A Whole Lotta Soreen Going On

We are a house of Soreen lovers. The cupboard is never without a loaf and it has become the staple (alongside fruit) of snacks for the short gap after school and heading out to football classes or swimming lessons; one of those snacks that keep you feeling full and also has a medium GI.

Soreen goodies

Soreen isn’t a new brand of course – I was eating them when I was a little girl. Malt loaf, buttered and eaten just like that as a snack probably before I went swimming or had my ballet lessons. Soreen is in fact over 75 years old – so chances are maybe your parents ate it too.

These days there’s a much bigger variety of Soreen snacks on offer – and we were sent a selection. The Lunchbox Loaves are ideal for packed lunches – while H has school dinners at school, at Holiday Club she’ll often take a packed lunch, so we always make sure she has some Soreen in there. We went to Legoland Windsor on Good Friday, stocking up with the same loaves as they’re just the right size – for parents and kids. There are also Kids Go Free vouchers on several varieties if you were planning a trip – there was even a stand with free samples on our way out!

The Cinnamon and Raisin fruit loaf is my favourite – I’m a sucker for cinnamon, and within our box of goodies is a recipe for a Summer Pudding which of course we will be trying soon….

The Soreen Toastie Loaf is pretty much as described – a loaf, pre-sliced and ‘perfect for toasting’ – I can vouch for this. For me, the chopping of Soreen is something I have problems with – same as bread really, I can never quite get it straight. Having it sliced for me, therefore, is a good thing.

I love the Snack Malt Loaf too – two buttered slices of Soreen packaged in a foil fresh packet, perfect for eating on the go – ours will keep fresh until late May which gives a month of freshness in there, possibly more.

Soreen on the Go!

But I’m saving the very best one till last – Soreen Chocolate is back! “A chocolatey malt loaf with indulgent chocolate chips” – now I may say I’m chocolate-d out at the moment, but this is lovely – a subtle chocolate to the malt loaf and packaged up with a Mega Offer of being only £1 at the moment, so keep an eye out. I swear, every time I touch the package I get a chocolate aroma all around me – it’s divine. Oh, and squidgy of course, as all Soreen products are!

We’ll try some of the recipes and report back – H doesn’t know where to start!

Soreen’s official website is here and you can follow on Facebook and Twitter too

We were sent a selection of Soreen products to try – all opinions are our own

A Waitrose Easter Tea Party

It’s nearly Easter, and where better to stock up on essentials than the Waitrose Easter selection in stores now? We were sent a voucher to try some out, and invite friends over for a tea party, which happened yesterday.

Waitrose Easter

The Waitrose Easter selection is available now and covers many different things. While I do love my chocolate, there are also other things on offer – with not having the time to do craft at the moment, ready-made Happy Easter bunting was one of the first things I spotted. Also, Easter Crackers? Brilliant! That went down well with H and her friends J and M who all had a couple of goes each.

Waitrose Easter Egg Hunt

In addition to this, Waitrose have an Easter Egg hunt kit – different coloured eggs with pop-out signs. Shaun didn’t have enough time through the day to do maps, but had enough time to hide some eggs out in the yard for the kids to find – which kept them occupied for a while, especially as they had to eat them afterwards, and quick before they melted!

Heston ALWAYS has something interesting in the Waitrose Easter range, and this year was no different – Acacia Honey and Ginger Hot Cross buns, a really generous size and delicious toasted or plain – I may have had more than one… yum!

Waitrose Easter
We also bought a selection of regular Waitrose Hot Cross Buns which we’re saving for the weekend for when my sister comes to stay.

There was a good cupcake choice too, so we chose a selection, as well as a variety of Cadbury’s ones – all beautifully arranged on our cupcake stand for the kids to get their hands on!

Waitrose Easter Cakes

The most delicious one for me was the Simnel Cake – we chose a small one from the deli counter which tasted mighty fine, not too heavy or sugary, with the marzipan just right. I had no idea the eleven balls on top are meant to represent the twelve apostles minus Judas, and if you didn’t either you do now! It made a nice centre of the table.

I would have loved to have baked some of these, but time wasn’t on our side. With so little holiday this year and working through the Easter holidays we had to rely on shop-bought options, but with ones as delicious as these and with the options on offer I think we’ve done well!

Waitrose Easter

To keep the kids occupied I bought an Easter mask making kit – had I realised three of the masks are quite girly I might have held back, but us mums had fun putting them together!

Finally, as a going-home treat H and her friends were all given a Waitrose Easter lolly, and a Lindt Chocolate Carrot – which were devoured before they left the house!

Still to eat we have a fabulous Easter Egg from Waitrose, a chocolate and lemon variety which looks fabulous and is £7.00. We skipped on the Heston one (though were tempted, there’s still time) and tried to be sensible (currently reduced to £15!). The words Waitrose Easter and Sensible are difficult though!

If you have time there are some great Easter recipes over here and if you’re looking for activities to do with kids (including some recipes), then try heading over here!

We were sent a voucher to buy the Waitrose food, and loved every minute! Everything is available in-store, prices are current ones and can be subject to change.

Banoffee Pie

To celebrate H turning four and a half we made Banoffee Pie. Ever since it featured on The Great British Bake-Off, Shaun and H have been wanting to make it, but we’ve wanted a nice simple recipe so H could help too.

Banoffee Pie isn’t difficult to make. Here are the ingredients :

One pack of digestive biscuits (250g crushed)
100g butter
Can of Carnation Caramel
300ml Whipping Cream
Three bananas
Chocolate for topping (grated)

Banoffee PIe base

Crush the biscuits – these are going to be the base of the pie. Melt the 100g butter and add to the crushed biscuit base to make a solid base. Grease a 20cm tin with butter, and press the mixture into the tin to form the pie base.

Leave to set in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Banoffee Pie chop banana

After 30 minutes bring the base out of the fridge and add the Carnation Caramel. Chop the banana into slices and place on top of the Caramel.Banoffee PIe place banana

Whip the cream lightly until it forms soft peaks. Add bananas (if you think it’s a good idea – we did). Spoon this onto the top of your pie.

Banoffee Pie cream

Place in the fridge to chill for a bit longer.

Banoffee Pie Cream Top

Grate the chocolate and once your pie is ready to eat, sprinkle on top. This last step can be tricky as for some reason our grater had a weird static reaction with the chocolate so it went flying everywhere!

After that, eat.

This was nice and simple to make, the only cooking involved was melting the butter, so a perfect one for H to do the majority of!

Banoffee Pie

This recipe is based on this one from the Carnation Website and takes approximately 15 minutes (without taking the 30 minutes chilling in between) to make.

First Proper Packed Lunch

H has a week of holiday club this week while Shaun and I work. She also has several exciting trips planned throughout the week, most of which require us to send our children in with a packed lunch.

Packed lunch isn’t something I opted for at school for her – it’s easier for her to have school dinner, it’s easier for me. Working from 8.30 and picking her up some time between 3.20-4.20 every day means by the time you’re home and you’ve gone through her school work, you kind of run out of time.

That and I’m permanently tired. However, now I’ve had to make one (as my girl isn’t going to starve), it’s actually not so bad. As long as I have fresh bread (we baked some last night) and plenty of fruit and snacky bits, we’re fine.

We also have the Munchkin Bento Box which is ideal for packed lunch that we were sent to review late last year.

Packed Lunch

So I kept things simple. H fancied cheese sandwiches, so I made them up and cut them into heart shapes. My bread was a bit of a disaster so I was only able to get three heart sandwiches from two slices, though they fitted perfectly in her lunchbox.

We had a Barny Bear sponge cake which tucks nicely alongside it, leaving enough space for a banana in the main compartment. I’m already feeling proud of this.

The two smaller sealed compartments have chopped pepper and carrot for her to snack on (and probably share with her friends), and some mixed fruit (cherries and cranberries) in the other.

As she didn’t need the spoon and fork with this food I left them out and tucked in a Bear Nibbles Yo Yo under the lid which fits perfectly.

All my preparation took me approximately five minutes. In fact, it was pretty easy really. I have another packed lunch to prepare later this week so I’m going to see how much more I can fit in…

Barny Bear Returns – The Celebrity Biscuit Bear

We tried out Barny Bear snacks back in September, and have now received two new flavours. A lot has changed since last time…

Barny Bear returns

Barny Bear are yummy bear shaped sponge snacks, previously available in milk and chocolate flavours and now also available in strawberry and apple. We were sent a box of the latter two flavours to try. Oh, and Barny has his own adverts over here now – which H insists we all watch. Barny is pretty easy to find these days – many a time I’ve spotted him racked out in the supermarket, never mind those television appearances (during the ad breaks). Let’s just call him a Celebrity Bear…. H certainly thinks he is.

The only trouble is, when you want to head out for a bit of peace and quiet and you take some Barny Bear in your backpack, people seem to want to photograph you.

Barny Bear returns

On Saturday we headed to Westfield Stratford changing trains near St. Paul’s. Someone must have been tipped off, as photographs exist of the backpack where Barny Bear resided. Must’ve been the paparazzi, right? They’ll do anything to find the bear… Good job H can demand no more photos, right?

Barny Bear returns

Today there was a party and as I’m conscious of too much sugar, a Barny Bear is a good pre-going-crazy-at-soft-play kind of snack when you know party food is coming an hour or so later, so I packed one in my bag in case of emergencies… fortunately the only photographer was the family hosting the party, I think our celebrity bear was safe. I’m not so sure about that zebra though, getting a little too close to our Barny Bear for comfort.

Barny Bear party snack

The day finished with a quick race in the back yard. There was only one prize to be had for the winner – a Barny Bear snack of course. Shaun and H were poised; ready, steady, go! and they were off.

Barny Bear love

H won of course! So she claimed her prize. The verdict? “I thought it was nice. I like the apple taste and it isn’t too sugary” says H. I can go for that. There is no further word whether the paparazzi are still seeking Barny Bear, since his mysterious disappearance…. ahem.

This post is an entry for BritMums ‘Winter Little Adventures Challenge’ sponsored by Barny, individually wrapped bear-shaped sponges with a hidden filling. Find out more about Barny here. We were sent a pack of each Barny flavour to participate.

Recipes from an Indian Kitchen

We received Recipes from an Indian Kitchen last year as part of our Parragon Book Buddies programme – and this is a book which has made me excited. With over 100 recipes from across India with photographs to accompany them, this is the kind of book I’ve been waiting for – we love curries in this house!

recipes from an indian kitchen

Recipes from an Indian Kitchen is part of Parragon Books Love Food range. Way back in time someone told me the perfect curry recipe with the correct blend of herbs and spice. I forgot it immediately, but it opened up a new world to me, how to make a good spicy blend without going for the shop-bought option.

Since then I’ve fancied trying it out, but never got around to getting the elusive cookbook, instead using passata and various blends but not getting it right. Which is where Recipes from an Indian Kitchen comes in – while it doesn’t break down each stage, the instructions are easy to follow. We tried Garlic & Chilli Flavoured Potatoes with Cauliflower – which has ten minutes prep time, 30 minutes cook time.

The Tomato Kachumbar salad has been an easy one to make as well – though we substituted peppers for the tomatoes – this has a 10-15 minute prep time.

One we haven’t tried yet but is ‘on the list’ is the South Indian Yoghurt, Pomegranate and Peanut Raita – which looks delicious and again a very simple dish to prepare.

The pictures on each page make you want to try the dishes – though there are a lot of meat and fish ones, they’re easily substituted with vegetarian options.

Recipes from an Indian Kitchen is broken into easy colour coded chapters – with Basic Recipes, Raitas, Chutneys & Pickles, Snacks and Appetizers, onto Main Dishes, Pulses, Rice & Breads and finally Desserts & Drinks. There’s a good large selection – and actually if I’d had a book on Chinese food for the recent new year, which was laid out like this I think we’d have had a great healthy feast.

This is a book I know we’ll use a lot and indeed is something which has dishes H can help with! We love it, and would recommend buying.

We were sent a copy for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own. The final image is an affiliate link.

Souptastically Souper – A Christmas Leftover Vegetable Stew

We’ve had our Morphy Richards Soup Maker for over a year now and use it on a weekly basis. Generally I’ll make soups, but every now and then when we want to see our vegetables I’ll make a stew – today Shaun made a fabulous Christmas Leftover Vegetable Stew.

Christmas Leftover Vegetable Stew

The Christmas Leftover Vegetable Stew is a simple one. There’s no vegetable you can’t use really. For ours we had potatoes, butternut squash, broccoli, carrot, onion, cauliflower and anything else in the fridge which needed to be used. The joy of the Morphy Richards Soup Maker is knowing each vegetable is cooked to the point where it still retains goodness and you still get the flavour. There’s no mush here.

Shaun also cooked some mini conchiglie pasta to go with it to make it a bit more filling.

Instead of the usual bouillon he used the Knorr Vegetable Stock Pot (currently on offer at Ocado, four pots for £1) and water – which gave a lovely light flavour to the stew.

Vegetable-wise he did slightly over the maximum and added water to mid-way between the maximum and minimum – just right for a tasty watery base.

After that the vegetables were cooked on the chunky setting, and 28 minutes later our Christmas Leftover Vegetable stew was ready. Add the pasta, stir it around a bit and voila.

Now the food purists may wonder why I call this a stew. In my world, 28 minutes is a long time. We once had a slow cooker but it was so big we never used it and ended up Freecycling it. This says to me something cooking for 28 minutes in a sealed container fits my definition. You may disagree. That’s okay, it tasted good anyway. Call it a soup if you fancy?

Christmas Leftover Vegetable Stew

Important note – The Morphy Richards Soup Maker is currently £49.99 at Amazon (affiliate link). If you’re thinking about buying one this is a good price. I think I got mine for £40 last year so it can go lower. If you truly need convincing how good it is, I have a few recipes, follow the ‘souptastically souper‘ tag and you’ll find a few. A year on and it’s one of the best things I’ve bought, it’s easy to clean and the soup feels so much healthier than ready-made.

(Didn’t Hurt A) Reindeer Pizza – Kids Party Snacks

It’s our NCT Christmas gathering tomorrow and we always like to take along something different. This year I think we’ve a good one – reindeer pizza.

reindeer pizza Reindeer pizza isn’t difficult to make, in fact, you may have already seen a gingerbread reindeer variation which did the rounds a few weeks ago simply by turning your gingerbread man upside down and decorating it differently.

We like cake but sometimes you need a break – especially as there’s so much sugary stuff on offer right now. Fortunately we love pizza. So we made some reindeer pizza.

reindeer pizza

Our dough was made in the breadmaker and makes five reindeer. Once ready you prep the dough and simply cut the shapes and decorate. We have a large gingerbread man shape from our 101 Cookie Cutters set which are a good size.

Even better, it’s vegetarian, you’ve got some vegetables on there, so while it isn’t the healthiest of snacks it isn’t cake.

For the dough in the breadmaker (made according to the Panasonic SD-256 instructions) you need the following :
1/2 tsp yeast
300g (11oz) strong white flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
170ml water

Add to the breadmaker in that order and put it onto the Pizza Dough setting. 45 minutes later you will have your dough. Knead it and roll it and cut the gingerbread man shapes.

To make your shape look reindeer-like you need to add various vegetables – red pepper for the mouth, a Rudolph-esque cherry tomato for the nose, two olives for the eyes and yellow pepper for the antlers. Use passata for the sauce and mozzarella for the top.

reindeer pizza Bake in the oven at 220°c/425°f/Gas Mark 7 for 15-20 minutes on a tray lined with baking paper.

For pudding the kids are having mince pie ice cream – as made in our ice cream maker. It’s pretty yummy too…

Link up your recipe of the week
(this post contains an affiliate link up there)

Zippers Port Solent – A Review

Zippers Port Solent is a fairly new restaurant just north of Portsmouth. We were invited to try out their menu, and as it happened we were in the area so were more than happy to!

Zippers Port Solent has a lovely clean eating space – tables with plenty of space and views out onto the harbour area. We arrived an hour late due to the big storm the night before, to be greeted by our server Aga who was helpful and recommended dishes to us. Service was quick and food came promptly which is always good. One of the main things I look out for when eating out is how child-friendly the venue is, and crayons and an activity sheet was perfect for H. Even better we could do wordsearches with her which is a new one! I’ve got a Picasa album with more pictures in it.

Zippers Port Solent Starters and Sides

We ordered starters of some olives and garlic bread – not too much and even H had an olive and enjoyed it (result!). Shaun ordered a diet coke and I ordered a cappuccino after a night of very little sleep thanks to the big storm. The cappuccino was just right, a good flavour and strong. The garlic bread was fresh and soft and had a garlic dip with it.

We ordered from the kids set menu for H, so got her blackcurrant juice, some nachos (very slightly salty), some spaghetti with meatballs (messy but filling), finishing off with a scoop of chocolate ice cream which had a good flavour.

Shaun ordered a steak which came with chips – personally I’d have liked to have seen more vegetables, but if you opt for a side salad instead of chips then you get a few – if you really need chips then they’re available as a side order too. He found the steak was just right.

Zippers Port Solent Starters and Sides

We ordered an onion loaf with our mains – a load of onion rings fried together. This was out of curiosity mainly, and it tasted good – though Shaun had most of it! It came with a spicy dip as well, which was good – a nice spiciness to it without being too overwhelming.

I ordered a hot vegetable wrap and a side salad – the hot vegetable wrap had mushrooms which I swapped for more pepper. It was warm and served with a generous helping of chips. I was so hungry I scoffed the lot – there is a salad bar with freshly stocked vegetable dishes to help yourself from. The vegetarian options weren’t clearly marked but two staff members helped me out, as well as recommending the cayenne pepper sauce (which was good, not too intense but peppery). I did for the one trip to the salad bar, and couldn’t work out if the sharing rule applied or not (I shared the cucumber with H and some pepper with Shaun) – if you share you’re charged per person.

Dessert was a Banana Split that we shared, and Shaun also ordered a cappuccino. I picked off all the fruit and ate that (as well as ice cream) which was fresh. I wasn’t as keen on the squirty cream – fresh would have been nicer, the ice cream it came with was fine and was enjoyable.

Zippers Port Solent Desserts

Zippers Port Solent Restaurant is situated within the Port Solent complex, away from the main shops. Park your car in the main car park and head towards the shopping area next to the marina – it’s upstairs there with views of all the boats. The dining area is bright and spacious, and all the staff were helpful and friendly. We had a really filling enjoyable meal which came in at around £65. i saw there were meal deals at lunchtime so there could be savings to be made there. Ultimately we were so full we didn’t have any tea that night – portion sizes are generous and we definitely over ordered on food.

We’d definitely go back!

We were offered complimentary meals for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.

Shloer Celebration – A Review

Shloer is one of our favourite alcohol free drinks, so to be offered a chance to review the new Shloer Celebration was one I jumped at! We just needed something to celebrate…

Shloer Celebration is shaped like a bottle of fizz – just without the alcohol. These days I’m finding I’m drinking a lot less, and Shloer is usually my drink of choice. This is the only fizzy drink H has as well, usually when we have our family movie night as a special occasion.

So, a bottle of Shloer Celebration, what were we going to celebrate? Well we were all set to go on holiday, a proper break for the three of us, our first since May. Wonderful! Except… I forgot to bring it with us. Fool. So we needed another occasion. Fortunately Shaun and I have been more than a little hooked for the last two months on Breaking Bad, so instead we saved it for our biggest tv event of this year – the Breaking Bad finale!

Yes, we are approximately a month or two behind the rest of the world.

Shloer Celebration

So we settled down with the fizz (and a bar of Ooh! Chocolata chocolate), which popped out from the bottle just like a bottle of your finest champagne would. Taste-wise there was plenty of fizz with a nice subtle non-sugary flavour. Just enough for two glasses each as well!

There are two varieties –

Shloer Celebration White Bubbly has a crisp and full bodied flavour, using the very best in white grape juices to create the perfect glass of fizz.

Shloer Celebration Pink Fizz is a fresh and fruity combination with the vibrant flavours of red and white grape juices fused together to create a beautiful sparkling rosé juice drink.

Shloer Celebration

You can’t beat that pop when the cork comes out of the bottle, and Shloer Celebration didn’t disappoint! We’ll definitely be buying it again – when I need a non-hangover bit of fizz on Christmas day, this may well be all that is required.

We were sent a bottle of Shloer Celebration White Bubbly to try, all opinions are our own.