All posts tagged cooking

Cooking with Encona sauce

Published March 17, 2017 by Bizzimummy

Encona is the UKs number one best seller of  hot and spicy sauces. Their sauce bottles are infused with spices from all over the world. From the Caribbean to Asia there is a sauce for everyone as the sauces begin mild and go right up to extra hot. It’s just a matter of how hot one can handle. 

I guess I’m a slight whimp when it comes to hot sauce as I tend to stick to the medium or even mild ones. There is no way I could manage the extra hot products as I find some of the medium ones a little too hot. 

Encona sent me over these three sauces.

Smokey Jalapeño is the mild one, tho it still has a fairly mighty kick to it. It is of course Mexican inspired and great with tortillas, chilli and Mexican type food or even just dipping.

Then two medium sauce bottles – Amarillo chilli which is Peruvian inspired and made with Peruvian Amarillo chillis. It has a really sweet, almost like chutney aroma. The flavour is also sweet but certainly has some spice to it, hot hot hot for me. 

Thai chilli and garlic sauce obviously with Thailand inspirations and so a totally different type of spice compared to American or even Indian spices. This one is like a bright red/orangey colour. I’d say a little milder than the Amarillo chilli sauce with a more distinct flavour. 

Instructions on the back of the sauce bottles tell me how to best use the sauces, although the majority can be used in any way be it cooking with, drizzling, dipping etc. 

I had not made a fish dish in a while and with these new sauces from Encona I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to try something new and totally made up (no reading recipes). 

I made a stuffed spicy sea bass with rice. 

After gutting and preparing the sea bass I placed onions, tomatoes and a good drizzle of the Amarillo chilli sauce inside the fish and wrapped in foil. 

Baked for approximately 25 minutes, unwrapped and drizzled with the Thai chilli and garlic sauce. 

Thus getting spices from both sides of the world as well as a lovely fillet of fish. The sauces strangely worked well together as one was used for cooking which gave the fish an overall infused flavour and even reduced the hotness of the sauce. The other sauce drizzled over bought the kick back.

Encona sauce can be found in all the main supermarkets and they have loads of them to choose from. Visit Encona to see the full range. 

Santa Maria meal kits 

Published August 26, 2016 by Bizzimummy

Santa Maria have a whole host of Mexican inspired meal kits and spices to cook tasty Mexican meals at home. 

One of the kits is their pulled pork dinner kit. This contains the sauces, flavourings, and 8 mini tortillas. What you need to buy is a red onion, pork steaks and any salad you require. 

I do enjoy pulled pork meals but never even thought about making it myself before. This kit makes it easy because the pork goes in one of those plastic oven cooking bags, cover with water and the seasoning mix and stick in the oven for 90 minutes. Yes it does take a fair bit of time but this is so that the pork is nice and soft when it comes out. There is even a seasoning mix for the onions which really makes them taste better.

Once the pork is out of the oven, use two forks to pull it apart into small pieces and that’s your flavoured pulled pork. Warm tortillas, serve and ready to eat.

It was delicious! 

This kit and other Santa Maria meal kits are available in most supermarkets. To see the full range, visit Santa Maria.

Annabel Karmel’s busy mum cookbook

Published April 9, 2016 by Bizzimummy


 It’s always hard to come up with new recipes that don’t take hours to cook. Cooking is nig something I find easy with 3 young children who all like different things. Annabel Karmel knows what it’s like to juggle a busy life too and she has bought out this new cook book to help mums just like me.
The book is packed full of recipes and this includes pasta, salad, meat, poultry, fish, veg dishes and desserts. Many of them come with photographs. 

The book is divided into chapters which include 20 minute recipes, recipes using 6 ingredients, prepare ahead, Lunchboxes and snacks, store cupboard, entertaining and sweets. 

I have been having a good look through at everything and have found that the majority of recipes use ingredients that are easily found in shops and stores so therefore no hunting round for anything difficult. Each one comes with easy step by step instructions and a full ingredients list as well as prep and cooking time. 

The first thing we made is from the “prepare ahead” section. This section gives recipe ideas of meals that can be made in advance and many of them can then be frozen. The meal we made is the “Mediterranean oven baked chicken”   


We used fillet instead of drumsticks for ours. It’s really easy and just requires the chicken and some vegetables and tomato paste. Ours does look more red in colour than the one in the book, but went down pretty well for our dinner.  


Of course I just had to attempt something sweet too.   


This is the berry and white chocolate tart. It’s made like a cheesecake with a biscuit base and cream plus fruit on top. Unfortunaly I could not find any blueberries so this one just ended up with raspberries and chocolate on top. It’s delicious.  

There are lots and lots of other tasty looking things to make in this book. Ryan loves it too and is already deciding on what to make next.
The book was published just last month (Feb 2016) it has an RRP of £20.00.

McCain back to normality campaign

Published March 8, 2016 by Bizzimummy

McCain have launched the back to normality campaign to help mums and dads get back into the full swing of the school routine and mid-week teas for the new year.

As part of the initiative, they created a Back To Normal pack and I was sent one over to try out for our own family teatimes. The pack contained  an oven tray, serving tongs, oven gloves, enamel plate, egg timer and a £20 supermarket gift card of my choice. 

Also in the pack were some recipe ideas but I was able to make anything I wanted. The recipes sounded good but not really anything that all my kids would eat together. Anyway off to the shops I went and look at all of these McCain goodies that I managed to pick up, along with some other bits.  

There are lots of potato products here to keep us going. I did have my eye on the new “peri peri” fries but I know none of my children would eat them so instead I picked up – southern fries, hash browns, smiles, micro chips and ridge cut beef flavour fries.

My kids can be fussy so I try to make things that they will all eat but try keep it fairly healthy at the same time. 

First meal is chicken Kiev with the southern fries and peas. The fries have a lovely seasoned flavour.

Second – Pork chops, sausage, sweetcorn and the beef ridge cut fries. 

The new beef fries were a big hit in our home. We all enjoyed the lovely flavour and texture.

Our third meal is a home made chicken tikka curry with rice and a few smileys.

I think all kids love the smiley face potato shapes. 

The microwave chips are loved by Ryan who is a very fussy eater at times. 

These are very easy. Just a few minutes in the microwave and not soggy like some microwave chips can be. The portions are small but just right for him.

We have enjoyed cooking with the McCain potato products.

McCain teatime takeover 

Published November 6, 2015 by Bizzimummy

We were asked by McCain to take part in an Autumn family challenge. The challenge involves kids taking over in the kitchen one night per week (Thursday). Mum and kids get to swap roles for the next few weeks and we were sent a box full of kitchen goodies to help along with a voucher. 

What you see here is Ryan trying on his new chef hat and apron. He’s holding the recipe book/ kitchen organiser which is pretty useful with space to write our own recipes, menus and some useful kitchen info. We also now have a new chopping board, spatula, oven tray and a few new tea towels. 

Ryan seems to enjoy cooking and often likes to help out in the kitchen. I was hoping Jordanna may want to help too but she seems to be going through a “lazy, can’t be bothered” stage so it was all left to chef Ryan.

Ryan is a very fussy eater. A suggested recipe was included but it was fish and Ryan won’t touch fish. Pizza, McCain fries and garlic bread it was.  

I would not call it a role swap as I certainly did not get to sit and relax. He’s only 11 so still needs supervising around a hot oven and more so with a pizza slicer but he did the majority his self.  

I think he would suit being a chef as the whole chef outfit makes him look very smart.  

I think he did very well making this tea for himself and his sisters by his self. I’m not a pizza lover so I settled for a sandwich. If he decides he wants to cook again next week then I will post more pictures.

Kents Kitchen meal kits 

Published April 6, 2015 by Bizzimummy

Being a single parent of 3 means I rarely have time to cook myself a nice meal that I enjoy from scratch. I love spicy foods such as curries but making them from scratch is usually time consuming. Then there’s the issue of having no one to share it with and making too much which will just end up binned. Well  Kents Kitchen have bought out an easy solution in the form of very tasty and easy meal kits.  

There are many to choose from including several well known traditional curries, oriental dishes, Chilli con carne and a few other dishes which I am not so familiar with. I have been sent over two meal kits and both of them happen to be curries which I really like.  

These kits are quite small in size and take up very little cupboard space (unlike the large jars). There is also minimal packaging and therefore less waste. 

The kits comprise of 3 little pots. In the case of the curries it’s usually an oil (for frying the meat in), a curry paste and an infused spice mix.  

Each pack comes with a pull off label explaining what ingredients are needed to make the dish and the method on reverse. 

In this post I am making the chicken jalfrezi which is one of my favourite curries (tho I usually order rather than make it). As well as the meal kit pots, I also needed – Chicken fillet, onion, green pepper, and a tin of chopped tomatoes. The packet does give required amounts but this can be adjusted for more people or in my case less.  

First I had to fry the chicken and onions with the garlic oil pot. This was very strong, lots of garlic aromas in my kitchen. Once the chicken was browning I added the curry paste and green peppers.  

Then the spice mix and tomatoes and left to cook for a further 6 minutes or so. The spice aromas were very strong and the dish was looking very colourful.  

The Jalfrezi took about 15 minutes in total to cook. It was very spicy and full of delicious flavour. As I made it myself I know exactly what has gone into it – lots of fresh ingredients.  

I am looking forward to making the Spicy Korma too. 

Each meal kit requires different ingredients such as meats, fish and vegetables, sometimes yoghurt too. However the ingredients do seem to be simple things that are found in most supermarkets and nothing that is hard to get hold of. 

Kents Kitchen also sell a selection of easy meal Pasta pots, posh noodles, sauces, gravies, stuffings and stockpots. Visit Kents Kitchen to see more. 


Ideal World: Tefal Actifry Family Express XL

Published March 31, 2015 by Bizzimummy

About Ideal WorldIdeal World TV is one of the UK’s leading TV shopping channels, specialising in goods from Kitchen and Home to Beauty and Fashion. Their expertise lie in bringing products to life via the Live TV channels which broadcast 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

They replicate the same approach on their website, apps and social channels. Demonstration is key. It’s the only way a customer really knows what they are buying before they get it home for the road test! As they say ‘seeing is believing’.

Ideal World got in touch and offered me a choice of products for review in tine for Easter. Kitchen gadgets, all designed to make life a little easier in the kitchen and this is what I chose.


It is of course a Tefal Actifry and the family express XL version. I have been considering an Actifry for a while and so was thrilled to be finally getting one to test out. I love home made chips (who doesn't?) but I hate deep fat criers and even more so chip pans. I consider both to be dangerous, especially so when young children are around. Add to that, it's an unhealthy way to cook and they stink and also get very dirty over time. Actifry is so much different to deep fat friers.

The Tefal Actifry comes ready to use straight out of the box, literally no assembly and the instructions are very straightforward. The green latch in the picture above opens up the unit lid, which then reveals a large removeable cooking bowl.

This bowl contains a paddle which is also removeable and this helps to cook to food evenly.


Well I really couldn't wait to try this out. The Actifry only needs one or even half a spoonful of oil to make chips. A measuring spoon is included. Othe foods such as chicken need no oil at all when cooked in the Actifry.

So first thing to do was to cut up some potatoes into chips. Now although I love home made chips, I am slightly out of practice at doing them, so I am hoping that with time and practice my chip cutting skills will improve. For now tho these will do ha.

A little misshaped but all ending up in the same place anyway I suppose.

I found the Actifry very easy to use. It's a simple case of adding the chips, or other foods. Then a minuscule amount of oil using the spoon. A guide leaflet comes with it explaining how much oil needs to be used. Then just plug in and set the timer for the desired cooking time. For potato chips it's approximately 25-30 minutes depending on quantity of chips.

It does make a noise whilst cooking but nothing too loud. The lid is also see through so I can even watch the food cooking if I wish. The paddle rotates the chips around the bowl so that the cooking is even on each one. I made this little vide of the chip cooking in process,

Whist food is cooking I can get on with the rest of the meal or other things because once the timer has ended the Actifry will stop. The size of the Family Express XL allows for a whole lot of food to be cooked at once. I thought I had made way too many chips for the four of us, but when placed in the unit it looked quite empty and it even turned out that there was too many chips for us anyway. It has a large 1.5Kg capacity.

I was very impressed with using the Tefal Actifry for the first time. Is ease of use allowed me to cook some great tasting home made chips rather than the usual shop bought oven ones. The chips came out a lovely golden colour and despite the slight odd misshaped they tasted lovely with a bit of salt and vinegar. My kids all loved them and they made an amazing chip butty for me too.

25 minutes seemed to be spot on for cooking these. They were all cooked evenly and cooked just right, no burnt bits and no awful undercooked potato.

The Actifry Express is so much more than just a chip cooker too. It can cook many other things. Most things that need frying or grilling can be cooked more healthier in this. Foods such as chicken, fish, sausages, meats and even fruit can be done. It can even make sauces and curries as oil does not always need to be added. I have only had mine just over a week so am still getting the hang of cooking with it. It's certainly 100 times better and safer than a chip pan or a deep fat fryer in the home.

It needs no preheating either unlike an oven or some fryers meaning cooker is also quicker. The unit is fitted with an odourless filter and as new oil is added each time it's used, it means there is no nasty odour of oil, fat or old burnt foods.

Once used, and cooled down, the bowl is easily removed for washing. It is dishwasher safe and can also be washed with soap and water, dried and ready for next time.

It's slight downside is that it's quite heavy (without food) and is slightly bulky in size for keeping on a work top. It will fit in my cupboards tho and I do have a little hideaway space under my high cupboards where it fits snuggly.

This is well worth an investment for a family who wants to eat more healthily and may come in very useful for losing the pounds after all the Easter chocolate. RRP £179.99. Buy directly from Ideal World TV where you will also see all the other products on offer. They even offer a flexi-pay option giving the option to pay in low monthly installments.


Very Lazy easy cooking range

Published April 17, 2014 by Bizzimummy

When I first heard there was a company called Very Lazy I was quite curious as to what they were or why they would be called such a name.
Very Lazy is not really that lazy at all. Instead they are a hard working company bringing easy and useful ingredients for people like myself (who is a little lazy) to make delicious and very easy meals.
“Very Lazy peels, chops, slices and dices the very best ingredients, then captures them in all their tasty glory – in handy jars or tubes.”

Preparing food can sometimes be a daunting task. There’s chopping, peeling, slicing, dicing , handling the food and the mess with peel and juices. It’s all time consuming. Very Lazy removes this hard work, saving people who but their products time and effort and more reason to enjoy the finished product.

The Very Lazy range includes a selection of jars and squeezy sauces in tubes. Inside them is a selection of either chopped ingredients, cooking concentrates, paste ingredients and speciality ingredients. I have been sent a selection of the products and I am enjoying using and making some interesting dishes.

The products I have are.
*Coconut Masala Curry
*Piri Piri Chillis with oil
*Garlic Paste
*Lemongrass paste
*Crushed garlic with oil

The first product I used was the Very lazy coconut masala. The jar contains enough sauce to serve four and all I needed was some chicken and a tin of coconut milk.

The curry dish only took 15 minutes to make. It was a really mild dish, even Jordanna and Izebella enjoyed it. Most curry dishes (even those from jars) take much longer to make or require more ingredients. This was so simple and easy that even a teenager could probably make it. The recipe was on the pack under a label. I did have to scan a barcode tho and I’m thinking it may have been better to just put the recipe on as not everyone has a code scanner. However I didn’t really need the recipe as it’s just a case of adding everything together and cooking.

I also added a little w to my curry just to give it a little extra flavour. 1 teaspoon of the lemongrass paste is equivalent to 1 stick of lemongrass.
I have never used Lemongrass before and had no idea what it was until now.

The Garlic Paste comes in a squeezy tube. One teaspoon is equivalent to one clove of garlic.

20140409-214048.jpg This stuff is seriously strong. When I removed the foil cap I could instantly smell it.
This garlic paste is superb for making home made garlic bread/butter. All you do is mix some with butter in a bowl and apply it to a part sliced ciabatta loaf, then bake. It may be a good idea to open a door or window whilst baking as my kitchen really smelt of garlic on first go, I may have made it slightly stronger than I should of done. It tasted delicious anyway and better than a shop bought one. At least I thought so anyway.


The Crushed garlic with oil could also be used to make garlic butter. It is also really useful for recipes which require “a clove of crushed garlic” the problem with this ingredient in recipes is that you can never just purchase one clove, you have to purchase the whole thing with several cloves. Then it needs peeling and chopping which I find quite difficult to crush it down so much that it resembles a paste. The cloves are quite small and fiddly and I find I end up with chunks of garlic in my dish. Very Lazy Crushed garlic solves the crushed garlic problems. It’s already peeled and crushed and preserved in oil. All ready to simply spoon out and add to a dish. Easy peasy.

I have yet to try the Piri Piri Chillies with oil I don’t want to open the jar until I use it’s. I imagine it will be very very strong given the fact that just one teaspoon of this stuff is like one Piri Piri chilli. I do enjoy my Piri Piri chicken, so will be making some very soon.

The Very Lazy products will last up to four weeks once opened and stored in a refrigerator. There are many other products to choose from including other garlic varieties, ginger, chillies and many more. The full range can be viewed at Very Lazy and the products can be bought in supermarkets including Ocado, Asda, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrissons, and Sainsburys.

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