Category Archives: Recipes

REVIEW: Bida Manda – Raleigh, NC

For a land-locked country surrounded by much larger countries, Laos has its own flavors. Bida Manda serves authentic Laotian food and is one of few Laotian restaurants in the U.S. Bida Manda is the Sanskrit term for father and mother; and in the spirit of family, siblings Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha created this restaurant to honor their heritage and culture. The food takes you to another place, but the atmosphere is created from locally sourced items, such as the wooden sticks from Western North Carolina that decorates the walls.

Laotian food uses some of the same ingredients as the more familiar Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, but with more subtle flavors. Laotian food also lends itself to its French history with items such as the baguette used for sandwiches in Laos. For a more in-depth analysis of the differences between Laotian and Thai food, head over to Victoria’s Food Secrets.

Green Papaya Salad: Tomato, peanuts, spicy lime sauce, sticky rice, and your choice of: Grilled Flatiron Steak Grilled Duck Breast Grilled Ginger and Garlic Pork Neck Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Grilled Vegetables

Green Papaya Salad:
Tomato, peanuts, spicy lime sauce, sticky rice, and your choice of meat, fish or vegetables

I ordered the green papaya salad, one of the restaurant’s specialities. It comes with your choice of meat, fish or vegetables. I got fresh caught N.C. flounder, which was seasoned with salt, pepper and aromatic herbs. The salad tasted fresh and had some of the same ingredients as pad thai sauce, but it was lighter and the taste was more subtle.

“Differences are often subtle to the non-native palate, but generally speaking, Laotian flavors tend to be a little earthier, a little less bright than those of their neighbors,” writes Greg Fox for News & Observer.

Javier ordered the pumpkin curry, which had a variety of root vegetables. It is served with rice, which helps with the spiciness. However, we both liked my dish better. I recommend the green papaya salad for your first time at Bida Manda.

Pumpkin Curry: With root vegetables and jasmine rice

Pumpkin Curry:
With root vegetables and jasmine rice

Bon Appetite!



Enjoy these recipes from Bida Manda, provided by Walter Magazine:

Crispy Rice Lettuce Wrap

2 cups cooked jasmine rice

1 teaspoon curry spice

1/2 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1/3 cup chopped mint

1/3 cup chopped green onion

1 tablespoon crispy fried garlic

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 cup crushed peanuts

Lettuce leaves

Mix jasmine rice, curry, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Mold the mixture into thick patties. Fry the patties until golden brown. In another bowl, break the patties into small pieces, and add cilantro, mint, green onion, fried garlic, peanuts, and lime juice. Toss until fully mixed. Wrap the mixture with fresh lettuce leaves.

Serves 4


Caramelized Ginger Ribs

1/2 rack pork ribs, sliced into individual rib pieces

1 cup soy sauce

1 cup black soy sauce

1 cup sliced fresh ginger

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 shelled hard boiled eggs

Firmly rub the the ribs with soy sauce, black soy sauce, ginger, and brown sugar, and let the ribs marinate overnight. At medium heat, braise the ribs for three hours. Once done, strain the sauce from the ribs, add shelled, whole hard boiled eggs to the sauce, and reduce the sauce in a pan over low heat until it thickens. Add the ribs back to the sauce, remove and slice eggs, and serve together.

Serves 2


Bida Manda on Urbanspoon



REVIEW: SeaGlass Cafe & Bakery – New Bern


Sea Glass Cafe & Bakery has been around in New Bern for quite a few years. It is located on Martin Luther King Blvd just off of Glenburnie. It actually moved just down the road a few years ago and the old sign is still up just off of Highway 70.  I went for brunch after a wedding last weekend and had a good experience. The staff is extremely friendly and the brunch options were pretty fantastic ranging from multiple types of omelets and eggs benedict. They are all reasonably priced and they also had a nice coffee bar which had about 10 different blends of coffee that you could choose from.



Sea Glass Cafe - Working Man's Benedict

I ordered the Working Man’s Benedict which was a four ounce steak with mushrooms and two poached eggs covered in hollandaise on top of a split English muffin. It wasn’t the greatest brunch that I’ve had but I still enjoyed it. The restaurant was packed so they had a lot going on.The English muffins weren’t crisp and the steak tasted like it was from a Golden Corral. My order came with some breakfast potatoes which could have been a little warmer but still had good flavor and I topped them with some Texas Pete for added zing. They weren’t on top of their game in the kitchen but I had a great experience there.


Brynn ordered the special which I can’t remember exactly what she ordered but it looks like it was a combination of biscuits & gravy and eggs Benedict. I am pretty sure that she liked her meal and it looks like a good hangover cure.


All in all, it was a good breakfast but not great. SeaGlass is a cool place to get together for food but I feel that our experience was only a step-up from getting the food through a drive-thru window for breakfast. I think I will probably try to stay in historic New Bern and dine down by the water next time. It may be a little bit more expensive but probably worth it.
SeaGlass Cafe and Bakery on Urbanspoon

RECIPE: Angus Barn Stuffed Potatoes

I really enjoy Facebook but the past couple of weeks has been brutal with all of the political back and forth between people. However, there was the occasional shining light that popped up in my news feed and that included an update from The Angus Barn in Raleigh. They shared their recipe for one of their side items: Angus Barn Stuffed Potato.

Here it is verbatim except for my correction of a spelling error:

Who needs some Angus Barn Stuffed Potato in their life? Here’s the recipe for one of our favorite sides. Note: this recipe yields 10 servings, so invite guests for dinner!



I think that they forgot to mention that you need to mash the potatoes at some point in the process. You could also serve this in small ramekins for individual servings. Don’t buy Bacon Bits…just cook some crispy bacon and then crumble it up.

What North Carolina restaurants do you enjoy following on Facebook and Twitter?

Buffalo Chicken Rangoons Brings Game Day to the Living Room

Buffalo Chicken Rangoons

Football season means games on Saturdays & Sundays and sometimes Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays.  When you get together for a college or NFL game with friends, appetizers are the key to the game. The problem is trying to make something that’s no one else is going to bring. In my crowd, buffalo chicken dip is the Ford Taurus of game day appetizers. There is a 50% chance that someone else is going to make it for the game and you just have to hope that your version is better than the one they made.

I was with some friends down at Woody’s @ City Market in Raleigh when we decided to order the Buffalo Chicken Rangoon appetizer. If you head down there, you should get an order of them and a cheese steak while you are at it. They are both deliciously unhealthy. Their hot sauce is the bee’s knees with both a hint of sweet and spicy.

I was gearing up for the ECU @ South Carolina game a few weeks ago at a friend’s house and I decided to try and recreate Woody’s buffalo rangoons to take over there. I searched the Interwebz for recipes and came across one that was a hybrid between a crab rangoon and buffalo chicken dip.


  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese
  • 1 cup chicken meat, ¼ inch dice (cooked)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions (about 2 large scallions)
  • ¼ cup shredded carrot (optional)
  • 1-2 TB hot sauce (or more) of your favorite NC hot sauce
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 48 wonton wrappers (get more because they can occasionally tear during production)
  • Canola Oil (for cooking)
  • Blue Cheese Dressing or Ranch (for dipping)
  • Buffalo sauce to dip in (hot sauce combined with butter)


  1. Marinate chicken breasts in your favorite hot sauce and then pan sear it on medium-high for 2-3 minutes per side or until and then bake it in the oven at 350 degrees until cooked thoroughly. Cut the chicken into 1/4 inch pieces.
  2. Add the chicken and cream cheese together in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Stir in the scallions, carrot, hot sauce, and black pepper.
  3. Place the bowl of chicken next to a cutting board or work surface and set out the wontons. Place a small bowl of water alongside the cutting board.
  4. Take a wonton, and place a teaspoon of the chicken mixture in the center. Dip your finger in the water, and moisten two adjacent sides of the wonton wrapper. Fold the opposing sides of the wrapper over the filling and press to seal with the moistened sides to create a triangle.
  5. Place wontons as you finish them on a plate or tray next to the stove-top.
  6. Pour oil into a wok or saucepan and heat over medium heat to about 330F. Add wontons to the hot oil individually. Cook for about 2 minutes per side or until tan and crisp, and remove to paper towels to drain.
  7. Cook the rest in the same fashion.
  8. The rangoons can be reheated in the oven if they are covered in aluminum foil. To maintain crispiness and not burn them, reheat at a low temperature around 250 degrees.

The rangoons were a huge hit with my friends. I enjoyed leaving their place with an empty dish because people liked them so much. I have been thinking about other ideas like North Carolina pulled pork rangoons or breakfast rangoons. The possibilities seem endless. Anybody have any other ideas for other types of rangoons or better versions of this recipe?

Review – The Federal in Durham

Federal in Durham

Federal in Durham looks a bit like a dive, but the food is out of this world!

When you first enter the door at The Federal, you immediately think of the show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” This place officially qualifies as a dive. It’s small, dark and has the feeling of being an old establishment (even though it opened up in 2004).  You’d never think you would be served fantastic food here, but therein lies the rub.

Outside of The Federal in Durham

Outside of The Federal in Durham

Located on Main Street, across from Brightleaf Square, this restaurant is easy to walk to from Duke University.  You may not want to walk around in your Tarheel or Wolfpack t-shirt around here!  This gastropub features 14 microbrews and has many selections of bottled beer as well. That might explain why you see a crowd around here many times in the evenings.


Once you open the menu, you immediately get the sense that this is going to be a great meal. For example, the day I went to The Federal, one of the specials was a saffron risotto served with locally grown roasted corn, Heirloom tomatoes and  parmegiano reggiano. Wow. That’s not your typical bar food!

Lentil and Leek Sliders

Lentil and Leek Sliders

I decided to order the lentil and leek sliders. They are little veggie patties served with guacamole, a nice, fresh salsa, a little bit of romaine and the key ingredient was the curry aioli sauce. I also had melted cheddar cheese, which added a little bit of tang to the taste. It was a messy thing to eat, but tasted so good, I didn’t care that I had green sauce smeared over my face. The side of fries were a perfect accompaniment to the sliders.


Here are the ingredients that go into the pork carnitas

My friend had the carnitas. The dish consisted of small corn tortillas and a plate full of beer braised pork that was shredded into wonderful little bites of flavor. The plate also had shredded lettuce, salsa, cilantro and guacamole.  My friend had a lot of pork and lettuce left after he had eaten the tortillas, but said the leftover meat was delicious all by itself.

Most of the menu has classic bar food choices, but all of them have a twist. Want a grilled cheese? Great! You’ll get a great one here with sharp cheddar cheese, avocados, roasted tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce on Focaccia bread.

Next time I come, I hope to see Guy Fieri sitting at the bar tasting all the great food!

The Federal is located at 914 West Main Street and is open seven days a week.


Review – Maple View Farm Country Store in Orange County

rocking chairs at Maple View Farm

Relax in a rocking chair and eat your ice cream while viewing the farm across the street.

The dog days of summer are upon us and there is no better time to take a little trip out in the country to visit the original location of Maple View Farm. Half the fun of going to the country store is the drive. You will go past many rolling hills and see lots of farmland on your way to the store. As soon as you leave the city, you can feel yourself begin to relax.

I am a huge fan of Maple View Farm. I drink their milk all the time. Call me crazy, but I swear their milk tastes fresher and sweeter than most store bought milk. I love the fact that the milk is still bottled and I like taking the used bottles back to the store to get a little refund which I used to by my next gallon of milk. It reminds me of the days when the milk man used to come to our house and deliver bottles of milk. (That gives you an idea of how old I am, I guess!)

I have a very special place in my heart for dairy farmers because my grandfather and my uncle were dairy farmers. They raised Jersey cows and later Holsteins. Bob Nutter, also known as “Farmer Bob” and his business partner, Mike Strowd, raise Holsteins. Holsteins are better for milk and ice cream because the fat content is not as high as Jersey’s which are better for cream and cheese.  Holsteins are the black and white spotted cows.

enjoying the view at Maple View Farm

Come relax and eat your ice cream while looking at the farm

Another thing I love about the folks at Maple View Farm is that they treat their cows very well. You can see them grazing in the fields across the street from the country store. After you order your ice cream, you can sit on one of the many rocking chairs on the front porch, or sit on a picnic table on the hill, and relax, soaking in the pastoral scene. You are literally looking at the cows who produced the milk and ice cream you are eating.  Many people like to come out at sunset, because you can see the sun setting over the farm.

Maple View Farm uses no hormones or antibiotics, so the milk and the ice cream is safe to eat.  The farmers also grow their own corn and barley, which they use to feed to the cows which helps to increase the level of protein in the milk.

Maple View Farm

The view of the farm from the front porch of the country store

In 1995, the Nutter family made its first conservation easement on the farm north of Dairyland Road to the Triangle Land Conservancy. This easement designates that Maple View Farm land will be used for agricultural purposes or as open land forever. An additional 80 acres was added to the conservancy after 2005.   So, generations of young children can come to Dairyland Road, sit on the porch and look at the farm and the cows while eating their favorite flavor of Maple View ice cream. I am so thankful that responsible people such as the Nutters have chosen to work with the Triangle Land Conservancy. They have given Orange County a huge gift by preserving their land.

Maple View Farm is a big tradition for many folks from Chapel Hill. It is just a few miles from downtown, so many people like to drive out to the farm. This farm is so famous, many times our politicians make a friendly wager with opposing teams saying they will send Maple View Farm ice cream if the Tarheels lose the competition. (This, of course, hardly ever happens!)

Counter at Maple View Farm Country Store

Which flavor will you choose when you visit Maple View Farm?

Every time I enter the country store, floods of memories wash over me as I think about which flavor of ice cream I want.  I immediately feel like I’m a six-year-old. Can’t I just order one of each flavor? This particular day, I tried the Carolina Crunch, which was a mixture of caramel, Heath bar (chocolate and toffee), and coffee. It was creamy, sweet and cool. Usually, my husband and I get the maple flavor. This month, the store is featuring a maple walnut flavor. I highly recommend it as you get the sweet, sugary taste of the maple and the crunchiness of the walnut. It is one of the best flavors they offer. We also love the egg nog, the grape nut flavor (remember the old cereal? It tastes just like that!) and the cinnamon. When it comes down to it, is there a bad flavor of ice cream?

yummy ice cream

Carolina Crunch

The country store is located off Dairyland Road at 6900 Rocky Ridge Road in Hillsborough. Maple View also has two other locations, one in downtown Carrboro and the other in Hillsborough on Hampton Pointe Boulevard.  The country store is open from noon to 8pm Sunday through Saturday.  You can also purchase their milk and ice cream at a variety of local stores. For a list, click here.


HOW TO: Make Bacon Wrapped Eggs

We haven’t done many posts involving recipes or cooking at home lately but ran across this video from a friend on Twitter and thought we would share because it looks so damn good. Let us know if you make it and how it turns out!

h/t Mike Adams on Twitter

Review – Beyu Caffé in Durham


Beyu Caffee

Beyu Caffeé

The instant you walk into Beyu Caffé in downtown Durham you feel comfortable and welcome. You immediately get the idea that this is a coffee house that also offers great food. Guests choose their own table and the sound of jazz blends into the background. Contemporary artwork adorns the walls. The kitchen pass-through is large enough that you can catch a glimpse or two of the staff in the kitchen.  There is a counter in the front of the restaurant where people can have a cup of coffee or eat while surfing the web or reading the paper. A couple of comfy couches  are also located in the middle of the restaurant, certainly invoking the feel of a coffee house. If I had the time, I’d stay here for hours.

Beyu Caffee interior

I have only been to Beyu Caffeé for lunch and I imagine that the look and feel of the place changes throughout the day. This place is open morning, noon and night. Of course, the center of the business is the great array of coffee, lattes, and other brewed beverages. Many people come here just for the coffee. I have tried the coffee in the past and it was superb, but coffee during the summer just doesn’t appeal in the middle of the day when the heat index is 110.

Salmon Po Boy

Salmon Po' Boy

To me, though, the restaurant is the star of this place. I took a couple of work friends to Beyu Caffé to celebrate my friend’s birthday. It was a good choice! Two of us ordered the fish of the day Po’ Boy. This particular day, the fish was salmon. The salmon was a nice, thick piece, perfectly cooked so that the middle was just a little on the rare side, making the fish very moist and tender.  It was topped with a spicy brown mustard, lettuce and tomato served on a Kaiser roll.  You have the choice of a side salad, a cup of soup or french fries. I decided to have the house salad, which consisted of baby spinach and mixed salad greens, with cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, diced red onion, strips of red and green bell peppers, and walnuts, topped with a sweet vinaigrette sauce. As a woman who is on a never ending diet, I appreciate having the choice of lighter sides to accompany my sandwich.

turkey panini

Turkey Panini

Our other  friend had a turkey Panini with french fries.  The turkey was roasted and thinly sliced and served with goat cheese and pear chutney on whole wheat bread that was grilled in a Panini press.  The fries were a nice golden brown, but not over done.  My friend remarked that it was tremendous. I may have to try this next time I go to the Caffé.

dessert case

Dessert case at Beyu

Since we were celebrating a birthday, this meal would not be complete without trying one of the very tempting desserts that are showcased in a display case as you first enter the building. We chose the sweet potato Frangelica cheese cake served with a drizzling of caramel. The cheese cake was luscious and decadent. It tasted almost like a sweet pumpkin pie. The hints of hazel nut were very subtle. It was topped with a little bit of whipped cream.  The desserts come from some of the local bakeries, including the famous 9th Street Bakery. I always feel like a kid in a candy store when I look at the display of desserts and obsess over what I’m going to get through the whole meal!


Sweet potato and Frangelica cheesecake

The calamari is also an excellent choice if you are looking to start out with an appetizer. I have had this on a previous visit and the calamari were cooked to perfection. The batter was not too thick and was nice and crispy.

I certainly want to come back some time in the evening. I have heard they have live jazz on Thursday nights. They also have an extensive selection of cocktails that look quite enticing.

Beyu Caffé is located at 335 West Main Street in downtown Durham and is open Monday – Wednesday from 7am to 9pm, Thursday 7am to 11pm, Friday 7am – 12:30am and Sunday from 10am to 3pm for brunch and from 5pm to midnight for dinner.

Beyu Caffe on Urbanspoon


REVIEW: Merlion – Chapel Hill

Merlion is located in Southern Village in Chapel Hill.

This weekend, my husband suggested we eat at Merlion in Southern Village, which is located in Chapel Hill. He always knows how to make me happy! Merlion is one of our favorite restaurants in the Triangle and is frequently the place we go to celebrate special occasions, and it’s the place we usually take guests when they are visiting us.

Merlion is Singaporean food, which has hints of Chinese, Malaysian and Indian flavors in it. When you visit Merlion, it’s like taking a trip to Singapore without having to pay the airfare. This is the first restaurant in the area serving dishes from Singapore.

Upon entering the restaurant, we are always greeted by a very friendly and welcoming staff. We have eaten here enough times to know many of their names and they know ours as well which always makes a place seem more special. We decided to start our meal with the appetizer sampler, which featured two each of Curry Samosas, Coconut Shrimp, Merlion Dumpling Parcels and Spring Rolls. My favorite of these is the Curry Samosas, which are filled with lentils in a curry sauce. They are very tasty!

sampler plate

This is the appetizer sampler plate.

My husband ordered one of our favorite dishes, which is the Mee Goreng. Mee Goreng is a lot like Pad Thai, which Merlion also offers, but it is a more robust dish. It features egg noodles that are stir fried with shrimp, chicken, tofu, potatoes and bean sprouts, scrambled eggs and is topped off with some chopped peanuts. The sauce is a tangy tomato-based sauce with lime, chili and red peppers.  This dish will leave you feeling very satisfied. It is a common street dish found in Singapore and Malaysia.

Mee Goreng

Mee Goreng is much like Pad Thai, but even better!

I decided to order off the special menu and had the sizzling salmon with vegetables. You could hear the sizzle from the kitchen to our table as the dish arrived, sputtering a little grease as it dazzled everyone in the restaurant. The dish had nice, meaty chunks of salmon that were sweet and tender. It had steamed broccoli, summer squash, red onions and sweet and tangy chunks of pineapple. The dish was served in a sauce that had chili oil, and hints of tamarind paste and red pepper, and was very complimentary to the meal. This was served with a side of white rice. I tried to eat it all, but decided to take some home for another meal.

Sizzling Salmon special

This was the Sizzling Salmon special at Merlion.

We could not leave Merlion without having my favorite dessert. This is one of the few places that I even order dessert these days, but I cannot resist the Exotic Bomba. Even the name of this dessert evokes mystery and excitement. It is three flavors of sorbet: raspberry, passion fruit and mango surrounded by a layer of white chocolate with little strips of dark chocolate and drizzles of a raspberry sauce. It is truly heavenly!

The bomba dessert

This dessert is packed with exotic flavors!

My husband had the Sago Pudding, which is tapioca pearls served with coconut cream and a special palm sugar syrup, which tastes almost like butterscotch. It is really smooth and satisfying. Both desserts are a great way to end a meal at Merlion.

Sago pudding

The Sago Pudding at Merlion is very satisfying.

There are so many other great dishes at this restaurant. I would recommend the Pineapple Rice, which is fried rice with pine nuts, scallions and shallots served with chicken or shrimp and chunks of pineapple, but the prize is the presentation as this dish is served in a shelled out half of a pineapple.

The Roti Prata is another of our favorites. This is another of the street foods found in Singapore. It is chicken and potato curry that is kind of soupy and served with Indian pancakes and eatern with your hands. The Beef Rendang is another favorite. It is beef that is simmered with onion, ginger, lemongrass, curry leaves and served with a thick coconut gravy.

Really, I’ve yet to have a bad dish in this restaurant, which is one reason we keep coming back. The other great thing is that they take great care in the presentation of the dishes. Each one is like a piece of artwork.

Merlion is located at 410 Market Street, Suite 320 in Southern Village, off of 15-501 in Chapel Hill.  They are open Tuesday – Sundays.

LINK:’s Fried Okra

Photo Credit:

Fried okra is one of the ultimate Southern sides. I grew up eating it at a placed called The Fox (now defunct) in High Point. My dad had turned me onto them as a decent alternative for french fries beside a burger. I think he got me to order them so he could have both okra and french fries with his burger. Well played, dad.. Fried okra is usually on the menu at a lot of barbecue joints and local burger shacks but not all of them hand-bread their fried okra which can be kind of disappointing because then you know that it came straight from the freezer aisle. I can deal with the frozen variety but they normally have to be doused in ketchup or ranch which can mask about anything

What is the best fried okra that you have ever eaten in North Carolina? posted a great recipe for homemade fried okra and, as you can guess, her recipe includes a little heat with 1 1/2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning.’s Fried Okra recipe

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