Thomas Tucker Popcorn Review

Popcorn – what’s not to love, tasty, filling and low in calories. So imagine how excited I was to open my review box of popcorn from Tommy Tucker and discover all these goodies.

001This is Tommy Tuckers new Thomas Tucker Flavoured range. Already well established for their popcorn and candy floss in cinemas throughout the UK. Tommy Tucker have recently launched this range of more grown up flavours which will be hitting supermarkets very soon.

As a family we have tended to veer towards the salty side of popcorn but we were intrigued by the new flavours and couldn’t wait to get started, first choice was the Caramel Summer Fruits. I think we went for this first because it sounded so different to anything we had tried before and looked it too…pink popcorn!

It was really tasty and you could actually taste the fruits, Mr B went so far as to be able to tell me without looking at the pack that it was strawberry and cherry that made up the flavours – he was right. This was quite sweet and a small portion was enough but great for sharing, though I did keep going back for more.

Smoked Cheddar Cheese – this I have to say was my least favourite, being too much like a cheesy crisp for me. My daughter though loved it and went off with it as her school snack to share with her friends who all seemed to love it too. So definitely worth considering as a playground alternative to crisps.

Luxury Toffee – Oh so tasty. I took a large 200g bag of this into a work meeting and within 20 minutes the bag was empty. Even those who started off by claiming they weren’t popcorn fans were soon converted. The toffee really does seem different to other toffee popcorns I’ve tried, lighter, less chewy and prone to stick in the teeth, and very, very moreish.

This is before and after!

009      010

Chilli & Lemon – I served this up as a girls night in and it was the perfect savoury accompaniment to a glass of prosecco. Everyone commented on the subtle flavouring and the bowl was soon emptied. A nice (and less calorific) alternative to a bowl of nuts.

Coconut Toffee – We saved this one till last as we had a feeling it might be our favourite and we weren’t disappointed. Mr B is a huge fan of all things coconut anyway but this was a massive hit with both of us (sorry kids they didn’t get a look in). It’s hard to describe but the taste is not overpowering just a pleasantly sweet toffee and then you get the coconut, oh heck just try it yourself, you won’t be sorry.

The new Thomas Tucker Range is available in Cineworld, Vue, City Screen and Empire cinemas throughout the UK now if you can’t wait for it’s release in supermarkets and will also be available at http://www.tommytucker.co.uk very soon.

Advertisements

Aberdeen Butteries – So Bad But So good

It must be a couple of years ago now that I attended a bread making course at the wonderful Lets Cook Scotland. On the day we made many breads including soda breads and foccacia, the host on the day also made some Aberdeen Butteries for us to take home.

For anyone who has not had an Aberdeen Buttery before I found this description which I think sums them up quite well, “The best way to describe their look and taste is a saltier, flatter and greasier Croissant.”

Doesn’t sound particularly appealing? Well they are, but they are also sooo bad for you, being as the name suggests full of butter and lard. However my daughter loved them and has been begging me to make them ever since so this weekend I gave in. Strangely she left me and my son to do the work and returned just in time to have one fresh out of the oven.

So if you’re not afraid of a carb and fat filled treat, here’s how it’s done.

Ingredients

450g strong bread flour

2 level tsps salt

175g of lard

175g of butter

10g of fast action yeast

285ml warm water

1 level tsp caster sugar

Your first step is sieving the flour and salt into a bowl.

Then with a knife mix the butter and lard together until softened.

Next add about a third of the butter/lard mixture to the flour and mix with your fingertips until it has a fine crumb like consistency.

003       004

Once mixed add the fast action yeast. make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in the warm water and mix to a rough dough.

Turn out onto an unfloured surface (yes unfloured it shouldn’t have to be floured if you keep the dough moving it won’t stick), and onto my favourite bit the kneading.

006Kneading takes a long time and you can use a mixer but I prefer to do it by hand, it’s very therapeutic (especially after a bad day at work). You know your doughs ready when it doesn’t tear on stretching and also if the dough springs back when you make a finger mark in it.

Next roll out the dough to form an oblong and mark it into thirds. On the middle and right thirds place dots of the butter/lard mixture then fold the left third (without the butter) over the middle and then the right third on top. Seal the edges by pressing the dough together and turn over on a baking tray then leave to rest for 10 minutes in the fridge.

007009Remove from the fridge, roll out your dough into an oblong then repeat the process and chill the dough until you are ready to use it.

When ready roll though dough into an oblong about 1 cm thick and cut out into about 12 -16 squares depending how big you want your butteries. The dough then needs to be placed on a baking tray somewhere warm till it becomes puffy (I use my cupboard with the hot water tank). Then all thats left to do is pop them in the oven for about 12 minutes at 220 oc (200 for fan assisted), take them out, sprinkle with caster sugar and eat while warm (you don’t have to but I think they taste best that way.

002

And if you don’t want to eat them all at once, you can freeze the cut squares and just take them out to defrost as and when you want to use them. now i’m off to run round the park and try and burn of all that fat!

Is It a Juice, Is It a Water? – It’s Imune Nurture! (Kids Drink Review)

This week we were given the opportunity to try out a drink designed especially for children which has been designed to be a healthy alternative to other sugary options out there.

nurt

Imune Nurture comes in two flavours Strawberry & Cherry or Orange & Pineapple, it is made up of 50% water and 50% fruit juice from concentrate and contains no sugar, sweeteners or preservatives. It’s big boast though is that is because it contains vitamins B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C, D, calcium, zinc, and Wellmune beta glucans it helps fussy eaters get their recommended daily intake of these, it also claims to help build children’s immunity against germs and infections.

I’m no scientist and without prolonged use of the product it’s impossible to say if we found this to be the case, but anything that doesn’t container sugar and sweeteners and also has added vitamins sounds good to me, but what did the kids think?

We had hoped to take it on a picnic, because the non rigid pouches and resealable lid would be perfect for slipping in a bag, unfortunately this is Scotland and picnic weather is limited to three days normally in September so home it had to be.

060

Unbeknown to me Rachel had already tasted this at a friends house and when she saw it couldn’t wait to get her hands on it, she chose the Strawberry and Cherry, and after a little struggle with the non spill spout (younger kids may need help with this, you need to push the spout in first then suck) she was off. Rachel is a big fan of flavoured waters and pronounced this delicious.067

James tried the Orange and Pineapple and and found it a little strongly flavoured but after his first drink we decided to pour it into a glass and add a little water to dilute it, this seemed more to his taste, but both decided the Strawberry and Cherry was their favourite.

If you are looking for a tasty and healthy alternative to juice for picnics or packed lunches these are definitely worth a try, there rrp is £1.99 for 4 x 200ml but if you hurry I just noticed they are on offer in Tesco just now at 2 packs for £3,  I do love a bargain!

Stop Loafing Around and Go Bananas – Banana Loaf Recipe

When my son piped up yesterday to ask if we could bake something I spied the over ripe bananas sitting on the dresser and new what to make, his favourite Banana Loaf (or bread or cake, call it what you will it’s yummy). It’s lovely and simple and good fun for kids to help with and tastes great on its own or with some custard. Here’s how we did it.

You will need;

125 ml rapeseed oil (you can use butter or olive or vegetable oil, more about that later)

150g castor sugar,005

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

2 very ripe bananas

190g self raising flour

60ml milk

About the oil

If you don’t want to use oil you can use 125g of butter but I use rapeseed oil whenever I ba008ke and substitute it for the butter or margarine in recipes, it seems to make my cakes light and fluffy and moist and doesn’t have the same saturated fat as butter its’s also a great source of Omega 3, plus it tastes fab, with a slight nuttiness to it, oh and it’s produced locally! Sorry I have got quite excited since discovering it, some people suggest using slighty less oil than butter in recipes as it doesn’t have the same water content but I have always substitute equal amounts and had great success.

Anyway on to the cake. First of all preheat your oven to 170 oc/ 150 oc fan or gas mark 3 (does anyone have gas ovens anymore?) Grease a 2lb loaf tin, then the fun bit, peel and mash up your bananas in a bowl. 006 If you are using butter melt it over a low heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla extract, if not just add them to the oil and mix them together before adding the banana and mixing that in too. Beat the egg and then add that to the mix, give it a good stir then add in the flour and milk, stirring until it’s well mixed and then pour the whole lot into your greased loaf tin, simples!012 If you want to add a little crunch to the top of your = loaf, sprinkle the top with demerara sugar and then pop it in the oven, 45 minutes should do the trick, just check it with a skewer and if it comes out clean you are done. 014 Leave to cool and eat! We had it after dinner last night and again for breakfast, after all it’s one of your five a day right? 015

What Katy Said

Kitchen Thermometer Review – It’s Epica

When I was given a digital meat thermometer to review I must admit I was sceptical, it wasn’t something I had used before tending just to go with recommended timings when cooking meat but after a bit of reading I was intrigued.

Meat thermometers are used a lot in professional kitchens but are great for in a domestic setting too, it takes away the guess work especially when trying to cook a steak to a certain level, ie medium or well done. More importantly though it lets you know for certain if a meat has been cooked properly to kill bacteria, perfect for those dodgy chicken breasts on bbq’s.

They can also help from overcooking as you know once it reaches a certain temperature it’s safely cooked, so no more chewy pork chops and no more cutting your lovely roast in half to make sure it’s cooked through.

011

When the Epica thermometer arrived it immediately looked and felt like a good quality product, it seemed robust but most important to me was if it was user friendly.013

I decided to try it out on a gammon joint I had bought and was particularly keen to see if it worked as I had previously frozen the joint and needed to make sure it was cooked through fully without overcooking it.

The instructions on the back of the packet seem easy enough to follow but I would have liked some sort of table of cooking temperature guidelines, as it was a quick google search brought up some good sites so I knew what temperature to look for.

The Epica thermometer comes with batteries so we were ready to go straight away all I had to do was wait for Mr B to prepare the ham and get it in the oven.

009
Mr B’s handsome butt

If you are like me and have a habit of not being able to find what you are looking for the thermometer comes with a handy clip so you can hook it onto a pocket or on an apron.

Rather than wait till the full cooking time and just take the ham out and hope for the best about 15 minutes before it was due to finish I tried out the thermometer.

It takes the readings very quickly (5-8 seconds) so you don’t loose time taking the meat out of the oven but it’s not designed to be left in the oven (melted plastic in your meat is never good).

Once you have switched the on button and chosen your temperature type (there is a simple button on the back to change between celsius and fahrenheit) you just insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat and press the min/max button, the first reading is the maximum temperature measured, press again for minimum and a third time for the normal display.

012The actual probe seemed a good length and went easily into the meat and the temperature display was clear and easy to read.

Altogether this seemed easy peasy to use and resulted in me taking the joint out earlier than I would have normally and I have to say it was one of the juiciest ham’s I’ve had, possibly as we didn’t overcook it. The probe is easily cleaned and when finished the protective plastic sheath keeps it safe from little fingers.

I’m looking forward to trying this out on various things such as steaks to see if I can get the perfect medium, we like to make jam in the summer so the fact that this thermometer goes up to 392 degrees fahrenheit (unlike a lot of meat thermometers is great as it means we can use it for this too.) It’s also a great excuse to get Mr b cooking we lot’s more lovely dishes!

The Epica ES432 Stem thermometer reviewed here retails for £21.95 from Amazon

Big Hair and Even Bigger Beats – Hairspray Review

hairspray

When you have 2 children (or more) it’s difficult to find quality time with each of them on their own so when my musical theatre loving daughter received 2 tickets to an upcoming production of “Hairspray” in her Christmas presents it seemed liked the ideal opportunity for a bit of mother/daughter bonding (and not just because I wanted to go every bit as much as her).

Of course no female bonding experience is complete without shopping and food, so before the show we took to the High Street, I would love to say it was a shopathon of epic proportions but like me my daughter has no stamina when it comes to shopping, for all these men that complain about sitting outside waiting rooms or hanging around ladieswear departments for hours, we are your women, I like to know what I want, get in, get it and get out. Still we managed more than an hour and a half (a new personal best), and several full bags (nothing it should be noted for me), then it was off to lunch.

I had swithered over where to eat and had previously dismissed the Guildhall & Linen Exchange (one of the Wetherspoons chain) as I had heard lukewarm reviews and had previously experienced lukewarm food! However our bags were heavy and feet sore and it was central and had room so we gave it a shot and were pleasantly surprised.

002

Rachel went for the chicken breast burger and chips and I went for the bbq chicken, bacon and cheese panini with chips, they came within 10 minutes and were fresh, hot and tasty, the only disappointment being the fact they had run out of  both tango and 7up.

It’s not gourmet standard but then it’s not gourmet prices and for £12.18 for our meals and drinks we couldn’t complain, and the chips were fantastic!

So onto the show, we had great seats just 6 rows back and fairly central so had a great view.

For anyone who hasn’t been to a Limelight production before they are an amatuer society who put on a far from amatuer productions and have in recent years specialised in putting on shows which include large child casts such as Annie and Oliver! which I can imagine is pretty hard work (I find it difficult to organise 2 children).

005

From the opening number “Good Morning Baltimore” it was clear this was going to be a high energy and high quality production.

It was well rehearsed and smooth if there were any bloopers I certainly didn’t spot them.

Even a musical loving 10 year old can get fidgety if a show is slow or drags on too long but this fast moving show kept my daughter riveted and smiling, she loves the film and this was similar enough to make her happy she was watching the right thing but adapted well to work as a stage show, sorry though Link (Nick Tomlinson), brilliant as you were apparently you are no competition in the playground “hottie” stakes for Zac Efron!

All round a rousing and slick performance with some brilliant thought provoking moments such as the show stealing “I Know Where I’ve Been” performed by Motormouth Maybelle (Rachel Brown) and Gilbert (Ibiyemi Osinaike), followed by scenes of segregation and the fight to end it which brought a tear to my eye.

Special mentions also to choreographer Elinor Coulson (also playing Brenda) for some fantastic dance scenes, most notably “Welcome to the 60’s” and of course to Bobby Mitchell for pulling of those dance routines in padding, dress and heels as Edna Turnblad without raising a sweet or breaking an ankle.

A very well deserved standing ovation, but my daughters favourite part of the day? The over the top glam toilets at lunch!

004