Saturday 22 April 2023

Degustabox April 2023 review : All Around The World

I don't know if it's due to the Easter holiday putting a spring in my step or if the seasons have truly shifted from winter to spring, but as I glance out of my window, I can see sunshine, a blue sky dotted with fluffy clouds, birds chirping away in the hedges and splashes of colour in the garden from the bluebells and daffodils putting in an appearance. Bring it on, I say ! I'm ready to start spending more time outside and putting aside my thick winter jumpers in favour of some lighter and brighter floaty tops and blouses. Even my foodie choices are changing, moving away from casseroles and winter warmers towards salads, sandwiches and lighter options. When the postie dropped off this month's Degustabox, I was pleased to see that the contents fit in nicely with this warmer weather plan. Here's what was hiding in the All Around The World box.

Chupa Chups Mini Bag (RRP £1.86) offers the favourite flavours of this well-known and well-loved brand - if you're wondering, that's Cola, Strawberry, Orange and Apple - in half-sized lollipops. Just enough for a reasonable sized sweet treat (or, if the Madhouse kids are anything to go by, they'll just eat two lollipops one after the other to double up the flavours !) They contain vitamin C and use natural flavourings. They also use paper sticks which are better for the environment than the plastic sticks. Very tasty. Available at ASDA, Home Bargains, WHSmiths and on Ocado.


Double Dutch Cranberry & Ginger Tonic Water (RRP 90p) is a tangy, complex and spicy mixer that is perfect for accompanying dark spirits. (Other subscribers got Double Dutch Ginger Beer.) It can also be used to add a kick of heat to orange juice or non-alcoholic cocktail options. Available at Waitrose, Tesco, Ocado and Amazon.

Punchy Cucumber, Yuzu & Rosemary (RRP £1.60) is one of a range of low calorie, all-natural soft drinks, blended with decadent ingredients and bursting with flavour. (Other subscribers received Blood Orange, Bitters & Cardamom or Peach, Ginger & Chai.) It makes a nice change to the usual soft drink flavours and offers a real taste of summer. It is lightly sparkling and very refreshing. As an added bonus, each can contains 50% of your vitamin D requirements. Available at WHSmiths, Planet Organic, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Clean Kitchen, Ole & Steen, Ocado, Amazon and online at

Mission Mini Wraps (RRP 2 x £1.20), in both Original and Wheat & White, are perfect for kid-sized packed lunches or grown-up snacks. They can be filled with hot or cold fillings, with everything from ham or chicken and salad to taco filling. The soft wraps taste lovely whether hot or cold. We enjoyed ours with leftover chilli con carne and the kids finished them off with cream cheese and cucumber. Available in ASDA, Tesco and Sainsbury's.


Idahoan Cheddar Cheese Flavoured Perfect Mash (RRP £1.65) is a quick and simple accompaniment that can be knocked up in one minute so it's perfect when you have hungry bellies to fill in a rush ! Milk, butter and seasoning is already included so you just need to boil the kettle and add water. It has a lovely soft, smooth texture and the taste is lovely too. Available in ASDA, Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose, Coop, Spar, Ocado and Amazon.

Kellogg's Coco Pops Chocos (RRP £3.29) are a new addition to the Coco Pops range, offering the same chocolatey flavour in a new curved, crunchy shell shape. Delicious in a bowl with milk or just by the handful straight from the box, according to the Madhouse kids ! They can also be made into tasty fridge cakes, stirred into melted chocolate then chilled, if you want a simple "baking" project to make with the kids.

Maggi So Juicy Butter Chicken and Sweet Chilli Halloumi (RRP 2 x 99p) are simple sachets to keep in the cupboard for when you need dinner in a hurry and are lacking in inspiration ! Alongside the seasoning, you get a cooking bag to dump the ingredients in for a simple but tasty meal. With enough seasoning for four people, these are perfect for introducing new flavours to the dinner table with minimum stress.


Serious Pig Crunchy Snacking Cheese (RRP £1.60) is made from mature Italian Quattrocento cheese (very similar to parmesan) which is crumbled and baked in a special high temperature oven. The result is unique and offers a snack made from 100% cheese. We got the Truffle variety, while other subscribers got Caramelized Onion. I've never heard of these before but they are lovely. Made from just cheese, they are high in protein and carb-free, as well as keto and gluten-free. They have a crunchy, light, bubbly texture and aren't at all greasy, as I expected. They have a rich flavour of mature cheese and are very moreish. Available at Sainsbury's, on amazon and the Serious Pig website.

Yogi Tea Stomach Ease (RRP £2.75) is one of a range of organic and ayurvedic teas from Yogi Tea. Adding to the benefits of drinking the tea, each tea tag offers words of yogic wisdom and the yoga exercises explained on the pack offer another moment of mindfulness. The Stomach Ease variety contains cardamom, fennel and ginger and is described as spicy, sweet and easy on the stomach. 

Finally, this month's Product of the Month, Plantastic Protein Boost (RRP 2 x £1.15) are great as a quick lunch or after-school snack for the kids. Whether you opt for Satay Noodles with Sweet Red Pepper or Cajun Rice with Tomato & Pepper, just add boiling water and wait for 15 minutes. They're so tasty, you'll totally forget that they are a veggie option (which is pretty good going for Pierre !). I was actually surprised at how good these taste so they're well worth a try.  Available at Tesco.

 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.

Wednesday 19 April 2023

Cheers ! ISH non-alcoholic drinks for nights out without the hangover ! (review)

Whatever your reasons - whether you're pregnant or breastfeeding, on medication, volunteered as the designated driver for the night or just trying to cut back on your alcohol intake - giving up alcohol is often a decision that is taken with a certain degree of frustration. You can of course opt for fruit juice or coke, but they can be pretty uninspiring when you're watching all your friends drinking exciting cocktails and delicious alcoholic drinks. Well, if you're in this situation, I have some exciting news for you ... Danish non-alcoholic drinks brand ISH have returned to the UK market with a whole line up of alcohol-free wines, spirits and pre-mixed cocktails. We received a selection to try out and have been putting them through their paces.


First up, Non-alcoholic Mojito. The can says : "Non-alcoholic cocktail with ISH Caribbean spiced spirit, mint and lime. It's like a fresh Caribbean breeze for your mouth." Both Pierre and Sophie love mojitos - Pierre the non-alcoholic version and Sophie the regular alcoholic one - since discovering them on our holiday to the Dominican Republic last year, so they were both excited to try this one out. The Caribbean spiced spirit adds a subtle note of rum flavour which they both loved and Sophie even checked the can because she was sure it couldn't be alcohol-free ! This can be enjoyed straight from the can after chilling it in the fridge, or you can go the whole hog and serve it in a glass with fresh lime and mint. Totally del-ISH -ous !

Next we tried Non-alcoholic Spritz. ISH say : "Balanced bitterness and fresh citrus is what makes a good Italian Spritz. This is also what you can expect from our non-alcoholic Spritz. French gentian root and quassia bark add bitterness while Italian mandarins, orange and lemon provide the tangy freshness." I have tried an alcoholic version of Spritz in a bar and this alcohol-free version certainly offers the same flavours, with zesty fruity flavours backed up with a pleasant bitterness. This can be enjoyed straight from the can or served in a glass with a slice of orange.

De-alcoholized Sparkling Rosé from Château del ISH offers a "pale salmon colour [that] hints at the plum, strawberry, and raspberry flavours derived from our blend of Merlot and Pinot Noir grapes. Moderate acidity and medium flavour intensity give you that classic rosé experience." It has a soft pink colour and a light prickly carbonation that really help you get the feeling you are drinking regular wine. It's perfect if you want to enjoy a glass on a girlie night out with friends without feeling left out.

GinISH & tonic really does deliver the taste of a regular G&T. "To create ISH G&T, our non-alcoholic Gin & Tonic, we source our botanicals such as sun-dried juniper berries from Southern Europe and coriander seeds mainly from Provence, France. They come together with a fresh citrus symphony consisting of lemon, lime, mandarin and bitter orange." It is a complex flavour that can be further enhanced by serving it dressed up in a glass with fresh rosemary, cracked black pepper and dried juniper berries. Or just go for the simple option and serve it straight from the fridge in a can, even spiking it with a dash of full strength gin, for a lower-alcohol cocktail option.

Non-alcoholic Lime Daiquiri Premixed Cocktail is an attempt to "to honour the original Daiquiri, a timeless classic cocktail that dates back to 1898 in the eponymous mining town of Daiquiri on the south-eastern tip of Cuba. The taste of dark Rum is balanced with the sour limes, mainly sourced from Mexico and raw sugar. Simple, delicious and alcohol-free." Once again, I had the impression that I was drinking a regular Daiquiri cocktail, with the sharpness of the limes mellowed by the sugar providing a delicious and satisfying drink. I'd definitely drink this again. According to ISH, the Daiquiri is typically a short drink, so each can contains two servings, perfect for sharing with a friend.

Finally, Alcohol-removed Light Sparkling Blanc de Blancs from Château del ISH is a refreshing, tasty drink that can be enjoyed with a meal or on its own. ISH say : "With a honey-forward nose and notes of citrus, green apple, pear, and peach, our [...] blend of Pinot Blanc and Silvaner grapes delivers an initial sweetness that transforms on the palate to a wonderful, refreshing acidity." It offers the same flavours and slight acidity of normal wine and is very pleasant.

I was very impressed with all of the drinks, especially as they have managed to encapsulate the distinct flavours of the original cocktails and wines. You really don't feel like you are giving anything up by opting for the alcohol-free versions, so I would definitely keep some of these in the cupboard for times you want a drink without the headaches or alcohol content.

for more information :

Disclosure : I received the products in order to share my honest opinion.

Sunday 16 April 2023

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

We made it to the holidays - woohoo ! I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks of chilling out and also catching up with the endless jobs that need doing around the house - putting away all of the books and ornaments that are still boxed up after painting the walls in the passage and on the landings, jettisoning the ones that nobody wants any more, alongside about a dozen binbags of clothes that everyone has grown out of (so I need to chat up the local thrift store, plus make a few trips to charity bins and a book recycling centre in a (fairly) local town hall to try and drop all those off). I also need to change dentists (or finally manage to get a hold of our regular dentist) and try to find a doctor taking on new patients. I'm sure there was loads more that needed doing, but that will do for now ! This week, I fancy having a go at clearing all the odds and ends out of the kitchen cupboard (many packets leftover from Degustaboxes) and things that have been long forgotten in the freezer so I have no idea where this week will take us food-wise !


lunch- grilled ham, mash & green beans

dinner - chicken fajitas


lunch- chicken burgers, rice & ratatouille

dinner- pasta carbonara


lunch- beef tacos

dinner- chicken casserole (with mushrooms, onions, carrots, tomatoes) & rice


lunch - freezer diving (not sure what's in there but I know there are some hidden surprises !)

dinner- freezer diving  / leftovers


lunch- macaroni cheese

dinner - pizza (or the kids might twist my arm for deliveroo !)


lunch- grilled chicken with baked potatoes & coleslaw

dinner- fridge clearout (or cheese on toast)

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

Sunday 9 April 2023

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

One more week to the holidays and this week starts with a bank holiday - perfect ! Last week, we stuck to plan until Thursday/Friday as I wasn't feeling great so I talked Juliette into rustling up a pasta dish, then worked with what was in the fridge rather than going shopping. Hopefully I'll feel better by Tuesday when I go back to work. I have a few ideas using what is left in the fridge but the other dishes will depend on whether I manage to find everything at the supermarket. We'll see ! If the worst comes to the worst, I'll go freezer diving :)


lunch- grilled ham, rice & beans

dinner - pork casserole & pasta


lunch- canteen for me, leftovers/canteen for the kids

dinner- chicken fajitas 


lunch- pork chops & chips

dinner- cauliflower cheese, baked potatoes & beefburgers


lunch - leftovers

dinner- sausages with tomatoes, onions, peppers, pasta


lunch- canteen for me, leftovers/canteen for the kids

dinner - pasta carbonara


lunch- probably lots of leftovers to use up

dinner- I can see me giving in to the kids' request for a takeaway !


lunch- roast dinner (chicken?)

dinner- leftovers or sandwiches

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

Sunday 2 April 2023

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

This week was pretty calm, after the hectic past few weeks at work, so I actually managed to catch up on washing and tidying the house - phew ! Only two weeks to the holidays - can't wait ! The supermarket has switched over to their summertime meat selection with lots of marinated chicken products that taste lovely and are great time savers. That also means I'm getting into the sunshiney/warm weather frame of mind - it might be a bit early but that's good news too. Bring it on !


lunch- canteen for me, leftovers/canteen for the kids

dinner - Spanish chicken with rice and ratatouille


lunch- canteen for me, leftovers/canteen for the kids

dinner- pork chops with baked potatoes and baked beans


lunch- Provençal chicken with pasta and courgettes


lunch - lunch with a friend

dinner- Cuban chicken with couscous and salad


lunch- canteen for me, leftovers/canteen for the kids

dinner - crispy sesame beef with noodles


lunch- probably lots of leftovers to use up, if not pasta bake

dinner- pizza


lunch- roast chicken dinner

dinner- soup or leftovers or sandwiches

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

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