Thursday, 19 October 2017

Half-term foodie treats for the kids with Dole Fruits

One of the things we most like about half-term here at The Madhouse is having the time to have more elaborate breakfasts, getting in lots of baking and putting together fun foodie treats at snack time. We love the look of all of these kid-friendly recipes from Dole (even if we're still not fans of quinoa !), and using a combination of fresh and packaged fruit means that we should have everything we need, even when the kids have invariably devoured most of what is in the fruit bowl within a couple of days of being on holiday !

Fruit Flower Power Fondue 

A nutritious and healthy breakfast or snack that parents can make with the help of their children, and have fun eating too!

Serves: 5
Equipment needed:NutriBullet or blender


For the fruit skewers:

20 wooden skewers
A selection of Dole® ResealableFridge Packs –for example, Tropical Gold® Pineapple Chunks, Peach and Mixed Fruit plus fresh apples, bananas and kiwi, diced into similar sized chunks

For the fruit dip:

350g pack of Dole® frozen triple berry fruit
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
4 tbspwater


1.Thread 5-6 pieces of fruit onto each skewer and place on a large serving plate or platter.

2.Add the Dole® frozen triple berry fruit pack to a NutriBullet or blender, along with the chopped apples and 4tbsps of water. Blend until smooth.

3.Transfer to a small bowl and place on a serving plate.

To serve:

Serve with a small bowl of freeze dried berries and dried apricots. Simply dip the skewers into the fruit dip to coat and then in to the dried fruits to add a crunchier texture.

Magic Unicorn Oats 

A fun and colourful but healthy breakfast that will give your little ones a magical start to the day.



200g medium oatmeal
8 tbsp natural yoghurt
½ pack Dole® frozen blueberries (175g)
½ pack Dole® frozen raspberries (175g)
½ pack Dole® Tropical Gold® pineapple chunks (in resealable fridge packs) (175g), drained and chopped
½ pack Dole® peach slices (in resealable fridge packs) (175g), drained and chopped
Half a small banana for the unicorn horn, two slices of peach for the unicorn ears and a handful of blueberries for the unicorn mane


1.Take four bowls and place 50g of oatmeal into each one, then add 2 tbsp of the yoghurt to each bowl and the four different fruits (one to each bowl). Stir well and leave in the fridge overnight.

2.In the morning you should have four brightly coloured mixtures.

3.Take a tall glass jar and gently spoon in the different mixtures in even layers to create a rainbow of colours. Top with a layer of fresh blueberries, two peach slices for the unicorn ears and half a banana for the unicorn horn.

Monster Strawberry and Quinoa Smoothie Bowls

Smoothie bowls are a fantastic way to get a quick nutritious breakfast. Your family will thank you later!

Serves: 2 -3

Equipment needed: NutriBullet or blender


For the smoothie bowls:

½ pack Dole® frozen strawberries
1 large banana
2 tbsp quinoa flakes
2 tbsp thick natural yoghurt
150ml milk

For decoration:
A selection of your favourite fruits, peeled and chopped –Dole Resealable Fridge Packs are great for this.


1.Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend together and divide between two bowls.

2.Place in the fridge for around an hour.

3.When ready to serve, decorate with pieces of fruit to make scary monster faces (or pretty patterns).

Pineapple & Chicken Salad Cups 

The ultimate savoury snack, perfect to serve to your children and their friends after school or ideal for lunchboxes.
Serves: 2 


2 tbsp olive oil
100g diced chicken breast
½ tsp Chinese Five-spice
½ pack Dole® Tropical Gold® pineapple chunks (in resealable fridge packs) - drained and chopped (reserve the juice)
2 spring onions, chopped
6 cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered if you’re making this for young children)
2 tbsp reserved pineapple juice
 ½ green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 gem lettuce
Handful of chopped coriander leaves


1.Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a pan and add the diced chicken, sprinkle with the Chinese Five-spice and cook for 10 minutes until cooked through. Transfer into a bowl and allow it to cool. 

2.Mix in the Dole pineapple chunks, spring onion and cherry tomatoes. 

3.Make a dressing by placing the reserved pineapple juice, chilli, white wine vinegar and remaining oil into a bowl and whisking together. 

4.Separate leaves from the gem lettuce and place on a platter. Fill each leaf with a dollop of the chicken mixture and drizzle over a little dressing, finish with a sprinkle of coriander leaves.

Sugar Free and Gluten Free Peach Muffins

Kids are always looking for a tasty after school snack, while parents want them to eat something healthy. These sugar free peach muffins are the perfect compromise.

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins):

25g butter, melted
1 apple, quartered, cored and grated
½ pack Dole® peach slices (in resealable fridge packs), drained and diced (reserve the juice)
1 egg
100ml reserved juice
300g gluten free flour
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp mixed spice
50 pumpkin seeds


1.Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7. Line a muffin tray with paper cases (12).

2.Place the pumpkin seeds in a plastic food bag and crush with a rolling pin.

3.Melt the butter in a small pan. Grate the apple into a bowl and mix with the Dole diced peaches. Beat the egg and then stir into the apple and peach, before adding the melted butter and reserved juice and stirring again (wet mixture).

4.Sieve the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl, then add the bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice (dry mixture).

5.Gradually stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture with a metal spoon until sticky and well combined. Stir in the pumpkin seeds.

6.Divide the cake mixture among the muffins cases in the muffin tray. Bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the muffins comes out clean.


Produced by Dole in partnership with children’s Nutritionist Dr Sarah Schenker, the recipes are made with parents in mind and are packed full of healthy ingredients, ensuring their children are getting all of the goodness they need. Super simple to make, parents and their little ones can enjoy making them together – the perfect way to add some colour to a rainy day indoors this half term.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Get More Kids vitamin water review

I had a little giggle when I reread the title of my blogpost because my first thought was that it sounded like a viagra-infused energy drink for tired couples who want a bigger family ! Who knows? Maybe there's a niche market there just waiting to be exploited, but Get More actually offer a range of tasty, fruity-flavoured drinks with added vitamins and minerals, for both children and adults. We've been trying out the kids' range and they were such a big hit that the Madhouse kids requested we "get more" next time we go shopping !

There are three flavours available, each of which offers a different combination of vitamins :

Mango, in the red bottle, with Vitamin D and calcium, to support growing bones

Apple, in the green bottle, with Multivitamins, to help growing bodies stay healthy

Orange, in the orange bottle, to support the immune system 

They were all a huge hit. The Madhouse kids loved the flavours, the handy sports cap and the fact that if they peeled off the (conveniently perforated) plastic sleeve, they could sneakily get round the "just plain water" rule at school (cheeky !). As a parent, I also love the fact that they are low calorie (less than 5 calories per bottle) and sugar-free, as well as fat-free and salt-free. They are made with spring water, added vitamins, natural flavours and sweetener (sucralose). All three of the kids' drinks are still, which is good news for Juliette who doesn't like fizzy drinks - the adult range offers both still and sparkling options. There is also a Get More vitamins chewing gum, which sounds intriguing.

Get More drinks are available in most supermarkets and some high street stores (WH Smiths, Nisa, Spar, ...). The kids' drinks can be bough in a four pack (£2.69 at Tesco) and the adult versions are included in the Tesco meal deal (sandwich/salad, snack & drink for £3).

for more information :

Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.

Giveaway #653 : Win a Milkshake! Brand New Besties dvd - closing date 2/11

Join a host of the biggest stars in pre-school television from Channel 5’s Milkshake! as they join forces in over two hours of fabulous fun, magical mischief and awesome adventure with the release of a brand new DVD collection by Abbey Home Media on Monday 23rd October.

Whether it’s keeping a secret, learning to compromise, solving a problem, searching for clues or planning the best sleepover ever, our heroes put their friends firmly first!

This very special compilation of the very best pre-school shows from the long-running Channel 5 pre-school brand Milkshake! features some of their best-loved characters, including PAW Patrol, Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam, Poppy Cat, Noddy, Toyland Detective and Bob the Builder.

Featuring in this new collection are:-

PAW Patrol - In ‘Pups Save the Paw Patroller’, Mayor Humdinger has swiped the PAW Patroller! The pups need to get it back and save that meddling mayor too.

Digby Dragon – In ‘Disappearing Spell’, Digby’s friend Sprite comes to visit, and Fizzy casts a disappearing spell on her. When Grizel and Mungo take Spellbook, it seems impossible to magic Sprite back again.

Bob The Builder – In ‘Where’s Pilchard?’, when Muck has to shoo Pilchard out of his way, she suddenly vanishes. Leo and the machines run around trying to find her before Bob realises she’s disappeared.

Peppa Pig – In ‘Playing Pretend’, when Peppa’s bike gets a flat tyre and needs fixing, Peppa and her friends have fun riding their imaginary bikes and jumping in pretend muddy puddles.

Shimmer and Shine – In ‘Flying Flour’, the girls bake magical flying cookies, but Zeta and Nazboo sneak in to steal the flying flour.

Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom – In ‘Lucy’s Elf & Fairy Party’, Lucy celebrates her birthday with an Elf and Fairy party. Lucy’s Dad does a magic show but things get a bit out of hand when Princess Holly and her friends join in…

Fireman Sam – In ‘Best Sleepover Ever’, Norman, Mandy, Sarah and James are having
a sleepover at Mandy’s house. Norman is determined that it will be the ‘Best Sleepover Ever’.

Simon – In ‘The Secret’, it’s Gaspard’s birthday. Simon has found out where Mummy has
hidden his brother’s present. But Simon has sworn he’ll keep it a secret!

Poppy Cat – In ‘Underwater Picnic’, when Zuzu and Alma both arrive with plans for the
group, Poppy teaches them the art of compromise. They set off in the submarine for Seaweed Sea to look for the speedy turtle and have an underwater picnic.

Floogals – In ‘Project Caterpillar’, Boomer has become very fond of the 3 stripy caterpillars that the kids are keeping in the shed. When one vanishes, the Floogals stake out the container they are in to see if they can solve the mystery.

Olly the Little White Van – In ‘Bad Luck Olly’, Olly is going through a run of terrible luck. The more he tries to help people the more things go wrong. Help comes from the most unlikely place as Bazza helps him relax and do what comes naturally….Helping!

Puffin Rock – In ‘Mossy Impossible’, Oona is in danger. She’s tangled up in fishing twine near Seagull Cliff and the seagulls will be back soon! Mossy and Bernie try to free her, but they need help from Mama and Papa Puffin.

Noddy, Toyland Detective – In ‘Broken Crystal Memory Game’, Noddy needs to find out
who broke the Crystal Memory Game before the start of the Daredale Challenge Obstacle Race!

Thomas & Friends TM – In ‘Toby’s New Friend’,  Philip spots Toby and assumes that he is a diesel boxcab just like him. Convinced that they will become best friends, Philip rushes up to introduce himself, but Toby finds him rather overwhelming.

It's a lovely collection of episodes with fun stories and important life lessons for young viewers - perfect for keeping the kids entertained during half term and with over two hours of content, it's a total bargain ! (It's already available for pre-order at amazon for £5.99)

  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Abbey Home Media Group
  • DVD Release Date: 23 Oct. 2017
  • Run Time: 150 minutes

I have a copy of the dvd to give away to one lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries via the rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 2/11/17

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray !

Giveaway #651 : Master Builder Roller Coaster Marble Run book - closing date 23/10

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Book review : With Malice - Eileen Cook

Jill Charron, an 18-year-old American high school student who is super-excited about going to Italy on a once-in-a-lifetime school trip, dreams that the experience will change her life and give her memories to last forever. When she wakes up in a hospital bed with severe injuries from a car accident and amnesia that has wiped out her recent memories, her first thoughts are that she has to get better so that she can still go to Italy and she needs her best friend Simone, for moral support and to fill in the gaps in her memory. Her parents eventually have to break the bad news to her : the accident took place in Italy and Simone, who was in the car that Jill was driving, died in the accident.

Things go from bad to worse as she discovers that everyone, including the Italian police, her school friends and the press, are convinced that it wasn't an accident and Jill is to blame. As she has no memory of even being in Italy, let alone the accident, Jill tries to make sense of the facts and suppositions that the police investigation throws up : a fight with Simone, an Italian boyfriend who cheated on her with Simone, ... As the blurb says on the back of the book : "If you can't remember what happened, how can you be sure you're not to blame?"

I was totally gripped and raced through the book in a couple of days. I found the story believable and could empathise with Jill (right up until the very end, which was the only part I found slightly disappointing). Discovering new nuggets of information and police statements, then trying to fit them into the story along with Jill, added suspense and seeing how the press and facebook groups could twist things to corroborate whichever viewpoint they wanted was a pretty damning but realistic representation of society.

Since the novel has teenaged protagonists, it is classed as young adult fiction but it would appeal to a much wider audience so don't be put off by the label.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £7.99

Disclosure : I won a copy of the book.

Globecooking recipe : Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken (USA)

Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken Tenders was one of the recipes from last month's USA-themed Kitchen Trotter box. It's a quick and simple dish that was a huge hit with the whole family and used up lots of odds and ends of condiments from the fridge - win-win !

My version tasted divine but wasn't pretty. Here's the picture from the recipe card and as you can see, it's much easier-on-the-eye. The recipe card said that you could crush the pretzels by hand or with a food processor, so I went for the former, but they were actually really hard so I couldn't manage to get the fine, even breadcrumbs texture from the official picture.

The recipe required one ingredient from the box - a pack of Honey Mustard & Onion Pretzel Pieces. They had a lovely tangy, sweet flavour but you would risk breaking a tooth if you ate the whole pack because they are really hard ! I had a rummage through the fridge and found lots of odds and ends of mild, sweet mustards, as well as some individual packs of honey that came back home with us from the breakfast bar in our hotel in Turkey this summer ! In the picture, I spot Canadian, Norwegian and American mustards, all from different Kitchen Trotter boxes - this is part of the reason that I'm not renewing my subscription, because I have too many spices and condiments to use up from previous boxes. I'll still be checking out the recipes and seeing what I can recreate with what I have though.

 Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken

ingredients :

500g chicken
salt & pepper
a bag of honey-mustard pretzel pieces (or similar - dried breadcrumbs would do)
4tbsp honey
4tbsp mayonnaise
4tbsp mustard (I used American yellow mustard and a bit of honey mustard)
a pinch of Cayenne pepper (optional)

Chop the chicken into chunks. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix together the honey, mayonnaise and mustard (along with the Cayenne pepper, if using) until you have a smooth sauce. Taste and adjust the balance of flavours, adding extra honey or mustard to suit your personal tastes. Pour half of the sauce into the bowl of chicken, stir and pop in the fridge to marinate for an hour (or however long you've got)

Crush the pretzel bites, using a small child and a rolling pin or, for a better consistency, a food processor.

Ideally, you should take a piece of marinated chicken and roll it in the pretzel crumbs until it is evenly coated. I still had fairly large chunks of pretzel so I just emptied the crushed pretzels in the bowl of chicken and stirred it all around with my hands until it was as evenly coated as possible. As you can see, I laid it all out on a baking tray ready to go in the oven at 180° for 25 minutes, as per the recipe. Then I looked at the time, realised I had 5 minutes until everyone arrived home for lunch and decided I need the faster plan B, transferred it all to a frying pan and 10 minutes later, we were ready to eat !

Serve the chicken with rice and salad or coleslaw, and use the remaining marinade as a sauce/dip for the chicken.

Even without the honey mustard pretzels this would be delicious, so I'll definitely be making this again, using crushed regular pretzels, died breadcrumbs or maybe crushed crisps or crispbread.

Adding to this month's #KitchenClearout linky as it used up lots of odds and ends of condiments from the fridge.

Monday, 16 October 2017

The Good Egg Card Challenge: Social Kindness Game review

Did you know that 17th February is the annual Random Acts of Kindness Day? That doesn't mean you can't be nice to friends, family and even complete strangers on every other day of the year though, and The Good Egg Card Challenge is a great way to help inspire yourself, your children or, if you're a teacher, your pupils to see how they can do simple things to brighten up the lives of the people they encounter.

There is no need for instructions - the introduction cards explain that "this pack of cards is a portable adventure to discover if you are truly a 'good egg' ", which they define as "a kind person with great standards and qualities such as being helpful and good to other people". There is even a quotation from Sophocles to motivate you : "To be doing good deeds is man's most glorious task". 

There are 50 cards that are split into five categories : Giving, Caring, Thanking, Amusing and Surprising. Some are genuinely useful deeds, some will provide little unexpected awww-moments in someone's day, while some are just plain silly to put a smile on someone's face - probably including your own, whichever category you have drawn.

Some are very simple and won't take you out of your comfort zone, however shy or introverted you are - for example, "send a postcard/greetings card to an old friend to say hi" or "smiling is contagious - make 8 people smile in one day and give this card to one of them", while others (such as drawing a fake moustache on your face and walking down the street to make people laugh) require slightly more confidence !

There may be random acts of kindness that you already do or some that you had never thought of doing - taking your old books to a charity shop or paying for the coffee or bus fare of the person behind you in the queue can both be done on a regular basis, for example.

Other cards make you think about different ways of seeing the world and how you react to and interact with it. Rather than getting annoyed and impatient when you're in a queue, "swap places with the person behind you in the queue" - this will be particularly appreciated by a parent of a fraught toddler on the verge of a tantrum - or "help a spider out of your house/building without squashing it".

There are no rules - you can select a random card or go through the pack to choose one that appeals to you, you can play by yourself, with friends or family or even in a group such as a class or scout group. You could even buy packs for your friends and challenge yourself to a battle of kindness to see who can complete the most challenges in a set time. With Christmas on the way, it would be ideal as a Secret Santa gift or a stocking filler too. 

As an added bonus, performing acts of kindness has been scientifically proven to make people happier, slow ageing and improve relationships. In the current climate of doom and gloom, with everyone worried about everything from Brexit and terrorism to world politics and a potential new world war looming on the horizon, anything that can put a smile on people's faces and restore their faith in human kindness even for just a moment has to be a good thing. 

for more information :

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

DVD review : Rock Dog

Today sees the release on dvd of Rock Dog, a fun family film that frequently reminded us of a cross between Scooby Doo and Happy Feet (the story of the kid who doesn't fit in, has to find his own unique personality which goes against his father's wishes and, against all odds, ends up saving the community).

The film takes place on Snow Mountain where the resident Tibetan Mastiffs live a peaceful but boring life, guarding sheep from a group of big bad wolves led by Linnux. Music has been banned from the mountainside by Mastiff leader Khampa but things are about to change - his son Bodi discovers a radio dropped by a passing aeroplane and instantly decides he wants to become a rock’n’roll star. Defying his father's wishes to follow his dream, he heads to the city to find the legendary - and reclusive - musician Angus Scattergood, who needs to write a new song and fast. If Bodi can put a band together, help Angus with his song and defeat the wolves' plot to take Snow Mountain, his life will be in tune and he will become what he’s always dreamed of being: more than a dog … more than a rock god … he’ll be a ROCK DOG!

It's a fun, action-packed movie with funny characters and some good life lessons for both parents and kids.

Running Time: 90 minutes
Cert: PG

Disclosure : We received a review copy of the dvd.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Cadbury Dairy Milk Tiffin review

I thought I'd tried pretty much all of the different Cadbury Dairy Milk varieties at least once, but when I was given the chance to review a bar of Tiffin, I realised that this one had passed me by. It debuted in the UK over a decade ago, enjoyed a limited edition run as a 95g bar last summer and has now been brought back as a permanent fixture after an impassioned social media campaign by fans for its revival.

I remember making tiffin in a home economics class at school many years ago, mixing up broken digestive biscuits and raisins, covering them in chocolate and pressing them into a tin to set. These days, nobody talks about tiffin any more - it's fridge cake all the way - so I love the trip down memory lane that the name gives me. The Dairy Milk bar basically follows the same recipe, combining crunchy biscuit and dried grapes smothered in Cadbury Dairy Milk. This gives it a great mixture of flavours and textures and it was a hit with the whole family.

A 25g serving, equal to five chunks, contains 126 calories, 6.4g of fat (of which 3.8g saturates) and 15g of carbs (of which 13g sugar).

Cadbury Dairy Milk Tiffin is available in 200g bars, for a RRP of £2.49 at all major supermarkets.

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

#MySundayphoto #SundaySnap 15/10/17

OneDad3GirlsSunday Snap

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Madhouse recipe : Meatballs Cottage Pie

I always think of this dish as a Turkish version of Cottage Pie because meatballs in gravy topped with mashed potato was a dish I first discovered in our hotel in Fethiye this summer. Adding vegetables was my own addition but it worked really well, making it into a complete meal and getting the kids guzzling veg with gusto. In the hotel version, they used bigger meatballs and less potato (more of a potato hat than a complete covering of mash), making it easier to serve than my version.

Meatballs Cottage Pie

ingredients :

a pack of frozen meatballs (or make your own)
a pack of frozen veg
salt, pepper

First of all, get the potatoes on to boil in a pan of salted water.

For speed, I used a bag of mixed frozen veg but you could use fresh. This would also be a great recipe for using up leftover cooked veg.

Transfer to an ovenproof dish and pour over some gravy. I just used instant gravy made with granules and boiling water.

Cook the meatballs. You've guessed it - for speed, I used frozen shop bought meatballs but you could make your own using mince or even sausage meat.

Arrange the meatballs on top of the veg and gravy.

Drain and mash the potatoes, using butter, milk and anything else you might want to add for extra flavour (mustard, garlic salt or parmesan, for example). Carefully place a spoonful of mash on top of each meatball. 

Pop in the oven until you're ready to eat. Juliette thought it would have been nice to add some grated cheese on top but I'm not sure about the combination of cheese and gravy - let me know if you try it !

This is fabulous as a quick midweek meal - in half an hour, it was on the table (and ten minutes later, there was nothing left but a smear of gravy in the pan !)

Adding to this month's #KitchenClearout linky because this is a great recipe for using up leftover cooked vegetables and/or mash.