Foodie Parcels in the Post - September 2014

Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Eeek! I'm so far behind in my blogging round up of Foodie Parcels in the Post. I blame all this #ProjectNewKitchen nonsense. Here's what the postie brought us over the summer. Any brands or producers who'd like to have their product featured here, please do get in touch I promise my next round up will be much quicker!

This fantastic parcel of goodies arrived just as the kitchen demolition was starting. Hodmedods sell a wide and increasing range of British pulses. They are particularly interested in searching out less well-known foods like fava beans which have been grown here since the Iron Age but are now almost forgotten. I was very impressed by their snack products. The roasted fava beans and green peas were unbelievably moreish. Their tinned beans and dhal came in very handy during the kitchen renovations providing a quick and tasty dinner whilst the fava bean honey was declared delicious by my honey loving boy and girl. Now that I've got my kitchen back again I'm looking forward to experimenting with British Fava Beans, Quinoa, Kabuki Peas and Black Badger peas with help from a fantastic looking selection of recipes on the Hodmedod website. (Hodmedod is an East Anglia dialect word which means hedgehog, hence the cute logo.)

Yoghurt lollies on a stick?! I reckoned that these quirky snacks from the same makers as Cheesestrings would be right up my kids street. Alas whilst they loved the look of them and the accompanying adventure kit, the product itself got the thumbs down. They are both yoghurt fans but the texture of these just didn't appeal. Waste not want not they were taken to school to be shared with classmates. I think they might have gone down better with my two had I frozen them.

Birds Eye #AfterSchoolChefs campaign supplied £20 of vouchers to stock up on tasty teatime solutions to help ease mealtime stress now that the kids are back at school. My two were duly dispatched to the shops and returned with the above selection. Not necessarily what I would have opted for, but I wanted to give them free rein. With their chosen purchases I left them to their own devices to cook dinner. They used the Chicken Chargrills, Sweet & Smokey BBQ Chicken and Steam Fresh Egg Fried Rice to create a filling for Tacos which they served with creatively presented soured cream, salsa, guacamole and cheese. Not a bad effort at all from my #AfterSchoolChefs
This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook Page

I feel like I'm always shouting from the proverbial rooftops about what a great product Rapeseed Oil is however there are still those out there who don't know about it. All eight Scottish Rapeseed producers have come together under the umbrella of Wherever you live in Scotland there is a brand local to you. Check out the website to find the one closest to you and for recipe suggestions to utilise #ScotlandsGold As part of Scottish Food Fortnight I was sent a bottle of Stark which hails from the Isle of Arran. A great addition to my growing collection of 5 out of 8.

I was converted to belVita Breakfast Biscuits after a previous 'Foodie Parcels in the Post' review so was delighted to be sent three new varieties to try out. Their convenient grab and go format is a definate #MorningWin for me and they do live up to their claims of slowly releasing carbs to keep you feeling fuller longer. The three new Crunchy Biscuit varieties were fruity apricot, nutty or chocolatey. Chocolate is just a step too far for me at breakfast time but both the Apricot and the Hazelnut get a definate thumbs up.

This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at

I was very pleasantly surprised with the foodie parcel from Naanster. In all honesty I really didn't expect to be overly impressed with a microwave savoury snack. But I was wrong. These are light and fluffy Naan breads filled with a deliscious mix of curry, pilau rice and sweet mango chutney. An Indian takeaway in a convenient snack format. They require only 90 seconds in the microwave to heat through. The four flavours were Beef Madras, Balti Chicken, Vegetable Tikka and Chicken Tikka. Amazingly tasty with proper chunks of meat and vegetables. I'm a bit of a woose when it comes to heat and the Beef Madras was too spicy for me. Both Chicken Naans got a thumbs up from foodie girl who isn't normally known for her adventurous tastes. I can definitely see these making their way into my shopping trolley.

Disclosure : Thanks to Hodmedod'sYolliesBirds EyeScottish Rapeseed OilbelVita Breakfast Crunchy Biscuits and Naanster for providing the above products/vouchers. I was not obliged to review positively in return. All views expressed are my own. If you're a brand who'd like to have your product featured here, please do get in touch 


Bramble Ramble. Family Foraging and Food Event in Aberdeen.

Saturday, 27 September 2014
Following the success of our Wild Garlic Bear Hunt and Blaeberry Bash I'm teaming up again with Mandy from Mud Pies for some more family foraging and wild food fun. During the October Holidays we'll be heading to a secret wood at Hazelhead Park. Our meeting point will be the small swing park on Groats Road, beside Hazlehead Academy. (We'll send you a map and directions when you book.)

Autumn Bramble Ramble

Wednesday 15th October
10.30am - 12.30pm or 2pm - 4pm

Join Mandy from Mud Pies and Claire the Foodie Quine for a family foraging Bramble Ramble and some hands on Foodie Fun at Hazelhead Park, Aberdeen. Purple stained fingers are guaranteed!

We’ll be foraging for brambles (blackberies) and other tasty wild treats, collecting sticks, lighting a camp fire, squishing smoothies, shaking berry butter and wrapping up bramble, apple and cinnamon parcels to bake in the embers.

£7 per person
Suitable for age 3-12 and their grown ups

Book online at

Places MUST be booked in advance via the Mudpie Adventures Website 

Any questions email Mandy or myself 

Cupcakes for Pinnies & Petticoats 2nd Birthday Party

Monday, 22 September 2014
Can it really be two whole years since I headed along to meet up with a bunch of cake loving strangers with only my cake pops for protection? How quickly time passes when you're stuffing your face and making new cakey friends. For Pinnies & Petticoats second birthday the theme was 'Party Food'. As it was also National Cupcake Week and I'd been send some related products to try out it would have been rude to not make some. 

OXO sent me a cupcake corer (RRP £6), cupcake icing knife (RRP £4.50) and Baker's duster wand (RRP £10) And asked me to choose a naturally flavoured icing sugar from Sugar and Crumbs. I was very impressed with the wide range of flavours but couldn't decide between Salted Caramel and Lime & Coconut so asked them to choose for me. They must have had the same dilemma as they sent me both.

With cupcakes baked it was time to put the corer to the test so I could fill them with Mackays Lime Curd. Mixed results unfortunately. Not sure if I just didn't have the knack but whilst the device cut a lovely round hole it didn't remove the core and I had to resort to a teaspoon for that bit. Any tips most welcome on what I did wrong?
Icing next. You use the flavoured sugar to make butter icing jut as you would regular icing sugar. One made I spread it on with the icing knife. This was a big success and I can see this wee utensil becoming a much used piece of kit in my kitchen. Toasted coconut finished them off. 
With my trusty cupcake carrier and a cupcake display stand borrowed from a friend I headed off to Pinnies and Petticoats. A disappointing low turnout for our birthday meet but there was definitely quality over quantity and it was lovely to get a proper chat with all of the bakers who did make it along.
Black Forest Fruit Brownies
Prosciutto, goats' cheese and asparagus rolls
Mary Berry's Chocolate Cake 
Jam Tarts with homemade Bramble Jelly
Mini Summer Fruit Pavlovas
Pistachio Meringues and Orange Meringues
Lime & Coconut Cupcakes
Olive Tapenade Pinwheels
Peanut Butter Squares
Party Hedgehog & Top Hats

A fantastically tasty selection of cakes and bakes. I will admit to eating more of my fair share of the party hedgehog. I cannot resist a cheese and pickled onion combo on a cocktail stick. My cupcakes went down really well and there was lots of interest form fellow bakers in the concept and taste of the flavoured icing sugar. 
Our next meet is scheduled for Wednesday 22nd October with a "Farewell to GBBO" theme. The venue is Rosie Thistles Tearoom and you can find all the info on our Facebook event page. I am absolutely loving this theme and it's the night before my birthday! I've already started pondering over my choice of bake and at the moment a filled centerpiece loaf, mini pear pies and savoury parcels are all in the running. Suffice to say that I will most definitely not be attempting a Swedish Princess Cake or Baked Alaska!

2014 - A Summer of Food and Fun

Thursday, 11 September 2014
We had a fantastically busy summer and managed to squeeze in a lot of Food and Fun along the way. Our first two weeks were spent holidaying in Italy but once back home there were still lot of adventures to be had...

Muddy Boots
We had a fantastic day in Fife at Muddy Boots. Farm shop, cafe, play area, pig racing, soft play, duck racing, picnic areas, grass sledging, zorbing, jumping pillows, quad train, welly boot dogs and lots more! Totally recommend it for a fun filled visit.

Hot Air Balloon
After close to two years of trying and numerous cancellations we finally got up into the skies in a big red balloon. An amazing experience flying over FyvieCastle and the beautiful Aberdeenshire countryside. Well worth the wait in the end. A fantastic adventure from start to finish - one more scored off the bucket list.

Kyle's Birthday
My baby boy turned 12. How is that even possible?! With no kitchen he cooked himself an alfresco Birthday breakfast of Pancakes, Bacon and Maple Syrup. His sophisticated tastes in birthday cake came in the form of macarons from Almondine. Salted Caramel, Pistachio, Balsamic, Raspberry, Lemon, Passion Fruit, Strawberries & Cream.

Commonwealth Games
We spent a fantastic three days in Glasgow taking in the sights and sounds of the Commonwealth Games. Gymnastics at the Hydro where we witnessed a Scottish Gold Medal. The final night of the Athletics at Hampden complete with Usain Bolt and the somewhat soggy end of the Women's and the start of the Men's Cycling Road Races followed by a late lunch on the way home at Gloagburn Farm Shop

Black Isle Show
A visit 'home' for The Black Isle Show. It's the local agricultural show where I was brought up and has always been a much looked forward to annual event. Plenty to see and do and lots of tasty goodies at the food fair. Lovely to catch up with my fishbox friends from Coast & Glen

Belladrum Festival
Lots of fun at Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival. We've been going from this start but this year splashed out on a Tipi and did it in style and comfort. Glamping is definitely the way forward. Not sure I'll be able to go back to slumming it now. There was a fantastic choice of food (and drink!) on offer throughout the weekend Some of it cooked up by the happy campers at our Tipi.

Glenbervie Flower Show
I'm often a Pipe Band Widow during the summer as Foodie Loon plays the pipes with Newtonhill Pipe Band. Boy has now joined on the Snare Drum and girl is mastering the Chanter. One of my first ever blog posts was about The Great Glenbervie Bake Off. It's always a fun event to tag along to and see all the exhibits of baking, preserves, fruit and vegetables.

Fly Fishing on the River Dee
I thoroughly enjoyed my first ever attempt at Fly Fishing on the River Dee. Alas no beginners luck but it was an amazing experience. Wonderful setting, mesmerising water, great hospitality in the bothy and only a touch of fisherman's arm the next day. The consolation prize of a whole smoked salmon was most welcome.

Lonach Highland Gathering & Games
Another event which I've blogged about in the past. The Lonach is a highland games like no other. The historic Parade of the Lonach Highlanders is a sight to behold. They had been marching since 8am with six official stops for a dram and goodness knows how many unofficial ones. The corporate hospitality was fantastic and both the big and little kids were thoroughly impressed by the amazing skill of the balloon modeler. A grand day out which provided a fitting end to the summer holidays.

Tenderstem Broccoli Arround the World Recipe Challenge

Monday, 1 September 2014
Imagine the stupidity of taking on the blogging challenge of cooking five Tenderstem Broccoli recipes when you don't have a kitchen? What was I thinking! Thankfully the Tenderstem Around the World Challenge came with the opt out of staggering the dishes across a few weeks. I'm hoping nine weeks counts as a few... 
Tenderstem Broccoli Arround the World Recipe Challenge
My challenge kit arrived back in June just before we headed off to Italy on holiday. Returning to a distinct lack of kitchen facilities I decided to tackle the first recipe. Asian Sticky Salmon with Tenderstem Two Ways. Our broccoli was only one way, as I only had one camping stove ring to work with! The dish went down really well with all except girl who refused to eat the broccoli stems despite my assurances that the trunks tasted just as nice as the leaves.
Still without kitchen I next attempted One-pan Bake with Italian Style Lemony Pork Meatballs, Tenderstem and Roast Squash. I cooked this on the convection setting of our combination microwave which worked reasonably well but some of the chunks of butternut squash were still a bit on the hard side. This was however the first time I'd ever cooked squash without peeling it, will definately do that again. Much less hassle to prep. The dish itself was really quick and easy to make - a perfect one pan supper. This time I'd bought Tenderstem Tips which seems to kinda defeat the purpose but girl was happy to eat them.
Mexican Beef & Tenderstem Fajitas were the first dish to be cooked on my new induction hob. Still no finished kitchen but a working hob and ovens at last. I absolutely loved the Tenderstem in a fajita and would definitely include it again. It added a completely different texture to the dish and really bulked it out.

The day before the kitchen floor was due to be laid we had Spanish Baked Paella with Prawns, Tenderstem and Peppers. This was a big hit with the whole family. Girl loved the prawns but still no luck in persuading her to eat the stems no matter how tasty I told her they were.

Last dish to be tried was Moroccan Chicken & Tenderstem Tagine. By this point we almost had a finished kitchen and were able to eat round the dining table. I swapped out the chicken for cubed lamb leg steaks. The flavours in this were amazing and the cous cous soaked up the spicy juices a treat.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole Tenderstem Experience even in challenging circumstances at times. I'm sure that the Paella and Tagine in particular will become regularly made family favourites. As for introducing my slightly picky eater to Tenderstem? Alas she still can't be convinced to try the trunks. But she did love the funky activity tablemats and colouring pens.

80 brand new inspirational recipes from around the world 

Disclaimer: Tenderstem provided me with shopping vouchers to buy the ingredients required for this post. All views expressed are my own.
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