Gousto – Delicious Recipe Boxes Delivered to your Door

Gousto, if you haven’t already heard of them are an amazing concept in recipe boxes delivered to your door.  Containing up to four meals for either 2 or 4 people in each box, you receive a host of fresh ingredients along with recipe cards containing everything you need to cook delicious tasting meals.

Being vegetarian, I opted for a box of meat free meals and was a little sceptical as to what options would be available.  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only could I pick which meals I wanted in each box, but also the choice available all sounded really tasty and I actually really fancied eating most of the recipes on offer although had to pick just two for the box that I tried.

I went for the following two choices:

  • Harissa Halloumi Sandwich & Carrot Slaw
  • Cheesy Risotto & Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Halloumi is one of my favourite cheeses and I cook with it on a weekly basis.  I couldn’t wait to try out the Harissa Halloumi Sandwich & Carrot Slaw, it looked utterly delicious on the recipe card and I hoped it would taste just as good when I made it.  I found the recipe cards very simple to follow with pictures at each stage and the meal was really easy to prepare as I had all of the ingredients in front of me, measured out in the correct portions – that certainly helped with a lot of time saving.

The meal was simple to put together,with everything you need included.  The only things you might have to add to a meal are very basic store cupboard ingredients such as oil, salt and pepper.  Any flavoured oils, herbs, spices, garlic etc are all included in small packets.  As I was cooking the food I could smell the flavours and couldn’t wait for the meal to be ready and it wasn’t long before I could put my taste buds into action.

A couple of days later we tried the Cheesy Risotto & Slow Roasted Tomatoes.  Again simple to make and just required a bit of stirring, this was a hearty meal with a very decent portion size per person. The ingredients for this were certainly indulgent with a cute little pot of Rodda’s clotted cream to add to the final cooking stages of the risotto.  Along with fresh leeks, vegetable stock, garlic, turmeric, Shaoxing wine and Dijon mustard (all of which are included) this meal was packed full of flavour and the roasted tomatoes on top were the perfect accompaniment.

The finished dish looked like it had been lifted straight off of the recipe card, which is exactly what you want from a recipe box such as Gousto.  I have to say I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the ingredients, so fresh and perfectly packed. The portion sizes on both meals were very good, generous even and certainly wouldn’t leave me or my husband hungry.

The choice and variation of meals from week to week is excellent and if you are looking for a helping hand in the kitchen, whether for convenience, to save time or just to try out new meal ideas, then I’d definitely recommend trying out the Gousto box.  It’s definitely won me over on being able to sit down for a quality, tasty meal that doesn’t take hours of preparation (thank to Gousto for doing half the work) and is something I’d use for a relaxed night with the husband where minimal cooking is involved but a lot tastier and healthier than a takeaway!

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

Marsh Mills Beefeater Restaurant – Review

Beefeater restaurants are somewhere I remember fondly from childhood.  It was often somewhere we went for a family meal when I was a child and over the years even though I now live on the opposite side of the country, my local Beefeater Marsh Mills is somewhere we go to from time to time with my own children.

With a newly refurbished restaurant and revised menu in place, I was offered the chance to review the Marsh Mills branch of the popular restaurant chain, which I was eager to do and knew my children would be keen as they love eating out.

We headed off for a 5pm booking, quite early as my children prefer to eat earlier and it tends to be less crowded at that time of day.  We were greeted with a modern looking reception area and a nicely styled restaurant.

beefeater 1We were handed menus and given a few minutes to decide our drinks order.  I loved the kids new look brightly coloured Mr Men menus.  My two children both enjoy the Mr Men characters and this certainly engaged them in looking through and picking their choices.  I was disappointed though that there was no kids activities provided as usually with Beefeater and similar style restaurants the kids look forward to doing some colouring in or puzzles but nothing was given to us which did leave the children a bit fidgety whilst waiting for food.

The kids menu is £4.49 for a main course and drink of squash, with an added course making it £5.49 or 3 courses for £5.99.  Usually I just make the children have the included squash but as we haven’t been out for a while and having spotted a rather yummy looking milkshake on their menu, I let them order the “handmade to order” chocolate milkshake with Beechdean icecream.  This was an additional £1.99 each on top of their meals, I have to say I was rather disappointed when a small carton arrived at the table for each of them as below!!  I had been tempted to order the adult milkshake for myself as I am a bit of milkshake fan but got swayed into having a glass of vino instead.  I do wonder if at £3.99 for the larger adult milkshake, would I have been presented with two cartons instead of one??

beefeater 2Starters soon arrived, of which we’d all chosen nachos, a family favourite.  The kids enjoyed theirs with a small dish of salsa to dip their tortilla chips in, but the adults version just didn’t do it for me.  I often have nachos when out and about and I have to say this was one of the poorest versions I’ve encountered.  Large lumps of raw spring onion scattered across with a sparse sprinkling of cheese and a rather unappetising looking dip in the middle.  It tasted ok, the tortillas were crisp and tasty but not a starter I’d come back for which is not normally something I say about nachos.

beefeater 3With the restaurant fairly quiet and my husband sitting facing the kitchen, he did notice a couple of meals which looked suspiciously like our main course order sitting on the hotplate while we were still enjoying our starters.  Needless to say as our starter plates were taken away, the waiter came immediately back to the table with our main courses from the hotplate meaning the fries were only lukewarm rather than piping hot and we didn’t even get a few minutes break between courses.

For main course I had a Quorn burger which came with fries and a pot of coleslaw, which tasted fine and was what of the standard I’d expect and the kids also enjoyed their chicken, fries and baked bean dinners too.

beefeater 4Desserts were also fine, I had the chocolate brownie which was served with icecream and the children had the mini chocolate challenge which they loved as all the bits came in separate bowls for them to build up themeselves.

beefeater 5So it came to the end of the meal and we paid, I did have a quick scan through the bill and it didn’t seem quite right but we paid anyway.  On returning home I checked it out and it seems the kids meals aren’t charged quite as the menu suggests.  The mains were £4.49 each but the other courses were an additional 99p each which brings each childs meal to £6.47, not the £5.99 for 3 courses that we saw on the menu.  Normally I’d expect to see a discount at the bottom of the receipt as we ordered 3 courses but not in this case.

After we paid the bill, the kids were offered a balloon and a small plastic Mr Men toy which was nice, although maybe if the toy was handed out once we arrived it would have given them something to play with rather than the cutlery.

Our overall experience of the Marsh Mills Beefeater was slightly disappointing, especially as we had all been looking forward to going.  It hasn’t left us with a feeling of rushing back there next time we are going out to a restaurant, although it’s a shame as I think it could so easily be improved and isn’t like the standard of Beefeater I’ve come to know over the years.  I do hope the points I’ve raised are taken on board and make it somewhere I’d want to visit again.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received some vouchers towards the cost of our bill (and we paid the rest) in order to write the review.

 

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Yummy Nummies Mini Magic Pizza & Cookies

Yummy Nummies  from Character Options are the latest craze from Japan, where kids get to create mini food treats that taste and look just like the real thing!

Yummy NWe received the mini Pizza and Cookie sets to try out.  Each pack consists of sachets of powder constitute, a plastic mould, and the relevant miniature utensils that are required.  All you need to add are scissors to open the sachets and cold water to add to the powders.

yummyEach kit is simple to put together and just requires the powders to be mixed with water and placed in the appropriate moulds which are then microwaved for anything between 10 and 30 seconds.  Various toppings are added to complete the foods made.

yummy 2What is really unusual about this craft is that it is edible, and not only can you eat it, but each part of the food, tastes like it actually should.  My children loved creating these and with each pack making up to ten items, meant they could both have a go at creating the miniature foods.

yummy 3Once we’d finished, the children couldn’t wait to try them.  I think their faces in the picture above shows how much they enjoyed them, the cookies in particular were their favourite.  I did taste them myself and although they are edible, they are just a bit of fun and a craft that the children enjoyed.

Here is a video of us making the Yummy Nummies:

Yummy Nummies are sure to be the latest craze to hit the UK and I’m sure children will be keen to have a go too when they see it advertised.  There are lots of different things to make such as chicken nuggets, cupcakes, doughnuts and even chocolate bars.  Why not check them out, available from Toys R Us as well as other retailers.

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

Revolution Bar – New Menu Review

Revolution Vodka Bars are renowned for a great place to go in the evenings for drinks and cocktails with friends, but not somewhere I’d really thought of going for food.  My local Revolution Bar in Plymouth has just been through a large refurbishment and are now serving a new menu which I was asked to go along and try.

We visited on a Wednesday lunchtime and my first impressions were the amazing décor, in fact I loved it.  It was totally in the style that I love with lots of interesting features, different displays, fresh plants, various seating styles from silver cafe style chairs & tables to sofas, bar stools and some large, comfy booths which we chose to sit in.

revolution 1We were welcomed when we entered the bar and once we had chosen our seats, someone immediately came over to take our drinks order.  In fact we were consistently attended to at the table which I wasn’t expecting but a nice touch.

The new menu is fairly extensive with a large range of dishes.  It has an American feel to it with burgers, salads, pizzas and lots of Mexican inspired dishes.  There are lots of interesting ingredients across the menu that make the dishes sound fresh and modern including a hint of vodka in some dishes.

Nachos are a huge favourite of mine so we opted for a sharing Nachos dish to start and we certainly weren’t disappointed.  We received a huge bowl full of crisp corn chips layered with cheese and jalapeños, topped with generous portions sour cream, guacamole and vodka salsa.  This was truly one of the most delicious bowls of Nachos we have ever had and something we will definitely be back for, perfect dish to share in n the afternoon with a glass of wine or two!

revolution 2For mains I chose the Big Easy Bean Burrito, a wrap filled with kidney beans, sweet potato, guacamole, cheese, spicy red rice, mayo, Roquito peppers and vodka salsa.  This was tasty, filling, and well presented on the plate, a very enjoyable dish.  My husband had the Moroccan burger, served with chips and coleslaw.  The chips were excellent, nice and hot with a good crunch.  My husband enjoyed the burger and was full by the end.  He said as much as he would like to have it again, there were many other dishes he’d like to try on the menu so would give something else a try next time.  The pizzas look very tempting with their stone baked bases and interesting selection of toppings.

revolution 3Although we were both quite full, I was determined to try something off the dessert menu, and opted for the cheesecake.  The most enormous slice of baked cheesecake arrived with cream on one side and a berry coulis on the other.  This was good, very creamy and rich with a crunchy base, we both had a taste but unfortunately were a little defeated and couldn’t quite finish it all!

revolution 5We found all of the portions at Revolution to be very generous in size and exceptionally tasty.  The food all tastes fresh and is served hot (not lukewarm like bar food often tends to be by the time it arrives!).  There is an excellent selection on the menu with lots of delicious looking dishes to try.  We found the service to be of a high standard with attentive staff who helped create a perfect relaxing atmosphere to enjoy during the daytime.

Both of us were impressed with both the surrounds and the food of Revolution, with it previously being a bar that we wouldn’t have thought of going to for a relaxing lunch.  It’s only across the road from the town centre so ideal to pop over too for a break from shopping or a lunch with the girls!  It is definitely on the list to go to again, I’m looking forward to sharing another bowl of the deliciously tasty Nachos over a glass of wine in the near future!!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and our meal was complimentary at Revolution in order to write the review.

Shopping with Morrisons

Morrisons supermarket entered a new battle of the prices last weekend with over 2000 products being made lower.  This was just in time for the May Bank Holiday and to get some feedback from families across the country, we were sent £80 of vouchers to try out the new lower priced Morrisons.

I do shop at Morrisons for a medium sized shop most weeks, purely because it is quite convenient to get to and does have some good offers although I do feel the choice can sometimes be limited.

As soon as I arrived at Morrisons last weekend I could see lots of yellow “I’m cheaper” posters, banners, balloons etc, so it was sure to catch everyone’s eye and I found particular items that had been reduced were clearly flagged on the shelves.

morrisons 1I’ve always found some good prices on the fruit and vegetables at Morrisons and was pleased this time to find things like a pack of three peppers for 99p, vine ripened tomatoes 69p, bags of apples and pears for 99p each and a whole cucumber for just 49p.  I also found a large box of nice looking strawberries for £3 which I though was good value for strawberries and a nice treat for Bank Holiday weekend.

I easily filled a trolley with plenty of fruit and veg, as well as some other items to make a few meals over the weekend including some nice lunches.  I also bought some weekly essentials such as washing up liquid, loo roll and some white wine.  Being Bank Holiday, I picked up a bottle of prosecco for a treat, which was on offer for just £6 instead of £12!!

Here’s just some of my Morrisons shopping:

Morrisons shopFor our family meal on Sunday we decided to have Roasted Vegetable & Pesto Puff Pastry tarts.   The children aren’t too keen on roasted vegetables, so I adapted their versions to include chicken which they love, although I don’t eat myself due to being vegetarian.

Roasted Vegetable & Pesto Puff Pastry Tarts
to serve 4

1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry
2 courgettes
2 red peppers
2 red onions
8 vine cherry tomatoes
8 teaspoons of green pesto
1 and half balls of Mozzarella cheese

1. Slice/chop the courgettes/peppers/onions into chunky pieces and roast in the oven with a light drizzle of oil until softened and roasted
2. Unroll the pastry sheet and cut into 4 rectangles
3. Spread 2 generous teaspoons of pesto across each piece
4. Lightly score a rectangle approx half inch from the edge
5. Layer the roasted vegetables on top of the pesto
6. Add slices of mozzarella on top of the vegetables, then top with halved cherry tomatoes
7. Oven cook until the pastry is risen and golden and the cheese is sizzling

morrisons roasted vegI served this with a green salad of leaves, cucumber and black pepper dressing and I’d estimate the total per portion to cost around £1.40.   Personally for me, this meal is lush, the pesto makes it so tasty and I really enjoy eating it.  Being simple to make and adapt to different peoples tastebuds, this makes it a great Bank Holiday meal that requires little effort!

morrisons veg tartOn Bank Holiday Monday itself, the husband was working, so I decided to go with the children up to my parents house and take lunch that I’d bought from Morrisons.

The bakery from Morrisons is something I’ve always thought was rather good, the smell gets me everytime, fresh bread, pastries, you name it, carbohydrates are my downfall!!  We came home with a bargainous 80p tiger loaf on our initial shop!!

On BH Monday we picked up some cheese scones and a delightful honey and sunflower loaf for lunch and took up some cheeses, ham, salad and crisps to my parents.  We also picked up a fresh cream chocolate sponge that was at the cheaper price of £1.  I also took up some fresh strawberries and raspberries from to decorate it along with some other Morrisons bakery cakes.

morrisons 2We served 6 with this fresh cream chocolate sponge and fruit, working out around 25p per portion!!

I laid out a buffet style lunch that we all enjoyed including fresh breads, cheeses, salad, houmous, crisps, dips and cakes.  It was thoroughly enjoyed by all.  I also bought some ice lollies as afternoon snacks for the children.

We really enjoyed shopping at Morrisons and did notice some of our usual items at a lower price.  I will still continue to purchase here on a weekly basis, although would like to see an increased range of some lines, my favourite Twinings tea had a discontinued sign up by it, the store I go to doesn’t stock Warburtons wraps and no other wholemeal varieties and I was a little disappointed to see that the only “I’m cheaper” signs on the eggs were for the caged variety! Poor chucks!!

Overall Morrisons will still feature in our weekly shopping, they do offer competitive prices  and have a good selection of weekly offers that are worth shopping there for.  Not to mention great house wine and a fabulous bakery!!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received we received voucher  in order shop at Morrisons and write the review.

New Sprouts Grill It Playset – Review

New Sprouts play food collections from Learning Resources are a fantastic range of toy food sets for young children to play with through imaginative and role play.  There are many exciting food sets in the range including Garden Fresh Salad Set, Baking Set and Super Sandwich Set.  We were sent the Grill It! My very own barbeque set to try.

bbq new sproutsMister B who is 3yrs old, was very excited when it arrived and was eager to play with it.  The set consists of a barbeque with lift off grill, tongs, tray and 15 pieces of play food including burger rolls, burgers, tomato slices, a chicken breast, corn on the cob and more.

The first thing I noticed about this New Sprouts play set is that the play pieces are very well made. The food items are a lovely quality and look good.  The barbeque is a flexible plastic which is great as it helps to avoid any breakages making it a toy that will last and withstand a not so gentle toddler!

Barbeque

As well as having fun playing with the barbeque set, it is excellent for improving fine motor skills and hand eye coordination.  Mister B who is 3 initially found the tongs a challenge to use, but after a few go’s, he got to grips with using them.  You can see his little mind ticking over working out how far down the tongs to hold them in order to get the best grip.

Both children loved playing with the set to cook each other food and make different burger combinations.  This set will provide hours of fun and easily combines with other food/kitchen play accessories they have to provide long term play value.  They love to use the barbeque when playing picnics, or having a pretend cafe etc. 

Barbeque 2

The New Sprouts Grill It set is a great, brightly coloured set that little ones will love.  My two love playing with pretend food and the barbeque gives them something to cook on.  It also gives great interaction with parents as Mister B loves asking what I want and then cooking it for me.  Although he is a bit cheeky and I usually get what I’m told to have rather than what I ask for!!

We loved this set and recommend it as a great play set for toddlers who love to cook.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

Easter Baking ideas for children

We were challenged by izziwizzikids.co.uk to come up with an Easter activity video for children and decided we would love to do some baking as this is one of Miss M’s favourite pastimes.

I wanted to keep the recipes really simple so that Miss M could really feel like she was baking on her own without mummy interfering every 2 minutes.  So this is what we came up with:

Firstly we chose to make some Easter chocolate nests using Shredded Wheat:

6 Shredded Wheat
180g Milk Chocolate
60g butter
3 tbsp golden syrup
Mini eggs for decoration

Step 1: We crushed the Shredded Wheat into a bowl
Step 2: We melted the chocolate, butter & golden syrup over a low heat
Step 3: Add the liquid ingredients to the Shredded Wheat and combine
Step 4: Spoon the mixture into cake cases and add decoration – leave to set in a fridge for a couple of hours.

Next we made some Easter bunny and flower biscuits:

100g butter
100g castor sugar
1 egg
275g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla essence

Step 1: Cream the butter and sugar together
Step 2: Add the vanilla essence, a beaten egg and the flour to the creamed mixture and combine to form a ball of dough
Step 3: Roll out the dough and use cutters to create your biscuits
Step 4: Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 190C
Step 5: Once the biscuits have cooled, decorate using royal icing or ready made icing tubes and a variety of sweets/decorations

These recipes are very quick and simple and are ideal for children to follow.  Miss M even cracked the egg perfectly herself without the numerous shards of eggshell mummy normally has to spoon out of the mixture!!  A fun element of baking for Miss M is that she loves to get her hands stuck into the mixing bowl which we achieved when crushing the Shredded Wheat and mixing/rolling out the biscuit dough.

Miss M’s favourite bit was when mummy let her loose with tubes of icing and a plate full of sweeties to decorate the Easter biscuits.  It kept her occupied (and quiet) for a considerable amount of time and she had great pleasure and pride in showing us her finished results.

I think baking is a great activity to do with the children, one that gives them a sense of achievement with the finished result and gains them valuable skills in the kitchen.  Baking for an occasion is always added fun and helps with creativity.  Any cakes and biscuits made for Easter make ideal gifts for the children to give to friends and family – particularly grandparents who are always proud to see their grandchildren’s homemade efforts.  We tested out these recipes on Grandad and Miss M proudly wrapped her handpicked selection of goodies for Nanny to take back for him after her visit to us last week.  His verdict – delicious!

Here is our video: