Tuesday, 22 December 2015

As good as homemade

When I received my coupons from the Tesco Orchard programme to review their range of Beautifully Balanced Frozen foods, I decided to opt to try the frozen soup. I enjoy soup from the chilled section so was interested to see how the frozen version matched up.

The pack contains two servings and could be cooked in the microwave or on the hob. I used the hob method which was as simple as heating any soup.

The instructions on the packet advised me to empty in half for 1 serving. The soup itself looked like rather large chunks and I wondered if I needed to add anything to it but it was just a simple case of pouring into the pan and heating gently until defrosted and hot.

As the soup began to defrost whole peas could be seen along with thin strips of ham. The soup took just over 5 minutes to be cooked properly but smelt really good.

The portion was enough for lunch and the peas added additional texture along with the ham. The flavour matched that of other chilled soups I had tried, the soup was the perfect thickness for me not too thick and not too watery just right.

What I like about the frozen soup is that it can be stored in the freezer and doesn't need to be defrosted beforehand and it tastes like a freshly made soup.

I would go so far as to have this to serve up to dinner guests as the flavour was not compromised in any way and looked delicious.
My only complaint was the lack of ham in the soup, there were only a few small amounts in the serving that I made and I would have liked a little more in there.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Party Food that's easy to cook??

As part of the Tesco Orchard Programme* I had the opportunity to try some items from their Party Food Range. 
Wanting to take the opportunity to try something different I opted to try the Tesco Finest Handmade 12 Steamed Dim Sum Selection completed with a soy dipping sauce.

Unfortunately I didn't take the time to read the packaging on how to cook the items before making the purchase and it wasn't until I got home that I realised that we need a microwave or steamer. We had neither. Not exactly a great start.
We decided to make our own steamer to cook the party food.

The food came in transparent packaging with a cardboard sleeve around. You could view all of the items which consisted of:

3 Duck and Hoisin Windmills
2 Chicken and Mushroom Dumplings
3 Prawn and Coconut Snowballs
3 Sweet and Sour Vegetable Dumplings
Soy Sesame Dipping Sauce

One of the comment my husband made when reading the cooking instructions was the packaging. Although it appears minimal to cook the items we had to remove from the packaging, as we were steaming this was not a problem as we just placed simply into the steamer to cook. If however you were to use a microwave you were to remove the cellophane wrapping to remove the dip and then cover once more with cling film, it would be a good idea if Tesco could make this separate to prevent additional packaging waste.

After placing in the steamer for 4 minutes we then served with the dip.
The appearance of the cooked product left a lot to be desired as they were very moist and as we removed them from the steamer seemed to break apart quite easily so for a 'finger' style party food I imagine they would be a little bit tricky.

The Duck and Hoisin Windmill was tasty with generous chunks of Duck and a slight hint of the Hoisin Sauce so it was not over powering.

The Chicken and Mushroom Dumplings were a little bland and my husband and I felt that they were lacking in flavour somewhat.

The Prawn and Coconut Snowballs were my absolute favourite although there taste of the prawn did not really appear to stand out but the combination of the coconut made it a very tasty snack and one I would have definitely liked to have had more of.

The Sweet and Sour Dumplings to me resembled a soggy spring roll, plenty of flavour but no real difference to what appeared to be a soggy spring roll, all the same it was not offensive and was gone in two bites.

The Sesame Soy dipping sauce had a subtle flavour and was really enjoyable to have with the snacks as it just added to the flavour somewhat.

Overall the food was quick to cook and was reasonably tasty. Would I look to buy this selection again? Possibly but I would consider other options first as for a party food it is a bit more of a faff to cook compared with items that can just be cooked in the oven.

*I was provided with a coupon to purchase an item from the party food range to sample and provide my opinion. I was also provided coupons to pass onto friends to allow them to sample.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Guest Ready Home

As a member of the Savvy Circle I am often lucky enough to be selected to join the panel and sample a full size product which is always nice!

Arriving in a large square white box was a kit containing a large gift bag and inside was:

 A full size Ambi Pur 3volution Starter Kit containing a plug and a Vanilla Latte Refill
  •  15 x 2.00 off coupons for the Starter Kit
  • 10 x 1.00 off coupons for the 3volution refills 
I absolutely love 'festive' aromas and from mid November our home starts with festive candles and fragrances to get us ready for Christmas, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review the AmbiPur 3volution Plugs as I rarely use these, preferring to opt for Reed Diffusers or candles to control the level of fragrance.

Raring to go I cut open the 'tamper-free' packaging to release the plug casing and the refill.
Removing the lids I then pushed the refill snugly into the plug and then it was ready to go.

I decided to place the plug in the hallway, I thought this would be the perfect location as it would hopefully filter the aroma upstairs without being too overpowering and would also combat the shoes under the stairs and the kitchen cooking smells.

The fragrance I had been provided with was 'Vanilla Latte' a combination of warm milk and vanilla, a very sweet smell judging my the aroma on my fingers after assembling the plug.

As I switched on the plug 3 bright red lights lit up briefly confirming the plug was operating correctly and then it settled onto one of the 3 fragrances, as the fragrance alternates every 45 minutes.
Apparantly we can become 'noseblind' to the smells in our home so it will be interesting to see if guests can point out the new fragrance in our home when they visit. By having the alternating fragrances we should notice the fragrance more.

The plug in also has an adjustable intensity control so you can control how strong the fragrance needs to be in your home. I started with the control on level 3 with it being in the hallway and expected it to need to be on a high level to ensure that it worked efficiently and spread up the stairs.

After just a few hours I found the aroma too intense and reduced it down to level 2, this was still fairly strong and have now set it on level 1, which seems to be just right. The plug is in the centre of our hallway but the aroma wafts into our Living room and is a welcome smell as you walk into the house from outside.
I have recently become obsessed with my home smelling fresh and clean, despite using the Reed Diffusers I find within a few days the aroma tends to fade this could be down to the fact that this is just the one fragrance and as Ambi Pur advise the gorgeous scents that change every 45 minutes make us more aware of the new fragrance and aware of the new aroma in the home.

Although I have not been overly keen on this particular fragrance I do like how the actual 3volution system works, it does make you aware of the fresh fragrance as it changes throughout the day and does banish any unwanted smells from the hallway. I will definitely look to continue using the 3volution system and look for alternative scents that suit my preferences as I found the Vanilla Latte just a little too sweet for me.

This product was provided to me free of charge to sample and review.