NibNibs Snack Review & Giveaway

nib nibs cheese snacks giveaway

I always think at this time of year, you want your snacks to be really tasty. There doesn’t seem to be the same excuse for leisurely feeding your face … even though it is a strictly diet free zone here!

Over Christmas I was sent a selection of Nib Nibs Cheese snacks – Billed as being From Yorkshire With Love they are a selection of both full size and mini cheese straw nibbles.

I’m not a massive cheese lover but even I enjoyed the Mini Cheese & Chilli Nibbles – Not too hard to eat but with a satisfying crunch. The rest of the Costellos have enjoyed nibbling their way through the range with our compulsory Onion & Garlic Dip. The snack pots are really handy for taking out and about.

Available in 4 flavours Cheddar Cheese, Cheddar & Spicy Chilli and Cheddar & Cheeky Onion, Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper flavours – Nib Nibs are ‘Premium baked British Nibbles for the most discerning connoisseur’ produced in North Yorkshire. I love supporting up & coming, local producers – One of my intentions this year is to find and use more food producers with something a little different.

I am offering one lucky reader the chance to win a selection of Nib Nibs products by entering this simple compeition – Please follow the Rafflecopter instructions below. The competition closes on Wednesday 28th January – Sorry UK entries only.

The winner will be notified as soon as possible after the random draw has been made and Nib Nibs will be responsible for sending out your prize once a postal address has been supplied.

Best of luck everyone! Happy nibbling x

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Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar Giveaway

hotel chocolat giveaway

I’m not going to beat about the bush – I’ve got a brilliant giveaway for you. Who doesn’t like a chocolate Advent calendar – especially a Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar? – Even my Mum has been known to partake (although she still has a traditional Advent calendar too!)

I’ve worked with Hotel Chocolat on quite a few occasions and have always been really impressed with the quality of their chocolates. This calendar contains the obligatory 24 cut chocolate sculptures in luscious 40% milk chocolate – perfect for all the family.

This calendar has a RRP of £12.50 but you can win one just in time for advent by following the Rafflecopter instructions below:

The Terms & Conditions: Sorry UK entry only. The Rafflecopter widget will close at 11.59PM on Tues 25th November 2014. I will contact the winner within 48 hours to get your postal details.

hotel chocolat advent calendar

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was sent some Mulled Wine Minidomes as a thank you for hosting this competition. We are half way through the box and absolutely love them – Wonderfully strong taste of port – There is no way these will last until Advent!

mulled wine mini domes hotel chocolat

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Little Crackers Juice Drinks – Giveaway

little crackers juice giveaway

Well half term is over and hasn’t it flown? Its back to school for us tomorrow which means back to packed lunches. I have to admit we got into a rut of boring ham sandwiches towards the end of term – I have great plans for exciting pasta and potato dishes in the run up to Christmas. Violet was lucky enough to try some Little Crackers juice cartons at the end of last term though which made a pleasant change for her lunch break.

Little Crackers juice cartons are from The Cracker Drinks Co. and are 75% pure juice with a splash of water. They contain no artificial additives which I really like and come in 4 different flavours,

  • Orange & Lemon
  • Apple & Raspberry
  • Blackcurrant & Cherry
  • Pear & Vanilla

I pinched one of the Apple & Raspberry flavours and really enjoyed it. They are not too strong for even little Toddlers, which makes them perfect for car journeys for all of my 3 too.

I have 4 packs of juice cartons (3 cartons in each pack) to giveaway to one lucky winner which by my reckoning makes 2 weeks of packed lunches and a weekend snack too! Little Crackers Juice Cartons have a RRP of £1.99 for a 3 pack.

juice carton giveaway

Simply follow the Rafflecopter instructions below to enter:

Please note: Please leave a blog comment at the end of this blog post, not on the Rafflecopter form or it cannot be counted as an entry (Sorry!). I check all entries to make sure they are valid. The giveaway ends on November 16th at 11.59pm. Sorry UK entries only.

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What to Bake & How to Bake It: Baking Book Giveaway

baking book giveaway

This book has a completely different feel to other baking books – Both in its content and the actual texture of the book. I was intrigued as soon as I opened my copy – Its a substantial sized book – If you gave someone this for a gift, they would feel they had got a decent present. A hard back with a matt cover and hand drawn pictures on the outside.

So what about what’s in it? The book is described as containing ’50 easy-t-follow recipes for all home bakers. Every stage explained with step-by-step photographs’. These step-by-step photos are what stick in your mind when you have been reading it. Very uncluttered and perfect for those bakers who are never quite sure what texture a substance should be.

tarte au citron The wonderful Tarte au Citron[/caption]

The recipes themselves are good homely bakes – There are the usual suspects, Victoria Sandwich, Seriously Chocolate Cookies and a wonderfully yellow Tarte au Citron that can form part of your baking repertoire. Even the more elaborate and fancy recipes all contain ingredients that are likely to be found in a home baking cupboard or easily found in most supermarkets – 3 flavours of macarons, 4 types of cupcakes, wonderful seasonal recipes like the Chocolate Hazelnut Log and Cranberry Stollen. At the top of my ‘to bake’ list form the book is the Strawberry Meringue Cake (see pictured below)

strawberry meringue cake

The book is divided into 5 sections, Introduction (This is rather a long intro but very handy if you are new to baking), Simple Family Baking, Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea, Special Bakes and Desserts & After Dinner. I’m a bit of a sucker for a bookmark ribbon and this book has 2 – For someone who regularly takes their cookbooks to bed, these are invaluable.

how to bake a chocolate log

What to Bake & How to Bake It has a RRP of and can ordered here. I was given my own copy of the book for review and let loose with my own thoughts!

baking book giveaway competition

I have one copy of the book to giveaway – Perfect for a Christmas present, or you could just keep it and bake your way through the book – It would be easily done! Just fill in the Rafflecopter details below (Please remember to actually leave a comment on this blog post rather than the Rafflecopter widget – Otherwise your entry won’t count).

The closing date is November 4th 2014. The lucky winner will be chosen at random and contacted for their postal address to be sent the book as soon as possible after the closing date. Please reply within 5 days – Sorry UK entries only. Good Luck and Happy Baking!

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Win 1 years subscription to OK! Magazine

magazine subscription competition

Now I know I talk a lot about wine and gin, but even I have an alcohol free night sometimes. My mum isn’t a drinker either so we always have some soft drinks in for such occasions. I first tried Shloer 13 years ago when I was having Millie – I have to admit it has got a lot better since those days! The flavours seem more interesting and not as empty as they once did. I have even been known to make alcohol free cocktails with Shloer – The recipe for my take on an alcohol free Bellini is HERE.

non alcoholic bellini cocktail recipe

Shloer have an offer on for the next 8 weeks (from 15th September onwards) to win a free copy of OK! Magazine with every promotional bottle of Shloer bought – RRP £2.25. There’s 3 sparkling flavours to choose fromL White Grape, Red Grape and Rose and the promotional code can be found on the label of promotional bottles. Simply enter the code each Friday at to enter (Terms & Conditions can also be found here).

For Casa Costello readers, I’ve got something even more exciting – Simply fill in the Rafflecopter details below for a chance to win 1 years subscription of OK! Magazine – You can fill some parts in once per day for even more chances to win.

The competition ends on October 9th and the winner will be chosen at random and notified within 5 days. The lucky winner will have 1 week in which to provide their details to enable the subscription to be set up. Sorry, UK entries only! Best of Luck!

Julie's Notebook #WinningWeekends linky. Supporting British Bloggers.

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Book Giveaway: Deliciously Decorative Cookies

decorated cookies book giveaway
I’m well know for my love of books – Cookbooks, Cake Books, Reading Books – they are well and truly taking over the house! This book is one of the best I’ve seen so far though – I’m so pleased to be able to share a giveaway to WIN ONE OF 3 COPIES OF DELICIOUSLY DECORATIVE COOKIES!!

Not the easiest of book titles to say but absolutely jam packed with tips, pictures and ideas for beautiful cookies.  Whether you are new to cookie decorating or experienced, this book has something for you. Each page has tons of pictures, the writing is tiny meaning that they can fit so much more content in the book than other decorating books.

cookie decorating book giveaway

There are clear to follow tutorials and great ideas for presenting your cookies. For anyone that likes to give edible gifts, this book is a must!

There are plenty of quick cookie creations if you are pushed for time and more challenging projects for leisurely afternoons.

how to make owl cookies

There are some short cuts – I like that the author, Fiona Pearce doesn’t presume that everyone wants to bake every biscuit from scratch – sometime you just want time to decorate.

There are tips for using edible pictures and icing sheets which are easy to come across now and Templates and Recipes at the back of the book if you need them.

perfume bottle cookies

To enter to win one of 3 copies of this lovely book, follow the Rafflecopter instructions below. The winners will be chosen at random as soon as possible after the giveaway ends on Wednesday 1st October. The winners will be asked to give an address that their book will be sent to – The publishers are responsible for sending the prizes out.

All entries will be checked. Please make sure you have left your contact details. All winners to have provided address details within 7 days of winners names being posted. Sorry, UK entries only.

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Marshmallow Brownie Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes – The Great Chocolate Bake

Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes

I’m not one to be defeated easily. My poor track record with Brownies has never sat well with me. When I was asked by Dr Oetker to enter their Great Chocolate Bake competition, I knew exactly what I was hoping to achieve. As soon as you mention the word ‘Brownie’ people turn to mush, mmm’ing and aah’ing. Well, I wanted them to do that over my recipe too – and by jove! I might just have got it!

Dr Oetker are challenging home bakers to come up with the ultimate chocolate cupcake – they sent a bunch of us some delicious ingredients and off we went. The prize is a fabulous trip to New York … and obviously the satisfaction of knowing I’ve finally cracked Brownies!

I’ve heard about S’mores for ages now but don’t quite fancy the cracker part of the recipe – so I came up with the Marshmallow/Brownie combination – I also wanted an extra dimension so went for it and added a Ferrero Rocher for decoration too.

The recipe and instruction for making the Brownies is below – I only filled the cases 1/3rd full – they don’t rise too much but the last thing you want is them spilling over. Once you have spread your frosting over them and added the Ferrero Rocher they are quite tall anyway. They are really rich – believe me, no-one will moan about the case not being full!

Before going in the oven ...

Before going in the oven …

I’m not going to lie, these are not pretty cupcakes when they first come out of the oven – the melted marshmallow oozes into the Brownie and it is impossible not to get a dip in the middle. As long as you know that is going to happen though, it is easily fixable.

marhsmallow brownie

Bear with … It gets prettier!

I added a marshmallow frosting – I didn’t want to start adding too many flavours by mixing a dairy frosting. Marshmallow frosting is super simple – just melt some mini marshmallows in a pan slowly and spread over the cupcakes. Beware, it does set really quickly though – you can add a teaspoon of glucose syrup if you want it to stay runny for that little bit longer.

The Tulip Cupcake Cases are an ideal way of disguising any rough edges on your original cupcake case. I bought mine but they are easy to make too – Tutorial coming soon! I finished with a pale pink ribbon to match the marshmallow frosting and added the Ferrero Rocher and I was done! Yum!

Marshmallow Brownie Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes – The Great Chocolate Bake

Cook Time: 19 minutes

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Marshmallow Brownie Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes – The Great Chocolate Bake


  • 150g Dr Oetker Fine Cook's Chocolate Dark
  • 150g Dr Oetker Fine Cook's Chocolate Extra Dark
  • 250g Unsalted Butter
  • 185g Caster Sugar
  • 250g Soft Light Brown Sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 180g Self Raising Flour
  • 2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • One large marshmallow for each cupcake plus one bag Dr Oetker Mini Marshmallows for the frosting
  • One Ferrero Rocher (unwrapped) for each Cupcake


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line the Cupcake Tray with the cupcake cases.
  2. Break the chocolate into small chunks and add with the butter to a medium sized pan.
  3. As soon as the butter and chocolate have melted, remove from the heat and whisk in the 2 types of sugar until combined.
  4. Add one egg at a time, whisking continuously - make sure that the mixture is cool enough to prevent the eggs from scrambling
  5. Add the flour and cocoa one spoon at a time and mix in using the figure of eight method until just combined
  6. Fill each cupcake case 1/3rd full and place a large marshmallow in the centre of each. There is no need to press down.
  7. Bake in the centre of the oven for 18-20 minutes.
  8. Remove and allow to cool.
  9. Just before decorating, add the mini marshmallows to a small pan and heat slowly - do not allow to boil.
  10. As soon as runny, spread a tablespoon of the mixture over the cooled cupcakes - I used the multi coloured Marshmallows and the frosting turned pink. If you use the white ones, you can add a small amount of food dye to match your colour scheme. Work quickly, they soon set!
  11. Add a Ferrero Rocher on top and place the cake inside a Tulip wrapper - Instantly transformed!

For more information on Dr Oetker Baking range go to

Disclosure: I received no payment for entering or promoting this competition. I did receive a Chocolate Hamper with some ingredients to use though. I had complete free reign on which recipe I used and made this one up. I highly recommend these cupcakes but take no responsibility for any growing waistlines!

Music For Kids Princess Recorder Review & Giveaway

I’m a bad mother. I will come clean. About 4 years ago when Millie (then aged 6) wanted to start learning the recorder, I told her the sound made your ears bleed. Not a parenting moment I’m proud of and it more than came back to bite me on the bum when she starting learning the violin 12 months later!

Fast forward 4 years and I find myself presented with a 6 year old Violet. There’s no fobbing her off with made up tales of bleeding ears. So onto recorder lessons we go.

To Violet’s delight her first recorder lesson happened at the same time we were sent a sparkly new pink recorder courtesy of Music for Kids.

Actually, what we got seemed so much more than just a recorder. Packaged in a Princess box, the clear pink descant recorder is just what I yearned for as a child. (Did anyone else have to suffer a wooden recorder with a mouthpiece that went soggy the longer the lesson went on? Just me then?) The recorder also has its own little bag to keep it in and was promptly covered in the fun stickers that came with it. There is also a child friendly CD and booklet to help with learning the instrument as well as a fingering chart for the more advanced learner. The set normally retails at £9.99.

Perhaps it was a mistake to hand Violet the recorder 10 minutes before a load of women from our WI came round for a knitting evening but its safe to say she’s happy with it. Not that you can tell from the picture – then again, is it possible to look happy playing the recorder?

A couple of weeks later and V is still impressed with her instrument and we have no bleeding ears.

A handy tip, I now know to prevent too loud playing is to tell the kids that if they blow too hard a tiny invisible pin will fall out of the recorder and it won’t work anymore. Lie to kids, me? Never!

And now its your turn, I have the choice of either a Princess or a Pirate recorder to give away – just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter. (I know the question is the same for the CD giveaway but its a good question so its staying!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The closing date for entry is Wednesday 28th November at 12PM. The lucky winner will be notified as soon as possible. UK only entries only I’m afraid. You will be asked to specify whether you want a Princess or a Pirate recorder. Best of Luck!

Win a week’s worth of dinners for 4 with Flora plus Apple Cakes

Remember the marzipan apples, I blogged about at the weekend? Well, here are the cakes that I made them to go with.

I was recently sent some baking goodies courtesy of Flora Cuisine and asked to bake a recipe out of their new cookbook, Lets Get Cooking. I’ll admit to being a little nervous of baking with a liquid form of butter and including fruit too but happily the recipe came off without a hitch.

Flora’s cookbook is rammed full of recipes supplied by Mums and Dads on Facebook. The apple cake recipe in particular was sent in by Sian Hallewell.

The recipe itself was really quick and easy to make. An ideal recipe for baking with the children I’d say. Once I’d got my head round measuring out the liquid Flora and looking through the little window on the bottle, I was all systems go and it was SO quick!

If you fancy a go at making apple cakes, the recipe is here

Me, being me, I had to go one step further and added Cinnamon Frosting. I was too intrigued to see how the liquid Flora Cuisine coped with buttercream/frosting not to have a go. One tip I would give is to wait a couple of minutes before piping as the buttercream does start setting a couple of minutes in – I had to go back and add just a bit more milk before piping but it was great, and again so quick.

Cinnamon Buttercream/Frosting
100ml Flora Cuisine
Approx 450g icing sugar
Approx 50ml milk
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1. Mix together the butter and one third of the icing sugar.
2 Add the cinnamon
3. Alternate adding a splash of the milk and a tbsp of the icing sugar until you get a consistency you are happy with.
4. Wait a couple of minutes before adding to a piping bag to check that the frosting hasn’t hardened too much. If it has, add a couple of splashes more milk.


Disclosure: I was sent the ingredients and the cookbook to make the Apple Cakes by Flora. All the opinions are my own though and the decision to make Cinnamon Frosting my own too but I’m really glad I did as it went really well with cakes!

Flora Cuisine Tip! When pouring out the butter stay near to a light. It makes it much easier to see through the bottle to check how much you’ve used.


CBeebies Album Review and Giveaway

Who knew a CD could save your sanity and keep you safe? Certainly not me but anyone who has ever gone on a long car journey alone with a toddler in the back of the car will know how hair-raising it can be.

Last Thursday I set out to go to my sister’s in Leeds. From St Helens, this is just over an hour on a very good day. Let’s say it was a medium day – the traffic was heavy, it rained in parts and I was alone with Tara. About 10 minutes into the journey, I realised she wasn’t going to drop off straight to sleep and she was wasn’t going to readily enjoy the snacks I had packed (ever tried to persuade a child to eat when they are sat behind you and you are driving on the m62?)

And then I remembered the CBeebies Album I’d been sent to review! I was slightly sceptical, I will admit, particularly as up until then Tara hasn’t been a big TV watcher (A stomach upset over this weekend has fixed that too!) I kid you not, though, she was like a different child. Happily swaying to the music in the back and clapping. Fantastic. She may even have fallen asleep around Manchester and I carried on listening to the CD until Leeds!

The CD itself has 50 songs – A good mix of the traditional CBeebies favourites (Tweenies, Balamory) but with LOADS of the newer tunes that are so catchy (I defy you not to sing along with Mr Bloom’s Nursery Meet the Veggies!) Our favourites are Abadas – My Name is (The child that sings Ella’s tune has the most fabulous voice) and Everything’s Rosie (Happy memories of Violet singing along as a toddler knowing every word)

And now, you too can have calm car journeys and learn the words to The CBeebies Winter Song. For a chance to win a copy of the CBeebies Album follow the Rafflecopter instructions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Closing Date: 21st November 2012. The lucky winner will be notified as soon as possible. UK entries only I’m afraid. One entry per household only aswell. And the last thing, your prize will be sent from the PR company so I will have to ask for your name and contact details if you win! Good Luck!