Review: The Sensio Masha – not just for spuds!

As a northerner I enjoy a gravy dinner, preferably with a dollop of buttery mashed potato. When it comes to mashed potato it has to be smooth and lump free, but not bashed into a gluey inedible mess. I was intrigued when I was asked to try the Sensio Potato Masha from The A Range. I’ve been mashing my spuds for years with a traditional masher and wondered how they would compare.

I unpacked the Masha, it is a stick blender type of thing which comes with two plastic “blades” one for mashing and one for aerating. The blade is housed in a head which has lots of little holes which the mash is forced through, and as a result comes out smooth. It’s easy to hold and use and perfect for my 5 year old when he wants to help Mummy in the kitchen.

Sensio Potato Masha

The Sensio Potato Masha comes with an instruction book which includes some recipes, we decided to try making hummus as were having Greek mezze for tea. The small boy was as keen as mustard to get his hands on it, I explained that he wasn’t ever allowed to touch the green plastic blade whether it was moving or not – it’s not sharp so he couldn’t cut himself, but if he touched it while it was moving it would hurt.

Once I showed him the button to press, he got busy making hummus. As I gradually added a little more oil, the mashing process became easier, the smooth hummus coming out of the holes in the Masha head.

Next up,  I’d detached the head, took the blade out and gave it a quick turn in the dishwasher, it was time to whip some cream with it. Using the aerator blade the boy was super keen to help out again (top tip: gadget = helpful boys). Once I’d explained that he needed to move it around the bowl to whip all the cream it took less than a minute to get the right consistency I was after.

I was very impressed by the Masha. I have an old stick blender which has served me well but this is much more versatile. I’d never “blend” mash as I’ve always found blended mash to be gluey and having tried this out on a range of different things in the kitchen I really like it. I really like that its easy to hold and use and although kids in the kitchen should always be supervised, my heart is less in my mouth when my son uses this compared to my ancient stick blender with its sharp metal blade.

I like that the Sensio Potato Masha is chunky and easy to clean. You just take it all apart and put everything apart from the power unit into the dishwasher. It’s great for people who find fiddly things more difficult to use and it’s really simple to take apart and put back together.

I think it’s time I retired my ancient stick blender, this is quick to use and easy to clean and I know the plastic blades won’t get blunt in the dishwasher. The Sensio Potato Masha costs around £35 and is available from a range of retailers. I think that because it can tackle a range of smashing, mashing, whisking, whipping and blending tasks in the kitchen that it is really good value for money.

The Sensio Potato Masha gets a thumbs up from us.

We were sent the Sensio Potato Masha for review purposes, all images and opinions are our own.

The Oven Pride Christmas Dinner Challenge

At this time of year there are a million things to do and a million more things to think about. It had been in the back of my mind that I should probably clean my oven before Christmas, but I’d not done anything more about it. It seemed like a chore I could do without. However Oven Pride got in touch and suggested my Christmas dinner might taste a bit better if I did give my oven a good clean, they sent me a box of Oven Pride and it seemed I had run out of excuses not to clean it. 

The challenge was to cook a Christmas dinner in my filthy oven, then give it a clean, then cook another Christmas dinner. Thankfully my family like turkey, so we were on!

I can’t remember the last time I cleaned my oven, I think it might’ve been sometime over the summer but I can’t be certain. Regardless it was filthy, the glass on the door was caked in brown stuff to the point where I struggled to see through it. The bottom of the oven had a slight dip in it, so anything that splatters or bubbles over pools there and quickly turns black, burnt and acrid. 

Oven Pride

I popped the turkey into the oven, and because our oven is used to fairly quick blasts of cooking we hadn’t realised how bad it was. After 45 minutes of the oven being on, the kitchen quickly filled with smoke and I had to keep the back door open. My eyes started stinging every time I went into the kitchen and regrettably I’d left a damp coat over a chair, so that stank of smoke and grease and had to be washed the next day. The kitchen reeked and it was very hard to spend any time at all in there whilst the oven was on. I hardly dared to imagine how the food would taste.

I’d cooked the turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes and roast parsnips in the oven. I’m veggie so I don’t know how the turkey tasted, but the roast potatoes and parsnips did have a slight smoky taste, and if I’m honest the whiff of the oven was still hanging in the air while we were eating, so I was very put off by it. I could only imagine what my guests on Christmas Day would think sat in an acrid, smoke-filled kitchen tucking into turkey and all the trimmings – not impressive. Action needed to be taken.

Oven Pride

I was so disgusted I could hardly wait for the oven to cool down enough for me to get cracking with the cleaning. In the box comes a pair of gloves to protect your hands, a large bag to soak your oven shelves in and of course a big bottle of Oven Pride. Read the instructions carefully before you start, but it is very simple to do. I would recommend leaving it overnight rather than the 4 hour minimum. We left it for four hours but our oven was so filthy it needed a longer soaking, so we did the oven again, the second time overnight. 

Oven Pride

Oven Pride

Oven Pride

The shelves in the bag were amazing – a revelation. You could see the grime coming off them almost instantly and once they’d been left overnight and rinsed clean they shone like I’d never seen before. I was very impressed.

Oven Pride

As you can see the oven is spotless, you could eat your dinner off it and those shelves are zingy clean and shiny! It was time to put it to the test, it was time to cook turkey number two!

I cooked the exact same Christmas dinner as before, only this time it was in a clean and shiny oven. This time there was no smoke, the kitchen was a nice place to be, all was as it should be. 

Oven Pride

The dinner was how it should be, the boys enjoyed the turkey, the roast potatoes and parsnips were really good (even if I do say so myself) and not at all acrid or smoky. Christmas dinner was a success!

Oven Pride

Oven Pride

I’m ashamed that I let my oven get in such a state. I promise to try and keep my oven clean from now on, knowing what a difference it makes to the taste of the food. Using Oven Pride is really simple, there’s very little elbow grease involved, and if you leave it overnight even the most stubborn oven grime is easily removed. I guess if you keep on top of it, cleaning your oven maybe twice a year then the filth doesn’t build up. Take it from one who knows, don’t let your oven get smoky and disgusting like mine.

Note: We are sent the Oven Pride to try for review purposes and we were compensated for cooking the meals, but all images and opinions are our own.

Tried & Tested: Practical & Stylish Prestige Vintage Kitchenware

I have been a fan of enamel cookware since I bought a couple of baking dishes a couple of years ago. They’re so easy to care for, they’re great to cook with and look really stylish when you put them on the table. I’ve been keen to expand my tiny collection of enamel kitchenware for a while now, so I was delighted when Prestige introduced me to their brand spanking new vintage range.

The new Prestige Vintage kitchenware range has the stylish vintage look which is incredibly popular today, with all the practicality we expect in a modern kitchen. The range includes stylish accessories, oven to table cookware and a number of practical pans in useful sizes. The kitchenware is made from enamel coated steel and ceramics and comes in a choice of blue/white or red/white so you can mix and match to complete your look.

Prestige Vintage

Enamel cookware is known for being easy to clean, rust proof and great for retaining heat. It’s ok to be thrown in the dishwasher after use and it’s incredibly durable. No wonder my Grandma loved it and no wonder it’s come back into fashion!

My new Prestige Vintage 19cm saucepan is a great size for family cooking. I can make a decent sized stew in it for an evening meal for the three of us, and because it’s made from enamel it can go from hob to oven to table with no bother at all. The only word of caution would be that it’s not suitable for use in a microwave, but everyone knows you can’t put metal in the microwave, so it’s not a problem really.

Prestige Vintage

My Prestige Vintage 19cm enamel pan looks fab. I chose the blue stripe, but you can get it in red too. The pan is well made, sturdy but not too heavy. I’ve used it a good few times to cook with and it’s been great, and so easy to clean. I accidentally burnt caramelised something when I wasn’t paying attention, and it cleaned up really easily and left no marks at all.

Prestige Vintage

As you can see it is a beautiful pan, a classic design and for my money the perfect kitchen staple. The Prestige Vintage range is a design classic and is ideal for practical everyday use. I’ve fallen for the Prestige Vintage range big time. It seems I have a vintage heart after all.

For more information, and to view the whole of the Prestige Vintage range, visit the Prestige website.

Note: We were sent the Prestige Vintage 19cm enamel for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: Ambu Tree Marinades

With the barbecue season in full swing we were optimistically sent some fresh Ambu Tree Marinades to try; then the heavens opened and it rained solidly, Noah’s Arc style for days. Thankfully you don’t really need a barbecue to try the marinades out so we got stuck in.

There are three different flavours of Ambu Tree marinade; Mild Tandoori, Spicy Tandoori and Chinese Five Spice. Ambu Tree use freshly roasted and ground spices which really pack a flavour punch, they are also gluten and dairy free and contain no food colouring or harmful additives. The marinades are chilled, so need to be kept in a fridge, but they generally have pretty long dates on them and will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.

The pots look small, but they do go a long way, they say each pot is enough for 4-6 people and I think that’s about right.

Ambu Tree Marinades

To use, I sliced up a large chicken breast, put it in a plastic box, added about two teaspoons of the mild tandoori marinade and coated the chicken. I did the same with the spicy tandoori marinade (we wanted to do a taste comparison). Because I’m veggie I just coated a Quorn fillet with each and I put all the boxed chicken and Quorn in the fridge for a few hours to, erm, marinade.

I cooked some in my griddle pan, the others I fried in a drop of oil. You could easily bake or barbecue them too. I served the tandoori chicken and Quorn in pitta bread with salad and homemade raita.

Ambu Tree Marinades

The mild tandoori was a really big hit, really flavoursome, there was some spice but it was a gentle, warming heat. The small boy (he’s 3) loved it and cleared his plate. The bigger boy (he’s 39) who is a spice junkie, preferred the spicy marinade. I enjoyed them both, but the mild was definitely my favourite. It was like no home marinade I’ve ever had, it tasted really authentic and complex, but also really healthy too.

The next night I made a stir fry. I marinaded the chicken and Quorn in the Chinese five spice. This was a bit runnier that the tandoori marinades, which were more paste like in consistency, it did make it easier to coat the chicken strips and it probably went a little bit further because of the consistency. Like before I fried the chicken and Quorn in a little bit of oil. I then topped each plate of veggie stir fry with the chicken or Quorn strips.

I really enjoyed the Chinese five spice marinade. It had a beautiful, deep, authentic flavour, I imagine duck would be fantastic marinaded in this. It wasn’t spicy hot, it was a wonderful blend of flavoursome spices which we all enjoyed.

The Ambu Tree Marinades were a bit of a revelation to me. I’ve tried a few similar mass produced marinades before but they lacked a bit of marinade mojo and were a bit gloopy and artificial. These Ambu Tree Marinades are so packed full of flavour and fresh tasting, a little really does go a long way. The little pots are available from their online shop at £3.85 per pot. They’re gorgeous and I hope they’ll find their way to my local deli soon.

Note: I was sent the Ambu Tree Marinades for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Save With Jamie

This week saw the launch of Jamie Oliver’s new series Save with Jamie. It received a mixed reception but we #BlogGirls were inspired to share a few of our tips for thrifty kitchen habits. Here are a few of mine:

Batch cook and freeze
Simple really. If I’m making a pasta sauce for example I often double up and freeze some for a lazy day. This is also really useful if you find bargains and don’t fancy eating them straight away.

Pad out meals
Having a toddler in the house who does love his veg we tend not to worry too much about sneaking extra goodness in him, but if I’m making a spaghetti bolognaise or other mince based dish I often finely grate a couple of carrots into the mince as it’s cooking. This bulks it out a little bit and adds extra goodness. For the same reason I often add some lentils into dishes, the red lentils dissolve into nothing if cooked for long enough but add that extra bit of protein and stretch a budget bag of mince a little bit further.

I’m a sucker for the whoopsie shelf in the supermarket. I always have a rummage and often find brilliant bargains which we either eat now or sling in the freezer for another day. I once found a decent sized beef brisket in Co-op for £1.75 which I turned into a delicious pot roast which fed six. I’ve found sea bass fillets for pence too. It’s well worth a rummage and can spark the beginnings of some interesting and unusual meals.

Grow your own
I know not everyone has either the space or green fingers to do this. We do try and grow some veg every year with varying success, the weather has been against us recently. However if you can I really recommend having some hardy herbs. We have a rosemary and a bay tree in a pot by the back door and thyme and chives in the garden. They all require zero maintenance apart from slinging a bit of water over them if they’re dry. We picked up ours incredibly cheaply and we’ve had a few years of free flavourings from them.

You don’t have to be Bear Grylls to have a forage. At this time of year the hedgerows, lanes and patches of scrubland are heaving with brambles covered in fat juicy blackberries. It’s a great thing to do with kids and you can stock up your freezer with berry-loveliness for the long winter months ahead. Likewise lots of parks and woodlands have some fruit trees which you can sneak a few fruits from. Just always be sure of what you’re picking and don’t strip the trees or bushes, leave some for others and for the birds.

So that’s how we keep kitchen costs down. I’d love to read your tips so do link up with us!