Saturday, 20 September 2014

Globecooking : Dulce de Membrillo (Spain)

When I popped into Lidl earlier in the week, I noticed they were having a clear-out. Following on from a recent Spanish week, they had a bargain basement bin full of Iberian products at very low prices. I couldn't resist buying a few to try. The first discovery was Dulce de Membrillo.

Also known as Quince Cheese, it's a very sweet, firm jelly-like substance made from quinces and sugar. The fruit gives it a slightly tart flavour but it tasted of jam to me. We ate some on its own and I thought it could be a lovely accompaniment to cheeses. Sophie then decided to try it as jam, spreading it on bread, which she said was very nice too. I might try making a sort of jam tart with the rest.

If you fancy having a go yourself, here's the recipe :

 Dulce de Membrillo

2kg quince, peeled and chopped
1 vanilla pod
lemon peel (pith removed)
3 tbsp lemon juice
4 cups sugar

Put the quince in a large pan of water with the vanila pod (split) and the lemon peel. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for about half an hour until soft.

Drain off the water, remove the vanilla pod and reduce to a puree with a stick blender or food processor. 

Pour into a measuring jug to see how much you've got and add the same quantity of sugar. Return to the pan with the lemon juice and heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to simmer on a low heat for 60-90 minutes until it is a deep red colour.

Line a square ovenproof dish with greased baking parchment and put it in the oven at 125° for about an hour until it has dried out enough to cut into squares.

(Head over to this Simply Recipes page to see a step-by-step tutorial with photos.)

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

This month's Kitchen Trotter box : destination Jordan

Giveaway #423 : Win 1 of 2 In The Club DVDs - closing date 4/10

Drenched in drama and featuring an outstanding cast, renowned writer Kay Mellor,
creator of The Syndicate, Playing the Field and Fat Friends, returns with In The Club, a brand
new series based around a local antenatal class. This six-part drama comes to DVD courtesy
of RLJ Entertainment’s Acorn Label, following its hugely popular run on
BBC One.

I absolutely loved this series, with each and every one of the characters touching my heart in some way, despite having very different circumstances and lifestyles. You can read my review here and find out more about the characters (which will help you answer the Rafflecopter question !)

Watch these ordinary women’s lives unfold in this extraordinary drama out on DVD 22nd

I have two DVDs of In The Club to give away to lucky Madhouse Family Reviews readers
 Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 4/10/14

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 a week, 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 !

Other giveaways you may be interested in :

DVD review : In The Club

*** Don't miss my giveaway to win a copy of the DVD ! ***

Did you manage to catch the fabulous BBC drama In The Club when it was on TV recently? I was gutted to miss the first few episodes because we were on holiday, so I was over the moon when I discovered that it was going straight to DVD. It is about to hit the stores next week, on the 22nd September but you can pre-order it already - unless you want to try your luck in my giveaway, coming right up in my next blogpost ! I devoured the whole thing in two nights when I received my review copy - it's that good !

The series centres around an antenatal class, a situation that brings together a random group of women from all walks of life who are joined together in unlikely friendships due to their shared pregnancies. This is totally realistic and reminded me very much of my own experiences at ante-natal classes !

As soon as I saw the all-star cast and learnt that it was written by renowned writer Kay Mellor, creator of The Syndicate, Playing the Field and Fat Friends, I knew it would be good and I wasn't disappointed.

Each of the six episodes centres on a different mum-to-be and each of them has a dramatic and poignant tale to tell. The main characters are :

- Roanna, played by Hermione Norris (Cold Feet), a 40-something mum-to-be in the midst of a messy divorce and expecting with her 27-year-old toyboy boyfriend.

- Diane Manning, played by Jill Halfpenny (who I loved in Eastenders and Waterloo Road) and husband Rick, (played by the rather tasty Will Mellor, best known for Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps) are awaiting twins, their miracle babies, after being told they wouldn't be able to conceive. The pressure is on for Rick to provide for his family and he makes some bad choices with catastrophic consequences - Alfie Moon isn't the only dad to find himself with his back against the wall !

- Kim, a blogger and teaching assistant played by Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd), is expecting her first baby with partner Susie (Tara Fitzgerald – Waking The Dead) and sperm donor Neil (Jonathan Kerrigan - Heartbeat).

- Young Asian newlywed Jasmin (Taj Atwal – Stella) is desperately hoping her baby will come out the right colour after a stupid and sorely regretted one night stand that she may not be able to deny - she provides a fabulous mix of humour and poignancy.

- Vicky (played by Christine Bottomley – Hope Springs), the antenatal class leader but also heavily pregnant herself, with a doctor dad-to-be who's a total commitment-phobe. Will she get her happy ending?

- Fifteen-year-old Rosie (Hannah Midgley - Emmerdale) is hiding her pregnancy from everyone - her dad, the school and even her baby's mystery father -and she turns to Kim's pregnancy blog for support.

The actresses (and their supporting cast of other halves) all manage to realistically portray the highs and lows of pregnancy and maternity. As the dramatic tales unfold, you can't help but empathise with them, by turns laughing and shedding a tear at their predicaments.

If you haven't seen it yet, buy the DVD or put it on your Christmas list - it's perfect viewing snuggled up on the settee under a blanket this autumn/winter !

star rating : 5/5

Title: In The Club 
Release Date: 22 September 2014
Cat No: AV3207
 RRP: £19.99
Running Time: 360 mins approx on 2 discs

Disclosure ; I received a copy of the DVD in order to write an honest review .

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Kids' DVD review : Milkshake! Stars

Madhouse diaries : ET go ... further away from home !

You may remember back in the summer, I posted about helping a well-travelled geocoin on its way. After picking it up in Dunkirk, France, I dropped it off in Hastings, Sussex and was delighted to see it continued swiftly on its journey, currently taking a little trip to London. Not bad for a coin that started in Washington and travelled across Europe before I found it ! Well, yesterday, I managed to release another travelbug - a friendly little alien that we picked up this summer in Brittany.

This is where we picked it up, at the Pointe de Kerzanton where we had great fun finding huge dead crabs and pretty stones on the beach.

And this is where I dropped it off yesterday. After starting off in Nevada (another American one !), it swiftly found its way across to Switzerland, then Lorraine in France, but it had been bouncing around in Brittany for quite some time, moving from cache to cache, usually a matter of metres or a couple of kilometres apart at most. We brought it back to Dunkirk with us, adding 566km to its journey, helping it to reach its target of orbiting the world ! I can't wait to see where it will end up next - Belgium? England? Lots of geocachers pass through Dunkirk on their way across Europe so it could go anywhere !

For the time being, this is where it's hiding, with a lovely view of the Duchesse Anne three-master ship. What's lovely is that this is a child-oriented cache, so it should be an excited mini geocacher who picks it up next !

As often happens, geocaching made me stumble onto something completely unexpected - I'd forgotten that it was the stunt kite championships at the beach

It was great to see all the huge, funny-shaped ones.

Then it was time for a quick bit of geocaching before the school-run. Someone has gone around Dunkirk town centre hiding TWENTY new caches, which is great news ! The first one ws just next to my work.

Love the camouflage (it was hidden in a tree).

The next one was at the Tour de Leughenaer.

A plaque on the wall explains that this tower is part of the town ramparts, dating back to 1405.

I love the camouflage again, hiding this in a hole in the wall ! We've got a busy weekend ahead of us but I'm hoping to get some more geocaching in this afternoon, with a bit of luck.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Madhouse diaries : A Sunday adventure

Madhouse Diaries : Geocaching Around My Childhood Home

Fab freebies of the week 20/9/14

Ready for another roundup of fab freebies? Hope you find something here to take your fancy ! :) 


Sign up to become a Dementia Friend and get a free pack including The Little Book of Friendship and a Dementia Friend badge

If you or your child suffer from rosacea, psoriasis or eczema, you can apply for a full-sized Dermalex skincare product here

Aveeno are offering samples on their facebook page

Brush Baby are giving away samples of their baby & toddler applemint toothpaste, suitable for 0-3 years of age

Santa Maria (formerly known as Discovery) have 5000 sachets of fajita seasoning available

You only have until 30th September to sign up for a free 5-week trial of Reading Eggs as part of the Great Literacy Challenge

There's a free sample of Purina My Dog Is ... for small dogs here

The lovely Galina from Chez Maximka has pointed out that the Daily Mail are kicking off another week of fab Lego free toys with the paper each day (from 20th-27th September)

Every week, you can find out which show recordings have free tickets available here - there are some great ones : The Graham Norton Show, Room 101, Mock The Week, Celebrity Juice, Alan Carr : Chatty Man ...

You can claim a free maple syrup recipe book here

on twitter : London Bio Packaging ‏@LondonBio Free samples available! Simply let us know which packaging you'd like & receive in the post! Our contact details:

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 #422 : Win 1 of 3 KeraFiber Protect & Revive Hair Serums - closing date 1/10

Giveaway #419 : Win a selection of Mini Nibs snacks - closing date 30/9

Friday, 19 September 2014

Impulse Rock & Love review

Last month, I rediscovered Impulse, one of my favourite products when I was in my teens and 20's, when they sent me through a can of their lovely 90's-inspired Vanilla Kisses body spray to try out, so I was delighted when they sent me their newest fragrance, Rock & Love, to review.

The name and the can design give this one a slightly edgier look - less girly-girly and more rock chick with attitude than the Vanilla Kisses one. It fits in perfectly with the autumnal rock chic trend that comes with the cooler weather, so it's perfect to pair with a beloved biker jacket and skinny jeans !

It's a lovely fragrance but I couldn't quite put my finger on the ingredients - there's definitely fruitiness in there but also something musky. I looked at the write-up and Impulse describe it as an "oriental scent that features a mix of fresh and fruity fragrance notes, including amber and orange blossom, which combine to produce a bright, sparkling scent". It's a real feel-good fragrance, perfect for giving yourself a quick uplifting boost if your mind or body starts to flag in the middle of the afternoon. Who needs energy drinks? A quick squirt of Rock & Love does the job just as well, minus the caffeine !

Rock & Love is the latest scent to join the Impulse collection of high-quality scents, redesigned by internationally renowned fragrance experts including the nose of Dior and Calvin Klein and containing real perfume oils to ensure they last from day to night. Impulse Rock & Love is available exclusively at Superdrug but the entire range of Impulse designer fragrances is available in stores nationwide.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £1.99

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

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Wilkinson Sword Quattro for Women Sparkle review

Kids' app review : Gruffalo - Games

Pierre has always been a fan of The Gruffalo, having discovered the book, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, when he was very small, but his enthusiasm was taken to new heights last year when he did a project at school focusing on The Gruffalo, culminating in a class trip to the cinema to watch it. I was therefore in absolutely no doubt that he'd love the new Gruffalo app.

Even as a grown-up, I was impressed though. It features six different activities, including puzzles, a matching pairs game and some simple classic family games: snap and three-in-a-row (think noughts and crosses).

The really exciting thing about these last two (snap and three-in-a-row) is that you play against The Gruffalo, which is great fun. I might have played a few times by myself at idle moments, if I'm honest !

There is also a game where you have to help Mouse catch nuts but avoid the falling leaves, squirrels and pinecones, which is a great test of reflexes and fine motor skills.

There is also a game with a bug colony where you have to select the right leaves to keep them moving. Pierre's undoubted favourites are the ones where he can pit his wits against the Gruffalo though !

The games are great fun and varied enough to keep kids (and parents !) coming back to play time and time again. I also love the fact that there are no in-app purchases at all. It's fairly expensive for an app (£2.99) but the wide variety of content makes it good value. It targets kids aged 3-7 but older siblings will end up playing too, if The Madhouse is anything to go by !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £2.99

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

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Kids' app review : All Aboard the Ninky Nonk

Kids app review : Dinosaur Roar

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? : menu plan 19/9/14

This week is full of exciting (and hopefully tasty !) new globe-cooking recipes that I'll be trying out,  using my Jordanian-themed Kitchen Trotter box and also some spicy marinades I have to review.


lunch - we've decided to go to McDonald's once a fortnight rather than every week from now on - this week it's a soft play week so I'll have a salmon salad

dinner - we're off to a friend's 40th so it's be disastrous for the diet !


lunch - the Madhouse grandparents are over for the day so just a classic Sunday roast - probably chicken

dinner - bagels with ham and cucumber or tuna and sweetcorn


dinner - chicken tikka masala with rice, pitta bread and salad


dinner - Sfeha - little spicy meat stuffed pizza pies with grilled tomatoes, salad and mash


lunch - Chinese 5 spice pork chops with potato wedges & veggies

dinner - anchovy fougasse with cheese, tomatoes & salad


dinner -  Mansaf - a Jordanian dish of lamb baked in yogurt served with ebly (bulgur)


dinner - big mixed salad with bacon, mushrooms, olives, sweetcorn, or Mexican soup if it's cold (the weather's gone summery again at the moment !)

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

Meal Planning Monday

Want to see what everyone else is eating ? Head over to Meal Planning Monday at Mrs M's blog !

Madhouse recipe : Garlic Lime Salmon

While the Madhouse kids were tucking into Baked Salmon with Laughing Cow sauce, this is what me and Madhouse Daddy had - garlic & lime grilled salmon.

Usually I squeeze lime juice all over the salmon fillets and top them with garlic salt, but this time, I decided to try out a couple of the products that I'd received in a prize package from Santa Maria : Lime Pepper and Pure Garlic, both of which come in a handy grinder for absolute freshness and maximum flavour.

I sprinkled both of these liberally over the salmon fillets before putting them under the grill. The Pure Garlic has the great taste of fresh garlic without the faff or the stinky fingers and the Lime Pepper is a wonderfully zesty, tangy blend that works really well with fish.

I've just discovered that I'll be reviewing some more products from the Santa Maria range very soon which is rather exciting - I can't wait to see what else they have available.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

This month's Kitchen Trotter box : destination Jordan

Ambu Tree Marinades review

Introducing the newest Coke - Coca Cola Life !

Thursday, 18 September 2014

ALDI changing bag review

If you're a yummy mummy with bags of style, you might want to head off to ALDI quick sharp because they've got bags WITH style on a Specialbuy offer as of today. To celebrate the launch of their new Maternity range, they sent us one through to try out. 

I may be out of the baby age range (with no intention of jumping back in, thank you very much !) but it's still a fabulous bag for our numerous trips out, with plenty of room for stashing kiddie snacks and drinks, jumpers or coats when it gets too hot, soft toys that absolutely had to come along for the adventure but that Pierre can't be bothered to carry any more and numerous other bits and bobs that we might need.

It's a well though-out bag with lots of handy compartments, a detachable strap and a changing mat. It's also waterproof, which makes it easy to keep it clean.

The bags, which cost £14.99, hit the stores today, along with various other items from the maternity range, including buggies, car seats, maternity clothes and baby essentials such as nappies and wipes,  and will only be available while stocks last, so get in quick if you don't want to miss out !

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

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Cussons Mum & Me Baby Snuffles #voiceofmums