Monday, August 31, 2009


i'm still here! i promise...i've just got to get back into the swing of things. and much like the cotton candy cupcakes, this salad is worth the wait. plus, with summer winding down, this is the perfect way to get another grilling session in. i heard from my mom that my hometown (in northern wi) was under frost advisory this morning (yes, it is still august). i suppose their grilling season will come to a close well before mine...

i found this salad while looking through old cooking light magazines. i keep them because i love to review and revisit...and since i had not tried this one when the issue came out, it deserved some attention.

vietnamese caramelized pork and rice noodle salad (adapted from cooking light june 2007)
3/4 c water
4 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp minced peeled ginger
3/4 tsp sriracha sauce
3 minced garlic cloves

1. combine ingredients in a saucepan
2. cook over medium heat 5 minutes or just until sugar dissolves
3. remove from heat and cool

1 (6-ounce) package rice vermicelli
1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 c thinly sliced red leaf lettuce
1 c matchstick-cut peeled English cucumber
1 c matchstick-cut carrot
1 c bean sprouts (i omitted because i had none)
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint

1. place vermicelli in a large bowl
2. cover with boiling water and let stand 20 minutes or until tender
3. drain and rinse under cold water
prepare grill
cut tenderloin in half lengthwise then in half crosswise
6. place each pork piece between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness
7. combine 2 tsp fish sauce and 1 tsp sriracha and drizzle over pork
8. coat pork evenly with garlic powder, salt, and pepper then pat on brown sugar
grill 12 minutes or until slightly pink in center, turning pieces occasionally to prevent burning
10. let stand 5 minutes then cut across grain into very thin slices
combine vermicelli, lettuce, and next 6 ingredients (through mint) in a large bowl
12. pour dressing over salad, toss, and top with pork

make it today

it seems long and tedious, but it isn't. it's amazing. the grilled pork is caramelized and just slightly spicy. the salad is refreshing and the dressing brings it all together like whoa. both husband and i ate full platefuls like no tomorrow, all the while singing praises. it should have been obvious, though. you just can't go wrong with pork loin. plus, husband's outstanding track record on the mini grill (leave him alone, neighbors!) left me with no doubt. we'll have this salad again before frost hits our neck of the "woods".

Friday, August 21, 2009

blue, please.

when i purchased the teaberry oil to make ice cream, i snuck in some cotton candy and bubble gum flavors as well. i can't help it; i'm a child at heart with an insatiable sweet tooth. i love candy flavored ice creams and figured both flavors would be perfect. but while thinking for little thank you treats to make for a few friends, i realized ice cream just wouldn't work. as a fall back, i decided on cupcakes.

i had a number of people to thank for watching the dogsons (and upstairs neighbors for moving a TV bigger than me) and it's hard to please everyone with just one flavor. i set out to find a basic chocolate based cupcake and wanted to match that with a white cake counterpart. i wasn't feeling any of the fruity options and then i remember the cotton candy oil. the perfect complement to a rich chocolate cupcake? little white cupcakes flavored slightly and topped with cotton candy buttercream and sugar sprinkles.

i used a really basic recipe after searching for white cakes. i made a few changes to it, so i'm calling this one my own.

cotton candy cupcakes
3/4 c self rising flour
5/8 c all purpose flour
1/2 c butter
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 milk
few drops cotton candy oil

1. cream butter and sugar
2. add eggs and beat until combined
3. sift together dry ingredients
4. starting and ending with flours, alternate adding dry ingredients and milk
5. add 1-2 drops cotton candy oil
6. scoop into cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes at 350F

i used large and small liners and watched them carefully. they puff up quite nicely. this recipe made about 15 mini cupcakes and 5-6 regular.

cotton candy buttercream
1 c butter
5-6 c powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
few drops cotton candy oil
blue gel dye

1. cream butter
2. add in powdered sugar and mix until completely combined
3. add in milk until desired consistency
4. carefully add a few drops of cotton candy oil - this is strong, taste test between each few drops
5. add gel until desired color is reached

to frost and decorate, pipe a ring around the outside edge of the cake. gently roll into colored sugar crystals. finish by piping a swirl inside the decorated ring.

best cupcakes in a long time

i'm not kidding, these are worth the wait that you had to endure for this post. the cupcake itself was fabulous, even without frosting. it was like vanilla...but better. if you tasted it alone, i don't think you'd guess cotton candy. you'd guess...perfection? and the frosting! it was straight up cotton candy sugar fest.

i seriously loved these cupcakes. i even put one on a stick for the full cotton candy effect. i shall never be without this flavor again. i can't wait to make cotton candy ice cream.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

i know it's been a long time. i swear i've been so busy. i'm going out of town this weekend but next week i'll be back, i promise! and to entice you...

i've got new, tasty things. things you won't be able to resist.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

i'm taking a mini break, so bear with me if there aren't any posts for a short bit. mostly it's because i'm too busy hyperventilating that it's already august 2009. hopefully i'll have a quilting update for you after this weekend :)