Sunday, 27 February 2022

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 9


I had zero time to myself last week - my Wednesday afternoon off was hijacked for an online training day and my Friday afternoon off was the school open day - so this weekend I've been chilling out. Our roof is still damaged but I've had the insurance people on the phone, put in a claim, had them find a company for us and set up a day for them to come and put up a tarpaulin and send in their quote. So that will be happening in TEN DAYS TIME !! Fingers crossed it won't rain much between now and then. And goodness knows when they'll actually get around to fixing it. Oh well, we'll survive, I suppose ! This week is another busy one with my Wednesday afternoon off being used as a training day again - rotten gits ! Juliette had her school trip to Paris on Friday and loved it. This week is a more normal week but I haven't been shopping yet so I'll be menu planning before we hit the supermarket. Things may therefore be changed around a bit, depending on what they have in stock or on special offer. It's still nice to have a plan though !

Monday

lunch- I'm at the canteen, the kids have loads of leftovers to choose from in the fridge

dinner - twice baked potatoes, stuffed with bacon, cheese, onions, mushrooms, beans

Tuesday

lunch- canteen for me, leftovers for the kids

dinner- bolognese stuffed courgettes for me and Sophie / spaghetti bolognese for Pierre and Juliette (we had this last week but everyone loved it and I have half of the courgettes left so we can have it again !)

Wednesday

lunch- beefburgers, mash and coleslaw

dinner- veal stew in the slow cooker, with ebly 

Thursday

lunch - lunch with friends and Sophie can come along

dinner- sweet & sour chicken with rice

Friday

lunch-  leftovers or omelette 

dinner - spaghetti with a herb/spice mix that Sophie brought back from her trip to Italy (and maybe extra bacon/mushrooms/onions/cheese if needed)

Saturday

lunch- McDonald's or somewhere similar

dinner- tacos

Sunday 

lunch- roast chicken, roast potatoes, veg and gravy

dinner- toast or leftovers

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

Linking up with the Menu Plan Roundup over at Cats, Kids, Chaos

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Book review : Buried Secrets - Mike Martin


There's something about this time of year that can be quite depressing. Putting away the Christmas decorations so the house looks bare and miserable, coming home from work every day in the dark, trudging off to work in the cold (and the rain and the wind) ... Luckily, though, I have found the perfect antidote - tucking up under a blanket on the sofa with a good book. A good book guaranteed to put you in a good mood. Time to bring in Sgt Windflower !

The kind-hearted, family-loving Mountie is back in a new novel, which is, as usual, perfect for warming the cockles of your heart. That's not to say that all is well in Grand Bank though. The normally calm and near perfect region in Newfoundland is rocked by a series of murders of prominent figures - an RCMP staff sergeant in St John's (who was actually Winston's old supervisor) and a minister in Grand Bank. While this is already alarming, there are suggestions that national security may be under threat and linked to these crimes, plus there are weird things going on in town and in the church, with a suspicious and threatening character putting in an appearance that leaves Sgt Windflower with a whole lot of things to look into.

As always, and however serious the crimes that he is investigating, Sgt Windflower gives just as much time to his family and we see him moving back to his home town for the case, catching up with his friends, exploring his ancestral dreams and customs and chilling out with his beloved wife and daughters. (And dog. And cat, but I'm not quite sure the "beloved" thing works both ways, as far as the cat is concerned !)

Whatever is going on in his life, Sgt Windflower always seems content with his lot, especially if he's settling down for a slice of peanut butter cheesecake and a chat with his friends. In this book, however, he seems to be asking himself a lot of questions. Does he want to remain in the RCMP? Is he willing to risk being relocated and, if so, how would that work with his family? I'm looking forward to seeing how he works out these latest existential crises in the next book. Something I particularly liked in this book was the little nod towards COVID - a reminder to future generations (or even our future selves) of the little moment of world history that we are currently living through.

RRP : £12.26

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Ottawa Press and Publishing Mystery (13 Oct. 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 260 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1988437784
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1988437781
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.24 x 1.65 x 22.86 cm


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

Sunday, 20 February 2022

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 8


What a bloody week ! We carried on with the walls but it's a long job and is far from finished, even though I'm heading back to work tomorrow. From the door to the first landing, one wall is stripped and repainted - a lovely pale pink colour. The other wall is almost completely stripped but we need Sophie to do the bits we can't reach ! The wall halfway up the other set of stairs is half stripped but we also need to do the two landings.  It's taken much longer than I expected. But that all paled into insignificance when the storm struck and our roof started falling apart. Some of the ridge tiles came off and there is a big area of roof (felt, I guess?) flapping in the wind. It's horrible listening to it wondering if the whole thing is going to fly off before someone can come to mend it. I'm trying to find a positive in it - at least they can fix any problems that are up there - but it's hard ! This week's meals are quick and simple as I'll be busy chasing up the insurance and roofers, as well as going back to school with a training day on my afternoon off - grrr !

Monday

lunch- I'm at the canteen, the kids have various options in the fridge

dinner - pasta carbonara

Tuesday

lunch- canteen for me, leftovers for the kids

dinner- stuffed courgettes for me and Sophie / the stuffing with rice for Pierre and Juliette

Wednesday

lunch- chicken burgers with mash and carrot fries (a Sophie invention apparently !)

dinner- fishfingers, hash browns and beans (Sophie offered to make homemade hash browns - sounds good to me !)

Thursday

lunch - lunch with friends and Sophie can come along

dinner- chicken gyros (or Proven├žal style or whatever Sophie picked up at the start of the week) with ebly and ratatouille

Friday

lunch-  omelette

dinner - pork stew with pasta

Saturday

lunch- McDonald's or somewhere similar

dinner- homemade pizza

Sunday 

lunch- roast chicken, roast potatoes, veg and gravy

dinner- toast

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

Linking up with the Menu Plan Roundup over at Cats, Kids, Chaos

Sunday, 13 February 2022

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 7


Last week was half term and it was lovely. The girls went to Lille shopping, then we all went to Lille and visited the Natural History Museum, Sophie took Pierre to a football match, Juliette went to a nearby theme park in Belgium (just over the border) with her friends. We started scraping the wallpaper off the walls in the hall/stairs and have decided to repaint them rather than papering them again. I think we'll head to the DIY store tomorrow or the day after (we can use tomorrow to scrape off the rest) to choose the paint. Not sure what colour to go for but we've already had pink and blue - green or pale yellow maybe, or something neutral like grey or cream? We'll see ! I even found time to shave the dog, who now looks half the size and keeps shaking because he's cold ! Me and Juliette went for a trip to the hairdresser's too so we're all ready for the spring !

We ate lots of things on last week's menu plan but a few things were swapped out - we went to a Flemish restaurant in Lille (I had some lovely prawn croquettes and amazing homemade fries) and we grabbed a Burger King after the hairdresser's as we had a late appointment and it would have been pushing it for time. This week, we have a meal planned in a restaurant for Juliette's birthday but apart from that, I have no idea !

Monday

lunch- I have some leftover baked potatoes so Hogslop sounds good with an egg or sausages on the side 

dinner Spicy chicken & chorizo stew with pasta (followed by birthday cake !)

Tuesday

lunch- Juliette's birthday meal (her birthday was yesterday but going out on Valentine's Day is never a good idea !)


Wednesday

lunchYellow rice with chicken and beans (using up the leftovers)

dinnerBacon cheeseburger meatloaf with potato wedges & coleslaw

Thursday

lunch - leftovers (I think the fridge will be full by now !)

dinner- BBQ pulled pork with baked potatoes (or maybe mash) & coleslaw

Friday

lunch-  Honey mustard pretzel chicken with couscous & tomato salad

dinner - cottage pie

Saturday

lunch- sweet & sour chicken with rice

dinner- Pide (Turkish pizza) with guacamole/chips and salsa (and any other side dishes that I may come up with !)

Sunday 

lunch- Mongolian beef with rice or noodles

dinner- toast or a bacon sandwich

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

Linking up with the Menu Plan Roundup over at Cats, Kids, Chaos

Sunday, 6 February 2022

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 6


We made it to the holidays COVID-free - woohoo ! I'm looking forward to a couple of lazy weeks to be honest, but I think the kids might have other ideas. Sophie and Juliette have planned a day shopping in Lille and there have been random mutterings about heading to EuroDisney for a day or two. Well, I can't complain. When Mike died, my school made a collection and gave the money to us, with a comment about doing something nice as a family. The decision was made to go to Disneyland Paris but, what with Sophie's exams then COVID, it never actually happened. So why not?! I still want to repaper the hallway though, so we'll have to see what happens !

Right, on to food. This menu plan will probably end up being half followed then adapted with days out and stuff added in, but I always prefer to have a plan to fall back on. I'm still working back through the recipes on my blog, starting back at the beginning, and there are lots of things I had forgotten about so I'm looking forward to trying them again.

Monday

lunch- Sophie and Juliette are heading off for a day out hitting the shops in Lille so it's just me and Pierre - we can use up the leftovers from yesterday's roast chicken

dinner - Twice-baked stuffed potatoes (with bacon, cheese, onions, peppers, mushrooms, maybe even some baked beans) (I was organised and baked the potatoes at the same time as the roast dinner yesterday)

Tuesday

lunch- meatball and egg tagine with couscous (bumped back from last week's menu plan as they didn't have any meatballs when I went shopping) (Pierre is off out for the day with his friend on his dad's boat)

dinner- slow cooker lemon chicken with rice & veg

Wednesday

lunch- BBQ marinated chicken wings (I'll use chicken breasts instead) with coleslaw & wedges


Thursday

lunch -  I'm thinking there will be plenty of leftovers to use up

dinner- slow cooker Greek-style lamb, potato & thyme kleftiko (but I'll swap the lamb for pork or chicken, as the kids aren't keen on lamb)

Friday


dinner creamy pan-fried pork with apple & sage (using ingredients from home, not the recipe kit) and a side of mash

Saturday

lunch- either a trip to McDonald's or leftovers


Sunday 

lunch- roast chicken dinner

dinner- sandwiches, toast or leftovers

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

Linking up with the Menu Plan Roundup over at Cats, Kids, Chaos

Thursday, 3 February 2022

January 2022 Degustabox review : Breakfast, On The Go & Kick Start the New Year

 

We recently received our January 2022 Degustabox and, as the first box of the year, I was expecting it to have a healthy New Year's Resolution theme. Well, I was half right (or, more precisely, a third right). This month's box has a Breakfast, On The Go & Kick Start the New Year theme. Sounds interesting !


The first thing that I picked out for inspection was this Cooking Sauce Collection box from Lee Kum Kee (RRP £4.99), a brand I've often used in the past. Lee Kum Kee invented Oyster Sauce all the way back in 1888 and they have been helping adventurous home cooks add a touch of exotic originality to their dishes ever since. Their sauces are a great way of rustling up a quick, Chinese-themed meal and I often use them to help with using up the Christmas turkey leftovers, as well as throughout the year.


The box contains various sachets to help set your taste buds on fire. I found full-sized sachets of Hoisin Sauce, Yellow Bean Sauce and Chilli Garlic Sauce, plus two small sachets each of Chilli Oil and Sweet Soy Sauce. There is also a booklet filed with different ways to use the sauces to help inspire your imagination. I'm looking forward to dipping into these and, as it's Chinese New Year right now, it's the perfect time to try some new flavours.

 

Dr Wills All Natural Tomato Ketchup (RRP £3.50) is a healthier take on classic ketchup, sweetened with three and a half dates instead of the 19 sugar cubes contained in the leading market bottle. It was created by a genuine doctor who was horrified at the idea of parents smothering their children's healthy food in such a sugary concoction to get them to eat it. The product promises to be full of flavour and packed with vine-ripened tomatoes, no gunk and no junk. It contains just 14 calories per serving and won a Great Taste award in 2020. The only downside is that it's on the pricey side. Available at Tesco, Waitrose, Ocado, Amazon and on Dr-wills.com.

Califia Farms Oat Barista Blend (RRP £2) is a dairy-free milk alternative, made from whole rolled oats, with no added sugar. It steams beautifully, can be poured straight into a cup of coffee and tastes great by itself. I'll pass this over to Sophie, as she likes to try all the different milk alternatives.


Nine Dark Choc & Orange Bar (RRP 99p) is a new product from the range that promises 9 benefits in every bar: immune supporting seeds, natural ingredients, high in fibre, 100% plant protein, high in Vitamin E, source of magnesium, gluten and wheat free, a vegan Source of Vitamin B1. Equally (or more?!) importantly, it tastes great too, with a sweet orangey tang blended with a decadent hit of chocolate. You even get to feel good about all its healthy extras as you eat !

 

Get More Vits Pink Grapefruit (RRP £1.50) is a new addition to the range of drinks that we have tried and loved before - we reviewed them back in 2019 and the kids still love them. As well as offering a tangy, fruity flavour that was a big hit with everyone, each bottle contains 200% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin B12. This helps combat tiredness and fatigue, as well as supporting the immune and nervous systems. It's sugar free, low in calories (only 4 calories per bottle) and is made with real pink grapefruit extract.

Eat Natural Low Sugar Granola (RRP £3) is a tasty breakfast option, made with whole grain oats, almonds and seeds, sweetened with coconut nectar blossom rather than sugar. Toasted coconut shavings add extra natural fibre and I like to toss in a handful of raisins or a topping of fresh fruit, for a delicious and satisfying start to the day.

 

Harvest Snaps Sour Cream & Chive (RRP £1.75) are delicious, crunchy oven baked veggie snacks, made from red lentils with real onion, seasoned with a vegan sour cream and chive seasoning. The tangy, creamy, garlicky flavour was a big hit with the kids who polished off the pack in record time. They're baked, not fried, and the kids wouldn't believe me when I said they were made of lentils !

Mutti Polpa Finely Chopped Tomatoes (RRP £1.30) is this month's Product of the Month and will certainly come in handy. I'm always using tinned tomatoes, in casseroles and pasta sauces or on pizzas. Mutti's tomatoes are processed within 24 hours of harvesting in order to capture the taste of freshly picked, 100% Italian, sun-ripened tomatoes, along with their rich texture and bright red colour. They have a lovely sweetness.


There was a voucher in the box for a Richmond Toad In The Hole Family Meal Kit (RRP £2.95), which can be used in Tesco, ASDA, Morrisons, Iceland and Sainsbury's. This kit contains ten sausages and a batter mix. You just need to add water to the batter mix, pour it over the sausages then put it in the oven. Add a side of potatoes and carrots and you'll have big smiles all round !



Linwoods Cold Milled Flaxseed (RRP £1.99 for 80g, £4.99 for 425g) can easily be added to your daily diet for an extra nutritional punch, including protein, fibre and omega-3. You can sprinkle it over your breakfast, salad or yogurt or add it to a smoothie. If you're trying to eat more healthily as a new year's resolution, this could be a simple way to start.

Quinola Snacktastically Light Corn, Pulses & Quinoa  Wonky Crackers (RRP £1.75) get a prize for having the longest name I've ever typed ! They're an alternative to rice cakes and can be eaten straight from the pack or spread with sweet or savoury toppings. They're made with puffed corn, pulses and quinoa and each cracker only contains 22 calories. Another great snack for those on a healthy eating kick for 2022 !


Prodigy Roasted Hazelnut Chocolate Bar (RRP £1.75) takes a classic combination and aims to make it better for you and the planet. It is plant-based, contains no palm oil, has less than half the sugar of typical chocolate bars and is certified Climate Neutral and Plastic Negative. You still get the lovely taste of crunchy hazelnuts and creamy chocolate with a hint of sea salt though. It's a shame they're too pricey to become a regular snack. Available at health stores, Holland & Barrett, on amazon and at prodigysnacks.com.

 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.
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