Tuesday, 25 July 2017

July Degustabox - Summer Box

 We are always looking forward to our Degustabox delivery, which arrives every month and is full of foodie surprises. This monthly food and drink subscription box is an excellent way to discover products which have only just appeared in the shops or those which might have been around for while, but you haven't had a chance to try them yet.
Thanks to Degustabox, I have found new favourites to add to our shopping list, including some products which I probably wouldn't have tried otherwise.

Each time the box arrives, it's a total surprise. You get a good selection of foods and drinks.
If you haven't tried Degustabox subscription box yet and would like to have a go, I have a whopping £7 off discount from your first box (and you can unsubscribe any time) - just use a code 8EVI8 when you place an order.
What did we receive in July Degustabox? Let's have a peek.



Rowntree's Randoms 30% less sugar was selected product of the month. My sons love Randoms. I appreciate that they are free from artificial flavours, colours and sweeteners but I am always worried about the sugar content. Kudos to Rowntree's for reducing the sugar in their popular Randoms.


New reduced sugar Randoms are available in small 38g bags and bigger sharing bags.


Ryvita Thins Three Cheese is a new flavour in the varied range. They make a lovely snack for summer.


Topped with three cheeses - Cheddar, Regato and Emmental - they are crispy, thin and tasty.


Top them up with salsa, hummus or your favourite cream cheese for the ultimate snack.


OLOVES Healthy Olive Snacks come in small pouches, but pack a big flavour. They are seasoned with chilli, garlic and oregano. Low in calories, they are lovely to add to any salad or sandwich.

tasty snacks

 Frylight Cooking Spray with Avocado Light is a 1kcal cooking spray. It resists the oxidation that cooking temperatures cause and is great for pan frying, woks and roasting.
I buy Frylight Olive oil to use as a cake release spray in cake tins, and was excited to try the latest addition to the range.


I was less enthusiastic about Weetabix. It's just I bought several promotional boxes recently to enter the codes to win Despicable Me 3 toys. Alas, we won nothing, and I am the only one in the family who eats Weetabix.
Weetabix Additions Coconut & Raisin is a new flavour, with fruit baked into every bite. I haven't tried it yet, as I'm slowly working through the other cereal boxes. Coconut flavour sounds good.


Merchant Gourmet Simply Cooked Red & White Quinoa is ready to use. It has been pre-cooked with a bit of water and olive oil. Add this nutty-flavoured mix to a leaf salad, it will make a good base for a variety of salad ingredients.


Maille is the classic brand, with over 270 years of history. Their range is extensive and varied. The name Maille is a guarantee of a great taste and quality.
Maille Dijon Original is a versatile condiment, you can use it in a variety of meals, from a simple sandwich to Dijon Steak sauce.

best mustard

The Collective Kids Big Tub yoghurt is made with whole milk. You will receive a voucher to choose one of the flavours. We opted for Mango & Peach, both of these flavours work beautifully with dairy.
There are no bits and pips inside, to please any fussy eaters.

yogurts for children

There was another voucher from The Collective, to try one of Pro-Yo high protein yoghurt.
I love all things coconutty, so picked a Coconut with honey and vanilla yoghurt. It has 115kcal per pouch. This yoghurt has a smooth consistency, quite thick, and tastes more of vanilla than coconut (actually I would prefer more of a coconut flavour please).


Moving onto the drinks:
Thor Dry Apple Spritz Mint and Ginger are refreshing crisp sparkling drinks.
Lovely taste of crushed mint compliments apple spritz.
Each drink contains 69 kcal per bottle.


Blossom Hill Spritz is a fresh and fruity twist on wine. This product is included in the alcohol version of Degustabox. Best served chilled, this is a lovely drink for a long summer evening in the garden.


And finally, Crafted, a range of fruit juice drinks, blending unique combinations of fruit to create delicious flavours. There is no added sugar or sweeteners in any of the drinks. Serving provides you with 1 of your 5 a day. Available in four different blends.


Disclosure: We receive Degustabox every month for the purposes of reviewing. All opinions are our own.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Coconut rum cake

baking with alcohol, boozy cakes


Last week I received a bottle of coconut rum in the mail. It was Cheryl from Madhouse Family Reviews who alerted her blog readers, myself included, that there was a call to review Koko Kanu rum on trnd. I think they were giving away 1000 bottles or so, and you had to apply online. I was selected as one of reviewers.

I love baking boozy cakes, and have baked with coconut rum in the past, using Malibu rum.
Koko Kanu Jamaican Coconut Rum is a new rum to me, this is the first time I have heard of it. It is very aromatic and smooth, and just great if you love coconut flavours.

coconut rum


My first attempt to make a boozy rum cake with Koko Kanu turned out to be a complete disaster.
Go on, have a giggle at my beautiful ruin. I used crushed pineapple in the recipe, and the cake got stuck to the bundt cake tin, while the middle section fell out in a big ungainly heap. What a disgrace!



I had no time to bake anything yesterday as we had Eddie's party at Darcy Bears' venue. He had a whale of a time, but I came back home with a headache. Let's just say, it was a wild party of around 20 7-year-olds on summer holidays.
I baked the coconut cake again, this time swapping the crushed pineapple for lime zest and juice and coconut cream. We have already sampled the cake, and it is lovely. Uff, a sigh of relief.

best coconut rum cakes


Coconut rum cake
Ingredients:
zest of 1 lime
200g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
150g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
50g cornflour
a pinch of salt
50ml coconut rum
180g butter, melted
30g coconut cream
juice of 1/2 lime
for frosting:
100g icing sugar
60g coconut cream
1tbsp coconut rum
1/2 Bounty bar, sliced and fresh coconut pieces to decorate

In a big mixing bowl mix the sugar and lime zest. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift in the flour, baking powder and cornflour and mix well. Add a pinch of salt, coconut rum, melted butter and coconut cream, as well as lime juice. Mix together until you get smooth consistency. The batter is a bit on the runny side.



Pour the cake batter inside the spring cake tin, which has been lined with oiled foil.
Place the tin in the oven preheated to 180C. Bake for about 40+ minutes, check if it's ready with a wooden toothpick.
Once cooked, take the cake out and let it cool on the wire rack before adding the frosting.
For the frosting beat the icing sugar, coconut cream and rum together. Spread the frosting over the cake and decorate with a chopped Bounty bar and fresh coconut chunks, sliced thinly.






I have used an Avocado oil cooking spray, which was one of the products in the latest Degustabox. It is part of the Fry Light range. I have tried the Olive oil Frylight before. Both flavours contain only 1kcal per spray. It is good to coat the inside of cake tins evenly.

best cakes


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Ravensburger 3D American Flag Sneaker Puzzle (review + giveaway E: 7 August 2017)

best jigsaw puzzles, teachers' gifts

If you're on the lookout for a quirky and unusual gift for your child's teacher, how about a Ravensburger 3D American Flag Sneaker puzzle for them to keep pens and pencils in one place?!
If the American Flag version is not to your taste, there is a similar Graffiti sneaker puzzle, and I've seen somewhere an Animal Trend sneaker as well.
It would definitely make a different present. There are so many Best Teacher Ever mugs one person could have, and I imagine 30 boxes of chocolate or smellies might also be not that welcome.



We have quite a collection of 3D puzzles from Ravensburger at home, they last well (if you don't knock them down).
The puzzle comes in a sturdy box and includes 108 puzzle pieces, plus the plastic sneaker base and a pencil holder insert.
All the puzzle pieces are numbered in the back and have a mini arrow, which shows where the next piece should be attached. The pieces slot into each other with ease and hold well.


Once the upper part of the sneaker is assembled, attach it to the base and insert the pencil holder inside the sneaker.

best jigsaw puzzles, gifts for teachers

Eddie's colouring pens now found a new home. He loves his colourful pencil holder. It looks bright and cheerful on the shelf with the DVDs, or on the table, when Eddie is colouring his school projects.


Disclosure: We received the puzzle for the purposes of reviewing. All opinions are our own.



Lovely people from Ravensburger have offered a prize for my blog readers.

One lucky winner will receive their own 3D American Flag Sneaker Puzzle.

To be in with a chance of winning, please enter via Rafflecopter form.

T&Cs:
The giveaway is open to the UK residents only.
Once the Rafflecopter picks the winner, I will contact them regarding address details, if they do not reply within 28 day, the prize will be allocated to another person.
Please don't forget to leave a comment, as it is the only mandatory step, I will make sure the winner selected by Rafflecopter has complied with T&Cs.
The prize will be posted by Ravensburger.
Giveaway ends on 7 August 2017 (midnight).

Good luck!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 17 July 2017

Jerte Picota Infused Pimm's

summer drinks, summer cocktails

After a few cooler days we are back to hot and humid again. Sigh. I'm not made for this weather, I'm a Northerner through and through. I could never live in the properly hot countries.
On hot summer days we drink lots of iced tea, both bought and homemade.
Ice cube trays are replenished daily.

Pimm's is the quintessential British summer drink. All the pubs in town have boards with offers of jugs of Pimm's. We don't often indulge in it. The last bottle of Pimm's I bought to use in a recipe, lasted me over 2 years. I added it to berry salads and fruit crumbles a little bit at a time, and still it took ages to shift it.
There are many variations of the Pimm's cocktail: some prefer to add borage instead of mint, some go for a ginger beer rather than lemonade or soda water.
Strawberries are lovely, but you can always swap them for another juicy berry or fruit.
Have you tried Pimm's with cherries?

summer cocktails


Jerte Picota cherry is the perfect addition in a delicious glass of Pimm's.

Jerte Picota Infused Pimm's (recipe courtesy of Dialogue Agency)
Ingredients:
100ml Pimm's No.1
225g Jerte Picota cherries, pitted
200ml soda water or lemonade
2 sprigs fresh mint
2 slices of cucumber
fresh Jerte Picota cherries, to serve
ice, crushed
Method:
1.Place the cherries into a food processor until a smooth puree is produced.
2. Put the cherry puree, cucumber slices, 1 mint sprig and Pimm's in a jar and mix well.
3. Pour in the soda water/lemonade and add crushed ice, then gently stir
4. To serve, pour into glasses and garnish with fresh mint leaves and Jerte Picota cherries.
Enjoy this refreshing and tasty drink in time for summer!

Spanish cherries


About Jerte Picota P.D.O.
The Jerte Picota is not only unique because of its PDO status, but also because it's harvested without its stalk. Its shape, too, is unique, with the slight peak at the base prompting the name Picota or peaked.

I managed to find Picota cherries in Sainsbury's (currently at £1 per punnet). I know that the Co-Op used to sell them as well, but I couldn't find them there this year.



They are only available for six weeks per year, but their taste is worth the wait.
For more information, visit Picota.

If you cannot find Picota, or when the season is over, you can always swap them for British cherries.

I fancied trying the recipe, but didn't want to buy the whole bottle, so used a pre-mixed tin of Pimm's with lemonade, as you can see from the photos.

summer drinks

Of course, if you are entertaining, it makes sense to buy a big bottle and mix your own cocktails.

This is a lovely summer cocktail, with beautiful flavours all along.

Are you a fan of Pimm's?

summer drinks

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Banana yogurt cupcakes with chocolate chunks

easy cupcakes, what to do with overripe bananas

Honestly, sometimes I'm exasperated with my family's eating habits. My boys, all three of them, are fussy eaters. Both kids refused to even try the boiled fruit cake I baked the other day.
I knew that Sash would not eat bakes with visible fruit inside, though he would eat a carrot cake with sultanas. Eddie is another fusspot. Thankfully, I had a couple of friends over yesterday, and they enjoyed my cake with a cup of coffee.
Sasha was looking quite forlong, venturing in the kitchen and opening the cake tins, hoping that something would materialise to his taste. I couldn't have my boy feeling sad, so decided to bake a batch of cupcakes to cheer him up.

I had a rummage around the kitchen, what did I have at hand? One over-ripe banana, remains of ground almonds, sugar, flour, a sample bag of oats, yogurt, margarine and chocolate chunks. Perfect.


I'm not sure if technically what I cooked are called cupcakes. They are more of sweet muffins, as there is nothing on the top, but then for me personally the line between the two is blurred.

Banana yogurt cupcakes with chocolate chunks (makes 9)
Ingredients:
1 banana, very ripe
100g caster sugar
100g margarine
2 medium eggs
25g ground almonds
40g porridge oats
120g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
100g plain yogurt (Greek style)
50g chocolate chunks

In a medium sized mixing bowl mas up a banana with a fork. Add the sugar and margarine and cream them together. Beat in the eggs. Add the almonds and oats, sift in the flour and baking powder, add the yogurt and mix well. Finally add the chocolate chunks and mix again.
Spoon the cake batter into 9 paper muffin cases inserted into a muffin tray.
Place the tray in the oven preheated to 180C. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Check if they are ready with a wooden toothpick, if it comes clean, the cupcakes are ready.
Cool them on a wire rack. Eat warm or cold.

what to do with overripe bananas


Sasha could hardly wait, and started "working" on the cupcakes, while they were still pretty hot.

what to do with over-ripe bananas


I had a little bite, and these cupcakes are lovely, fluffy and flavourful.

what to do with overripe bananas

As I used some of the ends of packets in this recipe, adding this post to #KitchenClearout linky run by Cheryl from Madhouse Family Reviews.


And as there are chocolate chunks used in this recipe, I'm joining in #WeShouldCocoa linky run by Choclette at Tin and Thyme.


Friday, 14 July 2017

Berry yogurt swirl: summer with EasiYo

easy summer dessert, EasiYo yogurt


Summer food for me equals quick easy meals, simple (or none at all) cooking. Who wants to spend hours by the hot oven? I tend to offer lighter meals to my family, we eat lots of salads and fruit, or even have picnic-style dinners in the garden. We don't necessarily sit on a rug, but we love the idea of finger foods, dips and crudites. We also eat more yogurt in summer.
I do buy yogurt, especially the non-dairy variety, like coconut yogurts, and I enjoy playing with my EasiYo yogurt maker. Greek Style yogurt is one of my top favourites. It is such a versatile yogurt, great for all kinds of recipes, from simple dips with herbs to cakes, from salads to easy berry desserts.

Berry yogurt swirl could be made with any berries like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, red currants or fruit like fresh figs. It's not exactly a recipe, more of an idea of a quick and easy summer dessert which can be made in minutes, with yogurt either bought or homemade.

Berry yogurt swirls (per serving)
Ingredients:
2 big strawberries, blitzed
about 4-5 heaped tbsp of Greek style yogurt
a handful of red currants
mint leaves
1tbsp pistachio nuts, chopped

Blitz strawberries with a hand blender or in a smoothie maker. Assemble your dessert: strawberry sauce first, then yogurt, and repeat. Add fresh red currants, mint leaves and chopped pistachios on top.

easy summer dessert


EasiYo is an iconic brand which has been around for 20 years, and recently a new redesigned pink EasiYo yogurt maker has been launched.
The new variety incorporates a host of technical, ergonomic and thermal improvements such as an easy grip to twist and open, new sleek shape and size, non-slip feet for added stability, New Zealand wool insulation and an easier to clean jar.

The entire EasiYo Yogurt Maker and jars are manufactured from US & UK FDA approved polypropylene grade PP130RE1. All parts are BPA-free, which is reassuring to know.

It is easy to clean. I've had it for several months, and have used quite a lot.


It is incredibly easy to operate. You just fill in the smaller container with water half-way, add the sachet of powdered yogurt mix, put the lid on and shake well. Then top up with more water and shake again. Place the yogurt tub inside the yogurt maker and pour boiling water to the top of the spacer. Cover tightly with the lid and leave it to "cook" for 8-12 hours or overnight. Chill before serving.

It makes 1kg of delicious yogurt, with no artificial ingredients.

making yogurt at home

There is a good choice of different flavours.

homemade yogurt

We love all berry and fruit flavours, but the Greek Style is probably the most versatile.
I add it to soups instead of the soured cream.


And it takes just minutes to assemble the easiest summer dessert of yogurt, berries and nuts or granola.

EasiYo yogurt

If you like the sound of EasiYo, at the moment there is a good offer at Lakeland - you can buy an EasiYo 1kg Yogurt Maker and two sachets starter kit at £9.99. I don't know when the offer expires but if you always fancied trying it, now it's a good time.

Disclosure: I received a pink EasiYo yogurt maker back in spring for the purposes of testing and reviewing. All opinions are my own.