Hazelnut Ficelle – Bake of the Week

hazelnut oil bread

… or scrawny baguettes as Mr C likes to call them. My love of baking bread is still on-going. This was the most successful outcome yet and had me squealing every time I saw how light, airy and perfect they were inside.

After all the sweetness of chocolatey Easter, I wanted this week’s Bake of the Week to be a savoury one. It nearly didn’t happen, we have a child down with Scarlet Fever (I’m not convinced it is … the rash has disappeared). Baby T is generally very inside out but did have a huge sleep this afternoon, so on with the baking!

I think true Ficelles are supposed to be a lot longer than mine – I cut my ‘fingers’ ‘sticks’ in half to make them more manageable and loved the size. The Hazelnut taste is very subtle – I used a combination of olive oil mixed with Hazelnut Oil and sprinkled over chopped hazelnuts. I also made half of the batch, thyme flavoured. I’m more than addicted to the thyme breadsticks that Tesco sell and wanted to make my own version.

thyme bread

My original recipe is inspired by Paul Hollywood and his Truffle Ficelles. I was sent some ingredients from Mielle and challenged to use them in a recipe – I have got great plans for tomorrow’s evening meal but for now its about the bread.

Hazelnut Ficelle

Serves 4
Cook time 2 hours, 32 minutes
Allergy Wheat
Meal type Appetizer, Bread, Side Dish, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
By author Paul Hollywood
Deliciously light mini bread baguettes - flavoured with hazelnut or thyme - this recipe contains enough for a mixture of both


  • 250g Strong White Bread Flour (Plus extra for work surface)
  • 1 packet Dried Yeast (Mine was a large packet at 7g so I didn't quite use it all))
  • 2 pinches Salt
  • 200ml Lukewarm Water
  • 25g Hazelnuts (Chopped into small pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon Hazelnut Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil (plus another teaspoon for mixing with the hazelnut oil for the topping)


The Bread
Put your flour, yeast and salt in a mixer and add 3 tablespoons of the water. Start the mixer on slow and continue to add the water. Try to keep the salt and the yeast separated until the water has started to be added.
Add the tablespoon of olive oil and continue to mix for at least 5 minutes. The dough will be REALLY sticky when it comes out of the bowl.
Leave to prove in a oiled bowl for around 1 1/2 hours. I have found that my bread proves best in an oven that I turned on at 175C for 10 minutes and turned off a few minutes before putting the dough in - Just my version of proving. Am all for ideas!
When the dough has doubled in size, put it on a work surface with lots of flour on it - You will need loads as it will be even stickier. DO NOT KNEAD! You are gently stretching and pulling the dough until you get a rectangle - about 9" x6".
Cut lengthways into 6 strips and cut these in half. (I use a pizza cutter)
Divide the dough across 2 baking trays that have been lined with baking parchment.
Brush one half of the sticks with hazelnut oil (mixed with the olive oil) and sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts on the top. The other half, I brushed with just olive oil and sprinkled dried thyme on the top.
Leave to prove again for 40 minutes then cook for 12 minutes at 230C - I alternated the 2 trays after 10 minutes of baking
Serve with dipping balsamic vinegar and olive oil mixed.

It was a mega week last week for Bake of the Week entries – Thanks so much to everyone who is getting involved. You know I love you all and you are welcome to come an administer my child her antibiotics?

I have GOT to draw attention to this magnificent Orange Chiffon Cake by Sadaf from My Culinary Adventures – If you are ever wanting to know what to bake me, you are pretty safe with Orange.

orange chiffon cake

Another recipe that I’m desperate to try is a Baked Alaska – Everyone says that they are much easier than you think so perhaps I will give it a go soon. Jenny from The Brick Castle has made this look so easy!

Baked Alaska recipe containing coffee beans

Our most regular entrant, Kirsty from Hijacked by Twins didn’t disappoint as ever this week – I’ve even now a started bossing her about telling her what to enter! She is too good and gave us Hot Cross Buns this week.

Hot Cross Bun Recipe

Would you look at this M&M Cake from ET Speaks Home? Brilliant and just up my street how neat it is. This was just one of her 2 recipes entered this week (Its fine to enter more than once by the way!) – We also had a Tiramisu Steamed Cake – Cor!

M & M cake tiramisu steamed cake

I almost made one of these surprise inside/pinata cakes this weekend but ran out of time – I’ll have to wait until next Easter now to put my idea into place. Jenny from Mummy Mishaps didn’t run out of time though, she entered this fabulous Easter Piñata Cake

surprise inside cake

My lovely rookie at Britmums this year even entered this week – Julia from AWannaBeFoodie seems to feel the same way about bread that I do so was equally made-up when her English Farl Loaf turned out a treat.

english carl loaf recipe

Great to see a savoury entry too in the form of Caramelised Onion & Goats Cheese Tarlets – These look very professional by Kanchan from The Intrepid Misadventurer.

onion goats cheese tartlets

And last but not least, a recipe that is Celebrity endorsed! We expect nothing less on Casa Costello ;-) Emma from Farmer’s Wife and Mummy is setting the world on fire with her Nutty Banoffee Fairtrade Cake – Congrats!

nutty banoffee cake

Again, massive thanks to everyone who got involved – the link is now OPEN for this week’s Bake of the Week. As usual, all entries will be pinned, tweeted and commented on. Please include the badge to let people know you have entered and I look forward to seeing all your magnificent creations next week. (If you enter, feel free to leave me a comment to let me know – if it is your first time of entering Bake of the Week (welcome!) then I may have to authorise your picture – I’ll do it asap. Thanks x)

Casa Costello
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Disclosure: I was sent the Hazelnut Oil by Mielle. I had free reign over which recipe I chose and all opinions are my own. recipes using hazelnut oil

As usual I’m entering this recipe into this week’s Tasty Tuesday – There’s some jaw dropping recipes on there every week. Why not pop over and take a look? Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

You can also find this recipe and more over at Emily, A Mummy Too’s Recipe of the Week

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Sainsbury’s Cake Book Giveaway & Review

competition giveaway cake book

Its pretty common knowledge that I cannot resist a cake book – I’ve had to start limiting myself to only ones that are really good as space is rapidly running out. (I’m still hoping that one day I’ll get my haven of peace in the conservatory being converted to a snug/library). When Sainsbury’s contacted me asking me to review their Cake book (There’s no messing, its simply called ‘Cake’), all will power went out of the window. I was slightly sceptical though, wondering what could possibly be new in a supermarket cake decorating and baking book?

I was wrong.

how to make cakes with sweets inside

This has quickly turned into the cake book of the moment for me. There’s so many techniques that I’ve been wanting to try for ages but not got round to. I could possibly have googled the techniques on the internet, but its super handy to have them all in one book.

There’s at least 50 different cake designs to choose from with ratings to show how easy or complicated the design is to achieve. Each cake has a photograph alongside pics of the steps to achieving the finished look.

shapes inside cakes

The colours of the cakes are great. There’s cakes that even beginners can do and some for the more advanced (wedding cake that could be used for a really special party). All the latest trends are in there from the baked shaped in the middle of a cake to the surprise sweets piñata type of cake that are so popular.

I know that I will be using this book asa reference for quite a while to come – its definitely not been relegated to the ‘Nice book but not much in it’ shelf. My copy is covered in butter stains & splashes of vanilla extract already.

making a cupcake bouquet

Sainsbury’s have kindly offered another copy of this book to be used as a giveaway. To enter please follow the Rafflecopter instructions below. The draw will close on Monday 5th May and the winner will be notified as soon as possible. I will send the book out to the winner as soon as the winner has been verified. If any steps have been missed out when entering the competition, another winner will be selected at random.

Thanks for entering – I’m sure the winner will be very happy with their book! Happy Baking and Decorating!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Caramel & Pecan Fudge – An Alternative to Chocolate at Easter

pecan white chocolate caramel fudge

I try every year to come up with an alternative for giving an egg at Easter. Fudge is incredibly versatile – you can just serve it up on a plate or gift wrap and show a little more thought. This is a crumbly type of fudge that I’ve made many a time when I’ve needed something homemade NOW! Its certainly not posh, its for a recipient that appreciate the homemade gift that is a little rustic. One of its massive plus points is that this recipe is quick!

One of the most important things about this fudge is to score the lines for chopping it into square (or triangles if the mood takes you) – If you forget its even harder to get proper shapes. I will admit we have often just picked it out of the silicone mould – its really crumbly…but amazingly moreish.

Caramel & Pecan Fudge


  • 300g caster sugar
  • 30g butter
  • 175g Campbell's Tinned Caramel (About half of a tin)
  • 200g white chocolate chopped into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 50g pecans (chopped into thirds)


Melt the sugar, butter, caramel in a large pan - stirring continuously for at least 5 minutes. Don't allow the sides to catch - keep scraping them down. Keep it bubbling on a medium to low heat for at least another 5 minutes.
Take off the heat - Stir in the vanilla and the white chocolate and keep stirring - I waited until about half of my chocolate had melted as I wanted some little chunks remaining in the fudge.
Stir in the pecans.
Pat down into a 9" square tin, lined with baking parchment and score out lines with a knife where you will cut the fudge - I'm not promising they will be perfect squares, this is not that sort of fudge recipe - think rustic!
Refrigerate for about an hour an you are done!

  As usual, this recipe is being entered into Emily from A Mummy Too’s Recipe of the Week…Pop over and read the other tastebud inspiring posts.

Link up your recipe of the week

Also entering into Honest Mum's Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Mushroom & Nut Filo Parcels

filo parcels with a mixed nut and mushroom filling

There’s just some short cuts in life that are too good to miss. Using bought Filo pastry is definitely one of them. I’d love to say I always make my own pastry but life really is too short when it comes to Filo.

The secret to working with Filo (or sometimes known as Phyllo) is to be quick. I only have out of the fridge exactly the amount that I need as it dries out and becomes difficult to work with pretty soon. I have my butter melted ready to spread on each layer and the fillings ready to go. Time is definitely of the essence.

I like my parcels to have 3 layers of pastry but you can get away with just 2. I also cover the edges of my pastry with teeny tinned foil lids for the first 20 mins of cooking to stop them catching.

Mushroom & Nut Filo Parcels

Serves 9
Prep time 18 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 48 minutes
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer, Lunch, Snack, Starter
Misc Serve Hot
Occasion Barbecue, Casual Party
Crunchy nuts mixed with herby mushrooms encased in a crispy Filo pastry shell


  • 1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 Small Onion (Finely Chopped)
  • 1 clove Garlic (Finely Chopped)
  • 250g Mushrooms (Preferably Chestnut Mushrooms)
  • 150g Mixed Nuts (I used Macadamia, Almonds, Hazlenuts, Brazil - Chopped into small chunks (1-2mm))
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Dry Sherry
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce (or Soy Sauce if you are vegetarian)
  • 25g Melted Butter
  • 135g Filo Pastry (I used exactly half a packet)


Soften the onions and garlic in the oil in a large frying pan until clear - About 5 mins
Add the mushrooms, nuts, sherry, parsley and worcestershire sauce and continue to cook on the hob for another 5 minutes until soft and well mixed together
Add a pinch of salt and pepper
There should not be very much liquid at the bottom of the pan but if there is, drain it off. You don't want the mixture too moist or it will make the pastry soggy at the bottom
Cut the pastry sheets into equal squares until you have 27 squares (This recipe makes 9 parcels)
Lay one sheet down and quickly brush melted butter around the sides, add another layer on top with the points turned 45 degrees and repeat the butter. Add the final layer and again brush melted butter around the edges.
Place one large tablespoon of the mushroom nut mixture in the centres of the squares and quickly scrunch together at the top. The melted butter will help it stick.
place a scrunched up square of tinned foil over the top of the pastry before it goes too crispy and bake for 30 mins at 190C (remove the tinned foil after the first 20 mins)
Allow to cool slightly and serve with balsamic vinegar as a dip and rocket. Enjoy!

Disclosure: I was sent vouchers from JusRol to cover the cost of buying the pastry – I was given free choice which pastry to use and the recipe is my own.

I’m entering this recipe into Emily’s Recipe of the week.

Link up your recipe of the week

Mini Marzipan Birds’ Nests Tutorial – Center Parcs Family Blogger April Challenge

how to make mini marzipan birds' nests

Even I think these are cute! Tiny mouthfuls of marzipan with a mini egg all disguised as Birds’ Nests. For people that are rather fond of grammar, I’ve had massive arguments with myself about where the apostrophe goes!

I’ve was set the task of designing (and making) a Bird’s Nest as part of my involvement with the Center Parcs Family Blogger club. There’s all sorts of tips for having a go and making your own on their website – why not have a go? CP suggested using liquorice laces which gave me the inspiration to use marzipan strands – and I could nibble it as I went along!

Here’s how to make your own Mini Marzipan Easter Birds’ Nests:

how to make edible bird's nests

You will need:

  • Marzipan (about 100g makes loads!)
  • Rolling Pin
  • Knife
  • Small Mould/Mini cake tins – I used a tray for making chocolates
  • Petit Four cases
  • Brown Food Colouring
  • Sugar Glue (or cooled boiled water)
  • Mini Eggs

1. Colour most of your marzipan brown leaving a small amount for making the ‘straw’

2. Line the tray/mould with the cases shaping them to fit – mine were rectangles

3. Place a small flattened circle of brown marzipan in the base of each case

  how to roll out marzipan

4. Glue around the edge of the circle with the sugar glue (try not to touch the cases with the glue but its not the end of the world if you do)

5. Roll out the brown marzipan until quite thin and cut into thin strips

6. Wrap the strips inside the petit four cases, building up and sometimes overlapping the edges

7. Leave to dry/harden for approx 2 hours

8. Roll tiny sausages of natural marzipan to look like straw and drop into the nests

9. Unpeel the cases away from the nests and plop in a mini egg (or a furry chicken)


edible bird's nests tutorial

‘I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and visited Whinfell village with my family. If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how http://bit.ly/1okzxJv

Raspberry, Almond & White Chocolate Loaf Cake – Bake of the Week

Tasty Loaf cake recipe using raspberries & white chocolate

We had a wonderful day yesterday – an impromptu visit to Abersoch, one of our favourite places in the world. We couldn’t fit in a night away but decided to go for it and do the 2.5 hour journey and back in one day. With LOTS of stops and a Huuuuge picnic.

Of course, no picnic is complete without a slab of cake so on Saturday morning I got out the Loaf tin and made a Raspberry, White Chocolate and Almond Loaf. I believe you must do rustic for a true picnic so there was no decoration and just a few fingers crossed that the raspberries didn’t all sink to the bottom (They didn’t!) I rolled the raspberries in the flour and ground almond mixture before adding to the cake mixture.

If I could recommend one tin to have in your cake tin collection, it would be a loaf tin. You need a really sturdy one but it will be used time and time again. And they are much easier to cut into portions that a round cake.

I love extra almond flavour so am liberal with the almond extract – you might want to tone it down a bit if you are not as obsessed as me.

Raspberry, White Chocolate and Almond Loaf Cake – Bake of the Week

Serves 12
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 55 minutes
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Occasion Barbecue, Casual Party
Rustic raspberry, white chocolate & almond loaf cake recipe - Perfect for picnics


  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 150g Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 40ml Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Almond Extract (Can use less if you don't want a strong taste of almond)
  • 200g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 zest Lemon (plus the juice of half of it squeezed)
  • 100g Ground Almonds
  • 100g White Chocolate (Chopped into small chunks)
  • 1 Punnet Raspberries
  • 50g Flaked Almonds for sprinkling over the top


Preheat the oven to 180C and line a Loaf Tin - I have Loaf tin liners which save oodles of time.
Using a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy
Add the eggs, one at a time, cleaning down the side of the bowl until all mixed together
Add the milk and half of the flour alternately - it may look a little curdled but will still work out. Add the lemon zest and the Almond Extract, mixing on slow speed.
In a bowl, dunk the raspberries in the flour, ground almond mixture until covered
Fold in all the dry ingredient (inc the White Chocolate) until just combined
Add the raspberries, gently folding in - I like mine quite squished so I tend to be a bit rough
Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of the cake
Cook on 180C for 30 mins then reduce the heat to 160C and cook for a further 15-25 minutes. A skewer should come out clear - the outside will be darker than the inner cake. Make sure you are not skewering through a piece of white chocolate.

I’m going to be showcasing a lot of loaf cake recipe over the next few weeks – Honest answer, I need somewhere to keep them and here’s as good a place as any! If you would like to link any of your favourite loaf cake recipes too, please shout and we can keep them safe all in one place.

Collection of recipes baked in a loaf tin

 Lovely to see that Bake of the Week is getting regular contributors – Lets spread the word this week and get some of our fellow bakers joining in.

Kirsty from Hijacked by Twins gave us a wonderful Chocolate Marble Cake – I always forget how fascinated kids are by the effect of marble. Must bake one with them very soon.

recipe for chocolate vanilla marble cake – I’m hoping Kirsty links up her Easter Hot Cross Buns this week!

Otilia from p://www.romanianmum.com/2014/02/valentines-day-cupcakes.html#.U0WFJtytGlI” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Romanian Mum delighted us with these pretty pastel cupcakes – Almost too good to eat (I said almost!)

romantic cupcakes

The linky is now open to join in with this week’s #Bakeoftheweek – Don’t forget to add the badge below to your post to let others know you have entered. Entries close next Monday – Let’s see lots of Easter bakes this week!

Casa Costello
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I’m entering as usual into Honest Mum’s Tasty Tuesday linky – Why not hop on over and visit some of the other entries?

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Easy Peasy Mackerel Pate – 5 Ingredients or less recipe

mackerel pate recipe

Warning! You may get seriously addicted to this!

This is easily one of the simplest but tastiest recipes ever. I first had this Mackerel Pate at my Auntie’s for lunch a while ago and knew Mr C would love it. He is a massive mackerel fan but I’d never understood why, until this.

Its dirt cheap – Just £3 for 4 servings. We are really exciting and have it with warm white toast but if you are posh and feeling extravagant you could serve it with crackers.

Mackerel Pate

Serves 4
Prep time 3 minutes
Meal type Appetizer, Lunch, Snack, Starter
Misc Serve Cold
Super easy recipe for Mackerel Pate using only 3 ingredients


  • 3 Smoked Mackerel Fillets
  • 150g Natural Yoghurt (I used Yeo Valley 0% Natural)
  • 8 Spring Onions (Chopped Finely)


You won't believe how quick and easy this is ...Open packet of Mackerel, place into a bowl, break up into small pieces using a fork,
Pour in the yoghurt and add the onions and mix together - You can add black pepper if you like
Serve in individual ramekins with warm white toast

I’m entering this recipe into Emily’s Recipe of the Week – Its definitely our Recipe of the Week, we’re addicted and have had it 3 times this fortnight (and there’ s more in the fridge!)


Link up your recipe of the week

I'm also entering into April's Family Foodies Event hosted by Bangers and Mash and Eat Your Veg- This month they are concentrating on Healthy Snacks = I know Mackerel is full of fat but its 'good fat' innit?

healthy snacks

Quorn Ambassador

Brand food blogging ambassador

I’m very pleased to announce that as of April 2014, I am now a Quorn Blog Ambassador.

There are various reasons for this, but mainly the desire to improve my health and eating habits. I’m never going to be a diet queen – I love cake and the taste of food (and wine) too much. But i DO want to be healthier – I don’t want to be fat and forty (one). I’m going to be posting recipe both here and on the Quorn website each month – tempting you with different ways to prepare Quorn.

Around this time every year, I become aware that in a couple of months, I’m going to be surrounded by beach babes on a Biarritz beach. I’m fairly confident and determined to enjoy my holiday and my time with Mr C and the girls, but I certainly would’t complain if I lost a dress size before I went.

With the help of Quron, I’m embarking on a project to eat healthily – We have so easily fallen into the trap of having minced beef a LOT in our meals – Its time to branch out and try different tastes.

I knew I had to test out Quorn on Mr C and my 3 girls before agreeing to the project. Millie especially was very sceptical as she had eaten it at school. I was amazed at the results though, we used meat-free chicken pieces and different herbs and spices in a few meals and they loved it. M & V even asked for more!

I anticipate combining Quorn products with strong flavours and plenty of veg (apparently we should now be eating 7-a-day – I struggle generally to fit 5 in!)

My WI are starting a project called 50 days to Fit, this Sunday where we have arranged a variety of activities to get us moving over the course of 50 days – sounds as good a time as any to get started on my healthy eating, holiday campaign. Watch this space for further developments!

Caramel Coconut Creation – Bake of the Week

Caramel Cookies with chocolate & coconut

This one took me completely by surprise by how popular it was. I say was because it is long gone. This was definitely one of those ‘messing around’ recipes that just seemed to work. It started as needing something to give the kids the next day and being really tired. I knew I wasn’t up to hours of preparation – I just wanted something that came together quickly, I could bung in the oven and wouldn’t make tons of washing up. The Kitchen Aid was redundant for the night!

I love that there are loads of possible combinations for this recipe – Look out for more ‘Creations’ coming this way over the next few weeks. Great for just using up whatever is in the cupboard – there’s a fantastic nutty version of it too.

Caramel Cookies with Chocolate, Cherries & Coconut

Serves 16
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 35 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Crunchy Biscuits with a delicious chocolate, coconut and caramel topping


  • 200g butter
  • 16 Digestive Biscuits (Crumbled)
  • 100g White Chocolate (Chopped into small pieces)
  • 100g Milk Chocolate (Chopped into small pieces)
  • 100g Glace Cherries (Chopped into quarters)
  • 100g Desiccated Coconut
  • 1 can Tinned Caramel


Preheat the oven to 180C. Line an 9" square cake tin.
Melt the butter in a large pan and add the crumbled digestive biscuits. Mix well until the butter is soaked up and spread evenly about the biscuits.
Press the biscuit mixture firmly at the bottom of the tin. I use the back of a dessert spoon but your knuckles do just as good a job.
Sprinkle over the chocolate, coconut and cherries so they are spread evenly over the biscuit base.
Pour over the can of caramel and bake for 35 minutes - you may need to turn down the oven to 160 for the last 10 minutes to stop it catching on the edges.
As soon as the tin is removed from the oven but keeping the 'creation' still in the tin, mark out cut squares. This will make it so much easier to divide into portions when it has properly cooled.
Leave to cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

Slightly late with Bake of the week this week – the Easter holidays have beaten me. My kids are all go 24 hours a day but wouldn’t change them (well maybe the arguing!)

Some very creative entries in last week’s Bake of the Week:

Have you ever seen a cuter Turtle Cake? – Searching for Spice Some great instructions on how to recreate your own. I have to admit to loathing bananas but would definitely revisit this for turtle ideas!

Banana Turtle Cake

There was this truly gorgeous combination of Lemon and Berries presented beautifully by Hijacked By Twins

lemon strawberry cake

And an Easy Peasy Chocolate Torte by Muma Leary – Just look at the picture of what her little ones got up to as she was making it though. I did chuckle!

chocolate torte

I’m entering this into Emily’s Recipe of the Week linky, Honest Mum’s Tasty Tuesdays & Romanian Mum’s Foodie Friday (even though it is none of those days!) – why not hop over and share the love?

Romanian Mum
Link up your recipe of the week

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com


Casa Costello
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The link is now open for entries for Bake of the Week – The link will close on Monday morning as usual and the round up will be up on Monday night. I will tweet and Pin any entries to the Bake of the Week Pinterest Board – Why not follow it to see the other entries we’ve had so far?

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When Casa Costello visited Center Parcs, Whinfell

Family Holidays at Center Parcs

We are well known for a our love of holidays and equally well known for our love of Center Parcs. Even before we became Center Parcs Family Bloggers, we had spent several holidays both at Whinfell and Sherwood Firest. We were in no doubt that we would thoroughly enjoy our recent break but it was even better than we expected. Having 3 children of wide age ranges sometimes poses difficulties in what we can do all together but CP caters for us perfectly.

We got up to all sorts! I’ve made a short video of just some of the stuff we got up to …

Hair Braiding
This was number one on the girl’s lists of things to do. There was much discussion about which colours to have. The braids have lasted well over a week after we have got home (We are now experts on hiding the braids during school hours!)

Ten Pin Bowling
We weren’t quite sure how a 3 year old would get on but she loved it! She was so excited when we got in – the atmosphere with the blue lighting is fab. We had the sides up and could use the trolley to help Tara even more (To be honest, I could have done with a bit of help too!)

They say you never forget how to ride a bike – It may be try but it didn’t stop me being awfully wobbly. All good entertainment for the girls (and the other holiday makers!) Tara had a truck which was brilliant for putting all our swimming kit in … and a minion!

There’s no excuse for going hungry at Center Parcs – I’ll be sharing another video of all the eateries we visited very soon.

Well, we wouldn’t be us without a pool, would we? The girls spent HOURS on the rides … and I went on them too!! Mega brownies points for me. You could literally spend your whole holiday in the water park – its toasty and warm and there’s always something different to do. I think Me & Derm were the only people to be drinking tea in there though! You can take the people out of Ireland but …

After 10+ visits to Center Parcs, we’ve come across some of the more hidden activities that you may not know about. Here’s our tips for some of the extra treats you can find…

  • Free Children’s Disco – Every night in the Bowling Bar at 6Pm
  • The Swimming Pool is much quieter after 5Pm – Fabulous for evening swims when they dim the lights and no queues for the rides
  • Free WiFi in the main complexes
  • Later Opening hours in the shop – Open til 8PM most nights now
  • Most restaurants provide colouring kits for the children. Most also have play areas in them.
  • Hidden play area above Cafe Rouge (You’ll be amazed!)
  • Toilets have steps for toddlers- Its the simple things that work best.
  • Hair Diffusers in the Accommodation – The ONLY place I have ever known to provide this!
  • Straighteners available for £1 a go in the Swimming Paradise (You can’t have 3 girls without thinking about hair … a lot!)
  • Cash Free wrist bands that can be used in the Swimming Paradise – also serve as your locker key and your lodge key. Amazing!
  • Bowling – You can say which people you want the bars on and which you don’t. And also change your mind half way through if you find out that you aren’t very good.

I could go on and on, but really I think you should just find out for yourselves. For more information about Activities at Center Parcs visit the website. One of the massive bonuses for me is that Whinfell don’t have frogs (massive phobia!). We’ve already talked about going back next year sometime.

I’ve got tons more to talk about our trip but for now, we would like to say a huge thank you to the team at Center Parcs.