Sunday 25 April 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 17

Last week's meal plan included lots of new recipes from a Jamie Oliver series I was watching and they were all much enjoyed. The meatloaf, the chicken kievs, the sausage pasta and the Chinese cashew chicken have all been re-requested. Even better, the kids got involved with helping me out in the kitchen. Unfortunately, that will come to an end now as we're back to school next week, although we have one more week at home doing online learning before heading back to school. OK, so what's on the menu this week? I've gone looking through old recipes on my blog for this week's inspiration.


lunch- Lemon pepper chicken with rice and veg

dinner - Garlic bread topped sloppy Joes


lunch- Flamiche aux poireaux (Leek tart) with cherry tomatoes & salad (and leftover rice for those who want it) (there should be leftovers if Pierre turns his nose up at leeks !)

dinner- pork chops with mash & veg


dinner- Baked cheese empanadas with rice and cherry tomatoes


lunch - Savoyard pork burgers with pasta & creamed spinach

dinner- Slow cooker BBQ beef with rice & veg


dinner - BBQ beef pies with leftovers from yesterday, boiled potatoes & veg


lunch- spaghetti bolognese

dinner- hmmm maybe time for a Saturday night takeaway ? kebabs or fried chicken (from the same shop so they can choose !)


lunch- roast dinner

dinner- leftover takeaway or fridge grazing

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


Wednesday 21 April 2021

April 2021 Degustabox : UK vs International

The postie dropped off this month's Degustabox a few days ago and as soon as we spotted the theme of the box, we were intrigued : UK vs International. Oooh, what would be lurking inside ? The kids instantly spotted several things that they couldn't wait to try !

This month's Product of the Month is one that we instantly grabbed - McVitie's Sticky Toffee Pudding Hobnobs (RRP £1.59 - other Degustaboxers got Chocolate Brownie flavour). These are new flavours in the Chocolate Hobnobs range, inspired by Great British desserts. They are totally delicious, even better than regular Hobnobs. Yum !

Bull's-Eye Kentucky Habanero Hot Sauce With Whiskey (RRP £1.99) sounds like a great product for summer barbecues. I must admit, I wimped out when reading the description though ! "This one's hot - for those in search of firepower, the fruity Habanero chilli is cooked up with a dash of whiskey to pack the heat. Expect bold, sweet aromas with some Kentucky tang." It would be great for adding some heat to meat before putting it on the grill, zinging up your salsa or stirring through chilli. I'll pass this on to a friend !

Dorset Cereals Nutty Granola (RRP £4.15) is a delicious breakfast option, made with crunchy almonds, hazelnuts and cashews. It tastes very natural and you instantly get the feeling that it's good for you. The perfect way to start the day ! 

Tilda Japanese Teriyaki Jasmine Rice (RRP £1.59) is a limited edition, so get in quick ! It's an exciting mix of sticky jasmine rice, spring onions, carrots and water chestnuts, with the addition of soy sauce, sugar and mirin (all ingredients typically used in teriyaki marinade). It's the perfect accompaniment to exotic food - if you want to try something Japanese, check out my recipes for Yakiniku-inspired Beef Stir Fry, Pork Yakisoba or Kamo No Teriyaki (Teriyaki Duck with Soba Noodles) - but it's also great for jazzing up leftovers, for example using up the leftover chicken after a Sunday roast.

Gunna Ginger Rebel Ginger Lemonade (RRP £1.50) is a new drinks option - we've had ginger beer before but not ginger lemonade. Well, in terms of taste, it's very similar, with a fairly mild ginger taste. Gunna's aim is to "battle the bland" and bring customers healthier alternatives that are full of flavour. Their drinks contain less than 5% sugar, fewer calories and no artificial colours or preservatives. Definitely worth a try, if you want something a little bit different to quench your thirst. It might even help you out if you're suffering with morning sickness. (Ginger always used to help settle my stomach when I was pregnant.)

Aero Dark & Milk (RRP £1) is a new product from a brand I love. Orange and Mint Aeros remind me of being at school because my best friend always used to bring them in her lunch box - how times have changed ! I wasn't sure about the "dark" part though, as I'm definitely a milk chocolate kinda girl. The bar description is intriguing though : "Introducing Aero Dark&Milk, a darker chocolate bar that is bubbling with smooth milk and dark intensity. Aero Dark&Milk has a higher percentage of cocoa solids than standard Aero, whilst keeping the lightness and smoothness of Aero milk chocolate." Well, it's not bad - you get the same bubbly texture and smoothness - and it would be perfect if you're looking for a richer, stronger cocoa flavour, but I prefer the normal Aero bars. Sorry !

Noodl Plus Charcoal Noodles with Epic Mushrooms (RRP £2.50) is an interesting take on pot noodles. The noodles are thicker than most other pot noodle-type products so they take 7-8 minutes to rehydrate but they have a satisfying chewiness that really fills you up. There are impressive large chunks of cauliflower and spring onion in there and a lovely mushroom flavour. Eating black food still seems wrong to me (I said the same thing when trying cuttlefish ink paella !) but it's a tasty and surprisingly satisfying meal. There are other options available - Chilli Noodles with Balinese Spices or (purple) Beetroot Noodles with Heavenly Harissa. As well as the exciting colours, I love the fact that the noodles are plant based, high in protein and high in fibre.

Get More Vits have two products in this month's box - Get More Vits Vitamin D Still Mango & Passionfruit Drink (RRP £1.50) and Get More Vits Multivitamin Chewing Gum (RRP £1.50). They are both simple (and enjoyable) ways of upping your vitamin intake. The drink has a refreshing, fruity flavour and is sugar free and low calorie, as well as providing your daily dose of Vitamin D. The chewing gum is a great way to increase your vitamin intake while freshening your breath. It's available in two flavours - peppermint and spearmint - and, as well as being sugar free, each piece of gum provides a 25% daily dose of ten essential vitamins. 

Kind Dark Chocolate Orange Almond (RRP £1.30) is a healthy snack bar with no secret ingredients, no artificial flavours, no preservatives and no sweeteners. The description confused me, until I took a bite. "An iconic UK flavour, just done better…and a little less round." Ahhh forget the almonds, just think chocolate orange ! Well, it's not quite the same but it's very tasty nevertheless. 

Brioche Pasquier Pancakes (RRP £1.65) are a new product and they fit in perfectly with the rest of the range of delicious and convenient breakfast options. The pancakes come in packs of two, which helps to keep them fresh. They can be packed in a pocket or a bag to be eaten cold as a snack on the go but they are even tastier if you heat them up in the microwave then top them with fruit (blueberries, strawberries and raspberries work really well), maple syrup or (the Madhouse kids' favourite option !) chocolate and hazelnut spread.

Very Lazy Chipotle Paste (RRP £2) is a convenient way or adding a touch of heat to all your home-cooked Mexican-inspired meals. As well as a chilli kick, you get a lovely smoky flavour that adds depth to anything from fajitas and chilli to burritos and tacos. The great thing if you're cooking for your family is that you can serve the kids then stir through a little bit of paste for the adults.

This was a great box with a real mixture of ingredients. The kids didn't think it was particularly international, but when I pointed out that chipotle is Mexican, pancakes are French, teriyaki rice is Japanese, noodles are (amongst other nationalities) Chinese and Kentucky habanero sauce is American, they had to agree, even if, as far as they were concerned, they were just normal store cupboard ingredients. It just goes to show how many different types of cooking they're used to !

 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 April 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 16

Last week was a lovely (and much-needed) lazy week. I didn't do any of the big jobs that I had planned - oh well, I'm off this week too ! We did spend lots of time dashing off to the local parcel depots with all the stuff that Pierre has been selling on Vinted and he's very happy as he's already earned about €70-€80 ! I'm amazed. Not to mention very chuffed at all the extra cupboard space that this is making ! In terms of cooking, last week we stuck to plan completely. I'm watching Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food as I write this menu plan and it's already giving me some good ideas.


lunch- chicken cordon bleu with pasta & veg

dinner - Osso buco with risotto (if I manage to find osso bucco at the shop - if not, I'll adapt the recipe)


lunch- battered fish with leftover pasta/risotto

dinner- meatloaf with mash & veg


lunch- leftover meatloaf with couscous & veg

dinner- chicken kievs (I think I'll give Jamie Oliver's version a go and add bacon to the filling) with rice & veg


lunch - tuna & potato salad

dinner- spaghetti bolognese


dinner - Chinese cashew chicken with rice


lunch- Hamburger gravy with mash & sweetcorn

dinner-I'm trying to convince the kids they love curries so this is a good starting point - butter chicken with rice & salad


lunch- roast chicken, roast potatoes & veg

dinner- toast or leftovers

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


Friday 16 April 2021

Foul Play Murder Mystery Card Game review

What can you do in the middle of a pandemic when your entire business activity revolves around interacting with the public? Such was the problem faced by After Dark Murder Mystery during lockdown. Rather than sitting around twiddling their thumbs, they decided to look at news ways to keep their business afloat. Faced with the large number of companies offering online activities, they decided to go down a different route. The Foul Play Murder Mystery Card Game was born !

The basic aim of the game reminds me of Cluedo - you have to uncover the perpetrator of a vicious crime. In this game though, you just need a pack of cards, rather than a big playing board, making it the perfect game to pack in your bag when travelling or going on holiday.

The game is set in Edwardian England and the Lord of the Manor has been murdered ! Obviously, the servants are the lead suspects and your job is to unearth evidence and catch the culprit. You have a choice though - will you play Good Cop or Bad Cop?

If you play as Good Cop, you set up the game by removing the fifteen evidence cards from the pack, selecting one of each colour, putting them back in the pack then reshuffling the cards. The evidence cards have facts such as hair colour, sex or clothing on them. Next, lay out nine cards in the middle of the table in a 3x3 grid as "the crime scene". Each player is dealt five cards and the rest go to the side as the "evidence locker". On each turn, you can take a card from the evidence locker and discard one in your hand or play a card, swapping a card with one of your opponents' cards. As you play, you will see the evidence cards go through which will show you who the murderer is. You must have the card showing this person to be able to announce your suspect, lay out your proof and (hopefully !) win the game.

In Bad Cop mode, each player takes seven cards and all cards are in play. You just need to find three evidence cards that match with a suspect card in your hand to win.

It takes a couple of games to get used to how to play and what each card allows you to do, but once you've got the hang of it, it's great fun. There's no waiting around as everyone is involved on each turn so it's a great option for kids who tend to get bored quickly, especially as you can watch players' faces when they pick up a card and try to detect signs of excitement, then remember which colour the back of the card was to try and pinch it ! 

Throughout confinement, I think we all spent far too long online and playing video games, so finding a new card game that is quick to learn, fun to play and keeps everyone off their screens is absolutely great !

FOUL PLAY The Murder Mystery Card Game -   The Manor House Murder 
 A game for 2 – 5 players | Age 8 + 
 £8.95 + p&p 
Disclosure : We received the product in order to share our honest opinion.

Wednesday 14 April 2021

Testing out the Zerowater water filter jug (review)

We've had some lovely warm, sunny weather here recently (shhh we'll just completely ignore the one snowy day in the middle of the mini-heatwave, as it made no sense whatsoever !) so we've been enjoying afternoons lounging on the patio, reading, chatting and drinking gallons of cold drinks. Diet coke, fruit juice and even home made smoothies (if I'm lucky and the girls are feeling adventurous !) are frequently enjoyed, but we also drink lots of dilutable squash or just a glass of water, especially at mealtimes. I don't mind drinking plain water at all, but sometimes, I'll turn my nose up because it has an extra strong smell of chlorine or, when I'm at the school canteen, it just tastes stale. (I don't want to think too much about what would make water taste "stale" so let's move on swiftly !) 

 Zerowater recently got in touch with some information about the water-drinking habits of the UK population. According to a recent survey by Zerowater UK, 70% of Brits are still drinking unfiltered tap water, which apparently contains microplastics, which is a definite worry. However, bottled water contains twice as much plastic, as well as being expensive, not to mention bad for the environment. (Think of all those empty water bottles ending up in landfill - eeek !)

Zerowater offered us the chance to try out one of their water filters, which are supposed to be twice as good as Brita. Zerowater removes as much as 99.6% of all toxins, solids and contaminants, such as chlorine, aluminium and plastic particles, and reading through the complete list of contaminants removed (which you can see here) is actually quite scary - mercury, lead, asbestos, arsenic ... Crikey !

The Zerowater jug comes with a total dissolved solids reader so you can test your area's water quality before and after. Some cities like Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and London have water readings of over 280, but after using Zerowater it drops to 0.  There is actually a great video to prove this, showing Philip Schofield putting the water jug through its paces by turning red wine into pure water ! I'm not wasting wine doing this (sorry !) so here's the video to see for yourselves !

We've been trying the Zerowater jug and it does work very well. The water tastes crisp and clear, just the way it should, with no disagreeable chlorine taste. I tried it on the kids and they were unimpressed, claiming that "it doesn't taste of anything". When I replied that that was exactly the point, they looked confused and wandered off, shaking their heads. Kids !

The only downside is that the replacement cartridges are fairly expensive and they apparently need to be changed about every 3-4 weeks, otherwise the water starts to taste bitter. It's worth looking out for bulk-buy deals which will work out cheaper in the long run. You can also get a £5-off voucher if you submit your water quality reading on the website.

The water jug that we received to review is a 12-cup filter worth £39.99, but there are various other sizes available on the Zerowater website.

Disclosure : We received the product in order to share our honest review.

Monday 12 April 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 15

We're on holiday - phewwwww ! No plans (well, apart from sorting out the new boiler (which involves checking out all the new government help schemes that have just been launched), getting the garage door fixed and .... something. There is a third job that needs doing but I can't remember what at the moment !) and having a big clean up. Pierre has a new mission - selling all his old toys and clothes on Vinted, a second-hand sale site which is similar to ebay but you set the price and don't have to worry about shipping costs as they deal with that. The only trouble is, he's brought boxes and bags of stuff (big soft toys mainly) downstairs to sell (he wants help deciding on the prices) so I feel like I'm living in a jumble sale at the moment. Not the plan ! Right, let's sort out this week's menu plan. The first half of the week will go to plan, but I'll need to go shopping mid-week, so it depends what they have in stock.


lunch- BBQ-seasoned pork chops, rice & coleslaw

dinner - potato-topped mince hotpot


lunch- grilled ham, mash & veg

dinner- veal in a creamy sauce with mushrooms and pasta


lunch- chicken sausages with rice and leeks au gratin

dinner- spaghetti carbonara


lunch -leftovers for Pierre and Juliette, baked stuffed tomatoes with ebly for me and Sophie

dinner- chilli con carne & rice


lunch- chicken fajitas

dinner - twice baked potatoes with cheese & bacon


lunch- spaghetti bolognese

dinner- chicken spring rolls


lunch- roast dinner

dinner-  cheese on toast or leftovers

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


Thursday 8 April 2021

The perfect anti-COVID toy : Antibacterial Slime !


Fingers crossed, we are starting to slowly, tentatively tiptoe out of lockdown. Wearing masks and keeping our distance from those around us remain key points but we can slowly start looking ahead to brighter times. Sending the kids back to school was a big step towards getting back to normal but we still have a long way to go.

As parents, one of our biggest concerns is getting the kids to constantly wash their hands and/or use hand gel. Well, Canal Toys have the answer to our prayers - anti-bacterial slime that kills up to 99.9% of bacteria on hands. Let the kids have fun as they keep themselves (and those around them) safe !

Hand gel dispensers are often available in public spaces and, as shops and restaurants start to open up again, they will be commonly used, but they are not always suited to children. They can be fiddly to use or may be placed too high. Then there's the gooey, cold, slippery feeling that many kids don't like. Hand gel is simpler and, let's face it, much more fun to use !

I'd never even thought of this kind of product but it's a no-brainer. The Madhouse kids, even the teenagers, will quite happily (and almost hypnotically !) squish slime through their fingers so adding anti-bacterial properties is a genius idea. It's a child-safe, alcohol-free slime that can be used over and over again for up to one month.

I have a top tip for you - just before you throw it away, squish it across your computer keyboard to get out all the dust and muck that gathers in the keyboard !

Each pot costs £2.99 and you can buy a four pack tube for £9.99. 


 Disclosure : We received the product in order to share our opinions.

Sunday 4 April 2021

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

Last week, the president announced that schools in France would shut for a month as from Monday. There's a two week holiday in there though, so it's only two weeks of online classes to deal with. We won't be able to do much during the holidays, but it'll give me a chance to rest and sort out the house (again !). We're all getting bored of eating the same kinds of meals every week, so I need to start looking up some new recipes or maybe digging out some old favourites.


lunch- leftovers pie (roast chicken, roast potatoes & veg) with mash

dinner -  flammenkuechen (like very thin pizzas with crème fraîche and bacon) & garlic bread (to use up some stale bread)


lunch- gratin dauphinois (creamy potato bake), baked ham & ratatouille

dinner- pork chops, rice & veg


lunch- chicken fajitas with rice, salsa & guacamole

dinner- cottage pie


lunch - leftovers

dinner- spaghetti bolognese


lunch- chicken burgers, wedges & veg

dinner - lasagne


lunch- quiche lorraine & salad

dinner- I'm thinking we'll fancy a takeaway - maybe kebabs or we have recently discovered a new chippy that might be worth a try


lunch- chicken curry & rice

dinner- leftovers or toast

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


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...