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!
...when you're not sure if you're too tired or too awake.
Brought to you by Rockstar energy drinks! Also known as the-most-you're-ever-going-to-have-to-pee-in-fourteen-hours. Also known as that-time-I-was-asleep-enough-to-make-the-time-pass-and-awake-enough-to-change-the-song-every-few-minutes. Also known as the-last-time-I-will-ever-drink-a-Rockstar.
Do you ever feel like you need a vacation after your vacation?
Our trip to Winnipeg was amazing! No lack of fun activities, restaurants or destinations. The only unfortunate part was that all the fun was bracketed by twenty-eight hours of driving. We drove fourteen hours each way through the night and into the early afternoon to beat the traffic and make the most of our days. I made sure I was prepared with forty-two hours worth of music crammed onto my iPhone, plenty of meat and veggie wraps, Chocolate Chip Cookies, water bottles and, yes, the dreaded energy drinks.
2,620 kilometres, 582 songs, 6 Rockstars, 8 wraps, 24 cookies, a few car fights, 1 dead crow, 1 very lucky raccoon, 5 smart deer, 1 fast coyote, 5 gas stops, and an obscene amount of bathroom breaks. Let me just tell you, it is no easy task to find an open washroom when it's 2am and you're cruising through Plunkett Saskatchewan at 130 km/h. Who ever heard of Plunkett Saskatchewan? If you blink you'll miss it. And if you have to hold it any longer your kidneys might shut down. I couldn't even google for the nearest washroom! You know you're in Saskatchewan when you can see for miles, all of which don't support 3G.
All travelling upsets aside, we had a blast! It was all worth it!
We went to the Manitoba Museum and kicked butt at a dinosaur scavenger hunt. We toured the Assiniboine Park Zoo and actually had more fun with the animals outside the cages than inside like the ground squirrels and wandering peacocks. We wandered around the eerie ruins of an old monastery that burned down and is now being used to stage Shakespeare productions. We splashed around in the Manitoba Legislature fountains to cool off on one of the most hot and humid days. We explored Lower Fort Garry, a restored HBC trading post full of knowledgeable reenactors and artifacts like an attic filled with furs that you were actually encouraged to touch. The furs, not the reenactors. Almost every night we swam in one of two swimming pools that the hotel boasted and soaked in the hot tub. The latter of which effectively ruined my favourite yellow bikini bottom, but it was worth it. We spent two days at Lee's brother's trailer near Lake Winnipeg and braved the mosquitoes for huge campfires, s'mores, BBQ, skipping stones, suntans, chocolate chip waffles, frequent dips in the lake and crazy powerful air conditioning to name a few. We also took a drive in the city and visited all the places that Lee and his family lived, worked, and went to school because Winnipeg is my Lee love's hometown.
In closing, I made Double Roasted Hummus. Not sure what that has to do with Winnipeg except that it is ridiculously easy to make even if you haven't slept in twenty-four hours, your back aches, your knees are stiff, your hair is all matted down in the back and you can't remember what time zone you're in. It includes an entire bulb of roasted garlic and a whole roasted red bell pepper. It's just stuffed with roasted goodness. Eat the Hummus. Sleep can wait.
They say that scent is the strongest sense tied to memory. When I think of my dad certain smells indicative of dads everywhere come to mind. Cedar sawdust, freshly mowed grass, crisp soap, gunpowder, campfire smoke, soft leather, pine trees and BBQ. Especially BBQ.
Instead of making a dessert to celebrate Father's Day this year I decided to make something that dads appreciate most. Meat and lots of it. A quarter pound of beef mixed with fresh pesto and grilled to perfection. A dinner any dad would be happy to eat.
Just a little way to say thank you for all the wheelbarrow rides and movie nights. Photography advice and piggy back rides. Butter and sugar on soda crackers. Guitar solos and surround sound. Blueberries and Carnation milk. For patiently sitting through makeovers complete with hair gel and bobby pins. Target practice at the gun club. Grapefruit and Led Zeppelin. Extra rare filet mignon and Lipton noodle packages. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.
I love you dad! Happy Father's Day!
There are a few schools of thought on the best way to peel garlic. Some people crush it under a chef's knife. Some people soak the cloves in cold water. Some people just diligently pick away at the skin with their fingernails.
I used to use the latter method until a few months back when I discovered a quick and easy way to peel garlic. I've been doing it this way ever since and been able to avoid messy juice, slippery knife cuts, garlicky fingernails and dirtying another bowl.
Want to know how? Sure you do!
I must have been really good last year because I got a shiny new KitchenAid food processor for Christmas. I love it to pieces. If you've ever had a new kitchen toy you understand how exciting it is to switch it on for the first time. Your eyes light up, your face cracks into a smile from ear to ear and you jump for joy. Instant gratification. If you're like me your always trying to come up with excuses to use it.
First I made pesto. That was awesome. Then I made more pesto. Even more awesome. Then I ran out of ideas.
I didn't expect that, but I think I've figured out what the problem is. For years I've been just fine without a food processor and I've become accustom to doing everything by hand. Shredding cheese, chopping garlic, slicing potatoes, whisking eggs, etc. It's like taking the long road for years then suddenly finding a shortcut only to get lost.
When The New Food Processor Bible by Norene Gilletz found me it all became clear. I realized what my food processor was actually capable of. Soups, fish, pastry, mousse, vegetables, chicken, marinades, dressings, breads, frosting, cookies and so much more. As if that isn't enough there's an entire section dedicated to proper use of your food processor with detailed dos and don'ts, techniques, the right blade for the job and even how to make food for picky eaters.
To exemplify the multitude of blissfully simple yet delicious recipes this book has to offer I made this Focaccia bread. It was quick, easy and flavourful. It was the first time I've ever tried my hand at Foccaccia and I can tell you it won't be the last.
I can see a lot more fun with grinding, blending, shredding and chopping in my near future.
And in your near future I see you winning a copy of The New Food Processor Bible for your very own right here. That's right, I'm psychic!