Food, Informational

I Love Pho! Pho Sho!

0709181925.jpg

So I had my very first Pho experience recently! I am a huge lover of any kind of broth + noodle dish, and I’ve always wanted to try pho, but haven’t really been certain where to go for an authentic experience. I had a few places that were recommended to me numerous times. The two restaurants that stood out were: Sticky Rice Cafe and Bida Saigon.

Sticky Rice Cafe is Laotian cuisine. It was pointed out to me, that pho is actually a Vietnamese dish. The reviews led me to go ahead and give it a try. I was NOT disappointed! I tried the seafood pho, with shrimp and squid. The aromatics were fantastic and the broth was SO GOOD. I had no other experiences to compare to at that point, but I could certainly enjoy pho on the regular based off this experience alone!

The staff was fantastic and very helpful. I even heard several customers rave about the cooks preparing special “off menu” items when requested. The only negative is that there simply isn’t a lot of seating at this place. You could have a pretty decent wait time if you go during peak meal hours.

My dinner companion was VERY much into eating authentic exotic cuisines, and did a fair amount of research on Laotian food before our visit. Not only did he order a traditional Laotian dish, but he ordered it completely RAW! His reading indicated that this was the way all the natives eat this dish. The waitress asked numerous times if he was certain that he didn’t want the beef cooked. All the workers seemed pretty impressed that he ate the dish the way that they did! We also shared an order of fried chicken skins, which were AMAZING! I would highly recommend them as an appetizer if you visit. Pictured below is the plate of Beef Laab along with one their adorable little steamer baskets of sticky rice.

0709181925a.jpg
Beef Laab with Sticky Rice

Check out their Menu Here – Sticky Rice

Not long after trying Sticky Rice Cafe, I tried out my second bowl of pho. This time I tried out another reputable place that also came very highly recommended. This place is indeed Vietnamese, so I was “fully authentic” this time around. Bida Saigon is located in West Knoxville, and certainly worth a visit! My Mom and I tried this place on Sunday after church. Our visit was my Mom’s first pho experience! This time I tried the Pho Tai, which is basically delicious broth with rice noodles, thin slices of rare beef, and aromatics. I was a bit more adventurous this time, and added a decent amount of spicy pepper paste and fresh jalapenos. It was AMAZING.

*Bida Saigon doesn’t have a website, but you can check them out on Facebook*

0729181246.jpg

My Mom tried the Pho Ga, which is the same base, but with chicken as the protein. Her pho was very mild, but full of flavor. I was pleasantly surprised by the subtle differences in the pho from both restaurants, and would absolutely recommend them both! We also shared some fresh spring rolls with peanut sauce that were a great appetizer!

0729181235.jpg

It’s safe to say that I’m pretty obsessed with this dish now, and will be on the lookout for more opportunities to try more pho! Where is your “go to” spot for pho?

 

 

 

Advertisements
Activities, featured, Food, Parenting

Princess Dinners

Tuesdays are generally “Mommy + Daughter Days” at our house. We only have one routine commitment, and the rest of the day we spend together. I generally use this time to catch up on housework that I can keep going while playing with my little one. I also do my best to keep a basic routine that she can look forward to. Each Tuesday she can look forward to Science Experiment Tuesday and it is also a night that we try to make dinner together. I want Neyland to enjoy cooking as much as I do, and to be independent and able to cook for herself in the future. She certainly already has the independence part down. She is constantly wanting to help me do the parts of the cooking that still aren’t safe for kiddos her age. To try and help bridge the gap between what she can and can’t help with, I got her some fun kitchen items for her birthday!

First, I purchased her a set of kid safe plastic kitchen knives. I was kind of skeptical about how much they would actually cut, and if they would really be useful. The price was pretty low, so I figured we would give them a try.

You can check out the set I got here.

Before I gave them to her, I ran them back and forth across my hand to see if they were, in fact, skin safe. No issues there at all. Neyland proceeded to try them on several different foods, and they worked great! I even used them a few times tonight, and I was pleasantly surprised. I guess my only gripe is that the 5 colored knives are exactly the same thing, just different colors. I thought perhaps they would have slight differences, but they don’t. I guess I can use the different colors to help teach her food prep safety?

Needless to say, she felt like a pretty big deal getting to use a knife like a big girl. She cut up butter, ham, and some veggies.

0731181754a.jpg

I also purchased her a Princess Cook book. I loved the idea that the recipes were simple, and that each recipe is attached to one of the Disney princesses. She was STOKED to flip through the pages and pick  which recipes SHE wanted to make. I can tell that she will be more willing to try these recipes, simply because they are tied to a princess. If it gets her to branch out and try new things….I’m ALL FOR IT.

Check out the Cookbook here!

Tonight she chose to make Rapunzel’s Ham & Cheese Biscuit Braids. She helped me from start to finish. She did have a bit of trouble braiding the dough, but who wouldn’t? I found them to be a bit bland for my tastes. Solution: Cover in mustard. Yellow mustard works well for Rapunzel’s magic golden hair anyway, Right??? Lol.

0731181745b.jpg

0731181756.jpg

0731181803.jpg

0731181834.jpg

0731181900.jpg

We ate our Princess dinner, watched Tangled (obviously,) and even ended our night with a surprise visit from a prince disguised as a frog. 😉

God certainly has a sense of humor when he graces us with his creation.

A hysterical game of Twister before bed, was the end to another lovely Mommy + Daughter day. Check out the recipe below to make Rapunzel’s Ham & Cheese Biscuit Braids with your little ones!

0731181922_Burst01.jpg

0731181924a.jpg

Ham and Cheese Biscuit Braids: 

(From The Disney Princess Cookbook)
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp cold butter, cut into several pieces
  • 1/2 cup diced ham
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 cup milk

 

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
Use your fingertips to pinch the butter into the flour mixture until the bits are the size of peas.
Stir in ham and cheese.
Add milk and work the mixture with your hands until it starts to look like dough.
Sprinkle some flour on a cutting board or counter and place the dough on top. Sprinkle a little more flour on the dough to keep it from sticking. I also floured my rolling pin.
With your rolling pin, flatten the dough into a 12 inch square. The dough should be between a 1/4 and a 1/2 an inch thick.
Slice the squares into quarters, and then slice each quarter into 12 strips, each about 6 inches long.
Braid the dough like you would braid hair – gather 3 strips and pinch them together at the top. Take the right section and cross it over the center section so they switch places. Then, take the left section and cross it over the center section. Keep going until the whole strip is braided.
Pinch the strands together at the bottom.
Repeat until all the strips are braided.
Place each braid on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.
*They don’t really turn as golden brown as you’d expect, so check the bottom after about 10 minutes.

 

 

Activities, featured, Food, Trips

It’s Up to you New York, New York…

Ok…ok….My family is NOT from New York City. Not at all. Not even a little bit. But that doesn’t stop me from blasting that song every time we drive north! Everyone always assumes that when you say “I’m from New York,” you clearly mean the city. Nothing could be further from the quiet country truth my family grew up in.

My family is rooted so far north that we’re practically on the US/Canadian border. I absolutely love it. It’s quiet, sparsely populated, and everything just seems simpler up there. Despite all of this, there are still some GREAT places to visit and eat! I will highlight a few of my favorites in case you ever get the opportunity to visit.

My family lives on Black Lake, but as I mentioned before, we’re almost on the Canadian border. The St.Lawrence river is just a few miles away. There is always a huge amount of boat traffic, and the river is a pretty popular tourist area. Places like Alexandria Bay get TONS of visitors each summer. While Alex Bay is nice, and going to visit Boldt Castle is pretty much a requirement, it is not my “go to” spot on the river.

*Read about the Castle & the tragic love story that left it unfinished

canada_usa_border_mille_les_castle_residence_architecture_heritage-800204.jpg!d
Boldt Castle
Screenshot_2018-07-30-21-54-09.png
A pic of Neyland and I headed out on the tour boat to see Boldt Castle.

A bit closer to Lake Ontario you’ll find a hidden gem, and my favorite spot on the River.

Clayton, NY is the beautiful, well-kept, quiet, artistic town that Alex Bay certainly is not. It is full of amazing restaurants, super cool shops, and breathtaking views.

Without question- My Number 1 FAVORITE spot is Bella’s on the River.

11930820_10204748956952992_2482839804737370429_o

This place is a restaurant and bakery. They locally source all their produce off of the nearby Islands. I have been there numerous times, and have never been disappointed. In fact, my mother just returned from a trip up north bearing gifts that I specifically requested….

A Box of giant chocolate dipped coconut macaroons. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.

Here are a few pics from meals we’ve enjoyed at Bella’s!

Check out their Website Here

Dawn's Phone 392
The view from their dining area on the porch ❤
20160722_113932
My Mom enjoying brunch last time we were there.

After an amazing meal at Bella’s, we typically stroll down the main street in town and poke around in all the neat little shops. We always find the most amazing treasures! One stop along the way that we simply must make, is to one of our favorite wineries in the area. Coyote Moon Winery is right in the heart of Clayton. They carry a wide selection of wines and various products made with wine. As with Bella’s, the riverside views simply can’t get much better. They also have a room dedicated to live music and entertainment. It is certainly #2 on my “must visit list” in Clayton.

You can check them out here: Coyote Moon

I feel comfortable saying that my Mom would highly recommend “Twisted Sister.”

11907200_10204748955792963_1669396733104960300_o
Yay for “artsy” photos that turn out well!
11889984_10204748954952942_5666138583040654111_o
My Mom in her “natural habitat.”

From Coyote Moon, we continue to check out shops along the main road until the road finally ends here….

The Clayton docking area has a lovely park with beautifully colored Adirondack chairs allowing you to relax and watch the water. The cool breeze that blows in off that river is like NOTHING you’ll find in the south. It’s a little slice of heaven.

Welcome to the Yankee heart of this Southern girl. ❤

featured, Food, Uncategorized

Fried Green Tomatoes

0725181945.jpg

So last wednesday I got home from work a bit later than usual. I was somewhat at a loss about what to cook for dinner since the majority of my week had been spent cleaning up an recovering from Neyland’s Circus birthday party. I poked around in the fridge, but nothing seemed to jump out at me. Neyland had already informed me that she just wanted leftovers, but I was in the mood for something more exciting.

I walked out to toss some chlorine tablets into the pool and just happened to peek over the fence and glance into the garden to see if anything needed my attention. My tomato plant that was stunted by a late frost, had recently decided to “earn” his keep, and start producing. Upon closer examination I noted 4-5 medium sized tomatoes looking big and beautiful hanging from the vine. Only 1 problem- They were completely green. Then it hit me…..FRIED GREEN TOMATOES!

For the record, I have never made fried green tomatoes before, and it had been some time since I had eaten any. I shrugged off the uncertainty. After all, how hard could it be?

Neyland helped me harvest 4 of them and I got to work searching for a quick recipe. The one thing I KNOW about fried foods is a complete necessity to “double dredge” and get a good crust. I found a recipe that included this vital step, it was pretty highly rated, and seemed relatively simple. Hmmm…maybe too simple? It seemed like perhaps I could kick it up a bit in the flavor department. I quickly gathered the ingredients, with the exception of buttermilk (which I didn’t have on hand.) Thankfully if you ever find yourself in a pinch (which this certainly was) there is a handy way to make “cheater buttermilk” using regular milk with a splash of vinegar.

I prepared my dry dredging ingredients that I kicked up with extra flavor along with my “buttermilk” + egg mixture and got my pan/oil preheated while I sliced the tomatoes and coated them. Always make sure and let your pan/oil get up to temp before attempting to fry anything. If it isn’t hot enough, it will just cook the food slowly and make it mushy rather than crispy.

Fried Geen Tomatoes 7/25/18

When the oil is hot enough, you quickly get a nice golden brown crust that forms. It helps keep the inside from getting too soft, while creating a magnificent crunchy shell on the outside.

I fried them in batches to prevent overcrowding and slowed cooking. After they were all done, I drained them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil and simply sprinkled them with some Himalayan pink salt. Most FGT that I’ve had in the past needed some type of dipping sauce, but these were simply fantastic straight from the pan. I was astonished when Neyland agreed to try one and she LOVED IT!

For a great southern recipe, give this one a try!

0725181929b.jpg

Fried Green Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or “cheater buttermilk”- see post above)
  • 1/4 cup All purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp Smoked paprika
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (depending on if you like heat)
  • 3-4 medium sized green tomatoes, sliced in 1/4-1/3 inch slices
  • Vegetable oil- for frying
  • Salt to taste

Directions

Combine the egg & buttermilk in a shallow bowl and set aside.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper in a shallow bowl and set aside.

Dredge the tomato slices first in the dry mixture, then dip into the egg mixture, and follow again into the dry mixture.

Pour oil into pan (preferably cast iron skillet) to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat on medium heat until hot. Approximately 375 degrees. Drop the slices in batches into the hot oil and cook 1-2 minutes per side, or until a crispy golden brown crust is formed. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and enjoy while hot.

*For an extra “southern” experience, eat these guys while watching Fried Green Tomatoes the movie!