Hops Burger Bar

I recently realized that I never wrote a blog dedicated to my Hops Burger Bar adventure and quite frankly, that is a crime. I was down in North Carolina last month for a dear friend’s wedding. It was a wonderful weekend filled with lots of love and laughter. There was a minor injury to my knee. But that’s another story for another time and I blame the champagne.

The Sunday after the wedding a few of us were in need of some grease. Meaning, we needed some delicious burgers and greasy fries to combat our hangovers. It never works. The only cure is water and prayer. “Dear God, I will never drink again.”

Anyway, back to the burgers. Hops Burger Bar is currently very highly rated on Trip Advisor and it’s found in little ‘ol Greensboro, North Carolina. Naturally, they don’t take reservations, because why would they? They’re constantly packed. We waited close to an hour for a table which is something I NEVER do. I hate waiting for tables. I’m of the mindset that I can find something equally delicious somewhere else. However, I was assured that these burgers would be worth the wait.

We started with some sort of pimento cheese thing, I honestly don’t even remember what it was because I was starving. I remember enjoying it…if that helps. I’m sure you can find it on the menu below. By the way, how cute is that menu? I loved it! They also have a very large selection of beers. I’m sure I ordered a wheat beer and enjoyed it. I was clearly more focused on my burger.

Parmesan Truffle Fries

Enter The Pickleback. A six ounce Certified Angus Beef burger topped with fried onion, spicy bbq sauce, and bourbon marinated pickles. Those pickles sealed the deal for me.

The Pickleback

I also opted for a side of parmesan truffle fries. If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life, it might be truffle fries.

HBB Menu

The burger was cooked perfectly. The pickles had so much flavor and the bbq sauce was perfectly spicy. I actually took the fried onion off. I have a limit, people. The fries were crunchy, warm, truffly, and wonderful. How do you describe truffles? I don’t think you can. It’s just something that has to be experienced.

The final verdict, worth the wait. If you find yourself in Greensboro, North Carolina, don’t miss this spot!

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Thai Meatball Lettuce Wraps

I’m always looking for new twists on old recipes. These Thai Meatball Lettuce Wraps are just that. I love a good meatball! Almost as much as I love a good taco. It’s really hard to choose a favorite. Meatballs are also just oh so easy to prepare. Simply prep your ingredients and then mix them all together in a bowl. What could be easier? Also, the vehicle by which we eat these tasty treats is wonderfully simple, lettuce. Not only are we cutting down on calories but we’re also making life much easier.

I made these a few weeks ago when I had a friend in town who particularly loves Asian flavors. We all thoroughly enjoyed them. Be prepared to get a little messy, but it’s totally worth it. These meatballs are made with ground pork which adds a wonderful flavor dimension; however, you can easily substitute beef, chicken, or turkey.

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Combine the pork, scallions, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, siracha, salt, and lime juice in a large bowl and mix to combine. Form into small meatballs and place on a greased baking sheet. Cook for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through. While the meatballs cook, pull your dressing together for the slaw. I did not follow the recipe for this and used 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper and drizzled over pre-cut coleslaw. Seriously couldn’t be easier. Once the meatballs are done cooking, toss them in the sweet chili sauce. To plate, simply put 2-3 meatballs in a leaf of lettuce and top with the tangy slaw.

Thai Meatball Lettuce Wraps

I challenge you to eat these without a napkin.

Enjoy!

A weekend at the country house…

Last year my sister and her husband left their Manhattan apartment and bought a very old and very beautiful colonial farm house. I call it my country house. The house needs a lot of work but the charm is undeniable. I absolutely love to spend weekends up there relaxing, grilling, and enjoying the weather. This past weekend my mom was in town so I hopped on the metro north after work and headed to my country house 🙂

We had dinner at Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish on Friday evening. This place is amazing. It’s an old historic home that has been turned into a farm to table restaurant. You pass candlelit tables on the porch and enter through the front door where you are greeted by the hostess. The bar is right beyond the hostess table and the floor is littered with peanut shells which adds rather than removes charm. The restaurant was bursting with transplanted Manhattanites and locals. I loved it all. We dined a variety of oysters and crab legs to start. The oysters were wonderfully briny and fresh while the crab was cool and sweet. I had the swordfish for my entree and it was perfectly flaky and mild. The mustard from the green beans was tangy and slightly spicy. Jason ordered the Lobster Roll and my Mom ordered the Soft Shell Crab. Both were fantastic.

Now, the best part of this dining experience was the very drunk and very mean woman who was escorted out of the restaurant by the police. It was quite entertaining watching the scene unfold when she was asked to leave. The manager was very polite and patient but this woman just couldn’t comprehend what she had done wrong. She was very unruly. This obviously was not the norm and I was very impressed with the way the manager handled the situation. Overall I would return for the food and atmosphere. I want to try everything on the menu (which is constantly changing).

The next morning I surprised myself by going for a run! I hate running but I was very happy (when it was over) that I forced myself. We spent the rest of the afternoon picking wineberries and blackberries and laying in the sun. The house is surrounded by wild wineberry and blackberry bushes. They are so sweet and tangy. You can’t get much fresher than that.

Berries

We grilled our dinner. Literally everything was grilled. Beer Can Chicken with Grilled Red Peppers, Mushrooms, and Onions from the garden, and Corn on the Cob. We rounded out the evening with drinks on the patio. Life doesn’t get much sweeter than summer nights with your family.

Beer Can Chicken

Summer Nights

I’ll be back later this week with some delicious recipes! Have a great week everyone!

Restaurant Review: Laurel and Sage

Laurel and Sage is the adorable restaurant that opened up down the street from us on Walnut. It’s off the beaten path and easy to miss. From the outside it really doesn’t look too impressive; however, once you step inside you know you’re in for a treat. The decor is simple and fresh. All the tables are made from butcher blocks and there are several sparkling chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Jason and I did not have a reservation and decided to see if they could fit us in on a whim. We benefited from a cancellation and were thrilled.

The restaurant is BYO which is very common for Montclair, NJ. I personally love it because you don’t have to spend a fortune on your wine. We brought with us a crisp and fruity Sauvignon Blanc.

We were served a choice of bread table-side from the bead basket and were given a delicious ramekin of honey butter. Immediately following we were served an amuse bouche of chilled pea and potato soup topped with a quail egg. This was delicious. There was so much flavor and the quail egg was cooked perfectly. A chilled soup is wonderful on a hot summer day. I was sad when I finished mine and certainly wanted more. I guess that is the purpose of an amuse bouche, right?

Pea and Potato Soup

We ordered two appetizers, the Crab Cake and the Blackened Swordfish Maki Roll. They were both fantastic. I thought there was a little too much sauce on the crab cake plate, but over all I was really happy with it. The apple slaw that was served with it was sweet, tart, and fresh. The Maki Roll was delicious as well. However, I didn’t feel like the swordfish really came through that much. I mainly tasted rice. I did however love the trio of dipping sauces.

Crab Cake

Swordfish Maki Roll

I didn’t take pictures of our main entrees as I didn’t want to irritate my husband too much, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love them. Jason ordered the Soft Shell Crab which was so fresh and sweet. Fried to perfection over a bed of corn salsa. I ordered the Red Snapper in a Coconut Red Curry. The fish was cooked perfectly and the curry was sweet with a touch of spice that I loved. I would definitely order this again. It was served with sauteed baby bok choy and a side of cilantro rice. The rice was slightly green from the cilantro and full of flavor. I loved every bite.

We can’t wait to return and try different menu items! If you find yourself in Montclair, NJ don’t miss this restaurant.

Fried Ravioli

We attempt to stay pretty healthy, but sometimes you just want to indulge. Enter Fried Ravioli. I was browsing blogs last week on WordPress and found this post about Fried Ravioli from What’s For Dinner Moms? I ended up making my own version but the inspiration started with this post.

I used whole wheat breadcrumbs and olive oil, that makes it healthy right?? Not really, but it’s worth it. This would also be a good appetizer or small bite for a party. But it totally works as dinner too.

Ingredients:
1 package of fresh cheese ravioli, mine came from Whole Foods
2 cups of seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tablespoon of milk or water
1 cup of olive oil
1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce, we used vodka sauce from Whole Foods
Salt & pepper

Directions:
Cover a baking sheet with a paper towel and set aside. In a shallow dish whisk together the egg and milk. Pour the breadcrumbs into another shallow dish. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Dredge each ravioli in the egg mixture and then the breadcrumbs, set aside until all have been prepped. Fry ravioli in heated olive oil for approximately 2-3 minutes each side, or until crispy and brown. Remove from oil and allow the ravioli to drain on the prepped baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Serve with heated sauce for dipping!

Fried Ravioli

Crispy, gooey, and delicious. I can’t get enough of these. I ended up serving these with a side of simple steamed green beans. I didn’t want to serve anything too heavy on the side, but pretty much anything would work.

What is your favorite food to indulge in?

Black Bean and Guacamole Dip

Tractor

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! We headed up to Albany to spend the weekend with our friends from college. It was a fun couple of days but I am exhausted. For those of you who don’t know, my husband wrestled in college and through that experience he made friends that he will have for life. They have luckily accepted me into this clan and I look forward to spending time with them as much as possible. It’s a small family and it’s truly special that we have all stayed in touch over the years.

There was a total of 10 adults and 2 kids, so the hosts asked us to bring some items to chip in. We were more than happy to help. We ended up bring a TON of organic ground beef for burgers and I also made a delicious no fuss Black Bean & Guacamole dip that was devoured within a couple of hours. I actually didn’t even have to cook anything and it took a total of 10 minutes. Winning.

Ingredients:
1 can of organic refried black beans with jalapeno
1 container of spicy guacamole (you can make your own and I encourage it, but we were short on time)
1 cup of plain greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1 container of fresh pico de gallo
Shredded pepper jack.
1 bag of tortilla chips

Directions:
Simply layer each ingredient in a bowl and top with cheese. You can change the order but mine was: black beans, guacamole, Greek yogurt, pico de gallo, and shredded pepper jack cheese. Yum. Serve with some fresh or store bought corn tortilla chips. I promise you that people will love this.

Black Bean and Guacamole Dip
This picture was taken before I added the cheese because the colors were so beautiful.

This is not very innovative but it’s fresh and delicious and perfect to bring to a friend’s house for a party. If you have extra time, you could even brown up some ground beef and taco seasoning and use that as an additional layer.

I hope you all were surrounded by as much love and fun as we were this weekend. We are truly rich.