Foodie Friday Is Now Open!

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Chicken Tomato Basil Cooked SAndwich

Foodie Friday is back open – I’m happy to announce a few changes as the lovely Otilia hands over the reigns to me:

  • No more themes – All foodie posts are welcome – Recipes, Reviews, Roundups – If they are about food, share them!
  • I will do the round up every Friday when the next linky is opened.
  • All entries will be commented on, shared on Pinterest, Twitter and Google+
  • I will choose a featured entry from the previous week to highlight
  • The linky will remain open until Thursday morning so you can add your entries throughout the week
  • Old posts are fine as long as they have the badge added to them
  • Maximum of 3 posts per week for each blogger please
  • Please no duplicates to Bake of the Week – You can enter that here

The badge to include in your post is here – It would be great if you would also visit some of the other entries and get spreading the news about Foodie Friday.

Casa Costello
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I’m sharing a picture of my sandwich of the moment, Hot Chicken, Tomato & Basil – For more creative sandwich ideas visit this post

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Warburtons Sandwich Thins Challenge

warburtons sandwich challenge

I was one of life’s revelations to me, when I grew up, that sandwiches didn’t have to be boring – They didn’t have to be on white bread and definitely didn’t have to have butter on them. I wasn’t the most adventurous with my sandwiches as a child – I think my record was taking plain ham sandwiches to school for 5 years!

I had discovered Warburtons Sandwich Thins long before I was asked to take part in the sandwich challenge. I’m not overly fond of doughy bread so the slimline bread is just perfect for me. I like that they come in neat squares (or diamonds depending on how you look at them) and even better for the lazy cook in me, that they are pre sliced.

My challenge was to come up with 3 different ways of using Sandwich Thins – All of these feature regularly in our house. We have got into the habit of enjoying Hot Sandwiches, especially the Pizza Sandwich, which is perfect for those long journeys to training in Manchester.

Chicken Basil Toasted Sandwich Thins

Chicken Tomato Basil Cooked SAndwich

Portion of cooked chicken – I flashed fried mine just before assembling the sandwich and pulled it to make it flaky but pre-cooked is just as nice.
6 Basil Leaves
1/2 tomato per sandwich – no seeds
Sprinkling of grated Mozzarella

Cook in a dry frying pan until the middle is hot and the cheese has melted causing both bread parts to stick together – Eat immediately whilst hot!

cooked sandwiches

The Pizza Sandwich

Pizza Sandwich

Passata/Pizza Topping Sauce
Red Pepper – Chopped Finely
Onion – Chopped Finely
Mushroom – Chopped into very thin slices
Grated Mozzarella

Spread the passata over each side of the Sandwich Thin and place one (sauce side up) in a dry frying pan. Add a sprinkling of each of the peppers/onion/mushroom and finish with some grated cheese.
Add the top of the Sandwich Thin and heat through for 3-4 minutes – Push down with a fish slice so all the components stick together – Turn over for another 1-2 minutes so the top of the sandwich goes crispy too.

Posh Ham Sandwich with Honey & Maple Dressing
posh ham sandwich with honey & maple dressing & walnuts

If you must put butter on your bread, feel free to do so but why not live a little and try without?

I’ll start off by telling you how to make a small amount of the Honey & Maple Syrup Dressing – I bet before long you are doubling the recipe though!

To make the dressing:
2 Tablespoons Honey
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

Heat in a small pan, stirring continuously until it starts to boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes then spoon over a Sandwich Thin filled with plenty of smoked ham – It will start to thicken (If you leave it too long, it will go almost solid so you need to reheat to liquidise again).
Finish off with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts.

Some more info about Warburtons and Sandwich Thins …

Warburtons have started off their Sandwich Challenge as part of the food trend that is set to take 2015 by storm – Creative Sandwiches are projected to be the next big thing as people want more exciting and versatile fillings – Warburtons are the first to market Sandwich Thins – They have 135 years experience in the Baking sector and are the second biggest grocery brand in the UK.

Warburtons Sandwich Thins are 420 KJ/100 Kcal per thin and available in 4 varieties: White, Brown, Seeded and Half & Half.

Disclosure: I was sent samples of Sandwich Thins for the purpose of this challenge and received payment for any ingredients purchased. All opinions are my own and I had free copy what to include in this post.

Valentines White Chocolate & Raspberry Swiss Roll – Bake of the Week

Valentine's White Chocolate & Raspberry Swiss Roll

There were times yesterday that I began to dislike this cake! How can something you have made over and over again, be so awkward? The moral of my story is ‘Do not bake when you are running around like a headless chicken and expect it to turn out perfect’. I’ve said it so many times, I really should listen!

Anyway, back to the bake – There was actually nothing wrong with either bake that I made yesterday – I can vouch for this as I ate more than my bodyweight in Swiss Roll yesterday and it was all light and gorgeous. Just not photo worthy. I was leaving the house within the hour to go to choose wedding dresses with my youngest sister and tried to stretch time by popping in a quick Swiss Roll – Now this recipe is quick but not even this one can be finished within 30 mins.

We are not the most romantic of households, it has to be said. This may well be the only nod to Valentines Day that we do – There’s plenty of love in our family, but not many hearts and flowers. I actually tagged Dermot into my Facebook status yesterday at the bridal shop, asking if we should do the marriage stuff all over again .. His response?..’Could you be bothered?!’ And they say romance is dead!

I piped the hearts and baked for 4 minutes before adding the rest of the mixture. My tip would be to use a Size 2 nozzle and make the heart shaped really defined. Make it look stupidly so – sharps points, the lot. I coloured 4 tbsp of the cake mixture (before adding the chocolate) with RED RED paste food colour.

Valentine’s White Chocolate & Raspberry Swiss Roll

Serves 6-8
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Meal type Dessert
Misc Serve Cold
Occasion Valentines day
Beautiful fluffy light white chocolate sponge swiss roll with tangy raspberries and decorative cake hearts


  • 160g Caster Sugar (Plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling on the oven tray)
  • 4 Eggs
  • 160g Plain Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 80g White Chocolate (Grated)
  • 5 tablespoons Raspberry Jam
  • 50g Raspberries (Crushed)
  • Tub of Double Cream (Whisked until thick)


Preheat the oven to 160C and line a baking tray with baking parchment - sprinkle the extra caster sugar evenly across it
Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs and the remaining sugar until pale and thickens - Should take around 8 minutes
Fold in the flour and baking powder very gently
Remove 3 tablespoons of this mixture and colour red - Using a piping bag, pipe small pronounced hearts (see instructions above) and bake for 4 minutes
Remove hearts from the oven. Add the grated white chocolate to the remaining cake mix and fold through.
Pour evenly over the hearts trying not to move any and bake for a further 11 minutes
Leave to cool for 3-4 minutes then try to introduce a roll shape (still with the baking parchment attached to the cake) - Allow to then unfold and cool the cake completely
Mix the raspberries with the jam and spread evenly on the cake. Add the double cream and roll as tightly as you can.
Eat immediately

valentine's swiss roll

I just love this week’s featured Bake of the Week – Plum & Marzipan Braid from Hannah at Domestic Gothess.

plum marzipan bread

Plenty of other delicious entries from around the blogging world too this week …

bake of the week

1. Delightful Apple Cinnamon Donuts from Winnie’s Blog
2. Also celebrating Valentines with some pretty pastel meringues is ET Speaks from home
3. Love the thought of these jam muffin donuts from Winnie’s Blog and even better that they are baked not fried.
4. You can imagine you are in Sicily with My Little italian Kitchen’s Sicilian Reginelle Biscuits
5. Happy Birthday to Julie’s son from Julie’s Family kitchen – He celebrated with a football cake
6. If you are after some crunch, try the Domestic Gothess’ Orange Cornmeal Biscuits
7. For the healthy ones amongst us, try Slow Cooked Pumpkin & Mango Oat Bars courtesy of Baking Queen 74
8. Galina at Chez Maximka tempted us with her Orange Angel Slices
9. Hey Cakes shared these lovely Cottage Cheese & Almond Rolls
10. Making a welcome return to Bake of the week with her Matcha Breakfast Cakes is Kirsty from Hijacked by Twins
11. Mummy Mishaps went super frugal with her 5p mincemeat in these flapjacks
Centre: Super tempting Malted Chocolate Bundt Cake from Chocolate Log Blog

The link is now open for this week’s #Bakeoftheweek and here is the badge to include in your post

Casa Costello
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Thanks again to everyone who entered and visited each others – Us bloggers live on feedback(and cake) so we love your comments. Don’t forget to join in with #FoodieFriday this week which I am officially now taking over – No theme and anything foodie is allowed. Open all week, not just Friday!

For Bake of the Week entries, all types of bakes are welcome – savoury, sweet, healthy, biscuits, cakes, bread, pies – I share them all on twitter, Pinterest and Google+ and comment on them all. Feel free to join the Pinterest board where there are over 300 entries!

Italian Basil Chicken with Black Rice: UFUUD Review

italian basil chicken with black rice

Last month I was asked if I would like to test out the Italain Foodie website, Ufuud. Ufuud specialise in distributing high end Italian products all over the EU, directly where they have been produced.

I have a bit of a love affair with true Italian cuisine. One of my best friends at secondary school was Italian – sleepovers at her house were always the best, the breakfasts were incredible! I’ve never actually managed to visit Italy (yet!) but eating traditional Italian produce is, I’m sure, the next best thing.

So off I pottered to the website, very easy to use – I could feel the quality of the produce. The range of Italian food varies from cooked meats to sauces to amazing cheeses to specialist biscuits. Over the past month, the selection has changed regularly, I’m presuming this is as stock sells out and new producers are found. Just because Ufuud might not have what you are looking for one day, doesn’t mean it won’t be there the next.

I opted to order a range of products – I wanted to test out the chilled goods as I was intrigued how it would be delivered at temperature (Our pancetta arrived in perfect, chilled condition in polystyrene).

I loved the more unusual selection at UFUUD. I’m such a marketer’s dream, opting for the black rice.

black rice

You can even order alcohol, so not to be rude, we ordered a traditional blond Italian beer.

Most of the ingredients do come with some English description on them and some even have some English cooking directions. Our pancetta didn’t appear to have a use by date on it (When you order, the site tells you approx how long your item is in date for – By the time we used it, the pancetta had disappeared from the site)

I’ve saved the best for last though … when you are shopping on site, in the bottom right corner pops up your very own advice service – If you log into the English version of the site, they speak excellent English. This is such a brilliant service, I struggled a little when completing my order (My fault, not Ufuud) and my advisor was so patient. Its worth ordering something just to experience it!

To test out the ingredients, I made Italian Basil Chicken, served with the infamous black rice (Which was super tasty seasoned with some of the fat from the pancetta but don’t tell my arteries!)

italian basil chicken recipe


Italian Basil Chicken served with seasoned Black Rice

Serves 3-4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 50 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Gourmet, Serve Hot
A thoroughly tasty dish, succulent chicken with a delicious basil tomato sauce served on a bed of black seasoned rice


  • 3-4 Chicken Thighs (Oven cooked for 30 mins in foil)
  • 1 Small Onion (Chopped finely)
  • 1 Yellow Pepper (Chopped into small cubes)
  • 3 tablespoons Basil Chicken Passata (Or 1 tin tomatos, 6 basil leaves finely chopped, 1 tbsp tomato puree, black pepper)
  • 1 clove Garlic (Chopped finely)
  • 100g Pancetta (Chopped into small cubes)


Black Rice
I cooked the black rice according to the instructions on the box - Soak in water and cook for 35 minutes in a large pan. Drain the pan, then cool and place in the fridge until needed - Can be in fridge for up to 24 hours
Italian Chicken
Pan fry the pancetta until the fat is reduced. Remove from the pan and remove half of the remaining fat (You will stir the rice through this just before serving)
In the remaining far, cook the chopped onion until soft and transparent
Add the peppers and continue to cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Add the chicken and the passata (See ingredients list for alternative if not using bought passata). Return the pancetta to the pan and cook until all ingredients are combined and hot all the way through.
Serve on black rice if you have it and add extra tomato basil sauce on top of the chicken.

basil chicken recipe

Disclosure: I was not charged for any items that I ordered from Ufuud. I have given an honest review of the service – I really enjoyed the experience and the quality of the products was top class.

home italian food ordering service

Family Fever

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Honeycomb Macarons – Bake of the Week

honeycomb macarons recipe

Now I know these aren’t the best pictures or the prettiest macarons you’ll ever see but believe me, they taste good!! I forgot to bang the tray with the macarons before baking to get rid of any massive air bubbles, so they did pop a little but no matter, they still got devoured!

I love watching and making honeycomb being made – Its a true chemical experiment how it fizzes and comes together. I can’t eat too much of it on its own though – The worry about rotting my teeth ruins it a little. I have absolutely no problems eating hundreds of macarons though!

Honeycomb Macarons

Serves 25
Prep time 1 hour
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 15 minutes
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Cold
Occasion Barbecue, Birthday Party, Casual Party
Tempting mouthfuls of macarons with the distinctive taste of honeycomb and a creamy centre


  • 165 + 125g Caster Sugar
  • 65ml Honey
  • 40ml Water
  • 1 tablespoon Syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 125g Ground Almonds
  • 125g Icing Sugar
  • 4 Egg Whites (At Room Temperature fro 20 mins before using)


Add the honey, the 165g caster sugar, water & syrup to a medium sized pan and bring to the boil. Do not stir - allow to bubble gently for 5 minutes. Periodically, brush down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush and extra water. This stops it sticking to the sides of the pan.
Once the temperature reaches 154C (Won't take long) remove from the heat for 1-2 minutes until it all settles.
Add in the bicarb of soda - This is the fun bit - it will fizzle and bubble up. Stir like mad for 1-2 minutes until all combined.
Transfer onto a sheet of Baking Parchment and flatten out evenly until it is the thickness you want.
Leave to cool completely, then break into chunks - Ready to eat this stage as normal honeycomb
Honeycomb Macarons
To make the macarons, blitz half of the honeycomb mixture in a food processor until fine crumbs
Whisk the egg whites until the reach stiff peaks - Add the remaining caster sugar one tablespoon at a time until combined. Your mixture should still be stiff.
In another bowl, sift the ground almonds and icing sugar and add in one tablespoon at a time, until combined.
Gently fold in the honeycomb powder until combined too
Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a 1cm hole, onto 2 baking trays covered with baking parchment and pipe macaron shapes - You should get about 50 (making 25 full macarons, but you knew that!)
Slam the tray twice to get rid of air bubbles and bake at 150C for 15-20 minutes until crisp on the top
Serve with whipped double cream or dip individual macarons into melted chocolate. Enjoy!

 Lots of lovely entries as usual to last week’s Bake of the Week – Even healthy eating January can’t deter some people!

My stand out Bake of the Week are these Caramel Apple Crisps from Et Speaks From Home – Just perfect for packed lunches, which we are back in the swing of following our Christmas break from synchro. Just love the triangle shape and that they are crispy yet soft in the middle.

caramel almond crisp cookies

bake of the week entries food linky

1. Stunning marbling with this Marbled Chocolate & Peanut Butter Banana Bread from Domestic Gothess
2. Shortbread Cookies with Nuts & Almonds from Winnie’s Blog – Love the unusual shape!
3. Lovely Pastel colours in these Steamed Rice Cakes from ET Speaks From Home
4. Very tempted by this Cream Cookie Cake with Sugar Coating from Winnie’s Blog
5. Fulfilling my love for all things orange is Searching for Spice with her Orange Buttermilk Cake with Marmalade Cream Cheese Frosting
6. My eldest has just been eyeing these Strawberry Mini Meringues up by Baking Queen 74 – Beautiful!
7. Hurray for a no mixed peel recipe for Spanish Saffron Cake from Chez Maxima

Entries are now open for next week’s Bake of the Week – I share all entries on Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest aswell as comments. Each entry also gets a link back on the following week’s roundup. If you enter a #Bakeoftheweek – feel free to tweet about it too so I can RT and spread the love.

Please also place the badge in your post:

Casa Costello
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Warm Sprout & Chestnut Salad – #FoodieFriday

warm sprout, chestnut, salad

I know! You’ve come for cake and I’m giving you salad! But before you run off, give it a go – You won’t get a tastier, heartier salad. This is my nod to healthy eating in January – Its definitely a diet free zone but at least features some veg.

Excellent for using up any leftover sprouts and shows that sprouts aren’t just for Christmas! (they’re for life!)

Warm Sprout & Chestnut Salad

Serves 2-3
Prep time 3 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 13 minutes
Meal type Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish, Snack
Misc Serve Hot
An alternative use for sprouts with this delicious warm salad. Served with sweet chestnuts and the saltiness of pancetta. Yum!


  • 500g Small Sprouts
  • 100g Whole Chestnuts
  • 100g Pancetta (Cubed)
  • 1 Pomegranate
  • 1 Round of bread (Cut into cubes)
  • 20g Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Parsley


Boil the Sprouts for 6 minutes until just soft
Fry the cubed pancetta until the fat has mostly broken down and starts to crisp up on the edges
Remove the pancetta from the pan & fry the bread in the remaining fat, until crispy croutons
Microwave the chestnuts for 2 minutes
Drain the sprouts and leave in the pan. Add the butter to the pan and allow to melt. Add the parsley and stir through.
Add the sprouts and butter sauce to a serving dish
Chop any large chestnuts into 2 and add to the dish with the sprouts
Add the pancetta and the croutons and add the pomegranate seeds
Serve immediately

I’m taking another turn at #FridayFoodie to give Otilia at Romanian Mum a well deserved break. Thanks so much to all you lovely people that entered your Christmas themed cooking in our last #FoodieFriday. We are still getting through sharing them all. Hope you all had a wonderful, tasty Christmas.

Because its a New Year, I’m stretching the rules and choosing my favourite 3 entries – They are all on my ever expanding list to make!

Congratulations to My Little Italian Kitchen, Tales from the Kitchen Shed & The Dream Baker – You are officially our Christmas Foodies!

foodie friday roundup

From left to right …Reindeer Cupcakes, Savoury Log with Salmon & Chocolate Peppermint Crisps

Casa Costello

Right, our link is open for our next #FoodieFriday party – I have chosen the theme Fruit & Vegetables, so if your post contains either then you are very welcome to take part. I was going to choose ‘Healthy’ but my dish wasn’t the healthiest – even so, if you are sharing a healthy dish this week, then you are most welcome to join that too! The link to add to your post is above.

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As usual, we will be sharing all posts on Pinterest, Twitter and Google+ – We will be commenting on them all too. If you tweet your entry, feel free to tag either me @CasaCostello or Otilia @RomanianMum and we will retweet.

Wishing you a lovely week and looking forward to seeing all your fruit & veg posts x

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

Christmas Recipes Round Up – #FoodieFriday

Its getting exciting now – Less than 3 weeks to go before the BIG DAY. I’ve still got tons to get sorted but can’t help my mind wandering to Christmas Food (to be fair, my mind is never that far away from food!)

This week’s #FoodieFriday them is all things CHRISTMAS – In fact we are going to be keeping the linky open for the next MONTH! Yes, you’ve got ages to be able to link up as many Christmas inspired recipe as you like. Whether they are savoury, baking, cakes, veggies or using up leftovers – they are all welcome here. The linky will remain open until Thursday 1st January 2015.

To celebrate I have compiled a list of my most favourite Christmas recipes that I have shared over the past couple of years – no surprise that they are mostly sweet – I do eat the odd sprout but don’t seem to have blogged about them.

christmas recipe roundup

In addition to the most recent recipes for Christmas Tree Cupcakes and Marzipan Puppy Chow, We also have one of my most favourite recipes ever – My Lemon Curd & Amaretto Trifle. The photo might be rubbish but the taste was magnificent – Definitely on the list to be made again this year.

I’m waiting impatiently for the children to break up from school so we can crack on with the real Christmas baking – Over the past year, I’ve really worked on my relationship with yeast so am much more confident about getting a light and airy Stollen – Even if it is rather flat like last years’ it will still be delicious!

stollen recipe no candied peel

My panforte will no doubt be making an appearance at the annual Costello Christmas party – I think last year we had a competition between my Auntie Linda’s panforte and mine. Couldn’t possibly tell you who won!

panforte recipe

Of course, we need the obligatory savoury recipe, my Oven Baked Turkey, Chestnut, Bacon & Prosecco Risotto – This was perfect on New Year’s Eve last year.

turkey, chestnut, oven risotto

If you run out of time or get unexpected guests, my Celebration popcorn is a perfect quick make!

white chocolate marshmallow pecan nuts sweet popcorn

Brilliant response to last week’s #FoodieFriday – There were some truly creative recipes and foodie posts.

I’ve picked 3 favourites to highlight …

foodie friday roundup

From left to right:
Spanakopita from In the Kid’s Kitchen – I love how this went down a treat with her children and everyone couldn’t help staring at her fussiest loving it. Every parent’s dream!
Seasonal Spanish Persimmon Jelly from All About You – So pretty – Any guests should be honoured to receive some of this.
First Apple Pie from Mami Tales – complete with a beautiful story of teaching her little one how to make an apple pie. A legacy that will last a lifetime.

Best of luck with all of your Christmas baking and cooking – I’m sure I’ll be sharing a few more in the next 3 weeks but in the meantime, feel free to add yours to the linky below. There is no theme – Just anything that is remotely Christmassy. Please add the badge to your post and if you could link back to Casa Costello and Romanian Mum, that would be fantastic. Old posts are fine as long as they contain the link. If you are inspired to do your own Christmas Foodie roundup, you are welcome to include it too!

Casa Costello
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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 …

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

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

Christmas Cupcakes – Bake of the Week

christmas tree cupcakes with a hidden surprise inside

I’ve enjoyed having a play with some Christmas Cupcakes this week. I’d forgotten how time consuming they can be though – and how quickly they get demolished in our house. These are batch 2 – The first lot got eaten before having their pictures taken, when I was out. Cardinal sin in the world of food blogging but amazing that it hasn’t happened before now with 3 kids!

I wanted to make something a little more challenging than ordinary Christmas cupcakes so made secret hidden stars inside of them – I did start with hidden Christmas Trees but didn’t fancy a green inside to my cupcakes and didn’t like that the Christmas design wasn’t really clear enough. I’m quite happy with the stars though – I used one of the kids old star cutters that isn’t that sharp on the edges so reckon that if you used a better cutter, the design would be even sharper.

How to bake a surprise star inside cupcakes

I was set a challenge by the Cake Decorating Store to come up with a Christmas cupcake design. Me being me, couldn’t leave it at just one design – after all, who wants just plain old trees? You must have a Santa too!(Santa cake toppers supplied by the Cake Decorating Store)

santa cupcakes

And so onto how to make the Christmas Tree Cupcakes with a surprise hidden inside.

I used my usual vanilla cupcake recipe. Line cupcake trays with cupcake cases and preheat the oven to 180C.

I took approximately 1/4 of the mix out and coloured it red with gel food colour.

Spread it out on a lined baking tray to a depth of about 5mm and bake at 180C for 3-4 minutes.

how to bake shapes inside cupcakes

AS soon as it comes out of the oven, cut out stars using a cutter. Press 2 stars together for the correct depth.

Spoon 1tsp of the plain cake mix into the bottom of each case then add the star.

Spoon the rest of the plain cake mix around and on top of the stars – make sure the star doesn’t fall over.

Bake at 180C for 18-20 minutes.

When cool, spread a thin layer of white frosting over the cupcake. (I used ready made frosting from the Cake Decorating Store)

Roll out a cone of marzipan and stick on top of the cupcake.

marzipan christmas trees

Colour some more frosting a pale green colour, and put in a piping bag. It doesn’t really matter what nozzle you use as long as it is fairly thin with a serrated edge.

Pipe little peaks from the top of the cone down, working evenly and leaving some peaks sticking quite proud.

Sprinkle over with tiny Christmas coloured sugar balls immediately before the frosting sets.


Bake of the Week Round UP

I know I’ve said it before, but I am absolutely gob smacked by how many wonderful bakers take part in Bake of the Week – I am so grateful for each and every one of you. We are almost up to 300 posts on our Pinterest board which is phenomenal. Thank You!

Because there were so many entries over the 2 weeks, I am stretching my own rules and choosing 3 featured bakes.

Olive, tomato & Herb Bread tree

My first is carrying on the Tree theme and is this wonderful Olive, Tomato & Herb Christmas Tree from Tales from the Kitchen Shed. What a fantastic idea for arranging and baking bread. On the blog, there is also a sweet version of this tree. Just wow!

choux cygnets

My next featured bake is from a baker that has 5 bakes entered into this week’s Bake of the Week, ET Speaks From Home – This lady knows how to work hard! Her Choux Cygnets are beautiful and so delicate. I’m also very jealous that she has been baking with Brendan of GNNO fame recently!

And I couldn’t leave this cute Owl Cake out. So simple yet really effective from Green Gourmet Giraffe

owl birthday cake

The linky is now open for your next Bakes of the Week – I’m catching up on all the comments and sharing of the posts at last! Please place the badge somewhere on your post to let people know you are one of the B of the W team. I comment, Pin, Tweet and Share on Google+ all entries. There is no theme, anything that you bake can be included.

Casa Costello
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Walnut Crusted Cod with Spicy Puy Lentils #HealthyTreats with Rennie

walnut crusted cod spicy puy lentils

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t eat cake EVERy day in our house. We do try to have a mix of good, healthy & nutritious food – especially this week in the run up to the National Synchro competition, when 50% are suffering with sore throats!

I have been asked to share a favourite #HealthyTreat recipe by Rennie. One in which contains as many natural ingredients as possible. When I think about eating healthily, I automatically want to make the food as tasty as possible – The last thing I want is for my mind to start thinking ‘diet’ and therefore ‘hungry’. I’m actually sharing 2 of my tastiest meals both of which contain spice for the ultimate in taste explosion.

I’m a big believer that what we eat past massively to how we feel. If I sense my girls are a bit ‘inside out’, out come the good, healthy recipes. I’m convinced that children’s behaviours and sleep are hugely affected by what they have eaten.

Walnut Crusted Cod with Spicy Puy Lentils

Serves 3-5
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Allergy Fish
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
Spicy Puy lentils jam packed full of vegetables served with a crunchy walnut crusted baked cod fillet


  • 3-4 Cod Fillets (Depending on size of fillets - Sometimes we get 5 small fillets out of this recipe)
  • 50g Walnuts (Crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons Wholemeal Breadcrumbs
  • 8 Basil Leaves (Finely Chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 200g Puy Lentils (Rinsed in cold water and drained)
  • 600ml Vegetable Stock
  • 1 Red Pepper (Chopped into small diced cubes)
  • 2 Sticks of Celery (Chopped into small cubes)
  • 1 Red Chilli (Finely Chopped)
  • 5 Small Tomatoes (Chopped into small chunks - No need to deseed)
  • 1 juice Lemon


Walnut Crusted Cod
Preheat the oven to 180C and line an oven tray with parchment paper.
Mix the Walnuts, Breadcrumbs and half of the basil leaves in a small bowl. Add a grind of black pepper.
Add the Olive Oil and stir through until the nut mixture is covered with the oil - It will still be crumbly
Press the nut mixture firmly on top of the Cod and bake for 35 minutes - the nut mixture should be just starting to turn golden and the cod still flaky
Spicy Lentils
Add the puy lentils to a pan (no lid needed) and pour over the stock. Bring to a slow boil and simmer for 25 minutes - They should be soft but still have a slight crunch texture
Add the celery to the lentils and allow to cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Add the pepper & chilli and continue cooking
Just before you are ready to serve, add the tomatoes and basil and stir through until heated
Serve in a bowl with the Cod on top and add the lemon juice at the last minute

My other #HealthyTreat recipe I want to share is one of my beloved soups – Just because you are trying to eat healthily doesn’t mean you need to eat watery soups. I get the illusion of a creamy soup by adding coconut milk which makes for some healthy luxury. Again, I add spice with a whole chilli (half if you want it very mild) and some cumin, which is my spice of the moment!

Spicy Cumin Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 24 minutes
Total time 34 minutes
Meal type Lunch, Snack, Soup
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Creamy Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash soup with a kick of chilli and cumin


  • 3 Large Sweet Potatoes (Peeled and chopped into cubes)
  • 200g Butternut Squash (Peeled and chopped into cubes)
  • 1 stick Celery (Chopped)
  • 1 Red Chilli (Finely Chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Veg Stock Powder
  • 500ml Water
  • 1 tin Coconut Milk
  • Pepper & Parsley to garnish


I use my soup maker to make this speedy soup however it is just as easy to make in a pan. Soften the veg, add the spices and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes. Blend using an electric whisk and finally add the coconut milk!


Put the Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, Chilli, Cumin powder, Celery, Stock & Water into your soup maker and cook on a smooth setting
Add the coconut milk at the end of cooking and either stir or whizz together to make sure fully combined
Serve immediately with a sprinkling of black pepper, sprig of parsley for decoration and some fresh crusty wholemeal bread

spicy cumin sweet potato soup

This post has been supported by Rennie®, but all thoughts are my own. I was reimbursed for any ingredients used in the making of this recipe. The recipe is an original CasaCostello recipe. I am entering the Walnut Crusted Cod recipe into a competition to win a variety of prizes offered by Rennie.

Joining in with Emily’s Recipe of the Week and Honest Mum’s Tasty Tuesdays and Supergoldenbakes’s Cook,Blog,Share

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