Bank Holiday Food with Prezzo La Famiglia

Prezzo Banstead
It was a rainy Bank Holiday Monday, and the sort of day you don’t want to venture too far outdoors. Thanks to BritMums we had a voucher to try out the new La Famiglia offering at Prezzo. We headed to the Banstead branch to give it a go.

La Famiglia is a giant bowl of pasta which you share. Imagine it, a bowl in the middle of the table and some quality family time. There are four different varieties to choose from, with alternatives available. We drove to Prezzo in Banstead to give it a try – after all, who wants to cook on a Bank Holiday Monday?

We settled at our table – it was light and airy and a nice place to sit. Lots of natural light thanks to the roof. Prezzo was full but not too busy and our server came over a lot to check everything was okay. H had a kids menu which had plenty of activities to keep her amused.

Prezzo La Famiglia meal

The La Famiglia meal involves sharing a large bowl of pasta. The choices are Penne Arrabiata, Spaghetti Bolognese, Spaghetti Carbonara or Penne Alla Rusticana. I’m vegetarian, so the Penne Arrabiata was our choice. H and Shaun cursed me for not eating meat anyway as all the options looked pretty good.

garlic bread for starters

We ordered starters, two garlic breads. They were quite small – though with two it meant we had two slices each. They tasted good and quickly disappeared. In future we’ll go for the Large Garlic Pizza bread as that looked bigger and didn’t cost that much more.

For drinks we ordered two Diet Cokes and a bottle of Fanta and had water after that.

We spent about two hours in Prezzo. We had a long wait between courses which was fine as we were in no hurry, so it was nice to talk to each other while waiting. H enjoyed doing all the puzzles on both sides of her kids menu too.

When the La Famiglia meal arrived it was hu-ge!

la famiglia pasta

Unfortunately the Penne Arrabiata was too spicy for H. Our server brought some cream to mix in and cool it down. Unfortunately it was still too spicy so H was given a fresh batch of pasta with some sweet tomato sauce. That went well and she devoured it in minutes! They were quick at bringing it over which we were grateful for. It can be ordered with a different sauce – indeed, the dishes can be customised for various dietary needs.

h and spicy pasta

The La Famiglia bowl of pasta has enough for four people. We had waited over half an hour after the garlic bread starter, so were pretty hungry. We also ordered a side salad to go with it as the pasta sauce didn’t contain any vegetables. The cucumber was handy when H got grumpy about the spiciness!

I found the pasta to be a good amount, and because we had waited so long it went quickly as we were hungry.

La Famiglia Pasta and salad

We waited for another half an hour and our server took our dessert order – two scoops of ice cream. I went for two scoops of chocolate and sea salt gelato. Shaun had one of blood orange sorbet and a chocolate and sea salt gelato, and H had two of chocolate ice cream. Ice Cream is always a winner, and this was no different – we scoffed the lot.

ice cream and gelato

Even though we spent a long time in Prezzo (two hours and ten minutes), it was a pleasant place to be. There was enough space between us and the people around us, so we didn’t feel cramped. H enjoyed sharing the pasta with us and did do so well, she really tried to eat the pasta. We enjoyed sitting around the table with the food in the middle rather than our own individual dishes. I enjoyed serving the food as we don’t get to do that at home.

La Famiglia menu pasta dishing out

This post is an entry for the BritMums #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo. We were provided with a voucher which entitled us to drinks, a garlic bread starter, the La Famiglia pasta dish plus ice cream. We paid for the extras ourselves.

Thank Goodness for Dolmio

We’re a busy family. Shaun and I work through the day, H is at school of course and most evenings we have activities. It can get hectic. BritMums and Dolmio sent ingredients to make a midweek meal. So how did it go?

Dolmio is a name which needs no introductions in this house. We tend to use Passata in meals. I felt that Dolmio didn’t offer as much flavour wise, what with the one type of sauce.

How wrong could we be? Dolmio have LOADS of different types of sauce these days. We received some Bolognese sauce and fresh vegetables to make some tasty food.

Dolmio cooking

We received the Dolmio Bolognese sauce, so our first stop was a nice, tasty spaghetti bolognese of course. H turns her nose up at certain vegetables, so I was quite pleased we could get some onions into the sauce at the same time and she scoffed the lot. Now she’s seven, if she’s hungry she eats without thinking. If she knows what’s in there she’ll pick at the food instead.

I quite liked that the Dolmio sauce was quite sweet. Shaun wasn’t as keen so we popped a bit of soy sauce in for him – but that also helped H eat without any bother.

Dolmio chilli baked potato

The following night we went for some chilli with baked potatoes, a nice easy one. After all, baked potatoes are easy to make, you need time.

Other dishes we tried included a mix of vegetables with cous cous. That worked well with the Bolognese sauce and the sweetness. Yum!

I like that once the jar is open you can keep it in the fridge for a few days.

So I was in the supermarket the other day, and it appears Dolmio do at least six different types of sauce these days. They’re not ‘bolognese sauce with extra garlic’ type affairs. With one jar lasting for two meals for us, and needing to make food quickly it’s an ideal solution.

Dolmio spaghetti bolognese

Dolmio Bolognese Original 500g sauce is 100% natural. Each jar contains at least 10 juicy diced tomatoes. As well as this there’s a dollop of tomato puree, half an onion, a tablespoon of sunflower oil, a couple of cloves of garlic, a handful of herbs and more.

A jar provides a family of four with one of their 5-a-day each and that’s before you add any further veg to the meal! For more information visit www.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness or if you’re looking for mid-week meal inspiration check out the label on the jars.

This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio. Thank you!

ChewyMoon Snack Boxes – Our Review

ChewyMoon Snack Boxes have just launched and we received one to try out. H can be fussy with food and I’ve stuck with the same snacks after school, so I liked the idea of a bit of variety. Even better if someone else does the hard work for me!

ChewyMoon box

ChewyMoon Snack Boxes are mail order letterbox sized child-friendly snacks. Seeing as I have a child who loves getting things in the post, it felt like a good match.

I used to be a Graze Box subscriber and wrote about it here. I used to love getting snacks in the post as I’m a creature of habit. This is still the case, but also means H has the same lack of variety in her snacks.

ChewyMoon snack box

ChewyMoon Snack Boxes are like child friendly Graze boxes. You get five small boxes with a snacks inside. Here’s what they say : We at ChewyMoon aim to provide parents like yourself with healthy snack alternatives for children. ChewyMoon offers the UK’s first nutritionally balanced subscription snack box for children between the ages of 4 and 10. Our snacks are made from natural ingredients, with no refined sugar or nasties. We provide five snacks in a box, together with a ‘fun pack’ comprising comics, fact cards and totem toys, making our box just as much fun as it’s healthy.

Our ChewyMoon Snack Box arrived and H claimed everything straight away. The cards are fun – we already have a gazillion YoYo cards from Bear Snacks. This means we now have another set of cards to collect. If you get 25 you will win a ChewyMoon toy – there’s more information in the FAQ section.

ChewyMoon box open

We took snacks out and about with us, and saved for after school. She definitely prefers dried fruit over nuts. We’ve now signed her up to receive a box each week – and you have an option not to include nuts.

Within the ChewyMoon interface you can rate the snacks. If there’s something you know your child won’t like you can mark it up that way. Of course if there’s something they do like you can rate that too.

ChewyMoon rate snacks

Each box costs £4.99 – and that includes postage. It’s pretty good value and I like that she can choose which snacks to go for. I like that they’re easy to take with you on a day out or keep in the cupboard for after school. Everything is recyclable.

You can try a ChewyMoon trial box at a cheaper price, or just go for the regular box which can be cancelled at any time.

We were sent a ChewyMoon box to try, all opinions are our own.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Bright Horizons

Now that the nights are getting darker and colder (and wetter) we’re having more time indoors as a family. Now H is seven she’s doing more around the house which is great – including cooking. After a bit of deliberation we decided to make a Butternut Squash Risotto from the Bright Horizons Cookbook.

butternut squash risotto recipe

Butternut squash risotto is pretty straightforward to make too.

Ingredients :
300g Butternut squash
20ml Vegetable oil
200g White onion
2 Garlic cloves
400g Risotto rice
1l water
400g Haricot beans
100g Fresh spinach
10g Fresh parsley

Instructions :
Set the oven to 200c/400f/Gas mark 6

h ready to make butternut squash risotto

Peel, deseed and dice the butternut squash. Coat it in half of the vegetable oil and lay onto a baking tray. Roast for approx 30 minutes until the pieces are soft.

add garlic to butternut squash risotto

Chop up the onion and crush the garlic. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic, sautéing until soft.

Add the risotto rice and mix well so it is coated in the oil. Pour in a third of the water (we added a stock cube to it) and bring the mixture to simmer. Cook until the liquid has absorbed.

add beans to butternut squash risotto

Keep adding water, a little at a time. Add the beans too (one tin should be the right amount). Keep cooking until the water is absorbed. Keep adding water until it has all been absorbed and the rice is cooked.

chop parsley for butternut squash risotto

Chop up the parsley. Stir in the roasted butternut squash, and add spinach and half of the parsley. Mix until the spinach has wilted.

add butternut squash to butternut squash risotto

Sprinkle the remaining parsley on top before serving.

We also added some Knorr Aromat All Purpose Seasoning right at the end.

butternut squash risotto

This recipe is taken from the Bright Horizons Family Cookbook, which has several family recipes which are suitable for younger ones to join in with too. H enjoyed taking charge, with Shaun making sure she didn’t do anything daft. (at one point she said “Mummy! Touch this pan to check how hot it is” – sigh)

The Butternut Squash risotto was excellent too – nice and filling and a great winter warmer. H was happy as she did loads to make it and I was happy as I didn’t have to make it!

We were sent a copy of the Family Cookbook from Bright Horizons, and a Doodle Apron for H to wear. You can find more family recipes from Bright Horizons here. These recipes have been used by a nursery who provide day care in Fulham.

Souptastically Souper Sweet Summer Soup

It’s been a while, but here we are, the middle of summer and yes, we’re still eating soup – and I’ve been experimenting over the last few months with a combination that I think works a treat – a Souper Sweet Summer Soup.

Souper Sweet Summer Soup served

My Souper Sweet Summer Soup is made with my Morphy Richards Soup Maker, pretty much on a weekly basis. We’re on our second maker now as the motor went on the first (we were offered a discount on a replacement one, but got a good deal via Argos in the end).

Every Wednesday H has swimming, and while her lesson is at 4.30, by the time we’re home it’s getting on for 5pm, and I really don’t fancy cooking. I like sweet soup, as does my little madam. Shaun isn’t so keen. So the good thing is this one tastes good but also works with some salty seasoning if you prefer savoury.

Also – it’s really easy.

Souper Sweet Summer Soup

For the Souper Sweet Summer Soup you need…
one butternut squash.
A handful of sweetcorn. I use frozen sweetcorn, but you can also use canned. I’ve used an entire can and can highly recommend!
One apple – the sweeter the better really.

Chop it all into cubes and add water to the lowest line inside the soup maker, and that’s that. I don’t even add any bouillon to it. Sweet soup isn’t to everyone’s taste, so if that’s you, just add salty seasoning when serving. Shaun says the Nando’s Peri-Peri salt works pretty well – and gives it a bit of a kick.

Serve with some freshly toasted naan (I use Weight Watchers ones) or pitta breads, and that’s pretty much it. Incredibly easy and really tasty. I’ve tried with two apples which makes it just a fraction too sweet, and I’m going to try with cauliflower very soon (maybe next week) as I think this combination could work!

H ate the lot too. So for that reason alone I can’t complain. I’ve been browsing at Amazon and can see Morphy Richards have a new soup maker out – this time you can pause it! That’s the one disadvantage you have with the maker I’ve got – so that’s on my to-get list for future reference. You can find it on Amazon over here (affiliate link)

Aldi Spring and Summer Cocktails

It’s getting warmer outside, which means one thing in this house – it’s almost that time of year when you can sit outside and drink! When you’re sent a bottle of whisky and prosecco to try out some delicious Aldi Spring and Summer Cocktails, well, it had to be done.

Aldi spring and summer cocktails don’t need many ingredients, indeed, you might even have some growing in your back garden.  I have to admit that usually I’m a wine kind of girl, and haven’t had cocktails in a long time – mainly because I thought they were a lot of trouble to make (how wrong could I be?). I know we’ll be trying these out as the evenings get warmer and we can sit outside again!

Ingredients for Aldi Spring and Summer Cocktail Grilled Peach Julep

Grilled Peach Julep

Ingredients
50 ml Highland Black 8 Year Old Whisky
6-8 mint leaves
15ml honey
1 peach
10ml fresh lemon juice

1) Add the mint to the cocktail shaker (we don’t have a cocktail shaker, so just used a blender container) and cover with the Highland Black 8 Year Old Whisky. Lightly muddle using a wooden spoon.
2) Add the honey to the cocktail shaker and stir until dissolved.
3) To make peach puree cut one peach in half and de-stone. Lightly grill the two halves until they begin to caramelise. Add to a blender until smooth and place in the fridge to chill.
4) Add 25ml of peach puree and all the remaining ingredients and stir to ensure all the flavours are combined.
5) Pour into an ice-filled tall glass and serve with a large mint sprig.

Aldi Spring and Summer Cocktail Grilled Peach Julep

The Grilled Peach Julep is a great drink to have after a Sunday roast lamb. The caramelised homemade peach puree adds another depth of flavour to the smoky Whisky notes. The mint cuts through with a crisp and light refreshing finish. Personally, I loved it – it softened the whisky and I’d never think of mixing it with peach – but it worked a treat!

Ingredients for Aldi Spring and Summer Cocktails Prosecco Thyme

Prosecco Thyme

Ingredients
1 bottle Prosecco
2 large ripe plums
½ cup of white sugar
½ cup hot water
4 springs of fresh thyme
25ml fresh lemon juice

1) Cut the plums into quarters and discard the stones
2) Muddle the plums in a cocktail shaker (again, we used a blender container)
3) To make thyme syrup add dissolve the white sugar in the hot water. Once dissolved add the thyme sprigs. Allow the mix to cool, and then strain before storing in the fridge until needed
4) Add 25ml of thyme syrup and ice to the cocktail shaker
5) Add the remaining lemon juice and shake hard
6) Strain into a rocks glass filled with cubed ice and top with Prosecco. Cut a fresh plum into wedges and place this into the glass. Strip a few leaves of fresh thyme and scatter over the drink.

Aldi Spring and Summer Cocktails Prosecco Thyme

Prosecco Thyme is the perfect cocktail for a celebration, whether you’re toasting the Queen’s 90th birthday or just celebrating the first signs of spring. The cocktail is full of fresh seasonal flavours and zing. We could taste the thyme, but preferred to have it just with the thyme syrup and the plums, leaving out the lemon juice. It was delicious anyway – and definitely worth trying out!

We enjoyed both Aldi Spring and Summer Cocktails over two nights on the Easter Bank Holiday. They’re both delicious, and definitely something we’ll be trying again – once I’ve bought a Cocktail Shaker!

We were sent a bottle of each to make these Aldi Spring and Summer Cocktails – all opinions are my own. Aldi’s website is over here. (please open one near us soon!)

Chocologic Chocolate

“Would you like to try chocolate with no calories” said the email. HELL YES! I replied, possibly a bit more politely, and a week or two later a package arrived for me from Chocologic.

chocologic bars

Chocologic are launching in the UK at the end of November 2015. I was sent three varieties of the chocolate to try – Milk Chocolate with Hazelnut, Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate.

I was interested as my history of having diabetes (when I was pregnant) means I’m at risk of it developing in later life – so I do need to look out for signs. But how diabetes-friendly is Chocologic?

Chocologic Milk Chocolate

Chocologic say their chocolate has “no influence on the glycemic level” – this is marvellous news!!

In addition, there are those times of the month when you need to eat chocolate. Would Chocologic help in those times of need?

It definitely helped. A lot. Include that it has been stressful at work and I haven’t wanted to share my bars and I’ve eaten a couple of chunks and made them last (rather than scoffing the lot), and it gets a thumbs up from me.

One interesting side affect for me, every time I had some Chocologic chocolate, I got the hiccups. Very funny!

Chocologic Milk Choc and Hazelnut

So, why is Chocologic so fantastic? Because it is sweetened with Stevia, a natural plant-based sweetener. It can be up to 300 times sweeter than ordinary sugar. Also, Stevia doesn’t contain calories. At Blogfest this weekend just gone I was given a Stevia plant, so I’m going to be doing a bit more exploring with it soon…

But the main question, how does it taste?

I was sent all three varieties – and of the three, I finished the Milk Chocolate with Hazelnut first which isn’t like me as that would usually be the one I’d leave till last. The Milk Chocolate variety was the next to go, and I have a few chunks left of the Dark Chocolate version in my drawers at work. The two milk chocolate varieties were as good as a regular milk chocolate – say Cadbury’s when they made creamier chocolate. I would definitely buy these again. The Dark Chocolate is one I would buy Shaun – with his dairy allergies, and how quickly he’ll scoff a bar of chocolate, having a low calorie low sugar alternative is a good thing, especially with the chances of him developing diabetes too.

Chocologic Dark Chocolate

The best thing about the bars is how affordable they are – they retail in Tesco for £1.29 for the Milk Chocolate version and £1.49 for the other two. That’s my kind of price, and my kind of product! Keep an eye out for some promotions coming soon too!

Chocologic looks like it’s available from all good supermarkets – I’m definitely going to be buying some more. We were sent the three bars for the purpose of review – all opinions are my own. You can follow Chocologic on Twitter here

Aldi Winter Warmers

It is no secret I enjoy drinking a good wine. When Aldi got in touch asking if I’d like to try a bottle from their winter warmers range, I immediately agreed, after all, it’s wine and if I like it I’ll be going back to buy more. So what was the verdict?

Aldi Winter Warmers

Aldi’s new winter warmers range has a fine selection of wine and spirits. I was sent a bottle of white and red to try – and with both coming in at very reasonable prices, I wanted to see how they compared to wines we might buy closer to home around the same price.

I was sent the Vignobles Roussellet Pinot Noir (price £4.39) which is described as a delightful, elegant red with soft smooth flavours of rich red fruits and lush berries. With pinot noir grapes from across france, this wine is perfect with roast lamb.

Now, being a vegetarian I’m not about to try it with lamb, however, I can say this is easily one of the best red wines I’ve drunk in a long time. So much so, that when I went back to buy more I made sure I stocked up on this one for Christmas – it’s divine. You know how sometimes red wine has a certain taste, a heavier one? This feels light and fruity, without being too sweet. I loved it!

I was also sent The Exquisite Collection Gavi (price £5.49) which is produced from the cortese grapes grown around the town of Gavi in the Piemonte wine region. The Exquisite Collection Gavi is refreshing and has aromatic tangy lemon, weighty fruit and a subtle waxy nuttiness. This Italian white wine works well with antipasti, creamy pasta sauces or risotto. It’s a good wine too!

Both wines are available in-store at Aldi now in their Winter Warmers range – although if you’re anywhere near the Coulsdon branch then if there’s a shortage of these two wines, I’m sorry, I got there first…

We were sent the wines for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own!

belVita Soft Bakes

If you happen to work with me, you may think I’ve taken out shares in belVita, as I’m always well stocked up on their breakfast biscuits. The latest addition to their range is the belVita Soft Bakes – I was sent a box of each to try.

belVita Soft Bakes varieties

belVita Soft Bakes are now available in this country, in three varieties; chocolate, red berries and golden grain. So what’s different about these?

My breakfast involves a portion of pineapple and an apple, and I almost always follow this with a pack of belVita Honey and Nuts biscuits – the regular ones where you get four small biscuits – these keep me full until it’s time for my mid-morning snack.

I was given the chance to try the belVita Soft Bakes, and was immediately surprised at how it was just the one biscuit. Having said that, it kept me just as full as the regular smaller biscuits, so I was curious how they compared dietary-wise.

One belVita Soft Bakes biscuit comes in per 100g as much less than the thinner biscuits – 380 calories vs 455.  I found that I only needed one biscuit to stay full until lunch, which is good – I tend to snack easily, especially if I have something to hand. I need to stay full so I don’t want to reach into my work drawers.

belVita Soft Bakes Red Berries

Flavour-wise I liked the Red Berries the best – really soft and squishy with cranberries. The Golden Grain biscuits were plain, but still good. There is also a chocolate chips variety which I wasn’t sent which I’ll be looking out for in the shops! With each pack of biscuits in individually wrapped portions, so I’m not tempted to have more than one each day.

belVita Soft Bakes are made with five wholegrains and are rich in cereals. They offer a great source of fibre, containing vitamins B6, magnesium and iron. I like them as they have slow release carbohydrates which help keep me full.

belVita Soft Bakes have been touring around the UK – Shaun picked up some free samples at Victoria Station, and I’m holding out hope for a visit at Clapham Junction too!

belVita Soft Bakes portions

belVita Breakfast Soft Bakes Red Berries and Golden Grain are available in Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons & Tesco at the recommended retail price is £2.79. belVita Breakfast Soft Bakes Choc Chip are available exclusively at Tesco until January 2016.

I was sent the belVita Soft Bakes for the purpose of review – all opinions are my own.

Nothing But, lots of low calorie snacks!

Nothing But are a new range of snacks, with freeze-dried fruit and vegetables. We were sent a selection to try.

Nothing But are a new range of snacks to me but sound ideal (and very low calorie). Being someone who often sits at my desk wanting to eat (rather than needing to eat), reviewing these sounded a good plan. So I enthusiastically accepted their very kind offer!

nothing but snacks

A day later my samples arrived – packets of Pea & Sweetcorn, Mange Tout & Red Pepper, Strawberry and Banana and Apple & Fig. They didn’t have stock of the Pineapple & Grape but I’m on the lookout for a packet.

So what exactly are Nothing But snacks? They’re freeze-dried fruits and vegetables with nothing added, just the water taken away. They’re very low-calorie – and they’re healthy – counting towards your five a day (at just one portion). They’re small enough to fit in your bag, but the biggie for me, how do they taste?

I’m a vegetable kind of girl, so started with Mange Tout & Red Pepper (26 calories per pack). They’re interesting – the mange tout had a strange texture having been freeze-dried, of the two I definitely preferred the red pepper. They were kind of crunchy, without leaving crumbs – tasty too!

Nothing But Mange Tout and Red Pepper

Apple & Fig (45 calories per pack) were my second choice – as I do like a lot of dried fruit, so would freeze-dried work too? Actually, these were delicious! I wanted more in the pack, and was scrabbling for crumbs when they finished – really tasty and the two flavours work well together. I have bought freeze-dried apple in the past, and this was exactly as you’d expect – there isn’t much that changes!

Nothing But Apple and Fig

Strawberry & Banana (34 calories per pack) were next. I’ll often buy dried banana in snacks, and have tried dried strawberries too, so I thought I knew what to expect, but again, delicious! The freeze drying made the fruit feel a little more crumbly – definitely one I’d buy again, and possibly even as an alternative to dried bananas.

Nothing But banana and strawberry

Finally, I saved what I thought would be the best until last; Pea & Sweetcorn (76 calories per pack). It did not disappoint. Dried peas and dried sweetcorn – and of the four varieties I tried, you get the most in these packs. OH they were good. The sweetcorn wasn’t too dry either, as I wasn’t sure whether they might end up that way – so was pleased with that. The peas were as you’d expect, and having peas and sweetcorn together is the kind of thing you’d never go wrong with.

Nothing But Pea and Sweetcorn

So my overall view? I would definitely buy these Nothing But snacks again. Pea & Sweetcorn for the quantity you get, and Strawberry & Banana as a healthier alternative to what’s on offer in other places.

With my current trying-to-be-healthy regime, the Nothing But snacks fit in perfectly – with each bag being low-calorie.

Their website is over here. You can find the snacks for sale at Holland & Barrett, and their website has more information – http://www.nothingbutsnack.com/ – as well as a handy snack finder to see if you have a local stockist.

I was sent a selection of the Nothing But snacks for the purpose of review, all opinions are my own.