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.

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:

Foil Baked Chicken Caprese

My last foil bake for the week was chicken caprese.  If I see caprese on an appetizer menu, I usually select it.  If you are not familiar with caprese, it is a salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and sometimes a vinegar.  It is really good.  Usually the fresher the mozzarella, the better.  I decided to try caprese in a foil bake.

 I think it came out great.  It was another quick meal without fuss.  I could have cooked the chicken on the skillet a bit to give it a nice golden color but that would have been an extra step.  I did add some pasta and sauce because I wanted to make it more of a meal but it is totally optional.  My kids loved the pasta.  As soon as I set the food down, noodles and sauce started flying.

Ingredients:

– 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
– 8 oz sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
– 1 cup diced tomatoes
– 1/2 tbs Italian seasoning
– salt and pepper, to taste
– 1 onion, sliced
– 1 bell pepper, sliced
– 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
– 1 tbs butter
– 1 tbs olive oil
– 1/4 cup of fresh basil
– angel hair pasta and sauce, optional

Directions:

1. Pre-Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  

2. In a bowl, combine the butter, olive oil, Italian seasonings and salt and pepper.  When thoroughly combined, add the chicken, onions, tomatoes and peppers. Mix until everything is coated with the butter/olive oil/seasoning mixture.

3.  Lay out (4) 16-inch long pieces of foil and divide the ingredients evenly in the center of the foil.  Wrap the foil tightly so there are no holes.  If you have to, add another piece of foil on top to ensure the moisture remains in the packet.

4.  Place the foil packets on a foil lined baking sheet for 15-20 minutes or until everything is cooked through.
5.  Open the packets and add the cheese.  Add the packet back to the stove for an additional minute to melt the cheese.
6.  When the cheese is melted garnish with basil and vinegar.
7.  You can complete the meal with pasta and sauce as an option.
Watch this quick video!

Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup

Hi everyone, I am back with my final Italian sausage recipe for the week.  I recently went to Olive Garden for a work luncheon and I ordered the soup/salad/bread sticks…my usual at Olive Garden.  Well it was quite busy on this particular day and they literally ran out of food.  They were rationing out the parmesan cheese.  Anyway, when my soup arrived, it was “soupy.”  I love a hearty soup so I was a bit disappointed at how barren my bowl was.  I vowed to make a hearty soup when I got home.  Originally I wanted to mimic Olive Garden’s Soup but when I got home, I realized I did not have any chicken broth.  So, instead, I made a beef broth based soup which turned out just as good.

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This recipe ended up being great.  It was quick and easy for a weeknight meal.  I wasn’t sure if the kids were going to eat it but they did.  My oldest did a visual inspection for beans.  When she didn’t see any, she decided it was safe to eat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tablespoon italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb of Italian Sausage
  • 9 ounce refrigerated tortellini
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1 large zucchini

Directions:

  1. In a skillet set over medium-high, cook the sausage until browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage to a paper towel lined plate to drain; set aside.
  2. In a pot over medium heat, heat up the butter. Add onion, garlic and zucchini and cook until tender. Add flour and stir.  Gradually add broth and stir.  Add diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the Italian sausage, tortellini, and spinach. Let simmer for 10 minutes to thicken up and for the tortellini to cook.  Garnish with cheese.

Watch this quick video for more!

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

I saw a picture of stuffed zucchini’s on instagram and I went nuts.  I decided to stuff my very own zucchini’s.  What I liked about this recipe is that the stuffing possibilities are endless.  But of course I just use what I have on hand.

 

Today I had some Italian sausage that I cooked yesterday, some diced tomatoes, garlic, onions, bread crumbs and cheese.

I mixed all my ingredients up and scooped them into my boats. This quick recipe baked in about 20 minutes.  The best part of this recipe is the breadcrumbs that get sprinkled on in the end.  They give the recipe great texture.  I think I will add breadcrumbs to the filling mixture next time, especially after looking in my pantry and discovering enough bread crumbs to feed a small army.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 1 cup tomatoes, diced 
  • salt and pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Take a veggie peeler and cut skin off zucchini.  Cut the zucchini in half, length-wise.  With a small spoon, scoop out the zucchini flesh to make a boat.  Place the zucchini boats on a foil-lined pan. Chop up the zucchini flesh and set aside.

In a pan over medium-high heat, add Italian sausage,and cook until no longer pink. Drain the grease from meat, completely.

In a bowl, add the garlic, onion, chopped zucchini flesh, tomatoes, Italian sausage, cheese and salt and pepper. Mix to combine

Spoon the mixture in the zucchini boats.

Sprinkle breadcrumbs over top. Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes.