Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Globecooking recipe : Sweet & Sour Pork Spring Rolls (China)

After making Sauteed Noodles with Pork & Bamboo Shoots, I had a small amount of meat left over - not enough to make a family meal for five but too much to throw away. I decided it would be perfect for making spring rolls, especially as I had everything I needed in the cupboards. This is a pure invention of my own so it may not be traditionally Chinese - it tasted authentic though !

Sweet & Sour Pork Spring Rolls

ingredients :

250g pork
2tbsp ginger wine or white wine
2tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp black rice vinegar
2tbsp sugar
1tsp Chinese 5 spice
1 spring onion
2 carrots
rice noodles
rice paper spring roll papers
oil for frying

Chop the pork into small pieces. Add the ginger wine, soy sauce and vinegar. Stir and leave to marinade for half an hour.

Pour the pork and marinade into a pan or wok and stir fry for 7 minutes until cooked through. Sprinkle over the sugar. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Put some rice noodles in a bowl and pour over boiling water. Leave for a couple of minutes, stir and drain off the water. (You can reuse some of the water for the rice paper discs.)

Finely slice the spring onion and grate the carrots.

Mix the spring onion and carrots into the cooled pork.

Add the rice noodles. Taste and adjust seasoning. We decided it lacked a bit of oomph so we added a bit of Chinese 5 Spice.

Pour some hot (not boling) water into a shallow dish. Immerse the rice paper discs in the water one at a time until they go soft and slightly sticky.

Place a disc on a chopping board or plate. Spoon some filling into the centre.

 Fold the two sides in towards the centre and press to stick them together. Fold one long edge across, squeeze the filling in tight then roll up in the remaining edge, just like a fajita.

Keep going until you run out of filling.

These could be eaten raw/cold as summer rolls or shallow fried as spring rolls.

Ours went a bit soggy and soaked up too much grease so I drained the first ones on kitchen paper but then they stuck slightly. With hindsight, I would use much less oil. The final ones were in about one tablespoon of oil because it was all that was left and they worked better. If you don't use much oil, do keep a close eye on them though because they will start to burn if left for too long.

*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***

If you fancy trying other Chinese recipes, how about Crunchy Veggie Salad or Sweet & Sour Chicken

Adding to the #KitchenClearout linky as this used up a small amount of pork and also almost finished off some rice paper spring roll wrappers that were lurking at the back of the cupboard and were past their best before date - oops !

Giveaway #535 : Win Hotel Transylvania 2 on DVD - closing 25/2

Drac’s Pack are back for more Hotel Transylvania fun! Secretly worried that his half-human grandson, Dennis, isn't showing his vampire side, Drac enlists the help of his friends to put the boy through a "monster-in-training" boot camp. Fun and fangs guaranteed !

Hotel Transylvania 2 is out now on Digital HD and on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray & DVD on 15th February, just in time for half term !

You may have just seen our very simple attempts at Hotel Transylvania-themed Pancake Art.

You can also see the master at work and watch Sai Pancakes creating some truly amazing  #HotelT2Pancakes

I would absolutely love to see some of you join in the fun and create your own pancake monsters so there are bonus entries in the giveaway if you share your efforts ! 

I have a copy of the DVD to give away to a lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Just fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 25/2/16

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook, twitter and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray !

You may also like to enter my other giveaways :

Monstrously good #HotelT2Pancakes for Pancake Day !

To celebrate the launch of Hotel Transylvania 2, out now on Digital HD and on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray & DVD on 15th February, we were invited to try our hand at making some monstrous pancakes. To serve as inspiration or maybe something to aspire to (who am I kidding ?!), they shared this fabulous video of Hotel Transylvania 2 Pancake Art by Sai Pancakes.

I'm sure you'll agree that they are absolutely amazing and it's definitely a technique that's worth experimenting with, if you haven't got a kitchen full of hungry children lined up with plates and desperate to fill their tummies with pancakes straight from the pan ! I just made regular pancakes as quickly as was humanly possible but we had a huge amount of fun, with Pierre egging me on to toss them higher and higher then giggling his head off when one missed the pan and fell on the floor (almost landing on the dog's head - serves her right for standing there mentally willing it to fall !)

I managed to grab a few pancakes from the stack to play with and we came up with this mummy pancake (which would have been bigger if my little helper hadn't kept popping pieces in his mouth !).

And also this vampire bat with banana teeth and banana and cranberry eyes ! That was as far as I got because all that was left on the plate were a few crumbs and Nutella covered spoons !

If you’d like to have a go at making monster-themed pancake art yourself, you can share on social media using the hashtag #HotelT2Pancakes. I'd love to see your creations so leave me a link below.

Also, if you like the sound of the DVD, don't go away, as I have a giveaway coming up in just a moment :)

Monday, 8 February 2016

That's Valentine's Day dessert sorted ! (Häagen-Dazs review)

The lovely people at Häagen-Dazs recently got in touch to ask if we'd like to sample their Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream, as the perfect indulgent dessert for Valentine's Day. Well what kind of a question was that? Of couse we did ! I had two vouchers so I picked up a tub of my favourite Macadamia Nut Brittle too - double yum !

The picture of cheesecake on the lid had me salivating but would the ice cream version live up to my expectations? The advertising blurb promises "crunchy biscuit pieces and lavish swirls of sweet strawberry sauce combined with our delectably rich cheesecake ice cream. Pure indulgence in a pint."

The worst thing (in fact, the only bad thing) about eating Häagen-Dazs ice cream is that you have to wait for a few minutes for it to start going soft and melty. Someone once told me that you can give it a quick blast in the microwave for the same effect but I'm always worried I'll leave it in too long and end up with a pint of milk ! Anyway, patience is a virtue ... and the ice ceam was definitely worth the wait. You do really get the cheesecake effect, both in taste and texture. Utterly divine.

If you want some extra Brownie points on Valentine's Day (or you suddenly realised on your way home from work what the date is !), pop into your local supermarket and grab a tub of this ! It's not even as catastrophic as I expected in terms of blowing the New Year diet out of the window - 262 calories and 14.4g of fat for 100g. Totally worth it !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £4.45 for 500ml (but currently half price at Tesco - get in there !)

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

Madhouse recipe : The Fry Up Salad !

You know those days when your head's saying that you should be having something healthy like a salad for lunch, but your heart is saying you'd rather be tucking into a greasy plate of bacon and eggs? Well, this dish combines both !

The Fry Up Salad

ingredients :

salad ingredients (lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, pickled beetroot, olives, sweetcorn, red pepper, ...)
1 egg per person
a packet (300g) of bacon lardons
1 onion
a handful of mushrooms
1 apple
a handful of dried cranberries

Get prepping ! Put on a pan of water and hardboil the eggs. Chop the onion and mushrooms and put in a frying pan with the bacon lardons. Drain off the excess fat and put in a dish lined with kitchen paper.

I went for a salad bar approach and just put everything on the table so that the kids could pick and choose whatever they wanted, which they got surprisingly enthusiastic about !

I lined a plate with lettuce, dotted slices or wedges of cucumber, tomato and beetroot around the edges and sprinkled over a couple of spoonfuls of sweetcorn and some chunks of apple. I scattered over some lardons, mushrooms and onions, then a handful of dried cranberries and topped it all off with a halved boiled egg. It's packed full of flavour and the bacon/mushrooms/onions give it enough fat that you don't need salad dressing.

Pierre doesn't like lettuce but he still tucked in enthusiastically ... with his chopsticks from the day before !

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Personalised Valentine's Day Gifts (Snapfish review)

With what is officially the most romantic day of the year fast approaching, Snapfish got in touch to ask if I'd like to try creating a special gift for Madhouse Daddy. They have a wide range of  personalised photo gifts, ranging from beautiful photobooks and canvases to the more fun and quirky mugs, cushions or mobile phone cases. You can even create a totally unique Valentine's Day card for the object of your affections.

Well, here's what I chose for Madhouse Daddy. What do you mean, it's not very romantic ?! Well, OK, admittedly, it doesn't look anything special when you unwrap it, but it's a magic mug.

When you fill it up with hot liquid, it magically transforms into a photo mug, showcasing a whole host of fun family moments.

The magic mug can display a collage of 15 photos and takes just minutes to order because the website sorts out the layout and resizing for you. There are 14 background colours to choose from and you can write a message with a choice of 10 popular fonts. Basically, you can create a totally unique and special mug for the very reasonable price of £9.99.

Now, February 14th is a double celebration at The Madhouse because, as well as being Valentine's Day, it's also Juliette's birthday. I therefore decided to buy her a special gift too and created a collage poster featuring the photos that her school posted on their blog during her class skiing trip a couple of weeks ago. I just know that this will have pride of place on her bedroom wall and will probably end up a cherished keepsake for years to come. The posters are available in 4 sizes from 15x10" to 40x30" with a stylish gloss finish. You can choose from a single photo poster, collage poster or calendar poster. This poster  (30"x20") cost £15.99.

There are loads of other gift options if you're still looking for inspiration - you might also like to look at my past reviews of their photobooks and Christmas stocking fillers (photo stickers, personalised notebooks and photo placemats).

for more information : www.snapfish.co.uk

Disclosure : I received some credit in order to create and review some personalised photo gifts.

Globecooking recipe : Sauteed Noodles, Pork & Bamboo Shoots (China)

I've been working my way through the recipes in the Chinese Kitchen Trotter box this week and the great thing is, they can all be made with ingredients that you're likely to have around the home or that you can easily find in your local supermarket. I didn't think the Madhouse kids would be keen on this so I gave them a taste out of the pan, offering cheese toasties if they didn't like it, and they ate two bowlfuls each so there was barely enough left for me and Madhouse Daddy !

I used three ingredients from the Chinese Kitchen Trotter box - black rice vinegar, chilli paste and Sichuan peppercorns - and used up some leftover crystallised ginger from the Colombian box.

Sauteed Noodles, Pork & Bamboo Shoots

ingredients :

300g Chinese noodles
2tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
250g pork fillet
tin of bamboo shoots
3tbsp black rice vinegar
4tbsp vegetable oil
4tbsp soy sauce
2tsp sugar
1tsp chilli paste
2 spring onions
a small piece of fresh or crystallised ginger

for the pork marinade :
2tbsp soy sauce
2tbsp dry white wine (I used ginger wine)
2tsp cornflour

Put the soy sauce and white wine in a bowl.

Throw in the finely chopped pork (chop when still very slightly frozen to make it easier to get fine slices) and stir. Sprinkle over the cornflour and stir again. Put in the fridge to marinade while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Put the noodles in a large pan or wok, pour over boiling water, stir a couple of times and leave for about 10 minutes (check the pack instructions)  before draining off the water and rinsing in cold water. Reserve. 

Heat up the wok to dry it out. Add the vegetable oil and the Sichuan peppercorns. Heat for 30 seconds until they become dark brown. Fish out the peppercorns but keep the oil in the wok.

Drain the marinade off the pork and fry in the hot, peppery oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the sliced ginger and the chilli paste. Drain the water from the tin of bamboo shoots and add them to the pan.

Stir fry for a couple more minutes then add the noodles. Toss in the soy sauce and the black rice vinegar, then the sugar.

Give it all a good stir, taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. (You might need to add extra vinegar, sugar or soy sauce if the sweet, sour, salty balance isn't quite right.) Throw the chopped spring onions on top, stir one last time and serve.

Pierre didn't initially want to eat it because he thought it looked weird, but he was won over by the chopsticks from the Kitchen Trotter box.

In the end, all three of the Madhouse kids loved it and went back for seconds so there was barely enough left for me and Madhouse Daddy. I'll have to increase the quantities next time !

*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***

If you fancy trying other Chinese recipes, how about Crunchy Veggie Salad or Sweet & Sour Chicken

Sunday weigh-in : Glass half full !

December 02, 2013 at 10:14AM

This week was manic. Two parent-teacher evenings until 8.30pm, plus an orthodontists' appointment for Juliette's braces on my day off. I had no time and even less energy for getting active or even worrying about what I was eating. But I knew this would be the case when I wrote last week's Sunday weigh-in post so I didn't aim to lose any weight this week, I said I would be happy with a no-change.

Today the scales said 87.8kg. The no-change I was aiming for. I could whinge and moan about being stuck there for the third week running, but I prefer the positive approach of saying I haven't put any weight on in a tough week. I think the XLS must definitely be helping because I've been eating quite a lot of rubbish this week ! Steak and chips at a restaurant on Friday lunchtime, Chinese New Year meal at the school canteen where the only fruit option was pineapple fritters and the only starters were greasy spring rolls ! On the other hand, I went for a salad at McDonald's and when the kids had a rare treat of kebab and chips, I chose to eat a wrap at home instead.

For the next two weeks, I'm on holiday so I'm back in control. Next week, I'll be pushing myself harder so I'll be hoping for a loss. To be honest, I'm happy to still be in the 87's !

Positives of the week

- I survived a crazily busy week without putting on weight - that's a victory in itself !

- Forward planning is the key - I stocked up with a healthy option (stuffed tomatoes) for the first meeting and prepared a meal in advance for the other

-  Note to self : A few bad food choices don't mean that the week is a write off (especially with the XLS helping out !) so don't jump off the wagon when you think you've wrecked your chances of having a good week

- I'm still in the 87's - phew !

Current targets 

Last week's target : Manic week at work with parent-teacher evenings so just do my best - aim for a no change. (DONE)

This week's targets : Fit in at least two runs (one on the wii fit, one outdoors) and one long walk with the kids. Eat loads of salads, veggies and fruit. Swap at least half of my diet coke for water. Get back into listening to the Slimpod. Aim for 86 point something (lower end of 87's would be great too).

Short-term targets 

(1) get back into the 80's
(2) get my "lbs lost" back into double figures
(3)  get my "weight to lose" badge down into the 40's
 (4)  get back to 87kg, my pre-holiday weight   
(5) get my "kg lost" badge back into double figures 
(6) get my "weight loss" badge higher than my "still to go" badge
(7) get back into my (smallest) bright blue jeans comfortably
(8) get back to 77kg - my lowest weight since my pregnancies

Longer-term targets :  Hit my target weight of 70kg.

START WEIGHT :93.7kg (BMI 34.8)
WEIGHT LAST WEEK  : 87.8kg (BMI 32.6)
WEIGHT TODAY : 87.8kg (BMI 32.6)
STILL TO GO : 17.7kg

Feel free to add your weightloss posts to my weekly linkie - it's great to see how everyone else has been getting on and give each other support and encouragement. You can even grab the linkie code and add it to your own blog if you like. :)

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

 MyFitnessPal - Nutrition Facts For Foods

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Globecooking recipe : Crunchy Veggie Salad (China)

When I read through this recipe in the Chinese Kitchen Trotter box, I didn't think it was anything special, but as the kids had eaten so much of the pork, noodles & beansprouts (recipe to follow tomorrow) that there was barely enough left for me and Madhouse Daddy, I decided to knock it up to pad out the dish. It ended up being so lovely (not to mention totally guilt-free and healthy) that I'll definitely be making it again.

 Crunchy Veggie Salad

ingredients :

3 carrots
1/4 cucumber
optional : other crunchy vegetables such as bamboo shoots, red cabbage or radish
2tbsp vegetable oil
1 heaped teaspoon Sichuan pepper
2tbsp black rice vinegar
4tbsp soy sauce
2tsp sugar

Peel and finely slice the veggies. (I used a peeler to cut off thin slices of cucumber and carrot.) Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and toss in the peppercorns. Leave to sizzle for 30 seconds then turn off the heat. It's up to you whether you use a skimmer to take out the peppercorns or leave them in.

Pour the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar into the veggies, mix and taste. Adjust if necessary. Pour over the hot oil, mix and serve.

*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***