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)
Ingredients:
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
Ingredients:
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


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Ravensburger 3D American Flag Sneaker Puzzle (review + giveaway E: 7 August 2017)

best jigsaw puzzles, teachers' gifts

If you're on the lookout for a quirky and unusual gift for your child's teacher, how about a Ravensburger 3D American Flag Sneaker puzzle for them to keep pens and pencils in one place?!
If the American Flag version is not to your taste, there is a similar Graffiti sneaker puzzle, and I've seen somewhere an Animal Trend sneaker as well.
It would definitely make a different present. There are so many Best Teacher Ever mugs one person could have, and I imagine 30 boxes of chocolate or smellies might also be not that welcome.



We have quite a collection of 3D puzzles from Ravensburger at home, they last well (if you don't knock them down).
The puzzle comes in a sturdy box and includes 108 puzzle pieces, plus the plastic sneaker base and a pencil holder insert.
All the puzzle pieces are numbered in the back and have a mini arrow, which shows where the next piece should be attached. The pieces slot into each other with ease and hold well.


Once the upper part of the sneaker is assembled, attach it to the base and insert the pencil holder inside the sneaker.

best jigsaw puzzles, gifts for teachers

Eddie's colouring pens now found a new home. He loves his colourful pencil holder. It looks bright and cheerful on the shelf with the DVDs, or on the table, when Eddie is colouring his school projects.


Disclosure: We received the puzzle for the purposes of reviewing. All opinions are our own.



Lovely people from Ravensburger have offered a prize for my blog readers.

One lucky winner will receive their own 3D American Flag Sneaker Puzzle.

To be in with a chance of winning, please enter via Rafflecopter form.

T&Cs:
The giveaway is open to the UK residents only.
Once the Rafflecopter picks the winner, I will contact them regarding address details, if they do not reply within 28 day, the prize will be allocated to another person.
Please don't forget to leave a comment, as it is the only mandatory step, I will make sure the winner selected by Rafflecopter has complied with T&Cs.
The prize will be posted by Ravensburger.
Giveaway ends on 7 August 2017 (midnight).

Good luck!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 17 July 2017

Jerte Picota Infused Pimm's

summer drinks, summer cocktails

After a few cooler days we are back to hot and humid again. Sigh. I'm not made for this weather, I'm a Northerner through and through. I could never live in the properly hot countries.
On hot summer days we drink lots of iced tea, both bought and homemade.
Ice cube trays are replenished daily.

Pimm's is the quintessential British summer drink. All the pubs in town have boards with offers of jugs of Pimm's. We don't often indulge in it. The last bottle of Pimm's I bought to use in a recipe, lasted me over 2 years. I added it to berry salads and fruit crumbles a little bit at a time, and still it took ages to shift it.
There are many variations of the Pimm's cocktail: some prefer to add borage instead of mint, some go for a ginger beer rather than lemonade or soda water.
Strawberries are lovely, but you can always swap them for another juicy berry or fruit.
Have you tried Pimm's with cherries?

summer cocktails


Jerte Picota cherry is the perfect addition in a delicious glass of Pimm's.

Jerte Picota Infused Pimm's (recipe courtesy of Dialogue Agency)
Ingredients:
100ml Pimm's No.1
225g Jerte Picota cherries, pitted
200ml soda water or lemonade
2 sprigs fresh mint
2 slices of cucumber
fresh Jerte Picota cherries, to serve
ice, crushed
Method:
1.Place the cherries into a food processor until a smooth puree is produced.
2. Put the cherry puree, cucumber slices, 1 mint sprig and Pimm's in a jar and mix well.
3. Pour in the soda water/lemonade and add crushed ice, then gently stir
4. To serve, pour into glasses and garnish with fresh mint leaves and Jerte Picota cherries.
Enjoy this refreshing and tasty drink in time for summer!

Spanish cherries


About Jerte Picota P.D.O.
The Jerte Picota is not only unique because of its PDO status, but also because it's harvested without its stalk. Its shape, too, is unique, with the slight peak at the base prompting the name Picota or peaked.

I managed to find Picota cherries in Sainsbury's (currently at £1 per punnet). I know that the Co-Op used to sell them as well, but I couldn't find them there this year.



They are only available for six weeks per year, but their taste is worth the wait.
For more information, visit Picota.

If you cannot find Picota, or when the season is over, you can always swap them for British cherries.

I fancied trying the recipe, but didn't want to buy the whole bottle, so used a pre-mixed tin of Pimm's with lemonade, as you can see from the photos.

summer drinks

Of course, if you are entertaining, it makes sense to buy a big bottle and mix your own cocktails.

This is a lovely summer cocktail, with beautiful flavours all along.

Are you a fan of Pimm's?

summer drinks