Reviews: Peruvian Beef, Chili, Tilapia with Brandied Garlic Sauce & More…

cornbreadI love cornbread, truly I could live on cornbread and sweet tea and be completely happy.  Not healthy, but I’ve been told we can’t have everything!  This week’s meals could have had cornbread as a side dish for every meal, yummmm.  There are many great recipes out there, but I usually follow the directions on the corn meal and I like corn meal from the Guilford Mill or Mabry Mill when possible.  They are so full of flavor! So, please feel free to add cornbread to any meal below and use the best corn meal you can find.

I also rarely add flour to my cornmeal, but this is a preference thing.  It is often more crumbly with just cornmeal, but so good.  Another must and I mean must is a cast iron frying pan.  You must heat the pan with oil in it (we use crisco down here, if not lard) and then pour the mixture in and when you hear it sizzle you will know you you’ve done it right.

This week’s Reviews:

Peruvian Beef Saltado – Ingrid Hoffman

Tilipia with Roasted Potatoes and Brandied Garlic Sauce – Todd Porter and Diane Cu (Food and Wine Magazine)

Hearty Lentil Soup – America’s Test Kitchen (to view recipe a membership is required)  also try

Pork Satay with Sweet Coconut-Milk Glaze – Kris Yenbamroong (Food and Wine magazine

Chili Con Carne – Nell Newman (venison)

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

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

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and family when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to include your friends.

The Meals:

Peruvian Beef Saltado – Ingrid Hoffman

peruvian beef

Time: 30 minutes.

Ease: simple

Review: This was an easy and hearty dish.  The flavors are mild and understated, but nice.  Use the leftovers in soft taco shells and jazz it up a little with some hot sauce.

Tilipia with Roasted Potatoes and Brandied Garlic Sauce – Todd Porter and Diane Cu (Food and Wine Magazine)talapia brandy sauce

Time: 1 Hour

Ease: Simple

Review: I am trying to add more fish into our diet and have found it a little harder than I expected to find new flavors.  This was a nice dish with great flavor.  The brandy flavor didn’t come through, but I feel it still added to the total feel and flavor of the dish.

Hearty Lentil Soup – America’s Test Kitchen (to view recipe a membership is required)  also try

hearty lentil soup

You may also check the recipe out at

Time: 45 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Note: I used the recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook.  The recipe is online, but does require a membership to view.  Another option is the link above where gives the recipe as she has adapted it.

That said, it was an easy soup to make and an all around good, basic soup to keep in your repertoire of soups.  There were options to change the spices which I found nice for the leftovers.  Make it plain to start with and serve the leftovers with things like cardamom, cinnamon, curry etc.  It becomes a whole new dish.

Hint: For the balsamic vinegar try using different types.  I used Honey, ginger, lemon balsamic.  It was a nice touch.

Chili Con Carne – Nell Newman (venison)

venison chili

Time:  1 1/2 hours

Ease: Simple

Review: This is my go to chili recipe, you have seen it before and will probably see it again, but we just love it.  We almost always omit the celery (hubby doesn’t like) and peppers (wifey doesn’t like in chili) and corn (kiddies don’t like in chili) – I know aren’t they difficult! geesh.   This time we used venison.  I often let it cook longer for the flavors or toss it in the crockpot, but found the venison didn’t hold up well with that method so if using ground venison, stick to shorter cooking times.  Make sure to taste it and adjust spices as needed, venison adds a subtle and different flavor-but good.

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:

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  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  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.