Wednesday 27 September 2023

Degustabox September 2023 review

 

This month saw us heading back to school after the long summer break, and, despite the manically intense heatwave lasting way longer than was pleasant, it seems as though the weather has finally turned decidedly autumnal over the last week or so. I even walked past a load of conkers on the ground on my way to work yesterday. That convinced me. Even Mother Nature seems to think that the summer is over now ! When the postman dropped off the latest Degustabox, I was keen to see if it would reflect the changing seasons. Would it be full of ingredients for casseroles, curries and other winter warmers ? Let's take a look at what was in the box.

 

First of all, I plucked out this can of 6 o' Clock London Dry Gin & Tonic (RRP £3). I'd never thought of having a ready-made gin and tonic out of a can, but why not? It's practical, saves time and avoids forking out on a big bottle of gin, so it's ideal for those who don't drink regularly. It is made using London Dry Gin and natural premium tonic water. Taste-wise, it is spot on. Available at Co-op stores and on Ocado.

Chipoys Chilli & Lime (RRP £1.99) are a popular American snack, made from rolled Mexican-produced tortilla chips with intense, authentic flavour and real crunch. I'd never seen these before but they remind me very much of the crisps and snacks that you can buy from American exporters in discovery packs. The kids loved the strong flavour and gobbled them up in minutes. Available on Amazon and in independent stores.


Mission XL Wraps (RRP £2) are big 30cm wraps that are perfect for those with a big appetite. We love eating fajitas and chicken and salad wraps here at the Madhouse, but sometimes, by the time you've added everything you want in them (meat, guacamole, tomatoes, sweetcorn, cucumber, sour cream, salsa, cheese, ...), it can be hard to roll them up and eat them without half of the filling falling out all over you. These bigger sized wraps avoid the mess and they taste lovely too, with a nice soft texture and pleasant taste. They can be enjoyed hot or cold. The kids love them when they want a snack for creating an instant "pizza" by spreading them with tomato puree and sprinkling them with cheese and ham before sticking them under the grill or in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Available in ASDA.

 

Fruit-tella Out In Space (RRP £1.50) are a new (to me, at least) fruity jelly sweet that offers moon, planet and rocket shapes in pineapple, strawberry and peach flavours. They are made with more fruit juice than other jelly sweets and also contain natural colouring and flavours. They taste very nice and we loved the soft, chewy texture. Available at Co-op.

Garofalo Rigatoni Pasta (RRP £2.50) is a large tubular pasta shape, with ridges that make it perfect for chunky sauces and baked pasta dishes. After being boiled for 13 minutes in salty water, it has the perfect al dente consistency. We loved this served with bolognese sauce and the slightly firm, rough texture works perfectly as a sauce magnet. Delizioso ! Available on Ocado, Amazon, Booths and local stockists.


Green Cola and Green Lemonade (RRP £1.19 each) are from a brand that I had never heard of before but they are very tasty. They are low or no sugar without aspartame, low calorie and offer a healthier take on fizzy drinks. They use natural, plant-based Stevia for sweetness and real fruit juice for a punchy, refreshing taste. Perfect straight from the fridge or served over ice. Available at Sainsbury's, Holland & Barrett, Ocado and Amazon. 

 

Jordans No Added Sugar Granola (RRP £3.60) is a tasty breakfast option. The crunchy clusters are made with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners, relying on lashings of fruit, including dates, apple, blueberries and cranberries for sweetness, flavour and zinginess. The Triple Nut option adds some great crunch and the delicious result is a bowl full of great, natural flavours and textures. Available at Waitrose.


Ryvita Crackerbread (RRP £1.59) are a light, crispy bread-alternative that can be spread with sweet or savoury toppings as a snack, breakfast or lunch option. I like them spread with cream cheese and cherry tomatoes or banana and peanut butter. I haven't eaten Ryvita crispbread for years but these crackerbread don't seem hugely different to the originals, as far as I can remember. Available in major supermarkets.

  

Simply Cook Goan Curry Recipe Kit (RRP £2.50) is a quick and simple product designed to help you get an interesting and flavour-packed meal on the table in twenty minutes. Inside the pack are three pods : masala paste (for the curry base), coconut paste (to add topnotes of garlic and coconut) and a spice blend (with mustard seeds and star anise to add depth of flavour). This kit works perfectly with prawns, cod, salmon or even chicken for a rich, exotic meal that tastes as if it should have been a lot more complicated to produce than it was using the kit. 

Wagamama House Dressing (RRP £2.50) gives you the chance to enjoy the signature house dressing of the iconic restaurant chain in your own home. Since first opening in 1992, Wagamama has delivered the flavours of Asia through simple, balanced food. The dressing, inspired by their katsu curry side salad, contains shallots, soy and garlic. It's guaranteed to bring some serious oomph to your salads. Available at Tesco, Sainsbury's, ASDA and Waitrose.

Mutti Tuscany Passata (RRP £2.70) is this month's Product of the Month. It is made using the highest quality Rossoro tomatoes from the Tuscany region, harvested at their peak ripeness and processed within 24 hours. The tomatoes bring a distinct fruity flavour to the passata and its smooth richness is ideal for incorporating into pasta sauces, pizza toppings, soups and casseroles. Its adds a lovely flavour but also a smooth consistency to whatever you are cooking. Available at Sainsbury's and Waitrose.

 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 24 September 2023

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 38

Juliette came home for a long weekend from Thursday to Sunday so our food plans changed slightly, to cater to her tastes. This week is, in theory, a quiet week. Pierre has football training on Wednesday and probably a match on Saturday, which throws out food planning slightly but I'll have to think up lots of quick fixes (although he's usually starving when he gets home so I'll have to think of filling dishes too). Friday is our school open day which means I'll be home late too. Maybe it's not such a quiet week after all ! Here's what I plan to be cooking this week. I've been looking through the Taste of Home website which is full of American recipes that look exactly the kind of thing Pierre would love.

Monday

lunch- Arizona chicken with rice (this is preseasoned meat from Lidl but I'd never heard of it so I looked up the recipe, if you want to give it a try)

dinner - BBQ pork and pasta skillet

Tuesday

lunch- fishfingers, mash and beans

dinner-  creamy filet mignon with baked potatoes

Wednesday

lunch- I'm thinking there will be leftovers from last night


Thursday

lunch- school canteen for me, Pierre can use up leftovers 

dinner-   saucy pork chop skillet with rice

Friday


dinner - baguette pepperoni pizzas 

Saturday



Sunday


dinner- Nacho pie

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

Sunday 17 September 2023

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 37

Juliette went back to Lille midweek then the girls invited us to Lille for the day on Saturday. Pierre decided to stay at home so I headed off on the train for a lovely day chilling out, sampling the girls' homemade cakes and hitting the shops. Pierre has settled in well at school and this year is looking good so far in terms of marks. Hopefully that will continue ! This week, we'll be getting a new hot water tank fitted. The old one sprung a leak and the plumber did a temporary fix but warned me that it is full of limescale and won't last long. We've lived here for over twenty years and it's never been changed in all that time so it's not bad going. Apart from that, we have a quiet week this week, pootling along in our work/school routines. Here's what is on the cards foodwise for this week.

Monday

lunch- sausage pasta (with tomatoes, onions, herbs)

dinner - chicken curry with rice

Tuesday

lunch- chicken burgers with mash & beans

dinner-  chilli con carne with rice

Wednesday

lunch- leftover chicken burgers (and maybe chilli), in wraps with guacamole, tomatoes and rice

dinner- smoky bbq pork (using a Flava It seasoning sachet from a Degustabox) with pasta

Thursday

lunch- school canteen for me, Pierre can use up leftovers 

dinnerchicken Milanese with couscous and ratatouille

Friday

lunch- breaded chicken chunks in wraps with rice and sweetcorn

dinner - pasta carbonara

Saturday

lunch- fishfingers, chips and peas

dinner- East meets ... South ! chicken empanadas and pork spring rolls (from the freezer)

Sunday

lunch- roast chicken, roast potatoes, veg and gravy

dinner- leftovers or toast

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

Monday 11 September 2023

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 36

The first week with just me and Pierre worked out well foodwise. I still have to convince Pierre to use up the leftovers when he's home alone, but apart from that, it all worked perfectly, apart from the nights he has football training and gets in quite late but I'll work out a solution for that in the next few weeks. Juliette signed up at uni but then had a week to settle in before starting lessons so she ended up coming home on Friday and will go back to Lille on Tuesday. It's been lovely to see her again and I managed to buy new laptops for her and Sophie for this new year at uni which worked out well as they were half price in the sale. I'm back into routine at school which is good. Here's what's on the menu plan for this week.

Monday

lunch- lunch in town with Juliette and maybe Pierre

dinner - meatballs and pasta

Tuesday

lunch- sausages, eggs and hash browns

dinner-  Spanish chicken & rice (which was on the menu plan last week but didn't get made)

Wednesday

lunch- corned beef hash with potatoes and baked beans


Thursday

lunch- school canteen for me, Pierre can use up leftovers or cook

dinner-  steak (in the freezer) with baked potatoes and peas

Friday


dinner - chicken supreme with rice

Saturday

lunch- spiced tomato chicken skewers (in the freezer) with rice

dinner- pasta carbonara

Sunday

lunch- roast dinner

dinner- leftovers, toast or soup

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

Sunday 3 September 2023

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 35

The new school year has kicked off so we're getting back into our usual routine but everything will be different this year as it's just me and Pierre at home now with the girls off at uni. They'll be back for lots of visits but in the meantime, I'll be focusing on Pierre's favourite meals. He's not big on vegetables so this could be interesting ! My timetable this year means that I will probably be cooking lunch at home on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, so I'll only be at the school canteen one day a week. Pierre is therefore almost completely off cooking duty which I'm sure he'll be happy about ! I still have to fit in a weekly meal with my friends though so we'll see how it all works out.

Monday

lunch- spicy lentils with sausages

dinner - chilli con carne with rice

Tuesday

lunch- leftover chilli, with baked potatoes if there is no rice left

dinner- creamy pork filet mignon with pasta and carrots

Wednesday

lunch- leftover creamy filet mignon with pasta if there is any left, otherwise mash

dinner- beefburgers (or leftover sausages if there are any) with oven chips and baked beans 

Thursday

lunch- school canteen for me, Pierre can use up leftovers or cook

dinner- pork in sweet & sour sauce with noodles & veg (mange tout, carrots and baby sweetcorn)

Friday

lunch- chicken cordon bleu (in breadcrumbs, stuffed with cheese and ham) with mash & carrots

dinner - Proven├žal chicken with rice & veg

Saturday


dinner- pasta carbonara

Sunday

lunch- chicken thighs, roast potatoes, veg & gravy

dinner- leftovers or toast

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

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