Monday, 30 September 2013

Schwartz Smokey Texan Marinade Chicken with Roast Veg and Pearl Barley

I'm working my way through a rather delicious selection of Schwartz herbs, spices and marinades.  I love my food to be hearty, balanced and full of flavour.  I also like to try new things so am happily 'making do' with what I have in the fridge.

My latest creation is Smokey Texan Marinaded grilled chicken breasts with a selection of roasted vegetables and pearl barley.  Pearl barley (the stuff you usually find in hearty soups and stews) is my latest favourite accompaniment.  If I could eat it on it's own as a meal, I would.  That's how much I love it.
The Smokey Texan Marinade sauce is really easy to make as you combine the sachet contents with 50ml oil, 75ml water, mix it all up then pour over the meat to marinate it.  I had chicken breasts in the fridge so I used these instead of beef or pork which are the other two meat suggestions.  Schwartz recommend to leave the meat over night to marinate but I only left it for about five hours.  It's so quick and easy to make that you could easily do it first thing in the morning, ready for dinner time.

Move ahead five hours in time (and after pouring myself a glass of vino) I set the oven to 180 Celsius.  I would have used the actual fan option, but this option is no longer in operation on my poor overworked Hot Point cooker.  It's like playing Russian Roulette when I'm baking because the results sometimes differ.

Next I measured out a cup of pearl barley and rinsed it off in a colander.  This is what I do with most grains.  I then dropped the rinsed pearl barley into a small pot and added two cups of water to, put it on the stove and turned up the heat to bring it the boil.  Once at the boil, I reduced the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes until the pearl barley was tender.

I had a aubergine, three peppers (capsicums), sugar snap peas, carrots and baby corn in the fridge.  I chopped these up and seasoned them with rock salt and Schwartz Season-All.  It really does season everything well and I use it often.

The veg roasted for 40 minutes (20 minutes, remove from oven and mix the veg around, cook for 20 more minutes).  During this time I took the pearl barley off the heat once it was cooked and then drained it, returned it to the colander and put that on top of the pot to drain further.  

I took the chicken out of the fridge after the first 20 minutes and then grilled it on my George Foreman in the last 5 minutes of the veg roasting in the oven.

While the chicken was cooking I put the pearl barley and veg, that was just out the oven, onto my plate.  After making sure the chicken was cooked perfectly, I took it off the grill plate and added it to my dinner plate.  Meal done!
Verdict on the sauce: Very tasty!  I would recommend letting it marinate for longer as suggested but even in that space of time it still had a good flavour.  You could also BBQ your meat to get a more smokey flavour but with winter fast approaching you may want to leave that for next summer.  That said, we still have a BBQ (braai to those South African's out there) each Christmas and during winter ... because we can.

RRP for the marinade sachet is £1.29 and more info can be found at here at the Schwartz website.


Ally x


Note: I was sent a selection of Schwartz Herbs, Spices and Marinades to sample and create meals with.  All ideas, opinions and views are my own.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Bassetts Soft & Chewy Vitamins Soft Play Promotion

A recent survey of mums in the UK showed that a massive 71% of mums love to take their children to soft play sessions as a special treat.  It's a fantastic way of letting your little ones have fun and while playing, running and climbing off some of that amazing energy at the same time, no matter the weather.  

Bassetts Soft & Chewy Vitamins carried out a survey of their own asking 1,000 mums their opinions on the benefits of soft play for their children.  The results of this survey illustrated in the table below.

Table: Mums Opinions on Benefits of Soft Play

With the above results in mind Bassetts Soft & Chewy have launched a new exciting on-pack promotion where you can claim a free soft play session in your local area with each pack with a promotional sticker on it, which I'm sure all mums will love!  

The Bassetts Soft & Chewy Vitamins are great for little ones.  My daughter uses the Early Health Orange flavour and absolutely loves the taste.  I like that they are chewy so they are easy for her to take each morning and she looks forward to it too.  

There are over 200 great soft play centres in the UK taking part in this promotion for you and your little one to enjoy a lovely day out.

How to claim your free soft play session:

  • Go to
  • Enter your postcode to find your nearest soft play area.
  • Input the unique 12 digit promotional pack code found on the back of the promotional pack sticker along with your details.  
  • Check your inbox for your voucher!
Eligible packs are Bassetts Soft & Chew Early Health Strawberry (30& 45), Early Health Orange (30& 45), Early Healthy Plus Omega-3 Summer Fruit (30), Early Healthy Plus Omega-3 Orange and Lemon (30), and Everyday Health 30 featuring a promotional sticker.

Bassetts Soft & Chewy vitamins are available at most major retailers, including but not limited to Asda, Boots, Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons, Superdrug and Lloyds Pharmacy.

Ally x

Bassetts Vitamins:

Note: We were sent the Bassetts Soft & Chewy Early Health Vitamins in Strawberry and Orange to sample and then enjoy a lovely free soft play session.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Pregnancy Planner: Wonderful new app for parents-to-be

One of the first things I did when I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter just over four years ago was search for an app that showed me my baby's development on a weekly basis.  I wanted to know what was happening in each stage and if what I was feeling physically and emotionally was as to be expected.  There were of course apps available at the time but none that combined everything I was looking for all into one.

Pregnancy Planner is a lovely new app that is designed to give you personalised information based on your due date, formulated on your last menstrual period, date of conception or given due date.  You are then shown how many projected weeks, days, hours, minutes and even seconds you have until meeting your little baby.  

With each passing week the grey heart slowly fills up until it is completely pink.  I think it's a beautiful analogy for a parent's love for their unborn child, which grows steadily with every passing week until the child is born.

Fabulous features of the app:

  • Daily information about your baby's development relating to that particular week, as well as information relating to you and how you may be feeling. 
  • Weekly pictures showing an embryo developing into a full term baby.
  • Tip of the Day: Provides very useful information about baby, you and general pregnancy tips.
  • Information sharing: Click on the grey envelope on certain pages to share page information via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail with family and friends.
  • Baby Names: lets you add your favourites to the My Names section and then remove any that you've discounted to create your own personal Top 10 list.  This should help you narrow it down to the final, perfect one!
  • Tips & Questions: For first-time parents, Pregnancy Planner provides very useful information to every day questions on a wide variety of pregnancy topics, including which foods to avoid, which sports are suitable, advice on common pregnancy health issues, plus travel tips and even advice on sex during pregnancy. 
  • Checklist: Cut through the rather daunting choice of products in the market by quickly checking Pregnancy Planner’s practical checklists of essentials items needed for: hospital, the nursery, feeding (both for breast and bottle), plus other baby items required for the home and out and about in the car.  
  • Shopping list: Create a list of items that you would like for baby and then share it with friends and family that would like to buy something special for the new arrival.

The Pregnancy Planner app for iPhone is now available on the App store, priced £1.49
Ally x

Note: I downloaded the app at no cost in order to look at the various aspects of it and share my opinion with others.  All views are completely my own.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Review: The Ultimate Tickety Toc Sticker and Activity Collection

My daughter loves Tickety Toc, so much so that when the show is on Nick Jr we can't switch channels until chime time is over.

The Ultimate Tickety Toc Sticker and Activity Collection is one of the first in the Tickety Toc range and is a beautiful book full of Tickety Toc fun!  My daughter is 3 1/2 and she really enjoyed sticking, playing the games, doing the puzzles and building the hats, boxes and other bits.  

I liked that there is a different activity on almost every page.  The instructions from the Tickety Toc characters are clear, telling you what needs to be done to complete that particular task.  Activities are the right length to hold the attention of little people.

We also had a great time putting together the Tommy and Tallulah Trooper uniform hats and building the Exercise Time Trophy and other fun things together in the Birthday Time section.  

There are over 150 amazing stickers, puzzles, games and activities for little ones in this cleverly thought out activity book, which are sure to keep them entertained for some time.  It is also perfect for play dates or taking on holiday.  You will, however, need to use your own dice and counters as these are not provided.

The RRP is £7.99 but if you nip over to the Asda website, you can currently grab an absolute bargain at £3.00!   The Ultimate Tickety Toc Sticker and Activity Collection is also available from WH Smiths and Waterstones.

Ally x

For more Tickety Toc fun, click on the links below...

Note: We were sent this activity and sticker book free of charge to give our opinion on the product.  All views are our own.
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