I have loved doing this blog for the last year and change.  I loved creating and trying out new recipes.  I ate at a lot of amazing restaurants (and yes, some duds).  But it was fun and entertaining. 

But I’m starting a new and very positive chapter in my life and have decided to spend more time focused on that.  This meant that something in my life needed to go and this was the easiest piece that I could remove.

Thank you for reading this blog and for providing such interesting comments.   I really appreciate your support!

I know I took a break from talking about pho, but I left the best for last.  I love Pho Saigon and it’s closely tied with Pho Xe Lua for the best pho so far.   Here’s the menu:

phosaigon-menu

  • Food: What makes this one of the best pho places? The broth was incredibly aromatic and flavorful.  The beef was super lean and razor thin.  They gave me lots of Asian cilantro, basil, etc.  The only complaint was that there wasn’t as much beef as most restaurants provide, but there were enough noodles that it was still filling.

Pho Saigon Pho Tai To Go  Pho Saigon Pho Tai

  • Service: They’re very polite.  You pay up front and I *think* it’s cash-only.  I can’t remember!
  • Atmosphere:Like most pho restaurants, there’s not much.  The interior is small with only 10-12 tables.  Over the main door, you’ll see a flat screen airing, what I assume to be, Vietnamese TV shows. 

Pho Saigon Pho Saigon

  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall:You won’t go wrong when you try this pho restaurant.  It’s just so darn delicious!

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 8AM–8 PM
  • Address: 6795-1B Wilson Blvd; Falls Church, VA 22044
  • Ph: 703-677-0523

In honor of Paul Harvey, I thought I’d do a brain dump on a few of the restaurants and recipes that I had been waiting to post.  Instead, here’s a very abbreviated version of my thoughts:

Restaurants:

  • Pret a Manger – If you’re a reader of this blog, you know I hate pre-made sandwiches.  But don’t be afraid of their pre-made sandwiches.  I’ve been several times now and it’s always fresh and delicious!  I really love their St. Tropez Tuna mayo-less sandwich.  Their roast beef sandwich is OK, but it needs more roast beef. 

Pret a Manger - Roast Beef, Arugula & Parmegiano Baguette  Pret a Manger - Roast Beef, Arugula & Parmegiano Baguette  Pret a Manger - St Tropez Tuna Baguette  Pret a Manger - St Tropez Tuna Baguette  Pret a Manger - St Tropez Tuna Baguette

  • Swarma King — It reminds me a lot of Amsterdam Falafel.  You pick the meat and bread which they then serve you.  Then you go over to the help yourself toppings bar.  Once you’re done with your toppings, you hand it back to them so they can grill it in a panini-style grill.  They cut it in half and you get to eat your creation.  It’s good and cheap!

Swarma King's Swarma  Swarma King's Swarma  Swarma King -- Adams Morgan

  • The Source – Good food but definitely expensive.  Three scallops were $40-something.  And they’re a little too attentive. 
  • Oya - Great place to go for a date or with a client.  Calamari and tuna tempura are delicious! I think they do best with fish more than their beef or other dishes. 
  • BLT Steakhouse – Love all the “free” food they give you when you sit down to eat.  The popovers are to die for.  Definitely expensive, but a perfect place to go when you’re on a company expense account.
  • On the Fly (Chinatown) — Skip the tacos, they’re horrible.  Go for the empanada, much better option.

On the Fly Food Cart Menu  On the Fly Food Cart  On the Fly Pork Taco and Chicken Taco  On the Fly Jamacian Beef Empanada  On the Fly Jamacian Beef Empanada

  • Julia’s Empanada — Ridiculously cheap and a decent meal.  Flaky empanada crust.   I put my Blackberry there so you could see how big the Empanada was.

julias-empanadasJulia's Chorizo Empanada  Julia's Chorizo Empanada

Recipes:

  • Martha Stewart’s Walnut and Brown Sugar Rugelach It was OK and as you can obviously tell, I didn’t shape the dough into a circle.  Instead, I just rolled it out and cut into strips.   The cream cheese gave it a bit of a bite, but I don’t think this dough was worth the extra work.

Walnut and Brown Sugar Rugelach Dough  Walnut and Brown Sugar Rugelach Dough  Walnut and Brown Sugar Rugelach Dough  Walnut and Brown Sugar Rugelach  Walnut and Brown Sugar Rugelach

  • Sour Cream Herb Foccacia Bread – I used my bread machine and mixed everything (except melted butter, 1 tsp of thyme, and cheese) on the dough cycle.  I put in 3 1/2 cups fo bread flour and had to add more water, but as always, pay attention to your bread machine when it’s first mixing to make sure everything is combining.  Meh…I didn’t love it and will next time stick to my other foccacia bread.

Sour Cream Herb Foccacia Bread Dough  Sour Cream Herb Foccacia Bread Dough  Sour Cream Herb Foccacia Bread

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuit Dough  Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

Thumprint Jam Cookie Dough  Thumprint Jam Cookies  Thumprint Jam Cookies  Thumprint Jam Cookies

  • Cooking Light Autumn Apple Cake — It really was delicious, although I think I’d add another cup of apples to give it an even better apple taste.
    • Cooking Light recipe has 10.6 g of fat; 304 g calories; and 48.9 g carbs.
      • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
      • 2 tsp baking powder
      • 1/4 tsp salt
      • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
      • 3/4 c granulated sugar
      • 5 TBSP butter, softened
      • 1 tsp vanilla extract
      • 1 large egg
      • 1/2 c 2% reduced-fat milk
      • 1 c chopped and peeled apple (I used Braeburn, they recommend Pink Lady or Sundowner)
      • 1/2 c golden raisins
      • 1/4 c chopped walnuts (opt)
      • 1 tsp powdered sugar
    • Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for about 40-60 minutes.  Sprinkle powdered sugar on top

Cooking Light Autumn Apple Cake Dough  Cooking Light Autumn Apple Cake  Cooking Light Autumn Apple Cake  Cooking Light Autumn Apple Cake

In one of Food & Wine’s recent magazines, they provided a recipe for Jacque Pepin’s favorite pound cake.  They said he likes to add candied citrus fruit rinds, etc. 

Since I couldn’t find it posted online somewhere, here the recipe:

  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 c milk, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 c cake flour

Preheat oven to 325.  Butter  10×5 loaf pan and line the bottom with strips of parchment paper that extend 2″ past the short ends of the pan.  I didn’t do the parchment paper strips, but I did make sure to that I sprayed my pan well with non-stick spray (I know, I didn’t do the butter either).

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and sugar at medium speed until fluffy (3 minutes).  Add eggs, 2 at a time, beating after each time.  Beat in milk.  Sift the cake flour and whisk until smooth.  Then pour into the pan.

Bake for 1.5 hours, until it’s golden on the top and cracked down the center.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then unmold the cake.  It can be kept at room temperature, covered, for up to 3 days.

Now that I’ve given you the recipe, I can tell you that this pound cake is CRAZY delicious.  It’s heavy, rich, moist, and seriously awesome.

Jacque Pepin’s Favorite Pound Cake Dough  Jacque Pepin’s Favorite Pound Cake  Jacque Pepin’s Favorite Pound Cake  Jacque Pepin’s Favorite Pound Cake  Jacque Pepin’s Favorite Pound Cake

I know, low-fat fudgy cream cheese brownies?  Is that possible?  It is — I promise!  I was shockingly enjoying them because the brownies were chocolate-y and moist. 

Low fat Chocolate Brownies with Cream Cheese  Low fat Chocolate Brownie Cream Cheese  Low fat Chocolate Brownie Cream Cheese

I think I could have lived without the cream cheese top and saved myself some more calories.  But I know that’s just me. 

I also don’t like frosting.  Take a moment.  I know.

Continuing to use the Daily Drool Web site, I made the whole wheat dog cookies from Dublin, OH that are about 1/4 the way down. 

I didn’t have any wheat germ and I ommitted garlic since it is toxic for dogs.  Instead of regular milk, I used 1/4 cup of whipped cream.  Also, I substituted unbleached all-purpose flour for the whole wheat flour.  When I was mixing, it wasn’t coming together like it should so I added 1 additional egg.

Whole Wheat Dog Treat Dough  Whole Wheat Dog Treats  Whole Wheat Dog Treats

The dough is super stiff but I rolled it out anyway and used my dog biscuit cutout.   Then baked them as directed.  To ensure they were totally dry, I turned off the oven and left teh biscuits in there to dry out overnight.

Again, using up more of the yogurt in my fridge by making a recipe for cinnamon raisin yogurt biscuits.

As with any biscuit recipe, don’t over-mix!  With the cinnamon/sugar mixture, I’d put in 3/4 of the mix and keep out only 1/4 of it for the top.  When I did a 50/50, I found I had too much cinnamon/sugar leftover.

I thought these were really good biscuits and since there’s less butter than normal biscuits, they’re somewhat lower-in-fat than normal.  They were still moist and full of flavor, but not quite as buttery as a typical biscuit.

Cinnamon Raisin Yogurt Biscuit Dough  Cinnamon Raisin Yogurt Biscuits  Cinnamon Raisin Yogurt Biscuit

I sent them to my dad and he said that out of the 50lbs of baked items I sent him (yeah, that shipping charge was pretty hefty), this was his favorite. 

Makes me wonder what he thought of the other 48 lbs…

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