I love Mexican food, ever since I tasted my first burrito as a student in New York, I have been a super fan.  However it is not a food that I find easy to recreate in the kitchen from scratch which is why I am also a massive fan of the Old El Paso range.

We were recently set a selection of products to review, including Enchiladas, two rice one pan meals, a couple of easy to make casserole sauces and some relishes for us to dip our tortilla chips in.

The whole range has been scrumptious.  We took the One Pan Rice meals on our recent holiday to Cornwall, and they were the perfect easy option for the end of the day.  The One Pan Rice Meals come together in moments and can be made veggie or with meat and the whole family wolved them down (before I even snapped a shot!).

The One Pan Rice Meals take twenty minutes to prepare  – you can see the recipe here.  I definitely recommend adding a red pepper for a bit of colour and extra zing.

I have used the casserole sachets in the slow cooker, last night we enjoyed quorn mince, mixed with tomato, sweetcorn, red pepper, onion and a Chilli and Roasted Casserole mix.  The end result was utterly scrumptious, it was a chilli meets casserole sensation.

So delicious that I had it as leftovers for lunch!

The Old El Paso website has lots of ideas for meals and ideas for Mexican themed parties, it is a great resource to check out if you are planning a Mexican night in either for the girls, the boys or the children!

Tomorrow night we are having enchiladas – I can hardly wait!

Thrifty wise – the Old El Paso range is really well priced, with deals being found in many well known supermarkets.  So you get great food at a great price!

 

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Online reviews are a quick and easy way to gauge public opinion to a company or its products, but how much can they really be trusted? In the digital age, the Internet is often the first port of call when seeking information prior to a purchase, and so online reviews play an extremely important role to consumers and manufacturers alike.

In this article we take a look at several of the pros and cons when it comes to using online reviews, and examine whether they are a fair and accurate indicator.

Many companies actively seek product reviewers, and offer incentives, either financial or – commonly – a free sample of the product. There is of course nothing at all underhand about this, but it is more likely to result in favourable opinions and reviews. Some sites even pay people to write positive (or indeed negative) reviews of a specific product in order to meet a company goal – be that to enhance their own company’s reputation or adversely affect a direct competitor.

This latter point is important – the Internet is a very powerful tool and carries a strong influence on its users: should a product receive a handful or disparaging reviews posted on its website or in a more general forum, this can be extremely detrimental. Conversely, products and companies can also receive a major boost by virtue of online “word of mouth”.

It is also perfectly possible for companies to filter or remove comments they have received prior to publication on their website – it’s highly unlikely, for example, that a very negative review of a product would appear on a manufacturer’s own site; glowing reviews or testimonials are however commonplace. It is also quite often the case that satisfied customers may prefer not to post opinions or reviews of their goods or a service received, whereas customers with a bad experience may wish to share their views publicly.

In order to receive a more informed opinion of a product or service, third party or specialist review websites are a good port of call. Major supermarket chains and sites which sell a wide variety of products, such as Amazon or Argos for example, offer a wide range of reviews on many of their products – often accompanied by a series of rankings for such factors as speed of delivery, the quality of the product itself and any aftercare or service received. This also helps consumers to weed out negative reviews based solely on a delayed or lost delivery – it’s not unusual to find highly negative reviews posted on some sites simply because the product turned up late: the purchaser may be delighted with the product itself but the review may not even describe this.

A sensible rule of thumb when analysing customer reviews is to look for a reasonably large body of opinions, discount the extreme ends of the comments (both positive and negative) and use the remainder as a guideline. It is also worth seeking out product reviews across a variety of sites (where possible) – one site may carry a number of bad reviews, while another could be overwhelmingly positive about the same thing. With a little research and a few extra clicks, the Internet can be an extremely valuable source of information.

A good example of using comparison or review sites is the UK energy market. The recent round of price hikes among the major suppliers has left consumers scrambling to find the best deal for their domestic energy: with a growing number of comparison sites available, customers can analyse public opinion on British Gas or read Ovo energy customer reviews before committing to a new supplier.

My kitchen is tired, almost as tired as I am, but not quite.

It needs some tender loving care, potentially a complete overhaul – but cost always remains a factor when it comes to waking up the home.

However, I do have some exciting news – Magnet have got some great February deals on over on their website.  It is more than worth checking out if you are in the mood to do some re designing in the home this year.  Plus, what could be nicer than a new kitchen?

 

Our kitchen is the focal point of the home, where the kids tell me about their day as I make the next days packed lunches, it is where my husband greets me when he comes in from work, it is where I spend a bit of time relaxing on a weekend after a hefty baking session.

So, Magnet have an exclusive online sale on – but you have to be quick – it is only on until the end of February.

If you enter your email here:  www.magnet.co.uk/discount-voucher and read the full terms and conditions on the site you can download a voucher to use to buy your dream kitchen from one of the ranges currently involved in the promotion.

Sales like this means creating your dream home doesn’t have to break the bank.

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The older I get the more I turn into a grumbler…

Really,

I whinge about leaving doors open, letting the heat escape from the house, I moan about wearing shoes indoors, I moan about shopping at expensive supermarkets when the cheap ones fair just as well.

I really don’t like wasting money.

But behind my moaning is a sensible approach.

Take my latest bugbear…

We went away for the weekend recently, and I know I turned off the heating and water before jumping in the car.  However when we came home I walked into a beautiful toasty house where every radiator was aglow.

My husband swears he didn’t overrule me, but I think the red in his cheek came from more than the heat.

Heating an empty house is like burning money in my opinion and yet with set heating times it seems almost impossible to avoid.

That is until now….

Today I heard about Hive.

A new app designed for people like me!

It lets you control your heating remotely, from wherever you are!

Genius!

You don’t need to change your energy supplier, you do need to pay a one-off fee of £199, but I reckon I could easily recoup this within six months by having remote access control to the heating and hot water.

Hive is so clever that it can even notify you when you reach a certain temperature in the house.

Imagine…

Caught in an unexpected rainstorm in the shops at four pm, your hotwater doesn’t normally come on until seven pm, but you are due out at six. Hive solves this dilemma easily by allowing you to get the hot water on using your phone, leaving you free to fight with the umbrella and get home fast to climb into a steaming hot bath.

This short video displays lots of times when a clever little app like Hive can come in handy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzbmWEr1gqg

For more details on Hive, have a look at their website.

How it works

A person who knows what they are doing (an engineer) comes to your home (as part of the £199 set up fee) and plugs a ‘hub’ into your broadband router so your thermostat can connect to the internet and be remote controlled.

This clever little box simply plugs into your broadband router so that your thermostat can connect to the internet and be controlled remotely. Your qualified engineer will plug the hub into your router as part of the installation process.

Then you can download the app for free, managing your hot water and heating from wherever you are.

But that is not all…

The Hive hub automatically turns on frost protection when you turn your heating off, plus you can preset your preferred temperatures for speed and ease.

Nice and funky!

One way to combat increasing energy prices, is to get smarter about your usage, I am going to be that with my new Hive heating!

I am terribly over excited, never again will the other half heat the house when we are out for the weekend.

In association with Hive