Don’t Look Back (Taco Bar): A Review

Bean, Rajas and Chicken Tacos

Where: Don’t Look Back (W. Cary St., Richmond)
What: Tacos
Number of People: 2
Total Cost: $50
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adam and I heard of a new place in Cary Town that was the result of Nate’s Taco Truck, which was a big hitter on VCU’s campus for a while. We knew it had a strange name and it turns out we were right. It also turns out that the people who said the tacos were amazing were also right. The tacos were delicious. There are a variety of options on the menu, including vegetarian. They had all the basics, chicken, shredded beef, fish, carnitas and some nice additions such as bean, peppers, soy, and chorizo. They also had burritos, tostadas and the like. We tried a chicken, shredded beef, bean, peppers (Rajas), fish and chorizo with some guacamole on the side. Each taco is $3 and can be served traditionally (onions, cilantro and lime) or gringo (sour cream, cheese, salsa, lettuce) and either with corn or flour tortillas. We had corn on everything except the bean and mixed up the styles depending on the filling.

Tacos!

My favorite was definitely the fish taco. The fish was delicious and the cabbage slaw and sauce were just how I remember fish tacos. All of the others were also delicious. I definitely prefer traditional style because it’s simple and let’s the flavors show. Plus I’m a bit of a snob and want them to be as authentic as possible. The guacamole was also good and I’m picky about my guacamole.

I would definitely recommend this place to any one looking for a good, upscale Mexican restaurant in Richmond. The atmosphere was very modern with loud music in a tight space with TVs playing various shows and sports. They had a good beer selection and we hit at happy hour. The service was pretty good but not perfect, hence a missing star. I will certainly be going back in the future and taking a lot of friends.

Fish Taco

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Beef Carnitas Tacos

Beef Carnitas Taco

Serves: 8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6-8 hours

Ingredients:

2-3 lbs beef (Boston butt/shoulder)
1 yellow onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbs cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs agave (or honey)
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbs orange juice
1/2 cup BBQ sauce

Preparation:

1. Combine all ingredients except meat in a crock pot and stir. Add meat and cook for 6-8 hours. Turn meat half way through cooking.

2. Take meat out of crock pot and shred. Return to juices and let soak before serving.

3. Serve hot with tortillas, sour cream, Steph’s Guacamole, cheese and everything else!

Recipe adapted from Life as a Plate.

Another “because I have stuff for it” meal. Boston butts are not usually in my grocery store and not only did they have it this week but it was also on sale! I’ve already made BBQ and wanted to try something different and I also had avocados so ta da, Carnitas! I found this recipe online and it’s very good. It’s not too spicy, which is good for me but you could certainly add more chili powder or even some peppers for some more heat. I served it with store-bought tortillas, cilantro-lime rice (I added cilantro and lime juice to rice when it was almost done cooking), homemade guacamole and sour cream. I also found Queso Fresco and it was a great addition. I do love Carnitas and this fed my craving while using what I had in the house and feeding me for at least a week!

Taco!

Mommy’s Meatloaf

Mommy's Meatloaf

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef (or half beef, half pork)
1/2 onion
1 egg
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained with the juice reserved
1/2 – 1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 block cheddar cheese, cubed
2 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs catsup
1 tsp ground mustard
Water
Salt and Pepper

Preparation:

1. Beat egg and add drained tomatoes. Add bread crumbs, salt and pepper,  and cheese and mix. Add meat and mix with your hands. Don’t mix the meat too much. Form into a loaf shape in a glass pan.

2. To make sauce: Combine juice from tomatoes, brown sugar, catsup, water if needed, and ground mustard. Heat in a sauce pan until thickened. Taste and season as necessary.

3. Bake meatloaf on 350 degrees for one hour.

Recipe from my mother!

I was always puzzled by people who talked down to meatloaf. The meatloaf I always ate growing up was delicious and something to look forward to. This probably has a lot to do with the chunks of cheese and wonderful consistency of Mommy’s meatloaf, but I have to say my favorite part has always been the sauce. A sweet, tangy tomato sauce that goes perfectly on meatloaf. I sigh thinking about its awesomeness. This was definitely one of my favorites growing up and I’m excited to be able to make it myself now and share it with you!

Taco!

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cook If I Want To

That’s right. It’s my birthday and so I have to cook up a storm and have people over. Then, of course, go to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games. I decided to make an appetizer spread and have my guests bring the drinks. Here’s the menu:

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip
Meatballs with BBQ Sauce and Garlic Basil Aioli
Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Herbs and Goat Cheese
Homemade Pico de Gallo with chips

There are several recipes involved here so I’ll give them to you individually as well as let you know what I did in advance, etc. Here we go. It’s party time!

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip with Garlic Butter Crostini

Hot Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Serves: 10-12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 (10 0z) package frozen spinach (make sure it’s not in sauce), thawed
2 (14 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped in food processor
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup parmesan, grated

Preparation:

1. Grease a casserole dish (recommend a 2 oz dish). Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Pour ingredients in casserole dish and top with extra cheese.

2. Bake on 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

3. Serve with crostinis. To make crostinis, combine 1 stick butter and 4 garlic cloves in a food processor. Cut a french loaf into slices on an angle. Spread garlic butter on crostinis and bake at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes. Allow to cool. Crostini’s can be made in advance.

Recipe from Paula Deen at FoodNetwork.com.

Meatballs with BBQ Sauce and Garlic Basil Aioli

Meatballs with BBQ Sauce and Garlic Basil Aioli

Serves: Makes 40 meatballs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: About 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Meatballs

1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef
1 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 eggs
2 cups chicken stock
2 onions
3 cloves garlic
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

BBQ Sauce

1 cup catsup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tbs light brown sugar
2 1/2 tbs sugar
1/4 tbs pepper
1/4 tbs garlic powder
1/4 tbs ground mustard
1/2 tbs Worcestershire sauce

Basil Garlic Aioli

2/3 cup mayonaise
4 garlic cloves, chopped
5-6 basil leaves, chopped
3 tbs olive oil
Salt

Preparation:

1. Make BBQ Sauce and aioli in advance. To make BBQ Sauce, combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour or until thickened. To make aioli, combine ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and pulse. While machine is running, slowly add olive oil.

2. To make meatballs, brown onions and add garlic. Remove from heat once browned and allow to cool.

3. Combine ingredient except chicken stock in a bowl. Mix together with your hands. Heat olive oil and make a tester patty. When tester patty is tasty, make balls (or patties) and cook in batches.

3. Brown meatballs on all sides. Then add a splash (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) chicken stock and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

4. Drain on paper towels and serve.

Meatball recipe adapted from Anne Burrell’s Cook Like a Rock Star, BBQ Sauce from the Neely’s at FoodNetwork.com and Garlic Basil Aioli from Bobby Flay at FoodNetwork.com.

Homemade Pico de Gallo

Homemade Pico de Gallo

Serves: 10-12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0!

Ingredients:

3 large beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 cups cilantro, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Salt to taste

Preparation:

1. Combine all ingredients and mix. Refrigerate for about an hour or more before serving. Serve chilled with tortilla chips.

Recipe is an original.

The important part of this recipe is to remember to make the salsa and onion in big chunks. At least, that’s the way I like it. Nothing beats fresh pico de gallo.

Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Herbs

See my previous post for the recipe on these. They are divine!

It was a fantastic party and the food turned out well. It was definitely a lot to make and it took all day but it was worth it. The Bacon Wrapped Dates get better every time I make them and I find they do not take long at all and they need a good stuffing of goat cheese to make sure it all doesn’t melt out. The Spinach Artichoke Dip is a dish I’ve been making for years and it is always a crowd pleaser, plus it is so incredibly easy. The meatballs turned out pretty well. I found it was much easier to cook them as patties and I ended up doing that because I was running out of time. They were very moist and it seems essential to use fresh rosemary. That made all the difference. And of course there’s the Pico de Gallo. That’s another dish I’ve been making forever and it is always delicious and simple. It was a great party and a great birthday!

Beef Stew

Beef Stew

Serves 6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

2 lbs stew meat
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups water
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
Dash of allspice

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Willie’s BBQ: A Review

Pork Sandwich Plate

Where: Willie’s BBQ (2245 Pocahontas Trail, Quinton, Va.)

What: Dinner

Number of People: 2

Total Cost: $18

Beef Brisket Plate

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

I lived in Charles City, Va., while in college and I learned that if you want home cookin’ Charles City is the place to be. A BBQ place opened up where the hole-in-the-wall McDonalds used to be and I had never been but had heard good things. One of my cousins even works there but since I don’t get back to Charles City as often I hadn’t visited. I finally had the chance and inclination to go and I have already been back since. Yes, Willie’s BBQ is that good. Adam and I went on a trip to visit my Grandmother and did not regret it. I got the Pork Sandwich Plate ($7.95) with Macaroni and Cheese (all of the sides are homemade) and a drink. Adam got the Beef Brisket Plate ($11) with Baked Beans, Candied Yams and Corn Bread and a drink. The meat was extremely tender and the available sauces were great. I preferred the North Carolina-style sauce, which is vinegar based, as opposed to the Virginia-style sauce, which is tomato based. The sides were obviously homemade. The mac and cheese was so incredibly cheesy without being dry as some homemade mac and cheeses can be. The beans and yams were sweet and the corn bread was crumbly and moist. As a hole-in-the-wall, off-the-beaten-path place it did not have very much decor and the music was as random as possible. But I think that helps give it charm. The service was great since the people who work there are friendly and they obviously enjoy their job as well as the food. You can take anything to go and there is indoor and outdoor seating.

If you ever find yourself on I-64  or Rt. 60 and want to take a rest, stop at the Bottoms Bridge exit and try out Willie’s. It is well worth the stop.