Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Harry Potter Kids Party: Invitations (#1)

Harry Potter Party for Kids

I love planning my birthday kids parties. The decorations, games, cake, food, and loot bags all get detailed attention. See our son's Plants vs Zombies party as one example and our daughter's Hawaiian party as another example of fun times! This year my daughter is turning 11 and she is also a huge Harry Potter fan. As any Harry Potter fan knows, Harry was 11 when he received his acceptance letter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She was desperately hoping for the same! All I could do was give her a HP birthday party and hope that would be enough!

I fully admit I go overboard with planning my kids parties. Take my advice and plan exactly what you will need...that way you won't end up with enough candy to open a real Honeydukes or wonder what you're gonna do with thirteen 'quidditch' brooms lol. Now, I'm not saying everything I do for the party was totally authentic by any means but everything was in the spirit of Harry Potter.

When planning a Harry Potter party my advice is to use what's already out there! Lots of people have had great parties and are willing to share what worked and what didn't. You can easily find Harry Potter inspired invitations, decorations, food and other ideas on the Internet.

Over my next few posts, I'll take you through some of the things we did including:

  • invites
  • decorations
  • cake
  • games
  • food
  • loot bags

We'll start at the beginning with our invites.


There are many great invites made by other party planners out there. I borrowed ideas, words and ideas from a few and came up with ours. I printed them on blank cards from Michael's that came with envelopes.

Here's the invite wording:

Dear Miss (name here),

We are pleased to inform you that you have been invited to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where we will be having a special birthday celebration for (birthday name here).

Term begins (insert time). Please make your way to (address here) in a Muggle mode of transportation and in Muggle attire to avoid suspicion. You will find your ticket attached. Please present it at time of boarding. 

We await your owl post response by no later than (insert date)

If you have trouble acquiring an owl, you may respond by Muggle phone or email.


Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress

P.S. Term will end at approximately (insert time here).

You can find Minerva's signature here.

Inserted into each envelope was a ticket for the Hogwarts Express. You can find them here.

Originally, we were going to deliver them attached to owl balloons but we ran out of time. Instead we placed a puffy owl sticker on each one.

The kids loved the invitations and most even remembered to bring their tickets!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Peach Cinnamon Ginger Freezer jam

I'm on a bit of a freezer jam kick! When I think of homemade jam I think of berries - raspberry, blueberry and strawberry. But every once in awhile I crave something different, like this peach freezer jam with cinnamon and ginger.
Chop the peaches quite small but don't completely puree - you can use your food processor for this or a knife.

My kids love this with yogurt for breakfast and with ice cream for dessert!


4 cups well chopped peaches (about 6 large peaches)
1 package freezer pectin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1-1/2 cups sugar


In a large bowl, whisk sugar, zest and pectin.
Add pureed peaches and stir for 3 minutes.
Divide among five 1-cup jars.
Let sit for thirty minutes to thicken.
Cover and refrigerate (3 weeks) or freeze (up to a year).

Here are some of my favorite freezer jams you can find on Within the Kitchen:

And my most popular jam recipe:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Homemade freezer jam is so easy. More importantly, it tastes so much better than store bought jam. The zest in this jam really brightens the strawberries. It's great with peanut butter sandwiches, or fresh buttermilk biscuits. It also makes a fantastic ice cream sundae topping!!


2 lbs strawberries
1 package freezer pectin
zest of one large lemon
1-1/2 cups sugar


Rinse and hull strawberries.
Place in food processor and pulse until crushed.
In another bowl, whisk sugar, zest and pectin.
Add strawberries and stir for 3 minutes.
Divide among five 1-cup jars.
Let sit for thirty minutes to thicken.
Cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Here are some of my favorite freezer jams you can find on Within the Kitchen:
Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam
Strawberry Vanilla Freezer jam

And my most popular jam recipe:
Raspberry Lime Freezer jam

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Old Fashioned Banana Bread
There are lots of fancy modern banana breads out there. I'm sure they are all delicious but sometimes you just want something that reminds you of an afternoon spent in the kitchen with your Mom or Grandma or maybe those special care packages your family would send you when you went off to college. I'm guessing they weren't the fancy banana breads but just plain, basic stuff with the occasional chocolate chip thrown in. If you are yearning for a slice of THAT banana bread, try this. It's delicious, simple and will take you back to the excitement of opening those care packages or your Grandma's kitchen.

I can never wait for it to cool! So good with butter!


4 cups all purpose flour (preferably unbleached)
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 cups mashed overripe bananas
2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. Grease two 9x5 loaf pans and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a very large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. In another bowl, combine eggs, milk, sour cream, sugar, butter, vanilla and bananas.
  5. Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir until JUST combined.
  6. Place half (4 cups) in each loaf pan.
  7. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes until nicely brown and toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Wheetabix #mybixmix

As a Mom of two kids aged 9 &10, I try to make sure they eat well. This is especially true at breakfast. I think a great tasting and nutritious breakfast sets them up and fills them up for all of the activities throughout their day including their ability to focus at school.

My kids are old enough to make their own breakfast, so I try to make sure there are lots of healthy options for them. Our kitchen is usually stocked with items such as:

  • lots of cut/washed fruit - berries, pineapple, melons are favorites
  • milk
  • whole grain breads
  • yogourt
  • cereals - whole grain
  • homemade muffins filled with fibre, fruit etc
So it seemed like a no brainer when Wheetabix asked me to join them in their #mybixmix challenge. They wanted to see how Canadians could mix up their meals with Wheetabix and how it affected our energy and hunger pangs as the day went on. 

The kids loved the challenge! We ate Wheetabix like crackers with peanut butter, crumbled over yogurt, with milk (warm and cold), and even in smoothies! The kids liked it best when then they crumbled it over their yogurt and berries - they love they extra crunch it provided.

We also found that it kept us feeling satiated for most of the morning.

So next time you're in the cereal aisle pick a box of Wheetabix up and mix your bix! Check out your social media foods for #mybixmix for other awesome ideas!

Please note: I was compensated for this post but opinions are my own!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dragon Fruit Sorbet


2 ripe dragon fruit
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced


  1. Scoop out inside of dragon fruit into blender.
  2. Add other ingredients.
  3. Puree until liquid.
  4. Pour into loaf pan and place in freezer.
  5. Stir every hour or so until frozen. Takes about 4 hours.
  6. Serve.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Easy No Bake Cheesecake Cups
Shaved chocolate and a cool martini glass finishes off this easy dessert!

As much as I love creating desserts from scratch, there are times when I don't have time to make a complicated know, when you are making a big dinner for family or perhaps making so many other dishes you don't have oven space for a dessert. And of course, sometimes you just want a sweet bite of something that doesn't take much time!

This dessert is perfect anytime you don't have the desire to bake or the time! It may not be "gourmet" but it's delicious! Kids love helping create with this dessert so put them to work!
The chocolate version above has Cool Whip mixed into the cheesecake mixture but the berry version doesn't. It's up to you whether you want to use it...I find it gives a little bit lighter feel and taste. Also, in the chocolate version I just used chocolate condensed milk - that way I don't have to add the additional step of melting chocolate. And in the berry versions, I just split the mixture in half and added my favorite jams to flavour and colour.
Use a pastry bag and icing tip to pipe cheesecake mixture and cool whip for a neater dessert.
If desired you could make one big dessert in a pie plate or baking dish, but I like making individual desserts and layering the cheesecake mixture, cool whip and graham crumbs!
Blueberries top this blueberry jam version.

Makes about 8 (but depends how big your dishes are!)


1 can condensed milk (14 oz)- plain, chocolate or even caramel flavoured
1 bar cream cheese (8oz), room temperature
2 tbsp jam, your favorite flavour
juice of one lemon (for berry flavours) or 2 tbsp strong coffee (if making chocolate mocha flavor)

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2-3 tbsp melted butter

2 cups cool whip if adding to mixture
2 cups cool whip for layers and topping


  1. Add condensed milk and cream cheese to large mixing bowl and beat until smooth, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add lemon juice (or coffee) and mix.
  3. Add jam and mix. (if using more than one type jam, divide mixture first)
  4. If using cool whip, add 2 cups and gently fold into mixture.
  5. In another bowl, combine melted butter and graham crumbs.

Set 8 smaller sized ramekins or cute glasses on work station. Add layers of graham crumbs, cool whip and cheesecake. You could add in other fun stuff - caramel sauce marshmallows, chocolate chips... whatever you have on hand.
Caramel, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate cheesecake mix and marshmallows
make this a pumped up s'more version of dessert!