Littlest Pet Shop Kingdom Reviews

hasbro littlest pet shop toy review

Littlest Pet Shop toys came into our lives a couple of years ago with our eldest, Millie. A gift from her Auntie at Christmas, it was played with but never one of the massive favourites. I was asked a couple of weeks ago if my girls would be interested in trying out a new selection from the Littlest Pet Shop range. I have to say they have come a long way in those 2 years – I believe toys need a period of time to settle in, to see if they really are a winner, but so far they are doing quite well.

We were sent Blythe’s Bedroom and the Spa Style Scene along with a selection of figures and accessories. The bedroom alone contains at least 95 tiny pieces for personalising the look of your set. RRP £29.99 Age 6+.
The Spa Scene is RRP £14.99 and 6+.

assembly littlest pet shop

Violet (age 8) needed some assistance with the setting up of the Bedroom as there is quite a lot of assembly. This will depend on the individual child, how easy they find it. If you have a Lego lover, like my Millie then they will LOVE this bit. I loved the neatness of everything having a place and a slot to go in. There was scope for imagination though – Children can decide where to put the many tiny flowers that decorate inside and outside of the bedroom. There are also plenty of stickers so their imagination can go wild.

tara littlest pet shop review

While the ‘rooms’ were being set up, Tara busied herself by playing with the individual characters – I was amazed by how long they kept her interest. Who knew that putting earrings on and off a toy dog could keep a 3yo occupied for so long?! Obviously, I had to keep an eye on her as the pieces were absolutely tiny and she is only 3 but she loved it.

characters littlest pet shop

Being a bit of a tidy freak (when I get chance), I loved that the toys interlock – We put the Spa Scene directly on top of Blythe’s Bedroom.

What we liked:
* I liked Violet’s sense of achievement when she grasped the instructions about how to assemble the toy – She was slightly frustrated at first until she ‘got it’.
* The amount of decorations to design the bedroom how Violet wanted it.
* The quality of the toy – The connections seem really secure, the walls are not too flimsy either.

Time will tell how much the girls play with these sets – Tara has been found a few times having a play and Violet enjoyed telling her Dad how everything went together and what bits are for what.

opening our littlest pet shop Violet was rather pleased with her parcel – Ignore the 12yo to the side. She is obviously thrilled (in a 12 year old way!)

Disclosure: Sponsored Post – All opinions are my own (and Violet’s!)

The Snowman & Snowdog Grotto – Trafford Centre

snowman snowdog trafford centre

There’s something very magical about going to see Santa with your children. This is my 12th Christmas as a Mum and each year, we try to visit a different grotto. I’m not sure Santa recognises us at each event – I suspect that it might not ALWAYS be the ‘real’ Father Christmas ;-)

We were lucky enough to be invited to The Snowman and Snowdog Grotto in Barton Square, Trafford Centre last Sunday so off we trooped. I need to apologise at this point for the less than brilliant photos – We forgot the big camera, something to do with us having to set out at 7am to go to synchro training first.

santa's grotto trafford centre

You arrive at The Snowman Grotto to be met by one of the Elves (at least I think they were elves). Our slot was 12pm but there were a lot of other families milling about trying to book in (You book in at the main Trafford Centre Customer Service desk). The Elves were so patient and friendly – it would have driven me potty having to explain that they were fully booked until 4.30pm to so many people. An A frame board explaining which slot was next and how to register would have saved them so much hassle.

trafford centre elves

About 10 minutes before your time, you go in and queue inside – Another Elf welcomes you and gets the children all excited about Christmas – At this point you are given a gift of some Reindeer food for Christmas Eve (Anyone else got more reindeer food than real food in their house at the moment?).

Inside the grotto is a living room where an actor creates the atmosphere, telling the story of the Snowman and Snowdog with the aid of a massive video screen. Children sit on the floor and adults on benches. The younger kids were enthralled and its not too long (about 10-15 mins) for anyone who feels a little bit old (Your 12 year old for example!)

santa trafford centre

I thought this was going to be it but then the magic continues with a visit to Santa – At this point my children decide to ask for a real life monkey and 2 hamsters – Has anyone else heard that Santa isn’t doing livestock this year?! Santa was lovely and his room is great – complete with yet another friendly Elf!

You can have your picture taken with Santa and then go to choose your print if you like it.

santa's living room

After the Grotto experience, the fun can continue with a ride on the traditional carousel and plenty of other little stalls – Kangaroo Burger anyone?

To finish the afternoon, we tucked into a huge Cadwalladers’ Ice-Cream Sundae and a huge Mocha! The experience was so much better than we thought it was going to be – Our girls were really pleased with their gifts from Santa (who incidentally agreed with me that perhaps a real life monkey might not be possible this year but a cuddly one might be better still!)

carousel trafford centre

Walkers Deli Crisps – Grown Up Crisps & Caramelised Onion & Garlic Dip

walker's deli crisps

Crisps are definitely my go to snack when hungry and no energy. You know when people say they couldn’t live without bread or cheese, well my saviour is crisps every time (and maybe cake but that’s a post for another day!).

Walkers Deli crisps have brought out a new range of crisps specifically aimed at Grown Ups and have asked me to taste test them – Oh the trauma! NB Kids are quite welcome to eat them too, if they can prise them out of my hand. The crisps come in 3 varieties, Classic Potato Chips, Pita Chips and the more hearty Tortilla Chip. The flavours have taken inspiration from European markets which are ever so popular at the moment:

walker's deli pita chips

Potato Chips:
Cornish Mature Cheddar
Wiltshire Cured Ham, mature cheddar & farmhouse chutney
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena – Went down superbly well as an after school snack for us 4 girls curled up on the sofa. Lovely balsamic aftertaste.
Flame Grilled Spanish Chorizo with Roasted Onion

Tortilla Chips
Anglesey Sea Salt with Cracked Black Pepper – Sadly we didn’t eat these in Anglesey but happily they were just as lovely in St Helens!
Roasted Red Chilli with Mediterranean Sundried Tomato

Pita Chips
Roasted Garlic with Mediterranean Herbs
Roasted Red pepper with English Tomato

caramelised onion garlic dip

Now there’s an unwritten rule in our house that you can’t eat Chilli crisps without a good dip. My favourite combination is Caramelised Onion & Garlic Dip which went perfectly with the Walker’s Roasted Red Chilli Tortilla Chips with Mediterranean Sundried Tomato. The dip may not look that attractive but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it and all that …

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 White Onion – Finely Chopped
1/2 Celery Stick – Finely Chopped
1/4 tsp Crushed Garlic
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Twist of Black Pepper
1 small tub Natural Greek Yogurt

Method:
In a small frying pan, heat the oil and add the celery and the onion and sweat for 10-12 minutes until completely soft and starting to brown
Add the Worcestershire Sauce and the garlic and stir through. Continue sweating for another 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
When completely cool, mix together well with the Yogurt and the black pepper.
Best eaten within 2 days – Keep in the fridge.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our tasting sessions of the Walker’s Range – The Pita Chips are really chunky so you feel like you’ve had a good snack. As I type, I’m snacking on Wiltshire Cured Ham Potato Chips – The things I do for this blog!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Degustabox Review – Foodies’ Surprise Box of Delights

degustabox surprise food parcel

I love knowing that I’m going to get a treat – who doesn’t like nice surprises? I’m working with Degustabox for the next couple of months to help promote their secret food boxes. Each month, recipients get a selection of food – the intrigue is that you never know what you will get.

I received my first box a couple of weeks ago for the October batch. I really wasn’t sure what to expect (and secretly hoped I wouldn’t get a load of rubbish to fill my already bulging cupboards!) Here’s what I got:

sweet chilli dipping sauce

Blue Dragon Original Sweet Chilli Sauce – I can’t tell you how many bottles of this, we will get through this Christmas.

What we do with it: Dips for all manner of battered nibbles, spring rolls, prawn crackers and even my coconut battered prawns

degustabox products

Solo Toasted Marshmallow Creme

What we do with it: I can feel another Battenburg coming on with this as the filling – Or maybe just straight off a spoon!

Jelly Belly Jellybeans

What we do with it: Apart from the most obvious game of guess the flavour, these make cracking speedy cupcake decorations or even all over a frosted cake.

Kelloggs’ Special K Barbeque Cracker Crisps

The Salt & Vinegar flavour packs of these are my most favourite low fat alternatives to crisps ever! I don’t feel cheated or am left wanting more (probably because the bags are huge). The barbecue flavour are just as strong and flavourful – perfect snack for after my 5 mile walk next week!

Alpha Bites Bear Cereal

What we do with them: Mini boxes of cereal are perfect for caravanning or even making more Puppy Chow

dr oetker chocolate

Dr Oetker 90% Dark Chocolate – Would you just look at the shine on the cake pictured on the packet? This is going to make an amazing chocolate cake this weekend!

Dr Oetker Dark Cocoa Powder – I love that this packet contains 3 small sachets. I always have cocoa powder in the cupboard but its not an ingredient I use great quantities of – Great that this will keep fresh instead of a huge tub.

degustabox

Enhance Apple & Blackcurrant juice for adding to water – Millie has already snaffled this for school – There’s not a Year 8 without one apparently!

Paws Strawberry & Apple pieces – These disappeared in record fast time. They are known as sweets in our house which suits me as they are so much healthier than other sweet alternatives.

Get Buzzing – Orignal Nutty Energy bar – I’m not normally a fan of anything ‘energy’ but these bars really are delicious and now I have a mild addiction to walking, I feel all virtuous when I eat one after exercise. What has happened to me?

pasquier brioche

Brioche Pasquier‘s Pain au lait with chocolate chips and Sliced Brioche Loaf – Its like the box was made especially for us. We go through mountains of brioche on Sunday mornings to and fro from synchro training.

What we do with it: The sliced brioche is fabulous for chocolate bread & butter pudding or even Eggy Bread with a sweet cinnamon twist.

bengal meal kit

Bengal Meal Kit

What we do with it: I believe any food box should contain an element of stretching yourself/ trying something new – I’ve never tried a curry kit like this one from Bengal Meal Kit but relish the thought of it. I love the packaging which displays the oil and spices so clearly.

Degustabox is very simple to set up – To find out more about registering please visit their website
The normal price per box is £12.99 including delivery with a promise of containing around double the value of products (Around 12-14 items in each box).

Casa Costello readers are entitled to a £3 discount when ordering their first Degustabox with this code:

OT9WF

Let me know if you try out Degustabox and what you do with your products!

Gluten Free Angel Cake – Bake of the Week

gluten free angel cake

I’m not going to pretend this is the prettiest cake you’ll ever see – it is so light and refreshing though. Even with heaps of cream. Very quick to bake although you really must take your time whisking the eggs and combining the rest of the ingredients. This cake is all about the air. Fat free (until you add the cream obviously) and Gluten Free – I used Doves Farm Potato Flour which was part of a pack of Gluten Free Flours sent by Doves’ Farm. The flour was so much lighter than traditional flours – felt very corn floury and I did query whether the cake would work. I shouldn’t have worried though, the inside was a white and delicious as every other Angel Cake I’ve made.

Angel cakes are so versatile – Not only quick to prepare and handy as a gift to take to a friend’s but they suit so many different flavours. Soft fruit like strawberries and raspberries are the obvious choice but most types of Jam go equally well. I used some Duerrs Rhubarb & Custard Baking Jam Again, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of the Jam – I thought it may be too ‘Rhubarby’ but the combination of fruit and custard was really smooth and perfect for the light Angel Cake.

I think it is testament to how good this cake was that it disappeared within a couple of hours – and we didn’t have any visitors!

Gluten Free Angel Cake

Serves 8+
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 50 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 10 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Cold
Occasion Casual Party
Light and airy Gluten Free Angel Cake

Ingredients

  • 4oz Potato Flour
  • 3oz Icing Sugar
  • 8 Egg Whites
  • 5 1/2oz Caster Sugar
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line with baking parchment 2 x 9" cake tins
Sieve the flour and the icing sugar - This is one of the only recipes that I honestly sieve
Using an electric hand whisk, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff peaks - Best to be done when at room temperature
Very very slowly, add one teaspoon of the caster sugar at a time whilst still whisking on a slow speed - the mixture should keep its stiff texture
Fold in the vanilla, salt and cream of tartar then slowly add the flour/icing sugar mixture - stirring through using a figure of 8 motion
Separate the mixture between the 2 tins and bake for 40 minutes. Turn the oven off and keep the tins in the oven for another 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool in the tins before removing.
Spread with jam and lashings of double cream and enjoy huge chunks!
Eat the same day x

While I’m on a Gluten Free roll, I have chosen the Free From Fairy’s Gluten Free and Dairy Free Christmas Cake as my featured Bake of the Week. I admire people who consistently cater for GF and DF diets.

gluten free dairy christmas cake

Brilliant entries as usual from everyone last week – I am still working my way around everyone’e fantastic bakes – Thanks so much for joining in.

bake of the week

1. Another incredible baker that caters for special diets, Garden Tea Cakes and Me with her Vegan Peanut Butter & Banana Cookies
2. How gorgeous do these Quadruple Chocolate Cupcakes look from Domestic Gothess?
3. Super creative Chocolate & Peanut Butter Oat Bars from the lovely Winnie’s Blog – One of my new favourite blogs.
4. I always forget how much I love to make (and eat) Madeleines until I saw these Cranberry & Orange Madeleines from Baking Queen 74
5. I love how versatile these Chocolate Hazelnut Jumbles from Baked Potato Mummy are. Perfect for baking with the kids.
6. Almond Meringue Cookies from ET Speaks From Home – Just can’t get enough of the taste of almond. So pleased its nearly marzipan season!
7. I’d Much Rather Bake Than waited a huge 3 YEARS to make these Tunis Cupcakes and aren’t they pretty?

So they were the individual portioned bakes for this week – If you fancy a huge chunk of a bake, try these:

bow2

8. Oh wow! to this Apple Halva Cake with Caramel Glaze from Winnie’s Blog. Just gorgeous!
9. Eileen at ET Speaks From Home made this Olive Oil Bread for dinner guests – Hope I’m invited one day!
10. I thoroughly agree with Hey Cakes that sharing is caring – and I wish they would share some of this delicious Blueberry Crumble Pie!
11. The perfect solution to my husband not liking quiche problem, make one of these Neapolitan Potato Gateaux from My Little Italian Kitchen instead.

I’m going on a very exciting blog trip to Ireland next week so Bake of the Week will run until the Tuesday after (2nd December – DECEMBER!! When did that happen?) If you bake more than one thing between now and then, feel free to add as many bakes as you like. All types of bakes (cakes, biscuits, pies, tarts, bread etc) are welcome – I comment on them all and share across twitter, pinterest & google+. Here’s the badge:

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Disclosure: Many Thanks to the following brands who supplied me with products for review purposes : Doves Farm, Duerrs & Happy Egg Company.

gluten free flour

I’m sharing this post with some favourites and some new links too this week … Recipe of the Week, Cook, Blog, Share & Brilliant Blog Posts

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CookBlogShare

recipe-of-the-week

Designs By Miss Mandee

Melissa'sCuisine


Rooted In Thyme

Gousto – Home Recipe Kit Box Review

home recipe box review

A couple of weeks ago we were sent a box from Gousto containing all we needed to make 3 different meals for 2. We didn’t get to choose which meals we had as we were reviewing the box but that added to our surprise of how much we enjoyed our experience. I will admit to being a bit nervous – What if I really didn’t like the choice of meals? What if the instructions on how to prepare the dishes were really difficult?

I needn’t have worried though – in fact, we were thrilled by how successful the whole box was and are even considering making a periodic order for ourselves.

baked chicken tikka

We were incredibly lucky that all 3 meals were exactly what we like to eat – Good, healthy food, plenty of fresh ingredients that are easy to come by in ‘normal’ shops for when we make the dishes again and very tasty choices:

Our 3 meals were:

  • Pork & Mushroom Stroganoff
  • Mediterranean Burger
  • Spicy Chicken Tikka

gousto menus

We were also surprised how often Mr C & myself find ourselves eating separately to the children – Not sure why we were surprised at this, we are running about with swimming most nights of the week. Therefore, it was absolutely no problem that the meals were only for 2 people – in fact, the portions were generous enough that if we had had to, we could have shared a little with one of the girls (But we were glad we didn’t have to!) If you prefer though it is possible to order meals for 4 people.

Mr C said he would do the majority of the cooking to see how someone relatively new to cooking found the menu cards to follow. He was very impressed and had no trouble at all. Absolutely everything came out as should be.

what you get in a recipe box

All the fruit and veg that comes with Gousto is organic. The meat is British meat and high quality. Each week recipients can choose 3 out of the 10 meal choices – All the nutritional information is available on the Gousto website about the meal plus how long it will take to prepare and cook. Some more about the Gousto boxes:

  • Delivery is free.
  • If you are not going to be in, you can tell the delivery driver where to keep the box – i.e. with a neighbour, in the porch – The packaging will keep your food safe until the end of the day.
  • Some meals are specially invented with kids in mind – Hidden vegetable but high in nutrients. Gousto realise how fussy children can be sometimes.
  • You can skip a week or two whenever you are on holiday – in fact, there is no tie in period so you can cancel your subscription at any time.

Prices of the boxes are as follows:

  • Meat box for 2 people – £34.99 per week
  • Meat box for 4 people – £49.99 per week
  • Veggie box for 2 people – £33.99 per week
  • Veggie box for 4 people – £47.99 per week

preparing the food

Dsiclosure: We were sent a complete Gousto box for review. All our findings are genuine and we were extremely pleased with the whole experience.

pork mushroom stroganoff

Family Fever

Individual Christmas Pavlovas with Prosecco Creme & Pomegranate – 100th Casa Costello Recipe!

prosecco pavlovas

Its that time of year again when we start to plan the Christmas Menu – Up and down the land, you hear people asking ‘Do you host Christmas Day?’. The answer is yes for us, its either that or go to my sister’s for Pot Noodle. I love her very much but draw the line at that for Christmas Dinner.

Its probably no surprise that one of my favourite parts of Christmas Lunch is the dessert. I’m not a fan of Christmas Pudding so don’t offer it to our guests – We do tend to offer a selection of desserts though. No surprise there!

Most years I offer some sort of meringue based dessert – For when you are completely stuffed but feel the need for something sweet. Its got to be special meringue though for Christmas – so how about Prosecco Creme, topped with Mini Marzipan Holly leaves and Pomegranate Berries – And for extra indulgence, a sprinkling of edible gold glitter!

taste the difference prosecco

We used Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Prosecco – I really like that it comes in miniature bottles of 20cl – This recipe only needs 80ml which is plenty for up to 6 pavlovas (Don’t forget to do the kiddies some alcohol free ones).

individual christmas pavlovas

Individual Pavlovas with Prosecco Creme

Serves 8-10
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 2 hours, 25 minutes
Total time 2 hours, 45 minutes
Meal type Dessert
Misc Serve Cold
Occasion Birthday Party, Christmas
Luxurious Individual Pavlovas with Sparkling Prosecco Creme for the ultimate Christmas Dessert. Complete the effect with Marzipan Holly Leaves and Pomegranate Berries and sprinkling of edible gold glitter

Ingredients

  • 4 Egg Whites (Left at room temperature for 15 minutes)
  • 250g Caster Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Corn Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar
  • 284ml Whipping Cream
  • 80ml Prosecco
  • Pomegranate Seeds to garnish
  • Natural Marzipan (A ball about the size of a plum, coloured green is fine)

Directions

Pavlovas
Preheat the oven to 150C
Using an electric whisk, in a VERY clean bowl, start whisking the egg whites on a medium speed increasing to a fast speed after 1 minute. Carry on whisking until you have stiff peaks
Slowly (and I mean really slowly) gradually add in the sugar whilst still whisking - This should take at least 10 minutes. I use no bigger than a teaspoon to add each addition. You should still have a fairly stiff meringue
Turn off the whisk and very gently fold in the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla
Scoop the meringue into large piping bags with a star nozzle tip and pipe circles from the centre outwards. I go over the outside circle to make it slightly taller. I do a variety of sizes - I give adults pavlovas of around 5cm but children a fair bit smaller.
Place into the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 120C
Bake for between 18-25 minutes. Turn off the oven put keep the pavlovas in there for at least 2 hours or until the oven is completely cooled. I often leave them in overnight.
Prosecco Creme
When you are just about to eat the pavlovas, whisk the cream until it is stiff
Pour in the prosecco and keep whisking on a medium speed until it is all combined and you have a stiff creme again
Use a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle to pipe in the centre of the pavlovas
Finish off by topping with a marzipan holly leaf and a pomegranate berry. Sprinkle lightly with edible gold glitter dust
Serve immediately - Pavlovas without creme added can be kept for 2-3 days in a dry atmosphere - lightly covered

Guess what?! This is my 100th recipe that I am sharing on Casa Costello – How appropriate that I am celebrating with a bit of fizz. I’m loving sharing all our family recipes and producing new recipes. We are eating so much better and the kitchen is definitely the heart of our home. Thanks for sharing the journey with me so far … plenty more recipes and treats to come!

Disclosure: I was asked by Sainsbury’s to suggest a recipe using Prosecco. I had full editorial control of what recipe I chose and what I did with the leftover prosecco! ;-) I was supplied with Sainsbury’s vouchers to cover the cost of any ingredients I bought to make this recipe.

prosecco pavlovas

I’m adding this recipe to A Mummy Too’s Recipe of the Week

recipe-of-the-week

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Halloween Cake Pops – Bake of the Week

pumpkin mummy cake pops

I hope I’m not running before I can walk, but I think I may have finally cracked Cake Pops!! I’ve talked here so many times about not being able to master them – I’ve still got a long way to go before they are perfect but I’m more than a little bit pleased with my Halloween Cake Pops.

Last week, Dr Oetker asked if I’d like to use some of their products to make their Ghost Cake Pops. My first thought was to decline knowing that I’ve never been successful at them yet but being the stubborn mule that I am, I took the challenge head on.

ghost cake pops

I did a fair bit of googling to see if there were any tips that I could follow – The biggest difference I came across was to have the cake mixture still quite crumbly and not use very much buttercream/frosting. I think this is where I have been going wrong – my pops were just too heavy and kept popping off the sticks – even with dipping the end of the sticks in melted chocolate to help them stick.

I decided to stick with my good old faithful madeira cake recipe as I know it so well and used a really firm buttercream using cold real butter. I was sent 2 bags of white chocolate drops to use for the covering – The Dr Oetker drops are tiny which work really well when melting them. They melt before the mixture either burns or turns unusable which so easily happens when melting white chocolate. I also added 1 tbsp of Trex Vegetable Fat (Try not to think about it too much!) to the white chocolate to make it runnier and easier to coat the pops. Worked brilliantly!

painting cake pops

I used Dr Oetker black Food Gel for the decorations – It has a nozzle to pipe it on but I prefer to paint it for really small details.

ghost cakepops

I felt so much safer covering the pops knowing that I was going to cover them again with a layer of sugar paste – I used a Garrett Frill Cutter to make the Ghost’s cape.
Then I got a bit braver and used ‘Naked’ Cake Pops dusted with Orange food dust for the pumpkins. I piped melted white chocolate over the cake pops to make the Mummies. I’m so chuffed with them!

There was a stand out bake last week which I have chosen for my featured ‘Bake of the Week’ – The amazing Chocolate Candy Cake from The More Than Occasional Baker. She used drinking straws for the effect of keeping the candy bags floating (I’ve also heard that balloon sticks are also good for this too!). Completely brilliant cake!!

floating sweet candy bags cake

bake of the week

1. How pretty are these steamed Rose Buns from Eileen at ET Speaks from Home?
2. Spiced Honey Shortbread with special Halloween decorations from Family Friends and Food
3. I love these Scarborough Fair Oatcakes – Really must try – from The Lass in the Apron
4. I do wish Pecan Pie was more popular here in the UK – I bought a huge bag of Pecans last week so am armed to make this from Bourbon and Brown Sugar
5. leftover treacle toffee? Make these Bonfire & Apple Muffins from I’d Much Rather Bake Than
6. Happy Anniversary wishes go to the Free From Fairy who has celebrated with her GF Heart Cake this week

The Linky is now open for all your bakes of the week – Savoury, sweet, cakes, pies, biscuits … the possibilities are endless. Here’s the badge for your post – Lovely to see that people are visiting each others’ bakes too.

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Disclosure: I was sent some Dr Oetker products to use when making my Cake Pops but still had full editorial control. More information and a video tutorial on how to make Cake Pops can be found here

Autumn Picnics with #Vitapicnics

I’m going to let you into a secret – There’s a place I know. Its rather perfect. Don’t tell everyone – They’ll all want to go. If you’re thinking of setting out on an autumn picnic over the half term – you may want to think about going.

hell's mouth

Let me tell you about Hell’s Mouth (No, not the hole in my face that talks a bit too much – That’s a completely different type of Hell’s Mouth) A wonderful beach just near Abersoch – I’ve probably told you about it before. Perfect for surfing, perfect for walking, perfect for picnicking – Which is why I’m telling you about it.

vita coco kids

Vita Coco Kids have a campaign running this autumn to keep us picnicking. Just because the weather is a bit fresher doesn’t mean to say we can’t eat al fresco anymore. I’m all in favour of this idea and have been for years – We do outdoor day trips all year round – We are your forever optimistic picnickers – There’s not much a good coat and an umbrella can’t protect against.

Vita Coco want me to tell you all about our favourite picnic spot but shhh! remember to keep it quiet!

Let me introduce you to Hell’s Mouth …

FREE car park – This is a perfect spot for surfers so will spot some brilliant camper vans and maybe the odd half naked man getting into a wetsuit. Its a cross we all have to bear! Even better there is a tea van so if you finish your flask – there’s always a top up!

car park hell's mouth

There’s a sandy walk (about 200m) down to the beach – Good exercise but not too far and you are nicely warm by the time you reach the beach. Perfectly safe to let the kids walk on ahead.

walking to the beach

There’s plenty of waves for the active type – Disclaimer: This is Dermot and not me!

deem surfing abersoch

There’s even peace and tranquility (Maybe not if you take your 3 kids)

surf board beach wales

We don’t live on the doorstep of Abersoch – in fact, we have a good 2 1/2 hour drive to get there but it is well worth it. We quite often set out mid morning on a Sunday and don’t get back until late evening. We take an almighty picnic but it soen’t stop us devouring the chippy at Conwy on the way back.

Disclosure: We were sent a fabulous picnic set to encourage us to talk about our favourite picnic spot. Vita Coco Kids is fruit-flavoured Coconut Water using natural flavours, containing on average 20% less sugar and calories than other fruit juice drinks. I tested the drinks out on the kids without telling them that they were new and they went down really well. My 3yo loved the mango & pineapple flavour (Apple & blackcurrant flavour also available)