Dolmio 3 Ways – Family Meals to Enjoy

Recently I was inspired by Britmums to make tasty family meals that included a jar of Dolmio.  From Spaghetti Bolognese to Mushroom & Spinach Cannelloni and a Vegetable Moussaka we’ve been enjoying delicious vegetarian dishes that are simple to put together and provide really hearty family meals packed full of healthy vegetables along with Dolmio.

With a delightful array of ingredients sent to us, I was excited to get cooking.  Being vegetarian I used soya mince in the bolognese which the kids enjoy (even though they are meat eaters) and the other dishes were purely vegetable based. I was surprised to learn that each jar of Dolmio provides a family of four each with 1 of their 5 a day.

Dolmio Bolognese Original 500g sauce is 100% natural. In each jar, you’ll find at least 10 juicy diced tomatoes, a dollop of tomato puree, half an onion, a tablespoon of sunflower oil, a couple of cloves of garlic, a handful of herbs including basil, a teaspoon of cornflour, a teaspoon of salt, a pinch of pepper, two teaspoons of added beet sugar for taste, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of water and nothing more.


Spaghetti Bolognese

We had to start with a traditional style bolognese – one of the kids favourite meals and one that the family all really enjoying sitting down to on a weekday evening.

Not being one to measure my quick dinner ingredients, I used approximately:

  • 2 diced onions
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1 diced courgette
  • half a diced red pepper
  • 1 jar of Dolmio
  • appropriate quantity for 4 of wholemeal spaghetti
  • sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese

Mushroom & Spinach Cannelloni

Now when I saw cannelloni tubes in my shopping delivery, I did think what on earth am I going to do with those?  As much as I love an M&S spinach and ricotta cannelloni for a lazy meal, I’ve never braved cannelloni tubes myself.  So looking at the ingredients I had and knowing the husband is rather fond of mushrooms I decided to concoct a rather simple vegetarian cannelloni with the added help of some Dolmio.

  • Mushrooms
  • Frozen Spinach
  • Half a jar of Dolmio
  • Cannelloni tubes
  • Bechamel sauce (made with Cheddar cheese, milk, flour)
  • Parmesan cheese

I lightly fried some mushrooms along with some of the frozen spinach balls.

And then came the tricky part….  stuffing it into the cannelloni!  Clearly I hadn’t thought this through and as I pushed the hot mixture into the tubes they started going slightly soft.. arghh!  But not to worry, a little perseverance and I soon had all the tubes well and truly stuffed!  I layered a little Dolmio under the tubes then another layer on top before adding some grated cheddar and topping with Parmesan.

Thankfully the dish looked rather scrummy as it made it’s way out of the oven and the husband thoroughly approved! (Result for mummy!)



Vegetable Moussaka

I rather enjoy Moussaka and don’t really follow a recipe, just throw in any vegetables I have around.

For this one I used:

  • Dolmio
  • Chickpeas
  • Red Pepper
  • 2 white onions
  • Courgette
  • Aubergine
  • Bechamel sauce (made with flour/butter/milk/Cheddar cheese)

I started off my slicing and lightly roasting the courgette and aubergine slices and whilst they were cooking I drained the chickpeas, lightly fried the onions and made the cheesy Bechamel sauce.

I then simply layered Dolmio with roasted vegetables, lightly fried onions, a handful of chickpeas and then repeated.  To top it of I poured over the Bechamel sauce, added some grated Parmesan and black pepper and cooked in the oven until done.

Voila! One delicious, homemade, vegetarian Moussaka!


Bonus Extra Quick Cheat Meal – Kids Pasta

Having enjoyed Dolmio so much we popped a couple of jars in the trolley when we next visited the supermarket.  When the kids need a quick tea between school and evening clubs we just cook up a bit of pasta with some chopped ham, cocktail sausages and grated cheese and that’s their quick bite to eat that they love.

This week however they asked me if I could put some of that ‘yummy’ sauce on it (aka Dolmio), they are a bit fussy with ‘other’ jars of pasta sauce, so I added a few spoonfuls of Dolmio to their cooked pasta, heated it up and there you go – two incredibly happy filled little tummies!!

This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio. www.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness.

Storks comes to DVD

Storks is the fantastic new family film that’s been enjoyed in cinema’s recently and now been released on DVD to enjoy at home.  A family favourite this is great for adults and kids alike and is perfect for my 6 and 9 year olds to enjoy.  With fast paced easy to understand storylines and humourous scenes, we couldn’t wait to watch it for the first time as a family at home on the sofa.

Storks deliver babies… or at least they used to. Now they deliver packages for global internet giant Cornerstore.com. Junior, the company’s top delivery stork, is about to be promoted when he accidentally activates the Baby Making Machine, producing an adorable baby girl. Desperate to deliver this bundle of trouble before the boss gets wise, Junior and his friend Tulip race to make their first-ever baby drop – in a wild and revealing journey that could make more than one family whole and restore the storks’ true mission in the world.

The film quickly gets into the storyline and both my children quickly became engrossed in the film and were silent throughout – always a good sign!  They laughed and were kept entertained throughout.

After it finished I asked for their thoughts:

Mister B ” It was aweswome – can we watch it again?”

Miss M ” It was a brilliant film, I loved watching it”

I think that says it all, we as adults enjoyed watching it to and I think it makes a great film for us all to sit down and watch together.

If you haven’t seen it yet, plan your next weekend, get a copy of Storks on DVD and sit down with the family at watch it!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

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Family Fun Playing Croquet in the Garden

A great game for friends and family of all ages is croquet, the perfect fun for all ages and great for garden gatherings, bbq’s etc.  The Sandford croquet set from Big Game Hunters is a high quality wooden set that I knew all the family would enjoy.

CroquetThe set comprises of:

  • 2 adult size mallets
  • 2 smaller junior mallets
  • 2 full size balls
  • 2 junior balls
  • 6 metal hoops
  • 1 wooden winning post
  • Carry bag to carry and store the set.
  • Rules

The bag to store the set in is really useful, keeps all the parts together and makes it easy to carry around, although I have to warn you that it is very heavy.  This is because all the parts are solid wood, so really are the best quality.

Croquet 2I like the way the set is designed for a family with a combination of adult and child mallets and the same with the ball sizes which are again solid wood.  Everything is beautifully made so you really are paying for what you get with this set retailing at £99.99.

It was then time to try it out which the children were itching to do so we invited the grandparents over for an afternoon of tea, cake and croquet.  What I love about this game is that it reaches all ages, young or old, it brings families together.  My parents in their late sixties joined in along with my children aged 8 and 5.

Croquet 4The children thoroughly enjoyed playing croquet even if we did play to our own rules, but we kept it simple and fun and it was a big hit with everyone.  This is definitely a family game and really brings about a bit of competitiveness that everyone can enjoy.

Croquet 3The quality of the set comes through when you are playing and it feels good to play with, it’s all very sturdy, looks nice and everything is a good size.

We’ve really enjoyed playing this game as a family through three generations and know it’ll be something that will come out on any dry days for a bit of fun and entertainment.
All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.
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Tree Surfing at the Tamar Trails Centre – Review

The Tamar Trails Centre is located on the border of Devon and Cornwall just a short drive from the town of Tavistock.  The centre covers over 25km of trails with stunning scenery over which you can walk, bring you bike to cycle or even ride a horse along and enjoy at your leisure.  There are also some chargeable activities such as tree surfing and archery which we were invited to try out and share our thoughts with you.

6B7339DD-AE59-4D54-877C-EEEE3AA28DFENot being particularly keen on swinging through trees myself, I seem to have produced a rather adventurous 8yr old daughter who loves nothing more than being outdoors or playing sports.  Being in the house for more than a few hour invokes cabin fever so the Tamar Trails Centre is right up her street and I couldn’t wait to see what she thought.  I also have a 5yr old son who doesn’t have the same outgoing nature and I was a little sceptical as to how well he’d fair, but knew this would be a great opportunity to expose him to something new and in the end, I needn’t have worried in the slightest.  After an initial nervous five minutes he became fearless zipping down the high wire and didn’t want to go home at the end of our trip!

tamar trails 1

First up was archery, something my eldest has done before.  Both children were totally engrossed in sitting the arrow across the bow and firing at the target.  They only had a few goes but really enjoyed it.  The archery is set amongst a clearing in the trees, hence the photos are a little dark but it was a sunny day and there was plenty of light to see what you are doing.

Tamar Trails

Then we moved onto the even more exciting stuff… Tree Surfing!  The children were very eager to try this out and couldn’t wait to get their harnesses on.  The staff assist and check the harness is secure before briefing the children on safety and what to do.  The tree surfing course consists of wooden bridges of various designs high up between the trees and ends in a zip wire that brings you to the ground.  The circuit doesn’t take too long to go around and once you’ve completed it, you can climb the stairs and start again.  In fact you can complete this as many times as you like for an hour session and by the end my children were whizzing round, having heaps of fun, not wanting the excitement to stop.

tamar trails 2

8yr old Miss M had no hesitations and was straight up the stairs and venturing across the course.  She loved it and had a huge grin every time she looked down at me.  She was full of concentration and soaking up every minute of the fun.

tamar trails 3

The pictures above give you a perspective of how high up the course is and as you can see there are platforms at each tree where you step off one obstacle bridge before starting on another.

tamar trails 4Mister B was really quite nervous crossing his first bridge, but as he moved around the course his confidence grew until he finished down the zip wire and ran straight back to the start again eager to do it again.  The zip wire at the end was a highlight for both children.  They just loved it and each time they zipped past me they tried to create different poses in the air!

There is an extra high zip wire available as an extra activity which my two did also experience.  They had to climb small rung like steps built into the tree to a super high height, I could hardly see them amongst the tree canopy.  They then came flying down through the trees and thought the experience was totally amazing and exhilirating, wanting to do it again but unfortunately their thrill seeking time was up and it was time to head to the Beech Tree Cafe for some refreshments.

beech cafe 3I’m sure the pictures above of Beech Tree Cafe speak for themselves but the outside looks fresh, inviting, friendly and clean, somewhere I’d want to chill out in for a drink and snack after spending time on the outdoor activities.  I tend to find that cafe’s on days out can be very hit and miss, especially when there’s no competition around, but I can safely say that the Beech Tree Cafe was a hit!  With it’s relaxed interior, friendly charm and pretty bunting it was a joy to sit in and enjoy some refreshments.

beech cafe 4The menu is on a blackboard on the wall beside the counter allowing you to easily view the options available which are simple but contain a good choice of interesting sandwiches, light bites and homemade cake.  Being vegetarian I opted for a cheese and onion pasty which was served deliciously crisp and hot.  The children went for cheese and ham fillings, one had a sandwich and the other a toastie.  I have to say they were impressively filled and freshly made up while we waited.  They were a decent size which the children needed after their mornings activities and they both devoured them immediately satisfying their hungry appetite.

The cafe is known for it’s particularly good coffee although not being a coffee drinker myself I chose a hot chocolate which was perfectly served and tasted just as it should, frothy, rich and chocolatey!

beech cafe 5It’s fair to say that the children had an awesome trip out to the Tamar Trails Centre and equally enjoyed refueling at the Beech Tree Cafe.

I hadn’t heard of the Tamar Trails Centre before visiting, but realistically it’s only a half an hour or so drive from where I live so a very viable option for a few hours out.  For me it is a hidden gem in the Devon countryside with it’s great views, beautiful scenery, fun activities and friendly cafe.  The facilities ares well maintained and clean making the centre an inviting place to be.  If you are visiting the area and looking for something to do then this should definitely be on your list for fun and adventures in the great outdoors!

If you want to see the children tree surfing then check out this short video of them in action!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received complimentary activities in order to write an honest review.

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My Family Holiday Destination with On The Beach

We love going on holiday, who doesn’t?  We try to get away every year, although since having children we haven’t ventured outside of the uk with them yet.  I do miss my city breaks and trips abroad but decided to wait until the children had moved on from the baby stage, out of nappies and didn’t need a pushchair abroad.  Well, I think that time has finally come, with Mister B turning 3 tomorrow and Miss being 5, we need to take that adventure on an aeroplane and start exploring foreign ground.

My children’s ideal holiday is sitting on a beach, playing in the sand with a pool to mess around in, the sea to explore and lots of sun, so a great place to find all those things is the Balearics.  With guaranteed sunshine mummy can sunbathe with her book, while daddy can help big huge sand castles in the miles of golden beaches.  Then we can all take a dip in the amazing swimming pools for some family afternoon fun to cool down.   The family hotels in the Balearics have so much more to offer with kids clubs to give me a daddy a bit of child free time, lots of new flavours to taste in the all inclusive restaurants and we can even go for a spot of shopping in the local town.  We would love to make this our family holiday next year!

On the Beach, holiday beach balearics familyThis is our entry to win an On the Beach holiday to the Balearics

 

We’ve arrived – Our Summer Holiday in Pembrokeshire, Wales

Our family summer holiday finally started last night when we arrived in Pembrokeshire, Wales.  My parents had kindly rented a holiday house right on the beach with it’s own infinity swimming pool, hot tub and huge balcony literally a stones throw down to the beach.  As well as my parents, my brother and his family joined us with my 3yr old niece and 12 week old nephew.

We woke up this morning to the sun beaming and the children eager to get down to the beach.  I was surprised to find the beach virtually empty and the minute we stepped onto the sand the children were digging away, excited beyond words, looked for buried treasure.

sand4

Nanny and Grandad kindly bought Mister B and sand truck which he was thrilled with and kept him occupied for hours.  It just shows how such a simple thing can keep little ones happy – he played with it for hours loving filling it and emptying it across the sand.

Sand2

After playing around on the sand for a while, Miss M decided she wanted a go at body boarding after finding a board in the shed of the house we are in.   She loves the outdoors and is willing to have a go at anything so off she went to try her luck on the waves.

Sand3

Time for lunch so we all headed back to the house for a filled wrap and salad.  We decided to spend the afternoon in the pool and hot tub, although I have to be honest at this point and confess to never having been in a swimming pool since 2004 when I was in the Maldives on honeymoon.  I have never been swimming with my children and today wore a tankini that I brought after my 5yr old Miss M was born and finally pulled the price tags off today and made the plunge.  Although I still feel really uncomfortable with my weight I have lost 12lb through the Porridge on Tuesday diet in the last six weeks and that has really given me more confidence in how I feel.  And the honest truth is I really enjoyed it – I think being in a private pool really helped but it was great to get back in the water and the hot tub was utterly divine!!sand5

We have had so much fun today – a completely action packed day – I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week aholds and hope the sunshine stays with us!

A New Nephew and Fun at the Park!

Ten days ago I became an Auntie once again to a gorgeous little nephew, although due them living 125 miles away the first opportunity we have had to meet him was yesterday.  With the husband working nights this week, he was up all Friday night which meant I was left to drive (long distance driving is usually something I would avoid!!).  So with him snoozing against a pillow in the passenger seat we set off and the journey wasn’t too bad, the sun was shining and the children were amused by the various things I pointed out along the way… until we hit the M5 and hit a standstill!!  There I was in the outside lane with the handbrake on, the children starting to get fidgety, the sun was blazing through the boot which was full of the baby blue cupcakes that I had stayed up baking the night before and there was nothing I could do except crawl along the odd ten feet as and when the car in front moved.

About half an hour later we started moving again and before we knew it we arrived to meet the new member of our family.  Miss M was in awe of such a tiny baby, not really remembering how tiny Mister B was when he was first born.  She was keen for a cuddle and looked so proud to hold him.

Cupcakes

After lunch we all took a walk down the road to the local fete on the village common.  There was a little play park next door which immediately caught Miss M’s eye so we let them have a run around to stretch their legs before the inevitable 125 mile journey home a bit later on.

Fete icecream park

We returned to my brother’s house for a glass of Champagne and one of my cupcakes to celebrate the birth of his new son.  It was lovely afternoon spent catching up with family, my parents had travelled there as well who I don’t see for months at a time so being altogether is one of those special moments we get to enjoy just several times throughout the year.

We decided to get on the road home before it got too late and before we’d even reached the motorway I turned around to find two sleeping little beauties exhausted from their busy day meeting their new cousin and playing with his big sister.

All in all a tiring but exciting and fun day!