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Nintendo Splatoon Review

entertain, Featured, kids, LIVE, play, tech, toys By August 13, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

I’m one of those hardcore moms who never allowed the boys to play with squirt guns. They would find driftwood with some resemblance to weapons, and use imagination and creativity to make up games.

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Dinner Party Hosting Tips

EAT, entertain By July 3, 2015 Tags: , , , , , 43 Comments

Jill Amery Ambassador

Canadians love to entertain and host dinner parties. Did you see our swanky party? To help create magical evenings, Food Network Chef Michael Smith teamed up with Cascade Platinum to share tips on how to make your dinner party sparkle, while cutting down your clean up time! Want your dinner party to sparkle? Follow these tips from Chef Michael Smith and your guests will be blown away.

Dinner Party Hosting Tips

  1. Spend time to save time: Prep as much as you can in advance – from food to your table. Smart preparation will allow you to spend more time with your guests.
  2. Make your guests feel special: Thoughtful details tell your guests they are special. Set the mood with music, place cards, flowers and sparkling dishes and glasses. I use Cascade Platinum in every cycle to make sure everything is ready for a big event.
  3. Start with a bang! Do something collectively right away. A group activity subtly reminds everyone “We’re in this together!”
  4. Give your guests something fun to do: At some point, engage your guests in an interactive activity, something hands on, that’s not work.
  5. Clean as you go: Get the mess out of the way, and load the dishwasher as you prepare dinner. With Cascade Platinum, you don’t need to worry about pre-rinsing – it will clean stuck-on food in one wash.
  6. Share the work: Many hands make light work. After the main meal and before dessert, encourage everybody to pitch in with clean up.
  7. Grand finale: End the evening with something spectacular, something memorable, or my favourite—something flammable!

cascadeBut you don’t have to host a party to have a Sparkling Clean dinner. Sitting down to family dinner is a special occasion in itself as it brings people together. Why not give your family an extra special night by putting Michael’s tips to action? And with Cascade Platinum, you’re sure to have sparkling clean dishes every day. We’ll be sending you a Sparkling Clean bundle with two tubs of the new and improved Cascade Platinum, valued at $18.99 each.

 

Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom/maman P&G. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events and opportunities. The opinions on this blog are my own.

 

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The Great Canadian Grille-Off

EAT, entertain By June 27, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Great Canadian Grille-OffIt’s almost here!! Canada Day long weekend is as synonymous with outdoor grilling as Victoria Day is with the number 24. You have the grill, the apron and the tools that a certain someone received for Father’s Day, but now comes the hard part: recipes and spices. My son has taken to creating special dry rubs for ribs and marinades for beef, but at the age of eight he’s no match for the two celebrity chefs going head to head for a culinary Canada Day grilling dual! It’s The Great Canadian Grille-Off!

Throughout the summer, eight celebrity chefs from across Canada will compete in four culinary duels to determine the best barbecue recipes using Club House products. To celebrate this Canada Day long weekend, chefs Karen Barnaby and Trevor Bird will try their hand at recipes they have created using Club House products – namely La Grille Wild Whiskey Smoked BBQ Sauce and La Grille Vintage Smokehouse with Honey BBQ Sauce. So what will it be? Karen’s Easy BBQ Beans or Trevor’s Whole Roasted Duck? You decide! Your vote could snag you a prepaid $500 credit card or a grilling party for yourself and 5 friends hosted by a celebrity chef, plus a $2,000 pre-paid credit card to use towards the grill of your dreams! You have one week to vote on the Club House LaGrille Facebook page. Just be sure to rinse the sauce off your fingers before you hit the keyboard.

Wild Whiskey Smoked Easy BBQ Beans by Karen Barnaby

UM: Why did you choose this dish?
KB:
Baked beans are great with barbecued food. When the inspiration hits, I want beans that are quick and delicious. The recipe is fast and easy, and can be cooked outside on a BBQ burner. For the delicious part, La Grille Wild Whiskey BBQ Sauce provides that.

Karen Barnaby BBQ BeansPrep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients (Serves 4)

Directions:

  1. Drain the beans and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  2. In a pot, over medium high heat, cook the bacon until browned.
  3. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.
  4. Add Club House La Grille Wild Whiskey Smoked BBQ Sauce, brown sugar, tomato paste, water, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and add the beans.
  6. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if the mixture looks too dry.
  7. Check the seasoning and serve 

Chef Trevor Bird makes a delicious Whole Roasted Duck with Vintage Smokehouse with honey BBQ sauce! Try it for your next backyard BBQ party!

Whole Roasted Duck with Vintage Smokehouse Honey BBQ Sauce       

UM: What makes this dish such a popular choice  at Fable Kitchen, your restaurant in Vancouver?
TB: At Fable we do a lot of family style cooking, and our whole duck is always a hit. With the long slow roast and heavy basting of the duck, it makes for a nice sticky glaze that will impress.
Whole Roasted Duck with Vintage Smokehouse Honey BBQ SauceYield: 4 portions
Prep time: 10 – 15 minutes
Cook time: 6 hours in oven

Ingredients:        

 

Procedure:                                                                                                               

1. Preheat oven to 250F, or 225F in a convection oven
2. Take your whole duck and wash the outside well, pat dry and season with salt and pepper
3. Mix the BBQ sauce and vinegar with a brush
4. Place the duck in the oven, after 3 hours of cooking, start to brush the duck with the BBQ sauce every 30 minutes
5. Check the duck after 5 hours. The leg should pull away from the body very easily like a confit.
6. If not ready, leave in the oven 1 more hour.
7. Serve on a platter with your favourite grilled products, roasted potatoes and a side of the Vintage Smokehouse with Honey BBQ sauce                                  

The whole bird falls apart so just grab some forks and dig in!

Which will you choose? Vote now and let the (Canada Day) games begin!!

Would also love for you to share your summer grilling stories with me this weekend! Tweet @urbanmommies using the hashtag, #FlavourStory

 Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Club House. All opinions about how yummy the recipes have been are our own.

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harry-potter-birthday-party

The Harry Potter Birthday Party

EAT, entertain, grow, LIVE By May 29, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , 3 Comments

Whish Harry Potter Table

My son is now eight. He stumbled over words while reading and as a parent it was so hard to keep him from getting discouraged – until I dusted off an old Harry Potter book. Overnight he went from not being ‘allowed’ to read chapter books at school to finishing his first novel – The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. That’s what interest will do for education! A celebration was in order!

Potion class? Wand instruction? Floating candles? Of course.

For his eighth birthday we invited parents, all of the kids in the class and siblings for a huge Harry Potter birthday party. 26 kids for a sit-down dinner. Gulp. I love to entertain, create and spend oodles of time on the food for parties, but the logistics are always a pain. Whish Party approached me for a colaboration and I explained my idea. Patricia, the owner got just as excited as I was and gave me tons of planning tips. She then shipped me all I would need as basics for the party so that I could focus on the bits that I enjoy the most.

The box from Whish arrived and I squealed. It contained:

Whish Harry Potter Party

– Silver plastic plates, cutlery and glasses. I learned later that all are fine in the dishwasher and will certainly be used again!
– A cake base
– Silver plastic serving utensils
– Corked jars in which to store take-home favours (potion)
– Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans
– Harry Potter napkins (One house on each quarter)
– A stuffed owl puppet with eyes that move
– Black plastic tablecloths

Harry Potter Birthday Party

Harry Potter Party Decor

1. The Great Hall. Four long tables (including deck furniture and card tables) were stretched across the living room and covered with the black cloths.
2. Floating Candles. We tied twine to the ‘wicks’ of flameless candles (Whish told me not to use fishing wire as the light would reflect and you would see the wire). I made a loop at the ends of the twine and cut each at a different length. I then wrapped a piece of printer paper around the tea lights, taping it at the beginning and end. Voila! A candle. We used thumbtacks to affix the twine on each each ‘candle’ to our ceiling, alternating them between long and short.
3. Harry Potter References. Pinterest is amazing. I found numerous ideas and whipped up a few signs like ‘The Stairs Change’ at the bottom of the staircase and a photo of Moaning Myrtle underneath the toilet seat.

Harry Potter Party Food

Harry Potter Party Food

1. I went easy and British! Store-bought meat pies, mashed potatoes, gravy and peas. Healthy and there wasn’t a drop left! (And we’d assumed that because it wasn’t chicken fingers, pizza or mac and cheese they would complain…)
2. We did two drinks: Pumpkin Juice (aka whatever fruit punch was on sale) and Butterbeer.
Golden Snitch Cake3. Golden Snitch Cake. With white ostrich feathers from the craft store and golden sparkles.

Harry Potter Party Activities

A Harry Potter Birthday

1. As guests arrived we presented them with a Platform 9 3/4 train ticket. I snagged the idea from The World’s Worst Moms.
2. Using various jars and bottles and Over the Big Moon’s potion labels glued on, we did a Potion Class. For one potion I did the old standby: vinegar and water in one bottle and cornstarch and water in another. I put food colouring in each and the little wizards had to figure out what would happen when we poured the solution into the cauldron.

Whish also supplied me a recipe for slime that’s perfect for a goody bag.

Salazar Slytherin’s Serpent Slime:
1 Tbsp of Elmer’s Clear Glue
2 Tbsp of warm water
Few drops of your choice of food colouring
1/4 tsp. of Borax powder

a.  Combine Borax powder with 1 tbsp. of warm water
b.  In a separate bowl, mix glue and 1 tbsp. of warm water, then add your desired colour.
c.  Slowly add the Borax and water mixture to your glue mixture; thickening the slime.
d.  Knead until smooth.
e.  Store slime in an airtight container to keep it from escaping!

3. Wand Instruction. You may have a better method, but as the ‘Professor’ I stood on my king-sized bed and made the wizards stand in a line at the foot of the bed. They each had been given a ‘wand’ which was a dark brown chopstick bought in Chinatown. They were instructed to say ‘ridiculis’ and ‘expelliamous’. (Yes, I did several years at acting school but I bet you can find a theatrical friend to run this part of the party!) Each child’s spell made me flail, fall, quack, etc. This could also be done on a trampoline, bed of pillows….
4. Photo Booth. Because we invited adults and siblings there were many older girls who have a penchant for fashion design and photography. We assembled props, including the precious owl that I ordered from Whish, and the three year old in the group was charged with escorting one wizard at a time to the photo area. We did a digital as well as a polaroid snap of each model, and the polaroid was included in the thank you notes.

Harry Potter Party Goody Bags

Whish Party Harry Potter

I don’t believe in elaborate goody bags where most is dollar-store plastic to be thrown away or candy to ruin the rest of a parent’s night after kids have eaten cake and gotten excited with their friends. My true preferences are charity and philanthropy-related, so we donated money to Right to Play on behalf of my son. I did want to send the kids home with something, though. We cut burlap squares and filled them with the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and a Soccer Ball (signifying Right to Play). They were each tied with twine and a tiny key. They also went home with their slime in each special jar.

So the parents could deal with a mess on their sofa instead of a sugar high. Ha!

A ton of work, kids that were in awe, and a total turn-key setup that allowed me to focus on what was really important: making memories and paying attention to detail.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Whish.ca that contains lots of heart, Mom-love and effort. All opinions are my own. 

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Showing my Formal Disney Side

EAT, entertain By March 28, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

DisneySideWhen the call of Disney becons, you jump for joy and begin sprinkling the pixie dust! It’s like somebody handing over lottery winnings or granting three wishes. What is a ‘Disney Side‘? I think it is pure joy. Happiness. The innocence and wonder of youth. We all harbour these qualities within ourselves, and yet we all express them differently.  A Disney celebration does not have to include princess gowns or animation. In fact, our celebration took bits from many Disney ideals and moments and overlayed them all onto a formal dinner that celebrated kids and adults alike.

DisneySide

We set our celebration with eight adults and four children. The adult table was formal with crystal, linen and silver. Kids had many Disney inspired stuffies and themed napkins. I had the kids type names for place card adorned with Mickey Mouse faces and glue them to thick cards edged in black. The kids learned how to properly set a table and they were given ‘wine’ glasses for their Monsters Inc. juice.

As guests arrived, they were greeted at the door by our two sons wearing their Mickey ears.  We began our celebration with a run around our little island and the winner was awarded a copy of the new Frozen on Blu-ray. Of course, that is the soundtrack that played throughout. I may or may not have belted ‘Let it Go’ with Idina Menzel…

Next, we played Disney Bingo as we nibbled on snowflake-shaped cheeses covered in Ocean Spray Craisins.

Dinner was a huge hit, though I didn’t quite bank on the hours of cleanup necessitated by pulling out the good dishes!

Lobster Mickey Pappardelle

Our DisneySide Menu:

Snowflake-shaped hard cheeses sprinkled with Craisins
Lobster Mickey Cream Pappardelle
Homemade Mickey Cheese Sauce for the Kids
Mickey-shaped garlic bread sprinkled with kale
Mickey Trouser Cupcakes
Disney Sugar Cookies

DisneySide RunWe ended the evening by giving each guest a lithograph of Minnie and Mickey, along with a few personalized photos of the run around the island printed on HP photo cards. All of the goodies were served up in the American Tourister luggage that all of the party supplies arrived in.

And that is my Disney Side! All I can say is that I should have done a few more laps for the run to make up for the lobster cream sauce and sugar cookies!

Disclosure: This #DisneySide Home Celebration was sponsored by Disney, and UrbanMommies received products as compensation for hosting this celebration. All opinions and styling are our own.

Disneyside

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Summer BBQ tips

A Chef’s Summer BBQ Tips

EAT, entertain By August 2, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Summer BBQ TipsJust in time for a long weekend, we have a special treat for you: a chef’s summer BBQ tips!  Chef Tom Filippou, Executive Chef President’s Choice Cooking Schools has given us an exclusive interview about the current trends and tips in BBQ.  Here he talks overcooking, smoking, menus and marinades.  Enjoy, and feel free to extend a dinner invitation to our team…  Have a great long weekend!

1.  What are this summer’s current trends in BBQ?

I would say that one of the hottest trends right now is incorporating traditional North African spices and flavours into your foods.  We’ve just introduced our PC black label harissa spice blend that is a Moroccan seasoning blend of crushed hot red chilies, cumin, ground caraway, coriander, garlic, sea salt and spearmint leaves adds a bold and slightly smoky kick to stews, grains and vegetable dishes. Not only can you use it to season your meats, but it also becomes a condiment when blended with olive oil to make a thick paste which is a really unique way to spice up your burgers or chicken.

Also, a fairly new trend that we’ve really been a bit of a trendsetter in is grilling cheese on the barbecue.  For example, we have a great mild-tasting Mediterranean-inspired PC Halloom Cheese that is great for the grill because it resists melting, holds its shape and great to add to kebabs, summer salads and sandwiches. Also, one of my favourite new foods this summer is our PC Cedar Plank Brie. The wood protects the double-cream Brie from the flames while the smoke imbues it with flavor. It even comes with our PC Memories of Tuscany Sauce  that adds sweet and tangy notes to the creamy cheese. Both of these are really unique foods to offer your guests and I think we’ll start to see more and more cheese on the grill.

Lastly, slow cooking on the barbecue using smoking and indirect heat are always very popular every summer.

PC Cedar Plank Brie2.  How do you ensure that you’re not overcooking your meat and vegetables on the grill?

The number one thing to do to ensure that you don’t overcook anything on the grill is to be attentive. Be focused on what you’re doing, don’t get distracted by trying to make other foods at the same time in the kitchen.

Also, get to know your barbecue and find out the “hot spots” and “cool spots” on your barbecue, this will help prevent charring and burning.

Lastly, I always teach people to use the “touch method.” This is what most chefs are taught to use, especially with meat and chicken. When you touch the meat, the firmer it is, the more cooked or well-done it is. If the meat is softer or pliable, the more undercooked it is.

3.  People keep talking about smoking on the BBQ.  How do you do it and what flavours are your favourites?

This is my super simple way to do smoking….

1. Soak your wood or wood chips in water for at least an hour before your barbecue

2. Strain your wood or wood chips

3. Wrap aluminum foil around the wood and pop some holes in it to allow the smoke out

4. Put the wood on the barbecue and put the heat on very low

5. Place your meat on the wood

6. When the chips start smoking, close the cover of your barbecue and keep the cover down so the flavor from the smoke imbues the food

Tom’s tip: for even extra flavor, soak your wood or woodchips in bourbon or apple juice the night before.

 4.  If you’re doing an easy BBQ with friends, what is your typical menu?

I always tell people to use the barbecue as much as possible to keep you outside with your guests instead of inside the kitchen.

I like to start off by having some bite sized chicken or beef kabobs or a great skewer (like the one that uses our PC Halloom cheese with sundried tomatoes) to serve to guests to snack on when they arrive.

Or serving our PC Cedar Plank Brie with some pita crackers is also a great unique offering for your guests that they will love.

Another neat idea that I’ve served my guests before is barbecuing a pizza and slicing it up into bite sized pieces to serve as a mini appetizers to guests when they arrive.

In terms of a main course, it’s always great to serve a grand finale like ribs served with a great barbecue sauce like our PC Molasses, Brown Sugar and Bourbon Barbecue sauce. If you’re going to do ribs, use indirect heat and let them cook for an hour or so.

Also, something really interesting that I’ve been doing lately that kids and parents love is setting up a D.I.Y. burger bar. Serve a really popular burger such as our PC Free From Angus Burger (serve the PC Free From Mini Sliders for the kids) and then set up unique condiments in serving bowls instead of the usual ketchup and mustard. Our new PC Condiments such as our PC Kimchi Korean-style condiment, our PC Soffrito Relish or our PC Maple Mustard are great crowd pleasers and conversation starters.

5.  Meats: marinate or flavour injection?  Or neither?

This all depends on the cut of meat you’re using. The tougher the cut of meat (such as a flank steak or a sirloin) the more you should marinate. True marinading is used to breakdown the connective tissue found in tougher cuts of meat. For meat that has a lot of marbling, you don’t need any marinade (such as a rib eye or fillets). Chicken can be marinaded or grilled without, depending on your individual preference.

When choosing a marinade, make sure it has a citrus or vinegar base (these are best to breakdown the connective tissue) or try any of our premade PC Marinades.

These recipes and more are available at www.PC.ca. The President’s Choice items Chef Tom mentions are available at Real Canadian Superstore, nofrills, and Extra Foods locations.  Happy Grilling!!

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Girly Lemonade Stands

EAT, entertain, LIVE, nourish By July 3, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

girly lemonade standWhat kid doesn’t want to set up on the front lawn with ice-cold lemonade and a cash box?  Not only to pass the time and teach them some math skills, you can up the ante a bit by encouraging them to donate the proceeds to a charitable organization.  Make a day of it with girly lemonade stands that help fellow women attain their basic rights in third world countries.

Small actions can drive big change.  Plan Canada’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ initiative is helping to inspire youth to turn lemons into Pink LemonAid by hosting LemonAid fundraisers in their communities. 

The girl issue is real, and it’s affecting girls and women around the world – but what is it? Girls in the poorest regions of the world are among the most disadvantaged people on the planet. They are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be denied access to education, and more likely to be malnourished, simply because they are young and female.

And yet, studies show that when you invest in girls, the whole world benefits. If a girl has enough to eat, a safe environment, and an education, she’ll work to raise the standard of living for herself, her family and her community. And in time, she can even strengthen the economy of her entire country.

Did you know?

  • 70% of the one billion people living in extreme poverty are women and girls.
  • Girls are 3x more likely to be malnourished than boys.
  • Globally, 66 million girls do not attend primary or secondary school.

There is an urgent need to stand up for the rights of millions of girls. In the poorest regions of the world, girls face double discrimination and unique barriers to survival and development, simply because they are young and female.

But when girls attain their basic human rights, they will:

  • Be 6x less likely to be married as children
  • Have 2.2 fewer yet healthier children
  • Increase their contributions to household income by 18%

Pink LemonAid Kits full of helpful tips, educational materials and instructions on hosting can be downloaded online here. Moms can review the materials with their children and educate them on the importance of helping out girls from around the world who are less fortunate.

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