Hidden Pumpkin Cupcakes

The spookiest day of the year is now just around the corner, and while I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween, I love a good bit of baking, and I can’t believe I’ve never shared this recipe before!

With one of my cousins having her birthday on the 29th, I have been baking Halloween themed treats for her birthday parties for years now, and it was actually 5 years ago that I came up with these surprise centre cuties, and now you can make them too!

For 12-15 cupcakes, you will need:

  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 105g self-raising flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • Plus..
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 65g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 65g self raising flour
  • Orange food colouring
  • Orange flavouring (optional)
  • Green candy melts
  • Your favourite chocolate frosting

You’ll also need a cupcake tray and either a cake pop machine or a cake pop baking mould!

Pre-heat your oven to 190C and start by making your little pumpkin balls! Cream the 65g butter and caster sugar together, then whisk in the egg and add the flour. Once the mixture is smooth, add the orange food colouring and flavouring. Bake for 10 mins, or as per your cake pop machine’s instructions – I think mine takes about 6 mins!

Let these cool, and use the remainder of the ingredients to make the chocolate cupcake mix using the same method. Line a cupcake tray with cupcake cases, and place one orange cake ball in the centre of the case, then using a teaspoon, add chocolate mix around the edge of the pumpkin – its ok if the top of the pumpkin isn’t covered because the cake will rise around it!

Bake for 12-15 mins, and while baking, chop the candy melt buttons into thin strips – it doesn’t matter if these aren’t perfect! Once the cupcakes are done, let them cool for about 5 mins, then carefully push each little green strip into the centre of the pumpkin, and then allow them to cool fully before icing. I personally like to keep the icing simple so it doesn’t give away the surprise inside, but you can find your own style!

Then sit back and watch the amazement when your unsuspecting consumers discover they’ve just bitten into a pumpkin!

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Shiny Shoes and Street Food

On Friday, Matthew and I took a semi-spontaneous trip into London, having been in Luton in the morning for a job interview. We caught the train from Luton Airport Parkway into St Pancras, and after going to see Platform 9 3/4 in Kings Cross – rookie mistake during school summer holidays cos it was pretty crazy! – hopped on the tube to one of my favourite places in London: Covent Garden.

It was gone 2:30pm by the time we actually got there, so lunch was really first on the agenda, and we decided to forgo our usual go-to restaurants and instead we went to Wahaca – Matthew had been before and raved about it, and I was up for seeing if it was as good as he said it was. The Covent Garden branch is actually just a few roads outside of the main square, but the restaurant was easy to find and as soon as I stepped inside I was pretty excited by everything going on. The decor was fun, the whole place smelled amazing and the staff were super friendly from the offset which is always a huge plus for me.

The menu consists primarily of ‘street food’ options, which are smaller dishes designed for sharing around the table, and although there are some dishes which are supposed to be more like a main course, I wanted the proper experience. We ordered 6 dishes between the two of us:

  • Frijoles and tortilla chips – a creamy bean dip with crumbled cheese and a bucket of chips for dipping
  • Four cheese empanadas – two crispy, crunchy pastry parcels filled with the creamiest and stringiest cheeses
  • British steak tacos – three small tortilla tacos filled with chunks of steak and salsa
  • Buttermilk chicken baja tacos – two larger soft tortilla tacos filled with crispy fried chicken and salsa
  • Mexican style chorizo and potato quesadillas – two grilled tortilla ‘sandwiches’ filled with chorizo and crushed potato with cheese
  • Chicken club quesadillas – quesadillas filled with grilled chicken, lettuce and spicy salsa

All of the dishes are brought out as soon as they’re ready, so you can just dive into whatever comes first, and it was really fun to be able to pick and choose and share. My absolute favourite dish was the cheese empanadas, which I haven’t stopped thinking about since, but also the buttermilk chicken tacos and the chicken club quesadillas are both dishes that I would order again.

While we tried our best to finish, we didn’t quite clear our plates, partly because we wanted room for dessert. Again, we decided to share two options, ordering the churros and chocolate dip, and the salted caramel ice-cream, both of which were absolutely to die for! Fully fuelled for the rest of the day, we went back to Covent Garden and wandered around the shops, including the Moomin Shop where I met Moomin himself!

When we left Covent Garden, we headed for the Natural History Museum to fill a little bit of time, then walked down to another of our London must-dos, Ben’s Cookies, to pick up a selection box of our favourite cookies, then got the tube back to Victoria as that morning we had booked tickets to see Wicked at the Apollo Victoria.

It was Matthew’s first time seeing the show, having only heard Defying Gravity before, and while I had seen it once before, it has been probably about 8 years since I last saw the show. In fact, the first time I saw Wicked in London was when Idina Menzel was still playing Elphaba, and nothing will ever top that for me! That said, the show was amazing, and of course had me in tears on more than one occasion. Wicked was the first musical that I fell in love with, and Defying Gravity and For Good are two of my all time favourite songs from any musical, and back in the days where I was confident enough to sing on stage in front of an audience, I once performed I’m Not That Girl.

I don’t know if it was just the progression and development of the show over time, but I felt that watching it after so many years I found it funnier, but that could just be down to me being a little older and understanding more of the jokes. Honestly though, despite a love of all things musical theatre, Wicked will always have a special place in my heart and I was so happy to see it again after all this time.

While I might not have ruby slippers, my feet were pretty damn comfy in my gorgeous new rose gold trainers from Truffle on Asos. Would you believe I only paid Β£11 for them?! I took a risk wearing them for the first time ever for a day walking around London but I am blister free and there was not a single complaint all day! I don’t normally go for this sort of style of trainer – I’m a strictly Converses kinda gal – but I’m so glad I bought these, and let’s face it, they’re the ultimate blogger shoe – even Matthew keeps referring to them as my shiny blogger shoes haha! I think they’ve got back up to Β£14 on Asos now but I still think that’s a bargain for such comfy and pretty shoes!

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Cauliflower Crusted Chicken Nuggets

Do you ever have a real craving for something, decide to make it there and then, and then go to the kitchen and find your missing a vital ingredient? Well that was me last week. I have a homemade chicken nugget recipe that I’ve been using for years, and it was all I wanted to have for dinner.. Until I discovered I hate no breadcrumbs. Gutted.

I mooched over to the fridge to find alternative food options, and was greeted by the tub of cauliflower rice. Lightbulb. Twenty minutes later: happy Lottie with chicken nuggets.

Make them now, thank me later!

You’re gonna need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup cauliflower rice (I used the pre-made stuff you can get from most supermarkets now, but you can just blitz up your own in a food processer!)
  • 1 tbsp fine parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • Melted butter or a beaten egg yolk

Preheat your oven to 200C and cover a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

In a small bowl, mix together the cauliflower, cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper, and set to one side. Chop up your chicken breast into small nugget sized pieces, roughly 1 inch cubes!

If you’re using butter, now is the time to melt that, or beat up your egg yolk, then one piece at a time, dip the chicken into the butter/yolk, allow any excess to run off, then roll around in the cauliflower mixture.

Place each piece on the baking tray, leaving a little room between each nugget, and repeat until all of the chicken is covered. If you have any excess mix, you can use this to cover up any patches on any of the nuggets!

Bake in the oven for 12-15 mins, and be sure to check that the chicken is cooked through and juices are running clear.

Et voila – golden nuggets in less than 20 mins! Enjoy!

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Best Quick Service in Disneyland (That Don’t Serve Pizza or Burgers)

I love Disney park food. In fact, one of my favourite parts of planning a Disney trip is deciding where I’m going to want to eat in each park, whether its going back to my favourite restaurants or trying somewhere I’ve never been to before, and my trip to Disneyland back in May was definitely about trying out new places.

As there’s no such thing as dining plans in Disneyland, and being trying to do the trip as cheap as possible, this trip was going to be all about the quick service restaurants, and while I’m never one to complain about any kind of Disney food, when it comes to quick service its very easy to fall into the rotation of burger to pizza to chicken nuggets and back again. Sure, I’ll probably end up doing each of these at least once on a trip, but if you fancy something a little different, Disneyland has a bunch of gems serving incredible options when you’re in need of an energy boost.

Disneyland

Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe

The cutest little yellow cafe at the bottom of Main Street USA, options here range from sandwiches and salads, to tomato soup with grilled cheese, and also has a great selection of cute dessert options!

Bengal Barbecue

The ultimate place for jungle-cruisers to refuel, Bengal Barbecue is pretty famous among Disneyland fans for its incredible meat skewers.

Royal Street Veranda

I always forget that this restaurant exists (mainly because I’m rushing to get to Pirates of the Caribbean or staring wistfully up at the Dream Suite), but say hello to the place where you can get New Orleans classic dish, gumbo, served in a sourdough bread bowl!

French Market Restaurant

Just a little way along from Royal Street Veranda, and serving more New Orleans classics is French Market Restaurant; jambalaya, corn chowder, beans and rice and more!

Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port

Yes, I know I said places that don’t serve pizza, but Redd Rockett’s also has a great selection of pasta dishes on the menu if you’re looking to carb up for a long park day!

California Adventure

Flo’s V8 Cafe

Whether you want to skip the traditional Mickey waffle breakfast or cheeseburger lunch, Flo’s is the place to go! Breakfast ranges from brioche french toast to breakfast burritos, and lunch and dinner features ribs, rotisserie chicken and turkey dip sandwiches.

Cozy Cone Motel

For an on-the-go meal, why not grab a convenient bread cone filled with either bacon mac and cheese, beef chilli or chicken verde? Sally really knows how to feed her guests, and you’ll probably meet a famous car on the way in!

Pacific Wharf Cafe

Did you know there’s an actual sourdough bread factory in DCA? Pacific Wharf Cafe is attached to the bakery and serves a bunch of amazing options including sandwiches, and soup or salads served in their famous sourdough bread bowls.

Lucky Fortune Cookery

Just across the way from the bakery, you can grab an asian inspired rice bowl packed with veggies and a choice of either beef, chicken or tofu and your choice sauce. It even comes in a cute takeaway style box so you can carry your leftovers home!

Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill

Completing the trio of amazing food options in one place, Cocina shares the same seating area as PWC and LFC and serves flavoursome favourites from tacos and tamales to burritos.

What are your favourite places to eat in Disneyland?

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10 Things You Need to Know about Cove Bar

If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland and looking for the most Instagrammable places to eat or drink, then Cove Bar should probably be at the top of your list. Located on Paradise Pier in Disney’s California Adventure park, it boasts a menu of stunning cocktails as well as some pretty delicious looking food, and the most amazing views over Paradise Bay.

If I’ve just sold you, or it was already on your to-do list, here are a few things to know before you go!

There can be a really long wait, and someone has to stay in line

Depending on when you go, there can be a longer wait time than for some rides! When you get to the queue, a cast member will take a name and give you an idea on wait time, but at least one person from your party needs to stay in the queue the whole time, because if your group is called and you’re not there, then you’ve missed your chance!

You can choose where to sit

When you join the queue and give your name, the CM will ask you if you have a table preference, so if you want those Instagram worthy photos over the pier, be sure to ask for a waterside table. Other options include the bar and tables closer to the pierside.

The prettiest drinks aren’t on the menu

While you’ll be handed a menu by your server, be sure to check out the secret menu.Β This is where you’ll find Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Neverland Tea and more!

And the cutest drink isn’t even alcoholic

Don’t be put of visiting if you’re not that into cocktails, the cotton candy lemonade is so delicious and refreshing, plus who doesn’t want a lump of cotton candy in their drink?!

You can take drinks to go

If you want to sample the cocktails but don’t fancy the wait, you can order drinks to go. They come in plastic cups so aren’t quite so cute but I’ll bet they don’t taste any different!

Water is free-flowing

For obvious reasons, the servers are keen to keep all guest hydrated, so you’ll find your water glass topped up constantly.

There’s more than just cocktails on the menu

Although its famous for its cocktails and speciality drinks, there are some great lounge food options, including buffalo wings, sliders, nachos and more! I didn’t actually eat here, but I saw some of the food and it looked amazing and smelled SO GOOD.

Be sure to bring your passport

In the event of being ID’d, a UK driving licence isn’t acceptable in Disney. Your server may let you off, but I’ve had experiences where they have refused to accept anything but a passport, so I wouldn’t chance it.

Don’t be shy about taking photos

Literally everyone in the bar is trying to take those oh-so-Instagrammable photos, so don’t feel shy about holding your drink over the railing to get that perfect shot with the fun wheel in the background. Also if you’re not sat at a waterside table but want those photos, just get up and go over there – no one minds!

Please drink responsibly!

Servers have the right to refuse you at any time, and during my visit I saw a few guests that were probably about to get cut off.. Be sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated, especially in the summer months when its super warm!

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Blueberry Lemonade

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over a few attempts at making my own, life’s gotta give you a whole load of lemons before you can make much lemonade!

This recipe, however, is well worth squeezing a few lemons, and I know I’m gonna be making it over and over through the summer months because I could drink this all day!

You will need:

  • 5-6 lemons
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated or caster sugar

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with 250ml water and add the blueberries. Start to heat this over a medium heat.

While keeping an eye on the blueberry mixture, squeeze the lemons – preferably using a hand juicer to get the most juice out! You should be aiming for about 175-200ml.

After 3-4 mins of simmering, the blueberries in the pan should be broken down, and the liquid should be a nice purple colour. Remove the mixture from the heat, and drain using a fine sieve to ensure none of the skins or bitty bits get through. Let this cool down a little.

In a large jug, combine the lemon juice with 1.25 litres of cold water, then pour in the blueberry syrup and whisk to combine. Pop into the fridge to allow the mixture to fully cool, then serve over ice and enjoy!

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Tale As Old As Time Afternoon Tea at The Kensington Hotel

I might be a little late to the party, but on Sunday I finally had my opportunity to go to the Beauty and the Beast themed afternoon tea at The Kensington Hotel in London, having had it booked for months.

We arrived at the hotel about half an hour early, but due to a few cancellations they managed to get a table ready for us well before our set time – although a little miscommunication meant we were sat at our table for quite a while before someone actually came to take our drink orders. I’m not really a tea drinker, so despite a big selection of teas to choose from, I chose one that I knew would be a safe bet: Wild Rooibos.

The tea came out pretty quickly, and was followed with a plate of little appetisers – a mini cheese souffle, a little pie and little breaded ball of beef ragu – all three of which were delicious and I was a little sad to only get one of each because I could have eaten them 10 times over. Once our plates were cleared, the main event was brought out..

The tea stand was accompanied by Lumiere and Mrs Potts (who was filled with cream), and consisted of finger sandwiches, sweet baguettes and the gorgeous themed desserts on top. The sweet baguettes weren’t really my thing, but the sandwiches were good and I was primarily there for the desserts!

Inside the adorable little Chip teacups was the famous Grey Stuff, which was indeed delicious and my favourite of all the desserts. The Cogsworth tart was also incredibly cute but very very rich and had marzipan in it which I’m not a fan of, and having eaten both of the portions of Grey Stuff, I couldn’t quite finish him! There was also a little coconut macaron ‘snowball’, which was a nice light option, and finally a clear jelly containing the last rose petal.

After finishing the tea, we were brought a wrapped biscuit – which was iced to look like Belle’s ballgown – to take home, but with the tea room being fairly quiet, we ended up staying at least an hour after we’d finished eating. We were there for at least 3 hours, so definitely made an effort to get our money’s worth out of it!