Thursday, 28 July 2016

Madhouse recipe : BBQ Fried Chicken

I haven't had a deep fat fryer for years, having swapped over to an Actifry that we were sent to review years ago that was permanently adopted. I usually bake or roast chicken thighs but, as I had a few centimetres of vegetable oil in a pan after making prawn crackers, I decided to use it for cooking the chicken for a change. I never manage to recreate fakeaway KFC in the oven so maybe this would help mimic the Colonel's flavour ! As I was in the middle of a #KitchenClearout and was using up my bottles of BBQ sauce, I decided to use that in the coating which was very successful. Still nothing like KFC but very tasty nevertheless !

BBQ Fried Chicken

ingredients :

8 chicken thighs
1/2 a bottle of honey BBQ sauce (or similar)
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
salt, pepper
vegetable oil for frying

Put the chicken pieces in a large bowl. Pour over the BBQ sauce, salt and pepper and stir to coat evenly. Then throw in the breadcrumbs and toss around until all the chicken pieces are covered.

Heat the oil in the pan and drop a piece of breadcrumb coating in - if it bubbles up, it's hot enough. Put the chicken in and cook for 8 minutes on each side. Pierce with a knife in the deepest part of the meat and check that the juices run clear.

Drain on chicken paper to absorb excess grease. In honour of KFC, we ate this with Actifry chips and coleslaw but it would also be lovely with rice and mango salsa.

This used up a half bottle of BBQ sauce so I'm adding it to this month's #KitchenClearout linky.

Everything's Hunky Dory ! #FindingDory toys review

When school first broke up for the Madhouse kids, the weather was far from summery, so I told them that they could choose a film to go and see at the cinema. Their decision was instantaneous and unanimous : Finding Dory ! I have to admit, even as a grown-up, I thought it was a cute story and it was great to see Dory getting as much attention as her fin-tastic friend Nemo ! We were delighted to receive a selection of Dory toys to review, which have all been met with squeals of delight.

First of all, we discovered this box set of four Dory-themed jigsaw puzzles from The Disney Store. Each completed puzzle measures 28.5cm x 24.5cm but the pieces are different sizes, so they contain 16, 24, 32 and 48 pieces. This is a great way for young children to challenge themselves to gradually increase the difficulty of their puzzles.

The pieces are chunky, easy to slot into place and they stay firmly attached when you slice sections around on the table to move them into position. For added wow-factor, all four of the designs have sparkly foil detail in the pictures.

Pierre started off doing the first puzzle but big sister Juliette soon put in an appearance and started on another one ! With four puzzles to complete, there were plenty to go round so there was no squabbling.

It's a great way to while away a wet afternoon. My only very slight criticism is that they should have put the puzzles into resealable bags to help keep each one separate inside the box. (RRP £6.95)

We also received this gorgeously cuddly Dory toy from Disney Store (RRP £18.95), which Pierre can't stop hugging - he even ended up trying to perfect his fish face so that he could look just like her ! The attention to detail is amazing, with sparkly details, big expressive embroidered eyes and - our favourite thing of all - the yellow plastic tag on her fin, which you will recognise from the film if you've seen it. She's beautifully soft and the plush is so silky that you won't be able to resist stroking her. It's a pretty big toy (20 x 12 x 44cm approx) so it's perfect to use as a cushion when you've finished cuddling her at bedtime !

Zuru have also introduced a Finding Dory range to their popular ROBOFish collection (£9.99 each). As well as the Dory ROBOFish that we received, you can buy Nemo, Marlin and new character Bailey from the film, as well as a Dory Coffee Pot Playset just like in the movie and a Nemo Track Play Set complete with ROBOFish Nemo.

ROBOFish are water-activated so you just drop them in your bowl, bath, paddling pool or swimming pool and they'll go swimming around, using movements that mimic a real fish. They automatically stop when you take them out of water and dry them off and they have a “power save” mode, which automatically switches them off after one minute to save battery power. With the all-new ‘tap-tap mode’, just tap the side of the tank to reawaken your fish and enjoy more underwater fun. I was very impressed to see that not only do they come with batteries installed, you also get extras in the box - huge kudos to the manufacturers !

To celebrate the release of the much-anticipated Disney Pixar film Finding Dory, out in UK and Ireland cinemas on 29th July, Disney Store is hosting a series of exciting instore activities for kids and families taking place from 24th July to 3rd September. The Dory’s Quest activity, which takes place in Disney Stores across the UK and Ireland (except Covent Garden and Manchester Trafford Centre), sees guests take on the role of underwater explorers who will join Disney Store Cast Members to help Dory find her family, navigating around a giant board game to get Dory from start to finish. The journey takes Dory to many locations where she meets familiar and new characters from the film. Guests will undertake a range of tasks as Dory lands on different locations. They will learn about life under the sea, test their knowledge of the ocean, learn to speak whale and even test their memory in true Dory style. Sounds like a great way to keep the kids busy during the holidays.

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

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Giveaway #575 : Win Drumond Park's Sshh! Don't Wake Dad! game - closing date 21/8

Careful now … you can tiptoe about, working your way around each noisy hazard, but whatever you do …SSHH! Don’t Wake Dad!

Here’s another brilliant electronic board game from Drumond Park - the highly entertaining SSHH! Don’t Wake Dad! (rrp £22.99, for 2 to 4 players,age 5+). The central figure in this novel new game is a ‘Dad’ who snores loudly (yes, really!) throughout the game. And wait for it… he jumps bolt upright from his bed when he’s woken from his sleep by mischievous children on their way to find treats!

 The aim of this delightful new game is for young players to make their hungry way along a truly hazardous route from their own beds around -and even right over! – Dad, who is sleeping in the middle of the board.They’re all racing to reach the kitchen fridge - where a slice of tempting chocolate cake awaits. But on their way across the board, they have to avoid landing on the howling cat, the tinkling bell and the hooting owl… That’s because if one of them wakes the slumberous Dad from his dreams – Aaghh!!, he’ll rise up with a start and staring eyes… and send them scurrying back down the board - to where they left their slippers!

*** Head over to read our review and see how much fun we had ! ***

I'm delighted to have a Sshh! Don't Wake Dad! game to give away to one lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries via the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 21/8/16

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 :

Giveaway #574 : Win 5 x a 3-month subscription to Kidloland app - closing date 31/7

Drumond Park's Sshh ! Don't Wake Dad ! game (review)

Drumond Park recently launched a new electronic family game called Sshh ! Don't Wake Dad ! and it's had us in fits of giggles ever since it arrived !

After putting Dad to bed - you have to raise his arms, turn him over so that he's face down and press him into position, which sounds complicated but it only took Pierre seconds to work it out - you have to spin the spinner and move the cheeky tiptoeing children past the gently snoring dad to pinch the chocolate cake in the fridge.

There are even two squares on the bedsheets meaning that you have to scramble over the poor unsuspecting sleeping dad, which made the Madhouse kids laugh even more when they landed on them !

Along the way, there are all sorts of obstacles and booby traps, from drawing pins on the floor, a noisy cat's tail to step on and numerous toys scattered across the floor. If you have the card that corresponds to the space you land on, you're safe, but if you haven't, you have to push the alarm clock for the number of times on the square and hope that dad won't wake up.

If you do wake him up, he springs up into a sitting position and, even if you know it's going to happen, it still makes you jump every single time !


As you can see in this little clip - squeals and giggles guaranteed ! 

It's simple to set up and quick to play so children of all ages can have fun joining in, especially as it's purely down to chance when he wakes up so the odds of winning are pretty even, regardless of age.

 We often play board games here at The Madhouse but I will admit that for me, it's often more a case of parental duty than personal enjoyment. Sshh ! Don't Wake Dad ! is just as much fun for the grown-ups though and I've been asking to play it as much as the kids !

It's suitable for ages 5+ (but I think younger players would be fine, with supervision) and 2-4 players can play at any one time. If this looks like your sort of family fun, don't go away - I have a giveaway coming right up in my next post where you can win the game.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £22.99

For stockists and to play games online, visit

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

Tsum Tsum Squishies Fuzzy Feel Series 2 (review)

As I mentioned last month when she showed off her collection, Juliette loves Tsum Tsums and frequently spends her pocket money on the soft plush toys. She recently discovered the scaled down Tsum Tsum Squishies and fell in love with those too, so I think they will become an offshoot to her main collection.

Series 1 of Tsum Tsum Squishies was comprised of 50 characters, including 8 Rare Characters and 4 Ultra Rare Characters, and series 2 has just been released with a lovely fuzzy-feel flock coating that makes them even cuter. They're not really squishy any more though, unlike the first series. They are available in a 2 Pack (£2.99), 4 Pack (£4.99) or Pack of 5 with Carry Carabiner (£7.99) and each pack has one surprise Tsum Tsum that you can't see in the pack so you'll never know if it's the one you need to complete your collection until you get home - much excitement guaranteed !

They are very small but the Disney characters are instantly recognisable - we got Pluto, Pinocchio and Lady from Lady and the Tramp, and our mystery character was Thumper from Bambi.

They're ultra cute and with pocket money prices, they are purely irresistible to any little Disney fan. Father Christmas take note, because they will be ideal as stocking fillers in a few months' time.

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

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Globecooking recipe : Mushrooms à la grecque (France/Greece)

Champignons à la grecque is one of the staple starters at most school canteens and university restaurants in France. They're usually made with tinned mushrooms which have a watery and often rubbery texture, but when I was winding down the fridge for going on holiday and came across a full punnet of mushrooms, I decided to see what they would be like with fresh mushrooms. Well, they're not bad - better than with tinned - and they make a nice refreshing accompaniment to barbecued meats. The name suggests that they are a Greek dish but I don't remember seeing them in Greece, so I think they're a purely French invention.

Mushrooms à la grecque

ingredients :

200g mushrooms
splash of olive oil
splash of white wine (optional)
2 onions
clove of garlic
2tbsp pesto or I used a Knorr Herbs Flavour Pot that was in the cupboard
100ml chopped tomatoes
1tbsp tomato concentrate
salt, pepper, basil

Finely slice the mushrooms and onions and mince the garlic. Put it all in a pan with a glug of olive oil and gently stir fry for ten minutes.

Add the pesto/herb flavour pot and the white wine if using and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, tomato concentrate, salt, pepper and basil. Cook for 2-3 more minutes until the sauce is thick and all excess liquid has evaporated. Serve cold as a starter or accompaniment to meat or fish.

This was great for winding down the fridge before heading off on holiday so I'm adding it to the #KitchenClearout linky.

Link up your recipe of the week

An Italian-themed Kitchen Trotter box

This month's Kitchen Trotter box arrived this week - where would it be transporting us this time?

The first thing I saw when I took off the lid was the bonus gadgets and they gave the game away - a book about different types of pasta and a spaghetti measurer. There was no doubt about it - this month's destination is Italy. My initial instinct was to be slightly underwhelmed - Italian cuisine is probably one of the more well-known world cuisines, even if many people don't get beyond pizza, pasta and risotto. I was hoping that Kitchen Trotter would have sourced some lesser known ingredients and recipes for us to discover though.

Diving into the box, I plucked out some dried grilled courgettes and some turmeric and coriander biscuits. Not sure yet if these will be just snacky things or incorporated into recipes.

I also discovered some pistachio cream, dried sage, white truffle essence and orzo soup mix. Not a hint of pasta in sight ! So what will we be eating ?

As a starter, grilled courgette involtini.

A Tuscan barley soup.

Veal Milanese with sage and sweet and sour onions

"Looks like boobs", giggled Pierre, when he saw the recipe for semifreddo with Sicilian pistachio cream.

This box also includes the instructions and materials for making some bunting with the enclosed map-printed paper.

There's also a bonus recipe for a fat-burning smoothie. I don't believe it would be any good at fatbusting but it sounds delicious - fresh pineapple, mango, lime and orange juice.

 We'll be travelling for real over the summer, discovering Lanzarote and visiting family on both sides of the Channel, so I probably won't get a chance to try out any of the Italian box until the end of August. I'll be back to share the recipes with you once I've made them though.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Heinz help us #AddALittleMagic to our summer barbecues

I had a very special surprise delivery from Heinz a couple of weeks ago which was perfect for welcoming in the summer. They sent through a fabulous selection of their "essential sauces for the summer", which they have named as sweet chilli, tomato ketchup, barbecue, salad cream and peri peri, along with some tasty-sounding recipes to try them out.

But that was not all. I also received some personalised BBQ utensils with my name written all over them. Move over Madhouse Daddy, there's a new BBQ Queen in town !

 Oh, OK, Madhouse Daddy does such a fabulous job of grilling the meat that I'll leave that to him - I'm sure it's something about fire and raw meat that brings out his caveman instincts ! - but I'm looking forward to trying out the sauces in various salads and marinades. Heinz provided some inspiration for new ways of using them.

Heinz Tomato Ketchup needs no introduction - it goes with just about everything, from burgers and bangers to everything in between. We love it in toasted cheese sandwiches and the kids mix it into mash to make it go pink ! Heinz suggest using it in BBQ Ribs with Homemade Coleslaw.

Heinz Peri Peri Sauce was a new one for us. It's great for turning up the heat on chicken or pork, adding a spicy kick with refreshing citrus notes. Peri Peri Chicken Wings are the perfect way to showcase the tongue-tingling flavour.

Heinz Classic BBQ Sauce can be used in dips and marinades, slathered over steak, chicken breasts, thighs or wings. You might also like to try some recipes that we made : Ultimate BBQ Baked Beans, BBQ Chicken & Bacon Pizza (great way for using up leftover cooked chicken after a barbecue or roast dinner) and Marinated Chicken Wings.

Heinz Sweet Chilli Sauce is the definitive dipper, be it with prawns, chicken or even chips !

I've also discovered that homemade burgers are so simple to make - just mix together some minced beef and a finely diced onion - and you can jazz them up no end by adding a squeeze of your favourite sauce into the mix before throwing them onto the grill or into the frying pan. BBQ and Peri Peri sauce work particularly well.

What are your favourite BBQ recipes and marinades? I'm always on the lookout for new salad accompaniments too, as my go-to coleslaw, tuna potato salad and tomato salad recipes are starting to get boring !

Disclosure : We received a surprise gift from Heinz to #AddALittleMagic to our summer barbecues.