avocado

Noodles & Company

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We’re going to do things a little different this post. Last week I was invited to sample some of the new menu items at Noodles & Company with a handful of my favorite people. What’s on the menu, you say? Well, for starters, noodles, but they also offer salads, soups, sandwiches, shareables, and desserts. I love that Noodles & Company doesn’t use artificial colors, additives, sweeteners, or preservatives. They offer organic, cage-free, hormone and antibiotic free proteins and fresh produce. See how they ranked.

Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 bites (clean and fresh dining room, menu posted for easy ordering)

Price: 4 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 4 out of 5 bites

Service: 4.5 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 4 out of 5 bites (totally customizable menu)

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Korean BBQ Meatballs with Gochujang sauce: Flavorful meatballs tossed with a sweet and spicy Korean-style Gochujang (go-choo-jang) barbeque sauce. The Gochujang sauce was really delicious! The sweet and spicy sauce added a caramelized coating to the meatballs.

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Cheesy Garlic Bread: Parmesan and garlic butter melted over toasted petite baguette with Italian seasonings and marinara sauce. Chewy and soft on the inside, with a toasty crust. The bread was seasoned well with a nice blend of garlic and Parmesan. The marina was rich and chunky, very good!

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* New! Chicken Veracruz Salad: Mixed greens topped with Roma tomato, red onion, chili-lime chicken, crumbled naturally raised bacon, fresh-cut corn, tossed with Jalapeño Ranch dressing and crispy jalapeños, fresh California avocados and cilantro. My favorite! There are a lot of flavors going on without being overwhelming. Noodles & Company roasts their own corn on the cob and cuts it off just for this salad! Bad ass! This salad had a nice spicy crunch from the crispy jalapenos, but the cool Jalapeno Ranch dressing and avocado balanced out the heat. The acid from the chili-lime chicken went really well the salty bacon.

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*New! Napa Market Chicken Salad: Mixed greens layered with Gala apple slices, Roma tomato and red bell pepper topped with pulled grilled chicken, bleu cheese and naturally raised bacon crumbles, tossed with pomegranate vinaigrette. The crisp, sweet apple paired perfectly with the bleu cheese. I also appreciated that the bleu cheese wasn’t overpowering-sometimes it will steel the show, but in this case, it was a nice addition. The pomegranate vinaigrette added a light and sweet, yet vinegary touch.

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Penne Rosa: Spicy tomato cream sauce, penne pasta, mushrooms, tomato, spinach, wine and parmesan cheese topped with parmesan crusted chicken breast. Another favorite! This sauce is the perfect blend of tomato, cream, and spice. The parmesan adds a nice nutty layer that is perfect with the wine.

Tip: Add a touch of Sriracha for more heat (shout out to Jacki)!

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Alfredo MontAmore: Spaghetti noodles, four-cheese blend alfredo, mushrooms, tomato, spinach and parmesan chicken. Topped with MontAmore cheese, Italian parsley and cracked pepper . This was another top pick. I liked that the Alfredo sauce was light, it seemed appropriate with the delicate pasta. The fresh veggies were the perfect blend. Less is more and this dish is proof!

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Whole Grain Tuscan Fresca: Whole grain linguine with balsamic, olive oil, white wine and roasted garlic, red onion, tomato, spinach,  feta and Italian parsley with grilled chicken. The balsamic was a nice surprise and made perfect sense with the whole grain pasta. The feta added a nice saltiness that went well with the balsamic and white wine.

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Japanese Pan Noodles: Caramelized udon noodles in a sweet soy sauce, broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, Asian sprouts, black sesame seeds and cilantro. One of my personal favorites. I love the thick, chewy udon noodle. It is perfect to soak up the sweet soy. The shitake mushrooms had a nice meaty earthiness and the cilantro brightened up the dish.

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Pad Thai: This new recipe highlights a more traditional sauce and features green onions instead of carrots. – Rice noodle stir-fry with scrambled egg, napa and red cabbage, citrus, peanuts, Asian sprouts, green onions and cilantro with sautéed shrimp. Yum! I typically am not a fan of Pad Thai because of the sweet and spicy, Peanut sauce, but this was delicious! The sauce was lighter and didn’t smother the dish. I loved the combo of egg and fresh veggies. The shrimp was the best choice for this menu item.

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Pesto Cavatappi: Curly pasta, basil pesto, garlic, mushrooms, tomato, wine, cream, parmesan and Italian parsley with naturally raised shredded pork. The pesto cream sauce was light, fresh, and paired nicely with the salty pork. I really like how the curly cavatappi pasta captured the pesto sauce with every bite.

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Wisconsin Mac and Cheese: A classic blend of cheddar and jack cheeses, cream and elbow macaroni with broccoli. Classic creamy and cheesy favorite. The broccoli was a nice addition and showcases how every dish can be customized and tweaked to your liking. Also, it’s a great way to sneak in those veggies for kids.

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Steak Strogonoff: Marinated steak, mushroom sherry cream sauce, fresh herbs, cracked pepper, sautéed mushrooms, wavy egg noodles, parmesan and Italian parsley. The steak was juicy,  tender, and paired nicely with the salty Parmesan. The sherry cream sauce was light and went well with the beefy steak, but it was missing that rich stroganoff flavor I am used to. I would described this dish as a modern stroganoff.

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Desserts!

Snickerdoodle and Chocolate Chip Cookies and Rice Krispy Treat: Delicious! The rice krispies are made in house  daily and you can tell! They are soft, fresh, and takes your right back to when you used to help mom make these as a child. The cookies were also soft and delicious.

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Noodles & Company is the perfect spot no matter what you are in the mood for. One of my favorite features Noodles & Company’s customizable menu which makes it great no matter if you are gluten free, picky, or just simply trying to eat all natural, organic food.  You also have the option of getting some dishes as buff bowls (hold the noodles, more veggies). Noodles & Company is family friendly and even has options for the kiddos, too. They will happily cater your next event or get together. How awesome would it be if you could eat Pad Thai or Penne Rosa at your birthday party or a shower? Remember to sign up for the email club so you don’t miss out on specials, promotions, and coupons. Stop in and experience the new menu items and don’t forget your classic favorites!

Thanks to my mom, Nastassia, Inda, Lauren, and Jacki for joining me. It was so much fun, ladies!
Noodles & Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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HopCat Detroit

One of Downtown Detroit’s newest neighbor: HopCat

With 7 locations in the Midwest, HopCat recently moved into a new home on Woodward Ave in Midtown, Detroit. With over 130 craft beers on tap and a menu consisting of scratch made grub, the bar and restaurant opened it’s doors in December 2014. They are getting tons of exposure and Food Network just named HopCat’s crack fries America’s Top 10 Best French Fries in their July-August addition. Since neither of us had been, a co-worker, April and I decided to check out what all the fuss was about. See how they ranked.

Atmosphere: 4.5 out of 5 bites

Price: 4 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 4 out of 5 bites

Service: 4 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 4 out of 5 bites

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We started with Blake’s Hard Cider: Light, crisp, and refreshing.

cider

My pick

Nacho Burger: Pepper jack cheese, avocado, spicy fried jalapeño peppers, tortilla strips, and pico de gallo served with crack fries. Delicious! I thought the south of the border heat would be too spicy for me, but the fried jalapeno’s were surprisingly subtle. The creaminess of the avocado with the crunchy tortilla strips really amped up this burger. Oh the crack fries! I had mixed feelings about these because I thought how good could fries be? They were awesome! Super crunchy,  lightly seasoned, and perfectly golden. The flavor was elevated to another level when dunked in creamy ranch. Yum!

nacho burger

April’s pick

Turkey Burger: Our house-made, herbed turkey burger patty is topped with chilled marinated tomatoes, basil, lemon, garlic & feta cheese crumbles with spinach & pesto aioli. I didn’t try this one, but April told me it was yummy.I really liked that the toppings were full of flavor because sometimes a turkey burger can be labeled as boring. The lemon and pesto aioli really added brightness and the feta gave this burger that mouth watering saltiness.

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Lucky for us it was happy hour which means half off burgers and $3 select drinks! Service was good and the food was pretty tasty as well. I will be honest, I wanted to wait until all the hype of the opening died down. I heard horror stories about how busy HopCat was when they first opened and how service suffered as a result. We went after work on a Tuesday and it wasn’t busy at all. I also really dig how important the environment is to the HopCat’s owners. They recycle and compost as much of their waste as possible. HopCat offers gluten free beer and food items and growlers to fill with your favorite brew. The only bad thing would be the parking. They offer valet and have suggested parking on the website. If you haven’t made a trip in, put it next on your grocery list!

Thanks for great conversation, April! Let’s do it again soon.

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Sushi Bar

Today on the Bite Tonight: Sushi Bar

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I am taking a little break from Texas eats to feature Sushi Bar, located on Maple, in Downtown Wyandotte, MI. Josh and I visited this restaurant a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. Offering Japanese cuisine using only the finest ingredients, a full bar, and lunch specials, Sushi Bar is Downrivers go to sushi spot. See how they ranked.

Atmosphere: 3 out of 5 bites

Price: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Service: 4 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 2 out of 5 bites

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Here’s the sushi bar:

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California Roll (Left): Crab Stick, Cucumber, Avocado And Caviar On The Top, Rolled With Rice And Seaweed. Classic and delicious!

Henry Ford Roll (Middle): Crab Stick, Cucumber, Rice and Seaweed. Lightly Fried. Just as delicious as the California roll, but deep fried and really good.

Multiple Orgasm Roll (Right): Rolled with Rice and Seaweed Filled with Salmon, Spicy Crab, Tuna, Avocado then Lightly Fried. Topped with Spicy Mayo. My favorite! The creaminess of the avocado complimented the spicy mayo and crab. I really liked the slight crunch of the roll. The spice wasn’t too overpowering either.

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I was really impressed with the quality of the rolls. They were tightly rolled and didn’t fall apart. You could really taste the fresh ingredients with each bite. Service was good and the prices were reasonable. Sushi Bar has a nicely decorated dining room with flat screen TV’s. I also really liked that the names of the menu items were local: Detroit Roll and Biddle Roll. Kudos for “shouting out” to the community. Stop in and check em out!

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Taco Night

For Ma’s birthday I made taco’s with all the fixins.

I started with fresh guacamole.

Guacamole

I bought avocado’s & limes from a local Mexican store located on Fort St in Lincoln Park: Abarrotes Sin Limite & Taqueria. Whenever I buy avocados from Kroger or Meijer they either aren’t ripe or they are rotten. When I buy them @ this local grocery store they are perfectly ripe and less expensive. I bought 3 avocado’s, 2 limes, and one package of small tortillas and my total came to $4.65. That’s so cheap! 

Abarrotes Sin Limite & Taqueria on Urbanspoon

Combine 2 avocados, 1/4 small diced onion, 1 clove of garlic, juice of 1 lime, salt, pepper, and red pepper seasoning for a little heat.

I left out tomato, but add it if you like.

Tip: Place the pit of the avocado in the guacamole to prevent it from turning brown in the fridge. Lime juice also works.

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Taco Meat

Next, I browned up 1 lb of ground turkey and drained the grease.

Saute with onions and peppers and season with cumin salt, and pepper.

I added one package of taco seasoning and 1 small can of tomato sauce. I like using tomato sauce versus just water because it creates a thicker sauce.

Let simmer on low heat to marry all the flavors together for 20 min.

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Fried Corn Relish

While the meat is simmering, I saute onions and peppers in olive oil and butter.

Add corn and saute on medium-high heat until corn gets browned.

Butter is great for browning and you may need to add another tablespoons to help the corn along.

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Since I have issues when it comes to making rice, I cheated and went to Taco Especial located on Southfield Rd in Ecorse, and bought authentic Spanish rice and refried beans. This is a local Mexican restaurant that I have been going to ever since I was little and it’s pretty tasty.

Taco Especial on Urbanspoon

Toppings

I thinly sliced carrots, yellow bell peppers, and green onions.

I chopped romaine mix with purple cabbage & spinach.

Top with your favorite cheese, sour cream, guacamole, veggies, and corn relish.

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I fried flour tortillas in olive oil to give them a slight crispy crunch.

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Our taco dinner turned out great and Ma was very impressed with the meal. Tacos are also great for any meal including game day!!

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