Friday, 28 February 2014

Easy 5 Minute Strawberry Butter

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I adore strawberries. I eat homemade strawberry jam almost every day on an English muffin or toast. It's my pun intended. I enjoy any type of strawberry it ice cream or cheesecake or just simple plain strawberry butter. 
You will love this recipe. It's like whipping up a strawberry cloud of loveliness in 5 minutes. 5 minutes! 
And this tasty delight can be enjoyed on biscuits, muffins, pancakes, waffles, and bread. 
Or if you are like my son, you could just eat it out of a bowl as is. Until I swipe the bowl out of his hands and tell him to leave some for other people! 

 How does 3 ingredients sound? Super simple. So good. It really is that easy!

Delicious 5 Minute Strawberry Butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup strawberry jam
1-1/2 cups icing sugar {powdered sugar}

1. Place all 3 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer or KitchenAid, mix until the butter is smooth. If too soft, add more icing sugar until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Eat and enjoy.
2.To store: scoop strawberry butter into bowl. Cover and store in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before spreading on muffins, biscuits, etc.
3. You can also give this as a delicious gift. Put in a basket with biscuits or muffins and a spreading knife.

We love our strawberry butter on fresh biscuits.
It's our thing!
So, the next time you feel like a strawberry treat, remember that in 5 minutes, there can be such a thing as Strawberry Butter on your biscuits and in your fridge for later!
And for more delicious strawberry recipes:

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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Movie Munchie Mix for the Oscars

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One thing that I look forward to every year is the watching the Oscars. My family loves to watch movies and we often debate and argue about what we think is the best movie of the year.We usually keep things casual around here and watching the Oscars in our jammies is 'modus operandi' in our house. And since the Sweetheart Munchie Mix I made for Valentine's Day was such a hit, I have had numerous requests to make it again. So I whipped up some 'Movie Munchie Mix' for Oscar night, with some different crunch added to the mix.
We like to watch the Oscars as soon as the red carpet festivities begin. We have supper early and then save room for a snack or dessert for later in the evening. I love watching the red carpet to see what all of the stars are wearing and seeing the informal red carpet interviews when everyone is excited for the evening and looking their best. Our family likes to call our choices for the different categories at red carpet time. While visiting one of my favourite blogs, Living Locurto,  I discovered this handy dandy free 2014 Oscar Ballet sheet that can be printed to record picks for each different category, so I have my picks for Sunday all ready! How about you? Do you have a few favourites in mind?
And here's my recipe for this year's snack pick...Movie Munchie Mix! It's a blend of sweet & salty, accented with chocolate just can't have mix without  chocolate.And the star of the show in this mix is Chex. It adds just the right amount of crunch and flavor and is perfect for making a mix for sharing at any big event. Did you know that Chex is gluten-free? So it' a great base for snack mix for any merry movie munchers who are eating gluten-free!

Movie Munchie Mix
2 cups Chex cereal
2 cups popcorn
2 cups pretzels
1-1/2 cups chocolate covered candies
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips

1. Spread Chex cereal, popcorn and pretzels on large cookie sheet.
2. Sprinkle chocolate covered candies over Chex, pretzels and popcorn.
3. Melt chocolate chips in microwave and drizzle over snack mix. Let chocolate harden.
4. Pour into a bowl and serve.
And if you are looking for more Hollywood-inspired recipes, don't forget to visit the 
Chex Mix Hollywood page HERE to see all of the delicious snack mixes!
{There is also a link to a $1.00 OFF Chex coupon. While supplies last.}

So tell me,  what is your pick for the best of 2013?
My guess is 12 Years A Slave, although I loved Philomena too!

Disclosure: I am part of the Chex Mix Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this groups. The opinions on the blog are my own.

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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Crispy Curry Potato Skins with Mango Chutney Sour Cream

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There is nothing we love more in winter for family togetherness than cuddling up with blankets and pillows and enjoying a delish hot appy and a good movie. With my kids being older and everyone having busy schedules, time together is very precious. And this appetizer is definitely a favourite, except this time I put a bit of a different twist on it with the help of some Patak's sauces by adding some curry to the skins and mixing up a crazy-good mango chutney sour cream dip. The blend of the spicy curry potato skins with the sweetness of the mango chutney is an absolutely amazing flavour combination, and it was a great way to mix in a little India for an Indian-themed movie night.
Although this appetizer takes a bit of time to make, the results are worth every minute it took to make it. One thing that I try to do is to prepare the potatoes ahead of time by placing them in the oven on a Saturday morning to bake while I go about eating breakfast and a few other chores. And before I know it, the potatoes are baked and ready to be made into a weekend treat.
Crispy Curry Potato Skins with Mango Chutney Sour Cream


Baking Potatoes, allow 2 potatoes per person

Olive oil

Patak's Vindaloo Curry Sauce

Shredded cheddar cheese

Green onions, sliced

2 cups sour cream

1/2 cup Mango Chutney


1. Bake potatoes in 400 oven until fork tender and skins are papery. {approx. 45-60 min} Mix together sour cream and mango chutney and refrigerate until serving time.

2. Remove to a cookie sheet and let cool for a few minutes.
3. Slice warm potatoes lengthwise and let cool more.
4. Using a spoon, scoop out potato flesh and then slice skins into wedges as shown.  Leave a little potato on each skin so the skin will hold the toppings.
5.In bowl, mix together 3/4 cup olive oil with 1-2 tablespoons of Patak's Vindaloo Curry Sauce to make a nice spiced oil. Brush skins with curry olive oil.
 6. Return skins to 400 oven and bake until skins are golden and crisp....20-25 minutes.
7. Remove skins from oven and sprinkle generously with cheese and green onions. Return to oven and bake until cheese melts...approx. 5-7 minutes. 
8. Remove from oven. Plate immediately and serve with mango chutney sour cream.
The mango chutney sour cream is sooo good! It would also be a great addition to fish tacos, sandwiches and paninis, as well as a great dipping sauce for shrimp.
The crispy curry skins are a sure way to jazz up a boring potato too!
My kids loved this new twist on an old favourite!
And what movie did we enjoy for our Indian-themed movie night? Slumdog Millionaire. The kids were pretty young when this movie came out, so they hadn't seen it. We chose this movie because it's about a Mumbai teenager and the fact that it's such a good story!

So yeah. Crispy Curry Potato Skins with Mango Chutney Sour Cream and Slumdog Millionaire.
They make a pretty awesome-sauce combination for a family movie night.

If you are looking for more Indian-inspired appetizer ideas, don't forget to check out other tasty recipes on  Patak's site, where you will find lots of tasty recipes such as: Vindaloo Chicken Wings, Easy Indian Style Cheese Platter, and Easy Vegetable Dip

Thank you so much for visiting me!

Disclosure: I am part of the Patak's Ambassador Program with Mom Central Canada and receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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Monday, 24 February 2014

Fine Dining at Disneyland!

I know when you think of Disney Parks, you probably think of family fun, thrill rides and character breakfasts. Am I right? But did you know that there are also restaurants at Disneyland that offer fine dining experiences?
Yes! It's true!
As a self-declared foodie and home cook, I am here to tell you that there are a few restaurants at Disneyland that are top-notch and you won't want to miss!
I had the chance to visit two of these fine restaurants and they are definitely not-to-miss places!
The Napa Rose, located in the Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland, offers the very best in seasonal flavours paired with an extensive list of the best in Californian wines.
It features awarding-winning cuisine by Chef Andrew Sutton, along with the best of local fare and seasonal dishes that frequently change in order to bring you the best in food trends and fresh flavors.
I can tell you that including a visit to this restaurant in your Disneyland vacation is a wise decision as the food is so good here that it will leave you swooning. Swooning I tell ya!
 I had an amazing dining experience here with a small group, and I got to sample and taste many of the dishes and every dish was excellent!
Here are some of the things that we tried and they were all paired with wonderful wines as suggested by the sommeliers who can help you find just the perfect wine from the extensive wine list.
Are you ready? Here we go!
Here are some of the amazing dishes we tried:
Seven Sparkling Sins is an amazing appetizer to share...featuring delicious beef, crap, salmon, pheasant and scallop.

The Sizzling Beach Rock is another fun 'to share' item that offers yummy choices in garlic shrimp, glazed spare ribs and lemon grass chicken skewers.
And if I had to choose, this dish was one of my favourites! Smiling Tiger Salad featured tempura-fried lobster and spicy beef on a bed of Asian greens with the best-tasting lime vinaigrette you will ever have in your life!
Grilled Pork Tenderloin was my main course choice and it was very tender and delicious.
And for the desserts, we tried: artisanal ice creams such as Tahitian Vanilla Bean and Creamy Californian Strawberry with fresh berries.
And this Warm Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake will satisfy any chocolate-lovers heart!
While at Disneyland, we also enjoyed another amazing fine dining experience at Wine Country Trattoria. This pretty restaurant features many Italian specialty dishes prepared in a lovely Mediterranean setting. Here you will find such favourites as bruschetta, pasta, Caprese salad, seafood dishes, chicken, lamb, ribs and fresh dinner salads, along with a wine list that includes over 25 wines available by the glass.
As busy parents whose days are normally packed with lots of family responsibilities, my husband and I like to treat ourselves to special fine dining experiences while we're on vacation. I so enjoy the chance to sit down and  take the time to slowly enjoy a glass of wine while savouring a gourmet that I didn't have to plan or cook myself and without interruptions. And although the focus of a Disneyland vacation is on family fun, it's also a nice opportunity to steal a few hours away for a special treat of a luxurious fine dining experience. So if you are heading to Disneyland soon for Spring Break, I encourage you to make a reservation for a special dinner at either Napa Rose or Wine Country Trattoria for a wine and dining experience that will leave you feeling over-the-moon happy!

This is Part 3 of a mom-daughter vacation that my teen daughter and I took to California in August 2013 as guests of  Disney Parks Canada &Travel California. All opinions are my own.
For Part I on San Francisco, please go HERE.
To read about our visit to the beautiful Castello di Amorosa Winery in Napa Valley, go HERE

Friday, 21 February 2014

Best Ever Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Aaaah. Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. I have been asked for this recipe too many times to count! These muffins have a deep rich flavour and are so moist and delicious that you can't stop at just one! These muffins have traveled too...they've shown their sweet love to school lunches, gaggles of classroom children,  hungry skating teams, sweaty hockey players, and neighbors too. They are just that typo 'o muffin that can show their love to anybody!
All you need to mix these up are a couple of bowls and wooden spoon. That's it. No fancy equipment. And your favorite chocolate chips are a must. And a super easy ingredient that comes from a jar, but we'll get to that in a minute.
 You can also have these little 'o muffins look gourmet or bakery-fancy, by adding some banana chips and mini-chocolate chips to the tops. That's a little extra special touch that I like to toss on sometimes.
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
{makes 12 muffins}
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 cup mashed ripe banana
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup Hellman's Mayo (I use light)
1 1/2 cup white flour
2/3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2  teapsoon salt
1 cup favourite chocolate chips
Optional: Dried Banana chips & mini chocolate chips for the tops 
*Recipe doubles easy!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl combine bananas, white sugar and mayo. {Use only Hellman's substitutes for the eggs and oil in this recipe. Do NOT use Miracle Whip, or your muffins will taste like a super weird sandwich. Been there. Done that.} Mix  until smooth.
2. In medium bowl, mix together flour, whole wheat flour,  baking soda and salt.
3. Add flour mixture to banana mixture.. Stir until just moistened. Add 1 cup of your fav chocolate chips. Scoop batter into muffin tin. Sprinkle with dried banana chips & mini chocolate chips if desired.Bake for approx. 20-25 minutes. 
You may want to make a double batch because these will disappear very fast!

For more DEE-licious banana recipes:

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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Celebrate 'Love Your Pet Day' on February 20th & Protect Your Pets Health with Pets Plus Us

It was almost 5 years ago when we left our home one morning to go and choose a puppy, except that we came home with puppies. We are not exactly how this mission took such a wrong turn....whether it be the cute puppies or the cute kids, but we now had two little furry girls under our care. Our kids were beyond thrilled...and Molly & Rigley quickly became treasured little personalities in our family. And oh-the-fun we have had raising these two adorable little girls over these last five years...the cuddles, the walks, the laughs...we couldn't love them anymore than we already do! Did you know that February 20th is Love Your Pet Day? As part of the celebration for Love Your Pet Day on February 20th, Pets Plus Us is encouraging pet owners to help keep their cherished pets healthy and happy with an insurance plan for professional veterinarian care.
In the first year of owning a pup, pet owners can expect to pay for food and vaccinations. Other expenses that may be incurred include pet equipment such as collars, leashes, kennels, beds, and toys. For us, this cost doubled somewhat when we decided to take home two little puppies instead of just one. Here's a look at what puppy owners might expect to pay during the first year of care:
While these are all planned or expected expenses, there can be other expenses such as veterinary care for unexpected illness or injury, and gaining access to such treatments really depends on our financial means to cover the cost of care. Pet insurance provides pet owners with financial protection that can assist with regular veterinary care expenses, as well as unexpected accident or illness.Pets Plus Us wants to encourage current and future pet owners to be informed, and to select the right insurance plan for our pets based on these important considerations:

  • Your Pet's Species-Both dogs and cats need regular veterinarian care and can experience medical issues or accidents. Consider that some species live longer than others requiring a different level of commitment.
  • Your Pet's Breed-There may be different medical conditions associated with your pet's breed. Knowing this can help your prepare for future medical needs.
  • Your Financial Resources-Your ability to proactively save and be diligent about keeping up aside funds for care related to illness and unexpected medical situations should be considered. 
  • Your Ability To Pay For Routine Vet Care-Consider the financial requirements to pay for the routine care your pet will need. As well, consider any previous medical issues your pet might have that require ongoing care. 

Becoming a pet owner is a big decision, and with choosing the right plan for your pet and budget, you can have the reassurance of knowing that you will have the right protection plan in place to assist with regular veterinary care or unexpected illness or injury should you need it.Planning for such things is an important part of being a pet owner, and I am really happy that there are plans such as those offered by Pets Plus Us to help pet owner's keep their furry family members happy and healthy for years to come. I don't know what we would do without our little cuddle-bugs Molly & Rigley and a plan like this offers us such peace of mind. 

Don't forget to give your pet an extra cuddle for Love Your Pet Day on February 20th!

Disclosure: I have partnered with Pets Plus Us to create this post. I was provided with gift cards as a thank you. However, all opinions are 100% mine.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Our Visit to the Beautiful Castello di Amorosa Winery In the Napa Valley

Late last summer, my daughter and I had the most amazing California adventure which took us to San Francisco, and then to the famed Napa Valley where we had the chance to visit & tour the beautiful Castello Di Amorosa Winery. The beauty of this winery surrounded us as soon as we stepped off of our van, and at every turn there were lovely vistas and vignettes. The "Castle of Love" is the vision and life-long dream of Dario Sattui, who wanted to create Italian-style wines within a 13th century medieval-inspired castle inspired by his love of his Italian heritage and his passion for medieval architecture. The castle took 15 years to construct, and there is no doubt when you arrive here that he achieved his dream of creating a medieval masterpiece.
The Castle contains 8 levels and is made with more than 1 million antique bricks brought from Europe and 8,000 tons of local stone which were hand-chiseled.
The results are fantastic, and if you only have time to tour one winery in Napa Valley, I would highly recommend Castello Di Amorosa be the one you make time for!
There are so many amazing things to see and explore here, and if you happen to be traveling with children, this is perfect for them as well because while Moms & Dads are touring & sampling wine, the kids will have lots of things to see and do such as a  moat, drawbridge, 5 towers, and courtyards, secret passage ways, an outdoor oven and more.
The  13th century Tuscan-style Castle of Love is comprised of many more medieval architectural features that give the Castle a truly authentic feel. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful properties in the United States and I found it to be a place where I could have spent hours absorbing every little detail.
The Grand Banquet Hall with it's hand-painted Italian frescoes and Umbrian fireplace was one of my favourite rooms, and it plays host to many special events at the Castle throughout the year.
Our visit in late August brought us the most amazing sights of grapes on vines as the winery headed into  the harvest season.
And how charming is it to find these farm animals on the grounds?
And our tour on the levels below was filled with so many things to see at every turn.
And now let's talk about the wine...the wonderful wine.
The Castello di Amorosa makes hand-crafted Italian style wines in Italian handmade state-of-the art fermentation tanks.
While we were there, we had the opportunity for a sit-down wine and artisan chocolate pairing and it was divine. 
I have had a few chocolate and wine pairings in my day, but I have to say that this one was my favourite and I promptly went to the gift shop to buy the wine and chocolates to take home.
Absolutely everything about this tour was amazing, from the Italian style wines, to the beautiful grounds, to the castle itself. 
The whole time we were there, we were completely absorbed in our lovely surroundings and all of the things that make up Dario Suttui's dream.
And a beautiful dream brought to life it is!

This is Part 2 of a mom-daughter vacation that my teen daughter and I took to California in August 2013 as guests of  Disney Parks Canada &Travel California. All opinions are my own.
For Part I on San Francisco, please go HERE
For Part 3 on our fine dining and wine experiences at Disneyland, please go HERE.

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that give mcdonalds coupons and 
breakfast coupons you also can find recipe from