Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Supper :: {Fake} Pho

What's the very first thing that pops into your mind for dinner when it's cold, windy and raining outside?

Soup. Am I right?

Well we had one of those days recently so I took the liberty of making the best soup ever

Pho is a Vietnamese soup that is out of this world.  If you haven't had it, imagine a flavorful broth filled with noodles, veggies and herbs, then topped with a few pieces of meat and garnished with a spicy/tangy sauce to tie it all together. It's truly one of my all-time favorite foods, and I dabbled in making it at home - on one of those nights, as mentioned previously.


Traditionally, Pho is made with an herb-infused beef broth, topped with slices of beef or some kind of meatball, and filled with rice noodles. My version contains store bought vegetable stock, turkey meatballs and Ramen noodles. It's truly a semi-homemade and very much Americanized version of Vietnamese Pho, if you will.

Pho with Turkey Meatballs


Turkey Meatballs


1/8 cup sliced green onions
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp honey
1-1/2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp Sriracha or chili paste

2 cups of sliced cabbage
2 packages of Ramen Noodles (discard seasoning packet)
32 oz container of vegetable stock
1 tablespoon of oregano


Start with Knead to Cook's Baked Turkey, Quinoa and Spinach Meatballs - I change the ingredients only slightly, eliminating the Italian seasoning and adding 1 tablespoon Sriracha.  

While the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce. Combine all ingredients, adjusting as needed for your tastebuds. {Add extra Sriracha for more spice, extra vinegar to make it tangier, etc.} Set aside.

Combine entire container of vegetable stock with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once the broth has come to a boil, add oregano, Ramen Noodles and cabbage. Boil for 3 minutes.

Assemble as follows: Ladle soup into a bowl, top with a few meatballs, then spoon sauce over the top. Eat with chop sticks and a spoon.

{Recipe adapted from The Perfect Pantry}

For a more authentic recipe, use rice noodles and serve with a bevy of garnishes, from bean sprouts to jalapenos and basil.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Destin Eats

People travel to Destin, FL year after year for the sugar white beaches, fresh seafood and endless emerald green water.  It's truly paradise, and I try to take a moment every day to appreciate where I live and not become jaded by all its beauty. 

But I'll be honest, it has been a huge adjustment for Ross and me moving from a culture-rich city like Austin to a tiny beach town.  I miss the {free} live music, plethora of ethnic restaurants and multitude of happy hour options; the things that I traded for sand between my toes, weekends spent on the boat, and raw oysters.  

All that being said; I couldn't be happier. It takes a while to find the hidden gems in a town that most people know for the over-priced seafood at Gulf-front monstrosities of restaurants, such as Pompano Joe's and Whale's Tail.

I warn you: avoid these restaurants at all costs! Do not waste your money. Spend your days laying on the beach, then leave the beach when you get hungry. There are a handful of really great restaurants in Destin that the curious tourist may have discovered, but are often over-looked by the masses. 

And so, with that, I give you my greatest hits list.

Sushi at Harbor Docks
Best of Destin: Restaurants


The Boathouse Oyster Bar :: Stop by this Destin Harbor staple when you've had too much sun but want to keep the party going. We love dropping by Boathouse on a Saturday afternoon for raw oysters, boiled peanuts, cold beer and live music by a few resident musicians. 

Recommended Eats: Raw Oysters and Crab Cake Sandwich

The Big Deck at Harbor Docks :: Sure there's always a nice, long wait to be seated for dinner inside this Destin staple, but The Big Deck boasts an eclectic mix of sushi, stout drinks and live music from local artists. 

Recommended Eats: Seaweed Salad and Amazon Roll or Panhandle Roll


Jasmine Thai :: Destin is at a huge loss for ethnic food, but I've found that this tiny restaurant's red curry and a handful of vegetarian dishes can easily compete with my Austin favorite, Little Thai

Recommended Eats: G3 {Panang}

Fat Clemenza's :: If there is one thing in this world I can't get enough of, it's Italian food. I guarantee you will swoon over every single item that comes out of their brick oven.

Recommended Eats: Any of the Wood Fired Pizzas

Fine Dining 
{Take this with a grain of salt, as no place in Destin requires a jacket or tie}

The Wine Bar at Wine World :: This delightful restaurant is located within our favorite wine shop. Think rack of lamb paired with the perfect glass of wine.

Recommended Eats: Chicken Piccata (when available) or Pan Seared Ahi Tuna

Louisiana Lagniappe :: Yet another Harbor view restaurant, but nestled within the Sandpiper Cove neighborhood, this slightly touristy jaunt offers fish prepared every way you could possibly imagine - but they nail it every time. 

Recommended Eats: Corn & Crab Bisque and Grouper Almondine


Cabana Cafe :: Tucked inside Seascape Resort, this beachy restaurant boasts live music, awesome sandwiches and really friendly staff. 

Recommended Eats: French Dip {to. die. for.}

Beach Bar :: Located below Camille's {sister restaurant to Harbor Docks} in Crystal Beach, this lunch spot is conveniently located just across the street from the beach but small enough to keep a low profile.

Recommended Eats: Garden Mushroom Sandwich



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Weeknight Meals :: Black Bean Tostadas

Black beans are truly one of my all time favorite foods. They are the perfect substitute in many hearty meat dishes. 

I absolutely love black bean burgers, black bean tacos, black bean salsa, and particularly...

Black Bean Tostadas

corn tortillas
seasoned black beans {recipe below}
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
reduced fat sour cream or plain greek yogurt
your favorite salsa {or pineapple salsa}

{Seasoned Black Beans: Sauté 1/2 diced red onion, 1/2 diced red bell pepper and 1/2 diced green bell pepper in 1 tbsp of canola oil until peppers and onion begin to soften. Add two cans of drained and rinsed black beans with 1/4 cups of vegetable broth. Season with 1 tsp of cayenne pepper and 1 tsp of cumin. Simmer over low heat for up to 1 hour and season with salt to taste.}

Turn broiler on low and allow oven to preheat. Lay tortillas directly on the oven rack and broil for a few minutes on each side, until the tortillas are crispy. Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup of black beans, spreading the beans to the edge and top with shredded cheese. Once prepared, put each tortilla back under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Top with avocado, sour cream and salsa.

{Serve with spanish rice and sautéed vegetables}


I feel like the most common misconception about Mexican cuisine, or Latin cuisine in general, is that it's fattening and unhealthy. But it really doesn't have to be. Mexican food is all about flavor, not fat. 

Okay, so technically traditional tostadas are fried then topped with refried beans, cheese and the like. But baking and topping with vegetarian beans in lieu of frying then topping with refried beans is much healthier, and you don't lose the flavor.  I promise. 


Monday, March 11, 2013

Fresh Taste :: Pineapple Salsa

I love all kinds of salsa, from the unique and bizarre to the completely standard {i.e. Pace Picante}. So topping our fish tacos the other night with pineapple salsa sounded like a fantastic idea, and a fresh Floridian take on our  favorite Mexican cuisine.

Homemade Pineapple Salsa

1 cup diced pineapple
2 seeded and diced vine-ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup small diced red onion
2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
1 seeded, deveined and finely chopped jalapeño
juice of one lime
chopped cilantro to taste
salt to tase

Combine all ingredients in a bowl adding as much cilantro as you like and salting it to taste. NOTE: If you aren't sure if you like cilantro, err on the side of caution. I've found that people either love or hate cilantro, so feel free to leave out the cilantro entirely, or add just a small amount, if you don't care for it.

Don't like fish tacos? Add this salsa to a Mexican salad or fajitas, or simply replace any meal that calls for pico de gallo with this for a fresh take on an old favorite.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Supper :: Garlic Shrimp Pasta

I'm fresh out of words this Sunday, but not without recipe.

You'll love this whole wheat pasta topped with capers, shrimp, green onion and spicy red pepper flakes, served with roasted asparagus.

Emeril's Garlic Shrimp Pasta

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