Please Set the Table

By: Lisa Wright Burbach

We are empty nesters and we sit at the table to eat dinner! Crazy right? -No, it’s connection. I love setting the table and sitting down to a yummy meal and to discuss the day, the future, and just life in general. We take a tip from other countries who celebrate meal time, family and who savor the meal, drink in the aromas, and visit with each other. It’s a relationship table.

I’m from the South and being able to set a proper table is an exam you have to pass to be able to own a string of pearls. It’s serious business!! And I’m grateful for it. I’ve been known to set the table with water glasses, wine glasses, dessert forks, the whole thing for nothing more elegant than sloppy joes.

In addition to setting the table for my family I find that setting a full and proper table when we have company makes them feel pampered and cherished even if they are simultaneously intimidated by it. It’s ok, you really can use the cloth napkin; they wash. Oh and start from the outside and work your way in with the silverware, but don’t worry; there is no test and I promise not to talk about you after you leave. “Van!! Did you see them eat that salad with their dessert fork!! Why I declare! I believe I will just have to set a spell and recover“. No, it will be fine, just eat and enjoy. (To you Northerners, the pearl thing was a joke).

I understand this next statement may be “outdated thinking”, but I believe it is true. When I was 20 and elderly woman told me “Use the China and crystal when you don’t have company-there are no more important people to be seated at your table than your husband and your family.”. It was great advice and I took it to heart. When my kids were small we used china for snacks; my 25 year old son eats snacks on china to this day. A conversation I will need to have with my future daughter-in-law I’m sure.

Try setting the table before you start cooking dinner it will help you feel organized and ready to go; better yet, get the fam involved and have them set the table! Not sure what to do? Here is a How-To from Martha Stewart and one from Real Simple.


RECIPE REVIEWS:

1.  Sweet Potato Soup w/ Blue Corn Tortillas by Bobby Flay/foodnetwork:  Note, the chipotles in adobo sauce can be very warm and you may need to make adjustments up or down based on your family/guests.

Time: 1 1/2 hour

Ease: Simple to moderate

Result: Most everyone loved this, not everyone.  It has combination of spicy, sweet, and smokey.  I will make this again. Serve with cornbread and a nice green vegetable.

2.  Skillet Lasagna:  Use the link as a guide, but feel creative with this one.  I used Newman’s own spaghetti sauce because I had it on hand, I also used spinach pasta in place of lasagna noodles for the same reason.  No reason for things just to sit in the pantry.

Time: 30 minutes

Ease: simple

Result: Turned out nicely, tasted about like you would expect.  We enjoyed it. Serve with steamed green beans or a salad.

3. Quiche: NOTE:MAKE DAY AHEAD FOR BEST TEXTURE. (we didn’t, but I recommend it.)This was a base for me and it takes a lot of work and hopefully Thomas Keller will never read this blog, because I am sure he will cringe repeatedly.  Apologies to great chefs for all that I am about to say for the sake of the basic home cook. First I used a store bought pastry; not the one in the tin, but the Pillsbury one you roll out. Next instead of mushrooms I used broccoli and caramelized onions. Don’t be afraid of caramelized onions, if you start it before anything else you will have sweet, browned, delicious onions by the time you are ready to use them. Lastly, for some reason I do not own a blender and had to make do with the magic bullet, soooo It could have gone a little better. But, even unskilled, ill-prepared this was so yummy!

Time:  2 hours prep & cooking and overnight resting

Ease: complicated

Result: Worth every minute of time.  This quiche is taller than most and great flavor and texture.

5.  One-Pot Sticky Chicken Wings I already had chicken breasts that I had frozen when they were on sale, so instead of wings I used chicken cut into nugget sizes.  I also had run out of star anise and used some anise seeds and it worked fine.  Mirin, oyster sauce, Thai pepper paste and Sake can be found in the ethnic section of many grocery stores. Udon noodles may be found a Whole Foods or ethnic groceries-spaghetti can be substituted. 

Time: 40 minutes

Ease: simple-moderate

Result:  My husband and I loved this meal and will eat it again.  I think this will become a family favorite.  To make it fun I served it with chopsticks on china of course.

A few more things: I buys spices from places like Whole Foods and Savory Spice Shop and find that I can have fun with exotic spices without spending a fortune.  I usually spend less than $2.00.  If this week sound intimidating keep checking back.  Some weeks I go crazy on the experimental side and other weeks its just the basics.  After a month or so you should see a variety of recipes ranging in difficulty, price, and time.  There will be something just your speed.

Have fun, try something new and please set the table.

Roasted Green Pozole with Chicken & Grilled Mexican Corn – Date Night In

date night in

I just got a new cook book!  Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez, creator of http://notwithoutsalt.com/ .  It is a lovely book about nourishing your relationship through making a special date night in.  I have only tried 2 recipes, and 1 drink recipe, so far and will let you know how the others go, but these two were great.

The book is broken down into Spring, Fall, Summer, and Winter and each section contains subcatagories of menus with a variety of cocktails, salads, soups, main dishes, and desserts as well as introductions and stories.  This would make a great cover to cover read as well as a pick and choose book.

This book doesn’t have to be just for dates, though that is the purpose of the book.  It can be about making dinner a time of connection.  When my 23 year old saw the book she asked “Is this just for dates, or are you going to spread the love?”.  Yes, I’m going to spread the love!

Below are the three recipes we have tried so far:

Roasted Green Pozole with Chicken

pozole

 

Time: 1 1/2 hours

Ease: Simple – Moderate – the moderate side is simply because of some ingredients which may seem unfamiliar to some, but don’t be intimidated, just jump in and enjoy!

Review:  We all thought this was a good dish.  It is listed in the summer section, but would make meal a nice chilly fall night as well.  We used a jalapeno from our garden and this year they were a little hot, but you can adjust the heat by choosing your peppers based on heat.  This dish does take a little while to prepare and does not fall into a quick meal catagory, but it can be made ahead and reheated and the author said the flavor improves after a rest in the fridge.  Ours, didn’t make it for us to know- Gone!

Notes:  If you are not familiar with tomatillos ask your grocer for help.  They can be mildewed and too soft if you are not careful.

Pepitas are pumpkin seeds which are edible and yummy!  You can find them in the Hispanic section of your grocery and in the nuts section at places like Fresh Market.  They are good as a snack and in salads too!

Personally, I got lost in the directions of the recipe a few times, though it was well written and I’m not really sure.  I finally stopped and numbered my steps to help me.

 

 

Grilled Mexican Corn with Cotija and Lime

corn

 

Time: 15-20 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: This corn is fantastic! I have to admit I was skeptical, but the lime zest really jazzes it up!  I think you will find it to be a fun way to serve corn and wow your guests at the same time!  One response I got was DAAaaaAAA%%$%!  This is a good thing!

 

Cherry Lime Soda

cherry limeade

Time: 10 Minutes plus chilling time

Ease: Simple

Review:  The Cherry Lime Soda was given as a non-alcoholic drink with the suggestion of vodka, gin, or tequila to make it “adult”.   My husband made this while I prepared dinner and we just had a lot of fun in the kitchen!  It was easy and no Beetle Bailey swearing (#^@^&#).  My husband is prone to made up swear words with no real word in it, they sound like the top line of your key board-a.k.a Beetle Bailey!

Notes: Watch the level of lime juice it can overpower the drink, a little taste testing is recommended.

We used tequila, but meh,  we will make it again, but use vodka.

 

All in all I really like this book so far and I love the concept, as my readers know I’m all about bringing people together at the dinner table and this book does that.  It’s goal is for dates and connection, but it easily translates to larger groups.  I’m sure you will see more reviews of these recipes in the future!
Enjoy!

All photos are by me, Lisa Wright Burbach – a Burbachulous Photo.  Feel free to share, but please give credit to the source.  Thank you.

Shrimp (almost) Tacos with Mango Slaw and Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Gremolata

Sometimes things just don’t go the way we plan.  This meal was one of those times!  To start with I am not making one big grocery trip any more and trying to be more diligent to use what we have and plan more carefully and for the most part it is working.  We are spending less and generally eating more healthy meals.  BUT, it means we do not have many groceries in the house.

I was all ready to make dinner, when I pulled the shrimp out, freshly bought shrimp, and it smelled awful.  I tried cooking it as planned thinking, maybe, just maybe it was my imagination.  Wrong, it still stunk when I pulled it off the grill.  Now we had tortillas and amazing mango avacado slaw and well…plates.  In the end I found a bag of frozen chicken nuggets, tossed them in seasoning and grilled them.  It was great!  Not so healthy, but great!

One of the good things about life not going as we planned is the adventure we get to take along the way.  A dinner adventure isn’t so bad, but even life’s bigger adventures can be tremendous, leaving us glad we didn’t go the other route!  Embrace your adventures and enjoy these shrimp “chicken” tacos!

Shrimp Tacos with Mango Citrus Slaw – Recipe Diaries

mango slaw taco

 

Time: 30 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Yumm!!  This was fantastic!  The slaw is to die for and I could eat it straight out of the bowl.  I highly recommend you give this recipe a try. Jenna from Recipe Diaries gave us a simple, but elegant and fun taco that I think you’d be proud to serve to company.

Please note the story above, we actually ate it with chicken, but it was great and we can’t wait to try it again with shrimp and think it would be great with fish.  The only minor change I made was to add a little Sriracha to the dressing and  a little more acid (lemon juice), but that is personal preference.  I might add more Dijon instead of lime or lemon next time.  This was a very minor change.

 

Extra Recipe:

Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Gremolata – Food and Wine Magazine

carrots

 

Time: 40 Minutes

Ease: Moderate

Review: O –  M – G!!!  This dish was a complete surprise to me.  I am pretty good at looking at a recipe and guessing how it will taste and what my family will think and I thought this would be good.  I waaaaaay underestimated.  There was not one little piece left!  Picked clean!

When you read the recipe you will make a face and think it is weird, I mean it has curry and carrot tops! It is so good!!

I forgot to add the gremolata to the top, so it isn’t in the picture,but  I served it on the side and let people sprinkle it on top.  The germolata, as strange as it sounds, really makes the dish sing!  It provides an acid to the overall dish that is not overwhelming, but just enough zing.  This is an out of the comfort zone dish for some, but I think you will love it and it just might become a regular on your table. – Enjoy!

Well, Goodbye may be a bit Strong!

Ok, so maybe not Goodbye!  I’ve had a lot of traffic to Bringing Back Dinner since saying goodbye and a few requests, so how about a new post?  I will try to post each week, but will feature one main recipe review.

We are trying to eat a little healthier around here and trying new things.  I think you will be surprised at the flavors of the great salad I have for you this week.  Even the guys will like it!

Steak, Pear, and Watercress Salad – Cooking Light

Steak Pear and watercress salad

Time: About 30 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  This was a pretty quick and easy meal to make and a great blend of flavors.  I had to make a few changes though.  Sometimes watercress is difficult to find here in Greensboro, NC and I had to switch it out for lettuce, but watercress has a nice peppery flavor which lends itself well to this salad, so use it if you can find it.  We also had trouble finding the right cut of meat and in the end used a London Broil. lastly, you may switch the Blue Cheese for Feta (we did).  Serve with a nice crusty bread and olive oil.  This dish could be a nice dinner on the deck or a date night dinner and goes from beer to wine very well!  Versatile!

Asparagus

asparagus

Not a fan of asparagus?  Try buying the small bundles of thinner stalks and roasting them.  They are easy to make that way and quite yummy!  Roll in olive oil and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit about 10 minutes.  Make sure they are still a bit firm.

Next week I’ll tell you about an aaaammmaazing Roasted Carrots with Carrot Tip Gremolata recipe with mild curry! mm, mmm, mmm!

I’d love your feedback.  Have you tried anything from Bringing Back Dinner?  What did you think?  Have a recipe you’d like us to test?  If so send us the link at burbachulous@gmail.com and we may check it out.

Enjoy!

Relax, Just Enjoy Each Other and let the Holiday Season Begin.

What my House looks like! Titled: When Elves vomit (ok Vomit isn’t a great word for a food blog, but really…look at that mess!  But we are having fun!Photo 6It is easy to become frantic at the holidays.  I know I go crazy trying to organize everything, keep the house clean, and have food on hand for the unexpected holiday guest. Then I have to stop myself and remember it is all about the people.  Relax, Just enjoy each other.  Stop in the madness and let the holiday season begin. While you’re at it take some advice from Robert Frost:

A Time to Talk: taken from Bartleby.com

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan (or pick some meals from here)

2. Make a grocery list and stick to it!!!! This saves time and money

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy

The Meals:

Bacon, Pineapple & Spinach Pizza

Photo 2(1)

Time: 30 -45 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: We had birthday number three this week and the request was simply “As long as it has lots of bacon and cheese…”.  So, my husband and I bounced around some ideas, I asked for help from friends and FoodieChats, via twitter, and received some great ideas.  There is one foodiechat recommendation that my husband is begging for me to make, so expect to see Poblano stuffed peppers with cheese and wrapped in bacon from @jeffriessunni at some point.  He is so excited.

I said, offhandedly, what about bacon pizza with something like pineapple and didn’t think about it again until my husband calls me from work and says “oh, I told him you were going to make pizza with bacon and pineapple and he thought it was awesome”. Ok, uhhh well. I didn’t actually know what I was going to do, but the results were great and the birthday boy was happy.

Pizza crust (I used pre-made crust from my grocery in the deli section)

Alfredo sauce

Mozzarella and Gouda cheeses

bacon, cooked and crumbled

caramelized onions (if you caramelize the onions on this day it will bump you time up to allow for good caramelization of the onions)

spinach (fresh or frozen)

pineapple bits

I made three pizzas, you will adjust the amounts based on what looks good and works for your table.  I find it is easier to just put things on the pizza until it looks right and I rarely measure.  Top your crust with a few spoonfuls of Alfredo sauce; just enough to cover, not make it saucy.  Then layer the rest of the pizza with chopped caramelized onions, crumble the bacon and cover pizza, add fresh or frozen spinach on top-amounts to taste, then add bits of pineapple across the spinach.  Top with a blend of mozzarella and Gouda and bake per the instructions of your crust.  Approximately 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Tip: Many grocery stores sell the dough they use to make in-house pizzas and it is a quick, but tasty option.

Grape Leaf Wrapped Salmon : Green Valley Grill, Greensboro NC
fish gvg

Fish, quick

Time: 30 minutes

Ease: Simple to moderate

Review:  First I’d like to say that the Green Valley Grill is one of my favorite restaurants.  It has wonderful food and you feel like you have escaped just for a while.  If you are ever in Greensboro, go!

I made this without the grape leaves this time, which does take away a bit from the dish, but still yummy.  It is easy and quick, but elegant.  I served it with creamy polenta and steamed green beans.

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Corn Hashbeans and corn

Vegetarian, quick, Healthy

Time: 35 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: There are a few meals I pull out when I want something quick and tasty and know everyone will like it and this is one of them.  It is hearty and healthy!  This week I was out of black beans, but didn’t know it until I started cooking-someone didn’t follow her grocery list, so I used pinto beans instead and served it with rice.  It was still tasty, but if you have it, I recommend using the black beans.

Just for Fun: Grapefruit BruleePhoto 5

This time of year it is especially fun to play with your food!  If I could recommend a useful, but totally fun kitchen tool it would be a torch! And yes, I was tempted to say “Mwahh haa haa”.  A torch can be used for so many things, like browning the top of a casserole, or crystalizing sugar on a brulee, or flambes!  It is just a great tool.  This week we used our torch to brulee the sugar on top of grapefruit.  So yummy!

I know I only put three meals out for review this week, but this week we were invited to holiday gatherings at other peoples homes where we enjoyed great food and great company.  It is what it is all about: Relax, just enjoy each other and let the the holiday season begin!

Feel free to suggest a recipe you would like to see reviewed.  Just use the contact me above and send me the link and I will see what I can do.

Photos may be used, but please link back to this blog and credit Lisa Burbach, recipes are links to existing recipes and I have no ownership of recipes other than the ones I Have created.  Thank you.

Pasta, Leftover Turkey Potpie & Pork Loin Double Duty

pasta cameraThanksgiving week was a crazy week!  A wonderful week, but crazy just the same.  We had so much fun celebrating birthdays and Thanksgiving, seeing friends and family and decking the halls! So this past week we decided to keep it simple.  Brought out the crockpot, did 30 minute meals and even used paper plates one night. But, we still enjoyed each other and that is the point.

Just because dinner is simple doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice freshness or taste.  Don’t grab a mix or pre-packaged dinner;  Fresh, real meals are within reach. Enjoy!

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan (or pick some meals from here)

2. Make a grocery list and stick to it!!!! This saves time and money

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy

The Meals:

Pasta buffetpasta bar


Time: 30 minutes, allow extra time if you heat each person’s individually

Ease: Simple

Review:  Sometimes simple can be pretty fun, even fancy!  We like to make pasta and cook squash, zucchini, peppers and onions, sausage (try different types) and mushrooms individually and then place each in their own bowl – buffet style.  Then have a dish of alfredo sauce and one of marinara sauce and you are set.  You have two choices at this point 1. have everything warm and ready to serve at the same time or 2. let people choose the items they would like and have one pan for red sauce and one for white ready on the stove or grill, then toss in their ingredients and heat together each plate separately.   Similar to what you see served at a catered meal.  It is fun and takes very little time.  So the next time you have that last minute dinner party just throw together this simple buffet, add in a salad and sit down and enjoy your guests.

Leftover Turkey Potpie:  The Pioneer Woman  Chef:  Ree Drummandbaking potpie

Photo 14Time: 1 hour

Ease: Simple to moderate (depends on whether you use a store bought crust or make it yourself)

Review:  Wow, The Pioneer Woman is awesome!  My husband liked this so much he said we should do it every year.  This recipe was easy to follow and simple to make (and yes I used a store bought, roll out crust.  But  hey,  she said she wouldn’t judge).  Our turkey this year had sweet Italian sausage under the skin and this was a nice added flavor to our potpie.

Apricot Chiptle-Glazed Pork Tenderloin:  PBS Food  Chef: Jenna Weber
Photo 22Photo 21

Time: 30 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  This dish could not have been any more simple: make the glaze, brush it on, and broil.  Voila!  Do not be afraid of the broiler, I know I have been in the past.  This recipe worked exactly like it said it would.  Just don’t put the meat too close, I used the second groove in my oven and it came out perfectly.

Tip:  Often pork loins come with 2 pieces.  Depending on the size of your group, try cooking one and saving the other one for the next night’s dish: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos

Simple Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos Justatatste.com  Chef: Kelly SenyeiPhoto 28

Time: 6-8 hours in the slow cooker and 15 minutes when you get home.

Ease: Simple

Review: My family loves tacos, tacos of any kind and this taco did not disappoint.  It was juicy and full of flavor and was ready within minutes of walking in the door.  Can’t beat that!

Tip:  I used a pork loin because I had one left from the day before.

Hotdogs, I know-but I love them so.

P1080965Ok, I know hotdogs are not exactly fresh or wholesome, but I love them.  I mean I really love them, especially with slaw. You know coleslaw-white, mayo based coleslaw.  I even like hotdogs from convenience stores. I like them broiled, grilled, boiled, and on the rotator at the store.  They are quick and yummy and I won’t judge you for them if you don’t judge me.

I hope you enjoy this week’s meals.  Remember that you can have meals in minutes without sacrificing freshness, wholesomeness and taste. OK-minus hotdog night, but come on…It’s a hotdog, everybody loves a good hotdog from time to time.

Photos may be used, but please link back to this blog and credit Lisa Burbach, recipes are links to existing recipes and I have no ownership of recipes other than the ones I Have created.  Thank you.

Sandwiches, Soup, Haluski, and Baked Potatoes: Keeping it Simple

bakedpotatobarpm
Baked Potato Bar

We make dinner (meals) for more than just keeping people fed it is about friendship, conversation, connection and relationship. As you practice these types of meals you will come to expect them and enjoy creating them.  Do you ever think “I miss you” about the people you see every day?  I do.  It is usually because I was too busy to stop and connect, but bringing back dinner into our lives gives us just a moment to learn about each other and remember each other.  I love it.

Some weeks life is busy, but if we are intentional we can create the one calm place in the craziness of life with a nice meal, albeit simple meal.  This week’s menu is nice and easy. I hope you enjoy it!

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan (or pick some meals from here)

2. Make a grocery list and stick to it!!!! This saves time and money

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (unless you are one of my European friends with your tiny little refrigerators – adapt as needed)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  I say Dinner, but any meal will be fine.  Just try to find a time to relax and enjoy each others company over a meal.

The Meals:

Baked Potato and Salad Barbaked potato

Time: 30-1 hour I prefer oven baked potatoes rolled in olive oil and kosher salt with pepper, but sometimes we just don’t have the time and though a master chef would probably cringe, just toss them in the microwave if you are short on time.

Ease: simple

Review: This is a fun thing to do with a group of people.  This week I had nine ladies over for “ladies night out” and I baked potatoes, one girlfriend brought lettuce and everyone else brought toppings.  We had a great (loud) laughter (loud) filled (loud) night.  So, fun. Oh, and we were loud!  Ten ladies laughing and talking and eating-it was great.  We learned about each other and relaxed together.  Hmmm, I think we’re getting it.

Topping Ideas:

Cheese, broccoli, raisins, Craisins, sunflower seeds, mandarin orange slices, salsa, sour cream, butter, croutons, dressings…. The list goes on.  You can go wild with this.

pmleftover potato slicesWhat to do with the leftover baked potatoes? Try slicing them cold and pan frying them until golden brown.  They can be eaten plain or you can top them with cheese, bacon, and sourcream for a baked potato hors d’oevre.

Make soup

Twice baked potatoes: Scoop out the insides and mash with milk or cream and butter, then there are endless options.  Add salsa and cheese with green onions or jalapenos and top with cheese. Horseradish and chives and try topping with Swiss.  Don’t be afraid to experiment, you might start to hope you have always have leftover baked potatoes.

Tupelo Honey’s Chicken and Havarti Sandwich: Adapted from Tupelo Honey Cookbook  (Tupelo Honey  Asheville, NC)tupelo honey chicken sandwiches

Ingredients:

1-2 Boneless Chicken breasts

1 cup Marinade: 1 1/2 cups pineapple juice, 2/3 cup olive oil, 2/3 cup soy sauce, 4 cloves garlic finely chopped, 2 Tbsp finely minced fresh ginger.

Sliced Havarti cheese

Butter

Cranberry Mayo: equal parts mayo and whole cranberry sauce

Romaine Lettuce

Sourdough Bread

I found that thinly slicing the chicken lengthwise into layers made for an easier sandwich.  Start at one tip of the breast and gently slice to the other end in a thin layer.  You should get several slices out of each breast (I used 2 for 4 people).  Once sliced place in the marinade and refrigerate overnight. Cook chicken in a skillet or griddle until done, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Place cheese on top of chicken at the end to let it melt.  Lightly butter bread (they recommended sourdough, but we found it fell apart easily and may try caibatta next time) and grill each face.  Remove from grill and assemble sandwiches by sliding chicken and cheese onto bread and top with lettuce and cranberry mayo.

Time: 30 minutes plus overnight marinade, 45 if roasting potatoes

Ease: Simple

Review:  First off, if you ever get to eat in Asheville, NC you will be in for a treat.  Everywhere I have ever eaten was superb.  This Recipe was from a small restaurant called Tupelo Honey, it had a fun atmosphere and great food.  Second, don’t feel like sandwiches can’t be dinner.  This sandwich was a nice warm and hearty sandwich and felt like a full meal.  I served it with Roasted potatoes.

roasted potatoesRoasted Potatoes: Start with olive oil and salt and pepper and then go wherever you imagination takes you.  I have added things like bbq sauce, dijon mustard, onions, steak seasoning, ranch, garlic, rosemary etc.  This dish can be different every time you serve it.  Start the potatoes at the beginning of the meal preparation so that they can cook while you prepare the rest of the meal.  Generally Roast at 425 degrees until golden brown, turning once.  30-45 minutes.

Haluski : Allrecipes.com or Guy Fieri (Originally from the Frugal Gourmet) pmhaluski

Time: 30 minutes- 1 hour depending on the recipe you use.

Ease: Simple; 3 main ingredients and full flavor

Review: I first tried this recipe from the cookbook “The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors” and largely still use this as my guide.  The Allrecipe.com ingredient list is the same, but the cooking method different.  I saute (or caramelize depending on time) the onion then add the cabbage and cook it until tender, but still full of color.  While this is cooking boil the pasta and toss together at the end.  I don’t know how to explain why this is so yummy, but it is.  Simple and good.  My family likes the addition of kielbasa, but to keep it vegetarian you can skip it.  My son requested this for this week.  Good choice.  FYI: They don’t even like cabbage and love this.

Tortilla Soup: Chef Wolfgang Puck
tortilla soup

Time: 30-45 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: This was a nice comfy soup. This was also a special request for the week-from my husband.  I confess I used frozen corn instead of corn on the cob and skipped the part where you add the cobs to the broth. It was still very good.

Cheese Board and Veggie Traycheese & Veg 2

My husband looooves cheese, I mean loves it!  So if I suggest we have a variety of cheeses and meats with crackers he is more than happy.  I also like to add in a veggie try.  Try adding things like salami, pepperoni, or even just rolls of lunch meat.  One quick addition is cream cheese topped with spicy pepper jelly; sounds so-so, but is really good.  If it makes you feel better cheese boards or on the menu of high end restaurants, so throw in a nice glass of wine, light a fire and relax.

Time: 5-10 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Let’s face it, there are days when you say “I don’t want to cook”!  That’s OK, it doesn’t mean you still can’t have a nice time together and I know I stress the importance of the table, but I mean the table to sometimes be any place you gather together over a meal.  This night we chose the living room.

cheese & Veg fire

Photos may be used, but please link back to this blog and credit Lisa Burbach, recipes are links to existing recipes and I have no ownership of recipes other than the ones I Have created.  Thank you.

I Love it When you get Fresh!

Dinner doesn’t have to be a chore and you don’t have to pull out the boxed mixes and packets to pull it off in time.  I promise, after a while you will embrace fresh, fresh, fresh!  It really doesn’t take much more time, if any, to use fresh ingredients.  The real issue is in our heads-it’s mental.  It seems like it is too hard, too time consuming, too involved etc., but the truth is that with a little practice you will be making fresh meals in minutes for your family and friends and they will love you for it.   Don’t feel like it has to be all or nothing here either; baby steps and start where you are.

Keep it fresh and alive at the table too.  Talk to each other, engage with your family and guests and get to really know each other.  Build trust at the table and remember to make it a safe place.  Here are some ice breakers: Get to Know you Cards, Dinner Conversation Starters, Highs and Lows: ask each other what the best part of the day was and what the worse part was and then talk about it.  Some of you are probably rolling your eyes right now, I admit a part of me does, but try it.  Be creative.  Dinner is not about getting food in their bellies, it is about savoring the moments both with your food and your relationships.  Enjoy!

TIP: Try setting up a Mise en Place to help you with time.  Don’t worry about dirtying more dishes; it cleans up quickly.

  • The Meals:

black bean quesadillasBlack Bean Quesadilla: Eating Well Magazine

Time: 15 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: This is a quick and easy meal.  I pull this out when I’m rushed for time and I’m still able to give my family a fresh meal.  It is a family favorite.

Tip: Use low sodium canned beans and rinse well and use pepper jack cheese for flavor.

baked RavioliBaked Ravioli: Marthastewart.com

Time: 35-1 Hour; This dish could be a quickie if you use prepared spaghetti sauce instead of making the sauce.  There are many spaghetti sauces on the market that still keep this as a “fresh” dish.  Try organic, low sodium and look for the shortest ingredient list.

Ease: Simple

Review:  I found this recipe to be a nice and easy meal, but did not find the sauce to be especially flavorful and added hot pepper flakes, red wine, and a few more Italian spices to make it a little more full in flavor.  Next time I will probably use prepared spaghetti sauce, which will also cut the time in half.  Play around with this one and see what you get.

lentil soupLentil Soup: The Foodnetwork.com  Chef: Alton Brown

Time: 50 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: A nice hearty soup! Adjust the puree to your personal tastes, we like it in the middle.  This recipe calls from ground grains of paradise.  They can be found in places like Savory Spice or specialty markets.  It is a peppery spice with sort of woodsy flavor.  Very nice.  If you can’t find it just use pepper.

meatonioncomboMeatloaf with Cheddar, Bacon, and Tomato Relish: Wichcraft cookbook    Chef: Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortuzar(I’m still researching copyright usage of recipes from cookbooks.  Until I’m sure I’ll try to find a link for you, I linked to a blog called crepesofwrath.net.  A fun blog.)

Time: 30 minutes to 2 hours; The time difference depends upon whether you use leftover meatloaf or make it for this purpose.

Ease: Moderate

Review: Wow and yum!! If you don’t like meatloaf this may win you over.  It didn’t win over one of my eaters who didn’t care for the texture, but as for everyone else, people who still had room ate two!  You can try the meatloaf recipe (which is geat) or make your favorite recipe. 

I cut the bacon amounts in half and crumbled the bacon, just to try to make some attempt at cutting the fat. It still gave it a great flavor.  Don’t be scared by the tomato relish, it is simple to make and can be made while the meatloaf is cooking or even a few days ahead of time, but it truly makes the sandwich. This is a great recipe and now a family favorite. Try it, you can do it! Once you make the tomato relish you’ll be excited to try more.

Meal Five:   We had a pretty busy week this week and didn’t get to five meals, but I suggest that for a fifth meal make meatloaf earlier in the week, try making two at one time and serving one as a meal in itself and the other one for your sandwiches.  A great and easy side dish is roasted vegetables! I like to use chunks of squash, zucchini, onion, mushrooms, and bell peppers.  Toss in olive oil and salt and pepper and bake at 425 degrees for about a half an hour or until just tender, but not too soft.

Enjoy! Be creative, have fun, and set the table!

Photos may be used, but please link back to this blog and credit Lisa Burbach, recipes are links to existing recipes and I have no ownership of recipes other than the ones of Have created.  Thank you.

Welcome to Bringingbackdinner.com

I’m so glad you stopped by.  This blog is in response to requests from friends to send them menus and recipes.  I thought that doing it blog style may be fun and interactive for us all as well as accessible.  This first entry is an introduction.  Please feel free to respond to menu’s, recipes etc.  we will learn from each other.

I would not say that I am a great chef or especially graceful in the kitchen. I do not, off the top of my head, know how to make the perfect hollandaise sauce, make the best ceviche, whip up exotic aioli’s, well you get the picture.  What I can do reasonably well, is read a recipe and be able to judge whether 1. I will like it and 2. my family will like it.  So, I use recipes.  That said, I do often wander from a recipe and sometimes just “throw something together”.

I love cooking not so much for the cooking itself, but because it will make anyone who sits at my table fill warmed and welcomed.  I want the dinner table to be home, fellowship, laughter, enjoyment.  I want to build memories of happiness, peace, and joy but also make the table a safe place for deep conversations, heartfelt pleas and confessions.  Things confessed at the table stay at the table.  It is the heart of the home.  If you can barely hear it’s heartbeat anymore, I encourage you to make an effort to gather at the table.  You may have to start slow-once a month is better than not at all.

Set the table.  Whaaaatt, I don’t even know what fork to use! shhh, it will be ok.  I will help.  For starters, if you do not know what things are called or look like here is a great link to Martha Stewart’s page with wonderful pictures, Home Made Simple also has a helpful page.  Second, If you have it use it!  Somewhere deep in a closet is a crystal bowl or great Aunt somebody’s china-use it, use it, use it.

I once had an older woman tell me there is no more important person at my dinner table than my husband and my family.  She told me to use my fine china even if I am only serving sloppy Joes.  What great advice.  I don’t use it every day, but I do use some items every week.  My opinion is that to keep it stored in some attic, closet, or basement is the same thing as not having it.  What if something gets broken?  Then it does.  But, a dish that was lovingly used and eventually broken has more memory and joy that a dish that was stored away and never seen.  Use it.  Got that?  If you don’t have china, crystal etc.  that is OK too, you can still dress up your table from time to time.  Put sticks in a vase for fall or winter,  Dandelions if you need to for summer, something to make it special.

I realize that if your family or friends come in one day and find the table set (paper works) and a small vase (or dixie cup) filled with flowers or sticks, maybe candles, and they smell wonderful things from the kitchen that they may be shocked and perplexed.  That’s ok, think of it as that night’s dinner conversation; “Why (insert name) thinks she/he is Martha (Mack?) Stewart all of a sudden”  Then tell them you just want to bring back dinner.