Ain’t no party like a pizza party + A Panago Pizza giveaway

Panago Pizza pizza hat and pepperoni slice

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know large gatherings aren’t exactly my thing (who am I kidding? small gatherings aren’t my thing either ūüė¨) but I do love planning them. And you know I can’t resist a good DIY. So today I’m all kinds of excited to share scenes from the pizza party we had last week to celebrate the start of summer holidays. Our friends at Panago Pizza supplied the food in exchange for this post, which left me more time (some might say too much time ha ha) to obsess about focus on the decor and all the rest. Try our DIYs to bring a little extra to your own pizza party this summer and let someone else take care of the pies. Continue reading “Ain’t no party like a pizza party + A Panago Pizza giveaway”

Sweet! Celebrations: The Ultimate Dessert & Party Planning Companion by Elise Strachan

Sweet! Celebrations by Elise Strachan cover

I need someone to have a baby. Or a birthday. Or a bar mitzvah. Or maybe we’ll just make up our own occasion because there are so many fun, festive and new-to-me ideas in Elise Strachan’s¬†Sweet! Celebrations: The Ultimate Dessert & Party Planning Companion¬† and I want to try them all. Simon & Schuster Canada sent me a copy to review so here’s the skinny including the couple of treats I tried — one quick and easy no-bake, one a bit more persnickety that I turned into a no-bake — and both super cute and delicious.¬† Continue reading “Sweet! Celebrations: The Ultimate Dessert & Party Planning Companion by Elise Strachan”

New Cacao 70 Eatery in Gatineau a chocolate-lover’s treat, and eye candy too

Cocao 70 Gatineau chocolate wafer cookie dunked

I’m pret-ty sure I’m not going to win Mother of the Year, but after Wednesday’s epic pizza party¬†(more on that in another post) and yesterday’s trip to the new Cacao 70 Eatery in Gatineau, I might be in the running for Mom of the Month. Plus it’s World Chocolate Day (did you know?) and not only did we celebrate, but we did it a day early. The restaurant is Cacao 70’s newest location (it opened last month) and one of three new concepts for the Quebec-based chocolatier. We were invited to sample the menu¬†free of charge¬†in exchange for a review, so today I’d like to show you around and tell you more about our visit.¬† Continue reading “New Cacao 70 Eatery in Gatineau a chocolate-lover’s treat, and eye candy too”

Good Veg by Alice Hart + Win a copy!

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I don’t know how some people don’t like vegetables (and there are plenty out there!), but I’m convinced that any number of recipes in Alice Hart’s¬†Good Veg: Ebullient Vegetables, Global Flavors — A Modern Vegetarian Cookbook¬†just might bring them around. The key to satisfying vegetarian cooking (and one can assume, eating!) is in the contrast, Alice says — the balance of flavours, textures and temperature will elevate any meat-free meal. The U.K. author’s careful consideration to contrast and balance is evident throughout the book, which comprises some 200 recipes for mornings, grazing and gatherings, as well as “quick”, “thrify” and “raw-ish” meals. It’s aimed at “keen and interested” home cooks who want to make the most of the fresh produce available and in turn, discover new ways with fruits, veggies and grains that they’ll want to make again and again. Think Coconut-Chia Strawberry Bowls, Corn Tortillas with Avocado and Charred Scallions, Eggplant and Sweet Potato Lasagna with Walnuts, and Vegan Chocolate Mousse with Walnut-Sesame Brittle. Hello!¬† Continue reading “Good Veg by Alice Hart + Win a copy!”

Lola’s: A Cake Journey Around the World + Win a copy!

Lola's A Cake Journey Around the World maple pecan cake

Remember the story of the little red hen? Everybody wants to eat the bread, but nobody wants to help bake it. That’s what it’s been like around here the past week, only everybody wants to eat the cake, but nobody wants to get off the ipad and help make it. Or do much of anything else. I asked my daughter to give me a hand with this photo and what did I get? “What was I BORN for? Helping with PHOTOS or LIVING?” Yeesh. If you’re looking for me later I’ll be over here stress-eating hunks of this maple pecan cake. It’s from Lola’s: A Cake Journey Around the World. Thomas Allen & Son sent me a copy to review and they’ve got another one for one of you lucky ducks.¬† Continue reading “Lola’s: A Cake Journey Around the World + Win a copy!”

Make mom’s day with Green & Black‚Äôs Farmhouse Chocolate Banana Bread + A giveaway!

Green and Black's Farmhouse Chocolate Banana Bread with jam on a sliec try small things

After packing house and downsizing a couple of times over the past few years, my mom insists there’s few things she wants or needs. That’s not to say she doesn’t light up at a little sparkly somethin’ to draw attention to her impossibly delicate wrists or ample bosom (oh she does!) but usually she says “If I can’t eat it, drink it or read it, I don’t want it.” I likely won’t see her for Mother’s Day (we live 500 kms apart) but she’s planning to visit a couple weeks later and I know just what I’ll give her: a steaming cup of tea, a slice of homemade chocolate banana loaf and my undivided attention (provided the kids are outside or something — and even then they’ll be in and out the door every two minutes, you know how it goes) while we take some time to catch up. And I think she’ll be happy. Green & Black’s did a Mother’s Day survey and 57% of moms said that¬†spending time with family and loved ones is the most valued gift, followed by 32% saying that feeling appreciated is really what they want. (Only 1% said receiving a luxurious gift was the most important.) So maybe join me in making something sweet for the special mom in your life (your mom, your neighbour, your buddy) and make the time to enjoy it together. I’ve got just the recipe — Green & Black’s Farmhouse Chocolate Banana Bread — and a little giveaway to go with.¬† Continue reading “Make mom’s day with Green & Black‚Äôs Farmhouse Chocolate Banana Bread + A giveaway!”

Pancakes & Waffles: Delicious Ideas for Breakfast, Brunch and Beyond by Hannah Miles

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Pancakes are a favourite for Sunday breakfast and occasionally dinner and I’ve been wanting to get over my fear of the waffle maker (a dead-heavy lawn sale find that I’m always worried about closing on my fingers and worse), so I was excited when Thomas Allen & Son surprised me with a copy of Pancakes & Waffles: Delicious Ideas for Breakfast, Brunch and Beyond by Hannah Miles. (Book mail is the best mail!) Inside are 27 recipes for sweet and savoury pancakes and waffles and their assorted toppings and photographs that’ll make your tummy rumble. Think buttermilk blueberry pancakes with blueberry lime sauce; potato waffles with barbecue beans; orange waffles with roasted plums; and ginger and sesame waffles with steak and dipping sauce. Hungry yet?¬† Continue reading “Pancakes & Waffles: Delicious Ideas for Breakfast, Brunch and Beyond by Hannah Miles”

Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes by Suzy Pelta + Win a copy!

Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat's Bakes ft image

My husband’s late grandfather had the habit of starting many of his sentences with “Here’s another thing you didn’t know,” followed by a long ramble about something obscure that I couldn’t possibly have known or cared to know, like how the father of former finance minister Paul Martin got his start in business or any number of things about Napoleon (the man, not the dessert.) Then it made me bristle, now it makes me snicker. Because despite his gruff delivery, he was almost always right. (Maybe not factually correct, but his versions of events were certainly new to me.) And the more I try small things, the more I think, “Here’s another thing you didn’t know.” Like you can make a cake in a couple of minutes and it’s actually really delicious! At least the ones I tried from Suzy Pelta’s¬†Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes: 28 Quick and Easy Recipes for Tasty Treats.¬†Thomas Allen & Son sent me a review copy, and I think you’d like it too.¬† Continue reading “Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes by Suzy Pelta + Win a copy!”

Exploring Ontario’s Lake Country with #LetsGoMaple

lgm the great outdoors

This time last week I was packing my bags for #LetsGoMaple, a sponsored two-day/three-night trip with 15 other Canadian bloggers to explore Ontario’s Lake Country (Orillia/Rama/Oro-Medonte and area, about a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Ottawa). As someone who struggles with anxiety (social and otherwise), I was as¬†nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I needn’t have been. At the risk of sounding sappy, my travel companions and hosts were as sweet and warm¬†as the maple syrup we poured over our pancakes at Shaw’s Sugar Bush. Which made trying small things loom less large, and a lot easier. Come along and see some of the fun and delicious goodness the area has to offer.¬† Continue reading “Exploring Ontario’s Lake Country with #LetsGoMaple”

Lucky in friendship (and brunch)

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You know that one friend in horror movies who is like, “Here’s a dumb idea: Let’s split up and not be safe.” That friend is an idiot. You are not that friend.¬†— Daily Odd Compliment¬†‚ÄĘ Pushing myself out of the house in the winter can be tougher than a two-dollar steak, but the chance to catch up with my pal Carolyn yesterday over a leisurely brunch made it well worth the effort. For months she’s been working harder than a squirrel trying to bury a nut on a marble floor, and a long chat was even longer overdue.¬†We went to Origin Trade, a coffee house and lounge in the Byward Market. Brunch was on the house in exchange for a review and since neither of us had been, we thought we’d check it out.¬† Continue reading “Lucky in friendship (and brunch)”

Skip The Dishes and order in! + A giveaway

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We could have ordered dinner tonight from any one of hundreds of restaurants around the city and naturally the kids wanted burgers from a place two kilometres down the road. The food delivery network SkipTheDishes comped us a meal in exchange for a review and since we rarely get take-out (or eat out), it was kind of a big deal.¬† Continue reading “Skip The Dishes and order in! + A giveaway”