Fairy Garden Review – Interplay Craft Set

Interplay Fairy Garden finished product

We are massive craft fans in our house (as our spare room will testify!) I’ve always allowed my girls to use materials that they find around the house and encourage them to be as creative as possible. On the whole, they are fantastic at coming up with ideas and love making projects.

There are times though when they need a little stimulation or a project to work on. I’m very conscious that having Tara at home with me until she starts school, she needs a wide variety of toys and crafts to play with.

We were recently invited to review the Interplay Fairy Garden Craft set suitable for ages 4+. I thought at least one of my girls would enjoy it – I am so lucky that all 3 love making and creating.

All 3 girls were suitably interested when the Fairy Garden arrived – Violet did lose interest though when she found out we had to actually go and get our own soil from the garden.

So … into the garden we went. A sunny (if a little blustery) day was just the job to get Tara, Me & Nanna out into the garden. We collected the soil from the borders in a matter of seconds – then spent a while choosing the perfect pebbles that we wanted to put in the garden. You don’t have to include pebbles but by now we were well into it!

The whole point of the Fairy Garden is to plant the grass seeds and wait a week for the grass to grow. There was no way Tara at 4 was up for this waiting but she was more than happy with our cheat plants that we inserted in the meantime. (as you can tell from the picture)

Interplay Fairy Garden

There are loads of parts to the Fairy Garden and you can put as many or as few as you like in it. As you can see from the completed Fairy Garden above, we went the whole hog and put everything in. We even sprinkled the little glittery stars in the Fairy’s water bath to attract more fairies. The washing is a little bit fiddly but very cute as are the toadstools.

inside the fairy garden

Tara could be really hands on with this toy – there were no sharp edges. The actual bowl is silicone so it really didn’t matter if she dropped it. We do recommend making the Fairy Garden outside just in case soil spills but if its a rainy day, its not the messiest craft activity ever anyway. There are lots of little pieces – like the glittery stars and the teeny pebbles for the footpath but these add to the charm for a 4 year old. The picture below is Tara actually laying the pebble path to the Fairy house. The Fairy house was the only bit we had trouble with – Made out of foam, it blows away if the wind even thinks about blowing. We did laugh as it blew about the garden on more than one occasion! We ended up weighing it down with a big stone through the window to solve the problem.

building a Fairy Garden

We love our Fairy Garden – the grass is starting to grow. Its definitely more suitable for younger children – especially those that like to get stuck in building it. We have a Fairy door at the bottom of the tree in our garden – I like to think now the Fairies have their own garden to play in!

Disclosure: We were sent an Interplay Fairy Garden for the purpose of this review. RRP £14.99

Potato & Ham Croquettes #FoodieFriday

potato ham croquettes

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I promise you, once you have made your own Potato Croquettes you will never go back to shop bought again. I used to love Potato Croquettes meals when I was young and have to admit for years thinking that making your own would be too much of a faff. But seriously, they are very much worth it.

I’m always wary of saying a recipe is great for using up leftover potato as it sounds a bit pretentious and quite frankly I don’t want to presume that everyone else is as bad at portion control as me. If you end up boiling potatoes especially for this recipe though, its not the end of the world.

potato ham croquettes salad

 

Potato & Ham Croquettes

Serves 2-3
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Meal type Lunch, Snack, Starter
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
Crunchy potato and ham croquettes with a soft inside - you can experiment with various fillings - great with mozzarella or some finely chopped onion

Ingredients

  • 400g Mashed potatoes (If you have less its fine, just try one less egg to start with)
  • 4 Eggs (Beaten)
  • 2 tablespoons Plain Flour
  • 50g Smoked Ham
  • 2 Bread Rolls (Lightly toasted and broken into breadcrumbs)
  • Vegetable Oil for frying
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix together the potato, 2 eggs, ham and flour until well combined. Season with Salt and Pepper.
Shape into croquette shapes about 1 inch wide with your hands - You can leave to set in the fridge if you like but I don't tend to bother
Place the remaining 2 eggs in a small bowl and dip a croquette in one at a time throughly covering it all
Immediately dip the eggy croquette in the breadcrumbs and cover well
Fry in a small frying pan, keeping constantly moving. You do not need the heat to be very high - you want the inside to be cooked and the outside to be golden not brown - This will take approx 3-4 minutes per croquette
Remove from the pan and place on a piece of kitchen roll to remove any excess oil
Serve whilst still hot with a tomato, onion and basil salad

Mami Tales describes her Nutella Brigadeiros as a Chocolatey Bomb that goes off in your mouth – Sounds perfect fun to me. I know my girls would go wild for these – We accidentally ran out of Nutella earlier in the week. Tara soon let us know about it! Congratulations on being this week’s featured #FoodieFriday post!

Nutella Brigadeiros

foodie friday

1. Talking about her love of social media and sharing her fabulous Cream Cracker Fish Recipe is Foodie Quine

2. A warm welcome to Claire from Six Degress of Harmony armed with tips on baked beans and her recipe for Crazily Easy Vegetarian Quesadillas

3. The perfect combination in one – Cookies and Brownies – What’s not to love? Madhouse Family Reviews

4. Sadhna from Herbs, Spices & Traditions deserves a medal for making 100 of these delicious looking bread rolls for her party – If you want to make a few less, she has shown us how!

5. Sharing a truly magnificent Caramelised Cauliflower – Foodie Quine

6. An ode to St Delia Smith with her GF Squidgy Chocolate Cake that looks absolutely divine – the Gluten Free Alchemist

7. How can something that looks so tasty be so good for you? Rocket & Mixed Veg Bean Burgers from Mummy Mishaps

8. Catering for my love of Amaretti with her Ricotta & Amaretti Cake is Alida from My Little Italian Kitchen

9. Try to pronounce these babies from Bakewell Junction – Trc’niegl (or Zeppoles if you are a chicken like me!)

10. You won’t get many recipes with as few ingredients as this one – Singing Swede from Foodie Quine

A huge thanks as always to everyone who entered this week – well done for spreading the word about #FoodieFriday, great to see that we are growing. Remember, there is no theme – all food posts are welcome and are shared as long as they have the badge. If you would like to tweet me to let me know you have entered, include the hashtag #FoodieFriday and I will do my best to RT (@CasaCostello in case you don’t know me on Twitter)

If you would like more inspiration on recipes, feel free to follow the #FoodieFriday Pinterest Board:

Follow Casa Costello’s board Foodie Friday on Pinterest.

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Juicing and Yoga with Curry’s

currysintrojuicing

A couple of weekends ago, myself and a gang of other bloggers all congregated in Leeds for an Introduction to Juicing #currysintrojuicing event hosted by Philips and Curry’s. I don’t own a juicer and have always been a little sceptical about how useful they are – There are tons of green juice pictures that pop up all over the internet every day that frankly don’t look all that appealing. Don’t forget, I’m cake girl through and through!

So off I trekked (actually I completely loved the train journey on a Sunday afternoon with my book!) and arrived safely in Leeds. We were greeted with a small ready made juice which happily wasn’t green – so far, so good!

The room was split into 4 sections – A juicing demonstration by Shakela from Philips, showing us all the ingredients that can go into a good juice. For me, there seemed a lot of fruit and veg, and other supplements, to make up just one juice. I’m not sure I could justify the expense and the wasted residue of products, when I have been brought up to believe that so much of the nutrients in fruit is in the core and the skin. My Dad was renowned for only ever leaving the pips of an apple – he would be horrified how much was left inside the juicer. Having said that though, there were so many bloggers present that were really clued up on what supplements are useful for what part of the body – Its obviously big business.

Now, we had been warned that as part of the afternoon, we would be doing basic yoga and to dress in sports wear. I had woken up with horrific backache and decided to wear what I would be comfortable travelling in so opted for a dress & leggings. When the yoga started though, I couldn’t help but join in, I am so incapable of saying No to anyone! We were introduced to Rocket Yoga, which I believe is a fast type of yoga – you are not kidding – it was REALLY hard! I will admit to panicking that I wouldn’t be able to move my back the next day, I’ve always been so sceptical about the benefits of yoga but amazingly, for the next week I felt better than ever! I’m now wondering if I just need to stretch my back regularly and sign up for yoga classes. Who knew?!

rocket yoga

We then moved onto making mocktails with Nick from Lambert’s Yard, who were hosting the event. I really loved this section (except when it came to emptying out the juicer – Ugh!) I had a go at making my own – , Carrots, Oranges, Lemon, Cucumber and Basil – Sounds horrid, tasted great! Don’t you just love the really flattering picture?

healthy mocktails

My favourite part of the day though was the Gourmet Soup section – We could try from Chicken and Lemongrass or Mushroom and Truffle. I could have eaten that Mushroom Soup all day and will definitely be trying my own version soon – Perfect for after a strenuous yoga session (Isn’t yoga supposed to be relaxing?)

Wild mushroom and truffle soup

Serves 4

2 x white onions
3 x garlic cloves
50g x butter
50ml x white truffle oil
600g x chestnut mushrooms
100g x oyster mushrooms
500ml x vegetable stock
100g x creme fraiche

Method

Slice the white onions and garlic and cook until soft in butter, add the chopped wild mushrooms cook on a high heat for 5 minutes add the stock, simmer for 10 minutes and blend with the creme fraiche and truffle oil and season to taste.

Serve with crusty roll.

currys intro juice event

More information on the event, including some juicing recipes can be found over at the Curry’s Tech Talk blog

Mini Egg Chocolate Pavlovas – Bake of the Week

cadbury's mini egg chocolate pavlovas

The internet is full of Easter recipes at the moment. Mini chocolate Eggs and Creme Eggs have never been used as creatively. I still want to share with you, my Mini Egg Chocolate Pavlovas though. The Mini Eggs are not just used for decoration – there are actually loads of them crushed inside the meringues, giving them a rich chocolately flavour. The key to making any pavlovas is to really take your time – This is especially important when you are adding extra ingredients such as the Mini Eggs and the extra vanilla extract that go into this recipe. I increase the amount of vanilla that goes into these pavlovas to reflect the sweetness and vanilla that is is in the Mini Eggs – You can really taste them!

Mini Egg Chocolate Pavlovas

Serves 10
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 1 hours, 30 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 50 minutes
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Cold
Occasion Birthday Party, Casual Party, Easter, Valentines day
Delicious chocolate mini pavlovas filled with sugary, crispy mini eggs - decorated with double cream and more mini egg for decoration. Perfect for Easter!

Ingredients

  • 3 Egg Whites (Keep at room temperature for 20 minutes before using)
  • 175g Caster Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 1.5 teaspoons Cornflour
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 100g Mini Eggs (Plus more for decoration)
  • 284ml Double Cream (Whisked until stiff)

Directions

Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 140C
Whisk the eggs thoroughly on a medium speed until you have stiff peaks
Very slowly, add the caster sugar 1 teaspoon at a time whilst still whisking
Remove the whisk and add the Cream of Tartar, Cornflour and Vanilla Extract - Again do this really slowly and fold in extremely gently with a metal dessert spoon
Crush the Mini Eggs - I do this by putting them between 2 chopping boards and pressing down. I like to leave some chunks larger than others
Spoon out the pavlovas onto the baking trays, evenly spread apart. I get a maximum of 6 on each tray. I normally like to pipe my pavlovas but due the chunks of mini eggs that would get stuck in the nozzle, i use 2 dessert spoons to distribute.
Using a teaspoon, gently press an indentation in the middle of each pavlova
Bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the door ajar, keeping the pavlovas inside the oven for at least another hour or until the oven is completely cooled
Fill with double cream and arrange more mini eggs on top as decoration

Did you know it is National Carrot Day next week (4th April)? I’ll be doing something to celebrate myself but for now I’d like to make Kerry Cooks this week’s featured bake with her Carrot Cake Cookies – These sounds absolutely perfect … and almost healthy!

carrot cake cookies cream cheese frosting

bake of the week

And so onto the Bakes of the Week – Let’s start with the chocolate bakes …

1. Fudgey and Chocolatey Black Bottomed Banana Blondies – what’s not to love from Baking in Pyjamas?

2. A wonderful chocolately alternative to Hot Cross Buns, Brioche Chinois from Tales from the Kitchen Shed

3. Also gearing up to celebrate National Carrot Day is Winnie with this amazing Chocolate & Carrot Cake – I just love those nuts peeping through.

4. Combining the taste of Bounty Bars with Freeze Dried Strawberries in her Chocolate & Coconut Truffles is Hey Cakes this week

5. Celebrating National Oatmeal Cookie Day with their Chocolate covered Raisin Oatmeal Cookies is the Lass in the Apron

6. If you are trying to owed your sugar intake, Kirsty from Hijacked by Twins has a Sugar Free Strawberry & Chocolate Cake for you – I’m really intrigued how this would taste.

7. I have been dreaming about this Coconut & White Chocolate Layer Cake since I saw it earlier in the week – Lass in the Apron

8. Also making the best use of Mini Eggs this week is Eileen from Et Speaks From Home with her Hidden Easter Egg Chocolate Truffles

9. A Magnificent Maltesers Masterpiece from Mummy Mishaps with her Maltesers Pouring Cake

10. Just one glaze isn’t enough for this Peanut Butter n Chocolate Bundt – it has 2 glazes! Baking in Pyjamas

11. So pretty and neat, another Mini Egg creation – A Girl and her Home with her Mini Egg Chocolate Cake

fruity bakes

And now the fruity bakes …

12. I love how creative this Banana Split Bundt is from Baking in Pyjamas

13. I bet these Cranberry & Lime Shortbread Creams from Jen’s Food are wonderfully tarty – Beat Custard Creams any day!

14. Feeling summery with a Triple Layer Lemon Cake is Baking in Pyjamas

15. Featuring 2 of my favourite flavours, Orange & Almond Jelly Swiss Roll from Domestic Gothess

16. Making Mornings Marvellous is the FreeFrom Farmhouse with their Breakfast Apple Oat Muffins

17. Amazingly bright and colourful, Blood Orange Mini Tarts from Giraffes Can Bake

And the rest of the bakes – So many wonderful creations this week – Easter is obviously a busy time for baking…

18. You’ve got to feel for Claire from the Good Egg Foodie – She lives with a marzipan hater. Luckily for her, these Easter Simnel cookies passed the test!

19. A Strawberry Triple Layer Birthday cake fit for Baking Queen 74’s 3yo princess

20. Super creative and colourful, Baked Rainbow Donuts from Giraffes Can Bake

21. Making a very welcome return to blogging with a Maple & Pecan Bundt is FoodJam

22. How did I not know that Norway’s favourite cake is one of my favourites too? Verdens Beste 0 Yellow sponge with almonds and cream. Perhaps I should move?

23. Making an absolutely superb job of a Giant Vanilla Ice Cream Cupcakes from Sandy at Baby Baby

24. A savoury entry with Tandoori Naan stuffed with Potatoes & Onion from Herbs, Spices & Tradition

25. Very pretty and trendy Easter Egg Macarons from Jenny at Mummy Makes Cakes

I think we are all ready for summer to make an appearance – This Summer Fruit Cake would welcome it in with style – Winnie’s Blog – I must apologise to Winnie, somehow her cake got missed off the photos. It was bound to happen one week! So sorry x

A huge thank you to everyone for spreading the word and helping to make #Bakeoftheweek busier every week. I am away with Millie at England training for Synchronised Swimming next Mon/Tues so am extending the linky until the following week – Feel free to add up to 6 bakes (old ones are welcome as long as they link to this post). Think of me travelling from St Helens to Aldershot (Via Leeds). I’ll be sharing everyone’s posts like mad when I’m away – I’ve got to keep busy somehow!

cadbury's mini egg pavlovas

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Cornmeal Pancakes – Foodie Friday

cornmeal pancakes

I’m still using up that bag of cornmeal and remembered how amazing cornmeal pancakes are – Crispier and more cake-like than normal pancakes. How could I forget how divine they can be? And so quick to make – This batch were measured, made and photographed in 10 minutes! Now currently being devoured by Millie as I type. The perfect after school snack.

I’ve served them with bacon & maple syrup but they are equally good with whatever pancake topping you usually use.

Cornmeal Pancakes

Serves 12
Prep time 4 minutes
Cook time 4 minutes
Total time 8 minutes
Meal type Dessert, Lunch, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
Speedy after school snack = crispy cornmeal pancakes with a fluffy, light centre

Ingredients

  • 90g Cornmeal
  • 65g Plain Flour
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons Baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons Caster Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 250ml Milk
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • Vegetable oil for cooking

Directions

Mix all the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, salt & sugar) in a medium bowl
In a jug, measure out the milk. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk.
Gradually add to the dry mixture, constantly whisking. Leave to settle for 1-2 minutes while your frying pan is heating up
Add 3 scoops to a frying pan allowing space for the pancakes to spread a little
As soon as they start to bubble on the top (after 1-2 minutes), turn over and cook for a further 1-2 minutes
Stack on top of each other and add your favourite topping

 Last week’s #FoodieFriday was all about the giveaway for the cake book (Still time to enter until 12th April). We still had some entries though and my featured post for last week is Herbs, Spices and Tradition with her Tandoori Naan (Stuffed with Potatoes and Onion) Sounds amazing doesn’t it? I love Sadhna’s post for its explanation of family tradition of cooking in the tandoor.

stuffed Tandoori Naan

Right so onto this week – Lets spread the word that FoodieFriday is well and truly back. All posts are shared on Twitter & Pinterest (& Google+ too). I comment on each one and feature one if not more post in the following week’s roundup.

Here’s the badge to include in your post:

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Logitech Ultrathin ipad Keyboard Review & BigBang iPad Cover Giveaway

logitech ultrathin ipad keyboard review

I like to think we are quite on top of technology in this house – Even Tara can teach us a thing or 2 about using our phones. The one item we didn’t own was an iPad keyboard though. I tend to either use my phone or the big MAC, as typing on the iPads was just too much of a faff. When I was asked if I would like to review a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard, I wasn’t sure how well it would go down. We already had Violet’s iPad mini in its own case and I was loathe to take it out. But we gave it a go anyway and right from the word go, LOVED it! The novelty hasn’t worn off even a few weeks later – We haven’t resorted back to using her old iPad cover as paired up with the keyboard, we feel her iPad is well protected.

This keyboard has transformed evenings – for doing quick jobs, like online googling and online shopping, we can now happily sit in front of the TV instead of feeling like I’m constantly at work at my desk. We are now travelling to Leeds 3 times per week with synchro and up and down to London for England Talent training – Millie is finding the keyboard invaluable for keeping up with her studies (and Minecraft of course!) I’m really looking forward to getting on the train to London with it in a couple of weeks, instead of having to lug about the laptop. A winner all round!

logitech ultrathin review

Now to the technical stuff … The keyboard itself attaches magnetically to the iPad which is easy to do. You can also adjust the angle that you are working at to eliminate sun glare. The keyboard is obviously than a traditional PC keyboard but the keys are sufficiently big enough to enable you to type freely. A few weeks in, our keyboard is yellowing slightly at the top – but this is more likely to be due to my dirty monkeys using it with sticky fingers than anything else. Logitech promise a 3 month battery, we have not been using it that long yet but will feed back as we go along. We are promised that it is ‘Thin & Light’ which did make me concerned that it might be too flimsy but we were pleasantly surprised and continue to be so.

I’m happy to be hosting a giveaway for another of Logitech’s products, the Big Bang iPad Cover – This can be for either iPad Air or iPad Mini (The winner will be asked to specify which product they would like). Retailing at £49-£59 this product will protect against even the toughest of children’s wear and tear.

Made from shock absorbent material and liquid repellent, it would survive even in my house! At only 16mm this iPad case is a lot more slimline than other cases but extra reliant against accidental bumps, scratches and dropping.

I have found this very short YouTube video which sells the Big Bang far better than I can – I defy you not to laugh!

To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter instructions below – Please note, to qualify the blog comment needs to be at the bottom of this post, not in the Rafflecopter widget. Sorry UK entries only – Entries close at 11.59PM on April 16th 2015. I will inform the winner within 4 days. You will be asked to provide a postal address for your prize to be sent to. This will not be used for any other promotional activity.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: We were sent a Logitech Ultrathin for the purpose of this review – All opinions are true, honest and correct at time of writing

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

White Chocolate and Lemon Cheesecake Layer Cake – #evenbetterbaking with Dr. Oetker

white chocolate lemon cheesecake cake #evenbetterbaking

Longest blog post title ever? One of the nicest cakes ever too – combining two of the best inventions on earth: Cake and Cheesecake. This is one of the many chocolate recipes that can be found over on the Dr. Oetker website. They are challenging us to do #evenbetterbaking in the run up to Easter.

The people at Dr. Oetker are even running a competition throughout March. If you tweet @DrOetkerBakes a photo of a chocolate bake that you have made and include the hashtag #evenbetterbaking, then you are in with a chance of winning one of their luxury chocolate hampers.

Dr.Oetker chocolate

I wanted a bit of a challenge so decided to do a recipe that combines quite a few techniques – Cakes are dead easy but there is always the chance with a cheesecake that it might not set. Ooh living on the edge.The recipe and instructions on how to make your own White Chocolate and Lemon Cheesecake Layer Cake can be found here

The ingredients needed for this cake are simple to find, the method of actually making the cakes is slightly different to how I usually make them (I think mine is known as the ‘bung it all in the kitchen aid method’) but still worked out well.

how to melt white chocolate

It pays off to be really patient when melting white chocolate – I just can’t do it in the microwave. A glass bowl over a pan of boiling water is the only way to get truly melted white chocolate that doesn’t burn.

white chocolate lemon cheesecake cake #evenbetterbaking

I actually like the cake better without the shards of white chocolate for decoration – White chocolate shards melt really quickly so I found it much easier to just eat them. I’m out with friends later on today with our pre-schoolers, they might get lucky and get to share a piece of this creation with me! Who would you share it with?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in association with Dr.Oetker – All opinions are my own

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Alos joining in with Domesblissity for Thriving on Thursdays

Chocolate Orange Cornmeal Biscotti – Bake of the Week

chocolate orange cornmeal biscotti

I have recently fallen in love with homemade biscotti – Not quite as harsh on the teeth as shop bought and so much more versatile – So many flavours match perfectly with this type of dough. I like my chocolate orange to be properly tangy so use the zest of 2 oranges. The chocolate also has to be properly identifiable so I use Extra Dark chocolate but feel free to experiment with how you like it. I’ve had cornmeal in the cupboard for ages and decided to mix this in with the flour – As well as adding a lovely yellowy tinge, it makes the biscotti extra crumbly. I love using ingredients up in my kitchen, with successful results!

Chocolate Orange Cornmeal Biscotti

Serves 16
Prep time 1 hours, 20 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 2 hours
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Slightly softer than shop bought biscotti - you are in less danger of breaking your teeth! No less tasty though - Can be kept for up to a week in a biscuit tin

Ingredients

  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 115g Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Zest of Oranges
  • 125g Plain Flour
  • 170g Cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Grind of Salt
  • 100g Dark Chocolate (Cut into small (tiny) pieces)

Directions

Line a large baking tray with baking parchment
Using an electric mixer, whisk together the butter and sugar until well combined and light in colour
Add the eggs gradually whilst still mixing at a medium speed
Add the orange zest
In a bowl (or your weighing scales bowl if you are feeling lazy) stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt
Add to the sugar/egg combo a tablespoon at a time whilst mixing on a slow speed - Stop the mixer as soon as all the flour has been added.
Add the chocolate and stir through until spread evenly throughout the dough
Split the dough mixture into 2 halves and lightly shape into a long flat sausage, wrap in double cling film
Freeze for up to one hour - it will really stiffen up - Preheat the oven to 180C
You might need to flatten down the dough and spread out until both sections measure approx 20cm long and 4cm wide
Bake for 25 mins
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes
Using a saw knife, slice the biscotti into pieces (about 1-1.5cm thick) - The end pieces can be the parts that you nibble on
Place cut side down on the baking tray and bake for another 8 minutes
Turn over so the other cut side is on top and continue to bake for a further 7 minutes
Allow to cool on a wire rack - Perfect served dipped into a hot cup of coffee!

before cutting biscotti

Arranging the biscuits for their final bake …

how to make biscotti

I’m rather well known for my love of Creme Eggs so there was an obvious featured Bake of the Week for me this week – Baking Queen 74’s fantastic Creme Egg Chocolate Ganache Tart – I love that people are being so creative with their use of Creme Egg’s this year. I’ve yet to make some Spring 2015 Creme Eggs Easter figures yet so this Tart has inspired me to get on with them!

creme egg chocolate tart

bake of the week

1. Making a brilliant job of inserting shapes into French Sable Cookies this week is The Dream Baker – I will have a go at this very soon, I keep promising myself.

2. I’m a massive fan of anything tiny so completely adore these Red Velvet Crinkle Kisses from The Not So Creative Cook.

3. Nova from Cherished By Me tells us these Coconut Chocolate Bars are a cross between a Twix and a Bounty – I’m sold!

4. The lovely Alida from My Little Italian Kitchen has got the biggest, most exciting announcement ever on her blog this week – I’m not going to spoil it for you, pop over to her post to find out what it is!

5. Any mother would be delighted to be presented with such a beautiful Mothers Day Cake Bouquet – ET Speaks From Home

6. I’ve got to try these fabulous Marshmallow Cookies from The Not So Creative Cook – Just love the step by step instructions.

7. I just love the thought of the addition of lavender flowers in this Apple Shortcake with Honey & Cinnamon -This bake from Winnie’s Blog has got just about everything you could ever want!

8. There’s no stopping ET Speaks From Home this week – She’s even found time to make the cutest Mini Monsters!

9. Making a terrific job of her sugarcraft with this Baseball Cakelet is ET Speaks From Home

10. Getting arty with her White Chocolate & Vanilla Choux Buns is Eileen from ET Speaks From Home

11. Experimenting with Coconut Oil this week is Tales from the Kitchen Shed with her Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscuit Bars – Looks like the experiment worked :-)

12. Beautiful photography and an even more stunning Lime & Coconut Loaf cake is A Girl and Her Home

13. A perfect Honey & Date Syrup Swiss Roll from Winnie’s Blog – The Swiss Roll may just be the most versatile cake ever!

I have had the loveliest message today from one of our Bake of the Week contributors that they have nominated me for a Brilliant in Blogging award – What a lovely thing to do. I’m so chuffed. Details of the awards are here if you want to take part – Any nominations would be lovely but totally not expected. I was so pleased to be there at the awards last year and am even more pleased that someone has thought of me this year. Good luck to everyone!

Thank you as always to everyone who has taken part in Bake of the Week – I really appreciate it. I will continue to mention each entry and link back to you as long as possible – Takes forever but feel it is only right if you have taken the time to enter. Please also add the Bake of the Week badge to your post and if you have time, comment on a couple of other entries.

Casa Costello
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credit crunch munch

This Is How We Roll Thursday

Joining in with A Simple Pantry for their Create & Share party I’m also joining in with this month’s CreditCrunchMunch because I’m finally using up that bag of cornmeal! Pop over to these lovely people to see who else is entering: Jo’s Kitchen, FabFoodForAll, Fuss Free Flavours and also Domesblissity Thriving on Thursdays

The Costellos try JUST EAT Takeaways

JUST EAT Tried Tasted logo

I know I love to cook and can happily potter in the kitchen for hours, but even I sometimes want a night off. We don’t often indulge in a takeaway so it feels like a real treat when we do. I was asked by the people at JUST EAT if I would try their service so agreed to give it a go. I have used JUST EAT once before when we were eating a friends but thought it was worth giving it a go ourselves.

JUST EAT is an online service where you can choose from a variety of takeaway establishments, view their menu on screen and order online. I remember first hearing about being able to view menus online and thinking what a brilliant idea.

Not every takeaway is listed in the JUST EAT directory (Our usual Chinese is not) but there is absolutely loads of choice. The majority are Indian Restaurants and Pizza places in our local area but you can find most food cultures. In our postcode alone, there were 65 venues listed – We are a relatively small town so I was amazed to see so many. Most were within a 3 mile radius.

JUST EAT pad nam prik pao

We decided that if we were going to be brave and go to a different restaurant than usual, then we’d really bite the bullet and order Thai food. I recognised the Thai restaurant listed as it is in our town centre – I had no idea though that they offered a takeaway service.

We wanted to order for 8.30PM on a Friday night to give the service a really good test – We placed our order at 6.45PM which I thought was reasonable notice. There was absolutely no problem fitting us in and we received a confirmation email within around 5 minutes. This said our order was confirmed with the restaurant and would be delivered approximately 8.30PM.

Dead on the dot of 8.30PM, a knock on the door and a friendly delivery man asked for Helen. Food order all correct and on time! Brilliant – Our usual Chinese does not deliver so happy days! (Free delivery for order over £10 at the Thai)

JUST EAT thai fish cakes

We had ordered Thai Fish Cakes to share for a starter which comes with a chilli dipping sauce. Dermot fancied a Chicken Green Thai curry with Sticky Rice and I ordered Pad Nam Prik Pao (Tiger Prawns with Thai Roasted Chilli Paste, Red peppers & sweet basil) with Sticky Rice. We also ordered a side portion of chips.

I have to admit our food was not roasting – The curries were fine to eat but only just warm. The fishcakes had not travelled so well though – they were quite unappealing. If I had thought about it, I suppose that is not the sort of food that keeps at its best, crispy and hot, whilst in transit. The chips suffered the same fate too – they were in a foil container which had made them rather soggy.

My Curry (Pad Nam Prik Pao) was a lot runnier than I expected but really quite nice. The plastic containers kept the liquid inside and we had no spillages which was good. The prawns were a decent size and enough of them – IT was super spicy though. Not for the feint hearted! The Green Thai Curry was more liquid than we are used to but fine to eat after a blast in the microwave.

JUST EAT Thai Green Curry

JUST EAT have their own Tried & Tasted awards which are compiled by people using the service, voting for their favourite restaurants every year. The awards focus on quality and consistency – the winning restaurants must have at have 100 reviews left online with a score of 4.5 or over to qualify. (In case you are wondering, the current winner is Hot Spot, American cuisine in Birmingham – Have you ever tried it?)

All in all, we had a good experience of using JUST EAT – I think for future, we would think more carefully about the type of food we were ordering – Would it keep fresh and crispy. I rather like the idea of the Tried & Tasted awards – I like that people can give feedback and JUST EAT monitor for consistency.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post – I was asked to talk about the Tried & Tasted awards and to use JUST EAT but was given free editorial control over this piece. All opinions are my own.