Brewery Bhavana in Raleigh, NC

brewery bhavana

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but one of our very own downtown Raleigh restaurants is one of the top 10/hot 10 new restaurants in the country!

Thanks to Bon Appetit, Brewery Bhavana, this new and amazing dim sum restaurant/brewery/bookshop/flower shop, is now at the top of their game in the eyes of eaters across the US!

Pretty cool, right. I’ve got a lot of pride for the Raleigh (and the Triangle) restaurant scene, so I thought I would share a little bit about my experience eating and drinking at Brewery Bhavana recently.

brewery bhavana

First off, this place really is special.

The moment you walk in, you feel a calmness with a communal aspect. Everything is light, modern with warm touches from the greenery everywhere and light wood accents. It is bright and welcoming, open and organized.

We lucked out and got a table easily by arriving at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday night. It was hard to remember to look at the menu because there was so much else to stare at from the florists to the new cookbooks for sale to the other beautiful tables awaiting diners.

brewery bhavana

And the beer.

In this area of the country, we have some dang good beer. I have traveled a lot this year, to many beer destinations, and I can’t find a city that holds a candle to what we have here. Brewery Bhavana fits in nicely with some really tasty and balanced beers. I tried Bloom, their dry cardamom tripel that was full of flavor and warmth. I also had a few tastes of my husband’s Glean, a mango peppercorn saison that was sweet, not too sweet, and so refreshing.

brewery bhavana scallion pancakes

On to the dim sum.

Bida Manda, the sister restaurant right next to Bhavana, is one of our favorite dinner spots in the city, and I have a serious craving for a big bowl of their coconut chicken curry when the weather gets cooler. But, it was really neat to see how they differentiated the food of this spot. Sure, it shares some flavors, but it’s a new reimagining of Asian cuisine, still with the simplicity we’ve come to love about these restaurateurs.

We decided to get several of the starter plates to share for our meal. We tried the:

  • Scallion pancakes with oxtail (my favorite of the night)
  • Char siu bao- bbq pork bun
  • Shrimp and corn dumpling (good but probably my least favorite)
  • Xiao long bao soup dumpling

Everything was presented so beautifully and tasted creative yet familiar. The scallion pancakes took the cake for me with a nice crisp outside paired with the juiciest braised oxtail that tasted a bit like roast beef, along with marrow- if you’re into that. The dumplings were all delicious, as well.

Overall, we had a great experience at Brewery Bhavana, and I can’t wait to go back. Also, I just love my city and am very proud of the creative minds within it.

The Best Grilled Pork Tenderloin

grilled pork tenderloin

Summer isn’t over just yet.

In fact, I just ate a too-big slice of sweet watermelon with seeds on my back porch, which should tell you that it’s in full swing. When you see a big, delicious watermelon at the farm stand, you buy it and do everything you can to fit into your fridge…even if you have to eat too-big slices.

Speaking of other summer classics, grilled meats!

grilled pork tenderloin

In the past, I have lauded the tastes of grilled vegetables, but you’ll be glad to know that I’ve got a new grilled meat to share today. And the quality really blew my mind!

This recipe created one of the most tender and juicy pork dishes, which we sliced and threw on bread with garlic basil aioli for a tasty sandwich. Cheers to Bon Appetit for the recipe.

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Bragg’s Vinegar Water & Mint

bragg's vinegar and water
Are you one of those people that hops on every health food trend?

I’m usually not. I’ve never done a real diet, and I’ve got a bad sweet tooth.

But, I can get down with healthy drinks and eats that are accessible and cheap.

I’m also a big fan of vinegar-based things. From vinaigrettes to kombucha to shrubs, I love tastes with a little twang.

If you’re like me, then you might be interested in this (new to me) practice of drinking Bragg apple cider vinegar. This post is not sponsored by Bragg’s, but I recently bought some and then heard from my mother-in-law about how she drinks a teaspoon or so in a glass of water in the morning.

So, I’ve been giving it a shot this week, and I’m really enjoying a tsp. of Bragg’s in my morning water with some fresh mint.

bragg's vinegar and water

Here’s what I’ve found:

  • The taste isn’t too bad, kind of just like intense lemon water.
  • It seems to help me stay full longer between breakfast and lunch. I don’t have as many 10:30 or 11 a.m. cravings.
  • It seems to help me stay alert and awake. I think I feel more refreshed because of it.
  • It’s effects are similar to kombucha, but it’s much cheaper.

It hasn’t been a scientific experiment, but I do think I will keep exploring the benefits of this daily practice. I’ll keep you updated!

Chicken Tortilla Soup Repost

chicken tortilla soup

This recipe has been stuck in the think fruitful archives for quite a few years.

Since it’s one of my favorites for this time of year, I thought it was time to “bring it out of the vault” if you will.

Whenever squash and zucchinis are in season, I’ve got to make a big pot of this soup. And I just discovered an even better way to make this soup shine.

It’s all in the broth, ya’ll! The chicken broth stews all day while you’re at work, chasing your kiddos or watching Netflix, and it makes this soup so full of flavor.

Then, you’ve got your veggies, spicy Rotel and all of it comes together so you can top it with avocado, cilantro, cheese and homemade corn tortilla strips or tortilla chips.

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5 Cheap & Easy Dinner Ideas

We all need cheap and easy dinner ideas, right?

I know that’s how I roll when I’m trying to stay on budget but still eat well. And there are plenty of options for all of us to enjoy flavor and be frugal.

You might notice a few things about these recipes:

  • Most are vegetarian
  • They make amazing leftovers
  • They are great for groups

So, without further ado, here are a few cheap and easy dinner ideas:

Pizza

pizza

Pizza is the perfect, fun dinner that is also cheap and quick. Grab your favorite dough, add on a few toppings and you’re in business!

Deep Dish Pizza
Perfect Homemade Pizza

Stir fry

This is another recipe that is flexible and can use whatever you have left in the fridge. Rice, veggies, stir fry, ginger- it’s all good! Put an egg on it and this will fill you up for awhile.

Weeknight Stir Fry

Bean bowls

Here’s another good use for white or brown rice. Top it with black or other beans (seasoned up) and cheese, green onion, salsa, sour cream and even guacamole!

Black Bean Bowls
Chickpea Bowls
Pinto Bean Bowls

Soup

Soup might take a little bit longer to prepare, but there are lots of varieties that will make a filling dinner with a side of crackers or bread and cheese.

6 Stellar Soups

Pulled Pork

I love making BBQ pork in the slow cooker for new families because it’s super easy and budget-friendly to make and there are many uses! From sandwiches to tacos to nachos, get ready for some good dinners and leftovers.

BBQ Pulled Pork
Pork Tacos

Garden Update

Year two of gardening sure has been interesting.

You might remember my garden plan post over the spring. It’s been many days and nights, planting, watering and growing since then. There have certainly been ups and downs.

But like they say: You live and you learn.

We decided to try something new this year by planting in the ground (instead of a raised bed). Within my old rasied bed from last year, we planted an herb garden.

The herb garden has done great with beautiful lavender (the heat has gotten the best of it now, but it was thriving through June), luscious basil, sturdy thyme, sage, chives, rosemary and even a few tomato plants that popped up from last year’s seeds.

Meanwhile, it’s been a struggle to get things to grow like I want in the garden.

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Fruitful Travels: Portland, Maine

portland, maine

Last month (wow, was it just last month), we trekked to Maine for a long weekend. And, bonus, we got to meet up with my sister and brother-in-law and explore the town together.

Portland was such a unique city. Not really at all what I thought Maine would be like. It's not all stuffy vacationers. Everyone was super down to earth, and there was a plethora of good food and drink to be had.

portland, me

So, let's dive in!

P.S. We also stayed in the coolest Airbnb with lots of history and nice remodeled amenities.

East Ender

east ender

This was our first meal in the city, and boy did it start us off with a bang. This place was just the cutest inside and we really loved the curry mussels, fries, roasted beets and drinks!

east ender
Fore Street

fore street

We did not regret making this our big dinner out. Most everything was cooked on an open fire that you could see throughout the restaurant, which lent an amazingly smoky flavor to our squid, Arctic char, mussels and more. Also, their bread was great (though I was under impressed with our cocktails).

Standard Baking Co.

standard baking co

Speaking of bread, Fore Street got theirs from this delightful little bakery below it. We stopped in for some tasty cookies and a financier and were not disappointed.

Tandem Coffee & Bakery

tandem coffee

Talk about a cute bakery. This one is in an old gas station and has about every delicious pastry you can imagine. Scones, orange cinnamon rolls, quiche, cookies, pies.
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Weekday Chickpea Taco Bowls

chickpea taco bowls

Mexican food is always my go-to.

Whether we want a quick and easy dinner or we want to go out to a not-too-expensive and super flavorful meal, Mexican almost always wins.

Also, I grew up in Arkansas, and we have some seriously good Tex Mex there. And I took several trips to Mexico as a teenager, where I got a taste for spicy salsas, fresh lime juice on everything and carne asada tacos (not to mention bowls of posole).

chickpea taco bowls

In fact, this last week, I think we ate nachos, tacos and taquitos for several different meals throughout the week. I’m hooked to corn, beans, rice, chili powder and cumin…what can I say?!

If you’re like me and have a serious craving for Mexican or Tex Mex food, then you have got to try these Chickpea Taco Bowls. Thanks to Food52 for the recipe!

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New with the Old

image (54)

*Reposting this recipe from the archives (April, 2014) because I just made these recently and remembered how amazing they are. Enjoy!

I like to live a life that mixes the new and the old.

New adventures mixed with the old standards.

Nature walks (which I’ve always loved) in new neighborhoods.

Eating at new restaurants while still visiting the all-time favorites.

IMG_7303

There’s got to be a balance with the familiar and the new in life. Read more

Summer Salmon Cakes

salmon cakes

July means that it is hot.

July means that we’re in the heat of summer (bring on the tomatoes, peppers, squash and berries).

July also means that we’re all craving beach time and seafood.

For those of us who don’t get to have beach/seafood time but once or twice a season, here’s a cheap, quick and easy meal option that will give you that summer feeling: Salmon Cakes. Thanks to the Kitchn for the inspiration.

salmon cakes

These little guys are totally reminiscent of a dinner my mom would make growing up. And I absolutely loved the hint of seafood, creamy and tasty filling, and crisped outside.

Grab your favorite mayo (Duke’s, obviously), Dijon, some panko and canned salmon (get the good stuff), and you’re in business. Oh, and pick some fresh herbs from your herb garden or grab some at the grocery store. Dill is divine in this!

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