Saturday, March 29, 2014

Disney's Winnie The Pooh: Springtime With Roo Now on Bluray & CONTEST! (~OVER~)

Disney's Winnie The Pooh: Springtime With Roo
 Now on Bluray/DVD Combo Pack!
I've had a lifelong love of Winnie-the-Pooh, ever since I was a young child.  From a beloved stuffed bear that I still have to this day, to my vintage Pooh bear comic book collection.  I showed a photo of our stuffed Pooh bear collection previously, and I also displayed a photo of my sons dressed up in Winnie-the-Pooh costumes.  In that same blog post, I gave away a copy of Disney's Winnie-the-Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year.

When my children were born, my passion for Pooh bear passed to them: Pooh birthday parties, a Pooh stroller and travel system, Pooh clothing, Pooh toys, Pooh bedsheets, and much more.  As you can see by the cake that I decorated for my son's birthday, I'm a bit enthusiastic about Pooh bear!  By the way, at almost 6-years of age, he still loves Pooh bear. 
My Son Celebrating With Pooh!
Before I upgraded my family to blu-ray--or DVD for that matter--I had a wonderful Disney VHS collection of Pooh shows called The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1988-1991).  Not only was it very entertaining for the kids to watch, but my husband and I enjoyed the episodes too.  The shows were very colourful, witty, and well-written--with some episodes featuring catchy songs.  I loved that all five of our kids, from youngest to oldest, would happily agree to watch these Pooh shows.

Now Disney's Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo has just been released to blu-ray/DVD combo pack.  Although I don't believe that it's part of the same series we once owned on VHS, it certainly has been a favourite of my kids.  As we already own the DVD version, we have now added the combo pack to our family movie library.  I would definitely recommend the bluray/DVD as a family-friendly title that will please kids from about 2- to 7-years old.
Even Spring Flowers Will Cheer Up Gloomy Eeyore!
Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo Movie Synopsis
Past years, Rabbit has played the Easter Bunny, but this year everything is about to change!  He christens it “Spring Cleaning Day,” and commands everyone to dust, scrub and mop!  Naturally, all of his Hundred Acre Wood pals are disappointed, including little Roo.  Fortunately, Rabbit learns a valuable lesson about putting others first--and showing his friends how much he cares. The movie includes catchy songs that will be enjoyed by young and old alike!

CONTEST (~OVER~)

WINNER: Julie G.

WIN Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo on bluray/DVD combo pack from SnyMed.com!  Contest open to Canada & USA, and ends on Monday May 12th, 2014.

How to Enter:
Leave a COMMENT below stating who is your favourite Winnie-the-Pooh character (Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Christopher Robin, etc) OR let me know who you'd like to WIN this for.  Then, use the entry form below to enter the contest.  GOOD LUCK!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Disneynature’s BEARS in Theatres April 18th & CONTEST!

Disneynature BEARS Comes to Theatres April 18th!
Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure BEARS chronicles one year in the life of two mother bears, set in the Alaskan wilderness.  As they teach their young cubs life lessons, the world is an exciting, but dangerous, playground.  The bears face threats like avalanches, wolf packs, and predators.  The brown bears must forge together to find food—and a feast of salmon is their reward.  BEARS captures the essence of one of the planet’s last great wildernesses, where mothers know best and their cubs’ survival depends upon family unity.

Directors: Alastair Fothergill (“Earth,” “African Cats” and “Chimpanzee”) and Keith Scholey (“African Cats”).  BEARS debuts in theatres on April 18, 2014, in celebration of Earth Day!

CONTEST (CANADA)
WIN Family Passes (of 4) to see an advance screening of Disneynature BEARS from Snymed.com!  I have six (6) family passes to give away, two (2) per eligible Canadian city (Toronto, Calgary & Vancouver).  Advance screenings are on Saturday April 12th, 2014 at 10:00am.  See contest form for theatre locations.  Contest closes on Monday April 7th, 2014.   

How to Enter:
Leave a COMMENT below stating if you've ever seen come face-to-face with a wild bear OR let me know your favourite wild animal.  Then, use the entry form below to enter the contest.  GOOD LUCK!

Disney's Pirate Fairy Comes to DVD April 1st & CONTEST! (~OVER~)

Disney's The Pirate Fairy on Bluray & DVD April 1st!
Calling all Peter Pan and Tinkerbell fans: Disney's The Pirate Fairy is coming to bluray/DVD combo pack on April 1st, 2014! Sprinkle on a bit of blue pixie dust, and get ready to set sail!

Tinkerbell & Friends Must Find Zarina--
AND Get Back the Blue Pixie Dust
Zarina Is the Pirate Fairy














Skull Island Is Very Far From Pixie Hollow
The Pirate Fairy Movie Synopsis:
In this brand new high-seas adventure, Zarina (voiced by Christina Hendricks) is a dust-keeper fairy who’s mesmerized by Blue Pixie Dust and its limitless possibilities. But when Zarina’s outrageous ideas cause trouble in Pixie Hollow, she runs off. Her path crosses with the calculating pirates of Skull Rock, and Zarina is crowned captain of their ship.
WIN The Pirate Fairy Movie From Snymed.com!
When they realize that she is missing, Tinker Bell (voiced by Mae Whitman) and her friends set out on a legendary adventure to find Zarina.  Together they battle the band of pirates, led by cabin boy James (voiced by Tom Hiddleston).  But there's a twist: James will soon be known as "Captain Hook" himself!  A story full of heart, laughter, thrills and magic!

Watch the movie trailer of Disney's The Pirate Fairy, below!  (VIDEO)

CONTEST (~OVER~)

WINNER: Lynda C. 

WIN Disney's The Pirate Fairy on Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack from SnyMed.com!  Contest open to Canada (sorry, not open to Quebec).  Ends Friday May 9th, 2014.

How to Enter:
Leave a COMMENT below stating if you have a Tinkerbell fan in your family OR who you'd like to WIN this movie for.  Then, use the entry form below to enter the contest.  GOOD LUCK! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Power Rangers Turbo Coming to DVD & CONTEST! (~OVER~)

Power Rangers Turbo Vol. 1 on DVD April 1st!
Hey live-action fans, join the Power Rangers as they battle the space pirate Divatox in the Power Rangers Turbo: Volume 1 DVD!  It's part of a 3-DVD box set that contains the first 23 episodes of the Power Rangers Turbo series and will be available in stores on April 1st!


Power Rangers Turbo Vol. 1 Synopsis:
Great new powers, weapons and awesome supercharged vehicles to battle evil are hallmarks of Power Rangers: Turbo! The 5 Turbo Rangers come head-to-head with ruthless space pirate Divatox, after she seeks revenge for ruining her wedding to deity Maligore. From her mobile Subcraft armoury, she ruthlessly pursues the heroes. But wonderful allies team up with the Rangers, such as sage Dimitria, Alpha 6 the robot, the Blue Senturion robocop, and the mysterious Phantom Rangers!


Following its debut in 1993, Power Rangers quickly became the most watched children’s television program in North America. This enduring series has been watched in over 60 countries, translated into various languages, and remains a mainstay in children’s programming blocks. 

CONTEST (~OVER~)

WINNERS: To be announced shortly...

WIN 1 of 2 Power Rangers: Turbo DVDs from snymed.com!  Contest open to Canada & the USA.  Ends Thursday May 8th, 2014.

How to Enter:
Leave a COMMENT stating who you'd like to win this for OR your child or grandchild's favourite superhero.  Then, use the entry form below to enter the contest.  GOOD LUCK!
  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Easy Vegetarian Wraps Recipe! Eat Your Veggies With a Smile!

Easy Vegetarian Wraps!
I'm always looking for new ways for my family to eat healthy when we're on the go.  One way that I do it, is by packing only healthy snacks for long car rides, or after the kids' swimming lessons.  I noticed that the kids will gladly eat sliced up veggies when offered to them, as long as there are no unhealthy snacks offered alongside them.  So, I have learned to pack the wholesome, and not tempt the kids with less nutritious foods that they will load up on.
 
Recently when I was pressed for time, I decided to make vegetarian wraps for lunch.  I was thinking that it would make the perfect light lunch, and the kids could customize the wraps with their favourite veggies.  (You see, each child has his or her favourites.) 
Ingredients for Vegetarian Tortilla Wraps

Easy Vegetarian Wraps Recipe!
Preparation Time: 5 Minutes | Start to Finish Time: 7 Minutes | Servings: 4
 
INGREDIENTS
4 Dempster's Tortillas, large or small, any variety (I used large, 100% Whole Wheat)
4 Tomatoes - Chopped in small cubes
4 Lettuce Leaves - Chopped in small cubes
1 Your Favourite Veggies - Chopped in smaller cubes, or thin sticks
1 Cup Cheddar Cheese (or your favourite) - Shredded
1/2 Cup of Sour Cream
These Wraps Are Simple to Make!
DIRECTIONS
1. Lay each Dempster's Tortilla on a microwavable plate and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cheese.  Microwave for up to 1 minute on high, being sure the cheese melts.  (Note: skip this step if you prefer a cold wrap.)
2.Add 1/4 of the tomatoes and 1/4 of the lettuce on top of the melted cheese, placing them side-by-side.  Stripe 1/4 of the sour cream across the length of the tortilla. 
3.Roll tortilla tightly, and slice in half.  Serve with extra sour cream on the side if you want a "dipper".
Vegetarian Wraps Ready to Be Served!
 As you can see by the photos, the kids really enjoyed the wraps!  They were very nice and light to eat, and you can dress them up or down.  I also love how versatile wraps are, and you can also add meal leftovers to these wonderful creations!  I like that I can stuff a lot of veggies into them and make a nutritious meal.
 
I also made some extra wraps for the kids' school lunches, and instead added shredded chicken for some protein.  The wraps are definitely filling enough, and I can send them to school with confidence.    
Sinking Their Teeth Into Wraps!

What do you enjoy eating the most in your wrap?  Do you like hot or cold wraps better?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Watch Julius Jr Show on Nick Jr, Listen to It on iTunes!

Watch Julius Jr. Weekdays @ 5pm
& Sundays @ 10am on Nick Jr!
I previously introduced the Julius Jr show in September, and talked more about Julius Jr in December of last year. It's also no secret that I'm a Saban Brandbassador, and I've held this title proudly for 2 years now! Saban Brands is the group responsible for great brands like Julius Jr, Power Rangers, Paul Frank, Digimon Fusion, Popples, Vortexx, Zui, The Playforge, and Zombie Farm.

Julius Jr. is a newer preschool series "where ordinary objects come to life and fantastic adventures are just a door away. Julius Jr. is a rambunctious monkey who enjoys saving the day by making savvy inventions with his friends. On every adventure, the show's socio-emotional curriculum provides kids with the opportunity to learn how to interact with others and begin thinking outside the box."

Check out this cute Julius Jr. music VIDEO below!  This, and other fun Julius Jr. hits by the Julius Jr. Garage Band" are available on iTunes HERE.


The kids recently received a spring-inspired Julius Jr. care package from the good gang at Saban Brands!  Included were water bottles, tattoos, stickers, fridge press-ons, mazes, colouring pages, colour-by-numbers, and other fun spring activities.
Julius Jr. Goodies!
The kids right away set out to customize their own water bottles with Julius Jr. art.  Later my youngest child had fun decorating the fridge with removable press-on stickers.
The Kids Busy With Julius Jr. Activities
After carefully personalizing their water bottles, take a look at the final products that the kids created.  Now they will no longer mix up their water bottles this spring and summer!  I think that they all did some really cute work!
The Kids Made Personalized Julius Jr. Water Bottles
Be sure to follow the latest Julius Jr. news on social media!
Julius Jr. on YouTube

When is it officially spring for you?  What is your favourite season?  Have your kids or grandkids watched Julius Jr. before, or listened to the show's music on iTunes?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Winter Vegetable Soup Recipe & Learning to Improvise in the Kitchen!

Homemade Veggie Chicken & Rice Soup
When it comes to cooking for my family, I like making fast, flavourful and nutritious home-cooked meals.  These past 15 months, I've especially embraced home cooking - and a combination of healthy eating and increased fitness has been the reason that I have lost over 70 lbs during this timeframe!  It's one of my joys to cook with my children, and to teach them how to create simple, delicious meals that will stay with them for a lifetime.

As I cook with my kids, I use the time to have heart-to-heart conversations with them, and reminisce about the times I used to cook with my grandmother--or watch my great-grandmother in action in the kitchen.  It's a time to have meaningful conversations, and to impart important life skills upon my children.  

Just recently, my kids and I set out to recreate chef Amanda Riva's recipe for Winter Vegetable Soup.  As we started to gather the ingredients, I remembered that I had some nice chicken in the fridge ready to cook--and some Uncle Ben's Jasmine rice.  I used this as an opportunity to teach the kids about improvisation in the kitchen: to add what's on hand, what we enjoy eating, and what looks good in the market on that day.  So in that manner, we decided to morph the Winter Vegetable Soup recipe into a Veggie Chicken and Rice Soup instead!
Teach Kids How to Improvise in the Kitchen
I began by chopping and sautéeing the onions for the soup, but paused to asked the kids which veggies would they like in the recipe.  I opened up the crisper for them to decide, and they pulled out carrots and celery.  The kids helped peel the carrots, and I did the chopping of the veggies.  I added water to the soup and the chicken, then set it to boil.

As I glanced down at Amanda's recipe, I realized that it was the inspiration for our family's meal.  While I did not use the same variety of Uncle Ben's rice (she used the 7 Grains Medley, and I used Jasmine), her recipe helped me create a unique meal that my family would enjoy and eat with gusto!  

In my Veggie Chicken & Rice Soup recipe, instead of adding the Uncle Ben's rice to the soup pot, I decide to cook it in its own pot and add it to each individual bowl of soup separately.  Some of my kids enjoy lots of rice in their soup, whereas other kids enjoy little.  I am the former, and love a generous helping of rice in my soup bowl!
Soup's Served!
The soup turned out really well, and my husband remarked how much he enjoyed it.  In the past I had more often added egg noodles to my soups, but now I'm hooked on using rice!  I asked the kids what other veggies could we use in the same soup next time, and they had great ideas about morphing this recipe by adding red peppers, zucchinis, and baby corn.  It seems like my lessons in improvisation really paid off! 

Did you see the Parmesan Crusted Tilapia that the kids and I created from another one of Amanda's recipe? You can also see us in an Uncle Ben's Canada cooking video HERE!  Or read about the cook-and-learn session that we attended with Chef Amanda Riva HERE.

Winter Vegetable Soup Recipe
Preparation Time: 15 Minutes | Start to Finish Time: 45 Minutes | Servings: 8

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp oil 15 mL
1 onion, chopped 1
2 cloves garlic, minced 2
1 bay leaf 1
1 tsp dried thyme leaves 5 mL
½ tsp each salt and pepper 2 mL
¼ cup white wine 50 mL
2 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash 500 mL
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced 2
2 carrots, peeled and sliced 2
8 cups sodium-reduced chicken broth 2 L
½ cup Uncle Ben's 7 Grains Medley 125 mL
¼ cup chopped parsley leaves 50 mL
2 tsp apple cider vinegar 10 mL

DIRECTIONS


1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan set over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until fragrant. Add wine; simmer for 1 minute. 
2. Stir in the squash, parsnips, carrots and broth; bring to a boil.  Add the Uncle Ben's 7 Grains Medley. Simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are softened and grains are tender. 
3. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and vinegar.
Uncle Ben's Jasmine Rice Is Very Versatile
CONTEST (CANADA)
Enter Uncle Ben's Canada "Ben's Beginners" Facebook contest! You could win 1 of 3 grand prizes of $20,000 ($15,000 cheque for a family vacation, and $5000 to your child's school for healthy initiatives)! Secondary prize is a trip to Toronto for 4 (2 adults, 2 children) to a "Celebrity Chef Experience" with Corbin Tomaszeski. Simply prepare 1 of 36 of the featured recipes using Uncle Ben's rice, snap a photo (including the Uncle Ben's product that was used), and provide a photo description. GOOD LUCK!



Follow Uncle Ben's on Social Media!

Do you have a favourite soup recipe that uses rice? What ingredients do you think go best with a rice soup (ie: veggies, meat, poultry, etc)?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Easy Spaghetti With Garlic Dippers Recipe! With Villaggio Bread

Spaghetti With Garlic Dippers:
a quick & easy family meal
Here's a very simple recipe for Spaghetti and garlic dippers, taking only 10-15 minutes from pot to plate!  My kids just love dipping the crunchy garlic dippers into the tomato sauce and parmesan cheese, and end up eating more of their dinner.  The garlic dippers are like little bread sticks of garlic bread.  We also call these garlic "twirlers".

Easy Spaghetti With Garlic Dippers Recipe

Preparation Time: 10-15 minutes | Cooking Time: 10 minutes | Ready: 10-15 minutes | Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 Package of Spaghetti Noodles (Raw)
650 ml Jar Spaghetti Sauce
4 Slices Villaggio Bread (I used Italian Style White Sesame)
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup Butter (Melted)
1/2 garlic clove, diced - raw or lightly browned (optional ingredient, surprisingly)
Basil &/Or Italian Seasoning (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:
1.Fill small stockpot with water & bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium, add spaghetti and cook for 8-10 minutes.  While spaghetti is cooking, start step 3 for garlic dippers, below.  Drain and portion out spaghetti in 4 separate plates or bowls.
2.Pour spaghetti sauce (to taste) over spaghetti noodles and sprinkle with parmesan cheese (again to taste).
So Easy! Garlic Dippers Take Just Minutes to Make!
3.GARLIC DIPPERS: Toast bread so it is very brown, but not burnt.  Set aside.  In the microwave or on the stove top, melt the butter and add in garlic (optional), basil and/or Italian Seasoning (to taste).  Mix well.
4.Ladle the butter mixture over the 4 slices of bread, being sure to cover it well.  Allow 30 seconds for butter to soak in.  Slice each piece of bread in 4 or 5 thin strips lengthwise.  Garnish the spaghetti with the garlic dippers, giving each portion the equivalent of one piece of bread.
He Ate All His Dinner!
Follow Villaggio Bread on Social Media!
  
What is your family's favourite meal?  Is your family's meal also the simplest meal?  Do you think that they'd enjoy garlic dippers?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Doc McStuffins: Mobile Clinic Comes to DVD & CONTEST! (~OVER~)

On DVD Now: Disney's Doc McStuffins Mobile Clinic!
If you have a big Doc McStuffins fan in your household, then Disney's Doc McStuffins: Mobile Clinic will be a fantastic addition to your DVD home library!  The collection includes five episodes filled with music, and also comes packaged with a FREE Doc McStuffins reusable tote bag!  DVD runs 2 full hours. 

DVD Synopsis:
"Doc McStuffins is back to save the day and this time, she is mobile! After building a mobile clinic with her dad, Doc is able to make house calls to help toys in need when she's away from her own backyard clinic. The Doc Mobile comes equipped with everything she needs to fix toys good as new."

Some Fun Doc McStuffins Items
You can WIN below!
Episode Guide:
1. Doc McStuffins Goes McMobile / Chip Off the Ol’ Box
2. Doc to The Rescue / Don’t Knock the Noggin
3. Out of The Box / Run Down Race Car
4. Rescue Rhonda, Ready For Takeoff / All Washed Up
5. Rest Your Rotors, Rhonda! / Keep on Truckin’

Watch this catchy VIDEO clip from the  Doc McStuffins: Mobile Clinic DVD, below!  Sing along!


CONTEST (~OVER~)

WINNERS: Liz L & Wendy L

WIN 1 of 2 Doc McStuffins prizes from SnyMed.com!  Grand prize is a Doc McStuffins prize pack including Doc McStuffins: Mobile Clinic DVD, Doc McStuffins PlayDoh Doctor Kit (PlayDoh included), toy otoscope, and cup!  Secondary prize is a  Doc McStuffins: Mobile Clinic DVD!  Contest open to Canada & USA, and ends on Wednesday April 30th, 2014.
WIN a Doc McStuffins Prize Pack and/or a DVD!
How to Enter:
Leave a COMMENT below stating your child or grandchild's favourite stuffed animal, toy, or security blanket OR tell me who you'd like to win this for.  Then, use the entry form below to enter the contest.  GOOD LUCK!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wonder Mountain’s Guardian to Open at Canada’s Wonderland in May & Contest! (~OVER~)

NEW! Wonder Mountain's Guardian Opens May 2014
at Canada's Wonderland!
Have you heard the latest buzz surrounding Canada's Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario?  This May 2014, they will be unveiling their newest ride called Wonder Mountain's Guardian!  A NEW Canada's Wonderland ride, WOO-HOO!  Even better, Wonder Mountain's Guardian will actually be built into the iconic caverns of Wonder Mountain!  To me, going inside of Wonder Mountain, is akin to pulling back the Great Wizard of Oz's curtain, or finding the elusive reason behind the Mona Lisa's smile.  Yes, it's that special!  


Wonder Mountain's Guardian is a thrilling, interactive 4-D dark ride that's heavily based in graphics (I'll talk 4D later).  It features the very latest projection 3D technology, and surrounds riders with a long, interactive wall--the longest in the world!  The whole family can ride together, and each rider is equipped with 3D glasses and an easy-to-handle "laser gun".  It begins with a "treacherous" ascent up the side of Wonder Mountain to the 60' level, then swoops down into its core and traverses five different layers of this dimensional world!  

Riders will encounter mythical creatures as they manoeuvre 1,000 feet of coaster track through a forsaken forest, subterranean lake and Draconian City.  The tension mounts as riders penetrate the dragon’s lair for the ultimate battle--with a heart-pounding finale that will awe thrill-seekers of all ages! 
In the "Hot" Seat - The Dragon's Lair
Wonder Mountain's Guardian Ride at Canada's Wonderland
Of special interest, Wonder Mountain's Guardian is a scored ride, and each rider will have his or her own high score and photo displayed at the end of the ride!  The storyline will be somewhat different for each rider, depending on which elements that have been interacted with on the screen.  There will also be hidden secrets in the game that players can reveal after multiple rides, so there’s depth to this attraction and it will keep riders coming back for more.

"The ground-breaking technology for the Wonder Mountain’s Guardian ride will allow guests to experience stunning 3D effects overlaid with 4-D elements: simulating wind, movement and more. Real time graphics and the fastest most accurate targeting system will be installed to create an ultra-immersive interactive experience."  What 4D means is that riders will see and “feel” all of the elements coming out of the screen!  WOOT!  “Wonder Mountain's Guardian will be a one-of-a-kind, never seen before attraction.” 

As a parent, I'm delighted that my older age kids and I will be able to ride together on Wonder Mountain's Guardian!  Although the ride has appeal for adults and teens, it's also a great stepping stone for kids who will soon be doing the park by themselves!  I also like that this is a shaded ride, as on hot, sunny days it's nice to give the kids (and their parents) and break from the heat. 

Construction of Wonder Mountain's Guardian is currently underway, and you can see photos of the progress on Canada's Wonderland Facebook page HERE!  Opening day for Canada's Wonderland will be upon us very soon, on Sunday May 4th, 2014!  Yes, you know that Spring really is around the corner when Canada's Wonderland is about to open its doors!

Follow Canada's Wonderland on Social Media!

CONTEST (~OVER~)

WINNERS: Ashley P.

WIN Family Passes (for 4) to Canada's Wonderland from SnyMed.com!  Contest open to Canada & USA, and ends on Friday May 2nd, 2014.  Note: prize is 4 single-day passes that can be used for adults and/or kids.

How to Enter:
Leave a COMMENT below stating if you've ever been before to Canada's Wonderland OR what you think of their NEW ride, Wonder Moutain's Guardian and if you're excited to experience the ride!  Then, use the entry form below to enter.  GOOD LUCK!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Make Ahead Blueberry French Toast Recipe With Dempster's Zero Bread!

A short while ago, I was delighted to come across a recipe for Overnight Blueberry French Toast from Merry About Town.  It immediately attracted my attention with the blueberry sauce and berries oozing delightfully all over the french toast.  I loved that the recipe was meant to be made ahead and refrigerated, so it would be ready to bake the next morning.  Perfect for special occasions and times where there are overnight guests, right?

I also found several recipes for Overnight Blueberry French Toast online, which I liked because they used regular bread (which I always have on hand).  This is a very rich breakfast item, which is why I used "Dempster's Zero Added Fat or Sugar - 100% Whole Wheat Bread" to help reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe.  NOTE: this is an overnight recipe, so do allow 10 hours from start to finish.

Make Overnight Blueberry French Toast Recipe
Preparation Time: 15 Minutes | Cooking Time: 75 minutes | Ready: 10 hours (make overnight) | Servings: 10

French Toast Ingredients
12 slices Dempter's Zero Bread, sliced into 1" cubes
2 x 8 oz packages plain cream cheese, sliced into 1" cubes
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 dozen eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water

Blueberry Sauce Ingredients
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon butter
Use Dempster's Zero Added Fat or Sugar Bread
to Reduce Sugar in Bread Recipes
DIRECTIONS:

Make French Toast:
1.In a 9" x 13" greased baking dish, layer half of the bread, followed by all cream cheese.  Add  1 cup blueberries over cream cheese layer, then cover with remaining bread.
2.Mix eggs, milk, vanilla, and maple syrup in a large mixing bowl.  Pour mixture over the bread and cream cheese layers.  Cover with tinfoil, and refrigerate overnight.
3.Remove the meal from the fridge, and let come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350
°F/175°C.
4.Keep covered with tinfoil, and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove tinfoil and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the surface is lightly browned and the centre is firm.

Make Blueberry Sauce:
1.Mix sugar, cornstarch, and water in a medium pot and bring to boil. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly.  
2.Stir in the remaining 1 cup blueberries to the mixture.  Simmer for 10 minutes at medium heat, and cook until the blueberries burst.  Add the butter until melted, then pour blueberry sauce over the baked French toast.  


Follow Dempster's on Social Media!

Do you have a favourite make ahead recipe?  What do you think of the Overnight Blueberry French Toast recipe?  Would you try it for a special occasion?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Grandmother's Triangle Cookie (Hamantaschen) Recipe!

Hamantaschen (Triangle) Cookies
With Raspberry Jam Filling
This winter I've really been thinking about my late paternal grandparents, and how they both brought happiness to my brother and I.  My late grandfather was a quiet man with a generous heart, and he loved taking his grandkids to see the latest movie and enjoying a nice meal out.  My grandmother loved feeding her family, and I so fondly remember the green salads she served at dinner, her brisket with roast potatoes and candied carrots at special occasions, and her chicken soup with "window" shaped egg noodles.

Every so often I caught a "whiff" of my grandmother's cooking, although she's been gone for a decade and my nose is playing tricks on me.  I always stop in my tracks and smile, as I'm transported back in time to my grandma's kitchen.  In my mind, I can see her yellow soup simmering on the stove top, as she calls to me to help set the dinner table with small wooden bowls for salad.  In the fridge, I know that jell-o is chilling for dessert in red glass goblets.

Grandma and grandpa, I'm thinking of you with love.
Ingredients for Hamantaschen (Triangle Cookies)
Fill with jam, poppy seeds, prunes or chocolate (untraditional)
I also have a wonderful set of maternal grandparents, who are now in their late 80s.  Up until last year, my grandma would accept special requests and cook a special dish for the great-grandkids' birthday parties.  Unfortunately, she has retired from cooking now and we all miss her dishes very much.  

One day, as I stood in my empty kitchen, I remembered a dessert that my maternal grandmother had taught me as a child in her own kitchen over 30 years ago: Hamantaschen, or triangle cookies.  Poof: the cookies just popped into my head after 3 decades!  This is a dish that is often made for a holiday called Purim, which is celebrated today and tomorrow.  Why did I think of this dish so many years later?  I believe it was because I was missing the wonderful cooking that I'd grown up with, missing my paternal grandparents, and that Purim is now upon us.
Making Homemade Dough for Triangle Cookies
So I decided to look up a recipe for Hamantaschen on the internet, and make the triangle cookies with my own kids.  After 30 years, my grandmother no longer had her old recipe for Hamantaschen, so I found a great one for Buttery Hamantaschen from Shiksa In the Kitchen!  The recipe I found, just like my grandmother's, required that you make the cookie dough ahead of time, and let it sit in the fridge overnight (or at least 3 hours).

I showed my kids how to make homemade dough, how to carefully wrap and refrigerate it--and then patiently let it chill for at least 3 hours.  Then, I sprinkled flour on our cutting board and on the rolling pin, and I showed my children how to roll out the dough and work the dough with their hands--just like my grandma and great-grandma had shown me as a child.  Then I showed the kids how to use the circular "mouth" of a glass cup to cut the dough into perfect circles, and to carefully lay the circles out on the cookie sheet.
Make Circles Out of Dough & Pinch 3 "Corners" Together
to Make Hamantaschen Cookies
The kids enjoyed filling the cookies with 1 teaspoon of jam, or with a spoonful of chocolate chips (although I noticed that many chocolate chips were "casualties" and never made it into the cookies).  I showed the children how to pinch 3 corners and make the "points" on the triangle cookies, and how to wet the dough if it became too dry and would not stick.  I also taught the kids how to add more flour if the dough became too wet.  Lastly, I encouraged the children to space out the Hamantaschen on the cookie sheet so the filling would not spill over and "melt" the cookies together.  Good times!

The recipe was delicious, although my cookies did not turn out the same as the ones from Shiksa In the Kitchen.  There was a reason for it: I decided to make the cookies from memory, making the triangle shape of the cookies exactly as my grandmother had shown me.  Needless to say, my memory had failed me, but at least the cookies were delicious!  I think that the butter and the grated orange zest made this cookie dough recipe FANTASTIC.  Even my own mother said so, and of course she's unbiased.

Hamantaschen Almost As I Remember Grandma Making
In my Hamantaschen cookies, I prefered to use 1 teaspoon of jam as the filling, because that's the way my grandma used to make them.  My favourite triangle cookie filling is raspberry jam, but some bakers prefer a prune filling or poppy seed.  To change up my batch of Hamantaschen, I filled some of my cookies with chocolate chips.  My kids loved these, and they would have been tasty with a chocolate filling like Nutella!  This is definitely not the traditional way of making these.  

Note: my own grandmother made the 3 corners of her triangle cookies by pinching the "sides" together, but my technique did not work well because the corners would not hold together properly--and was very time-consuming.  Next time I make Hamantaschen, I would like to use Shiksa In The Kitchen's method to seal the triangle cookies and make 3 clear points to each triangle.
The Kids Loved The Triangle Cookies!
Below is the recipe for Buttery Hamantaschen from Shiksa In the Kitchen.  Please visit her website to see how to prepare and assemble the recipe.  You will definitely need a rolling pin to make the dough properly.

Buttery Hamantaschen Cookie Dough Recipe
By: Shiksa In the Kitchen  See full recipe HERE

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup butter - unsalted (room temperature)
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange zest - grated
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1-5 tsp water (if needed)


Have you ever tried triangle cookies before (Hamantaschen)?  What would you like best in the centre of your cookies: jam, prunes, poppy seed, chocolate or something else?  Do you have a favourite recipe from your mom, grandma, or great-grandma that's dear to you?               

Friday, March 14, 2014

Our Winter Barbecue During March Break!

Our Winter Barbecue
If you're Canadian, you can attest that it's been a loooong winter--and spring has been dangled before us, kind of like a carrot to a rabbit.  However, my family barbecues all year long, even in the arctic chill  of winter--and we keep the flame for spring alive (literally and figuratively).

This March Break, we've had some amazing extremes of temperature.  One day +10°C, another day -17°C.  For those of you keeping track, that's a difference of 27°C in less than 24 hours!  That's Canada for you, and two years ago I wrote about the crazy weather in Toronto on March 9th 2012 (parkas and a snow squall), vs. the weather on March 22nd, 2012 (swimsuits and children in the kiddy pool)!
Sometimes Only a Hotdog Will Do When You're 3-Years Old!
Today after tobogganing for hours and building snow forts, the kids decided that only hot dogs would do.  After coming in from the snowy hill, they had worked up an appetite and wanted something quick and hot.  My wonderful dad, nephew, and niece were also over, so my husband fired up the grill and made a barbecue of saucy pork back ribs, dogs, grilled veggies and Villaggio Italian Style Sausage Buns.  

Never mind that the barbecue was buried beneath two feet of snow, there's no keeping the Canadian spirit down!  In -15°C I wish to report that my hubby was wearing a parka, but he marinated the ribs and flipped the dogs wearing only a long-sleeved shirt.  So Canadian, eh?   
Have Grill, Will Travel!
Follow Villaggio Bread on Social Media!

Do you barbecue throughout the winter at your home?  What are you most looking forward to about spring?  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Disney In-Home Movie Releases for March 2014 & CONTEST -7 Cities! (~OVER~)

March 2014 NEW Disney In-Home Movie Releases!
March is a great month for in-home Blu-Ray and DVD movie releases from Disney!  Check out the great line-up, below, including Frozen, which my daughter has asked about for months since she last saw it in theatres!

Disney's March 2014 In-Home Movie Release Dates!
Winnie-the-Pooh: Springtime With Roo Blu-Ray combo pack - March 11th, 2014
Frozen Blu-Ray combo pack - March 18th, 2014
Saving Mr. Banks Blu-Ray combo pack - March 18th, 2014
The Jungle Book 2 Blu-Ray combo pack - March 18th, 2014
Delivery Man Blu-Ray combo pack - March 25th, 2014
Disney's Winnie-the-Pooh: Springtime With Roo
On Blu-Ray Combo Pack Now!
Winnie-the-Pooh: Springtime With Roo Movie Synopsis:
"Each year, Rabbit plays Easter Bunny, but this year, he’s decided it’s “Spring Cleaning Day,” and he orders everyone to hop to it: scrubbing, dusting, and mopping. All his pals are disappointed – especially little Roo – until Rabbit learns that putting others first and showing friends how much you care turns every day into a precious gift. Sparkling with unforgettable songs and a never-before-seen bonus treat, this delightful “egg-stravaganza” shows why love, hope and friendship are always in full bloom in the Hundred Acre Wood!"  

Disney's Frozen Comes to Blu-Ray Combo Pack
March 18th, 2014!
Frozen Movie Synopsis:
If you are looking for a SPECTACULAR animated film, do purchase Disney's Frozen!  The music is fantastic, and the magnificent storyline is based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.

"Fearless optimist Anna sets off on an epic journey — teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven — to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom."

Disney's The Jungle Book 2 Comes to Blu-Ray Combo Pack
March 18th, 2014!

The Jungle Book 2 Movie Synopsis:
"Now that Mowgli’s living in the “man-village” (human village), he cherishes his new best friend and little brother, but he still has that jungle rhythm in his heart. He misses hanging out with happy-go-lucky Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther. Yearning for freedom, Mowgli runs off into the jungle – and encounters his enemy Shere Khan! This time, he’ll need both his new human family and his old jungle friends to help save the day."
Disney's Saving Mr. Banks Comes to Blu-Ray Combo Pack
March 18th, 2014!
Saving Mr. Banks Movie Synopsis:
"Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson bring to life the surprising backstory behind the making of Mary Poppins. Determined to fulfill a promise to his daughters, Walt Disney (Hanks) tries for 20 years to obtain the rights to author P.L. Travers’ (Thompson) beloved book. Armed with his iconic creative vision, Walt pulls out all the stops, but the uncompromising Travers won’t budge. Only when he reaches into his own complicated childhood does Walt discover the truth about the ghosts that haunt Travers, and together, the set Mary Poppins free."  

Disney's Delivery Man Comes to Blu-Ray Combo Pack
March 25th, 2014!
Delivery Man Movie Synopsis:
"In this heartwarming comedy, underachiever David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) learns he’s actually an overachiever — he’s fathered 533 children via donations made twenty years earlier! David soon discovers that the shock of his life might just be the best thing that’s ever happened to him. Along the way he discovers not only his true self, but also the father he could become." 

2 CONTESTS! (~OVER~)


Muppets Most Wanted WINNERS:
Elizabeth G.
Olivia L.
Andrew M.
justin W.
Lesley D.
Jeff B.
krislyn R.

Pirate Fairy WINNERS:
Casey G.
Leanne M.
Sabrina P.

To celebrate Disney's March in-home movie releases, SnyMed.com is giving away:

Seven (7) Family Movie Passes (consisting of 4 tickets) to see Muppets: Most Wanted, on Wednesday March 19th, 2014 at 7:00pm (7:30pm for Toronto & Winnipeg).
Available Cities: Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Waterloo & Winnipeg.

Three (3) Family Movie Passes (consisting of 4 tickets) to see Disney's The Pirate Fairy, on Saturday March 29th, 2013 at 10:00am (Toronto movie starts at 10:30am, with fairy makeovers and photos at 9:00am)!
Available Cities: Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver.

Contest for Muppets: Most Wanted ends Sunday March 16th, 2014 at 8:00pm EST.
Contest for The Pirate Fairy ends Friday March 21st, 2014 at 8:00pm EST.
Due to the short end date of the contest, winners have 24 hours to claim tickets.

How To Enter:
There are two different entry forms below for Disney's Muppets: Most Wanted and Disney's The Pirate Fairy.  You are welcome to enter both--or one--if you wish.  Leave a COMMENT below stating which movie or movies you would like to win tickets for, and state which city you would like to win tickets for (cities are listed above).  GOOD LUCK!

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