Sunday 26 May 2024

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 22

This week was back to normal. Well, it seemed like it but we actually had Monday off, thinking about it. The girls had fun in Antwerp for the Olivia Rodrigo concert and got there and back with no problems. Their next concert is Coldplay in Lyon which is bloody miles away but they seem to manage all the travelling by train ok luckily. This week is a normal week at work. Pierre gets a morning off tomorrow because he is going to get his braces put on his teeth. Luckily he doesn't need me there as they didn't have any appointments that fitted in with my work. Here's what is on the menu this week.


lunch- spicy pork and pasta

dinner - filet mignon with mash and leeks


lunch- Arizona chicken skewers with rice and sweetcorn

dinner- beefburgers and chips


lunch- chicken burgers with rice and onion rings

dinner- pasta bolognese


lunch- school lunch for me, Pierre and Juliette can go fridge/freezer diving

dinner- chicken fajitas


lunch- chipolatas with pasta and green beans

dinner - pasta carbonara


lunch- fish fingers, rice and peas

dinner- Deliveroo


lunch- pork chops, roast potatoes, carrots and gravy

dinner - bacon sandwiches

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

Monday 20 May 2024

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 21

This week Juliette went back to Lille for her final exams (in translation so not much to revise). This week she's off to Antwerp with Sophie to see Olivia Rodrigo in concert. She almost didn't make it as her train back to Lille last night was cancelled due to an accident where somebody died (I would guess someone threw themselves under the train which is horrible). All trains kept being cancelled until late in the evening but she finally got the last train back, which was just as well as they had an early bus out of Lille to get to Antwerp this morning. Fingers crossed that's the last of their problems and the rest of the trip will be plain sailing. Today is another bank holiday - May is traditionally the month of bank holidays - but I have an afternoon of meetings on my afternoon off tomorrow so I don't really get a quieter week. Only about a month and a half of this school year left to get through though, then we're on holiday :) Here's this week's meal plan.


lunch- chilli con carne

dinner - sweet & sour chicken and rice


lunch- leftovers

dinner- pasta bolognese


lunch- bacon sandwiches

dinner- fish, chips and peas


lunch- school lunch for me, Pierre and Juliette can go fridge/freezer diving

dinner- bacon and potato patties with mash, peas and carrots


lunch- chicken burgers and pasta

dinner - pork chops, rice and creamy leeks


lunch- Deliveroo

dinner- chicken curry, rice and naan bread


lunch- pork filet mignon, baked potatoes and carrots

dinner - pasta carbonara

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

Sunday 12 May 2024

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 20

It was like being on holiday again this week as there were only two days of work on Monday and Tuesday. We went into town for the annual boot sale in the town centre on Thursday with loads of stalls and good deals in the shops. Juliette bought a few clothes and we had a nice wander about. It was really sunny and Juliette ended up with a little bit of sunburn on her face and arm - I hadn't even thought about sun cream ! Sophie is off in Croatia this week with a friend. It's somewhere we knew nothing about so she's having fun exploring and said everything is cheap compared to prices at home. Back to a normal week at work but the oldest kids are in exams on Thursday and Friday so I have a few hours of exam invigilating instead of lessons. There are only a couple of weeks left to mark the oldest kids so things will chill out after that. I can smell the summer approaching ! Here's our rough plan for what we're eating this week but things tend to go off plan as Juliette finds intriguing new recipes on instagram that she wants to try out !


lunch- chicken skewers with rice and peas/carrots

dinner - sausages and mash


lunch- beefburgers and pasta

dinner- sweet & sour chicken with rice


lunch- fishfingers, rice and veg

dinner- fricadelles (spicy sausages) with baked potatoes


lunch- school lunch for me, Pierre and Juliette can go fridge/freezer diving

dinner- cottage pie


lunch- creamy pork and mushrooms with pasta

dinner - chicken burgers in buns with chips and coleslaw


lunch- spare ribs with baked potatoes and coleslaw

dinner- Philadelphia chicken with pasta and cherry tomatoes


lunch- fajitas with chicken/rice/guacamole/salsa

dinner - fish, rice and peas

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

Tuesday 7 May 2024

Vow Protein Bar review

For the past couple of years, Pierre has been interested in working out, using weights to build up his muscles, alongside playing football and taking an interest in upping his protein intake. He's done that typical teenage thing of going through a growth spurt and is as tall as me now so I can understand his desire to build up his muscle mass to impress the girls ! I've switched over to a few protein-rich versions of things he likes to eat, including muesli, cereal bars, milkshakes and snack bars. I was therefore very interested to hear about the launch of a brand new range of protein bars that sounded right up his street.

Vow Bars are a new addition to the Vow Nutrition protein range, which includes Elite Whey, Protein Clusters, Protein Rocks and the innovative Sparklean Protein drink. Just glancing through the list of flavours was enough to win me over. The Protein Rocks come in the fab-sounding Salted Caramel, Cookie Dough and Birthday Cake flavours and the Protein Clusters are equally appealing, with the choice between White Chocolate Crunch, Milk Chocolate Crunch, Nacho Cheese Crunch and Smoked BBQ Crunch flavours. I'd eat all of those regardless of the protein content, just on taste alone !

The new Vow Bars have three tasty versions available - Salted Caramel, Cookies & Cream (which we tried) and Peanut Crunch. Each bar contains 16g of protein, is vegan-friendly and low in sugar, as well as Halal-certified and made with ethically-sourced ingredients. A 48g serving provides 185 calories so they are ideal for refuelling on the go or as a well-earned treat after a workout. The tasty, slightly chewy bar is topped with sweet cream and covered in vegan chocolate. The bars are Informed Sport approved so they are suitable for elite competition and they will actually be fuelling Team GB at this summer's Olympic Games. They taste great and don't have the slightly unpleasant aftertaste that some protein bars have.

The VOW Bars are available to purchase at and will be rolled out to VOW Nutrition stockists, VOW ambassadors including Team GB athletes Joe Clarke, Matt Richards, Daryll Neita, boxer Fabio Wardley and VOW Nutrition sponsored sports organisations GB7s, London Broncos and Paddle UK later in the year. Vow Nutrition products can be bought in Boots and Holland & Barrett stores in the UK.

RRP : £29.99 for 12 bars making them £2.50 per bar (but they are currently on sale for £22.99)

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

Sunday 5 May 2024

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 19

This week was busy, as planned. Juliette has managed to kit out her new room (Pierre's old room) with a new bed, new pillows, new mattress and new rug and is now buying a few decorative bits and pieces. She still wants to claim back some bits from her old room (bedside table, shelves, storage units) but I can't see Pierre being nice and giving them back as he thinks they came with the room ! We bought new sheets and pillow cases today which helps freshen things up. We made a few cakes and cookies to use up things in the kitchen this week and hopefully this will continue as Juliette is home more ! Back to work on Monday but only for two days then it's a long bank holiday weekend with bank holidays on Wednesday and Thursday and an extra "bridge" day off on Friday to make a long weekend- bonus ! Here's the plan for this week's food. It looks like a big week for chicken this week !


lunch- sausages and mash

dinner - tropical chicken skewers with rice and sweetcorn


lunch- chicken burgers with pasta

dinner- spicy chicken with baked potatoes


lunch- Arizona chicken skewers with couscous and ratatouille

dinner- chicken and veg noodles


lunch- chicken nuggets with chips

dinner- chicken cordon bleu with rice


lunch- spaghetti bolognese

dinner - sweet and sour chicken with rice


lunch- Deliveroo or takeaway

dinner- pasta carbonara


lunch- pork chops with baked potatoes

dinner - soup

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

Friday 3 May 2024

Degustabox April 2024 review

As soon as I unpacked the contents of this month's Degustabox, I was impressed. It's just the kind of box I love, full of exciting new products that will be perfect for getting dinner on the table and introducing us to new flavours and cuisines. It can be tricky sometimes coming up with dishes that appeal to teenagers' tastes and moods while also respecting my desire to use fresh and principally healthy ingredients and this box has some ingredients that will help achieve just that. Here's what was hiding away in this month's box.

This month's Product of the Month introduces us to the new Maggi Pan Perfect and So Juicy ranges (RRP 2 x 99p), which offer a quick and easy way to try out new cooking styles. The first pack is for Pan-Perfect Sweet Teriyaki, which whisks our tastebuds off to Japan in just fifteen minutes. Just add the contents of the pack to some chicken then add some vegetables and noodles for a sweet, savoury and tangy explosion of flavours in your mouth. After Japan, destination Louisiana with the So Juicy Cajun option, which includes a cooking bag alongside the punchy blend of spices. The seasoning includes spicy Cayenne, bold coriander and fragrant cumin and will set your mouth on fire and have your tastebuds tingling in delight. This meal takes a bit longer so you'll need to set aside about an hour but there is very little effort involved as you just need to put everything in the bag then pop it in the oven. Maggi suggest an accompaniment consisting of peppery carrots and lemon zest broccoli, alongside the baked new potatoes in the cooking bag with the chicken. Both of these packs are quick and simple to use and the kids devoured them and said we should buy them again. Perfect ! The Cajun pack is available in all major supermarkets but you'll have to head to Sainsbury's if you want to try the Teriyaki option.


Lamb Weston Farmer's Mash (RRP £1.69) is a quick and simple way to get a side dish on the table, especially good after a long day at work when tummies are hungry and time is short. Just add hot water (or milk if you prefer) and a knob of butter for four servings of creamy mash. It is made with the best British potatoes and nothing but natural goodness. Whether you want bangers and mash, cottage pie, fish pie or something slightly more creative such as tuna and potato fritters, they will take all the hard work out of providing a tasty meal. Available at Ocado.

Manilife Deep Roast Salted Peanuts (RRP £2.80) offer the finest peanuts on the planet from a single estate. They have a sweet flavour, to the point of caramelly, as the producers say. They are very tasty and are the winners of a Great Taste 2023 award. Other Degustaboxers got Cocoa Dusted Peanuts which sound lovely too. Available at Sainsbury's, Ocado and Whole Food Market.


Mixologist's Garden Freeze Dried Lime Garnishes (RRP £2.75) are a great way of adding a touch of class to your drinks this summer or maybe at a posh cocktail party. Inside the bag is nothing but fruit - freeze dried limes with no additives, no nasties and no surprises. Just toss some in your favourite drink and you'll get a hit of instant colour, flavour and aroma. They can be added to alcoholic or soft drinks as desired and offer twice the flavour of fresh fruit. Also available in a whole host of other fruity options, including orange, lemon and raspberry. They would be perfect in mojitos or there is a tasty recipe for daiquiris on their webpage. Available in ASDA, East of England, Co-op and larger Tesco's.

Nature's Path Mesa Sunrise Cereal (RRP £3.50) is a blend of corn, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and flaxseed, combined and lightly toasted to create whole-grain flakes that are suitable for vegans and gluten-free. They're naturally high in fibre, organic and contain no artificial additives. We found them slightly bland and liked them more with a handful of fresh or freeze-dried fruit, such as strawberries, raisins or dried apricots. The kids liked them with some chocolate chips added and yogurt poured on top. Available in all major supermarkets.


Ryvita Thins Sour Cream and Chive Flavour (RRP £2.20) are a tasty and healthier snack option. Perfect for nibbling straight from the box, they can also be dipped in salsa or sour cream. Perfect  for guilt-free snacking in front of the latest Netflix thriller. Available at Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Ocado and Amazon.

E. Wedel Snack Pop Corn (RRP £1.30) offers the perfect combination of 170 years of tradition and trendsetting ideas. Whoever came up with the idea of mixing up sweet chocolate and slightly salty, crunchy popcorn was a genius. Wedel is one of the biggest names in sweets and chocolate in Poland and having sampled this product, I'm not surprised ! Available at Tesco's, Sainsbury's, ASDA and Amazon.


Snatt's Green Pea Piselli (RRP £2.20) taste better than they sound ! These Mediterranean style snacks are made with pulses and grains and they're not fried so they're lower in fat than regular potato chips. They are made with natural ingredients and real Mediterranean flavours. Very tasty. Available in major supermarket chains soon.

Teapigs Liquorice and Peppermint organic tea (RRP £4.60) look lovely and very well made but sadly we all hate liquorice here at the Madhouse. Teapigs say that this blend offers a sweetly refreshing taste, striking a perfect balance that's irresistibly moreish for tea-lovers. Available at all major supermarkets and online at Teapigs.

The Food Doctor Salted Caramel bar (RRP £2.20) is a product that promises to provide a great taste while also being high fibre, high protein and low carb. Perfect for those on a Keto or low carb diet but they taste good enough that I'd eat them even if I'm not ! Available at Sainsbury's, Ocado and Amazon.

Yogi Yo Korean Sauces (RRP 2 x 85p) are another great ingredient to add some speedy wow-factor to your stir fries. We got rich and tangy Korean Sesame Soy which is delicious, alongside the hot and fiery Korean Chilli Sauce, which blew our heads off and was way too spicy for us. The products are made with authentic Gochujang paste from Korean which promises a kick that will elevate any stir fry or noodle dish. They can be used with chicken, beef, pork or fish and will provide a tasty, intense dish in minutes. Available in Waitrose and Amazon.

Aqua Libra Fruity Sparkling Water (RRP 2 x £1.15) are deliciously flavoured drinks that perfectly hit the spot when you need refreshment and want some great taste. My favourite is the Blood Orange & Mango infused drink, but the Raspberry & Blackcurrant flavour is very tasty too. There is no sugar, sweeteners or artificial additives, just sparkling water, natural fruit flavours and a dash of lemon. The resulting drink is crisp, clean and unsweetened. I love them and like the fact that you don't get a mouth full of overly sweet, syrupy drink as is often the case.

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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