Monday, October 20, 2014

A Tasty Fall Side Dish Served Up in a Fancy Viceroy Oval Bowl from Wilton Armetale - Recipe and Product Review

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.



Will you be hosting a holiday dinner at your house in November or December?  Or, are you invited to a family gathering where you are expected to win a dish to add to the buffet table?  If you said, "Yes," to either, do I have the perfect side dish for you to make and share with guests -- Kale Potato Gratin. 

For me, I will be having family and friends over for both Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, and will be preparing all the entrees and side dishes.  While I have my go-to favorites that everyone expects every year, I also like to try out or create new recipes to surprise everyone with.  And, this year, I will be serving up this easy to prepare potato side dish that works well with turkey, ham, rabbit, or whatever other star entree you and your guests feast on during your holiday gatherings.  

Kale Potato Gratin



Ingredients:



24 ounces of Yukon cooking potatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
10-12 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup of kale, removed from stem
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 TBSP. grated pecorino cheese
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere Cheese (can't find Gruyere Cheese at your supermarket? You can substitute this cheese with Comte or Beaufort Cheese, and wouldn't be able to tell the difference)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Then, rinse the potatoes, before thinly slicing. Add the sliced potatoes to a large pot and cover with cold water. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Blanch the potatoes until almost fork tender, about 8-10 minutes.

2.  While potatoes blanch, remove the thyme leaves from the stems. Discard stems.  Mince garlic.  Rinse and pat dry kale, before cutting from stem and roughly chopping.

3.  Once potatoes are done cooking, remove the pot from heat, drain and put blanched potatoes in a plate.  Gently blot the potatoes dry with a paper towel, and then season with salt and pepper.

4.  Using a large baking dish, begin to place 1/3 of the potato slices in a single layer on the bottom.  Then, add 1/2 the kale, followed by the minced garlic and thyme leaves.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded Gruyere cheese and grated pecorino cheese on top of this layering, before repeating a layer. Finish with remaining 1/3 potatoes and 1/3 of the cheeses.

5. Before placing the potato gratin in the oven to bake, drizzle 1/4 cup of heavy cream evenly over the top.  Then, place in oven and bake until potatoes are tender and cheeses have melted, about 18-20 minutes.

6.  Remove from oven and serve warm. Enjoy!

Not a fan of kale? Then, why not swap out the kale with spinach.  

Prior to baking - using spinach instead of kale

I tried this recipe both ways, and they are both delicious.  I am thinking to make the kale version with the turkey dinner and fixings for Thanksgiving and the spinach potato grain with the ham dinner on Christmas Day.  

In addition to getting into the kitchen recently to create the above tasty potato side dish, I also used this time to try out a new from the Viceroy collection from Wilton Armetale, which I was recently sent to review.  



Prior to receiving this sample, I had never heard about WILTON ARMETALE.  Have you?  

Viceroy
"Designed by renowned artist Juan Vela, Viceroy is vintage chic with soft sculptural scroll elements cast in highly polished Armetale metal and is at home in casual to formal settings and can be used every day. From the stovetop, oven or fridge right to the table, looking great along the way."

At first glance at the Viceroy Oval Bowl I was sent, I couldn't get over the fine detail to design pattern --

Viceroy Oval Bowl

You could tell that fine craftsmanship goes into making this and other products available from Wilton Armetale collections.  The company itself has been around since 1892, and their products are available in department stores and specialty stores throughout the United States and internationally.

With so many other grillware and serveware available, what sets Wilton Armetale apart from others?

Armetale Metal

Just take the Armetale metal used in making each of their elegant cook and serveware.  The metal is a unique, non-toxic aluminum-based alloy, making it ideal for cooking and entertaining.  Users of this unique Armetale metal product offering will also find:

• Hot foods cooked and served in Wilton Armetale products stay hot longer.

• Cold foods and drinks served in Wilton Armetale products stay cold longer.

• ARMETALE products are also durable and will not rust, break, crack or chip under normal usage.

• Each ARMETALE product is a solid piece of metal with no coating applied.

Wilton Armetale products comes in two finishes - one finish is a high polish similar to silver and the other is a matte finish similar to pewter. The two types of finishes are produced through different manufacturing processes. Note: Armetale products are not dishwasher safe.

So, when it came time to making my kale potato gratin to serve up to family recently, I reached for and baked this side dish in my Viceroy Oval Bowl.  Those gathered around the table couldn't help but admire and comment on how beautiful this elegant serving bowl was.  My mom, who was in attendance, couldn't believe that you could cook in this bowl.  Most fancy metal serving bowls are only meant to add food into and serve.  It is hard to find ones you can actual put in the oven to cook with, and then take out and place on the table and serve one.  Being a busy mom on the go, I especially love the convenience and versatility of the Armetale products. They can go from freezer to oven to tabletop to fridge.  And, even though there is intricate detailing around the outer edges of the bowl, clean up was a breeze.  Whenever I am baking something in the oven, I find myself reaching for the Viceroy Oval Bowl.  Just last night, I made shepherd's pie for the family and used this bowl. :-)


To learn more about the Viceroy collection from Wilton Armetale, as well as other collections currently available for purchase online and at local retailers, visit http://www.armetale.com/ today. And, if you are planning on hosting a holiday dinner at your house, why not consider adding a few new serveware pieces from Wilton Armetale to your collection.  Both you and your guests will find yourselves admiring the beautiful pieces that you set out on the buffet table, or pass around the table.

If you get a chance to make this side dish for an upcoming holiday gathering, or simply to offer an alternative to mashed or baked potatoes for a family meal, I would love to hear what you thought of it. So, be sure to leave a comment below. :-)

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Dick & Jane Educational Snacks -- A Mom and Dad Invented "Smart Snack" That Takes Kids' Snacks to a Whole New Level #EducationalSnacks (Product Review)

Disclosure:  I was sent samples from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.





Does your child have an upcoming Halloween party at school you need to bake or pick something up for them to bring?  If so, why not skip the candy route and send them to class with fun educational snacks, instead?  I know what you are thinking?  What kid wants to be singled out as bringing this type of snack to school, let alone a class holiday party?  Well, then you haven't seen the fun snacks from Dick & Jane.

While I am not one to turn away candy, especially if it is chocolate, I try to limit the amount of sweets my girls eat, as well as the number of sugary snacks I send the to school with.  Yes, I know kids would prefer to sink their teeth into a sugary treat over a snack cookie, but once they see Dick & Jane educational snacks, they may have a change of heart. :-)

So, what makes these kid-friendly snacks different from all the other types of snack options out there?  For one, Dick & Jane Baking Company, have successfully combined whole grain nutrition and education to create fun and oh so tasty educational snacks young children will enjoy snacking on, in the classroom, lunchroom or just at home. 


Delicious, all-natural and loaded with learning, these educational snacks are geared for students K-8, but are fun for kids of all ages.

Also, check out the nutritional facts for these snack cookies, and compare them to what you currently offer your kids --


As you know, I love supporting and sharing products created by moms and dads.  This is another that I love and can't stop raving about, especially to the moms in my daughter's preschool class, as well as their teachers.  Recently, I reach out to the Dick & Jane Baking Company and asked for samples, not only to review with my girls, but also to bring to Savannah's school and surprise the kids during snack time with.  Even though my daughter's class is filled with 4 and 5 years old, they all thought these all natural snack cookies were fun.  

On the day I brought the snack cookies in, a handful of moms were on hand for the kids' "Practice Your Manners" tea party that they were having with their teddy bears.  The kids and their moms had fun reading and playing with these educational snacks.  Out of the three varieties currently available (with more in the works), my daughter's class all agreed that the English/Spanish ones were their favorite.  



They loved trying to pronounce the Spanish word of common English words.  When they were done learning with these snacks, they had fun taking bites out of the objects imprinted on the vanilla snacks. 



In addition to enjoying these smart snacks with her friends at school, Savannah is also having a blast with these cookies when she and Bella sit down with my husband to learn Spanish.  

In the past, he would show them flash cards and practice reciting words with them.  The girls would grow restless and bored after a short time, and want to do something else.  But, since incorporating these snacks into the lessons, they want the learning to go on and on, and are always disappointed when the last cookie in their bag is gone. :-)


As a parent, I can see these educational snacks coming in handy when helping kids with history lessons.  As a kid, I struggled with learning all the presidents names, as well as learning states and their capitals.  These fun educational snacks sure would have come in handy when studying at home and school.



Are your kids enjoying these snacks in their schools?  The reason I ask is that this mom and dad invented educational snack is currently available at 31 states, coast to coast.  So, why not ask your kids if they have experienced these cookies.  If not, why not suggest it to your child's teacher, or do like I did and introduce them to these fun learning snack, by bringing these smart snacks into the classroom.

Instead of stressing over what you will bake for your kids' to bring to their upcoming Halloween or Holiday party, why not save yourself time (so that you can spend it with your family) and pick up Dick & Jane Baking Company's snack cookies today.  Your kids will love creating and playing fun games with the different cookies, like "Name the State and its Capital," "Which President is this?" or "How do you say this in Spanish?"  However they choose to enjoy these tasty educational snacks, they will have fun, while also learning at the same time.  Now, try saying that about other snacks available with kids in mind. :-)


--BUY NOW--


Currently, you can purchase Dick & Jane Baking Company's three varieties - States & CapitalsPresidents, and their bilingual, English & Spanish.  These fun educational cookies can be purchased online at Amazon in a convenient 30 bag case, for only $19.99.  Whole Foods in certain states also carry these smart snacks, too.

Don't forget to follow Dick & Jane Baking Company on Facebook to stay up-to-date on new product additions, news and more -- https://www.facebook.com/DickandJaneBakingCo.

Disclosure:  I was sent samples from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fans of Creative Galaxy - Catch the Six New Episodes Now Available for Viewing on Amazon Prime Instant Video #CreativeGalaxy #AmazonKids #Sponsored




Produced by Out of the Blue Enterprises with Angela Santomero (Blue’s Clues, Super Why!) serving as Creator and Executive Producer, Creative Galaxy is a make-along, create-along, interactive art adventure series for preschoolers available through Amazon Prime Instant Video.


Last month I introduced you to "Creative Galaxy", a fun-filled preschool series available on Amazon Prime Instant Video.  In my post, I shared how on October 3rd, Amazon was debuting new episodes.  Well, since that time, my girls and I have been busy catching up on the series' previous six episodes, as well as enjoying the new ones, which feature Arty and his friends.

Here is the trailer and show background I shared in my previous post, in case you missed it --


"A make-along, create-along art adventure series for children ages three to five, Creative Galaxy features “Arty,” an adorable alien artist, and “Epiphany,” his inspirational side-kick, on their adventures through the Creative Galaxy solving problems through art. To give kids and parents the real-life tools they need to recreate Arty’s experience, a live-action piece at the end of each animated episode takes families through the craft project Arty showcased in the galaxy.

Creative Galaxy features vocal talent from Christian Distefano (PAW Patrol) as “Arty,” Kira Gelineau (Dear Viola) as “Epiphany,” and guest stars Samantha Bee (The Daily Show), Jason Jones (The Daily Show), Cloris Leachman (Malcolm In the Middle), Jason Priestley (Beverly Hills 90210) and Brooke Shields (Lipstick Jungle).

Creative Galaxy, like all of Amazon’s preschool series, is designed to inspire creative thinking through play. To ensure Amazon Prime Instant Video original preschool programming both engages children while supporting educational goals, these programs are developed with the support of Dr. Alice Wilder, one of the world’s foremost experts in educational and child psychology. Dr. Wilder is most well-known for her work as the producer and director of research and development for Blue’s Clues and Blue’s Room."

Doesn't this series look cute?  If you have preschoolers between the ages of 3-5 years old, it is the perfect series to watch with them, and get them excited about getting creating with arts and craft type projects.  While I am in no way artistically inclined, I have always loved doing artsy projects, and seeing what fun things I can create with different supplies.  From basics like crayons, colored pencils and paints to molding clay, beads and more, I love doing fun art projects with the girls, and seeing what they come up with.  Right now my refrigerator and walls are covered with their masterpieces, so that everyone who comes to visit, can enjoy.

As soon as the first episode of Creative Galaxy began streaming o our television, the girls were hooked.  How could you not fall in love with Arty, the lead character.  And, as a parent, I loved seeing the involvement of his parents and how they support their son and his creative side.  I also find inspiration in these videos as they give me fun crafty project ideas to do with the girls.  The girls also love talking about what Arty did on the show, and what they would do if they were doing the same crafty project.  :-)



"This series is designed to support a child’s natural inclination to use their imaginations, make and create. Art make life joyful. Everywhere one goes art is evident. And the skills utilized and learned through making art are vast and useful. In every episode, our characters will use "fix it with art" to model the pervasiveness and importance of art as a resource for life for our home viewers."

Even if you haven't seen the previous six episodes in this popular preschool series, you can enjoy any of the new six episodes, which begin with episode 7 -- "Arty's Art-y Party/Arty's Birthday Treasures.  While my girls enjoyed all the new episodes, their favorite was episode 7 as it was also about birthdays and parties.  And, with Bella's 3rd birthday coming up, the girls got inspired, as they do with other Creative Galaxy craft projects, and made their own planet-shaped papier-mâché goody bags, which we will be handing out at Bella's birthday party.  



Their favorite step in this art project was popping the balloon and seeing the goody bags keep their shapes, thanks to the paper they had glued on the outside of it. 

"The series helps make children and adults aware that people literally find themselves immersed in art most of the time: Parks use sculptures to add interest and to inform people; posters on walls give information and motivation; the clothes we wear are designed; music plays on the radio to keep your energy levels up; dance has meaning and tells stories. Whether we think of our world as art or not – it is!"

Another fun episode, which got the girls' creative juices flowing, was episode 8, in which Arty teaches kids how to make special bath crayons.  In the episode, Arty is putting up a fight at bath time.  He is heavily engaged in drawing and doesn't want to stop. It wasn't until he visits Drawopolis and is taught by Sketch how to make these crayons, that he is ready to head back home and jump in the tub.  



While my girls never put up a fight when it comes to bath time and splashing around, they do look for fun things beyond water toys to make tubby time more enjoyable.  And, the special bath crayons they learned how to make from Arty and his friend Sketch, have made bath time that much more enjoyable.  Just like Arty, they don't have to stop doodling when it comes to bath time.  Instead, they can hop in the tub, grab their special washable crayons and get to doodling. I love watching them create works of arts in the tub, that can be washed away easily.  



The other new episodes from Creative Galaxy will have your child learning how to make a fun new game for family game night, about surrealism, creating edible art, as well as how to make a pop-up storybook.  Just this past weekend, the girls sat down at the kitchen table and told my husband and I their own stories they made up.  Because they can't write yet, we jotted down their stories.  And, this week, we will be turning their page turning stories into fun pop-up books, which they will share with Savannah's preschool class for show and tell.  

Out of all the educational shows on television and available for streaming online, I have to say that Creative Galaxy is by far our family's favorite.  The girls are entertained and engaged from start to finish, and love being helper artists to Arty while he takes them on fun-filled adventures, and teaches them all about art and creating their own masterpieces at home.



"The series helps kids at home feel as if they are making art along with Arty, through its interactive story format. As "helper artists", the kids at home will “create” alongside Arty, empowering them as “makers” in a media format."


If you have little ones, and haven't had a chance to watch an episode from this fun preschool series, now is the time to visit Amazon Prime Instant Video to view all the Creative Galaxy videos available, including the six news ones.  Once you and your child sit down and watch this original make-along, create-along art adventure series, you, too, will be hooked.  Like I said, you don't have to be artistically inclined to roll up your sleeves and getting creative with your kids.  Let their imaginations run wild, as they re-create fun art projects seen on this show, available only to Amazon Prime members.

Amazon Prime Instant Video members can purchase the brand-new episodes (episodes 7-12) of Creative Galaxy, and then watch via the Amazon Prime Instant Video apps for Amazon Fire TV, Fire tablets, Fire phone, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, as well as hundreds of other connected devices such as smart TVs—or customers can visit Amazon.com/PIV to watch online. 

The series is also available in Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, a service built just for kids that gives them the freedom to explore all their favorite books, games, educational apps, movies and TV shows, while providing parents with the tools they need to manage their kids’ screen time. 


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.