Restaurant Review: NOFO @ the Pig

Yes, you read it correctly – that is the name of the restaurant my family and I ate at this weekend.  I was looking for a great place to eat in Raleigh and I chose this place squarely on the name. It was a unique find in the city.  The owners transformed an old piggly wiggly into a quirky southern restaurant and shopping venue filled with beautifully made items and pigs.

 
The upstairs was a quaint pig themed shop and the downstairs restaurant featured many cute pigs as well. It was a very visually inviting place.

 

We each had a really good meal.  I had the filet minion, my husband had the pork chops and the kids had shrimp.  All of the meals were good but my husband’s pork chops were to die for.  The pork chops were extremely moist and came with collards and macaroni and cheese.  I liked the shape of the macaroni and cheese.  It looked like they baked it in a muffin pan.  I may try that!!!

My other favorite thing about this restaurant were the kids drinks.  My daughter ordered a drink called Zombie Brain Juice from “Always Ask for Avery’s” line of totally gross sodas.  Even though the name sounded gross, the drink was a really good old fashioned soda.

After dinner we browsed the shop.  I couldn’t fully enjoy the shop because I had to keep an eye out for my kids touching breakables.  Browsing gave us some good laughs and even a few purchases. We bought some after dinner deserts that were fabulous.  I would definitely recommend this place if you are in Raleigh and love PIGS.

Pulled Pork Nachos

Hi everyone! I am back with more blog posts. This week I decided to try some new pork loin recipes. I had a pork loin in the freezer I needed to get rid of.
As a food blogger and busy mom, I am always thinking about food and how to get dinner on the table fast. Because of this, pork loin is a staple at my house. You can put it in the crockpot before you go to work and finish it when you get home. If you are not careful it may get boring.
Today I thought I would try pulled pork nachos. The pork loin was moist but bland when it came out of the crockpot so I made a brown sugar glaze to jazz it up. I pulled the pork out of the crockpot and layed it on a foil-lined baking sheet. I poured my glaze over the pork and broiled it for about 5 minutes.  The brown glaze gave it so much flavor.
 
I tried to make pita nachos again (I did this with my Super Bowl nachos) but I burned them. My multi-tasking skills were not working on this particular day. After I aired out the house, I ran to the store and bought some scoops. While not as healthy as the homemade version, it did add great texture to the nachos.
Everyone in the family enjoyed the nachos. What’s great about nachos is you can add so many optional toppings.
 
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I made pulled pork tacos earlier this week and my family loved them. About a month ago and perfected my taco recipe if you want to take a peak.
Ingredients:
– 2-3 pounds pork loin
– salt & pepper to taste
– ½ cup Water
– 1 cup Brown sugar
– 1-2 tablespoon Cornstarch
– ½ cup Balsamic Vinegar
– ½ cup Water
– 4 tablespoons Soy sauce
– 1 avocado
– 1 bell pepper
– 1 cup shredded cheese
– 1 cup diced tomatoes
– nachos
Directions:
1. Put pork loin in a crockpot for 6-8 hours on low.  When done, set aside.
2. in medium saucepan mix together ½ cup water, brown sugar, cornstarch, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce together. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low and stir until the glaze thickens.
3. Shred the pork loin with a knife and fork on a foil-lined baking sheet. Add glaze to the shredded pork loin and mix well. Put the glazed pork loin under a broiler for 5 minutes on high.
4. When the pork loin is done, add glazed pork loin, avocado, red bell peppers, cheese, tomatoes and nachos to a bowl and enjoy.

 

Happy Waffle Day: Mint Chocolate Chip Waffles

Hi everyone! Sorry for the late post but I was reading some of my favorite blogs today and I noticed several people paid homage to National Waffle Day. There is a day for everything! Since I love waffles so much, I decided to partake in this special day.

I had some mint left over from my Mint Aioli recipe I posted last week so I decided to make mint chocolate chip waffles.

The only thing I had to work out was how to mix real mint into waffle batter. I decided to mix the mint, vanilla extract and milk in my ninja. The ninja did the trick, cutting the mint into tiny indistinguishable pieces.

I thought it came out great. It had a real mint flavor that was perfect for dinner time. It was actually a beautiful green color until I mixed in the chocolate chips. Check out my recipe below and have a happy waffle day!

Waffle Ingredients:

• 2 cups flour

• 1/4 cup honey

• 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder

• 1 tbsp cocoa powder

• 1/2 tsp salt

• 1 3/4 cups milk

• 1/3 cup butter melted

• 2 large eggs

• 2 tsp vanilla extract

• 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

• 1/4 cup of mint

• 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Waffle Directions:

1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt in a large bowl.

2. Take the mint, 3/4 cup of milk and vanilla extract and place it in a blender. Blend until you can no longer see the mint. Set aside.

3. In another bowl, whisk the remaining milk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, honey, mint mixture, chocolate chips and vinegar.

4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in. Wisk until barely smooth.

5. Heat your waffle iron according to the manufacturers instructions. Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray and then pour batter into the center of the waffle iron. Let it cook until crispy.

Beef Sliders with Mint Aioli Sauce and Jicama Fries

Hi everyone.  I have another recipe dedicated to Saint Patrick’s Day.  Ok you caught me – Beef Sliders are not traditional Irish fare but I made a “GREEN” mint aioli sauce to go with it.  I get points for the sauce.

This was a an easy slider recipe full of beef, cheese and sauce!  This recipe is perfect for  a simple weeknight dinner the whole family will enjoy.  Best of all – kids like it because they get to eat green burgers and dip their fries in green sauce.

I paired the beef sliders with jicama fries.  Why?  Well, I read an article about 10 non-potato french fries alternatives and I decided to make every alternative on the list.  I accepted the challenge, even though no one challenged me.

Jicama fries are super easy to make and actually taste great.  I made Yuca Fries a couple of weeks back and they did not turn out that great (in my opinion).  If anyone has a good recipe let me know and I will try again.

I had fun meal planning around Saint Patrick’s Day.  Now my kids feel I should inject color in every meal. I am not sure how I will be able to live up to this standard.
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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 medium jicama
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef, formed into patties

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven 375 degrees. Peel jicama and cut into fries. Transfer jicama slices in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place fries in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until crispy, turning halfway.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook burgers in the hot skillet until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Flip burgers and cook 3 minutes on other side. Remove burgers and put on a plate to rest.
  3. In a mixer, add mayonnaise, mint, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and process all ingredients until blended.  Spoon a dollop of aioli onto each bun. Place burgers onto buns, season with pepper, and top with optional ingredients (tomato, cheese, lettuce, and pickles).
  4. Close buns and serve with fries and mint aioli sauce.

Watch this video for more insight into this meal.

Happy PI Day! Celebrate with Apple Pie

The mathematicians at my job decided to host a Pie Competition on National Pi Day (3.14), today.  Apparently, Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th the world.  So, I knew Pi or “π” was the symbol used in mathematics to represent 3.14 (or according to Wikipedia – the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, approximately 3.14159) but I did not know there was an official day or pie involved.

I am not a baker but I decided to partake in the event, just for fun.  Since I have no pie skills,  I looked online to find a fast, easy recipe.  I found a simple apple pie recipe that was almost from scratch (I bought the crust).  It only had eight ingredients.  The only thing I had to buy, other than the crust, was apples.  I cut the apples and filled the pie before I went to bed.  When I woke up, I made the sauce and baked the pie for 40 min.  It was so easy.

So, did I win the contest – NO.  Not even honorable mention.  But some of my co-workers really outdid themselves with very delicious pies.  Try this easy recipe and let me know what you think.

Apple Pie Ingredients:

3-4 apples sliced thinly
6 tbsp butter
1/4 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup water
1 pack double (2) ready to use pie crust

Apple Pie Instructions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2.  Melt butter in saucepan. Add white sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Set aside when done.

3.  Unroll pie crust in a baking dish and add sliced apples. Take other pie crust, cut into strips, and lattice it over apples. Crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork. Spoon sauce over pie. Cover the inside and top.

4.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce stove temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 40 more minutes.

5. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Check out this short video for more!

 

 

 

Bangers and Mash

Hi everyone!  This week I am dedicating my dinners to Saint Patrick’s Day.  I did some research and found that Bangers and Mash is a favorite British and Irish dish.  Some believe the name bangers comes from the habit of the sausages bursting in the pan with a “bang” if cooked too quickly.  When I made this recipe, I definitely did not hear banging noises but I’m sure it happens – LOL.

Whenever I go to an Irish pub, Bangers and Mash is always on the menu.  It is a very simple dish and perfect for dinner.  The ingredients are inexpensive but it is still a substantial meal.  It is also a kid friendly meal that you don’t have to fight the kids to eat.

The only issue I had with bangers and mash is that I could not determine what type of sausage to use.  Luckily, the grocery store actually carried British Banger Sausage!!!  I do, however, think you can use just about any dinner sausage to make this meal stand out.

British Banger Sausage
British Banger Sausage

I normally make a plain onion gravy with bangers and mash but I saw many recipes adding a little mustard to the gravy.  I decided to try this to see how it tasted and it came out good – the mustard gravy was a smashing success!

In the future, I will definitely add some mustard to my gravy.  I think it gives it an extra flavor boost.

Ingredients:

  • Sausages
    • 1-2 lbs British Banger Sausage (or any dinner sausage)
  • Potatoes
    • 6-8 baby red potatoes,
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 tbs butter
    • 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt
    • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Gravy
    • 1 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
    • 4-5 cup of beef stock
    • 4 tsp corn starch
    • 4 tsp cold water
    • 1 tbsp mustard
    • Salt and ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender but still firm, about 10 minutes. Drain, and place in a large bowl.  Combine potatoes with butter, milk, yogurt, salt, and pepper. Mash together until smooth and creamy.  You can remove the skin but it is not necessary.
  2. In a large frying pan, turn the heat to medium and add sausages. Fry until the sausages are cooked through, turning them from time to time – about 20 minutes. Once done, keep warm until the potatoes and  gravy are ready.
  3. Melt butter in a large saucepan over a gentle heat. Add the onion and cook 1-2 mins or until the onions are soft.  Add the sugar and vinegar to the onions and stir well for another minute or so.  Add the stock and boil for 5 minutes.  In a separate cup, mix corn starch with cold water and make a thin paste. Pour the starch mixture into the gravy, add mustard and raise the heat to high.  Boil for 10 minutes or until the gravy is thick. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  4. Serve the potatoes, sausages and gravy together.

Saint Patrick’s Day Chicken and Waffles

Today my good friend and I were chatting while hungry (very dangerous). We were discussing the best food trucks in town. I told her about this barbecue truck I liked and she told me about a new chicken and waffle food truck she liked. She described the most heavenly chicken and red velvet walnut waffles. I was really hungry by the end of our conversation so I asked her where I could find this truck. She said the truck posted its whereabouts on instagram. I am so bad at technology and directions that I decided it was better to make my own at home. Definitely faster than looking for the truck. Instead of making red velvet, I thought it would be cool to make them green in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day.

First I got my party wings and tossed them in a flour, salt and pepper ziplock bag. Next, I laid the wings on a lightly greased baking pan and sprayed them with some olive oil. I put the wings in the oven for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. I turned them and let them cook another 20 minutes. I waited until they were brown and crispy.

While the wings were cooking, I made the waffles. I didn’t have a lot of green food coloring so I hoped what I had would be enough.

After the waffles were done, I pulled the wings out of the oven and put the two items together. They were perfect. My family loved the festive meal. My daughter thought we were doing a Seuss themed dinner and wanted green eggs to go with her waffles.

Waffle Ingredients:

• 2 cups flour

• 1/4 cup honey

• 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder

• 1 tbsp cocoa powder

• 1/2 tsp salt

• 1 3/4 cups milk

• 1/3 cup butter melted

• 2 large eggs

• 2 tsp vanilla extract

• 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

• 2 tbsp green food coloring

Waffle Directions:

1. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the milk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, honey, food coloring and vinegar. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the milk mixture in. Wisk until barely smooth.

2. Heat your waffle iron according to the manufacturers instructions. Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray and then pour batter into the center of the waffle iron. Let it cook until crispy and GREEN.

Wings Ingredients:

• 1-2 lbs of chicken wings

• 1 cup flour

• salt and pepper

• olive oil cooking spray

Wings Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. After cleaning wings, dry them well with paper towels. Dryer wings are more crispy.

3. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. When thoroughly mixed, add wings. Shake well.

4. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with olive oil just slightly.

5. Add wings to the pan and spray with olive oil cooking spray.

6. Bake for 25 minutes and turn.

7. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until crispy and done.

Watch this quick video for more: