Amazing Pumpkin Parmesan Dip

Pumpkin Parmesan Dip

Another fantastic centrepiece for a party, a pumpkin filled with Pumpkin Parmesan Dip looks great and is versatile for crackers and veggies alike. You can adjust the amount of parmesan, or even substitute for a cheese you prefer – I can’t imagine there’ll be too much difference to the end result.

Pumpkin Parmesan Dip

My kids are particularly antsy about raw garlic – they can pick it out of anything – so if you prefer, you can saute the garlic for three minutes at 100C. I only do that if I’m making it, especially for my children.

Pumpkin Parmesan DipI decided to put the dip into a bowl and hover the bowl inside the mouth of the pumpkin. I don’t know if that’s necessary or if you can just put it in the pumpkin, but I decided it would be easier in this instance to keep cool, and that the pumpkin itself was reusable for a number of days and other recipes if not. Also, if you’re particularly skilled at carving (I’m not!) a fake candle inside, under the dip could look very pretty too.

Pumpkin Parmesan Dip Recipe:

Amazing Pumpkin Parmesan Dip
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
To cook the pumpkin, add 400 - 500 g chopped raw pumpkin to the internal steamer. Fill water to the 1-litre mark. Thermomix® 15 minutes/Varoma/speed 4. Once finished, leave to drain and cool for a while before making the dip
Serves: 600g
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 50g parmesan
  • 100g cream cheese (I use full fat)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400 - 500g cooked pumpkin
Thermomix® Instructions
  1. Add 1 clove garlic 5 seconds/ speed 5
  2. Add parmesan 10 seconds/speed 10
  3. Add cream cheese, paprika, salt and cooked pumpkin 30 seconds/ speed 4
  4. Scrape down sides 1 minute/ speed 10
  5. Set aside to firm up again, and serve
Regular Instructions
  1. Finely chop the garlic, or crush it and add to a food processor
  2. Grate parmesan and add to the garlic.
  3. Add cream cheese, paprika,salt and cooked pumpkin
  4. Mix following your food processors instructions till it's all well blended and smooth.
  5. Set aside to firm up again, and serve.

Try these Halloween recipes too!

The cheese biscuits in the images are round versions of these cheese straws.


Beach Buckets, Spades And Cake Pops

I know leftover cake is a bit of a foreign concept in most cases, but after making the Vegan Chocolate Cake the other day, we had loads left over. We could of course just sit down and eat it, but we had one of those days here today and I decided my kids and I needed a party for three. It was misty and cold and overcast for most of the day too, so we had to bring the beach indoors.

I recently bought these fun bucket and spade silicone cups that you can bake your cakes in, but I thought we could go with the cake pop idea instead.

At least it gave my kids something to do rather than bicker and argue for a few minutes!Beach bucket and spade cakes

There are no specific amount here because, well, it’s leftover cake!

Roughly, though – half a cake, a small amount of icing sugar, and a sand-coloured biscuit and you’re set.

beach sand buckets

Put equal amounts of butter and icing powder in a mixing bowl and mix till it looks like icing, a minute or two is normally sufficient.  (Thermomix®: 2 mins/speed 4) A good start is 50g butter and 50g icing sugar.

Add the cake to the bowl and crumb by hand or in the Thermomix®, mix at speed 5 for 30 seconds.

Spoon the mixture into the buckets and squish it flat to compact it.

In a clean bowl, crumb some sandy-coloured biscuits – in the Thermomix®, that’s 10 seconds on speed 5. I used the honey-waffle biscuits, but anything that colour will do and you need only one or two biscuits per bucket.

Spoon the ‘sand’ over the compacted cake – it’s a bit like cake pop consistency – and stick your spade in it.


Party for three

With the left over left overs we made cake pops by forming balls and rolling it around in the sandy coloured biscuit crumbs before putting them on sticks. I popped a little love note in a jar for each of my girls for a ‘message in a bottle’, put the cake pops in and there we have it:

Left over cake for a party of three (or however many you need!)


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Casa Costello

Brie & Cranberry Bites

Brie & Cranberry BitesYou know it’s Christmas time when the brie and cranberry starts coming into play. It’s not something we have a lot of at home as my other half isn’t a fan, but brie is the only thing I ever craved in pregnancy!

Come Christmas time, I often find myself simply short of time, and in a hurry. While I’d normally make my own shortcrust pastry – with the Thermomix® it’s just so easy – but sometimes it’s really good to be able to grab a roll of ready rolled pastry and have your snack ready in 20 minutes.

(Do yourself a favour and get an all butter pastry though. They’re so much better!)

Brie & Cranberry Bites
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I haven't put much by way of measurements into this recipe since it'll depend on your personal tastes, to a large extent, and how much you're planning on making. A single sheet of 300g pastry will make roughly 18 bites.
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 18
  • 300g short crust pastry
  • 150g Brie
  • Cranberry sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Roll the pastry to a thin and even layer.
  3. Cut the pastry into 18 squares - rounds will do fine too.
  4. Place each square into a muffin case and cook for 15 - 20 minutes until golden brown.
  5. In the meantime, slice brie into squares large enough to fit inside the muffin trays.
  6. As the pastry comes out of the oven, while it's still piping hot, drop the brie onto it so that it begins to melt. Top with the cranberry sauce.
  7. These are best served hot, but can be eaten cold too.


Five Easy Princess Party Food Ideas

We celebrated my daughter’s fifth birthday this weekend past, and she had her heart set on a Princess party, which is ironic because she’s never really watched any of the original princess movies or read the books. It must be something inherent in girls!

In choosing foods to suit the Disney Princess theme, I had to look closely at the stories, and here’s what I came up with:

1. Snow White’s Poisoned Apples

5 Very Easy Princes Party Food Ideas

Well, that could not have been easier. 

Buy red apples. Polish them up a bit. Put them in a bowl. Job done.

I didn’t expect the kids would really eat them, to be honest, but every last apple was eaten by the end of the party!

2. Cinderella’s Pumpkin Patch

5 Very Easy Princes Party Food Ideas

Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother turns her pumpkin into a carriage, and mice from the field into horses. What simpler way to recreate pumkins, especially in the Autumn months, than using clementines! Peel them, and remove as much of the pith as you can, and they look like little pumpkins. Cut a stalk of celery into the ‘stalks’ for the pumpkins and stuff them inside. Again, the kids devoured these!

For the mice, use two meringues, stuck together with melted white chocolate. I cut pink marshmallows ‘slices’ with scissors as that shapes them, and stuck them to the meringues. With more time on my hands, I’d have used the white chocolate on them too as the ears kept falling off. I used a black food pen for eyes and whiskers on some of the mice, before one of the kids ran off with it and I had to use a blue gel pen for the rest. Suffice it to say the black looked less creepy. But it worked okay enough.

3. Belle’s Portrait Gallery

5 Very Easy Princes Party Food Ideas

We’ve  subscribed to the Disney Cakes and Sweets series from the very beginning, but I realised recently that you can actually buy individual books too, if you want to, and those also come with the beautiful moulds and baking bits that we used. 

For these, I used about 8 blocks of white chocolate at a time, melting them in a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water. If you use a Thermomix®, you can do it on 37C for perfectly tempered chocolate too.

Add a drop or two of food colouring, as needed, and allow to set. Obviously doing this three shapes at a time is tedious, but it’s worth it in the end. I visualise these as a series of paintings, waiting to be hung on a wall! These Beauty and the Beast moulds are from issue 52 and cost £3.99

4. Crown sandwiches

5 Very Easy Princes Party Food Ideas

These are also from Disney Cakes and Sweets, issue 17 [also £3.99], but you can pick up various versions around the web.

Again, easy and quick to do too. Butter your bread, and put the filling on, and press down to cut the shapes. My husband always moans that there’s a lot of waste with these, but I don’t think there really is. If you imagine most little people don’t eat the crusts anyway, you can often lay your shapes out in such a way to minimise the wastage.

We did sandwiches with ham, some with cheese, a few with cucumber and cream cheese and some salmon. I also made a tea for the adults, just cutting each sandwich into five ‘fingers’. They went down quite well too!

5. Aurora’s (Lemon)ade

5 Very Easy Princes Party Food Ideas

Aurora, the made up name for Sleeping Beauty, needs saving, so who will come to her aid? She is also the only original princess who wore a pink dress, so it seems fitting that a pink drink is named for her.

I discovered a beautiful naturally pink lemonade recipe, which I’ll share soon.

I hope those five easy Disney Princess party food ideas are helpful and take some pressure off on party day!

5 Very Easy Princes Party Food Ideas