Thursday, 31 May 2012

Tilda Kids Range (review)

I often buy Tilda rice, and was curious to read about a new range of rice for kids introduced by Tilda.
Tilda and its new character - Tilli the elephant - offer busy Mums and their hungry little monkeys a range of tasty meals of rice and vegetables.
Tilda Kids rice comes in four varieties: Sweet Vegetable & Wholegrain rice, Mild & Sweet Curry, Cheese & Tomato and Sunshine Vegetable rice.

Eddie loves when I make the egg-fried rice with peas, he scoops it with a hand and eats with gusto.
When I saw a request on BritMums asking for bloggers to review the Tilda Kids range, I applied at once.
First impressions: the pouches look very attractive, with lovely pictures that would appeal to a child. Who wouldn't like a cute blue elephant Tilli and her friends: children dressed as a monkey, a tiger, a crocodile and a parrot?! A big thumb up for the cute design!

We first tried the Sunshine Vegetable Rice. We don't use a microwave, but these pouches can be heated in a pan very easily, just add 2 tbsp of water and stir. So, what do you find inside? Steamed basmati with pieces of the butternut squash, carrots and sweetcorn, all kids' favourites. It has a lovely orangey colour.
All varieties of Tilda Kids rice come with the secret veggies, apart from the obvious chunks of veg there is also an added vegetable puree which counts as your 1-of-5 a day.

After warming it up, I added it to pre-roasted sweet pepper halves and put in the oven for 5 minutes.
There is enough rice for two halves of the sweet pepper.

Eddie enjoyed his dish of the Sunshine rice a lot. This rice is clearly catering to the kids' tastes.
There are also cute poems printed on pouches:

Tilli is an elephant
Tilli is a cook
Tilli's made some recipes
So come take a look!

Cheese & Tomato rice is a mix of the basmati rice with the tomatoes and cheese. The inspiration for the recipe is the famous Margherita pizza. The suggestion for the rice is to serve it with the meatballs.
I cooked the turkey meatballs (mix the minced turkey with a grated small raw potato, 2 slices of bread which were soaked in milk, then squeezed and crumbled, with a bit of salt and oregano). This rice was probably Eddie's favourite. It has a lovely balanced taste of the cheese and tomatoes.

He was quick to tuck in and ate the rice with the turkey meatballs with great appetite.

Mild & Sweet Curry rice is the steamed basmati with the green beans, sweet potato and apricots. It is best served with chicken (Tilda's suggestion).
I wasn't sure if Eddie was going to like it, as he never had a curry before. This is a mild curry-flavoured rice but it still has a very distinct aroma and taste. Eddie tried a forkful and then it took a bit of convincing to have a few more. In the end, he decided he didn't want any more. I was still pleased with the result, as he didn't completely refuse to eat it, he gave it a try (and I was happy to finish it with my salad for lunch). As with all the new foods, you just need to keep offering.

Sweet Vegetable & Wholegrain Rice is the steamed basmati with the sweet potato, sweetcorn, carrots and other veg.

I offered it to Eddie with a chicken frankfurter. He was very enthusiastic.

What is our overall opinion? These pouches are very convenient to use, time-wise it takes a couple of minutes to heat the rice up in the pan.
I prefer to cook meals from scratch, but at times when you come home hungry from a long walk in the park or after the playground, and you want to eat something quickly, these pouches offer a great alternative to home cooked rice.

All four types of rice look appetising, with nice chunks of vegetables, plus the hidden veggies in the sauce. You could serve them on their own, or as an accompaniment to meat or fish.
Eddie enjoyed eating them,with the Cheese & Tomato rice being his top favourite.

The new Tilda Kids range is available in Tesco stores, most Morrisons, Waitrose, Asda and on Ocado, with an RRP of £1.15 for a 125g pack.

And if you have time to be creative, have a look at the following recipes:

Smiley Face Frittatas

For the recipe please visit this page.

Beans Means Boats

For the recipe above please visit this page.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Jubilee cake


3 large eggs
2 tbsp cocoa powder
200g self-raising powder
1 tsp baking powder
200g golden caster sugar
200g butter, unsalted
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing
1 tbsp cocoa powder
50g icing sugar
30g butter, unsalted
1 tbsp brandy

For the decorations
3 tbsp Dr Oetker Apricot glaze
Dr Oetker Ready to Roll White Icing
Dr Oetker Soft Silver Pearls
Queen Writing Icing (Black)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
Grease two 20cm sandwch tins and line with the baking parchment.
2. In a big mixing bowl sift the flour with the cocoa powder and baking powder.
3. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture is pale and creamy. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff. Add the egg/sugar mix to the big bowl with the flour and cocoa and mix well, adding vanilla extract too. Fold the egg whites in the mixture, using a large wooden spatula.
4. Spoon the mixture into two sandwich tins and smooth the tops with the spoon.
5. Bake the cake for about 20-25 minutes or until it feels firm. Using a wooden skewer, check that the cake is done.
6. Leave the cake out for about 10 minutes, then carefully move to the wire cooling rack and leave there until completely cool.
7.Prepare the icing by sifting the cocoa powder and the icng sugar in the bowl, then add the butter and the brandy, mix until it is smooth and shiny. If the icing is too thick, add another spoonful of brandy.
8. Spread the icing on top of the first layer and sandwich the two layers together.
9. Using a knife, spread the Apricot glaze over the top and sides of the cake.
10. Roll out the Ready to roll icing on a non-stick board to 5mm thickness.Drape the icing over the cake carefully. Use the rolling pin as a support tool to move the icing onto the cake without tearing it. Gently smooth the icing across the top of the cake, using your hands. Be careful not to leave the fingerprints, so don't press to hard. Smooth the icing down towards the base of the cake and trim any excess at the base with the knife.
11. Leave the cake for a day before decorating.
12. Trace the image on the parchment paper with a pencil. Once you are happy with the image, put the paper over the cake and using the big needle, pin prick the design carefully, without shifting the paper.
13. Remove the paper, now you have the design on the cake surface. Using the writing icing, carefully draw your design. Add the silver pearls at the end.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Great news for Disney's Club Penguin Fans: a new sticker collection!

If you are a Disney's Club Penguin fan, I'm sure you were awaiting the launch of a new sticker collection from Club Penguin with impatience. Finally it is here.

New Sticker Collection for Disney’s Club Penguin

Sticker packs featuring favourite characters give kids access to items to collect from the snow-capped virtual world’s Treasure Book

London, UNITED KINGDOM, 14 May 2012 – Disney’s Club Penguin today announces the launch of a new sticker collection featuring popular characters from the snow-capped virtual world.

The collection of 204 stickers, including 36 specially designed glitter stickers, is produced by Panini UK. Sticker packs, containing five stickers, will hit the high-street on Tuesday 15 May priced at 50p each. Collectors will also be able to pick up a starter pack - including a Club Penguin sticker album and 3 sticker packs - for £1.99.

Be careful not to throw away the backing of the sticker once you peel it off, one of the stickers in the pack has a code for Penguin Club. I am not sure if it is one per pack or one per sticker. The information in the album says "a special code on every sticker", however, I opened one pack and found only one code. The free stickers that came with the album had no codes at all.

As with all Club Penguin toys, books, videogames, apps and the Disney Club Penguin magazine, the sticker packs will connect to the virtual world. Every pack comes with a unique code and while most will unlock coins to use in the virtual world, a select number of special sticker packs will bear a code that will give access to Club Penguin’s Treasure Book where fans can select one item from a range which includes clothing, puffles and more coins.

Lucy Woodward, Director of Disney Online Studios for The Walt Disney Company, Europe, Middle East and Africa says: “We are delighted to add another creative and colourful product to the Club Penguin entertainment portfolio. We are always looking for new ideas and engaging ways for kids to interact and play. The sticker collection is a really great way for kids to collect all their favouriate Club Penguin characters as well as being able to get something extra that they can then use in the virtual world.“

Club Penguin is also releasing a range of mini figure blind bags. Each foil pack comes with a collectible penguin and puffle micro figure as well as a coin which allows kids to unlock one item from the Treasure Book. The Club Penguin mini figure blind bags are on sale in all major retail outlets from Friday 1 June for £1.99.

Launched in October 2005, Club Penguin has seen more than 175 million registered users pass through the site. With its imaginative play environment, word filtering technology and live moderation, award-winning Club Penguin has built a solid reputation as a safe and secure online destination that provides fun for kids and peace of mind for parents.

So, what exciting pages are there to be found in the new sticker album? There are lots of your favourite characters, penguins and puffles, having adventures on board the Migrator or Underwater, relaxing in the Community Garden or showing off their favourite outfits.
The sticker album is produced by Panini and is exactly what you would expect from any themed sticker album with an added bonus of the special codes. What will you do? Unlock coins online? Or even get access to the Treasure Island?
Happy stickering!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Spice up your Jubilee cake: Bart's Jubilee Sponge

I love baking challenges and was delighted to be asked to take part in the Bart's Jubilee Sponge bake-off.

I received a bag of baking goodies including the self-raising flour, icing and granulated sugar and a selection of the Bart spices: ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, mint, vanilla pod, ground nutmeg and Bristol Blend five pepper.

The recipe itself has been created by the winner of the Great British Bake-Off Edd Kimber. He came up with an idea of spicing up the classic Victoria sponge to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this summer. The modern twist on the classic recipe included a selection of the spices from all over the world. The photo you see below is the cake baked by Edd Kimber.

Adding the pepper to the sweet cake was a novelty idea, but I like exploring new tastes.
I realised I don't have a pepper mill (the spice jar wasn't the grinder variety), so off I went to get it as well as another 20 cm round sandwich tin.

½ tsp Bart Bristol Blend Five Peppercorns

½ tsp Bart Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp Bart Ground Ginger

¼ tsp Bart Ground Nutmeg

2 tsp Bart Mint (Freeze Dried)

250g self-raising flour

¼ tsp salt

250g margarine or butter

250g Bart Vanilla Sugar

4 eggs, beaten

For the filling and topping:

250g cream cheese

150ml double cream

100g icing sugar

250g strawberries, quartered

200g blueberries

1. Grease and line two 20cm round sandwich tins. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy.
3. Mix all the ingredients together and slowly add to the mixture, along with the eggs.

4. Divide the mixture between the two tins and smooth the tops. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until well-risen and golden-brown in colour, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
5. Leave to coll in the tins for 10 minutes then turn out on the wire racks to cool completely.
6. When completely cool, cut each cake horizontally so you have four thin cakes.

To make the task easier, I would suggest cut a line around the cake in the middle and then put a thread around like this.

Then pull both ends of the thread together and hey presto you have two neat layers.

7. To make the filling beat together the cream cheese, cream and icing sugar until thick and smooth. Spread the cream on top of one cake layer and scatter over one quarter of strawberries and blueberries.

Top with another cake and repeat.

I had a feeling that the filling might be too runny with that amount of the cream, but against my cooking instincts decided to follow the recipe. It was runny, as I thought.
I would love to know how Edd managed to bake such straight flat layers. Both of my sponges were dome-shaped, so the cake wasn't flat either.
I also added more strawberries (400g as opposed to 200g in the recipe above, but reduced the amount of blueberries).
As you can see from the photo above, my flag was more like a blue and red rug, the berries kept sliding down. I decided: fine, this is not a flag, this is a rug for the corgi. So, I quickly cut out a piece of the white marzipan and using the writing icing drew a cartoonish dog.

What's the verdict on the taste? I think the selection of the spices was a bit too random. The strong ginger suppresses the more delicate flavours of the vanilla, and to my taste, there was too much mint as well. The five pepper blend adds an intriguing warmth to the cake and works well with the cinnamon and nutmeg.
The sponge itself is very light, and the cake is very moist due to the amount of the filling and berries.
If I were to bake this cake again, I would probably remove the ginger altogether and reduce the amount of mint. I would also add much less cream to the filling to make it thicker. Or make a different cream altogether, with the cream cheese, vanilla sugar and butter, or a mix of mascarpone and ricotta.
At the same time I applaud the inventiveness behind this recipe. It looks festive and has an original taste.

P.S. This cake tastes better the next day, once all the layers have absorbed the cream. Our visitors loved it. My husband thought it was "exceptionally good".

Monday, 21 May 2012

Zesty pleasures of a new Provamel yogurt (review)

Provamel's Botanical range has been joined by a new flavour: Orange and Redbush.

Adding botanical elements to the yogurts is not a totally novelty idea. Do you remember Plum range of baby yogurts that used added herbs? What was it called: Botanics? It is sadly unavailable anymore as apparently there wasn't enough demand for it.

It was a clever approach on Provamel's part to introduce a range that combines "a radical fusion of natural herbal remedies muddled with delicious fruits". I have read about this range with great interest. I love herbal teas and believe in the herbal remedies too.
I was quite curious to try a new yogurt and I wasn't disappointed.

This is an inspired fusion of flavours. The yogurt is very creamy, has a warm colour and a very refreshing taste. The main note is the zesty orange, followed by a more delicate taste of redbush tea.
Redbush also known as Rooibos is famous for its high level of antioxidants, and is packed full with vitamins and minerals.
This yogurt reminded me of the Muller Amore/Orange yogurt but it has an added appeal of the redbush tea.

Some of the soya-based products on the market are rather insipid or bland. Provamel proves that soya-based products can be tasty. This range is a good news to anyone who is lactose-intolerant or has an allergy to the cows' milk-based protein

Provamel's new Orange and Redbush flavour yogurt is now available at RRP of £1.55 from most of the health food shops, both independent and major.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Witney prepares for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and a little giveaway NOW CLOSED

Our town is starting the Jubilee preparations with all kinds of window displays.
My favourite shop Teddy Bears of Witney always has fantastic displays.

Not far from the Teddy bears there is a shop that sells sewing supplies, I liked their simple embroidery on display.

This cute little chap is from the same sewing supplies shop. You might have guessed I love teddies. :)

The local cafe Huffkins has its own selection of the Jubilee goodies on offer.

And then there is a shop that sells linen. But I better stop or you'll get bored.

It is in the shop above that I found this cute tea towel "Proud to be British" from McCaw Allan. The design is by cartoonist Annie Tempest of the Tottering-by-Gently fame.

I would like to offer this tea towel for one of my blog readers.

To enter this giveaway, please comment below and leave some means of contacting you in case you win (either your Twitter name or Forum username/if you are from one of the comping forums, or if you are a blogger, make sure you have an email address in your profile). Sorry, but I won't be chasing a winner who hasn't left any means of contact (I don't ask for your email address).

You DO NOT have to follow my blog to be entered in the draw. If you do, I'll be delighted, but it won't give you a bonus entry.

Question (pick any): how do you plan to celebrate the Jubilee? Will you be baking (like I plan) cakes? Or having a street party? Or you have nothing planned except watching the TV?

I will pick a winner after the closing day of 17 June 2012.

P.S. This is not a sponsored giveaway, I bought this item and will send it to the winner.


Many thanks to all who entered and told me of their plans for the Jubilee, I enjoyed reading all the comments.
All the names went in the Raffleking and
Well done! I am going to get in touch with you re your address.

Thanks again to all entrants, there is another giveaway coming very soon on my blog.

Treat Yourself the Fudges' Way (review)

I am always fascinated by the family stories behind famous products, and read with great interest that Fudges (the range of sweet and savoury buscuits, cakes and flatbreads) was founded by Great, Great Granddad Percy Fudge in 1926. The new generation of the Fudge family has been working hard to preserve the traditions. I think old Percy would have been proud of his great great grandchildren.
All products are made using only the finest ingredients, and are locally sourced from the Dorset farms and dairies where possible.

I am well acquainted with the Fudges biscuits, we particularly love their cheese straws and numerous biscuits for cheese. Just a few days ago we had visitors from Italy who stayed for dinner, and I served Fudges Walnut Wafers with the cheese selection. Our guests were so impressed with the wafers they asked me what they were and where they could buy them, as they wanted to bring some back to Italy.

But as the Fudges range is so varied, we haven't tried all of the products, and when I was asked to test and review some products from Fudges, I haven't thought longer than a second before saying Yes, please.
We were sent two products to try:
Stem ginger biscuits and Cheddar wafers.

Stem Ginger Biscuits

Aren't they pretty? All stem Ginger biscuits are half-dipped in Belgian dark chocolate for an indulgent treat. These biscuits are crunchy, spicy and scrumptious.
Personally I would have loved a slightly more gingery taste and increase the content of the ginger shavings from 6% to at least 12% or more. My favourite selection from a box of chocolates would be ginger coated in chocolate, and I love it when the stem ginger almost takes your breath away.
I wish I have seen and tried these biscuits when I was pregnant, they would have been very welcome. A combination of the ginger and chocolate is always a winning one.

Cheddar Wafers

Cheddar Wafers are made with the mature Cheddar cheese, and are perfect with the glass of chilled wine. They work beautifully with the soft goat's cheese. They are very delicate in texture and melt in the mouth. For a truly decadent little snack try to sandwich two wafers with a layer of mild ricotta cheese in the middle. As they have a very pronounced taste of Cheddar, it is better not to eat them with any strong smelly cheeses, so that the flavours don't contradict each other.

All the Fudges boxes have a modern design and look very inviting.

 Fudges biscuits have that home-made taste but the professional looks. They make lovely gifts too.
To find out more about Fudges Bakery and their range of products, follow them on Facebook at

Monday, 14 May 2012

Just Yu! and nobody else but Yu!

Eddie is our king of raisins, he would live on raisins alone given a chance. I have been buying Yu! yogurt-coated raisins for him for a few months, and he enjoys eating them very much.

When I was asked to review some of the new Yu! products, I immediately said Yes, please.

You might have seen Yu! products in the baking sections of Sainsbury's and Tesco among the dried fruit snacks.

Yogurt coated fruit pieces are availaible in strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant and raisin (RRP£0.45 per single 25g pouch or £2.00 per 5 x 25g multipack).
They are delicious bites of real berries covered in a creamy yogurt coating. Perfect for the school lunchboxes and for snacking at home too. Kids will love these healthy snacks, they taste so good.

I say kids, but actually they are not just for kids. It is easy to carry a small bag of snacks with you in a purse, and enjoy with your cuppa in the office. You don't have to feel guilty for having a sweet treat. These snacks are made from real fruit and berries and are totally free from any added nasties.

 We first tried the little bag of yogurt coated raspberries, and they disappeared so fast that I didn't have a chance to take a photo. These are freeze-dried pieces of raspberries, naturally sweet and with a delicate taste of the yogurt coating.
Next it was the turn of the strawberries coated in yogurt, and they were lovely too.

What you see on a photo on a plate above are the strawberries coated in yogurt and 100% Jus Fruit (mango and blueberry).
100% Jus Fruit are delicious bite-sized pieces of dried fruit, one of your 5-a-day and less than 90 calories.They are made from more than 7.2 times its own weight in real fruit. The fruit has been concentrated into fruit pieces.100% Jus Fruit is available in 4 fantastic flavours: strawberry, blackcurrant, blueberry and mango. They retailat £0.67 per single24g pouch.

Eddie absolutely loved them. Alas, I cannot find them yet in the local supermarkets. They are basically little buttons of the concentrated fruit juice, full of flavour and slightly chewy. Hopefully they will appear soon locally. Personally I prefer them to the yogurt coated berries, they are delicious. I guess they might be lovely sprinkled on top of the granola in the morning, or added to Greek-style yogurts.

Yu! Bars - 40% fruit combined with cereal in a healthy yogurt coating. These bars are available in four different flavours: strawberry, cherry, wild berry and apricot. RRP £1.79 per 3x 30g bars.

I left trying the cereal bar until the very last moment, as I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I had
my share of the yogurt-based health bars that taste like cardboard.
But a strawberry Yu! bar happened to be a lovely surpise. It looks fun too: a layer of rice crispies with the bits of strawberries, all coated in yogurt. Eddie and I both had a half each, and it was
gone in 60 seconds. It has a delicate taste, with a nice crunch and well-balanced flavours. And it changed my view on the yogurt-coated cereal bars. Perfect for when you are feeling peckish.