Monday, 26 July 2021

July 2021 Degustabox review : Summer & Grazing


The summer holidays are here at last - woohoo ! While we're loving the chance to have lie-ins in the mornings and take advantage of lazy days, catching up on Netflix, online games and random mooching about, there's one thing missing at the moment - the sun ! It's been pouring hard for days and there's more to come apparently ! Ah well, at least it's still warm and the latest Degustabox had the perfect hot-weather theme : summer and grazing. With three constantly hungry kids in the house, it couldn't be better !


As I unpacked the box, I could tell that there were lots of things that the kids (not to mention me !) would love to try, including plenty of snacks, both sweet and savoury.


I used to love eating Fox's Glacier Mints and Fox's Glacier Fruits when I was a kid, so I was excited to discover Fox's Glacier Moments (RRP 3 x £1). These new sweets offer grown-ups a range of indulgent flavours inspired by herbal teas, desserts and fresh fruit smoothies to provide a special moment to unwind. I'd never heard of sweets reserved for adults, but I kinda like the idea ! After Darks are designed as an evening occasion sweet to be savoured after a special moment or dinner. They come in two classic dessert flavours, Decadent Banoffee and Cherry Bakewell Tart, alongside two delicious drink flavours, Smooth Irish Cream and Dark Fruits. Little Lifts are designed to give a gentle energy boost during the day and come in Strawberry and Hibiscus, Peach and Passionfruit, Apple, Pear and Spearmint and Lemon, Mint and Elderflower flavours. Limited Edition Summer Punch is a seasonal product inspired by summer cocktails so you can savour Strawberry, Orange, Elderflower Spritz (Cucumber, Elderflower, Tonic and Mint) and Summer Punch (inspired by fruit cup cocktails). I love all of them !


Bull's-Eye New York Steakhouse BBQ Sauce (RRP £2.50) is a lovely sauce on burgers, with sausages or mixed into pulled pork. It's sweet, rich and adds a real depth of flavour to any grilled meats or even a humble bacon sandwich or baked potato. Other recipes that it would work well in are Slow Cooker BBQ Beef and Salisbury Steak.

Firefly Peach & Green Tea (RRP £1.55) is a lovely summery drink, made from a blend of still water, fruit juice and botanical extracts. It's lovely drunk straight from the bottle but it can also be pimped up into a summery cocktail, with or without alcohol. 

Three Fold Hard Seltzer (RRP £2) is a delicious drink made from natural fruit flavours, sparkling water and 4% alcohol. We got Tropical, which is a blend of mango, pineapple and watermelon flavours, but it is also available in Citrus (orange, grapefruit and lime) and Red Berries (strawberry, raspberry and pomegranate). As well as tasting great, it is naturally gluten-free, vegan and just 93 calories. Available at Morrisons, Bargain Booze and online at Ocado and Amazon.


McVitie's Blackcurrant Jaffa Cakes (RRP £1.20) are a delicious new take on the original orange flavour. Alongside the traditional crackly dark chocolate and light sponge, you have a zingy, zesty, fruity blackcurrant flavour to get your teeth into. There are ten cakes in a pack and we polished them off in minutes !


Lindt Nocciolatte Milk Hazelnut/ Noccionoir Dark Hazelnut (RRP 2 x 85p) is a delicious chocolatey treat, whatever type of chocolate you prefer. Add whole hazelnuts and a smooth hazelnut praline filling and you end up with a lovely sweet treat. Yum!


Love Corn (RRP 70p for 1 pack, £16 for a pack of 24) is a crunchy corn-based snack that offers a tasty alternative to crisps. We got Cheese & Onion flavour which was lovely, but there are other flavours available too. They're plant based and gluten free, but best of all, they taste great and the kids loved them. 


On to another snack that was wolfed down ... The Real McCoy's Fire Pit (RRP 2 x 90p). These crisps are inspired by the rustic flavours of cooking meat over an open fire and come in three varieties, Flame Roasted Peri Peri and Flame Smoked Chorizo (both in the box) and Flame Scorched BBQ Ribs. We all loved the robust, chargrilled flavours that really reminded us of summertime barbecues.


Pot Pasta (RRP 2 x £1.19) are the perfect snack or lunch option, especially for constantly hungry teenagers who need something quick when their bellies start rumbling ! From the Pot Noodle brand, they couldn't be simpler - just add hot water and five minutes later, you'll have a lovely-tasting snack to curb your hunger pangs. The pot offers "the taste of Italy" and there are three flavours available - Creamy Carbonara and Tomatoey Mozzarella, both of which were in the Degustabox and were given a thumbs-up by the kids, and Bolognese, which they now want to try too !


Smarties Chocolate Sharing Bag (RRP £1) is a great option that is sure to please - generations of kids have loved nibbling on Smarties and the Madhouse kids still love them, even as teens ! You get the same smooth milk chocolate covered in colourful crisp sugar shells, but now they are wrapped in paper packaging, perfect for recycling.


St Pierre Brioche Hot Dog Rolls (RRP £1.40 for 4) are perfect for a light lunch when it's too hot to cook. Forget sweltering in front of the oven, just fry or grill some sausages (and some onions, if you want to make them extra special), pop them in the buns (they're pre-cut, making it all even easier !) then slather on some ketchup or mustard. Delicious ! The brioche is beautifully soft and adds a lovely sweetness to your hot dogs. The kids loved these and asked if we could buy them again. Available at selected Tesco and Morrisons stores.


Taylors of Harrogate Coffee Bags (RRP £1.50) are an ingenious new way of making coffee in just two minutes without all the fuss. You get freshly ground coffee in a bag that works like a teabag for when you want proper ground coffee, but don't want to bother with the cafetière. Sophie has been wanting to experiment with proper coffee so this is a great way to start.

This was a great box and we all loved everything, so I'm sure there are several brands that we'll be looking out for again the next time we go to the supermarket.

 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 £9.99 - 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.

Sunday, 18 July 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 30


Last week was great. I had fun trying out new recipes, Pierre helped with the cooking and both he and Juliette were way more enthusiastic about all of the new dishes than I expected. I'll definitely be branching out again this week and trying more new recipes to see how they are received ! This week involves two meals out, for Pierre's birthday on Monday (his birthday was on Saturday but Sophie was off in the Netherlands) then with a friend on Tuesday. Pierre has his first Covid jab on Tuesday too and Juliette has her second one on Saturday - we're getting there - plus I'm off to see a friend on Thursday, so it could end up being a busy week ! I'm dipping into Gordon Ramsay's World Kitchen cookbook for some of this week's meals.

Monday

lunch- Pierre's birthday meal - I think we'll go to Buffalo Grill which is like a US/Tex-Mex diner

dinner - we probably won't be hungry but we can eat toast or go freezer diving if we are

Tuesday

lunch- lunch with a friend

dinner- same as last night - I can always rustle up sandwiches, pasta or omelettes if necessary

Wednesday

lunch- BBQ chicken with couscous salad (the recipe includes couscous, chickpeas, cucumber, radishes - which I'll leave out as nobody likes them ! I might throw in some tomatoes too)

dinner- red braised pork belly with rice and stir fried veg

Thursday

lunch - courgette, feta & herb fritters and Cantonese fried rice (using up leftover BBQ chicken/red braised pork belly/rice from yesterday)

dinner- we'll probably need a quick meal once I get back from my friend's so spaghetti carbonara or bolognese

Friday

lunch- I'm thinking there will be leftovers

dinner - Chicken marsala with mash & green beans

Saturday

lunch- depending on what time we're done at the hospital (for Juliette's jab), probably McDonald's or the kids' choice of takeaway

dinner- leftovers or fridge clearout


dinner- pizza

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

Katykicker

Sunday, 11 July 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 29


We've made it to the holidays - woohoo ! It's been raining for several days so far, but at least that's got me inspired to start dealing with jobs around the house and having a good tidy up ! Sophie is off to the Netherlands this week, having a little trip to see a friend. I'm currently sat on the settee with a couple of cookery books, planning some summery recipes that we'd like to try. (Well, that I'd like to try anyway, and as I'm cooking, I get to choose - tee hee hee !) Fingers crossed the sun puts in an appearance next week !

Monday

lunch- chicken & veg stir fry (I have a lovely-looking recipe for a veggie stir fry but the kids will probably turn their noses up at that - I'll do two separate dishes I think, one with all the veggies and the other a straight chicken stir fry with just a few bits of veg in it (carrots, red pepper, mushrooms) then they can dig into mine if they want to

dinner - macaroni cheese (for Pierre) / cauliflower cheese (for me and Juliette) - that should keep everyone happy and I can use the same sauce for both

Tuesday

lunch- leftovers

dinner- lamb & apricot tagine with couscous

Wednesday

lunch- baked ham with pasta (or leftovers)

dinner- chicken pasanda (a new curry I've never tried before - looks simple enough and not too hot so the kids should like it) with rice

Thursday

lunch - Ham, leek & red pepper tarts (that use roast ham as a base rather than pastry) with rice & salad

dinner- fish pie (haddock, prawns, salmon & cod inside - potato & butternut squash mash on top)

Friday

lunch- leftovers

dinner - chicken goulash with mash or rice

Saturday

lunch- baked potatoes (with bacon, cheese, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes mixed in to the potato flesh then rebaked)

dinner- homemade veggie soup

Sunday 

lunch- Potato, onion and crispy bacon hotpot with a side salad

dinner- Spiced summer veg supper for me (onion, garlic, red pepper, courgette, tomatoes, mixed beans, mushrooms, baby spinach, cucumber, all mixed with natural yogurt and herbs and spices - sounds lovely and perfect for the summer) - the kids may want to try or they can have chicken nuggets and pasta instead (or there ay be leftovers lurking in the fridge)

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

Katykicker

Saturday, 10 July 2021

June 2021 Degustabox review : Picnic


We're into July and there's no doubt about it ... summer's here and the time is right for dancing in the street ! (Yes, I do realise that you're probably all way too young and this reference to David Bowie and Mick Jagger has probably just gone straiiiiight over your head !) Well, maybe that's still a bit over-enthusiastic but there are more and more of us getting vaccinated and some of us (although I'm not brave enough yet !) are jetting off on our holidays. Happy days are here (hopefully !) so last month's Degustabox had the perfect summer-tastic theme : Picnic ! That's definitely something I can get on board with, heading out into the countryside (or maybe even the beach, but I don't like getting a mouthful of sand if it's windy !) for a nice family picnic.


Time to dip into the box to see what would be hiding away in there, ready to tantalise our tastebuds ! Sorry for the slightly small picture - you'll have to click on it for a bigger view as there was just too much to fit on my screen ! I see lots of goodies perfect for packing into pockets and bags as we head out into the sun.

  

My first discovery was this can of Caleño Light & Zesty Tropical Non-Alcoholic Spirit (RRP £2), which is great if you want something different to sip on as the sun goes down or as you picnic at the park with your friends. It is an enjoyable and intriguing blend of Inca berry, pineapple, papaya, coriander, juniper berry, green cardamom & lemon peel, twisted with naturally light tonic. It's a lovely tropical flavour with big hints of citrus fruits that will have you trying to figure out what else is in it ! Available at calenodrinks.com

On to another drink that I'd never spotted before : Xite Nootropic Energy Drink (RRP £1.50). According to the information card in the box, nootropics are proven to increase cognitive function, particularly executive functions such as memory, creativity and motivation. This makes the drinks perfect for the gym, when you're studying or if your day is just a bit full-on ! We got Raspberry and Watermelon flavour, but they're also available in Peach & Passion Fruit. They are zero sugar, packed with vitamins, keto and vegan-friendly. I was impressed - they taste much nicer than I expected. They're available at Holland & Barretts, WHSmith and Booths.

Carrs Black Olive Melts (RRP £1.49) are a tasty snack that start off with a crisp crunch then melt into your mouth. They have black olives baked in so they are very tasty on their own but they are also perfect topped with cream cheese, ham, cheese or (one of my favourites) sun dried tomatoes. Perfect for nibbling in front of the telly or if you want to put together a light lunch.


McVitie's British Icons Chocolate Digestives (RRP £1.59) are this month's Product of the Month, so I had to nibble on a few more just to check they were as delicious as my first impressions suggested ! We got the Lemon Drizzle ones, other Degustaboxes contained Strawberry Cheesecake flavour, which sounds equally tempting. I have to admit, initially I was slightly unsure about combining lemon and chocolate, but the extra zing does work very well indeed. Yum !


Sun-Pat EXTRA Salted Caramel Crunchy Peanut Butter (RRP £3) delivers an extra hit of flavour with caramel coated peanuts and salted caramel flavour. It works very well and the jar is frequently pulled out of the cupboard for breakfast or snack-time. It is lovely on toast or in sandwiches, on pancakes, straight from the jar (the kids' favourite, it seems !) and I'm hopeful there will be some left to make cookies. Available at Tesco.

5 Seconds Kimchi Mix (RRP £1.20) is a brand new product coming soon to the UK. I tried a can of kimchi in a Korean-themed cooking box a few years ago and it was better than I expected, so I was keen to see how to make an instant version of this fermented vegetable dish. I always thought kimchi was based on cabbage, but there are apparently over 200 recipes using a variety of ingredients. The info card about this product says it can be used with any vegetables or fruits, or you could even use it to season popcorn, BBQ, French fries and fried chicken. It sounds really versatile so it's perfect for keeping in the kitchen cupboard and sprinkling on dishes that need a little oomph !


Nine Bars (RRP 2 x £1.29) are a range of bars that provide nine benefits, designed to look after your health and wellbeing. Sunflower, pumpkin, flax and hemp seeds are the nutritional force behind every bar and with at least 50% seeds in every single flavour, it's a powerful delivery of health and deliciousness in equal measure. We got White Choc & Raspberry and Dark Choc, Pistachio & Brazil bars, both of which are as delicious as they sound, but there is also a Salted Caramel & Pecan bar which sounds great too. Available at Morrisons, Tesco, Ocado, Amazon and Holland & Barrett.

 
Hellmann's Garlic & Herb Sauce (RRP £1.70) is one of the brand's best-selling flavours. It has a lovely tangy flavour that can be eaten in burgers, on salads, as a dip with veggie sticks or on the side of the plate with whatever you're eating. We love it drizzled over chips and I've also used it inside ham or cheese and salad sandwiches instead of butter or margarine, to add some extra zing. I've just spotted that it's great in jacket potatoes too, and I really fancy trying that now, along with some cheese. Mmmm!

Deli Kitchen Carb Lite Wraps (RRP £1.40) are great for the summer, whether you're eating at home or opting for a picnic. Each wrap provides just 14.6g of carbohydrates, making them a guilt-free option if you're watching your waistline. They taste great, are lovely and soft and are very versatile. They are also vegan-friendly, provide a source of protein and are high in fibre. Available in Tesco.


Play In Choc (RRP £1.69) tastes lovely so I wasn't surprised to see that it has won 18 awards since launching in 2018. It has more than just the taste going for it though. The packaging is plastic-free, 100% recyclable and zero waste, it's vegan friendly and the ingredients are all ethically sourced. It's dairy, nut and gluten-free too, plus it contains 1/3 less sugar than most chocolates. What's not to like ?!


Well & Truly Crunchies (RRP 2 x 80p) are a new snack to me and, reading the info about the brand, I instantly loved the sound of them : "We're a snacks brand on a mission to unjunk delicious snacks, taking all the nasties out whilst keeping that crave-worthy flavour that keeps you digging to the bottom of the bag. We've got 6 flavours, each of which have 40% less fat. All natural ingredients and are totally gluten free." Taste is important though and I'm pleased to say that they are utterly delicious ! We got Smokey Paprika and Really Cheesy flavours but other Degustaboxers got BBQ. They're available at Tesco, Sainsbury's, Ocado, Waitrose, Amazon, Wholefoods, Booths and online at www.wellandtruly.co.uk, where you can get 25% off your first order of all flavours (except bundles) using the code DB25.


The Coconut Collaborative Little Chocolate Pots (RRP £2.50) are perfect as a tasty dessert or mid-afternoon snack when you need a little moment of me-time ! Plant based, they are made using coconut milk and each pot only contains 100 calories. They're delicious straight from the fridge but apparently, they can also be used to make dairy-free hot chocolate.

This was a really popular box with the whole family. The kids loved tasting all the new snacks and I was pleased to discover several brands that would have passed me by, particularly as they are often healthier versions of things we often buy.

 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 £9.99 - 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.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 28


Just two days of school to go ! One with the pupils and one with meetings and an end-of-year BBQ. Sounds good to me ! We have no plans for the holidays, but I want to sort the house out and deal with all the odd jobs that I never have time to do. We also have to sort out Pierre's vaccines and Juliette's second vaccine. Last week's meal plan went to pot a bit, as it was too hot to cook so we opted for sandwiches, bacon sandwiches and pizza instead of proper cooking on some days. They're all recipes I want to come back to though, so I'll try them out in the holidays !

Monday

lunch- chicken nugget things for the kids, while I'll use up leftover BBQ pork chops, with rice or pasta (they can choose) and beetroot salad/coleslaw/cherry tomatoes from the fridge

dinner - chicken, roast potatoes and veg

Tuesday

lunch- It's the end of year BBQ at school for me - the kids can go fridge diving

dinner- baked ham, mash & veg (or maybe salad)

Wednesday

lunch- Cajun dirty rice (that got bumped off the menu plan last week)

dinner- sausage casserole with baked potatoes

Thursday

lunch - beefburgers, chips & coleslaw

dinner- I'm thinking there will be leftovers to use up

Friday

lunch- lemon & thyme chicken fillets with ebly & salad 

dinner - spaghetti bolognese

Saturday

lunch- Maybe a takeaway ? Either kebab or fried chicken from the shop on the corner

dinner- There should be plenty of leftovers

Sunday 

lunch- Provençal chicken with couscous & ratatouille

dinner- leftovers or bacon sandwiches

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

Katykicker

Sunday, 27 June 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 27


Into the final ten days at school but only for me - the Madhouse kids are all off already ! I've got exam invigilation on Monday and Tuesday, then lots of meetings preparing the next school year. I had my second covid jab today, along with Sophie, so hopefully I'll be feeling ok. We didn't stick to much of the plan last week as it was too hot to cook, so we had lots of quick things like bacon sandwiches and hot dogs. As I write this, it's torrential rain outside and thunder is booming in the distance so who knows what the weather will be like this week ! Here's the plan anyway...

Monday

lunch- I'll be at work, the kids can go fridge grazing (there should be leftover chipolatas, with mash or rice)

dinner - breaded chicken for the kids, steak for me (and Juliette - she can choose as she likes both) with pasta (or spinach filled potato croquettes for me and Sophie ... and maybe Juliette)

Tuesday

lunch- I'll be at work again - the kids can use up leftover pasta or go fridge/freezer diving

dinner- creamy chicken (or maybe chopped up leftover chipolatas, if there are any left) and leeks with rice

Wednesday

lunch- chicken fajitas with rice, guacamole, sweetcorn, peppers, ...

dinner- creamy potato bake with chicken burgers

Thursday

lunch - Cajun dirty rice but I think I'll leave out the bacon - I don't think mince and bacon go together, do they ?!


Friday

lunch- The kids are home alone again - they can go fridge/freezer diving

dinner Diet coke chicken with rice (& loads of veg in the chicken dish) - I've been wanting to try this for so long !

Saturday

lunch- There will probably still be leftovers to use up - if not, there's always McDonald's !

dinner- patatas bravas with a fried egg 



dinner- bacon sandwiches

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

Katykicker

Friday, 25 June 2021

Book review : Pressure Chamber - Nir Hezroni


I love crime fiction and I've been reading it for years, delighting in the complex tales of cruel, sadistic serial killers, family dramas based on deep, dark secrets, uncovering hidden, unsuspected motives and quests for justice for past wrongs, not to mention the unflinching investigators out to set the world to rights and unmask the villains. I have to admit, during the lockdown, I started to wonder if I had read my fill of detective novels and crime fiction. There are, after all, only so many ways to kill people, even on paper,  and the plots started getting too samey, with too many details reminding me of things from other books that I'd read in the past. Had I covered all bases ? Could nothing surprise me any more ? Well, I'm relieved to say, reading Pressure Chamber was just what the doctor ordered. It includes a whole series of shocking, seemingly unrelated crimes and an intriguing investigator with an interesting backstory to boot. Perfect !

The key character in the book is Daphne Dagan, a young female investigator from the Israeli police forensics department who is investigating the case. While this sounds exotic, it should be noted that the author, Nir Hezroni, was born in Jerusalem and now lives with his family near Tel-Aviv. The novel is, in fact, translated from Hebrew.

Daphne is called on to investigate the crime scene of a hit and run that left a medical student dead. When a second medical student is targetted and kidnapped, there are clear links between the two incidents. A few weeks later, four babies are kidnapped from different maternity wards in Tel Aviv and the kidnapper is dubbed 'The Babysitter'. Daphne links these new crimes to the hit and run incidents.

But that's not all she has on her plate. After a busy day at work, she needs the night-time to rest and recover, but sadly, she is prone to a recurring nightmare in which she is the victim of a horrific murder. She starts looking into ways to uncover the past trauma that is coming back to haunt her in her sleep.

It's as intriguing and original as it sounds and some of it is very creepy. If you're looking for one of those books that will keep you up until stupid o' clock, reading "just one more chapter" before you turn out the light, this comes highly recommended!

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP: £8.99

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Legend Press (1 Jun. 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 412 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1789559030
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1789559033




Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book in order to share my honest opinion.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 26


Things have been so busy lately, I'm glad we're heading into the last few weeks at school. Juliette had her first Covid jab yesterday and is feeling a bit under the weather. Pierre couldn't get his (he's a few weeks under the required age) so we'll have to rebook his next month after his birthday. That means we won't have time to do both jabs and the required 2 week wait then head over to the UK before the end of the holidays - grrrr. Fingers crossed, it'll be for the October half term. We'll all be fully vaccinated by then so, hopefully, nothing can go wrong. (Fingers crossed !) It's weird to be heading into the summer with absolutely nothing planned - oh well, I'm sure we'll come up with a plan. Plus I have loads to sort out around the house to keep me busy ! Right, what's on the menu for next week ?

Monday

lunch- chicken burgers in buns (with tomatoes, gherkins, cheese, mayo, relish, ... whatever anyone wants !) with curly fries

dinner - breaded chicken for the kids, steak for me (and Juliette - she can choose as she likes both) with rice and veg

Tuesday

lunch- The kids can sort themselves out - I'm having lunch with a friend for the first time in 18 months ! We used to have lunch together once a week so it'll be great to finally catch up  :)

dinner- I have an after school meeting (the final one - phew !) so something quick when I finally get home - spaghetti bolognese will do

Wednesday

lunch- fajitas

dinner- twice baked potatoes stuffed with bacon, cheese, onions, mushrooms ... or with tuna mayo maybe? I'll let the kids decide !

Thursday

lunch - BBQ-style spicy pork chops with rice & veg

dinner- chicken with noodles and veg (kinda chow mein style)

Friday

lunch- School is closed getting ready for exams so it's a lazy day - woohoo ! I might offer to grab a takeaway for the kids, either in the kebab/fried chicken shop or in the chip shop. We'll see !

dinner - homemade quiche, boiled potatoes and salad

Saturday

lunch- There may well be leftovers from yesterday's takeaway. If not, pasta carbonara.

dinner- Worst case scenario is pizza, but I'm hoping there will be interesting nibbly bits at the supermarket - they've had lots of Italian, Chinese and Greek starters/dishes to try out lately

Sunday 

lunch- roast chicken, roast potatoes & veg with gravy

dinner- leftovers or toast

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

Katykicker

Monday, 14 June 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 25


Planning "hot weather food" worked well and it's stayed really sunny so we'll go for the same again. This week will be extra busy with the in-laws' coming to visit on Wednesday and end-of-term meetings for two classes after school on Thursday. I need simple recipes this week ! At the weekend, we headed out to a pizza restaurant in town - the first time in so long ! We went a bit later (around 1.30pm rather than the usual 12.00 when all French people go to eat) and it was actually really quiet, so I'm guessing everyone headed to the beach. Here's this week's plan.

Monday

lunch- spicy prawns in cream with rice (Pierre can have a beefburger instead of prawns and Sophie's eating with her friends)

dinner - big mixed salad (with bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese, etc)

Tuesday

lunch- I'll be at the canteen so the kids can sort themselves out

dinner- sausage casserole with mash

Wednesday

lunch- lunch with the in laws (I think we'll head to our usual Chinese restaurant as everything's open again)

dinner- spaghetti bolognese, if we're hungry

Thursday

lunch - spicy chicken with rice and salads (I filled up the fridge with salads so we have the choice of beetroot salad, céleri remoulade, coleslaw, couscous, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, ...)

dinner- I'll be late home so the kids can sort something out - we have KFC-style crispy nuggets, probably with the same salads as lunch - there are some spicy curly fries in the freezer, if the kids get their act together though !

Friday

lunch- I'll be at the canteen so the kids can sort themselves out

dinner - chilli con carne and rice

Saturday

lunch- chicken (with hidden veg !) and pasta 

dinner- bacon sandwiches

Sunday 

lunch- marinated pork, rice and veg

dinner- leftovers or toast

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

Katykicker

May 2021 Degustabox review : Outdoor and BBQ


With the weather suddenly getting beautifully hot and summery a few weeks ago, it was the perfect time for this month's Outdoor and BBQ-themed Degustabox to arrive. So what would be hiding away inside this month's selection ?!


It took a while to set up this photo of the contents because the kids kept going oooh and trying to grab things ! I have to admit, it does look like a really great box this month with loads of new products and flavours to try out from brands that we already know and love.


The first product that I grabbed from the box was Echo Falls Rosé Seltzer (RRP £1.80), which looks like a great product to drink, fresh from the fridge, as the sun goes down. I got Strawberry with a Touch of Pink Pepper, other Degustaboxers got Blueberry and Hibiscus and there is also a Raspberry, Lychee and Rose flavour. They all sound a little bit different and a little bit girlie, not to mention very tasty. The can that I had went down very well. The sweet, fruity taste of strawberry fills your mouth then the hint of pepper comes through, providing a refreshing, surprising flavour. Each can contains 69 calories, is 4.5% ABV and is available at Asda and independent stores.

Another product that screams out "summer is here !" is Hellmann's Fat Free Original Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (RRP £1.65). Its classic recipe combines herbs, garlic and red pepper that add some zing to your summer salads, whether just a few leaves of lettuce on the side of the plate or a full mixed salad as a main meal. One tablespoon of vinaigrette contains just 7 calories, which is great if you're watching your waistline. It is made with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and is suitable for vegans. It's perfect for the summer.

Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spray (RRP £3) is another product that can be sprayed on your salad to give it some extra flavour, but that's not all. It can also be used in marinades or on pasta ... whatever you fancy ! For a light summery lunch, just spray some over sliced tomatoes on a slice of toast. Its fruity aroma adds a touch of decadence that really brings out the flavour. Made using only 100% extra virgin olive oil and no additives, the spray is propellant free, using only pure air to dispense evenly the right amount of oil needed. 


Graze Smoky Barbecue Crunch (RRP £1 for a 31g punnet or £2.99 for a 104g sharing bag) is a delicious snack, combining BBQ flavoured peas, crunchy corn chips and chilli corn. As well as tasting great and being packed with veg, it is high in fibre and suitable for vegans. Each punnet provides 139 calories. It's totally moreish and you won't stop until you've eaten the whole pack !


Another option from the same brand is Graze Cocoa Vanilla Protein Oat Bites (RRP £1 for a single 30g bite or £2.49 for a multipack of 4 x 30g). These bars contain 45% less sugar than the average cereal bar but they still taste great. They are made from whole rolled oats, are high in fibre and are a source of protein, as well as being suitable for vegans. I wasn't expecting to like these but they're actually not bad at all.


Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme (RRP 89p) is bound to be a huge hit with anybody looking for a taste of the States (which includes all three of my kids !). The bar combines the classic flavours of a smooth white creme infused with crunchy cookie pieces. It's not bad and the kids were big fans but I have to admit, I prefer the creaminess of British chocolate !


Hippeas Chickpea Tortilla Snacks (RRP £1) is a new product from the brand, available in three flavours : Chilli Kicks (which was the one we got), Rockin' Ranch & Cheesy Nacho Vibes. They are vegan, gluten free and contain 7g of protein and 2g of fibre per single serve bag (40g). They taste great and are perfect for scooping up guacamole. I'll definitely give the other flavours a try as they sound really nice too.
 
 

Pip Organic Sparkling Lemon (RRP £1.50) is another soft drink option for the summer. It is a blend of organic not-from-concentrate juice and sparkling water with no added sugars or sweeteners. It comes in at under 75 calories and is lovely and refreshing. It even counts as one of your 5-a-day. Can't say fairer than that ! It's available from Abel & Cole, Amazon or Ocado.

Knorr Rosemary & Onion Seasoning (RRP £1.80) (other Degustaboxers got Tomato & Oregano) is a lovely herb mix for sprinkling over your food. Knorr say that it's ideal for a sweet potato, salad, roasted vegetables, vegetable stew, delicious sauce, tasty soup or any other exciting dish you want to try. As it's part of the Knorr Veggie Cook's Essentials range, the focus is on meat-free dishes, but it's also great sprinkled over roast chicken and roast potatoes, added to casseroles or flung over the meat on the barbecue. 

Nairn's Cheese & Smoky Chipotle Spicy Oatcakes (RRP £1.50) are a new addition to the range and they're a great way of adding some zingy flavour to your snacks. They're lovely topped with cheese, cheese spread, smoked ham or (our favourite snack for the summer) guacamole. Cheese & Chipotle is an exciting new flavour, but they still have all of the benefits that you expect from Nairn's Oatcakes. Packed with fibre to keep your gut healthy, full of vitamins and minerals and a great source of slow releasing energy - plus 125 years of Nairn's expertise! 

 

Brioche Pasquier Brioche Rolls (RRP £1.50) are great as part of a decadent continental breakfast, alongside croissants and pain au chocolat, but they are much more versatile than that. While they are lovely topped with sweet things like jam or Nutella, they can also be filled with savoury options such as ham and cheese. Kids love their slightly sweet flavour and the soft fluffiness of the brioche. They are baked using quality ingredients, including their original levain, with no added preservatives.

Rowntree's Dessert Pastilles (RRP £1.29) are a fabulous new twist on the classic Fruit Pastilles that we all love. Inspired by delicious fruity desserts, they come in four fantastic flavours: Cherry Bakewell, Blueberry Pie, Apple Crumble and Mango Sorbet. Just like regular pastilles, they are irresistibly chewy and packed with tasty flavours. They are also vegan friendly for even more people to enjoy!


Not Too Naughty Caramelised Mini Cookies (RRP 50p per single, £10 for 25) are the perfect product for anyone who wants to enjoy a sweet treat without a guilty conscience ! They contain 30% less sugar and come in at 88 calories per pack, as well as being high in fibre. They also have no artificial colours, sweeteners or preservatives in them. They're lovely as something to munch on in front of the telly !

Another snack option from the same company Nibnibs is Telstar Heavenly Cookies (RRP 50p per single, £10 for 25). Just like the Not Too Naughty mini cookies, they have reduced sugar content, are high in fibre and, as the tagline says, offer "all the taste, less of the naughty". In the same blue-coloured packaging as the previous product are the Caramelised Cookies.


But they also have a brown pack of Chocolate Mini Cookie Stars, which are just as tasty.


The final product in this month's box was Whitworth's Protein By Nature Mexican Spicy Grains (RRP £2). This range of beans, pulses and grains is a great alternative when you're fed up of the usual rice, pasta and potatoes. It's vegan-friendly, contains 20g of protein and is ready after being heated in the microwave for 2 minutes. This can be eaten as a side dish or there is a recipe suggesting using it in fajitas - that sounds good to me ! I love the sound of the other dishes in the range too - Indian Lentil Dhal, Brazilian Smoky Beans and Moroccan Grains. I'll definitely keep an eye out for them. They're available in Tesco, Morrisons and Ocado.

This was a fantastic box for us and I love the fact that it's given me some new product ranges to try out when we next go shopping. We're winding down at school now and this has really made me start looking forward to a lazy summer holiday !

 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 £9.99 - enter code PKUFE at the checkout. 

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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.
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