud. in a bag.™ - Free Sample of coffee (Samples will be delivered from the end of April 2020)

WIN 1 of 75 Trolls 2 Notebook and Yo-Yos! For your chance to WIN simply 'LIKE' this post and let us know in the comments below who is your child’s favourite Trolls 2 Character.

Your chance to WIN one of 50 prizes! At Pink Lady® we are keen to spread a little joy and positivity in the world during these unsettled times.  Designed to make extra time spent at home that little bit more pleasant, we'll be sending 50 lucky winners a luxury stay-at-home gift bundle containing a selection of perfectly pink gifts including a scented candle, hand cream, bath salts and an inspirational book to add some joy to quiet days spent at home.
Want to be in with a chance of winning? Simply like this post and comment below telling us one thing you are grateful for. Ends 30/03 4pm.

From Temple Spa : To say thank-you we’re donating our Wellness Collections to 200 of your nominated stars of the NHS. A small way to say thank-you for being amazing.

On the Bioderma facebook page : 💙 WIN 💙 We all know how important cleansing is at the moment which is why we think your daily routine deserves some extra #BiodermaBlue love right now. Our Atoderm Shower Gel is blue in colour and perfect for protecting dry and sensitive skin. To be in the draw to win one of 100 Atoderm Shower Gels: like this post and comment below, tagging a friend. ✨ UK only. ✨ Comp closes: 11.59pm on 30/03/20.

Not quite a freebie, but a lovely competition to keep the kids occupied : In response to schools being closed 'until further notice', team PhotoBite is launching a twice-weekly photo challenge for children aged between 5-15, inviting them to explore photography and to introduce a little more creativity into the weekly home school schedule. The first photo challenge will air at 11am GMT this coming Monday 30th March, followed by the second slot at 11am Thursday 3rd April on the PhotoBite YouTube Channel. Then, new challenges will be aired every Monday and Thursday thereafter, whilst schools are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Each week, the team will pick a handful of their favourite images submitted to the PhotoBite social channels @PhotoBiteUK (with parents submitting with names and ages of their younger budding photographers) adding the hashtag #PhotoBiteKids. Weekly winners will go through to shortlist for special photo prize bundles being awarded for age categories 5-10 and 11-15 at the end of the series!

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.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Coming soon

Thursday 26 March 2020

Madhouse recipe : Crunchy-Creamy Chicken

This is a great recipe for twisting to fit whatever you have in stock, so it's absolutely perfect for throwing together with whatever's in the the cupboards during confinement. I found a recipe for Easy Chicken Casserole on the Dinner then Dessert website, and I was intrigued by the idea of using soup as a sauce and Ritz crackers or something similar (I used broccoli crisps from a recent Degustabox !) as a crunchy topping. It was a great hit and the kids asked for seconds - yay ! Feel free to make whatever adaptations you want - you could use canned or frozen veg, gravy instead of soup, even beef or pork instead of chicken, ... Whatever you've got, it'll work !

Crunchy-Creamy Chicken 

ingredients :

drizzle of olive oil
1/2 a red pepper
1 onion
6 mushrooms
4 chicken breasts
1 pack bacon pieces/lardons
a tin of chicken soup
a bag of crisps/Ritz crackers, etc
a good handful of cheddar cheese, grated (optional)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Chop and fry in a little oil or butter whichever veggies you are using. I had red pepper, mushrooms and onion, which worked well. This would also be a great way of using up leftover cooked veg, and maybe even potatoes, perhaps after a roast dinner. Once softened, transfer to an ovenproof pie dish.

In the same pan, add another drizzle of oil if necessary, then cook the chopped chicken.

After 5 minutes or so, add some bacon pieces/lardons and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently. (The bacon wasn't in the original recipe but I thought it would work well.)

Drain off any excess fat, then pour the chicken and bacon in with the veggies. Stir to mix it all up.

Pour over the tin of chicken soup. You might want to add some extra seasoning - some black pepper or chilli powder maybe?

Find something to use as a crunchy topping. The original recipe used 28 Ritz crackers, but I didn't have any, so I used a bag of Cheesy Broccoli Crisps that were lurking in the cupboard.

Crush them and sprinkle them all over the top. If you want to, you can add a sprinkling of cheddar cheese. It's your dish - you can do what you want with it ! (I didn't bother with the cheese, as the crisps were cheese-flavoured.)

Bake for about half an hour until the soup is warmed through and the topping has gone golden brown. 

I served ours with pasta, but it would go equally well with rice, mash, baked potatoes, ... even on slices of toast if you're short of everything else ! Enjoy !

This is a classic use-up-whatever-you've-got dish, so I'm adding it to the #KitchenClearout linky. Feel free to come along and add your recipes :)

Monday 23 March 2020

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 13

What a week ! It was our first week of confinement, which wasn't fun but it was manageable, although it was annoying to see people outside walking their dogs or kids riding around on their bikes as if it's just a school holiday. Staying inside all the time isn't fun for anyone, but do these people not realise that they're being selfish and just making things harder for everyone? Oh well, they'll be the ones complaining when they fall ill ! We stuck pretty much to the menu plan, although I made cottage pie instead of the Pepperoni Pizza Hamburger Helper, because I couldn't manage to get hold of any pepperoni, and a couple of things got bumped over to next week as we had too many leftovers to use up. Here's what's on the plan this week. I should manage to make it through to the weekend without going to the shops.


lunch- Amatriciana chicken traybake, from last week's menu plan that didn't get made, with rice

dinner- baked ham with pasta


lunch- smoked sausages with mash & beans

dinner- I still have half of the chicken thighs to use up, so I'll do those with couscous and ratatouille or just plain tinned tomatoes if I don't have any


lunch- chicken stir fry with noodles (trying to think what veg we have - carrots, onions, mushrooms, red pepper, that should do it)

dinner- pasta carbonara


lunch- chicken gyros with rice

dinner- fishfingers with mash  & green beans


lunch- fresh pasta

dinner - beefburgers with baked potatoes & whatever veg is lurking in the fridge


lunch- something with partridge - I have some partridge fillets in the freezer, waiting to be used for a blogpost - I haven't looked up what I can do with them yet, but if the worst comes to the worst, I'll do them with a cream or tomato-based sauce and rice

dinner- spaghetti bolognese


lunch- something from yesterday's shopping - chicken? with roast potatoes & veg

dinner- pepperoni pizza? depending on what's in the shops

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


Book review : On Wilder Seas - Nikki Marmery

Everyone has heard of Sir Francis Drake and his daring adventures around the world, voyaging across the uncharted oceans, discovering new lands and amassing great wealth for Queen Elizabeth I, but what do we really know about his life on the seas? What do we know about those that he sailed with? Author Nikki Marmery presents us with a work of historical fiction, researched over a whole decade, which offers a new look at his travels and his personality, told through the eyes of a hidden character who has been largely left out of historical tales, Maria, or as the book is subtitled, The Woman on the Golden Hind.

The book begins in April 1579, when two ships meet off the Pacific coast of New Spain. After capturing the Spanish galleon, which came to be known as the Cacafuego (or Fireshitter), and taking hold of its impressive quantities of treasure, Drake courteously dined with the Spanish officers, before freeing them, with a gift appropriate to their rank and a letter of safe conduct. This much can be read in the history books, but the character that this book follows is that of Maria, the Spanish captain's woman, who requests of Sir Francis Drake to join his ship. Quite possibly to annoy the Spaniard, he agrees and Maria sets sail on the Golden Hind.

I'd never really thought about life on board, but Maria soon discovers that dangers lurk both in the oceans and on the ship, with the sexually frustrated men eager to get their hands on what they see as fair sport. She defends herself and her honour, helped by a young deckhand, and soon works her way into the captain's cabin, which at least offers her some safety. But Maria has a secret stowaway - the child that she carries in her belly.

As the journey continues, Maria allows us to glimpse the journey and the discoveries of Sir Francis Drake, as well as the failed attempt to secure a passage home around the top of the United States. After the brutal fighting with the Spaniards towards the south, the meetings with the American tribes are more peaceful, then things go badly wrong. Against all odds, Maria must find a way to secure a safe future for her and her child.

I was swept up in the drama and excitement of the voyages on the high seas, seeing undiscovered lands through new eyes. At the end of the novel, I went to investigate how accurate the story is and, as is explained in the author's note at the end, the novel is a work of fiction based on fact. The character of Maria did exist - a woman of her name was on The Golden Hind for nine months - but apart from the date of her arrival and departure, little is really known of her. Nikki Marmery has created a believable and honourable character, perfect for showing the things that women went through in times past. This undoubtedly explains why the book has been published to coincide with Women's History Month.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (16 Mar. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1789551137
  • ISBN-13: 978-1789551136
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm

I'm taking part in the On Wilder Seas blog tour - catch up with the other participants below.

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Sunday 22 March 2020

Project 366 : Photo Diary Week 12

Last week, I told you that school was shutting but that we would still have all the after-school meetings with the parents. Well, on Sunday night, they were all cancelled too. As, in general terms, the inhabitants of France still refused to comply with the rules (ie vastly reducing the number of times they leave their houses), further rules were brought in. As from last Wednesday, you need an A4 document every time you go out, copied out or printed, ticking one of four boxes, explaining why you are out : going to work (if essential), going food shopping/to the chemist, visiting elderly people/childcare, dogwalking/sport. The dogwalking/sport thing is supposed to be done sensibly, ie just around the block for a dog walk, 1-2km for jogging, but people STILL refused to do as they're told and think about the bigger picture. So now we have people being fined €138 if they're outside with no valid reason. Apparently, if they are fined several times, they could end up with a prison sentence when coronavirus has finally gone. I really don't understand it. Staying inside is not fun for anyone. I went to Lidl once, because we were running out of food (and toilet roll !), and there were still people in there buying one or two things. Later in the week, it was announced that there were 3 people in Dunkirk hospital with coronavirus, one who had died and 18 who were awaiting confirmation of their diagnosis after tests. Then it was announced that they wouldn't be updating the figures any more. I'm getting sick of people with their holier-than-thou,"we live in a democracy, nobody can take away my basic right to go out" mentality, which is doing nothing but adding greater risks - if they are still going out, they'll end up with it then infect people who really do have to go out, for their weekly shop for example - and it will just make the confinement stage last longer. It's not fun for anyone, but if it's what we need to go through then let's just do it.

Sunday 15th March - Day one of confinement. And the day started off with a beautiful sunrise, slashing the pale blue sky with a vivid streak of pink. It was a lovely day weather-wise, so we'd definitely have gone out for a walk in the country or at the beach, but never mind, we'll stay inside with our TVs, computers and the PS4, which at least gives Pierre the chance to chat to his friends while he's playing.

Monday - This was the day we started trying to sort out lessons online and what a blooming nightmare that was ! I uploaded some work for the kids to do, then created correction sheets. So far so good. But nothing came back. Apparently the on-site function for collecting in work doesn't work, so I gave them my email instead. Next, time for Pierre's "school". He had a load of work to do that had been given out the week before, with lessons in maths, French and reading every day, plus extra things on a daily basis. It took a few hours then he was done. In the afternoon, we emptied out the baking cupboard, made a list of everything that's in there (so that I can figure out what to do with all the weird things, like coconut flour and carob syrup - they must be good for something !) then made some cookies and some Daim chocolate mousse that I had brought back from Norway then never made.

Tuesday - I think this was Wednesday or Thursday actually, but I ended up completely losing track of days and kept checking the computer to see what the date was and what day we were. At one point, I couldn't remember if we were in March or April - and this is just the first week of confinement ! Eeeek ! I spent pretty much the whole day getting more work online for school, then answering oodles of emails and correcting loads of work as it came through from pupils on a constant dribble all day long, even up until about 11.30pm. Who does their homework that late ?! Big win of the day - I headed out to Lidl for supplies and - woohoo ! - I found bog roll ! I decided to grab two packs, as I won't be going shopping very often. It seems to be about once every ten days, judging by this week and what's left in the fridge.

Wednesday - Another bright sunny day - too bad we can't get out and enjoy it ! Pierre wanted to make more cookies (the first lot didn't last long !) and we also made Angel Delight and jelly. The rest of the day was spent answering work emails - I can't believe how long it takes. Then every time I get to the end, a load more emails arrive - aaaggghhh !

Thursday - Back to the new routine : Pierre's school work in the morning, all my marking/lesson posting in the afternoon, some baking or other activities in the afternoon when I'm on a break. I made a lovely dish for dinner - chicken casserole using a tin of chicken soup as a sauce, topped with a crispy coating. I'll share the recipe next week. The kids loved it. Emails were coming in all through the evening, but I decided I needed a night off and settled down to watch some TV with the kids.

Friday - A normal morning, doing Pierre's schoolwork, checking Juliette didn't need any help with hers, then back to lesson planning and marking. I turned to Netflix at the end of the afternoon - I haven't had a chance to watch anything on there for ages, so I have loads to work through. I watched (over three days) the whole of The Stranger, based on a book by Harlan Coben. Loved it.

Saturday - So, no trip to McDonald's this week. The kids asked if we could get some delivered with Just Eats. No ! I'm not paying extra for it ! Absolutely no emails from the kids today - ahhh, so they're sticking to the normal week and not working at the weekend. Well, that's good for me then - at least I still get a break ! A lovely blue sky out there today. I still have some food left so I won't bother going shopping until we run out, which should be in a few days.

My overall sense of the week was that it was boring, but when I read back over last week's photo diary, I realise how hectic life used to be, how much running around feeling knackered there was. This week was pretty full on with all the schoolwork and emails to reply to, but I actually got time to do baking with Pierre on several occasions and watched a whole Netflix series. I can live with this for a while :)

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Click here to enter

Saturday 21 March 2020

Fab freebies of the week 21/3

Well, it's a strange old world at the moment. I'm not sure how many of these freebies will continue to arrive, but hunting them out and applying for them at least gives us something to do. Take care of yourselves and stay inside - it's the safest place to be !


Monuskin are giving away free samples of their natural skincare range. To get a free sample simply follow the instructions.

On Molton Brown : Receive up to three FREE Ultra Pure Milk Soaps when you pay for delivery or with any purchase, until stocks last. Offer applies automatically at checkout.

Get a free sample of SASMAR® personal lubricant.


If you have not yet tried our PLATINUM complete dog food, we are happy to send you a trial pack containing our four varieties of adult dry dog food. Please send us and email to info@platinum.co.uk or call our toll free number: 0800 158 80 25.

dōTERRA products have changed our lives & we know you'll feel the same. So, we're sending FREE samples of dōTERRA On-Guard to select folks each week. Enter your info in the form.

Free Rituals Hand Wash - just fill in the form

Caboodle Firsts: Get one of 100 copies of The Paris Library before it's out!

We proudly present VELO all white nicotine pouches. Because who said rituals can’t be reinvented? Enter your details, in 3 easy steps, to get your FREE TRIAL!

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.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Coming soon

Thursday 19 March 2020

Book review : The Angel - Katerina Diamond

Now that we're in confinement, I have two new best friends : reading and Netflix ! Well, not much change for the reading one, if I'm honest, but I'm on a new mission to clear at least one of my bookshelves while I have some extra time to myself. I have to admit, I thought I'd have a bit more free time, but our new daily routine appears to be helping Pierre with his homework in the morning, sorting out my lessons online and marking all the homework being sent through to me by email in the afternoon, then cooking/cleaning/catching up on the blog and emails in the evening. Hmmm maybe it'll calm down a bit at the weekend !

Anyway, the latest book that I finished this week is The Angel by Katerina Diamond. This is the third book in a series of six featuring DS Imogen Grey, but, despite several mentions of things that had gone on in the past, I thoroughly enjoyed it as a standalone novel.

The story begins with an incident, back in 1986, when two neighbours, both with a baby in tow, have an illicit get-together, which ends in disaster when one of the babies almost dies in the cot. Fast forward forty years and we start following punky gothic teenager Gabriel Webb, experimenting with his clothing, hanging out with his girlfriend and just generally driving his parents insane. On their way to a night out, they stop off at a disused signal box, where, to keep warm, Gabriel lights a fire. They think no more of it, until the police cart him off to prison, assuming he is responsible for the death of a man in the signal box.

While Gabriel comes to terms with life on the inside, DS Imogen Grey and her partner Adrian Miles are following up further crimes, including murders, which eventually lead them to question Gabriel's involvement. Dealing with their own personal problems, as well as the complicated case, they need to get their skates on before Gabriel comes to harm in prison.

It's a fast-paced, enjoyable read with loads going on on every page. As everything started slotting into place, it seemed slightly hard to believe that everything (and everyone) would be so closely linked together, but this is a novel, not real life, after all ! I'm intrigued about the backstory with DS Grey's boyfriend so I'll look out for the previous books, but it's not necessary to enjoy this story.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £7.99

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (21 Sept. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0008209138
  • ISBN-13: 978-0008209131

Tuesday 17 March 2020

#KitchenClearout recipe : Cheeseburger rice

Hands up if you're panicking about being in lockdown with Coronavirus measures and/or not being able to buy anything much from supermarkets ! Well, stay calm ! We can do this ! We've been pretty much in lockdown here since yesterday (we are allowed to go out for food shopping, but that's pretty much it !) and I've had a good stock-take of what's already in the house, that could do with using up. Look out for some upcoming blogposts using all manner of weird and wonderful things in experimental baking projects over the next few weeks ! I've been looking for new ways of using store cupboard staples too, and this dish was inspired by the original Cheeseburger Rice recipe from Goya. I've adapted it to suit what we have available here, but feel free to adapt it even further, if you have extra veggies in the fridge or some favourite spices that you want to incorporate.

Cheeseburger rice

ingredients :

glug of olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 onion, sliced
4 mushrooms, sliced
500g minced beef
tin of chopped tomatoes 
salt, pepper
1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
good shake of Italian seasoning or similar (optional)
cooked rice (or you could use cooked Ebly or cooked pasta instead)
grated cheddar cheese

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Gently fry the garlic, onions and mushrooms for a couple of minutes, then add the minced beef. (If I made this again, I'd add some extra veggies in here - maybe some red peppers, sweetcorn and/or courgettes?) Cook, constantly stirring, until the beef is cooked through. Drain off any excess juice.

Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and season with the salt, pepper and herbs/spices. 

Stir through the cooked rice (ebly/pasta/whatever leftovers you have !) and cook for a further five minutes, stirring frequently. When it's all nice and hot, sprinkle over some grated cheese (I left one area cheese-free as Pierre doesn't like it) then turn off the heat and wait for the cheese to melt. (If the cheese refuses to melt, like ours did, pop it under the grill for a few minutes !)

Serve, on its own or with a side salad. 

This was wolfed down by the kids, who declared it absolutely delicious. As a grown-up, I thought it was OK, but I'd have added more veg to it, including red peppers, sweetcorn, cherry tomatoes, maybe some courgettes … but then I'm sure the kids wouldn't have liked it so much !

*** Sounds like the perfect time for bringing back the #KitchenClearout linky ! If you've been using up any odds and ends from your cupboards, looking for ways of reusing leftovers or just digging out things that have lurking at the back of the cupboard for way too long, share your posts here ! It would be great if you could add my badge and a link back for others to join in too :) ***

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Click here to enter

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