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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24Jul/12

That Awkward Moment…

...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.

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30Jun/12

Vegetarian For A Day.

There have always been picky eaters. Cavemen families had trouble getting their little shaggy-haired fur-clad Ugg to eat his mammoth steak. Cleopatra had to wrestle with her son, Cesarian just to get him to finish his figs. Marie Antionette and Louis XVI found their daughter Marie-Thérèse conveniently preferred cake over broccoli.

Nothing has changed. Children are still notoriously picky eaters. Thankfully I am blessed with a step daughter that loves vegetables especially broccoli. Myself, I have had a colourful past with vegetables. I tried all the old standby tricks: sneaking them into my napkin, covering them with my mashed potatoes, hiding them in my mouth and flushing them later, even tucking them in the leaf of the kitchen table and forgetting about them.

I was approached by Hidden Valley to participate in a challenge with fourteen other Canadian food bloggers. The fifteen of us are tasked with creating a recipe with ranch dressing that makes eating vegetables fun for the whole family.

When I think of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing I think of good old fashioned veggie dipping. Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, celery, broccoli, red and green peppers and more, something I missed out on as a kid. But when it comes to picky eaters sometimes you have to hide the vegetables and dipping them isn't quite clever enough. I've become a huge fan of using ranch dressing on pizza instead of marinara sauce and I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to show you just how versatile this product can be!

So I took all my favourite dipping veggies and put them on a pizza instead. As a kid I always turned my nose up at vegetarian pizza, but I can attest that this Hidden Valley Cheese Ranch really brings out the best in vegetables. And, young or old, who can say no to pizza?

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29Jun/11

Summer Fresh.

Something I've always enjoyed about food is the vast world of creativity and artistry it opens up. Suddenly bread is stuffed french toast, s'mores are cookies, almonds are flowers, soda is cake. You are forced to look at everything from a different perspective.

When you take an ingredient or a recipe and apply it in a different way or reshape it you not only see the dish differently but also the world. Ingredients are not spices or sugars, but instead keys to a different dimension where up is down and black is white.

So when I was contacted by Summer Fresh and asked to produce an original recipe including one of their delicious dips, hummus or salads you can understand how excited I was. I have never had the opportunity to experiment with anything like hummus and I was so happy with my results. My Greek Hummus Pizza was so good!

Today you can see mine and many other yummy recipes using Summer Fresh products on the Summer Fresh Facebook page. Just for liking one of those recipes you can receive a buy one get one free Summer Fresh coupon and enter for a chance to win a Summer Fresh party kit so you can play with your food too!

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18Jun/11

For Dads Everywhere.

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!

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