Hot Polka Dot
25Jun/13

The Secret Ingredient.

Cheesy Ranch Mashed Cauliflower via @hotpolkadot

We're going to take a little detour today. This blog is normally cruising down sweet street toward glistening pink frosting, melting chocolate chips and happy rainbow sprinkles. Today we're taking the road less travelled, today we're speeding down savoury street toward crisp green onions, melting cheddar cheese and tangy ranch dressing.

Today's detour is brought to you by the kind folks at Hidden Valley Ranch. You may recall last year around this time I shared with you a delicious Vegetarian Ranch Pizza that remains one of my all-time favourite pizzas. This year for the Ranchify Recipe Challenge we are once again tasked with creating a recipe with ranch dressing that makes eating your vegetables not only yummy but fun!

At our house, we're a huge fan of mashed potatoes. As a picky kid, I used to hide my distasteful vegetables under my mashed potatoes, so I thought why not do the same thing as an adult? Mashed cauliflower is far better for you than a mound of starchy potatoes and, honestly, I think it tastes way better! I like to think of myself as a reformed picky eater. I try to sneak as many vegetables into our meals as I can and this challenge was the best excuse to go one step further.

With loads of fragrant garlic, punches of powerful parmesan, potatoes for texture and, of course, a little help from tangy Hidden Valley Cheese Ranch dressing this is an entree to fool any picky kid or stubborn adult. Cauliflower is the same colour as potatoes so it's the perfect crime. Feed it to your unsuspecting family and dare them to list the secret ingredient!

Cheesy Ranch Mashed Cauliflower via @hotpolkadot

Cheesy Ranch Mashed Cauliflower via @hotpolkadotCheesy Ranch Mashed Cauliflower via @hotpolkadot

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20Jan/11

Love Muffin: Maple Bacon Cheddar Cornmeal.

There's about two feet of snow carpeting the ground. Icicles decorate the eaves troughs. The evergreens slouch under the new weight. The streets haven't been plowed all Winter. A single Autumn leaf clings stubbornly to the frozen ground. The temperature has plummeted to uncomfortable depths.

There's only one thing to do when the weather turns this chilly. Make Chili! The natural partner for a steaming hot bowl of Chili is, of course, Cornmeal Muffins. These aren't your average Cornmeal Muffins, folks. They're Maple Bacon Cheddar Cornmeal Muffins.

A little sweet to compliment the spice. A little hot inside to contrast the cold outside.

How else are you going to work up the nerve to shovel the driveway? Or scrape ice off the windshield? Or risk frostbite to check the mailbox? I suppose you could always just stay toasty warm inside and eat muffins for dinner. Like I did.

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3Jun/10

Good Fences Make Good Neighbours.

You know it's true. Don't deny it. Ok, yes there is the odd neighbour here and there that's not so bad. Maybe you make small talk with them across the street or exchange passing comments about the weather. Maybe they made too many peanut butter cookies one afternoon and delivered some extra to you. Maybe they agreed to pick up your mail while you were gone on vacation and even sorted the bills apart from the flyers.

And maybe, just maybe they really suck. I mean rake their leaves onto your lawn kind of suck. Or park in your reserved space kind of suck. Or even keep their irregular garbage piling up in the back alley that no trash collector will ever touch with a ten foot pole kind of suck. Those neighbours are the kind we build fences for.

Really though, is it so hard to dispose of your old broken mattresses at the dump? Is it too much to ask for people not to pour broken pieces of cement directly onto the road where you have no other option than to drive over it hoping all the while that your tires don't pop? Is it so difficult to refrain from revving your tired and obviously sick Mustang engine for all the neighbourhood to hear right before you peel out of your driveway? That's not very neighbourly.

Since when did common courtesy stop being so common? It's so frustrating because I go out of my way not to offend a perfect stranger even going so far as to inconvenience myself. I'm the person at the grocery store that will wait patiently and without complaint while the person ahead of me takes forever to bag their groceries all the while not moving their cart two inches so that I can get through to bag my own. I'm the person grinding her teeth in her backyard while my neighbours laugh and carry on in their yard with their inebriated friends until 6am. I'm the person that would glare through the peephole at my neighbours while they repeatedly slam the outside door that only needs to be pushed and clicked in place.

Some people really need to consider the piece of mind of others more often before they do something that would disrupt just that. It's selfish. It's mean. It's just plain ignorant. Let's all try and be a little more enlightened, shall we?

And on that note here are some Cheddar Biscuits that could mend fences.

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