Sunday 27 August 2023

Degustabox August 2023 review

The Madhouse kids (except Sophie, who was travelling in Amsterdam and Rome with a friend) were off visiting the grandparents in Brittany for two weeks, leaving me home alone. That meant that I got the first pick of things from the latest Degustabox ! I did save some things for them when they got home though. Here's what was in the August box, which didn't have a specific theme this time.

Bear Little Paws (RRP 2 x 60p) were available in the box in two flavours : strawberry and apple and raspberry and blueberry. These gently baked, chewy shapes are made from 100% fruit with no added sugar and never from concentrates. They are described as the perfect toddler snack for cubs aged 2+ years but the Madhouse kids are much older than that and they still love them. They have a lovely smooth texture and taste really sweet and fruity despite the lack of artificial additives and sugar. Totally delicious. These are also available as a multipack of 5 x 20g packs at all major supermarkets.


Carlsberg 0.0 Pilsner (RRP 2 x 85p) is an alcohol-free option that tastes identical to the original version, in my opinion. It has a crisp hoppy bite and only contains 63 calories per bottle. It's ideal for sticking alongside the wine, cocktails and soft drinks at summertime barbecues for anyone who doesn't want to drink alcohol.

Fruit-tella Strawberry Flavour (RRP £1.30) is this month's Product of the Month and it was a big hit with the whole family. Crafted with natural flavours, you just squeeze a small amount into water for a refreshing drink. This is also available in a Blackcurrant flavour, exclusively at B&M for summer 2023. The flavour is great and the smaller bottle makes it easier to carry home from the shop, as well as being better for the environment. Each bottle provides enough for 20 drinks.


Another drinks option is J20 Spritz (RRP £3.55 for 4 cans). We got Apple & Elderflower flavour, while other Degustaboxers got to try Pear & Raspberry. The fruity flavour and lightly sparkling quality combine to create a very refreshing drink that I like to sip on in the afternoon or evening, but the info in the Degustabox says it can also be paired with creamy and rich dishes. Available in all major supermarkets.

Knorr Pastaria Pasta Bolognese (RRP £1.40) is a dish that I usually throw together from scratch, using mince, tomatoes, onions, garlic and a sprinkle of herbs to create a rich sauce to serve with pasta. I wasn't sure what I would think of a packet version, but I was pleasantly surprised. Although it doesn't look that appetising while it's cooking, it does actually have a lovely taste and texture once it's all cooked and the fact that, as it contains pasta, it creates a whole meal in ten minutes makes it perfect for Pierre when he needs a simple lunch to cook on his own. You literally just have to add water so it couldn't be easier to make. Other varieties in the range are Pasta Parmesana and Pasta Carbonara, which I'll definitely look out for for the kids. Available at Asda.

Le Petit Ganache (RRP £1.70) is the first filled biscuit in the popular Lu range and it was a big hit with the entire family. The buttery biscuit is filled with a silky chocolate-hazelnut filling which is incredibly moreish and with four of us nibbling on them, the whole packet disappeared in one sitting ! Available in major supermarkets.

Nature's Heart Sour Cream & Chive Flavour Crunch (RRP £2.25) is a tasty mixture of crunchy edamame, peas, broad beans and seeds, along with flavouring. We got cream and chive which we loved but other Degustaboxers got Sweet Chilli Crunch. They are high in protein and high in fibre and half of a 100g bag provides one of your five a day portions. I happily munched on a handful while Sophie absolutely loved it and swiftly devoured the bag. Available at Waitrose, Holland & Barrett, WH Smith, Ocado and Amazon.


Pitch Strawberry (RRP £1.75) are a new addition to the Pitch range in the UK, bringing a strawberry filled brioche that is perfect for breakfast or snacktime. They are a new product on this side of the Channel but the Madhouse kids have been eating them for years in France and love them to bits. The individually wrapped buns are great as snacks on the go and perfect for stuffing into pockets or handbags. Available at Aldi from 27th August to 3rd September and at Tesco from 4th September.

Rubies in the Rubble Squirty Tomato Ketchup (RRP £3.50) is a great product on a number of levels. It is made using surplus and wonky pears that would otherwise go to waste which is great for the environment, as well as creating a product with double the fruit and half the refined sugar content of leading brands. Tastewise, it gets a unanimous thumbs up from the Madhouse testers too. Available at Tesco, Waitrose, The Co-operative and on Ocado.


Whitworths Shots Fruity Biscuit Flavour (RRP £2) are a popular snack option at the Madhouse, loved by the kids and promoted by me as a healthier alternative to many sugar-packed or chocolatey treats. The Fruity Biscuit variety is a mixture of sultanas, cranberries and white chocolate coated shortcake biscuits which are very tasty. Each pack comes in at under 100 calories and is easy to stash in a pocket or handbag. 

Tropicana Smooth Orange With No Bits (RRP £3) is a great tasting drink, made from 100% perfectly pressed fruit juice, not from concentrate. Juliette loves the perfectly smooth texture and everyone loves the taste. Made from hand-picked oranges, squeezed within 24 hours for freshness, plus no added sugar. Lovely at breakfast time to start the day in style ! It can be stored in the cupboard but is best served chilled.

 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 13 August 2023

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 32

Into the second week of living on my own. The kids will be back at the end of the week and I'm sure they'll be wanting something from Deliveroo to welcome them home. It's funny, I stick completely to the meal plan when I'm on my own whereas I end up getting sidetracked many times by the kids. That's not true actually - Sophie invited me to have lunch with her and a friend last week so we went to a pizza restaurant that wasn't planned until the last minute. Here's what I have planned for this week.


lunch- spicy fish cake with rice

dinner - steak, baked potato and coleslaw


lunch- the leftover spicy fish cake with hash brown and peas

dinner- ham and cheese tart with salad and boiled potatoes


lunch- battered fish, leftover boiled potatoes and veg

dinner- leftover ham and cheese tart with mash and beans


lunch- leftover battered fish with rice and coleslaw

dinner- quiche lorraine with salad


lunch- leftovers or cheese on toast

dinner - celebratory Deliveroo delivery


lunch- pasta carbonara

dinner- creamy chicken and mushroom pie with rice


lunch- pork paupiettes (slice of pork stuffed with sausagemeat), roast potatoes and veg

dinner- sausages, mash and beans

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

Wednesday 9 August 2023

Book review : All That Glitters - Mike Martin

All That Glitters is the thirteenth book in the series by Mike Martin featuring Winston Windflower and his life in Grand Bank, Newfoundland. (Click here to see my reviews of the other books in the series.) Up until now, as well as being a married father of two, Winston has been an officer in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but this book sees a new beginning for him as he starts a new job as a Community Safety Officer in his small town. As the book begins, he is about to start his first day in his new position and he is not at all sure how his role will develop. It turns out that nothing much changes at all though as he is swept into a new police case involving many of his friends and former colleagues.

Things begin at the guest house run by Winston and his wife, Sheila. A dead body is uncovered in one of the rooms and the victim is soon discovered to be involved with a diamond smuggling operation, having ingested a quantity of jewels. The lovely Dr Sanjay, fan of fine whiskey and chess games with Winston, is brought in to examine the body and ends up getting kidnapped by another group of diamond smugglers, keen to recover the gems. They want no police involvement in the exchange of jewels for Dr Sanjay so, obviously, Winston is the perfect choice.

Due to various departures and transfers at the RCMP, the newly promoted Corporal Eddie Tizzard is brought in on the case and works alongside Winston. It is lovely to catch up with him and his wife, Carrie, along with their growing son. Winston's own children, the cheeky Stella and Amelia Louise, are growing up too. Now aged six and three and a half, they love playing together and baking cookies with their mother Sheila, but they are also great at squabbling and fighting with each other. The numerous references to Winston's mealtimes and the moments that he spends with his family add another focus to the stories and frequently reminded me of the time when my own children were small.

While Winston's life is deviating from his career as a Mountie, his new professional horizons look equally exciting and unpredictable. Grand Bank is a lovely, charming small town with a close-knit community feel, but that doesn't stop it having its fair share of dangerous criminals and dodgy goings-on for Winston to help stamp out. I look forward to seeing where his new life takes him next.

star rating : 4.5/5

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Ottawa Press and Publishing Mystery (19 May 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 260 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 199089609X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1990896095
  • 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 6 August 2023

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 31

The kids are off visiting the grandparents in Brittany so I'm all on my own this week. That actually makes it harder to cook and shop as most things come in packs of two or four portions so it's hard to plan ahead to avoid waste. For most things, I think I'll cook double portions then use up the leftovers the next day. I've also decided to go through the cupboards and use up various random things that have been lurking in there for a while (mainly things from past Degustaboxes that don't appeal to the kids). Time to google ingredients and see what recipes I can come up with !


lunch- garlic crusted steak & baked potato with grated carrot salad

dinner - cheesy baked ham-wrapped endives


lunch- chicken spring rolls

dinner- onion gravy smothered steak with rice & carrots


lunch- tuna mayo-stuffed endive boats with salad and maybe garlic bread

dinnercheesy polenta with sausage ragout (not keen on polenta but there's a box that needs using up in the cupboard)


lunch- probably leftovers to use up, if not cheese on toast

dinner- Korean BBQ pork (with pork, onions, red pepper, courgette and the end of a bottle of sauce) with rice


dinner - Hoisin sauce chicken & veg stir fry with noodles


dinner- big mixed salad with apple, bacon, sweetcorn, tomatoes, onions


lunch- roast potatoes, roasted veg (peppers, carrots, onions, mushrooms, courgette) and pork chop

dinner- cheese & ham omelette

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

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...