Tag Archives: Mexican

Veggie burgers and Mexican BBQ

Yesterday was seriously delicious.

My parents and I decided to go to lunch in New Brunswick to catch up and talk wedding business. My dad works at Rutgers, so everyone is pretty familiar with the food options in the area. After much debate on what we wanted, we settled on Old Man Rafferty’s. Though I hadn’t been there in easily 10 years, I remember it being pretty good.

I started off with a coconut flavored iced latte. It was topped with
real whipped cream and absolutely delicious. For my entree, I went
with the veggie burger paired with sweet potato fries. My mom got the shrimp salad “boat” and my dad the chicken salad “boat.” My parent’s meals were paired with a Greek salad and pita chips, and looked awesome. My veggie burger was really good. It had a nice char-grilled flavor, but wasn’t over-done. At one point I really questioned if it was veggie – it was impressive! The fries were sliced thin and had the perfect crisp. It was served with a cucumber ranch dip that I used both for my burger and my fries.

Later that evening we decided to head to The Grub Hut in Manville with the usual foodie suspects. BBQ and Mexican in one place?! Not only does it sound amazing, it is amazing. I don’t even know where to start with this place. It’s nothing special on the outside, and even when you walk in; there are a few table and chairs on either side of the doors, and then the kitchen area is wide open with metal everywhere – they don’t hide anything, and they don’t go for looks either. But when the food is that good, does it really matter what the place itself looks like? If you are ever in the mood for smoky, excellently seasoned and perfectly cooked food, and A LOT of it, then I would absolutely suggest The Grub Hut. They actually used to be called The Rub Hut, but added a G in front, probably for the best.

In terms of their menu, it’s pretty impressive; they offer brisket, chicken, pork, Texas link, and ribs all done either in a traditional BBQ way, or Mexican style and served up either in a burrito, flauta, taco, enchilada, or chimichanga. You can even order the mother of all combos and have some BBQ and Mexican heaven together. They offer individual sized meals as well as those you can share with a table, such as a THREE POUND burrito!

The meal started off great with nicely seasoned tortilla chips and an awesome salsa. It is super chunky, and spicy and tangy in a way that most salsa’s seem to miss. I went for the chicken chimichanga, while my fiancé got the ground beef jumbo burrito. They were both HUGE! I was really pleased with my choice of chicken; it was smoky and definitely had a BBQ flavor, but also had a serious kick of Mexican spices. Shoved into a huge tortilla that was fried with rice, beans, cheese, lettuce and tomato paired with some sour cream and guacamole = heaven. I only ate about half, and am saving the rest for tomorrow night’s dinner! Everyone else at the table went for the BBQ side; a BBQ chicken sandwich, a platter called “Hog Heaven” that had chorizo, ribs, brisket and pulled pork, and a Pit Master platter that was similar. Most of their entrées come with two sides; they have everything from fried plantains and rice and beans to “loco” fries doused in jalapeños and cheese.

Jefe Grande Chimi

Needless to say we all waddled out of the restaurant, and headed not home, but to Rita’s. Yes, we’re gluttons for punishment and decided to stretch our stomachs just a little more. While everyone else went for ice, I got myself some vanilla soft serve with rainbow sprinkles – my own personal heaven. I only finished about a quarter of it, but it was well worth every bite.

Thankfully, I went for a four mile run today and watched myself in terms of eating, since yesterday was a serious glutton fest. But what can I say? You need one of those every once in awhile!! And I’m definitely planning on going back to The Grub Hut to enjoy some more Mexican BBQ in the future!

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A Failed Attempt at Cupcake Camp NYC Still Ended Sweetly

This past Friday was the second annual Cupcake Camp NYC. You may find yourself asking, “What is this camping cupcake nonsense?” Well, yes, there are cupcakes, but no, there isn’t any camping. It’s basically an ad-hoc gathering for cupcake lovers alike. From bakers to writers and bloggers, and everyone in between, it’s an event to get together and mingle with other cupcake nerds. And Cupcake Camp happens all over the WORLD!

Having heard about the event awhile ago, I was pumped and ready to go. When the tickets were finally made available in March, I made sure to get myself and my fiancé a pair. Since they were free, I was more than ecstatic at the mere thought getting to see (let alone eat) some awesome cupcakes, and potentially brush shoulders with some seriously important cupcake people. You know, like my favorite blog Cupcakes Take the Cake. Or the owner of Buttercup Bake Shop! So once the day rolled around, my fiancé and I made sure to leave work 45 minutes early to get into the city as soon as possible.

Cupcake Camp was held at Happy Ending on Broome Street on the lower east side. When we were approaching our destination, my heart sunk. The event started at 7pm, and it was only about 7:10. The line was not only out the door, but down the street, and around the corner. I mean, I knew it was going to be crowded – everyone loves cupcakes. I couldn’t help but think to myself; “I got my tickets a month early! I love cupcakes way more than these people! I’m even wearing my cupcake necklace! My fiancé and I have mushy gushy cupcake love! THIS ISN’T FAIR!”

The dreaded line

The dreaded line

After whining in my head till the end of the line, we got in line, and waited. We waited and waited, and we didn’t actually get in until just a bit after 8pm. On the way in, we heard a few people echoing “There aren’t any cupcakes left!” while they walked out with boxes of leftover goodies. I sincerely hoped they were lying, but my hopes were dashed once I finally got inside. Any cupcakes that were left were already spoken for by others. There were a few authors selling their cupcake books, and everyone was just mingling and enjoying one another’s company. The bar was so packed, it was nearly impossible to move. After making our rounds, my fiancé and I left, a little disappointed, and very hungry.

I am utterly shocked at how many people were there! It was truly impressive. I mean, I know cupcakes are the “it” trend right now, but man! I suppose the word “free” might have played it’s part as well. I’m definitely going to make an attempt at next year’s gathering. But I think some camping might be involved this time. Forget about leaving work 45 minutes early – I’m going to need to take the whole day!

After that fail, we decided to head over to Dos Toros Taqueria, a place I had read about on SeriousEats. They compared it a lot to Chipotle, so as a burrito fanatic, I was in. When we got there, though, we faced our second fail of the evening. It’s an extremely small place – only one window bench with about 4 seats. And, the line was out the door. Since it was a bit chilly and windy, we decided to save that deliciousness for a day we could really enjoy it. We settled on the Thai restaurant Spice. We passed one of their other locations en route to Dos Toros and had already perused the menu, so we figured that would suffice. I really think Friday was the night of the foodies. We walked past Momofuku‘s Milk Bar and that line was even more outrageous! [I still need to get in on that chicken dinner!]

When we got to Spice, we were told we’d have about a 20 minute wait, which isn’t so bad for 9pm on a Friday in the city. Thankfully, we only wound up waiting about 10 minutes, and we were brought upstairs to our table. We decided to get an order of the spicy calamari to share. It wasn’t spicy so much as it had a nice crisp black pepper taste. The dipping sauce was sweet, tangy, and peanuty with a little kick all at the same time. I really enjoyed it.

Spicy Crispy Calamari with Sriracha honey chili sauce

For our entrees, I went with the Drunken Man Noodles, and my fiancé went for his go-to Pad Thai. The Drunken Man Noodles were broad rice noodles (my favorite!) with chicken, shrimp and squid along with chili, egg, and green beans.

Drunk Man Noodle

Our food came quickly, and it was actually really good. Being the spicy lovers that we are, we asked for extra spice. Surprisingly, despite the restaurant’s name, the food wasn’t spicy. That would be my only gripe about the place. The service was friendly, but they didn’t check-up on us once. It worked out since everything was fine, but if it hadn’t been, I wonder if we would have had trouble flagging someone down. At any rate, for a $30 dinner in the city, I really can’t complain.

To end our night on an even higher note, we headed over to 16 Handles. My fiancé and I actually went here on our fourth date, after dining at the Telephone Bar which is sadly now closed. 16 Handles really is as great as it sounds. There are 16 different flavors of frozen yogurt that you get to choose from yourself, followed by a plethora of toppings. It’s all done buffet style, so you get to pick your cup size, yogurt and topping choices, and then pay by weight. They have everything from sweet to tart flavors, non-dairy and low fat options, and both fruity and candy-like toppings. Being the sweets junkie that I am, I went for red velvet, cookies & cream, New York cheesecake and peanut butter yogurt (just a dollop of each!). I then topped it off with some cookie dough bites, brownie bites, crushed graham crackers, crushed Oreo, and mashed Reese’s peanut butter cups. Oh. Yes. Take a look at the masterpiece!:

16 Handles of deliciousness

So all in all, despite not getting a cupcake, I think I had a successful foodie evening. And I made up for the lack of cupcakes by getting a Crumbs cappuccino and half baked cupcake Saturday. Plus, I’m on Sunday I was able to whip up some peanut butter cupcakes from my 500 Cupcakes recipe book! Maybe next year I’ll be adventurous and bake my OWN cupcakes for the event! We’ll see 🙂

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Filed under Cupcakes, Food Review, Restaurant

More Mexican – Ole!

Sometimes I think I’m living in the wrong part of the country. Or, maybe just the wrong country in general. In case you haven’t picked up yet from this blog, I am in love with Mexican food. Clearly to the point where I’ll eat it all day, every day. Yes, today I had my left-over Eggplant Enchiladas, and then made more Mexican inspired food for dinner. What were those two things, you may ask? Southwest Chicken Soup and Tijuana Tortas!

I actually found the soup recipe on Kitchen Monki, and the torta recipe on Fitness Magazine’s website. I figured I’d put the two together, since neither really seemed to be a meal in itself. Since my fiancé and I thought ahead and had a rotisserie chicken for dinner on Sunday night, we were able to use the left-over chicken from that in the soup. We also always have black beans, salsa, Mexican spices, and jalapeños on hand, so getting the rest of the ingredients was simple.

One might think that making a soup could potentially be difficult and or labor intensive. Not this guy! I literally threw the ingredients in to the pot, put it on medium heat, and went about my business. Now that’s the kind of week night cooking I’m looking for!

The sandwich was actually a little more difficult, only because it involved mashing the black beans and avocado. After struggling by just using a spoon, I realized a few quick pulses in the blender would have made much more sense. At least there’s always next time.

As always, I was nervous how the two dishes would come out, and then even more nervous for how they’d work together. Thankfully, they both came out really well. I would absolutely make either of these dishes again in a heart beat. They’re quick, easy, and really flavorful.

Check out both of the recipes below, and get cookin’!

Tijuana Torta

Ingredients:
1 15-ounce can black beans, or pinto beans, rinsed
3 tablespoons prepared salsa
1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeño
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 ripe avocado, pitted
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 16- to 20-inch-long baguette, preferably whole-grain
1 1/3 cups shredded green cabbage

Directions:
1. Mash beans, salsa, jalapeño and cumin in a small bowl. Mash avocado, onion and lime juice in another small bowl.
2. Cut baguette into 4 equal lengths. Split each piece in half horizontally. Pull out most of the soft bread from the center so you’re left with mostly crust. Divide the bean paste, avocado mixture and cabbage evenly among the sandwiches. Cut each in half and serve.

Southwestern Style Chicken Soup

Ingredients:
1 Rotisserie Chicken or 3 cups, shredded or cubed
3 cups Chicken Stock
1 can Canned White Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
12 ounces Salsa Verde
1 Ground Cumin, to taste
1⁄2 cup Sour Cream, optional
2 Green Onions, optional
2 cups Cheese, shredded
1 bag Corn Tortilla Chips

Directions:
1. Simmer chicken, chicken stock, beans, salsa verde and cumin till hot and combined
2. Add tortilla chips to bowl, spoon soup
3. Top with sour cream, and cheese

Happy south of the border nomzing!

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Filed under Recipe, Spanish Food