Monthly Archives: December 2012

And The Winner Is…

Congratulations Siri of Cooking With Siri! You are the proud new owner of Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever!

It’s a beautiful book and I just know you’re going to love it! Please email me at hotpolkadot (at) live (dot) com to claim your prize and give me your mailing address to receive the book.

Thank you to everyone else who entered! I enjoyed reading about your favourite vanilla treats!

Pure Vanilla.

When I found out my friend, Shauna of Piece of Cake was releasing yet another amazing cookbook, I was so happy for her! Then I found out it was all about one of my favourite things ever and I was thrilled. Then I found out I could get myself a review copy plus a giveaway copy for you and my head exploded.

Pure Vanilla is aptly named. The rustic photos, heartfelt descriptions and homey recipes all lend to the organic, unrefined and untouched beauty that is the vanilla bean. Vanilla has become synonymous with words like safe, predictable and ordinary. Shauna shows us how to look at vanilla in a different light, a soft natural light. Vanilla is unassuming, but not bland. Vanilla is familiar, but not boring. Vanilla is nostalgic, but not antiquated. Vanilla is sexy, beautiful and adventurous.

Pure Vanilla’s recipe index ranges from the tried and true to the exciting and new. Name your favourite vanilla recipe and this book has it! Everything from luscious Vanilla Buttercream to Vanilla Cream Pie, Vanilla Bean Marshmallows to Vanilla Ice Cream. Then there’s a few recipes I bet you’ve never tried like Twinkie Bundt Cake, Candied Vanilla Popcorn and Vanilla Martinis.

When I saw Shauna’s recipe for Heirloom Vanilla Sugar Cookies, I knew it was the perfect recipe to share with you at this festive time of year. These cookies were bursting with vanilla flavour and were melt-in-your-mouth soft. They’re cookies best served on a plate to Santa or to loved ones accompanied with a tall glass of milk.

So you want to win a copy of Pure Vanilla? Of course you do!

Just use the simple Rafflecopter widget below for several different ways to enter! The terms and conditions are listed at the bottom. Just leave a comment below letting me know what your favourite vanilla treat is. This mandatory entry opens up three more enxta entries so make sure to make good use of them! The giveaway is open until Friday December 22nd at midnight.

Good luck!

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Heirloom Vanilla Sugar Cookies

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Source: Adapted from Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 vanilla beans
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, room temperature
2 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup vanilla sugar

Note: Instead of using a flat-bottomed glass to press your cookies, try using a vase or glass with a patterned-bottom. This gives the cookies a unique look!

Preheat the over to 350 degrees and position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

Split the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the edge of your knife. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugars and vanilla seeds until it’s pale in colour.

In a small bowl whisk together the oil and egg then slowly add it to the butter mixture until it’s smooth.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt then gradually add it to the butter mixture until you have a soft evenly incorporated dough.

Scoop about 1 – 2 tbsp of dough for each cookie and roll into a ball, placing twelve balls on each cookie sheet. Spread your vanilla sugar out in a shallow dish and, with the bottom of a damp glass pressed in the vanilla sugar, press each cookie into a 1/4 inch thick disc. Dip your glass in the vanilla sugar before flattening each cookie to ensure maximum sugar deliciousness. Bake them for about 10 – 12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until they’re slightly golden brown on the edges. Transfer them to a cooling rack and enjoy!

How To Tuesday: The Gift.

I am a gifted gifter. I’m not the type of person that asks what you want for Christmas. I’m the type of person that, through my powers of deduction and reasoning, I figure out exactly what you want. I daresay I know what you want better than you do.

I live for that warm smile that spreads over a person’s face when they rip that pretty paper open to catch a glimpse of that perfect gift hidden inside. It might not be expensive, or big, or hard to come by, just exactly what they wanted. A wrinkle at the corners of the eyes, a tug at the corners of the mouth. That contagious warmth that began in the first hint of their smile spreads to your heart and keeps you cozy all day.

Some of the best gifts are the unexpected ones. For that kind neighbour that collected your mail while you were away, for that teacher that helped your daughter master the saxophone, for that little boy who shovelled your walkway. Just a little something to say thank you at a time when everyone should be thankful for those around us that do things without expecting a reward.

I think DIY gifts are extra thoughtful and special. Just because it didn’t break the bank doesn’t mean that you didn’t make it with love. Just the fact that you made it with your hands says more than most expensive gifts could.

What better gift to give this holiday season than hot chocolate mix? Show someone how much they warm your heart by warming their belly!

You will need…

2 ounce preserve jars
Measuring spoons
Cocoa powder
Granulated sugar
Peppermint candy canes, crushed
Mini marshmallows

Using the funnel pour 1 tbsp granulated sugar into each jar. Follow it with 1 generous tbsp cocoa powder. Next add 1 tbsp crushed candy cane. Top it off the rest of the way with mini marshmallows. For best results, level each layer carefully before adding the next.

To prepare your Peppermint Hot Chocolate, add the individual mix to a mug of hot milk and stir it until the cocoa isn’t lumpy and the crushed candy cane has melted. To avoid spills and get a smooth drink, pour half the hot milk into the mug and stir in the mix then, once it’s incorporated, add the rest of the milk. Enjoy!

From Us To You!

How’s your holiday shopping going? I’ve got something that will definitely help!

Because you deserve a little something special.

Because this time of year is in the spirit of giving.

Because I like you.

Because I have some amazing friends.

We’re giving one lucky winner a $500 Amazon Gift Card that they can spend on some holiday shopping or on themselves! The giveaway is open to entrants in Canada + the USA only and will run from December 4th through to December 18th.

We’re using Rafflecopter for this giveaway because it’s one of the best, most secure ways to host a giveaway like this. It allows us to store and track entries as we get them and to draw a winner when the giveaway is over. To enter, you can either login to the widget with your Facebook account or with your name and a valid e-mail address. Comments are welcome; however they will not be counted as an entry to the giveaway. You must like all participating sponsors on Facebook in order to successfully enter.

Good luck!

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