Thursday, June 28, 2012

Asian Noodle Salad

"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."

-Gloria Steinem
Writer and Journalist

This salad is one of my favorites. I've made it for parties, I've made it for potlucks, and it's always well loved. It's fresh and full of vegetables, and full of flavor. I think it's a perfect salad for a summer picnic!

Some of the ingredients of my salad, peppers, cilantro, cabbage, bean sprouts, spinach and cashews

One of the great things about this salad is that you can mix and match different vegetables based on your taste. You can also fill it with vegetables, of just have a little. It's all up to you and based on your taste.

Don't like bell peppers? Leave them out! Allergic to nuts? Cool! Leave the cashews out. This salad will still be tasty.

The dressing is so delicious, with fresh ginger and garlic, I love it. Sometimes I double it to use in salads later. It's just that good.

I use whole wheat linguine as the noodle element, but you can use udon noodles instead to keep it actually Asian. Or use brown rice pasta, and Tamari Sauce instead of soy sauce to make it gluten free.

Asian Noodle Salad

Remember, you can add different vegetables for this, and as many as you want. Some variations not included below are: julienned carrots, cucumbers, thinly chopped celery, or even sliced zucchini or yellow squash. Use whatever vegetables sound good to you.
Loosely based on one from The Pioneer Woman


For the Salad-

1 package (16 oz.) Whole Wheat Linguine Noodles, or Brown Rice Spaghetti, Cooked, Rinsed, And Cooled

1 head thinly sliced Purple Cabbage or Napa Cabbage- I use a Mandoline to get it nice and thin

1 bag (8 oz.) Baby Spinach, sliced

About 2 Red or Yellow Bell Peppers- I used a small bag of different colored peppers

1 bag Bean Sprouts -also Called Mung Bean Sprouts

3 Carrots, shredded
Chopped Cilantro, Up To 1 Bunch, To Taste

3 whole Scallions, Sliced

10 oz. (283 mg.) Unsalted Whole Cashews, Lightly Toasted In Skillet

 For the Dressing

1/3 cup (79 ml) Rice Vinegar - unseasoned, but if seasoned (means  it has sugar) then reduce the sugar below by half)

1/3 cup (54 mg) Brown Sugar

1/3 cup (79 ml.) Olive Oil

8 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Tamari Sauce

2 Tablespoons (up To 3 Tablespoons) Sesame Oil

3 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger, Finely Chopped

2 cloves Garlic, Finely Chopped


Toss the noodles with most of the vegetables. For example sometimes I don't use the whole head of cabbage, or the whole amount of spinach. So I toss everything with about half of the cabbage and spinach then I see if I like the ratio of vegetables to noodles. If I don't I add more cabbage and spinach till I get it where I like the way it looks. You do the same.

Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour some over salad. Toss the salad with the dressing and see if you like the amount of dressing on the salad. If you need more add it till you get enough dressing on the salad for your taste. Refrigerate until serving.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fourth Of July Drink

"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism."

  ~Erma Bombeck

Since Fourth of July is coming, I figured a cocktail was in order, to reflect the holiday, of course. This one features grenadine, blueberry vodka, and regular clear vodka.

Unique Tall cordial glasses available at my Etsy Shop, House of Lucien.

Fourth Of July Drink

Idea from ECurry

First let me warn you. I tried to use cream as the white part, it doesn't work. The cream is too heavy, the blue vodka just fell into it. The grenadine on the bottom is heavy and thick, so it holds the others well. The blue and the white or clear, should be the same weight, or a similar type of liqueur. I thought about using white cream De cacao or white chocolate liqueur for the white portion, but I don't know if it would work. But if you try it I'd love to know your results.

Keep reading after the recipe for more info on specific gravity of liqueors.



Blueberry Vodka, or Blue Curacao, or any blue liqueur- cold

Vodka, or any clear liqueur, cold. -or you could try using a white liqueur, see the note above about this.


Layer this cocktail by adding the grenadine first.

Next, add the blueberry vodka by pouring very slowly off the back of a spoon.

Finally, with a steady hand, add the clear or white liqueur or vodka on top of the blueberry vodka by pouring it off the back of a spoon.

Edited to add: courtesy of A_Boleyn

refer to these page to find the specific gravities of red/white/blue liquors

White creme de cacao (1.14) should work in between the red grenadine (1.16) on the bottom and blue curacao (1.11) on the top based on this.

Double cream at 0.99 would float on top of blue caracao at 1.11. Most vodkas have a specific gravity 0.79 so a blue vodka should float on top of the double cream.

Like I mentioned, I tried heavy cream on top of the red, then with the blue on top and the blue vodka sank into the cream, I'm not sure why. Maybe because of the type of vodka, I have no idea. But these charts are great, thank you!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Moist Chocolate Farmhouse Cake

"You have to believe in yourself, that's the secret. Even when I was in the orphanage, when I was roaming the street trying to find enough to eat, even then I thought of myself as the greatest actor in the world."

Charlie Chaplin

1889-1977, Comic Actor

This is a delicious, moist cake with a wonderful texture and great chocolate flavor. With a secret ingredient! It comes from a book called, "One Potato Two Potato." Guess what that ingredient is.

You're probably thinking, this is a chocolate cake recipe, what the heck.

Potatoes, of course. I actually don't own the book. But I do own a book called, "Best of the Best, The Best Recipes From the 25 Best Cookbooks of the Year". By Food and Wine. So dang, that book was one of the best of 2002! The 16 Amazon reviews agree.

Potatoes going through a ricer

The potatoes ensures moistness in the cake, they say. By golly I think they're right! Potatoes in bread is nothing new, it replaces part of the flour in many bread and roll recipes, to provide lightness.

Chopping chocolate

One of my favorite dinner roll recipes called, Amish dinner rolls, provided by King Arthur Flour, calls for mashed potatoes.  And those rolls are delicious, light and fluffy.

The batter is really silky and luscious (mine is bright yellow because I have free range chickens that produce bright orange yolks, if you use grocery store eggs your batter won't be so bright, FYI.

This cake isn't particularly light like the rolls, but it has an excellent texture. Moist, but with a lightness, not dense at all. But rich, but not too much so. I imagine all of those eggs helps with that.

I measured the batter to make sure it would fit my pan

The cake isn't too sweet either. With 2 cups of sugar, it doesn't seem like that would be true, but since the chocolate is unsweetened, that sugar makes up for the missing sugar in the chocolate.

Ready for the oven

Another thing I like about this cake is that it can easily be made dairy free by substituting shortening or non dairy margarine for the butter. So those that cannot consume dairy can enjoy it.

Right out of the oven, heavenly smells abound

Another positive aspect of this cake is that most cakes I make call for sour cream, yogurt or buttermilk, so it was nice to produce a moist cake without needing their help Since I don't always have dairy in the fridge.

So I guess potatoes + cake = Success!


Crystal Cake Plate, Hand painted Pink Teacup and Pretty Pink Napkins, available at my Etsy Shop, House of Lucien.

Moist Chocolate Farmhouse Cake

Makes a 10 inch tube cake, or a bit under 8 cups (liquid) (almost 2,000 ml.) of batter. So if you use another type of pan, like a bundt pan you can check to make sure it will fit. Or you could make small bundts, but take note that the cooking time will be different if you do.

adapted from the book, "One Potato Two Potato" Roy Finamore and Molly Stevens


3/4 pound (340 g.) all purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

Cocoa powder for dusting pans

5 oz. (142 g.) Unsweetened Chocolate, chopped

2 Tablespoons honey

1/2 cup (118 ml.) boiling water

1 3/4  cup (175 g.) all purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) (113 g.) unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup (55 g.) vegetable shortening

2 cups (400 g.) sugar

5 eggs at room temperature

3 tsp. vanilla extract

powdered sugar for dusting cake - optional


Cook the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water at least by an inch, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Drain well and put the potatoes through a ricer and measure out 1 cup. (167 g.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Celsius, or Gas Mark 4.

Grease a 10 inch tube pan generously with shortening or butter, and dust it with cocoa powder.

Put the chopped chocolate and honey in a small saucepan (or a microwave safe bowl) and pour the 1/2 cup (118 ml) boiling water over it. Stir it, and let it melt. Set aside for now.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl, set aside.

Cut the butter into chunks and place in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until light. Add the shortening and beat it again until combined and light. Pour in the sugar and beat until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one and beat after every addition. Add the vanilla.

Check the chocolate. At this point my chocolate wasn't completely melted no matter how much I stirred it, so I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. So do what you have to (put it on the stove, or microwave it) to make sure the chocolate mixture is melted and smooth, but not too hot or it will melt the butter, if it's hot to the touch put it in the fridge for a few minutes, until it is about room temperature. Then add the chocolate mixture to the batter. Mix well. Now add the potatoes, beat again and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber scraper.

Add half of the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated, then add 1/2 cup (118 ml.) cold water, and mix again. Now add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix again, just until it's all incorporated.

Scrape the bowl into the prepared pan. Shake the pan and tap it lightly on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles.

Bake the cake until a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean, about 50 minutes. (Mine took about 62 minutes.)

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan by taking a long knife and run it between the cake and the inside of the pan, to loosen the cake from the pan. Turn the cake out of the pan and flip it right side up and let it cool.

If you want dust the cake generously with powdered sugar before serving.

Save any leftovers in an airtight container. It should stay moist for 3 days. Of freeze any leftovers by double wrapping them well in plastic wrap then in a plastic baggie.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie and Cool Stuff Weekend

"The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.  "

- William Faulkner

This smoothie is so great, it's virtually breakfast in a glass. It's filling and nutritious. A great way to drink your breakfast! The oats make it thick, and the frozen banana makes it frosty, cold and creamy. It was a great breakfast for me this morning when I couldn't figure out what to eat, but I was starving, so I needed to get something in my belly fast. (Keep reading for the recipe, below.)

This is the first installation of my new feature, Cool Stuff Weekend. Like I mentioned in my last post, I want to start featuring artists and other things I like out there in the world. So every weekend I will post a beverage, something easy, and it is the weekend so sometimes that beverage will involve alcohol, as well as a bunch of things I'm liking. Mostly it will be unique, different and interesting stuff. Who knows? I don't really like to put rules on myself, so I'm just going to say it will be stuff that I like.

So here's some stuff I'm digging right now, and I hope you like it too!

How cool is this? It's a quilt with little green army men in the form of a peace sign. This comes from Creatures By Diana. Diana lives just a few towns away from me in Olympia Washington.

Unicorn Coat Hook -a solid cast aluminum unicorn bust. By Architecture Jones. This would look great in a little girls room, or heck, in my room. I just love it.

You Rock Dad, Guitar pick for those dads that rock out. (I know fathers day is today, but you can tell dad you love him other days too!) By Sweetheart Circle. And to my Dad, if you're reading, this is how I feel about you!

Origami Gift Box- By Photo Mama Regina- Can you believe she made this box! Gorgeous! Inexpensive too, only $5.25. What a great thing to have on hand for gift giving.

Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie

adapted from "Food Writers Favorites, Beverages".
makes 1 Smoothie

This is so versatile, add yogurt or don't. You can also use another type of fruit instead of a banana.

It's difficult to remove the peel from a banana right out of the freezer. If you let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes, it makes it easy to remove the peel as well as keeping the banana frozen enough to make your smoothie cold and delicious. If you don't have 10 minutes, put the frozen banana in the microwave for 20 seconds. If you don't have one frozen, then add a few ice cubes along with the room temperature banana.


1/2 cup (43 g.) oats - any type, old fashioned, or quick, or even plain instant, should be fine

1 frozen banana, peeled

1 cup (237 ml.) milk, any type

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2-4 Tablespoons real maple syrup, or honey

a small tub of yogurt of your choice, optional


Place the dry oatmeal in the blender container, and blend it to a fine powder. Add everything else. Blend well for 2 minutes or so, to make sure the oatmeal is finely ground and everything is smooth. Pour in a glass and drink immediately.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Easy Pulled Pork Sandwiches

"What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade. "

~Gertrude Jekyll
If you are one of the following please stop reading now.
1. A pitmaster from Texas with your own home built smoker that cooks 14 racks at a time.
2. If you compete in the BBQ circuit and win Grand Championship titles for your talents
3. If you have your own show on the Food Network called, "BBQ Country Cook Off."
This isn't for you.

Country Pork Ribs in Crock pot

But if you are not a BBQ aficionado and you like having easy, tasty food with little effort, then this is for you.

Cover with BBQ sauce

This is a meal we eat often. Pulled pork of some fashion. It's stupid easy. Put stuff in crock pot, turn it on, walk away, come back a while later and voila! Perfect, tender, delicious meat for days worth of sandwiches.

It's done cooking

When I say "of some fashion" this version being barbecue, of course. But I also do this with taco spices to create pork for tacos. Another version I've made, is with a teriyaki sauce to make Asian style pork. My husband loves pork, and it's so easy, I can't resist keeping country style pork ribs in the freezer for days I don't want to cook, but want some yummy food.

Shred it up

Sometimes I just add barbecue sauce, and that's fine, it's perfectly delicious. But other times when I want something a little more special, I rub down the meat with some smoky BBQ blend of spices to add some more depth of flavor.

Add more BBQ sauce

It's really amazing how the slow cooker can create such tender, satisfying meat with such little effort. Every time I make it I am amazed by how great it is, and how little I did to create it!

Ready for a bun

If you have been following along at home, you know I've been working on my Etsy shop, House of Lucien. I've been loving being a part of Etsy. I also love finding all of the great things other people have made, (since Etsy features handmade items as well as vintage.) I'm going to start featuring some great items from other sellers on my blog. In this day and age, when so many things are mass produced inexpensively overseas, it's so nice to come across original and well made items. Not to mention, the effect that shopping at small businesses has on the economy. It's a win win, in my book.
So stay tuned for more on that.

My Easy Creamy Coleslaw is the perfect accompaniment to these sandwiches.

Easy Pulled Pork Sandwiches

You need a slow cooker for this recipe. I use whatever size is appropriate for how much meat I am cooking. You can easily double this amount with a large slow cooker. It's best to have the meat snuggled close together, the less empty space in the slow cooker, the better.


3 Lbs. Country Style Pork Ribs, boneless
2 standard size bottles of your favorite BBQ sauce

BBQ Spice Rub - optional

6-8 of your favorite buns


Salt and pepper your ribs on both sides, and rub BBQ spices into both sides of meat.(if you are using.) If the rub has salt in it, go easy on the salt, or omit it.

Add meat to slow cooker. Pour a bottle of sauce over meat, make sure it's all covered. If the bottom ribs look a little bare, sometimes I add a 1/2 inch of water to the bottom or crock pot.

Set timer for 8-10 hours on low. (10 hours is better.) FYI - If you have a tendency to keep opening the lid of the slow cooker to see what's going on in there, just keep in mind doing that adds 40 minutes more of cooking time for the cooker to come back up to temperature and regain the heat it's lost.

After 10 hours has passed, remove the meat from the cooker. Using 2 forks, shred it. Add a little of the cooking juices, to add some moisture it it. I add maybe 2-4 Tablespoons. That liquid will be watery looking, if you add water earlier or not, since it has pork juices and melted fat added to it as well as the BBQ sauce.

Add as much of the 2nd bottle of BBQ sauce as you like, I use maybe a half a bottle at this point. The rest of the bottle I use to add a little to the meat later, when reheating the next day, as well as sometimes I add some to my bun.

Toast a bun, spread with butter or a little more BBQ sauce, add meat (and maybe some coleslaw) and enjoy!

The meat reheats well for a few days, in the microwave, or in the oven, covered.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Easy Creamy Coleslaw

"Plain cookery cannot be trusted to plain cooks."

-Countess Morphy

I love coleslaw. Many restaurants dismiss it and that makes me sad. A meal like fish and chips requires it. While most restaurants do serve it that way (as they should) the coleslaw remains an afterthought. Dry and tasteless, it hardly resembles food. On the other hand, I've eaten at places that celebrate it! Some make it Asian, some add apples or pears. I'll take it. Creativity and flair, great! Freshness, yes please! Just don't give me crappy coleslaw.

Make the dressing

Another meal that I feel longs for coleslaw is a pulled pork sandwich. This is something I make often. (It's one of my husband's favorite meals.) So making coleslaw is something I do pretty often.

add the coleslaw

For a pulled pork sandwich we prefer our coleslaw pretty traditional. Creamy and delicious, this coleslaw is just perfect. It's pretty basic, but so much better than store bought. In fact if you usually purchase coleslaw I think you will be amazed by the yumminess of this version.

Give it a toss

It's so simple too. I mean really fast to make. Add the dressing ingredients to a bowl and stir, throw in a bag of coleslaw mix from the store (of course you can shred your own cabbage and carrots) give it a toss and your done! That's it! It takes about 5 minutes tops. And the dressing ingredients you probably already have on hand.

My coleslaw is sharing a plate with my Easy Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Easy Creamy Coleslaw

This takes only a few minutes to make, but it needs about a half hour to sit in the fridge before eating, so plan accordingly. I like my coleslaw pretty plain. In fact I usually don't use the optional onion and garlic powder. Make it to your taste, if you feel it needs more flavor, go for the spices.


1 (16 ounce) (454 g.) bag coleslaw mix
2/3 cup (158 ml.) mayonnaise
1/4 cup (44 g.) sugar
tablespoons milk or cream
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 tsp dried onion - optional
1/2 tsp dried garlic powder - optional


Add everything except the coleslaw mix to a large bowl and whisk together. Add the bag of coleslaw mix and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to meld. As it sits it will also get creamier. At first toss you may think it's not wet enough but upon sitting it gets creamier and more moist.