Saturday, 29 July 2017

Clipper Extra Strong Tea

"The Chinese say it's better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one" (Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns)

While I haven't tried to go without food for three days, I think that a day without for me would be a pure torture.

Clipper tea is a well-known and much-loved brand. Its range of teas is extensive and varied. I often buy Clipper Earl Grey and English Breakfast teas.

Recently Clipper has added a new flavour to its range - Clipper Extra Strong Tea.

Clipper introduces their new tea as "a punchy brew which is bold and intense. Our Extra Strong blend of quality black teas from East Africa, Assam and Sri Lanka is big, bright and flavoursome".

British tea brands

I rarely drink unflavoured black tea, and often add a slice of lemon, a teaspoon of honey, some sliced strawberries or a few mint leaves to my cup.
Clipper Extra Strong Tea is a perfect morning pick-me-up. It is dark amber in colour and bold in taste. It is delicious hot, with a slice of lemon.

It is also lovely, used a base for iced tea, with crushed mint leaves, lemon and strawberries.
Have you tried the new Clipper tea?

iced tea

For more information check Clipper Teas.

Friday, 28 July 2017

New food discoveries

New food products appear on the shelves of supermarkets on a daily basis. It's impossible to try them all. Some are limited editions and are available only for a short time, some come to stay, some get discontinued after a while, perhaps due to a lack of demand.

Here are some of my food discoveries that merit a mention this month.

Taylors of Harrogate Nespresso compatible coffee capsules are Rainforest Alliance Certified. There are several flavours in the range, and we have tried two of them.
Beautiful design of packaging helps them to stand out on the shelf of nespresso coffee capsules.

Spice Kautaka India is a dark and intense coffee, "with fiery flashes of spice and smoke".

It promises: "This extra dark Indian espresso is seriously intense, smouldering with fragrant spice notes. It offers dusky dark chocolate flavour pierced by fiery flashed of peppercorn and clove, with a rich and smoky finish".
Very enjoyable coffee, it definitely is dark, rich and spicy.

Decaf coffee doesn't have to be boring - Taylors of Harrogate Praline Especial Brazil decaf is a scrumptious flavourful coffee, with a hint of hazelnut praline.

I love all things coconutty, and was glad to discover CoYo coconut milk yoghurts. It is a bit on the pricey side at £1.50, so it's more of a treat rather than a daily breakfast fodder, but oh boy, it's good.
I have tried two of three flavours: vanilla bean and salted caramel.
Vanilla Bean coconut milk yoghurt is lovely on its own, very smooth and moreish, with a delicious coconut and vanilla flavour. At 219kcal per 100g serving, it has 99% pure coconut and no added sugar. It is also vegan.

vegan yogurts

CoYo is available in all major supermarkets.

vegan yogurt

Waitrose has a splendid range of their own products.
Nonno Nanni is a classic Italian brand. My younger son loves its creamy spreadable cheese. Whenever we go to Italy, we bring back a couple of tubs of Nonno Nanni.
I was delighted to find Robiola Nonno Nanni in Waitrose 1 range. Big well done for bringing this delicious cream cheese to the British shores.
It is so smooth and light and simply melts in your mouth.

best Italian cheese in the UK

While Eddie loves to eat it spread on crackers, like Tuc, I love it simply on toasted bread.

Bio-tiful kefir has recently appeared in Sainsbury's, which is great news. I have already reviewed kefir from Bio-tiful Dairy Ltd (see post Cultured milk drinks from Bio-tiful Dairy), and could find it in the local health shop, but it's there quite sporadically, so not always available. Sainsbury's has bottles of both sizes.

fermented dairy products

I have tried many Polish brands of kefir which you can buy in Tesco or in the Polish delis, but in my opinion Bio-tiful kefir is of superior quality, it is creamy and smooth, and simply delicious.

fermented dairy products

Percy Pigs are a bit of a Marmite product. You are either a big fan, or complain of the "soapy taste" (see numerous debates on Mumsnet on the matter). We love Percy Pigs. They are squishy, sweet and juicy.
This month, our favourite piggy is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
To commemorate the event, M&S sell Percy Pigs in limited edition festive packs.
We enjoyed looking at the silly faces in Percy's Percynalities.

If you love Percy, have you seen the competition to create Percy's parents?
You don't even have to be an artist to draw them. Just describe Percy's parents in up to 250 words and enter by 1 September for the chance to see your characters come to (gummy) life on M&S shelves.
Email your entries to
(information taken from the newsletter, I don't have more details).

New Peanut, Cashew & Pecan Butter with a hint of sea salt spread could also be found in M&S. I love nuts, and this combination of nuts is right up my street.
It has a grainy texture and is not as easy to spread as peanut butter. I like the hint of sea salt, it balances well the sweetness of nuts. Overall, it is not a sweet spread.
It would be great for making savoury dish sauces, and is an excellent ingredient for cookies (see my recipe post for Peanut, cashew pecan oat cookies with chocolate chips).

And finally, two new flavours of Jacobs Mini Cheddars - Stilton and Red Leicester. We are big fans of Cheddars/Mini Cheddars, and have been for years. Two new flavours are a welcome addition to the Cheddars' family. They are both scrumptious, in fact, if I had to choose, I'd be really stumped, as I like them both.
Each small pack is 132kcal, which is very reasonable for a savoury snack.

Is there a new product which you have tried recently, and would be happy to recommend?

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Despicable Me 3 Labyrinth board game from Ravensburger

best board games

Minions, you can't escape them! They're taking over, and not just in toy shops, Happy Meals or children's clothes' departments. Have a look around any supermarket - their grinning faces stare at you from cereal packs, sweets, pasta shapes, candy, Kinder Eggs and cakes.

Eddie had a Minions cake for his birthday party, and pronounced it tasty. As long as there is his favourite character on the cake, it is deemed to be tasty. Never mind a thick layer of garish icing, apparently that's the best part.

We watched Despicable Me 3 recently: Eddie was very enthusiastic, I went to the cinema under duress. Oh, the things we parents agree to do to please our offspring!!!

Now that we are on holidays, the weather is far from clement. Isn't it typical?! For days during the school term it was boiling hot, and once the summer holidays started, the summer feels more like autumn. Rain, rain, go away.

When it's raining, board games are a must.

In the last couple of weeks, we have enjoyed playing with Ravensburger Despicable Me 3 Labyrinth board game which is our new family favourite.

Image credits: Ravensburger

best board games

This is a new version of the original Labyrinth game.
This game is "a race to find Minions in a moving maze with all your favourite Despicable Me 3 characters".
What's included in the set?
You get 1 game board, 34 maze cards, 24 character cards, 4 playing pieces and instructions.
It looks deceptively simple.

We love this game, it is absolutely addictive. It also distracts from ipads and other techy gadgets.

What's the object of the game? You have to search the Labyrinth for Despicable Me 3 characters, strategically moving through the maze and shifting the walls of the Labyrinth. The first player who finds all of their Minions and characters and returns to the starting point wins.

You shuffle the maze cards before the start of the game, then place them on the board randomly to create the maze. With one card left over, you begin shuffling and dealing the character cards.
Each player chooses a playing piece and places it on the starting square.
You're not supposed to show your top card to any other players, and have to try to get to the square with the identical image. To do that, insert a maze card and move your playing piece.

It might sound simple and easy. What you have to take into account though is that your opponents will do everything possible to destroy your route to the coveted place. Again and again you have to rethink your route. It could turn completely fiendish.
The maze is unpredictable, it shifts, it moves, it changes all the time.

This is an excellent game which helps develop logical thinking and strategic planning skills.
This super game is designed for 2-4 players aged 7+. You can play a slightly easier version with younger kids.

Summer weather is unpredictable, don't despair if you cannot play outdoors. Board games are great fun, and Despicable Me 3 Labyrinth board game would be a lovely addition to any collection of board games.

Disclosure: we received this game for the purposes of testing and reviewing. All opinions are ours

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Peanut, cashew & pecan butter oat cookies with chocolate chips

best peanut butter cookies

Browsing the nut spreads section at M&S the other day, I have spotted a new Peanut, Cashew & Pecan Butter with a hint of sea salt. I love nuts, and this combination was right up my street.
It has a grainy texture and is not as easy to spread as peanut butter. I liked the hint of sea salt, it balances well the sweetness of nuts. Overall, it is not a sweet spread.

I often bake peanut butter cookies, and fancied trying the new nutty spread in the cookie recipe.
It is definitely not a low calorie recipe, so if you are on a diet, sorry, that's not for you.

best cookies recipes

Peanut, cashew & pecan butter oat cookies with chocolate chips (makes 25)
50g demerara sugar
50g caster sugar
50g margarine (e.g. Flora Light)
1 medium egg
200g peanut, cashew & pecan butter
150 self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
140g oats with seeds (I used 2 MOMA super seed porridge sachets)
50g chocolate chips

In a big mixing bowl beat together sugar with margarine and egg. Add the nut butter, flour, baking powder, oats and chocolate chips and mix well.
Pinch cookie batter the size of a walnut, and roll between palms, then flatten to make a cookie.
Place cookies on two trays, lined with parchment paper or foil.
Put the baking trays in the oven preheated to 180C. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.
Remove the trays and carefully put cookies on the wire rack to cool. The cookies will still be pretty soft, so handle with care. They will get harder outside once cooled. If you keep them for longer in the oven, they will turn rock hard.

best cookies

I used two MOMA super seeds porridge sachets in this recipe which were a month or so over the sell-by-date but still perfectly fine, thus I'm adding this post to #KitchenClearout linky run by Cheryl from Madhouse Family Reviews.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

July Degustabox - Summer Box

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tasty snacks

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

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

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

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

best mustard

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

yogurts for children

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 24 July 2017

Coconut rum cake

baking with alcohol, boozy cakes

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

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

coconut rum

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

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

best coconut rum cakes

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

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

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

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

best cakes