Thursday, 24 July 2014

Madhouse recipe : Malt Loaf Truffles


As I mentioned yesterday, Soreen sent me through some of their products and asked me to come up with a recipe using them. I blogged about some new ways of eating malt loaf dressed up as traditional desserts that are quick and simple but very tasty. I had another idea up my sleeve though and today, we made malt loaf truffles. Once again, they only take seconds but look and taste great.


Prepare a plate with the coating of your choice - I mixed dessicated coconut and strawberry sugar.


Chop off small, truffle-sized pieces of malt loaf.


Roll them between your hands into a ball. It can help make them stickier (so that the coating stays on better) if you turn the malt loaf inside out as you shape it.


Roll each piece in the coating.


That's it - they're ready to eat !

Disclosure : I received some Soreen products in order to take part in the recipe challenge.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

#readcookeat challenge : Reuben sandwich (inspired by Geek Girl)

Beat the rush (& the budget) for school uniform with Aldi's School Shop


It always seems a bit cruel to me that as soon as the kids break up, the shops break out the "back to school" promotions but it is a good idea to get all that shopping out of the way before heading off on holiday. Aldi's self-proclaimed "first stop for your school shop" opens today and it is well worth a look.


Here's what they sent through for us to have a look at. It's lovely quality and the prices are unbelievably low. Even better, the whole range - which caters for kids aged 4 to 11 - has blanket prices whatever the size. (I always hate prices that say "from £1.99" and when you get the size you need, it's double or triple that.) 


All of Aldi's school uniforms have been independently quality tested by Intertek, a worldwide testing laboratory, for a whole range of things including stay-white whites, greys that don't fade, knees that don't wear thin, hems that don't drop, pleats that stay put and washing survivability.

Just check out the prices :

Children's Plimsolls - £1.49
Girls’/Boys’ Plain Polo Shirts - pack of 2, £1.25
Girls’/Boys' Short Sleeve Shirts - pack of 2, £1.99
Boys'/Girls' Round Neck T-Shirts - pack of 2, £1.79
Boys’/Girls’ Round Neck Sweater - £1.25
Girls’ Pleated Skirt - £1.50
Girls’/Boys’ Trousers - £1.50
Girls’/Boys' Scuff-Resistant Shoes - £6.99
Girls'/Boys' Padded Jacket - £9.99

They also have a selection of stationery and learning books, as well as lunchboxes. 

This is a Special Buy promotion that hits the shops today so I would recommend you get in quick because, at those prices, it won't last long !


Disclosure : We received some clothing in order to write an honest review.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Nectar's budget-friendly Summer Picks

#readcookeat challenge : Reuben sandwich (inspired by Geek Girl)


When I was reading Geek Girl (Picture Perfect) (click through to read my review), I didn't really spot any mentions of food, but I was struck by the setting of New York, which I decided must be teeming with gastronomical delights to discover. Many of them have become standard fare on this side of the Atlantic now too (bagels, cheesecake, pizza …) but I did come across a mention for Reuben sandwich which intrigued me because I'd never heard of it. Well, guess what we had for a quick tea last night when we got home from the beach ?!



Reuben sandwich


2 slices rye bread
corned beef
sauerkraut
Swiss cheese
Russian dressing


Toast the bread on one side and remove from the grill. Putting the first slice toasted side down, top with sauerkraut (I substituted this for sliced tomatoes), corned beef and Swiss cheese, then drizzle with Russian dressing (I left this out as I didn't know what it was and the tomatoes made it juicy enough). Put the second slice of bread on top, grilled side down, Put back under the grill until the top of the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted.

I wasn't sure about this combination of ingredients but it was actually really nice (and used up a tin of corned beef that had been lurking in the back of the cupboard for ages !).



Fancy "cooking the books"? Head on over to the #readcookeat challenge at Chez Maximka and Cooking Around The World

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Method Fresh Currant Hand Wash review


I love method - I've tried their surface sprays, toilet cleaner, bath products and laundry detergent and I've been impressed with all of them. All too often, when choosing an eco-friendly brand, you have to compromise on efficiency or luxury, but method manage to create products that are as effective as they are kind to the environment - and they also smell amazing !

Needless to say, I was over the moon when they sent me through a bottle of their new Fresh Currant Hand Wash to review. I've tried some of their handwashes before and I really like the packaging - the teardrop bottle is very stable so it won't fall over when you press down on it, and the pump action dispenser is great for convenience and lack of wastage.

The Fresh Currant one gets bonus marks for its gorgeous vibrant red colour and the fresh, fruity fragrance. It just goes to show how visual appearance can trick us - I'd have sworn blind that it smells of raspberries and strawberries, but apparently it's jam-packed with notes of blackcurrants, red apple, lily and jasmine.

It's also kind to your hands, containing vitamin E and no hidden nasties. What's not to like ?!

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £2.49

available exclusively at Boots

Disclosure : I received the product in order to write an honest review.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Children's Book Review : Made On Earth - Wolfgang Korn

“Bee Happy” and win wildflower prizes

Quick desserts using Soreen Malt Loaf


French ice cream brand Carte D'or have an advert that says "Got Carte Do'or? Then you've got dessert". When Soreen sent through some of their squidgy malt loaves and asked me to come up with a recipe using them, this became my guiding principle. I took three classic desserts and gave them a Soreen twist. They take literally seconds to put together and taste lovely. The rich earthiness of the malt loaf offsets the sweetness of the other ingredients perfectly.


Strawberry Cheesecake Soreen-style


Spread a thick slice of Soreen Malt Loaf with strawberry yogurt and top with chocolate sprinkles.


Lemon Meringue Pie Soreen-style


Spread a thick slice of Soreen Malt Loaf with lemon curd and top with squirty cream.


Toffee Apple Soreen-style


Top a slice of Soreen Malt Loaf with apple sauce and drizzle with golden syrup.


Soreen also have another recipe suggestion for a Chocolate Soreen Flapjack, which you can see in the video below :



Disclosure : I received some Soreen products in order to take part in the recipe challenge.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

#Amoyzing BBQ challenge : Sticky Chinese Steak with Rainbow Noodle Salad

Nectar's budget-friendly Summer Picks


I've been sharing lots of bargain-basement summer holiday fun ideas lately - make sure you check out my Betta Living Kids in the Kitchen posts here and here for inspiration - so I was pleased to see that Nectar have come up with their own list of Summer Picks for fun and often free things to do with the kids, as well as the chance to win weekly prizes. Find out more below :

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HAVE THE PICK OF SUMMER WITHOUT THE PINCH OF THE PURSE


Sometimes the first day of the summer holidays can feel like the scariest date in any parent’s diary ! To help parents keep the kids entertained this summer and save them money in the process, Nectar has launched the Nectar Summer Picks website, a brand new resource designed to help families make the most of the holidays. Aiming to get families away from screens and gadgets and into the great British summer, it’s packed with creative activity ideas and days out that won’t cost the earth. Nectar Summer Picks has the summer sorted - whatever the weather.

Whether it’s creating your own waterslide, screening a movie in your garden or going wild at Longleat Safari Park, Nectar Summer Picks is full of affordable ways families can enjoy the summer and use their Nectar points to help make their money go further.


To ensure families really have a summer to remember, Nectar Summer Picks will be running prize draws until the 30th September, offering families the chance to win amazing prizes including Nectar points, PizzaExpress vouchers or a Merlin Family Pass. There are several ways to take part, from sharing your favourite Nectar ‘Summer Pick’ online or even by submitting your own ideas at nectar.com/summer 

Don’t forget that, between the 23rd July and the 12th of August 2014, your Nectar points could be worth double, triple or more when exchanged for Double Up & More vouchers to spend on fun-filled days out this summer.

For more information and great summer holiday inspiration, visit the Nectar Summer Picks website at nectar.com/summer

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Wondering what One Direction Monopoly looks like ?

Globe-cooking recipe : Chocolate Brigadeiros (Brazil)

Madhouse diaries : When the adventures come to us !

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Flash Liquid-Gel review


Savvy Circle recently invited me to join in their latest campaign for Flash Liquid-Gel.


As the packaging proudly announced, this award-winning, multi-purpose cleaner can be used on floors and worktops. I love the fact that this avoids grabbing multiple bottles of cleaning products out of the cupboard and also avoids clashing fragrances when you mix and match different product ranges. It's also a powerful cleaner, offering - according to the manufacturer - 2.5 times more power in every drop. Not sure how they work that out though !


I couldn't help but start singing a slightly modified version of Queen's Flash Gordon as I started using it in the kitchen :

Flash a-ah, Cleaner of the Universe
Flash a-ah, He'll clean every one of us
Flash a-ah, He's a miracle
Flash a-ah, King of the impossible

Works for every surface,
Cleans for every one of us
He cleans with a mighty hand
Every floor, every worktop
Every room, with a mighty Flash !

Who says cleaning has to be a chore ?!


I love the vibrant yellow colour and the gorgeously fresh and fruity zingy lemon fragrance. For small areas, you can squirt it straight on undiluted then use a wet cloth or sponge and for larger areas you can use a mop and bucket and dilute it. After Flash Gordon, I think I was practising being Zorro here - must be having a superhero day ! I have to say, the really convenient "squirt to dose" format (it cuts off once you've dispensed enough)  is great fun, as well as avoiding any messy measuring of capfuls or using too much product. That's kinder on the planet as well as the pocket.


After a particularly nasty incident with a blocked toilet a couple of weeks ago, I used it on the floor of the toilet, as well as all over the cistern. Everything was sparkling clean and smelt lovely and fresh with very little effort (I almost said "in a flash" without meaning to !). It's a great timesaver being able to use the one product everywhere  - the gorgeous zesty fragrance is the deal breaker for me though.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £2.48 for 400ml (currently on offer for £1.25 at Tesco's)

Disclosure: I received the product in order to provide honest feedback and spread the word about the product for Savvy Circle.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Tales from the kitchen sink ! #kitchentales

Febreze Sleep Serenity Bedroom Mists review

Happy 25th birthday Elmer the Patchwork Elephant !


There have been some big anniversaries in the world of children's picture books and characters this year. The Very Hungry Caterpillar celebrated its 45th birthday in March, Dinosaur Roar was 20 in May, Peppa Pig turned 10 earlier this month. Now it's the turn of Elmer the Patchwork Elephant who is celebrating his 25th birthday.



Elmer has starred in 28 books since 1989 and the series has sold over 5 million copies in 40 languages around the world. How many have you read ?



We received a fabulous package of Elmer-themed goodies to celebrate the iconic elephant's special anniversary The first item we plucked out of the box was the original classic Elmer book, which we excitedly rediscovered, as it's been quite a while since we read it.


We also dicovered Elmer and the Monster, which is the latest Elmer title to be released. It's a lovely addition to the collection, with the familiar tale of Elmer heading out for his morning walk and discovering an adventure (rather like we do when we go out geocaching !), this time discovering all the animals of the jungle running away from a "monster" who is making a lot of noise. We love the bright colours, the detailed illustrations and the charming stories.


But there was still plenty more to discover in the box, starting with this big 24-piece floor puzzle.


Pierre and Sophie immediately got down on the floor and put it together. The big pieces are easy for little fingers to manipulate and the brightly coloured design is very striking.


Pierre was very proud of himself when he'd put it together and, when we started breaking it up to put it away, we discovered that it is double-sided, with a black-and-white picture on the back for you to colour in.


While they were occupied with the puzzle, Juliette sneakily had a peek in the box and let out a gasp as she discovered this gorgeous Elmer snow globe.


It looks beautiful as it is but you can also personalise it by putting a photo of you or your child in the scene with Elmer. How cool is that ?!


Back to the box ! We discovered this beautiful Elmer tin.


Inside are a selection of coloured pencils, all inscribed with the name Elmer (which should stop people from pinching them at school !).


There was also a pack of double-ended felt tips, which will be perfect for colouring in the back of the puzzle, as well as trying out some Elmer-themed craft activities that were suggested in the box. (I'll be back to tell you all about them once we've made them. In the meantime, look at what the wonderfully artistic Galina has featured over on her blog - a very impressive Elmer mural and an equally beautiful Elmer pancake.)


The final item in the box was this funky and functional PVC apron, which has the same colourful design on the front and back. This is great for messy play, cooking and crafts and the elastic keeps it perfectly in place. As you can see, Pierre loves it.

Happy birthday Elmer ! I wonder how many more generations of children will fall in love with him.

STOP PRESS ! : As part of the anniversary celebrations, Hamleys will be hosting a special all-day event from 12-6pm on Sunday 3rd August at the Regent Street Store, London. To kick off the celebrations, the colourful Elmer costume character will open the store to visitors at midday. The celebrations will then continue throughout the afternoon, with exclusive storytelling sessions to entertain both children and parents alike. Visitors will also have the chance to meet Elmer and take a picture too! The times for both the storytelling sessions will be listed throughout the store and on the official Hamleys’ website. For more information, visit: http://www.hamleys.com/explore-whatson-london.irs

Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.




Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Keep your little ones bzz-y with Maya the Bee !

Betta Living Kids in the Kitchen summer fun ideas

Little Adventures with Barny (and his cousin Lulu !) at the park

#alphabetphoto : K is for ... king prawn


Pierre loves helping me out in the kitchen but he did wonder if he'd bitten off more than he could chew when he wanted to help with the paella !

My #alphabetproject so far :

To see what everyone else found for this week's letter or to join in yourself, head over to PODcast

Kids in the Kitchen Foodie Fun


You may remember me telling you about the fun we had last week with our Betta Living Kids In The Kitchen box of goodies. Well, with all the storms we've been having recently, I decided not to risk going out with the kids yesterday so we dipped in for some more fun, this time with a foodie theme.


First of all, we made ice lollies. I was amazed at just how fascinating they found such a simple activity. The Vimto Squeezy squash is great for this because it is ultra-concentrated so you only need a tiny bit to get a lovely strong flavour. (It also has the added bonus of being sugar free.)


The ice lolly moulds were a bit leaky so I put a plastic box underneath - definitely a good idea if you don't want splashes of frozen juice in the freezer !


By late afternoon, they were ready to eat. Huge smiles for an activity that costs pennies and takes minutes.


Pierre had spotted something else in the box - a pizza kit. (You may have noticed he's changed his T-shirt - the only downside of the ice lollies was that they were very drippy !)


He helped make the dough for the bases and roll it out.


Then everyone added the toppings of their choice - onions, mushrooms, bacon, sweetcorn, olives, cherry tomatoes, herbs, cheese ...


There's something very gratifying about making a pizza from scratch.


And it's even better when the fun in the kitchen feeds the whole family for tea !

So that's number 14 "Cool Down With Homemade Ice Lollies" and number 17 "Make Your Own Dough" ticked off. To find out more about the activities, designed to help you have fun on a budget during the holidays, check out my blogpost about the Kids In The Kitchen campaign here.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

One World Futbol review