Build Your Own Pho, Quick Work Lunch in a Jar

Build Your Own Pho, Quick Work Lunch in a Jar

To attempt a healthier me in 2016, I am now targeting my midday nourishment to make some changes. The first hurdle is that my work office only has a toaster oven and an electric kettle to cook with. What can be made that isn’t a frozen processed food in a box? I thought why not focus on the electric kettle (it was a Christmas gift). How about Vietnamese Pho.

Instant Homemade Soup In a Jar, Vietnamese Pho

So I found an article about Pho in a Jar. I’ve never really been big on actual recipes, so I used it for inspiration. I bought a 12-pack of 16 oz. jars and went off to get some fresh veggies, rice noodles and ground turkey as soup filling. The recipe calls for Miso soup base, but that isn’t easy to find in a regular grocery store.

Since I couldn’t find a Miso base, my first batch of Pho uses a chicken stock base. There were two different recipes I concocted. Here is the first:

Fake-Noodle Pho
1 tsp chicken soup base
3 to 5 oz fresh Asian vegetable mix (carrots, onion, snow peas, zucchini, red pepper)
3 oz bean sprouts
3 oz cooked ground turkey
1 lime wedge
soy and/or sriracha to taste

Step 1: Place soup base at the bottom of the jar. Layer with fresh vegetable mix (ensure the vegetables are chopped small enough that they can be eaten with a soup spoon), bean sprouts and ground turkey.

Step 2: Lay lime wedge on top. Add a shake of the soy sauce bottle and a small squeeze or sriracha, if desired. Close jar and refrigerate at least 8 hours.

The jar which rested over 24 hours packed more flavor, so Patience makes the Pho grow stronger.

Lunchtime: Open jar and add boiling water. Lightly cover and let rest for 5-8 minutes. Remove lime wedge and stir. Enjoy.

Lessons Learned:
– Don’t squeeze the lime wedge, the citrus/acid will be too intense. Resting the lime in the jar was plenty effective. I plan to try lime zest next time as an experiment.
– I added a shake of fish sauce to one and the fridge marination resulted in an intense smell. I didn’t feel it added enough flavor to the Pho.
– Don’t be afraid to pack the jar with extra of your favorite ingredient. During the marination and addition of water, it will lose some volume.

Just Add Water, Instant Vietnamese Pho

I look forward to trying it with a Miso base, with tofu, shrimp and other great combinations. Have a flavor combo that I should try? Comment below.

Looking for a NYE Dip for My Chips: Crack Dip

When searching the interwebs for a dip to take to the New Year’s Eve gathering this evening, I came across a recipe for “Crack Dip.” It’s one of those things that makes you want to read on … inspiring the same curiousity that made me purchase the new Lay’s 2015 Flavors, of which I was not a fan.

Taking this is certainly a better idea than my New Years Eve Cake from 2010, which ended up a disaster!


As it turns out, crack dip is quite easy to make. It’s a cold dip, so it’s perfect for gatherings where you don’t want to have to lug around a crock pot to keep your dish warm. I got regular tortilla rounds to have with the dip, though I would adventure into getting flavored tortillas or even plain Ruffles for dipping. For a more heartier and more-conscious party, consider serving atop pulled chicken lettuce wraps. The dip would add a complimentary flavor.

It has jalapeños, Mexicorn, sour cream, cheddar cheese and more … For the full recipe and directions, visit the blog that sent me to the store last night to fetch Mexicorn – An Affair from the Heart.Award Winning Crack Dip.

Pittsburgh Mommy Blog at Sukhothai Bistro

Four Pittsburgh Restaurants Pittsburgh Mommy Blog visited to get over the winter blues #PghGBE

Today’s post comes from Nadine of Pittsburgh Mommy Blog, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Don’t Forget to Eat!, where I discuss the dinner we had while in Jacksonville, Florida at BB’s restaurant.


Over this past winter, I found myself in a “blah” place that is unusual for me. Usually, I embrace the carpe diem philosophy and all the fun it entails. But, I’m ashamed to say–I was a bit bored this year. In order to make the winter months pass a little faster, I decided to explore new (to us) local restaurants that would a) introduce my kids to world cuisines and b) would be kid-friendly enough to take my 3- and 4-year olds. Here are four of the restaurants we visited and what we thought of them:

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Photo Credit: Business Insider

Save your money in 2014, Don’t “Do Us A Flavor”

Photo Credit: Business Insider
Photo Credit: Business Insider

Lays is at it again, trying to find the best new potato chip flavor in America, and not sure that any of the options are really “in the bag”. So far, I have had three of the four “Do Us A Flavor” contest varietals. Cappuccino, Mango Salsa and Wasabi Ginger.


The Cappuccino flavor, submitted from Chad Scott in Iowa, was probably my favorite of the three, though it didn’t really give me what I want from a potato chip. When I eat potato chips, it’s because I want something salty. This wasn’t that kind of chip. The Cappuccino flavor was well balanced and yes, it tasted like a cappuccino, but this was a breakfast chip.

The best equivalent that I can think of was that you’d eat the Cappuccino Lays with the same things you’d accompany a piece of coffee cake. Like coffee cake, the chips are dry and leave you wanting a quenching cup of coffee, tea or milk. It wasn’t something you want to have with a beer, like your typical potato chip.

Mango Salsa

The Mango Salsa flavored Lay’s are a “WAVY-Lay”. Apparently Julia Stanley-Metz, of San Francisco, California, can’t get enough of the mango salsa her husband makes so she thought it would make a good potato chip. I would only go so far as to say it wasn’t bad. But the flavor is better suited to a bag of Doritos than Lay’s. The slightly sweet mango comes through in the chip and the “salsa” flavor reminds me of the varying, heavy-handed seasoning that you get from Doritos. Using the thicker, wavy potato chip was a smart choice by Lay’s because you needed the ridges to capture the seasoning and give it that extra crispness. After tasting this chip, it was clear to me that I prefer my salsa and chips separate. I’ll dip my own salsa, thanks.

Wasabi Ginger

The Wasabi Ginger flavor was actually something I ate by mistake at a fantasy football draft. Among friends that typically like to talk food, the kettle cooked chips were just sitting on the table and I snagged one and had to do a double take. Not knowing what I was eating, I initially thought it was a horseradish chip. According to the Huffington Post, this makes sense if in fact “most of the wasabi served outside of Japan is a mixture of horseradish, mustard and food coloring.”

Frankly, the chips weren’t all that good. Crispy, yes. Though when I think of wasabi, I think of the spiciness that you get when you add it to soy sauce. The chips weren’t really spicy, but rather had a the back of your throat bite that I like from horseradish. After just one bite, I wasn’t reaching for a glass to cool my mouth – I wanted to get the taste out of my mouth.

So – 2014 Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” contest, based on these three, you have no clear winners this year. They were all different and while don’t necessarily regret trying them, there is nothing that I would go back and buy again. Better luck in 2015.


My Kind of Cheez-Its

These are my kind of Cheez-Its. While not something I would buy on a regular basis, a recent trip down the grocery aisle caused me to stop and appreciate the king of the orange cracker market.

I LOVE, LOVE Scrabble.  Unfortunately, after beating all my friends at Words with Friends, I can’t find anyone who will still play with me.  And no, I didn’t need a cheat app to win.

Cheez-Its Scrabble Junior

This would totally make me play with my food.  I’d probably create a game where I would make words and eat the words.  Hoping I could use all the crackers from the handful.

For all the other kids of the ’80s out there – does Campbell’s still make vegetable soup with letter noodles?

Riverwalk Grill at PNC Park

Riverwalk Grill at PNC Park
Riverwalk Grill at PNC Park – Signature Sausages, Fresh Craft Angus Burgers

Behind the Outfield Reserved seats at PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, sits a “craft” food stand by Aramark.  Last season, the stand offered a handful of custom-stuff sausages, but in 2014 their menu has adapted to include just two sausage favorites – Italian and Buffalo Chicken.  “Craft” footlong hot dogs – Smokehouse Dog and Polish Hill Dog – are now offered for just $7.50 and may be the best value on the menu.  (I believe them to be new this season).

Riverwalk Grill at PNC Park Menu
Menu for the Riverwalk Grill at PNC Park in 2014

The Buffalo Chicken Sausage is a chicken sausage – a la buffalo wing – topped with a slaw of carrot and celery.  Pictured below, the sausage is served on a very large roll – too large in my opinion.  The slaw was fairly tasteless.  While I applaud Aramark for a craft creation and may be spectacular when served by the chef who created it, but I think the execution is lacking from the general concession stand employee.  Employees, who seemingly hate their job, were slinging food yesterday as fast as they could with little to no concern on how the food looked as it left the window.

Buffalo Chicken Sausage from Riverwalk Grill at PNC Park
Buffalo Chicken Sausage from Riverwalk Grill at PNC Park

Pictured below is the Polish Hill Dog AFTER many of the pieces had been picked back up and placed on the bun.  The dog is a simple footlong dog topped with fried pierogies and onion straws which according to TasteBudA was delicious.  I don’t think it beats the pulled pierogi stacker sandwich sold at Manny’s BBQ. I was disppointed that TasteBudA had to effectively re-assemble his hot dog to be on his bun before he ate it.  I was able to sneak a fresh onion straw and it was in fact delicious.

Polish Hill Dog from Riverwalk Grill at PNC Park
Polish Hill Dog from Riverwalk Grill at PNC Park

I think the hot dogs are a much better value than the sausages.  Looking ahead, I’d highly encourage Aramark to consider working with Franktuary, like they do with BRGR, to open a quality craft sausage/dog stand.  Getting more locally-owned restaurant menus into ball parks would be a great way to introduce Pittsburgh sports fans to restaurants they may not have had the change to adventure to around the city.

Pirate Parrot on the Riverwalk
Pirate Parrot on the Riverwalk about to go give away with the box of mystery