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:


  • 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!


  • 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:


  • 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


  • 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…

OK, so before I tell you what I thought of this recipe of Irish Soda Bread (which used yogurt), I need to tell you that I needed to use up some Greek yogurt that was in my fridge.  I also need to confess something that I haven’t yet told you.

I hate yogurt.  I love the frozen stuff, but it’s the other one that I hate.  I can eat it if I have to, but I rarely do.  I don’t know why exactly, but I think it has to do with the texture.  So when I buy yogurt, it’s only for baking.

Phew, that felt good to reveal.  Ha. 

Yogurt Irish Soda Bread  Yogurt Irish Soda Bread

Anyway, I thought the Irish Soda Bread, while I molded it into a bread loaf, was actually quite delicious.  It was a little sweeter than I would have wanted, but it had a nice crunchy and hearty texture.  Great with soup!

I know how many feel about Lauriol Plaza.  And I am one of those who groans and rolls her eyes when the restaurant comes up as a dinner choice.  But when it was clear I wasn’t going to get out of going this time, I decided to suck it up and go.  Besides, maybe it would be better than the last time I went…

  • Food:  I can’t lie.  Lauriol Plaza is a good place to go when you have a large group of people.  Their chips are always hot, thin, and fresh out of the fryer.  Plus, when you add the fact they’re free — who doesn’t appreciate it?  They offer two sides of salsa — one pico de gallo and the other is a hotter mixture.  Their guacamole is decent with good flavors and chunks of avocado.  I ordered their steak fajitas, which when you think about it, you can’t really mess up.  good.  But make no mistake, they really serve Tex-Mex food.
  • Service: Once you get a table, they are good about getting your order, serving your food, and cleaning up quickly. 
  • Atmosphere: There’s actually three levels and outside seating.  It’s a huge restaurant and can be super loud when it’s packed.  The bar is usually jammed as well. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:  Is it worth the long lines at night and on the weekends?  I’m not a wait in line kind of person so I say no.  If you’ve never been to DC, I’d say to pass this place.  But after living here for five years, it makes sense that you’d try it at least once. 


  • Reservations are not accepted, but at night and on weekends, be prepared for a super long wait! 
  • Hours: Mon-Thu,Sun 11:30am-11pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-12am
  • Address: 1835 18th St NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: (202) 387-0035

I love spice cookies and the photo from this spice cookie recipe looked perfect!  It was super easy to mix, but I would recommend doubling the amount of raisins.  Yes, I actually had some in my cupboard and used them in the recipe.  I would also put the dough in the fridge so the cookies don’t spread quite as much.

Sour Cream Spice Cookie Dough  Sour Cream Spice Cookies

They smelled awesome baking and the taste?  Moist, spicy, sweet, and perfect!

I love cream cheese, but I found I had a lot remaining in my fridge.  Before it would have a chance to expire, I thought I’d make these cream cheese banana cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Banana Cupcake Dough  Cream Cheese Banana Cupcakes  Cream Cheese Banana Cupcakes

Wow, some seriously delicious and moist cupcakes!  Highly recommend trying this recipe!

I was interested in this dog biscuit recipe from the Peninsula Humane Society in San Mateo CA because it had only four ingredients.  I am always interested in easy recipes…

4-Ingredient Dog Biscuit Dough  4-Ingredient Dog Biscuits

Anyway, this recipe was certainly that.  And the most important question — how did the dog like it?  He did…although I don’t think he has the most discerning palate.  Ha ha…

I love naan bread.  What shocks a lot of people is that it’s easy to make at home — it just takes a hot oven (or grill).  I thought I’d try this naan bread recipe since so many said it was exactly like you get in an Indian restaurant.

This recipe was really good — it was a bit sweeter than usual.  I think next time I’d reduce the amount of sugar.  The trick to making naan look like what you get in a restaurant is to grill it (or bake it) watching the dough carefully so it doesn’t get too brown and crunchy.

Since I didn’t have a grill, I heated my oven stone to 500 degrees.  Then I placed the pieces of flattened dough and baked for 3-5 minutes until brown.  The dough was chewy and delicious.

Naan Bread Dough  Naan Bread Dough  Naan Bread Dough After 550  Naan Bread  Naan Bread

I do think this recipe beats this one for bread machine naan.

I sometimes hate the fact I bake.  Why?  Because when I have a sweet tooth, I can easily go to my kitchen and make something.  Damn it!

So I was having a serious craving for cookies and decided I’d try Cooking Light’s low-fat chocolate peanut butter cookies.

They are very easy to throw together and I relied on my typical baking method of “throwing everything in the bowl,” so my cookies didn’t look like the photo.  I used a small cookie scoop and threw a couple of pans in the oven.

Low fat Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough  Low fat Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies  Low fat Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies  Low fat Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

When they come out of the oven, the cookies are soft and awesome.   When they cooled, they become crunchy and kinda reminded me of the size of the Keebler chocolate chip cookies…but they tasted so much better.  I really liked these cookies and would definitely recommend this recipe.

I love banana, oatmeal, and chocolate so finding this recipe for a cookie with all three was perfect.  If you need a metric conversion, here you go.  These are approximate, but they are the amounts I used to make my cookies:

  • 150g butter – 2/3 cup
  • 180g mashed ripe bananas – 1 cup
  • 140g granulated sugar – 5/8 cup or 10 TBSP
  • 210g plain flour – 2 cups
  • 230g quick cook oats – 2 cups
  • 360g chocolate chips – 2 1/2 cups
  • 80g chopped nuts (opt)

Once I figured out all the measurements and mixed, I baked at 375 for about 12 minutes.   I used a medium cookie scoop. 

Banana, Oatmeal & Chocolate Cookie Dough  Banana, Oatmeal & Chocolate Cookies  Banana, Oatmeal & Chocolate Cookie

I thought they were moist and tasted exactly like a banana, oatmeal, and chocolate chip bread.  Awesome cookie!

3 days with a car and at least 5 bowls of pho.  Obsessed I tell you!  Anyway, I continued to work my way through to the pho places throughout Eden Center in Falls Church.  Today’s pho bowl is from Viet Royale.

viet-royale-page-1  viet-royale-page-2

  • Food: Well, I think their broth is truly outstanding…and it might even be better than Pho Xe Lua.  But, you’ll see the beef is cooked…even though I asked and the waitress promised that the beef would be raw.  Despite the delicious broth, I thought their pho was OK.   The beef was a bit tough, onions were cut too thick, etc. 

Viet Royale - Falls Church VA  Viet Royale Pho Tai  Viet Royale Pho Tai

  • Service: I ordered to-go so it was fine.
  • Atmosphere:Interior has more character than a lot of pho places.  It’s one big room with probably 25-30 tables.  In the back, they have a small bar which is where you order your food-to-go.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price:  $
  • Overall:I’d skip the pho and order some of the other Vietnamese dishes they offer. 


  • Hours: 10 AM-11 PM Daily
  • Address: 6767 Wilson Blvd; Falls Church, VA 22044
  • Ph: (703) 533-8388

I love Nutella.  What’s not to love?  Chocolate and hazelnut — just as good as chocolate and peanut butter.  Anyway, I wanted to branch out and try a recipe for Nutella cupcakes

These are easy cupcakes to mix, but I found I had to bake them a bit longer than the recipe said.  When I took them out, they looked great. 

Nutella Cupcake Dough  Nutella Cupcakes  Nutella Cupcakes  Nutella Cupcakes  Nutella Cupcakes

I didn’t think they were too heavy on the Nutella flavor so I would definitely recommend topping them with Nutella.  Or, you could put half the dough and then a dollop of Nutella and then top with the remaining dough.  They weren’t too sweet either so the Nutella “frosting” will complement, not overwhelm.  If you’re making them for someone, I’d also add some crushed hazelnut to the top. 

With these changes, I promise these will be crowd-pleasing cupcakes!

Ha ha, my mom’s dog using training treats is absolutely hilarious.  He’s a great dog, but he does not “do” training…period. 

Anyway, I thought I’d make these tuna training treats since they seemed extremely easy to make.  They were! 

While the recipe didn’t call for a lot of garlic, there is a debate on whether garlic is a good idea for dogs.  Some believe garlic is toxic for dogs so I didn’t put any in.

Homemade Tuna Training Treats  Homemade Tuna Training Treat Dough  Homemade Tuna Training Treats  Homemade Tuna Training Treats 

Otherwise, I followed directions and used my 9×13″ pan to make them.  I cut them up into little squares and apparently, her dog does like them. 


After 7 months, we finally learn what Barton Seaver, the guy who made Hook the amazing restaurant it was (and used to work at Cafe Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar), is going.  He’s now the executive chef at Blue Ridge, a new neighborhood restaurant that will be opening on April 1st.

Prices range from $13-20 for entrees and the new restaurant will be open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. 

I can’t wait to try the new restaurant!

In my fridge, I found I had a few ounces of cream cheese and decided to find some recipes to use it up.  While I like watching Martha Stewart’s TV show since EVERYTHING is perfect, I had never tried one of her recipes. 

Until now.  I thought her recipe for cream cheese walnut cookies sounded delicious.  While there are more directions than I usually care to follow, they were surprisingly simple. 

When you’re making these cookies, don’t forget to factor in extra time for the dough to go into the fridge/freezer.  Also, I used a small heaping 1/4 tsp of Kosher salt (even though it called for more).

Once I molded into the best circular logs as I possibly could (meaning when I grew tired of trying to make them perfect), I cut them using a knife and a sawing back-and-forth motion.  Otherwise, you “rough” up the dough. 

Martha Stewart Cream Cheese Walnut Cookie Dough  Martha Stewart Cream Cheese Walnut Cookie Dough  Martha Stewart Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies  Martha Stewart Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies

When I took them out of the oven and tried a bite, the cream cheese gave the cookies a bit of a bite and the walnuts a crunch.  The cookies are definitely rich and reminded me a bit of shortbread. 

Seriously, if you find yourself with a little time, you should try to make these.  I liked them.