Review and giveaway: River Cottage EPA/Burt’s Crisps

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One of my favourite things about summer is how much sport there is to enjoy – and what a summer this is turning out to be! We’ve already had one of the best World Cups I can remember, Wimbledon (boo!), the Tour de France, and now, for the next two weeks or so Glasgow is going to be buzzing with the Commonwealth Games. It’s going to be ace, and despite some travel disruption (it took me an extra 15 minutes to get into work today, with all the road closures and diversions) I’m really looking forward to both the events we’re going to (gymnastics, rugby 7s, athletics, road cycling and probably the marathon) and the ones I’ll be watching on TV.

It’s hard work watching all this sport, so I was thrilled to receive a sports fan pack from River Cottage EPA and Burts Chips – just the refreshment I needed!

River Cottage English Pale Ale is a new beer developed by Skinner’s Brewery and the lovely people at River Cottage, and one I thoroughly enjoyed, although not as strongly flavoured as the IPAs, red ales and porters I tend to go for these days.

Burts Chips were some of the nicest handcooked potato chips I think I’ve ever had. I tried 3 flavours

  • sea salt, which was everything you’d expect
  • vintage cheddar and onion which, as someone who doesn’t normally like cheese and onion crisps, were a revelation
  • Guinness rich beef chilli. These ones disappeared very quickly indeed, thanks to my Guinness loving father-in-law. We all agreed they could have done with a bit more spice, but they were still delicious

The only problem with the chips being so good is they were gone in no time, and now I’ve none left for the rest of the summer. Oh well, guess I’ll have to buy some more.

Now for the best bit – I’ve got another one of these packs to give away to one lucky reader! To enter, just leave a comment below saying what your sporting highlight of summer 2014 is/will be. I’ll be picking a winner at 12 noon next Monday (July 28th 2014) so make sure you get your entries in by then. And good luck!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Alister Pullen, whose comment (#4) was picked at random by the random number generator at www.random.org.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Sponsored Post: BakingMad.com

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Anyone who knows us knows that amazing things come out of our kitchen with amazing regularity. Rarely are these wonderful creations my doing, I should point out, for I am married to a veritable culinary genius who can whip up an incredible meal in the time it takes me to find and open a recipe book, never mind pick out something I think I can make.

And it’s not just meals, either, Gem is also becoming quite the master baker, and several of her offerings have featured on the Sunday Baking Club blog.

So when BakingMad.com got in touch with me, and asked me to make one of their recipes I jumped at the chance – it would be my turn to shine for a change! I also knew that Gem would approve, because BakingMad.com is a site she’s used in the past. And there was so much to choose from: sconescupcake recipes and even cheesecake recipes!

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In the end I actually ended up baking some peanut butter cookies not from the website but from recipe book they sent me. I say I did the baking… I did have a kitchen full of helpers, although mysteriously most of them vanished when it came time to wash up. And Gem stayed there to offer advice and assistance as required. Which I’m pleased to say wasn’t much – maybe I’m better at this baking business than I think!

The cookies were delicious. So good, in fact, we gave some to my dad as part of his Father’s Day present, and the rest didn’t last very long at all – not with all those helpers to feed! Definitely a hit though, and something I expect we’ll be making for years to come.

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Bakingmad.com supplied a goodie bag of ingredients and a recipe book in return for this post. All words, pictures and opinions are my own.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Sponsored Post: Walkers Hoops and Crosses

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You know the kids are watching too much Disney/Nick Jr when they start coming out with Americanisms. “Daddy”, Heather asked last week, “what’s tic-tac-toe?”. I explained that it was another name for noughts and crosses, without considering that this was likely to lead to the (obvious) question of what noughts and crosses is. And, inevitably, we were in the middle of something else and it wasn’t a good time to explain more fully.

By astonishing coincidence, we received a package from Walkers a few days later, allowing us to try their new snack, Hoops and Crosses. They’re baked, rather than fried, and contain 56% wholegrain which I know is good, but I’m not entirely sure why it’s better than other types of grain. That said, our kids already eat plenty of wholegrain, but it doesn’t harm to add a little extra. What’s more, according to Walkers 27% of UK kids don’t have ANY wholegrain in their diets, so hiding them in tasty snacks doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

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Hoops and Crosses come in three flavours: beef, prawn cocktail and salt & vinegar. We received a packet of beef flavour to try, which we did as a family.

Megan wasn’t keen at all, but Heather enjoyed hers, and was more than happy to deal with Megan’s leftovers. Gem and I liked ours too, with both of us being reminded very much of Monster Munch, another Walkers snack.

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Much to Gem’s displeasure, I used some of the snacks to show Heather how noughts and crosses is played, before they all got gobbled up. I’m not sure I got my message across fully, right enough – after they were all gone I asked Heather if she’d enjoyed her Hoops and Crosses.

“Yes Daddy, and now they’re playing tic-tac-toe in my tummy!”

Sigh…

This is a sponsored post. I was provided with a bundle from Walkers for review purposes. All words and opinions are my own, and links have been included out of courtesy.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Are you eggs-perienced?

Penne carbonara

Yum – penne carbonara

Eating as a family isn’t something we get to do a lot, thanks to the time I get in from work being too close to the girls’ bedtime. We do all eat together at weekends, though, and those are some of my favourite meals of the week. Well, the ones where we don’t have to keep nagging the girls to eat up, anyway.

What’s a little strange is the foods the girls will devour and the ones they need more encouragement with. We both love a good, traditional roast dinner, but the girls? Not so much. Pasta, on the other hand, will often disappear before the bowls have all been set down on the table. At least that’s how it sometimes feels. Gem and I reckon there must be some Mediterranean blood in one of us somewhere – what other explanation can there be?

Our family favourites include chicken parmigiana (breaded chicken on a bed of spaghetti, in a tomato sauce) and carbonara. The latter is one that’s a speciality of mine and, dare I say it, is one of the few things I can make as well as, if not better than Gem!

There are a lot of carbonara recipes out there, many of which over-complicate things, but the one we use is simple (which is why I can do it), economical and healthier than most, because it doesn’t include any cream. I’m sure I’ve read that traditional Italian recipes don’t include cream either, so I should add “classic” to that list!

Here’s our carbonara recipe:

Classic Carbonara – serves 2

200g dried pasta – spaghetti, linguine or penne
2 medium eggs
60g grated parmesan cheese
4 rashers bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic
1-2tsp mixed Italian herbs

Boil the pasta in salted water according to packet instructions.

Heat a frying pan and add your bacon. Cook until almost crisp then remove from the heat but leave in the pan. Crush in the garlic and stir in herbs. Leave to one side.

Beat your eggs in a cup and mix 2/3 of of the egg into 2/3 of the cheese. (Reserve the rest for sprinkling).

When the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pan, off the heat. Stir in the garlicky, herby bacon and finally add the eggy cheese mixture and stir well, adding the last drop if egg if you think it’s too dry. The egg will cook with the heat from the pasta so don’t put it on the heat as you don’t want scrambled eggs!

One thing I love about this recipe is that all the quantities are even numbers, meaning it’s easy to scale up or down to suit the number of people we’re feeding. For example, we usually work on 3 adult portions t feed the four of us, splitting one between the girls, although to be honest I think they would devour however much we put down in front of them

This post is an entry for the #eggmainsinminutes Linky, sponsored by British Lion Eggs. They’ve got loads of eggy meal ideas on their Main Meals in Minutes site.

Egg Mains in Minutes linky

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

365 pictures: 61 – 70

Time for a massively overdue catch-up – today is, astonishingly, the 79th day of 2013! – so I’ll keep this introduction short, and let the pictures do the talking.

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61. Bike Ride

A beautiful spring day saw us cracking out the kids’ bikes for a walk in the sun. Spring was well and truly here, or so we thought…

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62. Pulled pork

Proving that diet food doesn’t have to be boring :)

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63. Cresswell Lane

A quirky corner of Glasgow’s West End that I’ve never explored before, although sadly I was just passing through. A return visit is definitely required at some point

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64. Daddy it’s you!

Both girls are big fans of colouring apps on phones and iPad. Heather coloured this picture one morning, then told me it was me. I don’t see the likeness myself, but who am I to argue?

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65. Chillin’

TV, a good book and a foot rest. What else could you ask for?

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66. Toys

Since she started sleeping in it, the bundle of toys at the end of Heather’s bed has grown and grown. Occasionally it gets in her way and tipped onto the floor. Like this.

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67. Reading in bed

Love this snap, taken the day after World Book Day (UK).

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68. Rainbow cake

Megan’s AWESOME birthday cake, the centrepiece of her birthday party. Don’t recall a cake disappearing as quickly as this one did!

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69. Watching the snow fall

Few things are as precious as watching kids react to snow falling.

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70. Snow

After starting this set with a beautiful sunny day, it’s finishing with a snowy scene. At this time of year, shouldn’t it be the other way round?

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!