Monday, 26 January 2015

Goodlife Spicy Veg Beanburgers review

You may remember, a few weeks ago we discovered Good Life veggie sausages when we reviewed their French Beans & Spinach Sausages with Wensleydale Cheese and Red Sky Tomato & Basil Sausages with Creamy Mozzarella. They were surprisingly delicious and even got a thumbs up from Madhouse Daddy who is a Frenchman therefore a total carnivore !

Today, we tried out another product from the range - Spicy Veg Beanburgers with a Kick of Chipotle Chilli. I wasn't sure what to expect, fearing they might be a bit bland, but we were really impressed. As you can see in the photo, they have recognisable chunks of vegetables and beans and the crispy garlicky crumb coating is delicious. They contain white and red kidney beans, sweetcorn, carrot, red and green pepper, finished with a slightly spicy kick of sweet and smokey chipotle chilli.

 Goodlife say that it's a winning chilli non-carne burger, perfect on a soft burger bun with salsa, but we paired ours with a baked potato and beans. Calorie-wise, they're a bit higher than I expected - 219 calories per burger, which is not much less than a meaty version - but they are low in fat (9.6g of which 0.7g saturates) and high in fibre (7g). Above all, they taste fantastic, even if you're not vegan or vegetarian. I also love the fact that you can cook them from frozen so they're great for a no-nonsense dinner after a long day at work.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £2.29 for a pack of 4

for more information :

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

Madhouse recipe : Scrambled Eggs à la Niçoise #happyeggtastemakers

As a Happy Egg blogger, I recently received a voucher for a box of Happy Eggs and an invitation to take part in a Super Scrambled Eggs challenge. I needed to come up with a recipe of my own, incorporating :
- A vegetable (e.g. onion, tomato) or source of fish/meat (e.g. salmon, bacon)
- A herb or spice (e.g. chives, paprika)
- A surprise ingredient of my choosing

I had a little think and decided to add in a little bit of globe-cooking inspiration, finally deciding on an eggy version of salade Niçoise. I wasn't sure how it would work with scrambled eggs but figured that the original has hard-boiled eggs in, so it's not too crazy an idea ! It was actually very nice and was a perfect Sunday evening supper.

Scrambled Eggs à la Niçoise

ingredients :

2 eggs
a little milk
a knob of butter
cooked green beans
a tin of tuna, drained
an onion, finely chopped
herbes de Provence, salt, pepper, smoked paprika
1tbsp capers

to serve :
tortilla wrap
tomato wedges

Beat the eggs and mix in the milk,

Heat the butter in a frying pan and start to cook the onion, then add the eggs and cook, stirring until they start to go firm.

Add the tuna and green beans and heat through, stirring.

Season with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and herbes de Provence. Scatter over the capers. (I would have loved to add juicy black olives but I was all out of them.)

Serve with toast or in a tortilla wrap with tomato wedges.

Disclosure ; This is my entry for the Happy Eggs Super Scrambled Eggs challenge. I received a voucher for some eggs.

For more Super Scrambled Egg ideas, you might like to check out :

Galina's Italian-style Scrambled Eggs
Wendy's Smoky Chipotle Scrambled Eggs
Alison's Brunch Scrambled Eggs

Globe-cooking recipe : Turkish pizza & baked potatoes

Pizza is pizza wherever you are in the world, right? Well, pretty much but the snack bar in our hotel in Kusadasi did such fabulous pizzas that we always picked up a few little slices to nibble with our cocktails at the end of the day before dinner and I want to recreate the dish at home.

The pizza dough is standard pizza dough, as far as I could tell. It tasted great but I think it was the outdoor wood-burning oven that gave it such a fabulous flavour. The shape of the pizza surprised us at first. Rather then the traditional round or square pizzas that we're all used to, they made very long boat-shaped pizzas. Think of a slightly wider French baguette with pointy ends. This means that it can be cut into lots of little slices to eat as nibbles which is a great idea.

The first topping was just cheese - nice but nothing amazing. The second one is the one we loved best - spicy meat with tomatoes and onions. After experimenting a bit, the closest I can get is half minced beef, half sausagemeat, a can of chopped tomatoes, a finely chopped onion, herbes de provence, garlic salt and sumac. The pizza chef would just grab a handful of topping from his bowl, slap it on the boat-shaped dough and use his hand to spread it across the top, before folding over the edges of the dough to keep it in place. It took seconds to make, minutes to cook and always had a big queue of people because it tasted so good !

The other thing that the kids absolutely loved from the snack bar was the baked potatoes. Nothing special about the potatoes themselves but what set them apart was the fillings. Pierre's favourite was macédoine which is basically a tin of mixed veg, drained and mixed with mayonnaise. I'd never have dreamed of putting that in a baked potato but he loved it and still asks for it now - I'm happy to comply because it's a great way of getting him to eat vegetables !

The other toppings were Turkish sausage, sweetcorn, cheese and black olives. If you fancy something a bit different to the usual tuna mayo or cheese and beans, they're definitely worth a try !

*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***
Other Turkish dishes that I've tried include BaklavaGözleme, Turkish Kofte Meatballs and Deep Fried Ice Cream (yes really !)

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Shake Up Your Wake Up with Nestlé Cereals #BreakfastWeek

National Breakfast Week is kicking off tomorrow so to celebrate, Nestlé Cereals invited The Madhouse to Shake Up their Wake Up by mixing up our breakfast cereals and giving our concoction a name. The Madhouse kids actually do this all the time anyway, adding a handful out of each box so that they can eat all of their favourites at once, but Nestlé sent us through a lovely selection of cereals to help increase our ingredient options.

We received some Shredded Wheat, Shreddies, Cheerios, Curiously Cinnamon and Cookie Crisp. Having received a similar selection last year for a food art challenge, the Madhouse kids immediately got excited about getting creative again. You may remember last time, we made ice cream cone pictures, Cheerios Frankenstein monsters and Shredded Wheat nests

I let them have a quick play and they came up with this butterfly creation made with Shredded Wheat topped with Shreddies and Curiously Cinnamon.

The challenge this time, though, was simply a case of combing their favourite cereals.

They decided their favourite mix was Curiously Cinnamon and Shreddies because, they explained, they are the same size and shape so they go soggy at the same time. Very scientific ! They decided to name this combination Squares Pairs. The girls like to eat theirs with cold milk but Pierre has recently started eating yogurt - Greek or fruity, he's not fussy ! - with his cereal.

Do you mix up your cereals? If so, what's your favourite combination?

Disclosure : We received a selection of Nestlé cereals.

Bathtime Buddies Alphabet Set review

I sometimes think there are more toys on the side of the bath than in the kids' toyboxes! They'll play with anything from proper bath toys and empty shampoo bottles to things that wouldn't usually go in the bath like Playmobil people and Bratz dolls. Oh yes, and that appears to be Mike the Knight's helmet there - that might be problematic when it comes to hair washing !

Needless to say, bathtime equals funtime at The Madhouse !

We were therefore very excited to learn that Tots 100/H&A are looking for a new panel of bloggers to join the Bathtime Fun Squad in 2015 and especially delighted to receive a Bathtime Buddies Alphabet Set to review. These colourful foam letters will stick to the side of the bath or the tiles when wet and the Madhouse kids were delighted to discover that they float too. The storage tub is cleverly designed with holes in the lid so when you've finished playing, you put them in the tub, turn it upside down and the water will drain off - genius !

Pierre was the first person to have a bath and he helped me spell out this little message.

Then Juliette came along and added - you've guessed it - One Direction !

If it's anything like the fridge magnets on the side of the washing machine, I'm sure it won't be long before it descends into "rude" words and messages like bum, fart and you smell ! They're a great way of revising spelling too - it's much more fun than reciting spellings while I'm cooking dinner and the teacher in me knows that by actively handling the letters and seeing the words, this will help them remember the words more easily too.

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

Sunday weigh-in : Babysteps in the right direction

This week, I've had no time for any exercise at all except for running around like a blue-arsed fly ! The good thing about the FitBug is that it tells you when you're getting the steps in without even realising it. Yesterday, for example, I spent a few hours tidying Pierre's room and putting lots of the big toys that were on the floor up into the top cupboards. In the evening, my thighs and legs were aching and I realised that all that climbing up and down on the stool was the equivalent of a step aerobics class !

On to the scales - 86.8kg, that's 600g down from last week which'll do me nicely, thank you !

Positives of the week

- Everything in moderation - this week, I fancied some chocolate so I had some. At the restaurant on Friday, I had steak and chips. But I evened things out with Slimfast shakes, soups and salads.

- The badges are on the move - last week 6kg lost and 14lb lost/47lb to go. This week 7kg lost and 15lb lost/46lb to go.

Current targets 

Last week's target : Stick to the SlimFast plan and get in two Belly-Blasting Walk dvd sessions. Get losing again. (good enough)

This week's targets : Hit my second target - my pre-xmas weight of 85.9kg. Replace the school canteen by SlimFast bars and ready-to-drink shakes.

Short-term targets 21kg to lose sounds a lot but breaking it down, aiming for 1kg a week, that's only about 5 months - plenty of time for heading off to Turkey in August !

first target, get my "weight to lose" badge down into the 40's (it's currently on 51lb) (done),
 second goal - get back to 85.9kg, my pre-xmas weight
third goal : get my "kg lost" badge back into double figures 
fourth goal : get my "weight loss" badge higher than my "still to go" badge
fifth goal : get back into my (smallest) bright blue jeans comfortably
sixth goal : get back to 77kg - my lowest weight since my pregnancies

Longer-term targets :  Hit my target weight of 68kg. 

STILL TO GO : 18.7kg

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

We Will Do It! Support Linky on The Purple Pumpkin Blog

Saturday, 24 January 2015

An awesome Pawsomebox for the Madhouse pooches ! (review)

Did you buy a Christmas present for your dog? Maybe you hung up a stocking for him? Well, did you know that you can pamper your pooch every month if you sign up to Pawsomebox, a subscription scheme that delivers a parcel of doggy gifts every month by post. Each box contains 5-6 high quality products (treats, chews, biscuits, toys, health and hygiene products, grooming, training aids) and each month there is a new theme. Past boxes include the Summer Box, filled with travel goodies and the World Cup Box with sports & games. They've also had Christmas, horror movie and carnival themed boxes and the sneak peek on the website announces that February's box will be focusing on Valentine's Day. Tail-wagging excitement guaranteed!

We received the January Pawsomebox and here's what it had inside :

Mutt & Jeff Crunchy Chicken Bites - these got a very enthusiastic reception !

Trixie Bacon Strips - so did these !

Trixie Snack American Football - I don't know if Vicky and Didou are intellectually challenged or just bone idle but they really couldn't be bothered with trying to get the treats out of their last puzzle toy, however much we tried to spur them on. This will therefore be going to Dieser and Brodie, the Madhouse grandparents' dogs, who are a bit more savvy/enthusiastic !

Pet Cola Dog Toy - see above !

Pet Gear Collar Flashlight - this is a brilliant idea for keeping track of your dog as it disappears right down to the bottom of the garden barking madly in the dark and you don't know where it's gone ! It can also help light the way if it's still dark when you walk your dog in the morning and you need to see the path.

2 x baseball chews - the twin pack was ideal for Vicky and Didou. They've been munching on them all week and there's still plenty left.

So have you guessed what this month's theme is? Yeah, ya got it, it's the good ole US of A ! Pawsome ! There was a big clue on the front cover of the enclosed Paw Notes booklet, which is full of interesting information about your four-legged friends. Exact contents of the box will vary depending on the age, size, weight, breed, fur type and other preferences of your four-legged friend.

So what was the doggie verdict? Well, Vicky looks pretty happy to me ! (And while I was trying to get a photo, Didou was sneaking off with the treats when she wasn't looking - they're worse than kids, I tell you !)

I love the fact that there is a nice mix of edible treats, longer-lasting toys and also gadgets to help make the owner's life easier. The element of surprise and the special themed boxes make it exciting for the owner when the postman arrives too and the products seem good quality. There are items and brands that I'd never seen before so it's a great way to discover new products.

 You can choose from three plans: monthly, half-yearly, or yearly (to be paid in one go) and the price per box goes down depending on the length of your subscription. A monthly subscription is £19.90, six-monthly works out at £17.90 per month and yearly is the equivalent of £15.90 per month, including delivery. 

I must admit, I don't think I could justify the expense personally, but I have three kids so there's not much "treat money" left over for the dogs, who come further down the pecking order ! I do have friends, however, who think nothing of buying special food and treats, doggie coats, toys and accessories on a regular basis for their dogs so I'm sure they'd love it. (There is one mum at the school gates who makes us laugh because when it rains, she puts little wellies as well as a raincoat with a hood on her poodle !)

As well as Pawsome boxes for dogs, there are Purrfect boxes for cats - click through for all the details.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £15.90 to £19.90 per month, depending on length of subscription

Disclosure : We received a box in order to write an honest review.

Globe-cooking recipe : Deep fried ice cream (Turkey)

I thought it was a joke when I saw this on the menu at the Chinese-themed restaurant in our hotel in Kusadasi (so I'm not sure if it's supposed to be a Chinese or a Turkish dish - I'm guessing they just made it up themselves !)

I asked the waitress how they made it and she explained that they take cornflakes and crush them up, use that to coat a scoop of ice cream then deep fry it.

They served it drizzled with honey. It was OK and it certainly had novelty value (it's a bit like the Turkish version of a deep fried Mars Bar, I suppose !) but it's not something I'd choose again.

*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***
Other Turkish dishes that I've tried include BaklavaGözleme and Turkish Kofte Meatballs

Fab freebies of the week 24/1/2015

Welcome to the weekend ... and welcome to this week's round-up of the web's best freebies :)


To claim your limited edition L'Oreal Glam Bronze Eau De Soleil Liquid Bronzer, fill in the form

Send a free sample of Benefit Porefessional to a friend (and ask them to send you one !) with SoPost (Sorry, all gone - keep an eye on my Facebook page for any that I think will run out before the next freebie round-up)

Find out if you are entitled to free water-saving products here

If you haven't yet signed up for your Sugar Swaps pack from Change 4 Life (including stickers and money off vouchers), it's not too late.

Taylors of Harrogate have 2500 taster packs of their warming Spiced Apple infusion to give away

From 23rd to 29th January, take in any brand of full-size cleanser (it can be empty) to your nearest Clinique counter at Debenhams and you'll receive a free 10 day supply of their new Foaming Sonic Facial Soap. Details here

Sign up at The Tanning Shop (at the bottom of the page) and get a free gift (let me know if you try it and find out what it is !)

You can download vouchers for a free pack of Monster Munch and a free 500ml bottle of Highland Spring water at KeyStore

Activia have a "smile or your money back" promotion on at the moment - Buy a 4 or 8 pack (excluding Fusion & Intensely Creamy) of Activia, between 22/12/14 - 28/02/15 and tell them why you're not satisfied for a refund

Kinder also have a "happy tum or it's free" promotion running - get your money back if you're not completely satisfied

‏@EcospillLtd Have you tried the new Dirteeze wipes? Request your free sample today email with ref: SAMPTWI

Fill in the form for a free sample of Always Discreet pads or pants. Same thing but from Tena.

Love crafts with the kids? Get yourselves a free Toucan Box - code FB15CB - Subsequent boxes are £4.93 and delivered fortnightly. If it's really not for you, you can cancel online at any time.

Get your Free Go Cat Crunchy & Tender sample

FREE cholesterol lowering kit - Are you or someone you know trying to lower cholesterol? Click here to order a free starter kit now.

Ruddles County have a Try Me Free offer on their beer - details here

The Places Around app is free for 3 days starting today - it will help you find petrol stations, cash points, supermarkets, restaurants, etc wherever you need them. Could be handy if you like travelling.

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my giveaways :

Giveaway #453 : Win 3 x Wuwu and Co. interactive story apps - closing date 28/1

Friday, 23 January 2015

Kusadasi diaries : Jeep Safari

Earlier in the week, I told you about our trip to Ephesus when we were in Kusadasi, Turkey, last summer and I'm back to tell you about another one of our adventures - a jeep safari in the nearby national park.

The tone of the day was set early on. As the various groups/jeeps assembled in a little cafe, we grabbed some cold drinks. With his dark glasses on, Madhouse Daddy grabbed what looked like a bottle of coke and took a swig then pulled this face - it was fermented turnip juice ! One of the biggest laughs of the whole holiday !

Then, as we awaited the departure, the cheeky guide came out of nowhere with a supersoaker and delighted in drenching everyone. After a few direct hits, I whispered to the girls to go and pinch his bucket and throw it all over him which they were delighted to do and it evolved into a full on water fight. Luckily it was hot !

We jumped in the back  of the jeep (me and the kids with another couple, Mike was in the front) and headed up into the hills.

It was a distict change of scenery as we headed through pine glades and rocky outcrops. The dirt track threw up loads of dust though and we were at its mercy !

There were some fabulous views down to Kusadasi and the islands beyond.

Our first stop was as the Fire Pond. This may sound quite romantic and mysterious, straight out of Greek mythology but it's actually just a reservoir that the firemen use in case of forest fires. Juliette took advantage of the water to rinse off her dusty Crocs - that's me holding her hand to stop her falling in, not push her in, by the way !

We spotted an enormous grasshopper/cicada type thing - can you see it? It's really well camouflaged.

After posing for a few photos and making the most of the shade, we headed back to the jeeps.

The next stop was Echo Valley. The guide got all the women to line up and shout across the valley but nothing much happened. Then it was the men's turn but they didn't fare much better. The guide had a pretty impressive attempt but I bet he's been practising for years !

By this stage, we were getting very skilled at ducking to avoid the low branches and leaves but when we heard a shout of "ambush", we couldn't avoid the water pistols as we passed another jeep. Pierre was not impressed and hid under a beach towel ! So that was why we'd stopped off at the Fire Pond !

Our next stop was an abandoned monastery in the middle of nowhere.

It's called the  Kurşunlu Monastery and is believed to be a Byzantine orthodox monastery built in the 2nd century AD. It's very isolated so was ideal for Christian monks to hide away, escaping religious persecution and attacks.

We moved on to another shady wooded area for a picnic lunch, provided by the jeep company. We had cold spicy chicken, salad and watermelon.

The only problem was the swarms of wasps which had Sophie and Pierre freaking out, so they were allowed to sit in the front of the jeep. It had no windows but it seemed to keep them away !

Time to hit the road again !

We headed back down the mountain passes and dust tracks onto the tarmacked roads of civilisation again and went to the Cave of Zeus, where the king of the the gods supposedly liked to hang out with the naughty nymphs behind his wife Hera's back.

Despite the signs on the way in telling you not to swim, everybody does - Madhouse daddy dipped his toes in but some brave people went right in - and it is astonishingly cold, especially compared to the outside temperatures in the sun.

I was intrigued by this tree with bits of rag tied to it and wondered if it is supposed to be a healing talisman, requesting help from Zeus for a loved one, rather like the calvaire at Kruysbellaert that we discovered when geocaching.

Back in the jeeps for the last leg.

With the rubbish bags tied to the front of the jeeps !

We headed down to Long Beach for a welcome cold drink and a dip in the sea to get rid of all that dust.

I'm not kidding - this is what Sophie cleared out of her nose !

We'll be heading back to the Ephesia Beach Hotel in Kusadasi again this year so we'll have to look out for some more excursions to go on (even if the kids would be happy to spend all day every day in the pool !)

Chez Maximka