6 Treats to Cook and Bake this Halloween

Get ready to be the Hot House on the Trick or Treaters Hit List…
6 Treats to Cook and Bake this Halloween - The Cardiff Cwtch

Happy *almost* Halloween from this incredibly ferocious maneating(/cuddling) lion and I! Last year I spent Halloween out in Florida. Sunny and I crashed a costume party dressed up as Spongebob Squarepants and a Pineapple (I drew the short straw on that one…), went to a pumpkin patch (in 90° Floridian heat…), experienced an All Hallows Eve straight out of Hocus Pocus with lots and lots of Trick or Treaters, and just generally had an amazing time experiencing Halloween across the pond. But – obviously – I missed Bungle; he absolutely LOVES Halloween because we get lots and lots of visitors (his favourite thing), and he tends to get a lot of extra attention especially when we dress him up. I’m excited to be home for Halloween this year, but I’ve been really lazy getting myself organised for it. I finally got around to picking up a couple of pumpkins and some sweets for the Trick or Treaters this morning (hopefully I can resist and not end up scoffing them between now and Thursday night…), but I’m not going to have time to do any baking this week or come up with a brand new, Halloween-inspired recipe – so instead, here are six spooky recipes from the archives that are frightfully good (…yeesh). 😉

6 Treats to Cook and Bake this Halloween - The Cardiff Cwtch6 Treats to Cook and Bake this Halloween - The Cardiff Cwtch

Spooky Doooooooooonuts

Halloween Doughnuts, Spooky Doughnuts for Halloween - The Cardiff Cwtch

If you’ve never made doughnuts at home before then you’ll honestly be blown over by how easy they are to make – especially if you’ve got a breadmaker or mixer with a dough hook. These Spooky Doooooonuts (see what I did there?) are almost too cute to eat, and are the perfect treat to take along to a Halloween Party or have next to the door once the Trick or Treaters really get going. Once you’ve fried the doughnuts, all you need is a bit of royal icing and some chocolate gel to pipe on the eyes – easy peasy! And I defy you not to laugh every time you offer someone a *spooky voice* doooooooooonut. 🙂

Bloody Beetroot Freaky Fries

Halloween Freaky Fries, Beetroot Freaky Fries - The Cardiff Cwtch

These Bloody Beetroot Freaky Fries wouldn’t be out of place at Dracula’s Halloween Shindig or whatever party Hannibal Lecter’s throwing this year; the beetroots are sweet, the bacon’s salty, the sriracha gives everything a little kick, and the cheese… well, I don’t need to sell you on melted cheese, do I?  Also – bonus – cooking these will make you look like you’ve slaughtered someone; handling the beetroot is bloody messy – you’ve been warned!

Leftover Pumpkin Traybake

Leftover Pumpkin Traybake - The Cardiff Cwtch

Hands up if you’ve ever thrown away all the guts after carving your pumpkin. Yup, me too. I think we’ve all been there; you get all excited to carve up your pumpkin, scoop out all the flesh and where does it all go? In the food bin. What a waste! This year, why not put all the good stuff to good use and whip up this very, very easy Leftover Pumpkin Traybake which not only makes use of the pumpkin flesh, but also the seeds to make a crunchy topping.

Bag o’ Bombs Doughnuts

Halloween Donut Holes - The Cardiff Cwtch

Trust me, learning how to whip up your own dozen doughnuts is just as DANGEROUS as a real bag o’ bombs. Once you’ve got the recipe for the dough down, you’ll be making them all the time! These Fresh Doughnut Holes are the perfect snack to take along trick or treating – especially when they’re warm and covered in cinnamon sugar. If you’re feeling creative, fill them with jam (blood) or even chocolate – if you can get hold of some Cadburry’s Scream Eggs, then you can even turn these Cream Egg-filled Doughnuts into Halloween Flavoured ones!

Teacake Cupcakes

Marshmallow Hi-Hat Teacake Cupcakes for Halloween - The Cardiff CwtchMarshmallow Buttercream Hi-Hat Teacake Cupcakes for Halloween - The Cardiff Cwtch

All the American bakers out there will probably recognise these as “Hi-Hat” cupcakes, but for the uninitiated Brits – let’s just call them Marshmallow Teacake Cupcakes – just normal cupcakes with the added bonus of a marshmallow tea cake (/poo emoji) perched on top. With a little bit of strategic freezer time to allow the marshmallow buttercream to set before they get dunked in their chocolate coating, they’re a snap to make – and with a plate of these waiting by the door you’re bound to be the most popular house on the block! 😉

Werewolf Poop (Chocolate Brigadeiros)

Werewolf Poop, Werewolf Droppings - Halloween Recipes - The Cardiff Cwtch

If you’ve never heard of Brigadeiros before then all you need to know is that they’re the easiest chocolate truffle you’ll ever make. Four ingredients, a little hob time and a fridge is all you need to make them. They’re a little bit different from usual truffles – they’re a bit gooey and kind of a cross between caramel and soft fudge, but those are all good qualities in my book and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that these are dangerously delish. Dress them up as Werewolf Poop and you’ve got a very easy Halloween Treat to tempt the neighbourhood with.

Happy Halloween everyone! Have a good one! 🎃 🎃 🎃

Roasted Butternut Curry

The cosiest curry you’ll ever make…
Roasted Butternut Squash Curry - The Cardiff Cwtch

How many pairs of boots is too many, would you say? Especially for someone living in Wales where on the rainy scale it’s anywhere from mildly damp to soaked through to your knickers soggy for at least 9 months of the year. I’ve got three pairs and according to my husband, that’s two pairs too many. Oh, and that’s not including the wellies (whole other category, I think you’ll agree) that I trudge around in every single day on the dog walk. I mean, they’re an Autumn staple right? They’re brilliant because they’re easy; throw on a pair and you’re good to go. No fuss, no muss. And you know you’re going to need at least a few different pairs bashing around at the bottom of your cupboard to cover every single weather situation and occasion that Autumn/Winter slings at you. I mean, they’re kind of the fashion equivalent of a slow cooker or casserole recipe; cosy, reliable, minimal effort.

It’s about that time of year that – along with your boots – you’re probably fishing out your favourite crock pot out of the back of the cupboard (hopefully you don’t keep both in the same cupboard, that would be weird…). Friendly reminder; the clocks are going back this weekend, and yep, it’s the good one. You know, the one where you get an extra hour in bed on Sunday. The one where you utter the words, “Bloody hell, it’s really dark outside” when you tune into the new Attenborough documentary at six-ish (…Honestly, the penguin episode of last year’s offering almost broke me – I don’t know whether I can handle a second helping…). The one where you realise that the extra hour was actually totally pointless when you wake up an hour too soon on Monday morning. Pfft. It’s going to start getting a lot gloomier in the evenings and – like me – I’m sure you’re going to start hunting down a few easy, one pot, just “bung it in the oven” kind of recipes to see you through the winter.

I love a good curry this time of year, but honestly? Sometimes I just can’t be bothered with all that faffing around on the hob cooking it up. Well, here’s a way to whip up a very simple, very tasty veggie curry in the oven (or the slow cooker, if you’ve got one). 🙂

Easy One Pot Roasted Curry - The Cardiff Cwtch

Roasted Butternut Curry

Creamy and warming, the perfect curry for a cosy night in…
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp of garlic paste
  • 2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 300g butternut squash chunks (I LOVE Strong Roots’ bag of frozen roasted butternut squash)
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • fresh coriander to serve
  • salt and pepper to season
Roast Butternut Curry - The Cardiff Cwtch
  1. First, grab a casserole or roasting dish and set your oven to 160°C. Pour the vegetable oil into the dish, along with the garlic and ginger paste, ground coriander, cumin, garam masala, turmeric and curry powder. Mix it all together to make a paste.
  2. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and chilli flakes, and then stir everything together to create the curry sauce. Next, throw in the butternut squash chunks, sliced onion and diced pepper, and then stir well to coat them with the sauce.
  3. Pop the dish in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Take the dish from the oven and pour in the coconut milk – stirring until everything is well-combined. Season with salt and pepper, then return the dish to the oven to cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Scatter with chopped, fresh coriander and serve with basmati rice. 🙂
Winter Butternut Squash Curry - The Cardiff Cwtch

Seriously, how many pairs of boots is too many? I’m curious! Have a great weekend! 🙂

5 “Fakeaways” to try This Week

Did somebody say “Just… Make it Yourself”? Oooooh!
5 Easy Fakeaway Recipes - The Cardiff Cwtch

Alright, alright – I know that trudging off to the kitchen and just cooking something yourself kind of defeats the whole object of a Takeaway, but y’know what, sometimes there’s the rare evening where you really fancy takeaway food but just don’t want to fork out for delivery (…because *maybe* you forked out on a brand new silk shirt earlier in the week – naming no names, itwasme). Maybe you planned for a takeaway, but – boo – it’s that one day of the week where your local’s closed. Maybe you’re on a healthy eating kick and the thought of the obligatory oil slick at the bottom of an Indian takeaway pot puts you just a little bit on edge. Or, maybe you just fancy cooking something from scratch. Hey, it can happen!

You can’t beat a well-timed Takeaway, but then again, a quick and easy homemade dupe – a “Fakeaway” – can be just as satisfying. With that in mind, I’ve trawled the archives to find five of my favourite homemade takeaway dupes, most of which can be whipped up pronto tonto using ingredients bashing around in the back of your cupboard or the bottom of your freezer using a few nifty shortcuts. No delivery charges, no grease. Noice! 🙂

Cheat’s Mango Chicken

Easy Mango Chicken Fakeaway Recipe - The Cardiff Cwtch

I think this quick and easy recipe for Mango Chicken has to be top of the pops (in my book, anyway) when it comes to a good Fakeaway. If you’ve got twenty minutes to spare, some frozen chicken nuggets and a jar of mango chutney banging around at the back of your cupboard, then you’re sorted. Sweet, sticky and oh so satisfying, give it a glow-up with some diced, fresh mango and sliced green onions – and you can even swap out the chicken nuggets for quorn or battered cod if you’re so inclined. Yum!

Easy Green Thai Noodle Soup

Green Thai Noodle Soup - Homemade Takeaway Recipes - The Cardiff Cwtch

Do you remember those cheapo packets of instant noodles from the supermarket? The basic ones that came with a little flavour sachet in either chicken, vegetable or curry flavour? I used to be absolutely obsessed with them when I was in sixth form (many, many years ago when I knew how to cook instant noodles, scrambled egg and that was about it – good times!) – they cost about 30p a pack (back then!) and made such a quick and easy lunch. Well, believe it or not, they’re the star of this show. The flavour sachet makes a cracking base stock for this Green Thai Noodle Soup, along with a can of coconut milk and Thai Green Curry Paste. Thow in some spring greens and a few sliced mushrooms, and you’re done!

Korean Chicken Dak-Galbi

Easy Homemade Korean Takeaway - Stripped Back Simple Dak Galbi - The Cardiff Cwtch

I’m still very much a beginner when it comes to Korean Food, but what I’ve tried so far I absolutely love – and if you’re a fan of chilli-based Asian food then I’m sure you will too. Dak-Galbi is basically Korean Pub Food. You’ll need to get your hands on a jar of Gochujang Chilli Paste (usually to be found on Amazon) which makes up a big part of the sweet and spicy sauce, but everything else is pretty simple and creates a cracking mid-week recipe to pull out of the bag for whenever you fancy a stir-fry that’s a little bit different.

Spicy Singapore Noodles

Takeaway at Home Recipes - Easy Singapore Noodles Recipe - The Cardiff Cwtch

I can’t order a Chinese Takeaway without a super spicy serving of Singapore Noodles making the list. For me, the bright yellow, curried vermicelli is a must-order, and even better blitzed in the microwave for lunch the following day. It’s such a favourite of mine that I had to learn how to make it myself. As long as you’ve got a pack of dried noodles (rice are obviously best, but use whatever you’ve got/fancy), some curry powder, rice wine and soy sauce then you can whip up the marinade in no time. In terms of veg and meat (or no meat), it’s entirely up to you what you throw into the wok. A great recipe for making using of what you’ve got.

Sticky Honey Chicken

Fabulous Fakeaways - Sticky Honey Chicken - The Cardiff Cwtch

Here’s a new way to scoff the classic chicken dipper (although this recipe would be just as good with quorn or, hey, even some diced halloumi would work well). The hardest part of this recipe for Sticky Honey Chicken is whipping up the sauce – but even that’s a doddle, and can be made ahead of time using a few bottled ingredients in your cupboard. Once the chicken and rice are cooked, it takes less than ten minutes to put together – the perfect Fakeaway solution to a Monday night in!

Let me know what your favourite takeaway (or Fakeaway!) meal is in the comments below – I’m always looking for new recipes to try out! Have a great week! 🙂

Sticky Apple-filled Cinnamon Buns

“My Anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hon…”
Easy Apple Cinnamon Buns - The Cardiff Cwtch

So, I’ve gotten a bit obsessed with Conspiracy Theory Podcasts. I know, I know! See, my favourite women’s history podcast (Queens, in case you’re wondering – it’s completely brilliant) is kind of between episodes at the moment and so I went hunting for something else to listen to on the morning dog walk (read: muddy trudge in the drizzle to the local park). I found an episode about Amelia Earhart and conspiracy theories concerning her disappearance (THE WOMAN JUST VANISHED) and woops! I kind of fell down a hole. But you know what? They’re kind of perfect listening for gloomy Autumn days and even darker nights in. A bit of history, a lot of mystery… and, sometimes – yeah – a heavy helping of nonsense.

But what do Conspiracy Theory Podcasts have to do Cinnamon Buns, I hear you asking. Absolutely nothing. Except for the fact that they seem to be soundtracking most of my cooking and baking at the moment. For example, as I was baking these very sticky buns the other day, I was listening to a couple of episodes talking about how the Sugar Industry for a long time secretly fiddled scientific studies to throw the blame on fat for Heart Disease instead of sugar. If you’ve got any recommendations on podcasts, I’d love to hear them; I’m always looking for something new to listen to in between episodes of The High Low and Queens. 🙂

Anyway, Cinnamon Buns! I mentioned last week that I’m a big fan of sticky buns in all their forms, but the cinnamon variety are a favourite of mine – especially this time of year. I usually pick up one on my weekly shop as a treat to scoff with a cup of tea when I get back, but I hadn’t quite cracked making them myself. Historically, I’m not the best at baking bread; I’m impatient when it comes to kneading the dough, and even though I’ve got a bread maker to do all the hard work for me – the instant yeast it requires never really creates the pillow-soft dough I’m after. Then last year I started experimenting with Dried Active Yeast and had a bit of a breakthrough on the whole process of making homemade bread when I made this Halloumi Loaf (HEAVEN). Having got the knack of kneading and proving, I moved straight on to buns and finally managed to put together an easy Cinnamon Bun recipe that worked (thanks to The Guardian Food How-To section – always a great place to start when you’re looking to develop your own twist on a classic recipe). A sweet, springy dough perfect for rolling around the sticky cinnamon filling. These doughy buns however, are a little bit extra thanks to the added apple – an easy addition that gives the buns a little something special. Top with whatever topping you fancy – whether that’s cream cheese frosting, sugar glaze, or the cinnamon-spiced icing I went for here – and scoff ideally within a couple of days. As with most homemade bakes, they’re best scoffed fresh out of the oven. 🙂

Apple filled Cinnamon Rolls easy - The Cardiff Cwtch

Sticky Apple-filled Cinnamon Buns

Sticky, doughy and full of cinnamon-spiced apple pie filling. What’s not to like?
Ingredients
  •  3 apples (any variety you fancy)
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 300 ml whole milk
  • 15g dried active yeast
  • 50g melted butter (cooled)
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 420g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Pie Filling - The Cardiff Cwtch
Method
  1. First things first, make the filling. Peel and finely chop the apples – then boil them in water for about 20 minutes, until they’re soft. Get rid of the water, then mash them. Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon, then set aside and leave to cool.
  2. Gently bring the milk to the boil with the ground cardamom. Pour into a mixing bowl, leave it to cool slightly (down to about 37°C) and then sprinkle in the yeast. Put the bowl somewhere warm (I like to pop mine in the airing cupboard!) until the yeast has dissolved and activated (you should see some bubbles or foam forming over the surface of the milk).
  3. Next, stir in the melted butter, sugar and egg.
  4. Gradually pour in the flour and salt, mixing together to make a sticky dough.
  5. Next, knead the dough. If you’ve got a fancy dough hook on your mixer, use that – if not, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves to get to work. I don’t like to add anymore flour, so the dough will be really sticky and impossible to work with at first – but stick at it (stick being the operative word!) and slowly everything will come together to create a smooth, pliable, stretchy dough.
  6. Pop it into a clean, lightly-greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and then leave the dough to double in size in a warm place for about an hour.
  7. Set the oven to 200°C.
  8. Next, roll out the dough into a rectangle about a centimetre thick – then spread with the apple filling. Roll it tightly into a sausage shape, then cut into six equally sized buns. Place the buns into a lined, deep baking tray. Bake for 25 minutes until well-risen and golden, then leave to cool.
  9. Top with cream cheese frosting or icing, then scoff! 🙂
Easy Cinnamon Bun Recipe with Apple Filling - The Cardiff Cwtch

Happy Friday everyone! 💛

Laundry Room Makeover

Spaghetti Stain Removals, but make it stylish…
Laundry Room Makeover - The Cardiff Cwtch

Well hey, it’s been a long time since I’ve done an interiors post here on the blog. A looooong time. What can I say? We got a bit… lazy. You know how it goes, you move into a new house, embark on a sort of decorating blitzkrieg – hitting one room after the next – and then you sit on it and enjoy it for a while… and then bam! Two years fly by, everything goes a bit stale and there’s still a massive hole in the wall where your puppy (who’s now no longer a puppy) charged into it at full-zoomies miles per hour (it’s on the to-do list, okay?). When we first moved in, there were rooms that we didn’t really feel the need to decorate, and so we kind of just accepted them for how they were and let them just… be for a while. Now they’re looking a bit stale and a bit boring compared to the rest of the house, and so when Sunny and I got back from Florida we made a new decorating to-do list and decided on a few rooms that we fancied giving a bit of a makeover. 🙂

Our Utility Room (/ Laundry Room / Mud Room) is straight off the kitchen and even though we use it every single day as access to our back garden, for washing clothes and sorting out Bungle when he’s come in from a muddy walk – it’s been looking more than a bit neglected. When Bungle entered our lives almost three years ago, it immediately became his space. It became his everything room, from his bed and dining room, to – oh yes – his toilet (before we finally nailed the toilet training – phew!) – and as a result the whole room started to look a bit bruised and battered. The floor was grubby, the skirting boards were muddy and the walls especially were in a right state; when Bungle learned how to open doors, he started clawing at the wall. The room literally went to the dogs (or rather, dog). Now that he’s (mostly) better behaved, we decided to give the room a fresh coat of paint and turn it from purely functional, to pretty damn snazzy!

Utility Room Makeover - The Cardiff CwtchLaundry Room Accessories - The Cardiff Cwtch

We had these large, grey metro tiles from Tops Tiles put in about a year ago when we tiled the kitchen, and I absolutely love them! They match perfectly with the grey work surface we chose when we first moved in, and look great next to the brand new (very moody) wall colour. We knew we wanted to go grey, but didn’t really anticipate going as dark as we did! The shade is called Sooty Lashes (I love it! Who comes up with paint names? What a job!) and is by Valspar at B&Q.  The pictures are actually really, really old; we bought them for the kitchen in our first flat in London and they had to come with us when we moved.  They’ll always remind me of that pokey little kitchen overlooking the muddy Thames. 🙂

I picked up the washing powder jar from IKEA’s 365 Kitchen Storage Range. Before we were using a plain plastic tupperware pot which not only looked a bit naff, but was really messy. Now I can actually keep my washing powder and liquid out on the surface for easy access!

Mud Room Dog Bed - The Cardiff CwtchLaundry Room Dog Bed

Even though Bungle sleeps upstairs on our bed now, the Utility Room is still his bedroom really, and he does like to trot off and take a nap there with “Bald Lion” (his favourite toy) whenever he’s feeling a bit antisocial or nervous. It’s his “safe space”. The gap under the counter is actually for a Tumble Dryer, but – since we don’t own one – it’s the perfect place for Bungle’s dog bed and blanket. I’ve got a basket on the counter piled with fresh blankets and towels that are just for him and are easy to access whenever we need to wipe off his muddy paws. The rug (old, from H&M Home) gives the floor a little bit more protection and makes the room just a little bit cosier for him. 🙂

Utility Room Dog Bed - The Cardiff CwtchUtility Room Decor Ideas - The Cardiff CwtchMud Room Decor Ideas - The Cardiff Cwtch

What do you think? Sunny’s been saying for a while that we need to bite the bullet and get a tumble dryer – but I’m pushing back as hard as I can because I don’t want to turf Bungle out of his den! 🙂 Have a lovely week!