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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Curry Pumpkin Turkey Chili

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Fall weather is here and it's the perfect time for chilis and soups to warm up cold hands and cheeks. I love having a big pot of chili ready for my family when they arrive home from school and work.
I often make a huge cauldron of chili on the weekends too so my family has a tasty meal ready whenever they arrive home from hockey games or a part-time job.
Teenagers are always hungry and the fridge is often the first stop after walking through the door.
And you might remember that I have been an Ambassador with Patak's for the past year where each month, I get to share yummy recipes and mix in a little India  for a fun twist on old favourites, as well as new dishes. And now I am so excited to share with you that I am entering Year Two as an Ambassador with Patak's!
This month's theme was celebrating the beauty of Diwali, which is basically the Indian equivalent of Christmas, and  Indian families and friends celebrate the themes of light conquering darkness, sharing with friends and family, fireworks, candles and colourful flowered garlands.
And as a Patak's Ambassador, I was tasked with incorporating some seasonal tastes with Indian spices....which inspired me to create a twist on our favourite chili recipe. Adding some pumpkin and curry to this dish increases not only the flavour sensation, but extra beta-carotene from the pumpkin is not a bad thing either, right? Yum!
Curry Pumpkin Chicken Chili is lovely with fresh biscuits or rolls.
And it smells so fragrant and definitely sparks an appetite.
Curry Pumpkin Chicken Chili

Ingredients:
-1 pound of ground turkey or chicken
-1/2 cup diced onion
-1/2 cup diced celery
-half yellow pepper, diced
-1 cup mushrooms, sliced
-2-3 tablespoons Pataks Tikki Curry Paste
-1 teaspoon dried thyme and basil
-1 19 oz. can of tomato sauce
-1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
-19 oz. can of pumpkin {not pumpkin pie filling}
-19 oz. can of red kidney beans
-19 oz can white kidney beans
-1/2 cup chili powder

To make:
1. In large pot, add ground turkey and cook until no longer pink and juice run clear.
2. To turkey, add onion, celery, yellow pepper, and mushrooms. Fry until veggies are soft and translucent. Add curry paste, thyme and basil and mix thoroughly with turkey and vegetables.
3. To turkey/veggie mixture, add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, pumpkin, beans and chili powder.
4. Bring chili to high temperature and then turn back to a simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with more chili powder if necessary and salt & pepper.
5. Serve and refrigerate any leftovers.

I usually make a double batch of this chili so I have lots to feed my hungry family. And remember that chili often tastes better the next day! 

Have you had a chance to visit the Patak's site? It is full of amazing recipes that are perfect for cold weather, along with a ton of drink ideas, side dishes and desserts too.
And Patak's has also recently launched a blog called Good Korma which shares lots of great information and inspiration too!

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


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Monday, October 27, 2014

The Winner of The SodaStream Giveaway is....

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Hello dear readers! Happy Monday! I cannot believe that this is the last week of October already! You may remember a few weeks ago that I shared with you a Fall Fruit Spritzer Bar and I hosted a giveaway for a SodaStream Play Machine. We love our SodaStream as it gives us the convenience of making sparkling water right at home with tap water and then adding our own flavours with fresh fruit.
The lucky winner is Kim D,, as shown in the widget for the giveaway on the original post and she has been contacted and is super excited! 
Wishing you all a wonderful Fall Day! 
 
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Easy & Delicious Cheesy Shrimp Pasta Dinner

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Like any busy mom, I am always in need of easy dinner ideas for my family. Sometimes there is such a short span of time between when kids arrive home from school and adults from work before there is scattering to sports or other activities. And easy dinners are also sometimes all I have the energy for after a day of work, so it's nice to have easy recipes that are delicious and devoured by the family but don't take a lot of effort. Pasta, shrimp and cheese are some of my families favourite ingredients, so I know that anything that includes those things are sure to be a winner. Kudos to easy dinner ideas!
And not only do I have a great easy dinner recipe for you, but I have teamed up with several other bloggers to bring you a whole collection of other easy dinner ideas so you will have lots to choose from for you family!
This recipe takes only 20 minutes to put together and another 10 minutes in the oven to melt the cheese, which gives you time to make a crisp green salad which is a great accompaniment to this meal.
Easy & Delicious Cheesy Shrimp Pasta Dinner
{makes a large pan}

Ingredients
1 bag rotini pasta cooked according to package directions
1-2 bags frozen cooked shrimp/prawns with the tail off
2 jars of favourite Alfredo sauce
1-2 cups favourite shredded cheese
chives, chopped {optional}

Directions:
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, place shrimp frozen shrimp in skillet and cook until heated through. Do not cook too long or the shrimp will become tough. Drain off all the liquid. Add Alfredo sauce and heat through. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. After pasta is cooked, drain. Add Alfredo, shrimp mixture and half of cheese to pasta pot and mix well.
3. Pour pasta into large lasagna pan. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top and garnish with chives if desired.
4. Place pasta dish in oven for about 10 minutes....just so cheese is melted.
5. Serve with a green salad.

This dinner is my one of my son's favourite and I make it often as the whole family loves it as well.

Now, are you ready for other amazing dinner ideas?
There are so many ideas here that menu planning for the next week will be super easy!
Click on the links below to discover all kinds of other delicious and easy dinner ideas!

I hope you find some great family meal ideas for you family!




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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Apple & Bacon French Toast Strata

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Disclosure: I am participating in the Burbrae Farms campaign managed by SJ Consulting. I received compensation in exchange for my participation in this campaign. The opinions on this blog are my own.


Hello there! I hope you are well and enjoying October so far! We are seeing many mornings now with dew, or dare I say it, frost, on the ground in our neck of the woods, which means that winter will soon be on it`s way. In our home, that means get out the fluffy blankets, slow cooker and bacon and eggs!
We cannot survive cold winters without bacon and eggs....it`s just the rule in our house! Cue all the frying pans and egg dishes...we are ready for them! That`s why when I saw this recipe for Apple & Bacon French Toast Strata, I could hardly wait to make it for the hungry bunch at my house! 

But before I get to this recipe, I have a piece of happy news to share with you....I am excited to share  that I am an Ambassador for Burnbrae Farms for the next 12 months! You may recall that I visited Burnbrae Farms in June and learned so much about this amazing family-owned business that started from humble beginnings and has grown to be Canada`s largest egg producer.
So I am very honoured to be working with and representing this company here in my blog space where I will get to share nutritional news and yummy recipes with you each month!
  I will also be working with two other Burnbrae Farms Ambassadors as well...Stephanie from Spaceships and Laserbeams and Morgan at Wildly Fit.
This Apple & Bacon French Toast recipes rocks! 
And it smells so good while it is baking!
It is not only a delicious breakfast, but a great anytime meal in my opinion. I served it to my family for dinner because it is delicious and we love eggs,  and I know that they keep my very physically active kids fueled up.
And busy families can rejoice because this recipes is made all the more easy with the help of Burnbrae Farm`s Egg Creations! So after assembling a few other ingredients, this healthy egg blend is poured over the dish which makes it convenient to make and bake.
New Egg Creations French Toast blend is a refrigerated egg white based pre-mixed product that doesn`t require any additional ingredients or mixing. Just shake, dip and poor into your recipe and cook for a fast breakfast that is full great nutrition.
And I love having it in my fridge for my teenage son who is a busy hockey player and who is hungry ALL the time. He makes french toast with it for a fast meal!


Apple & Bacon French Toast Strata

This sweet and savoury strata can be prepared the night ahead and simply popped in the oven when you roll out of bed. Serve with a large platter of fresh fruit to complete your brunch menu.

INGREDIENTS

8slices bacon, chopped8
2 cupsdiced apple, such as Granny Smith or Honey Crisp500 mL
12 cupscubed day old French bread3 L
1 cartonEgg Creations™ French Toast Blend Maple, well shaken500 g
1/2 cupmilk125 mL
3/4 cupshredded aged white Cheddar cheese175 mL
1/4 cupchopped toasted pecans (optional)50 mL
Maple syrup


DIRECTIONS
1. Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 5 minutes or until slightly crisp. Remove half of the bacon pieces; set aside. Drain off all but 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the bacon fat. Add the apple to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes or until bacon is crisp and apple is slightly tender.

2. Grease a 9 x 13-inch (3 L) casserole dish. Toss the bread with the skillet mixture. Spread out in an even layer in the prepared casserole dish. Whisk eggs with milk; pour evenly over the bread mixture. Cover with foil and let stand in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with reserved bacon, cheese and pecans (if using). Bake for an additional 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool slightly and serve warm. Serve with maple syrup on the side.

TIPS
Substitute whole wheat bread for the French loaf for added fibre.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION PER SERVING
Calories: 239 | Fat: 6 g | Saturated Fat: 3 g | Carbohydrates: 34 g | Fibre: 2 g | Protein: 12 g | Sodium: 577 mg




A beautiful dish that is delicious to serve to your family and easy to prepare is something to add to your recipe rotation for breakfast, brunch, dinner! 

To celebrate sharing this fabulous recipe from the Recipe Nest at Burnbrae Farms,  I am hosting a giveaway.
One lucky reader will win $25 in coupons from Burnbrae Farms so you will be able to create delicious egg dishes at home for your family too!

Open to residents of Canada 18 years of age and older. Void where prohibited. Contest Rules Subject to Change.


For more great recipes and information, please follow Burnbrae Farms here:





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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Happy Halloween Treat Bags +Free Printable Labels

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Hello dear friends!  I have a very pressing questions for you! Are you ready? 
Have you dared to buy your Halloween candy yet? 
I always have to wait to the last minute because our candy magically disappears!
I find the wrappers all over the house. That's what happens when you have older kids...they tend to know all of your hiding spots!
Anyhoo, when Halloween comes, I like to make a treat bags for special people...either friends or neighbours. And if you have been following this blog for any length of time, you know how I adore pretty packaging.
And when the pretty packaging includes some delicious Nestle chocolate inside...then all the better!
I created these fun and festive labels {with the help of Avery} for you so you can simply print, cut and tie on and give away to your favourite little ghosts, goblin, princesses and super heros!
These chocolate treats are my family's favourite...my daughter loves Smarties, while my son is the fist to grab Aeros, Coffee Crisp or Kit Kats.

 Nestle has decided to join in on the Halloween fun this year with its limited-edition Scary bars, which feature their delicious treats dressed up for Halloween and with special names like: SCARIES, ScAERO, COFFIN CRISP and KIT KAT.
The Scary bar multipack box and treat-size single flavour packs feature ghoulishly dressed up bars that are great for both big and little appetites.

So with these free printable labels and Nestle's fun Halloween treats, along with bags and ribbon, making up cute treat bags this year will be a cinch.  But if I may give one word of advice...you may want to get out to your local retailer and get these cute bars before supplies run out!
{And find a really good hiding spot so they last until Halloween!}
And here is a sheet of 12 labels...just click and print!

Now I am off to find a new hiding spot so that our favourite Nestle treats last until Halloween!

Disclosure: I partnered with Nestle to bring you this post. I was compensated, however, I only partner with brands/products that I love and use in my own home. All opinions are my own.

 
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Making Coffee & Espresso Is Easy with our new Saeco Minuto Focus Coffee Machine #SaecoLover

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Hello sweet friends!
 You may remember a few weeks back  I wrote this post for International Coffee Day when we had just received a brand new Philips Saeco Minuto Focus Coffee Machine. At the time of that post, we had only had our machine for a few days, but now we have had the chance to be our very own barista for two weeks! And let me tell you...we are having a blast! Not only am I in love with this sleek new machine, but my husband is crazy over it too!
Some of the things we love about this machine are...well, should I mention first how you can start with fresh coffee beans? That's right...you can use fresh coffee beans right in the same machine! The Saeco Minuto Focus will grind the beans for you! No separate machine is needed for grinding the coffee beans. You can also adjust the grind to your personal taste...either coarse or fine. And if you like to buy ground coffee, you can use that too!
Next, you can make both coffee AND espresso! No need for separate machines for that either! That means lots of fun stuff can be created right from the same machine! And it requires less space on kitchen countertops because you have ONE machine that can grind, make coffee or espresso and froth milk! Look how easy it is to make coffee...just leave the lever upright so it says COFFEE for making coffee.
Now you need espresso? No problem! Just move the leaver down so that it says ESPRESSO and make espresso!
 You can even make two cups of ESPRESSO at the same time too!
This machine also has a wand that can used to either froth milk or to dispense steam or hot water.
Frothing milk is easy...just fill a frothing container 1/3 with milk and hold it up to the wand where it will heat the milk to the right temperature for frothing, and then it will froth the milk.
Then you mix frothy or foamy milk intto espresso shots to create lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, or whatever your heart desires! 
And this machine can make many variations! You can always get a perfect cup brewed just for you with adjustable length, strength and temperature with the push of a few buttons...and then you can save the settings for your favourite brew with the memo function.
Honestly, it is so much fun having this machine at home! During the weekdays, we usually make ourselves coffee in the morning, but then on the weekends,  we play! We make espresso and lattes, adding some flavors with syrups for a treat, and then pour on some frothed milk or even a little whipped cream, and finish off with a sprinkle of cinnamon or cocoa.
We love having this coffee machine! It's feels like we are treating ourselves to beautiful gourmet coffee shop coffee every single day....except we get to enjoy the rich deliciousness from the comfort of our own home!

{If you wish to buy, visit the Philips Saeco  page and click the link which says 'Buy From Retailers' to find a list of stores in your area.}

Disclosure: I was provided with a Saeco Minuto Focus Espresso Machine for purposes of review. As always, I only work with brands/products I love. All opinions are my honest opinions. And we truly love this machine!


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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Exploring California's Beaches: Laguna Beach

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Hello sweet friends! As fall arrives in Canada, with winter not far behind, it's that time of year again when many Canadian families will be thinking of a vacation to Disneyland to enjoy quality family fun while getting away from the tough cold of the Canadian winter. However, what do you do when your family is craving a little adventure outside of Disneyland? 
Explore the surrounding area...that's what you do! My daughter and I have been lucky enough to travel to the Orange County area of California three times in the last year and we have had the opportunity to experience so many things! I cannot wait to share with you everything that we have  experienced on our travels to that area of California! We have been lucky enough to visit Dana Point & Salt Creek Beach and now I'm going to share with you the fun we had at Laguna Beach!
Our visit to Laguna Beach could not have happened on a more beautiful beach day. It was the perfect weather for beach lounging and a picnic, which we enjoyed upon our arrival. However, Laguna Beach has so much to offer beside beaches... restaurants, shopping, wine-tasting, arts and culture, night life and a myriad of outdoor activities! 
And although we were only there for a very short time,we found it very pedestrian friendly with the beach and shopping only steps away from each other.  I headed off for some sight-seeing on my own and I was able to cover a lot of ground in a very short time and I saw so much that I loved!
Laguna Beach boasts nearly 8 miles of beautiful pristine beach within city limits that spans in front of many hotels and restaurants. As I walked past the north end of the beach, I thought of my teenage son {who was at home in Alberta} when I saw a few beach basketball courts with teen boys shooting some hoops.  Laguna Beach is the only beach in Orange County with beach basketball courts...how cool is that?  You will also find a full range of activities including wakeboard rentals, surf lessons, stand-up paddle board lessons, snorkel and diving adventures, as well as tide pool tours and smash ball equipment!
In essence, you will find so many fun things for your family to enjoy...no matter what their age!
The main beach also has a lovely meandering boardwalk so that you can enjoy a relaxing walk along shoreline.
While I spent some time at the beach, I also took some time to wander in the trendy downtown shopping area. I discovered so many interesting shops, cafes, a bakery, along with a few art galleries.
I really enjoyed poking around the shops and I even found a fabulous home decor store that I could have spent a small fortune in!
Laguna Beach is also a well-known artist colony with 4 different arts districts including a gallery row, along with several art festivals, a walking art tour, free live music,
 dance festival, craft shows and much more.
Laguna Beach is also home to Southern California's most popular summer arts festival...Sawdust Art Festival. This 9 week-long festival draws more than 200,000 visitors from all over the world each year, while promoting and featuring the work and talents of both veteran and new artists in Laguna Beach.
Each summer, the festival is different as it is open to any artist who is a resident of Laguna Beach, with exhibits being built from the ground up each summer which gives it a truly unique flair. 
If you are planning to a visit to Disneyland, I highly recommend allowing some time to enjoy some of the local beaches...with Laguna Beach being one of my favourites. However, each beach has so much to offer in terms of scenery, activities and shopping, you really can't go wrong no matter what destination you choose.
The one aspect of Laguna Beach that I really marveled at was how the beach and the downtown shopping & restaurants were only steps away from each other. Since I arrived by bus, I was free to explore wherever my feet could carry me and I found it so relaxing to be able to just wonder around.
So, whether you are returning to Disneyland or planning a first-time visit, consider renting a car for a day trip to explore some of the local beaches such as Laguna Beach. It's  a wonderful way to expand your family's vacation experience to include a bit of exploring and adventure to make unforgettable beach-side memories, to go along with the magical ones made at Disneyland!

{Pictures 2, 5, 6, 7 & 8 were taken by me. All other photos were provided courtesy of Laguna Beach Travel & Tourism. }

 
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