Yearly Archives: 2010

Making a List, Checking it Twice.

I’m a list maker. I thrive on organization and categorization. There’s something so comforting about knowing exactly what you need, when and where to get it.

Things. Lots of things.

Wrapping paper here. Ribbon there. Toasted almonds here. Butter there.

Needless to say there are a lot of lists floating around here right now. I’m sure the same goes for you too. I always tell myself I’m going to get my shopping done early and wouldn’t you know it never happens. Despite my mad organizational skills I seem to lack motivation. It’s not a good combo. My lists taunt me and call me names for months until I simply have to get out there and get it done. Otherwise my family would find gas station goodies wrapped in the funnies under the tree.

It’s intimidating though isn’t it? Shopping. And not just any shopping. Push-and-shove-endless-lineups-all-sold-out-interminable-traffic-fall-off-your-feet-dreaded-holiday shopping.

Let’s take a break from the mall madness and mountains of lists shall we? Why not indulge and transport yourself to chocolate peppermint heaven? Step away from the tape dispenser. Kick off those boots. Put that pen down. You work hard. You deserve it.



Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Source: Adapted from my family recipe.

3/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup candy cane, finely ground

Printer-Friendly Version

Cream together the butters, sugar and vanilla. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and ground candy cane then blend well into the butter and sugar mixture.

On a large piece of plastic wrap form the dough into two logs both 9 inches long. Wrap each tightly and refrigerate them for an hour or two to firm up.

When you’re ready to bake preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position and rack in the center. Line you baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

Slice the cookies about a 1/4 of an inch thick and bake them for about 10 minutes. Transfer them to a cooking rack and enjoy!

When Good Bananas Go Bad…

…Make banana bread.

Then make bread pudding.

Dress it up with whipped cream and dust it with cinnamon.

And I don’t think I need to tell you what to do with all that…

…But I will.

Eat it. Eat it all. And fast. Before I do.

I’m a picky banana eater. I like them yellow and only yellow. No green and no brown specks. As soon as there’s brown present I don’t want anything to do with them. That’s a very narrow window in which to enjoy banana goodness.

But rest assured I have not thrown out brown bananas in years. It just doesn’t happen. Because, as I’m sure you know, they are soft, sweet and begging to baked up in something special.

Like this Banana Cinnamon Bread Pudding. I have never eaten and most definitely never baked bread pudding before. I have to be honest I put it off for a few weeks. I think it was the custard. If you know me at all you know the long history I have with custard.

Oh yeah, me and custard go way back. Trials and tribulations.

I think it’s time custard and I set the past aside and become friends. Maybe even best friends. I mean when a dish full of freshly grated cinnamon, sweet bananas and toasted walnuts extends that hand of friendship you don’t say no.

I say yes. Heck yes!



Banana Cinnamon Bread Pudding

Makes 4 – 6 servings.

Source: My imagination.

3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

3 eggs
2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

1 banana, sliced
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted

Whipped cream for topping
Cinnamon for garnishing

Printer-Friendly Version

Preheat the oven to 350 and position a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9 inch loaf pan then set it aside.

In a large bowl combine the mashed bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder then mix it gently into the wet ingredients.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan then bake it for about 40 minutes until the top gets golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let it sit in the pan until it’s cool enough to touch then turn it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

With a sharp knife slice the bread up into cubes about 1/2 inch in diameter. Spread the cubes out on the prepared baking sheet and bake them for about 10 minutes. This is done to dry out the bread in order for it to soak up the custard.

Now preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 inch square baking pan.

To make the custard whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Evenly spread the dried banana bread cubes, sliced banana and walnuts in the prepared pan then pour the custard mixture over top. Let it soak in for 5 minutes, press down the banana bread cubes, then bake it for about 30 minutes until the top is toasted and the custard is set.

Serve it warm or cool topped with fresh whipped cream and sprinkled with a dusting of cinnamon. Enjoy!

It’s Not You, It’s Me.


Dear Exercise Bike,

I haven’t been avoiding you. No really. I might use you as a coat rack from time to time. I might even have let your seat collect dust. It’s a really uncomfortable seat by the way. You should look into that.

I know. I know. I told you I was going to ride you everyday. I promised you. I promised me. So I’m not the most motivated person in the world. You knew that getting into this relationship.

Don’t look at me like that. I’ve been busy, ok? Those four seasons of Mad Men aren’t going to watch themselves. Cookies need baking. Dough needs kneading. Hair needs washing. You know how it is.

Maybe we need to take a break. We obviously want different things. You’re a fitness enthusiast. I’m a sucker for cinnamon buns. You like action films. I like chick flicks. You like to wake up with the sun. I roll out of bed around ten.

It’s not you, it’s me. We just need some time apart. I think it’ll be good for us.

Tell you what, after the holidays if you’re still into me we’ll give this another shot. In the meantime just focus on yourself. I’ll eat these Sesame Cookies with half a pound of butter and you can fix that seat of yours.

Take care.

Your friend,

Lindsey



Sesame Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Source: My imagination

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sesame seeds

Printer-Friendly Version

In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter, sugars and honey. Mix in the egg until it’s just blended.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt then add that to the wet ingredients. Mix it together until it’s well incorporated then refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to stiffen.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper then set them aside.


Spread the sesame seeds out into a shallow dish. Form the cookie dough into 1 inch balls then roll each in the sesame seeds until they’re covered. Flatten them slightly with your fingers and bake them for about 10 – 11 minutes until they’re golden brown. Transfer them to a cooling rack and enjoy!

The Hokey Pokey and Other Fine Hobbies.

Let’s face it. We’re busy people. We have people to see and places to be. Like walking the cat, erecting impenetrable snow fortresses, whittling sporks, colour coordinating the dishes, alphabetizing the condiments and knitting scarves. Putting your right foot in, putting your right foot out, putting your right foot in and shaking it all about.

I’ll give you a moment to ponder which ones of those I’ve actually done.

I’ll give you a hint. It starts with an all and ends with of the above.

So in our silly days filled with silly things it’s nice to know there are easy, fast and delicious dinners we can whip up between moon walking and kite flying.

It’s astonishing how some of the best foods are also the simplest. Next to chocolate covered cherries and self cleaning ovens it’s about the best thing ever.

I recently discovered a few pasta recipes that were both stupid easy and scrumptious. Spaghetti alla Carbonara is just spaghetti, pancetta, parmesan cheese and eggs. Or Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe which is basically spaghetti, romano cheese and black pepper.

Here’s another for you. Brown Butter Walnut Pasta. Mostly just farfalle, walnuts, parmesan, garlic and cream. Takes up only 15 minutes of your time not including all of three seconds it takes to inhale it.

Now that cat’s not going to walk itself.



Brown Butter Walnut Pasta

Makes 4 – 5 servings.

Source: My imagination.

5 cups farfalle (bow tie) pasta
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup parmesan, grated
Pepper to taste
2 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Note: I usually pair this pasta with simple garlic bread, but it would also go nicely with a light walnut salad.

Printer-Friendly Version

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until it’s al dente.

In a food processor combine the walnuts, garlic, parmesan and pepper then reduce it to a medium fine ground.

Meanwhile melt the butter in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Stir it frequently until it turns amber brown and the foam subsides. And the flour and whisk it in until there are no more lumps. Next add the walnut mixture and combine it well. Pour in the cream and stir it until it thickens into a sauce.

Once the pasta is cooked al dente add it to the sauce and cook it for another minute or so. Scoop out your handsome servings then sprinkle the chopped parsley on top. Enjoy!

Warming Up To Winter.


On a cold Winter’s day such as this one what’s better than warming your kitchen and your heart with soft, chewy fresh from the oven Oatmeal Cookies? And not just any Oatmeal Cookies. Maple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies!

It’s been particularly chilly here in Edmonton, which normally wouldn’t come as a surprise at this time of year and in this part of the country. I guess I was enjoying Autumn so much I didn’t realize Winter was already upon us.

I miss all the pretty colours. I miss walking out the door in just jeans and a sweater. I miss the sun. I even miss the rain.

Despite all this, each time the seasons change I decide on a new favourite season. It doesn’t matter that I can’t feel my feet, or that my nose turns an embarrassing shade of red, or that I get an electric shock from everything I touch, or that the zipper on my favourite coat is broken.

The ground looks like it’s made of diamonds. The trees are glass. Breath hangs in suspended animation. Footsteps are forever.

Looks like I might be warming up to Winter. Pun intended.

As the seasons shift I thought it was a perfect time to change up a few things here at Hot Polka Dot. Time to mature. Time to grow up. Time for big bold photos. I’ll miss the polaroids, but change is good.



Maple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Source: My imagination.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup demerara sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup rolled oats

Printer-Friendly Version

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the middle. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar then blend in the maple syrup and egg.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt then add it to the butter and sugar mixture and mix it well. Lastly, combine the oats to form a stiff cookie dough.

Scoop a heaping tbsp of dough for each cookie and place them on the prepared cookie sheet. With your fingers carefully compress each raw cookie into a flattened disc. Bake them for about 10 minutes until the edges are light golden brown. Transfer them to a cooling rack and enjoy!

Last Stop.

Looks like it’s time for me to exit the crazy ride that is Project Food Blog. Yesterday I learned with disappointment and a few tears that challenge seven would be my last stop and I would not be continuing in the contest.

It was a bittersweet realization because, while I would have loved to keep going to the end, I still have gained so much from this competition that I feel as though I’ve already won.

I have met so many ambitious, friendly and passionate people with beautiful blogs. People that I will never forget. Like Liren from Kitchen Confidante with an admirable way with words and a love for all things food. Or Damaris from Kitchen Corners with a kind heart and beautiful photography. Or Isabelle from Good Food, Good Wine and a Bad Girl with an adorable sense of humour and a diverse repertoire of recipes. And so many more. You know who you are!

I have learned so much from this contest about myself and what I’m capable of. I never would have made a vlog if it weren’t for challenge seven. I never would have tried Kue Lapis Legit if it weren’t for challenge two. I never would have knew how to make the perfect pizza if it wasn’t for challenge five.

These challenges were designed to motivate us to be better and make our blogs better. Each challenge pushed me to improve my photography, writing and recipes and I am so grateful for that. That will always stay with me, winner or not.

I have had so much fun and I am thankful for this opportunity!


And remember, there’s always next time!

The Spirit.


As the first snowflakes of the season flutter to the frozen ground I find my thoughts drifting to childhood memories of this time of year. Crackling fires, snowman sentinels, cozy socks and silver sprinkles. Momentary snow blindness after an exciting snowball fight. Mismatched pairs of shoes piled in the front hall. The soft glow of peeling glass light bulbs hidden in a snowbank outside the window. The smell of damp mittens slowly drying over an intermittent floor register. All the while A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack lilting in the background.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be showing you a few of my favourite recipes to get you in the holiday spirit. Catch-yourself-humming-Jingle-Bells-eat-too-much-fruit-cake-dance-in-your-reindeer-jammies kind of spirit.

Starting with this one. Speculaas Cookies. Think of them as gingerbread cookies with a kick. A seven spice kick. These thin little cookies pack a wallop.

I don’t want to be cocky, but I think that my gingerbread cookies could kick your gingerbread cookies butt. Any day of the week. Just saying.

You’re probably still thinking, what the heck are Speculaas Cookies? Scooch closer. I’ll tell you.

Closer…

They’re these crispy buttery Dutch spice cookies and crazy tasty. You’ll love them. Did I mention they were tasty? You might recognize them better if they lacked almonds are were shaped like intricate windmills instead. That’s the traditional shape, but apparently it’s super difficult to get your hands on century old hand carved cookie forms. Who knew? My Mom has diligently perfected this recipe in a effort to duplicate the taste and texture she remembers from her childhood trips to Holland in between care packages from family.

So this holiday season when you’re hauling out your clattering collection of cookie cutters consider making these beauties instead. Sure they’re not shaped like trees or snowmen or stars, but they are encrusted with toasted almonds. And remember boys and girls, things encrusted with toasted almonds are your friend.



Speculaas Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Source: My family recipe.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp mace
4 tbsp warm whole milk
2 cup flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Printer-Friendly Version

Note: You can buy premixed speculaas spice at some grocery stores and ethnic food stores, but I worked out the measurements of each spice so you can see what’s really in it. If you prefer to use the premixed version then sub 2 1/2 tbsp of the mix in place of all the spices.

Preheat the oven to 350 and position a rack in the center. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar. In a small bowl whisk together all the spices then add them to the butter and sugar mixture along with the milk and blend it together.

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt then mix it into the wet ingredients.

Form the dough into two even balls and, with your fingers, pat each into the prepared baking sheets. Make sure the dough is spread evenly, paper thin and right to the edges of the baking sheets. This will be time consuming but don’t give up. It’s totally worth it. Sprinkle them with a liberal amount of toasted almonds then bake them one at a time for about 9 – 10 minutes.

While they’re still warm cut each sheet into 24 square cookies using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife. Transfer the cut cookies to a rack to cool and enjoy!

I’m Blushing.

For real I am. I don’t blush too often. It’s rare.

But if you were profiled in a reputable online Canadian food journal you’d blush too.

Good Food Revolution has featured me in an article along with four other lovely Canadian food bloggers. We’re the last five Canadians standing strong in Project Food Blog and we’re all in it to win it.

Mardi from Eat Live Travel Write, Isabelle from Good Food, Good Wine and a Bad Girl, Angela from Oh She Glows and Heena from Tiffin Tales. I’m in good company. We’re all writers, photographers and foodies. You should drop buy and visit their beautiful blogs. Maybe give them a comment or two.

If you’d like to read the article you can find it here. It’s been beautifully composed by Beverley who’s also blogs at Potato Chops and Boneless Chicken. She’s clever. Thank you Beverley!

Foodbuzz is a US-based community of food bloggers, but it’s important to note that the breadth of that community is international. Let’s see if we can manage to have a Canadian win the big prize shall we?

Project Food Blog #7: Voting Opened!

Hello again! It’s that time. It’s voting time! You remember my video where I baked you a pretty cake while sporting a string of pearls and a pink polka dot apron? Well I need your help. It would be super cool if you voted for me get to the eighth round of Project Food Blog.

If you’re not already a member of Foodbuzz all you have to do is…

     

1.
Head on over to foodbuzz.com and click on “Join Foodbuzz” at the top.
     

2.
Create an account with a username, email and password. Painless right?
     

3.
Then go here and vote for me by clicking that purdy little heart above my banner.

Voting will be open from Monday, November 15th until Thursday, November 18th. You only get to vote for me once and I’d really appreciate it. If one vote just doesn’t feel like enough then you could go a step further and “like” my entry, for those of you on Facebook, and even “tweet” about it, for those of you on Twitter. Those buttons are right next to the little heart.

To keep up to date with my future entries to Project Food Blog and my goings on at Foodbuzz then become my friend. We can be BFFs. Or you can check out my official contestant profile here.

I’d love to reach the end of this contest victorious! With your help I know I can do it! Thank you everyone!

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program.

First let me just say thank you to everyone who voted and encouraged me so far. I couldn’t be here without you! I’m nervous, excited and, above all, grateful. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

“Channel your inner Julia Child and put one of your favorite recipes on film. Pick a recipe from your blog archives and make it come to life on video by showing readers the perfect way to poach an egg or just how passionate you are about seasonal ingredients. Keep your video under 5 minutes for maximum impact.”

I did my hair up all pretty. I made sure my eyelashes were expertly curled. I sported my cute new pink polka dot apron. I spent two days scrubbing every inch of my kitchen. I practiced my smile in the mirror.

Sure I might say “so” a few too many times. I might prattle on about my love of demerara sugar. I might have neglected to peel the sticker off the back of my cake pan even after using it twenty some odd times. I might not have a fancy kitchen island and used my deep freezer covered in a tablecloth instead. I might be wearing glass pearls instead of the real thing.

As Julia Child would say, no excuses, no apologies. This is me. Unadulterated Lindsey.

Oh and there’s cake. We can’t forget the cake!

Pear Upside Down Spice Cake

Source: Adapted from my family recipe.

1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 pears, sliced

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

Printer-Friendly Version

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Butter a 9 inch round cake pan and place a circle of parchment paper to fit on the bottom of the pan. Butter the parchment paper as well and then set it aside.

In a small sauce pan combine 1/2 cup of brown sugar and butter and heat it on low heat until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove it from the heat and pour it into the prepared cake pan. Layer the sliced pears over top of that in a circle with overlapping edges.


In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar then blend in the eggs. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients and milk to the butter, sugar and eggs mixture alternating by thirds.

Pour the batter over the pears and bake it for 30 – 35 minutes. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for 10 – 15 minutes. Once the pan is cool enough to touch carefully flip the cake over onto a serving plate by placing the plate upside down over the cake pan then, while gripping both the plate and pan, quickly turn the whole thing right side up. Lightly jiggle the cake out of it’s pan and enjoy!