Please visit my new website!!!

4 February 2016

Hi everyone, I'm just popping in to announce the launch of my new website -

It's all about making your life shine! I’m passionate about sharing my big (and little) life lessons to help and support others. I want to share all the wonderful things that make my heart sing, amazing things I’ve learned so far and what I’m still learning on my journey to peace, happiness and joy.
The last year has been a huge journey of self discovery for me. I’ve learned lots amazing practices to help me through stressful times and guide me to living my best life.

I started journalling last year and one of the pages asked me to write my life mission. After much contemplation and soul-searching, I decided mine was ‘to achieve happiness and peace and help others achieve happiness and peace’. So if you’re looking for more of those two things in your life, pop over to

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Oreo Chocolate Cake

25 September 2014

Oreo Chocolate Cake by
Every year, the company I work for takes part in the Macmillan World's Biggest Coffee Morning. I was very flattered to be asked to bake something for the cake sale and was only too happy to oblige.
But what to make this time? I wanted to make something that would be popular and from previous cake sales I know that my colleagues are complete chocoholics. Anything chocolately sells out in a flash.
After a bit of searching, Oreo Chocolate Cake caught my eye so I thought I'd do one... my way. So I merged my Chocolate Cake recipe with the frosting from my Oreo Cupcakes, threw some chocolate chips into the cake mixture and viola!
Oreo Chocolate Cake by

The only problem was, that when Oliver and Lydia saw it they wanted a slice. But I explained it was for work so they couldn't have any. Their little faces dropped so being the good mummy that I am, I ended up buying two slices of my own cake and bringing it home for them!
I had an ulterior motive though. I knew Lydia wouldn't eat a full slice so I would get to eat some! Plus it's a fantastic charity that I'm only too happy to support. Well the cake was absolutely delicious and sold out in 8 minutes, beating my previous record of 13 minutes! 

Oreo Chocolate Cake by

Oreo Chocolate Cake

Serves 12
Preparation time 30 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

50g cocoa powder
6 tablespoons boiling water
3 large eggs
100g softened butter
275g caster sugar
50ml whole milk
175g self raising flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
150g milk chocolate chips

400g Icing Sugar
100g butter {softened}
1tsp vanilla extract
4 tblsp whole milk
6 tblsp Oreo cookie crumbs
12 Mini Oreo's to decorate

Preheat oven to 180C {350F} gas mark 4. Grease two 20cm {8inch} deep cake tins and line the bases with baking paper.

Sift the cocoa powder into a large bowl, add the boiling water and mix together until it becomes a smooth paste. Add the eggs, butter, sugar and milk and beat with a hand held electric mixer until fully combined. Sift in the flour and baking powder and beat again until the mixture becomes a smooth thickish batter. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide the mixture equally between the prepared tins and pop in the oven for 25-30 minutes. The cakes will be ready when a skewer instered in the middle comes out clean and when gently pressed with a finger, the cake springs back. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting. Put the softened butter into a large bowl and sift in the icing sugar. Mix together by hand with a whisk until well combined and there are no lumps. Add two tablespoons of the milk and mix with a spatula until combined, add the other 2 tablespoons of milk and now mix with a hand held electric whisk. Whisk for 5 minutes on high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy. Tip the cookie crumbs into the frosting and fold in with a metal spoon.

Place one of the cakes onto a plate or cake board. Spread half of the frosting onto the cake then place the other cake carefully on top and spread the rest of the frosting onto the top and smooth with a pallet knife. Decorate with 12 mini Oreo's {or 6 full size Oreo's cut in half} and sprinkle some Oreo crumbs on top.
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Mixed Berry Pavlova

22 September 2014

Mixed Berry Pavlova //
When I made the Custard Tart a couple of weeks ago, the recipe called for 8 egg yolks. As I hate to see anything go to waste {don't we all?} I saved the egg whites in the freezer until I decided what to make with them.
I thought I'd let the public decide, so a few days ago I sent out a tweet asking for suggestions of what to make with egg whites. I got some great suggestions... lemon meringue pie, meringue kisses and chocolate mousse. But the overwhelming winner was Pavlova.
Great. I've never made Pavlova before, if fact I've never made meringue before. But I'm all for trying something new and I've always thought Pavlova looked pretty amazing.

Mixed Berry Pavlova //

So I made this Mixed Berry Pavlova today. I don't normally post a recipe on the same day I make it. It usually takes me a few days {or even weeks!} to write it up. But I'm so in love with this Pavlova that I had to share it straight away.
I made it today as my sister and nieces were coming for tea. I love cooking for my family and baking even more so. Maybe it's my way of showing them how much I love them!
My sister and I were hilarious eating this. All you could hear were hmmm's and mmmm's of delight interspersed with a few 'oh my God's! I think you get the picture. It was incredible. 

Mixed Berry Pavlova //
Mixed Berry Pavlova
Serves 8
Preparation time 20 minutes
Baking time 3-5 hours
7 egg whites
350g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
600ml double cream
3 tblsp icing sugar
Mixed berries - strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
1 Cadbury's Flake, crushed
Preheat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2. Draw a circle on a piece of baking paper {I drew round a 9" plate}. Turn the paper over and place on a large baking tray.
Make sure your bowl is spotlessly clean and dry. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks then beat in the sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking well between each spoonful. When all the sugar has been combined, add the cornflour and white wine vinegar and whisk again for about a minute. The meringue should now be thick and glossy and the sugar should have completely dissolved. If you squeeze a tiny bit of meringue between your finger and thumb you should not be able to feel any grains of sugar.
Spoon the meringue onto the baking paper and spread with a spatula to fill the circle. Turn the oven down to 120C/gas mark 1. Pop in the oven for 3 hours, then turn off the oven and leave the meringue in to cool completely.
To assemble, whip the cream with the icing sugar until it forms soft peaks. Carefully transfer the meringue to a large serving plate. Top with the whipped cream and then the mixed berries. Lastly crumble the flake over the top.
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Casa Costello

Easy Banoffee Trifle

19 September 2014

Banoffee trifle //

Last week my little Lydia started nursery. It's the nursery that's part of Oliver's school. I try not to get nostalgic about these things but I just can't help thinking that this time next year she'll be starting school. 

God, my baby at school, with a proper uniform and stuff. 

Anyway back to nursery. I was a bit worried about Lydia starting. More so than when Oliver went to the same nursery. Oliver is confident and outgoing and makes friends so easily. Lydia on the other hand is a sensitive soul who likes to suss people out before she even talks to them {she's just like me!}. She's got a feisty side to her though and will totally stick up for herself if she has to. But all the same, I was worried about how she'd settle in.

She's been at nursery a week now and naturally, is still getting used to it. Every day she tells me that she's cried a couple of times, because she either wanted me or her teddy. But in the next breath, she's telling me she loves it there. 

We had a chat about nursery yesterday and she told me a few little things which were worrying her so we talked through it and today was a good day with no tears. I think it might have helped that she saw Oliver in the playground today!

As a treat for such a good day for Lydia and Oliver settling into year 1 so well, I rustled up this delicious Banoffee Trifle for dessert. I'm not joking saying I rustled it up! It's that quick and easy. I had all the ingredients in the cupboard but if you want to make it harder from scratch, you could make your own custard and dulce de leche.

Both kids love anything banana-y so I knew it would be popular and I wasn't wrong! 

Banoffee trifle //

Banoffee Trifle

Serves 6
Preparation time 15 minutes

Banana cake {shop bought or you can use my recipe here and leave out the choc chips}
397g dulce de leche or Carnation Caramel
500g ready-made custard
2 bananas
Juice of 1/2 lemon
300ml double cream
Milk chocolate curls for decorating

Peel and thinly slice the bananas and toss in the lemon juice.

Cut the cake into 2.5cm squares and arrange over the bottom of the trifle dish. 

In a large bowl, whisk the dulce de leche/caramel until it's smooth then fold in the custard. Pour this over the cake and place the sliced bananas on top.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Spoon on top and smooth with a spatula.

Sprinkle the chocolate over the top of the trifle.

Depending on the depth of your trifle dish you can make this in one or two layers but only put he cream on the top layer. If you don't have a trifle dish, make individual trifles in wine glasses... I mean, everyone has wine glasses don't they?!

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Tiramisu Cupcakes

17 September 2014

Tiramisu Cupcakes /

I was supposed to make these Tiramisu cupcakes a few weeks ago. They were inspired by Mary Berry's Tiramisu cake which was the technical challenge of dessert week on the Great British Bake Off. My plans went out of the window that week though, as I was caught up with making the Rapunzel cake for my niece. 

Anyway, I eventually got round to making them yesterday and I wish I'd made them sooner. I love Tiramisu and these are a fantastic cakey version. They taste amazing! 

Tiramisu Cupcakes /

I could easily have eaten all 12 but I'm still doing Slimming World so I only allowed myself half of one {that one there in the photo above!} My parents took two, I'm saving two for my sister and the rest will be going to work tomorrow. Lucky them!

Tiramisu Cupcakes /

Tiramisu Cupcakes

Makes 12
Preparation time 30 minutes
Baking time 20 minutes

80g unsalted butter, softened
280g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
240g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
240ml whole milk

250ml strong coffee
75ml Kahlua/Brandy/Tia Maria {whichever you've got}
3 tbsp caster sugar

400g Mascarponne cheese
50ml Kahlua/Brandy/Tia Maria
300ml double cream
30g icing sugar
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5, and line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases.

Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until fully combined. Add the salt and baking powder, sift in half the flour and beat on a low speed until the flour disappears. Add half the milk and beat again. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk until the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the paper cases, filling them up to two-thirds. Pop in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes. When they're ready they'll be springy to the touch and a skewer inserted in the middle will come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Make the soaking syrup. Pour the coffee and Kahlua {or Brandy/Tia Maria} into a saucepan and stir in the sugar. Place the pan on the hob and bring to the boil. Keep boiling until the liquid has reduced by about half, then take off the heat and leave to cool.

To make the frosting beat the mascarpone and Kahlua {or Brandy/Tia Maria} with an electric whisk until it's smooth. In a separate bowl whisk the cream with the icing sugar until it forms soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture so that it's evenly mixed in. 

When the cupcakes have completely cooled, use a sharp knife to cut a piece about 2cm wide by 3cm deep out of each cupcake. Pour 1-2 teaspoons of the syrup into the hollow of each cupcake. Fill each hollow with 1 teaspoon of the mascarpone cream, then dip the cut out piece into the syrup and put it back on top of the hole -  you might need to trim the sponge pieces slightly to fit. 

Finally, pipe or spoon the rest of the mascarpone cream onto the cupcakes and dust lightly with cocoa powder.
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K for Kahlua!