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Archive for the ‘Side Dish’ Category

Steak Fajitas and Quinoa

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Ahoy readers who love good food! Having found a great deal on some nice ribeye steaks last week that I tossed in the freezer, the initial idea was to do a Stir Fry, but we didn’t really have enough veggies or any hoisin sauce to make it worthwhile (so be on the lookout for a Stir Fry post soon!). So instead, ESC and I decided on Steak Fajitas with Quinoa. This was a very good choice and was wonderful. My initial marinade was too oily and I didn’t wipe off enough oil before cooking, so everything was a little slimy. It’s way easier to wipe off before cooking because you can always add more spices during cooking. I’ve also changed the proportions to what I think would work better. In the ramekin is some leftover Sausage Mac & Cheese from Stone Brewery reheated in the oven.

Steak Fajitas

Watch out for Spidey

Our friend Andy also introduced me to an Anti-Griddle the other night… this thing was crazy and has inspired us to make some crazy things. We had the dry-ice version and not the 900$ one. Perhaps there will be some experimentation with more flavorful foods this weekend if anyone wants to be our guinea pigs!

Combine all marinade ingredients and spread over a 8-12oz steak. The better cut of meat, the better the fajitas. Let it marinate for 45-60 minutes at room temperature or longer in the fridge. Wipe off some of the marinade before putting it in a hot skillet. Start the quinoa before starting the steak, it’s easier to keep warm than make it hurry up. Cook about 3 minutes to sear the first side then flip and cook another 5 minutes. Flip once more and cover to keep some of the heat in for 3 minutes. Place steak on a cutting board to cool a bit before cutting. Put Onions and Bell Peppers into the pan and cook until translucent. Wash & drain the black beans and shred cheese & lettuce. Heat some tortillas and make a wonderful homemade Steak Fajita! Top with your favorite spicy sauce if you so desire. 🙂

Steak Fajitas Cooking

Just a tad bit too much oil in the pan

2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tbsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Ground Pepper
3 dashes Smoked Chipotle Tabasco
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp Cilantro diced

1/2 small Onion Chopped
2 Bell Peppers
1 12oz can black beans
1/2 cup uncooked Quinoa
Shredded Cheese & Lettuce to top

Makes ~4 large Fajitas. 1.5 hours total, 30 minutes active cooking. High in taste, fiber, protein and maybe a little fatty depending on the cut of meat.


Written by Brent

April 4, 2011 at 8:10 am

Indian Chicken with Spicy Spinach Quinoa

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This was the first real official indian dish I’ve actually made from scratch and it was delicious. I’m sure it was the hard to find garam masala that added the extra-awesomeness. The Indian Fare packets from Trader Joe’s are fantastic and ridiculously easy, but I wanted to try it out myself finally! This is a super simple meal to make on a weeknight with plenty of flavor. Have a side salad or toasted garlic naan or something to make it a complete meal.

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. It’ll resemble sort of an oily paste mixture with a copper coloring from the paprika and garam masala. Using your fingers, daintily rub spice paste over chicken coating as evenly as possible. Pan fry with onion ~4 minutes each side until chicken is tender and fully cooked. Use the same pan to cook the spinach so it picks up the leftover spices. Cook just long enough to get it to wilt then remove from heat. Mix the spinach and spices into the quinoa and serve the chicken on top of a nice cozy bed of quinoa.

Indian Chicken
~1lb chicken breast
1/2 onion diced
2 tsp fresh crushed black peppercorns
2 tsp paprika
~1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp yogurt (plain or vanilla)

1/2 cup uncooked Quinoa
1 cup water/broth
1 cup blanched spinach
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 dashes chili powder or cayenne pepper

Makes 2 dishes, easy to scale up for more. 30 minutes from start to finish. ~$1/plate, but you’ll need a bunch of spices. Very healthy, low carbs, protein power-pack. No pictures of this one either…

Written by Brent

April 2, 2011 at 8:30 am

Sausage Quinoa Enchiladas

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Puttin' in the goods

Puttin' in the goods

So here’s my summation of enchiladas: a cheesy, beany, meaty, saucy, quinoa-y goodness. Yummy! Who doesn’t like the sound of that?? Oh, and it’s also a great post-night adventure food for when your kickball team wins another championship and is awarded bottle service downtown(!). This is definitely a dish you can cheat with pre-cooked items. We used precooked chicken sausage and shrimp to help with making things easier (it’s also what we happened to have in the freezer!). Plus, we cut down dramatically on the prep and baking time because there’s no raw meats we need to cook or worry about. Now the quinoa is a relatively new thing for the ESC and I… we’ve had a box of quinoa in our pantry for a few months and hadn’t ever cooked it until a week ago. Now we’ve had 3 dishes and will definitely be buying more. ESC definitely agrees that it has become our new best friend.

Quinoa Enchiladas Pre Baked

Just before going in the oven

The quinoa takes the longest to make so we’ll start with that – we have Trader Joe’s brand that comes in a yellow box but used veggie broth instead of plain water. Following the directions on the package, it was a 1:2::rice:water/broth ratio you bring to a boil then simmer for ~15 minutes until the little white germ thingys pop out of the grain and the broth is all absorbed. While the quinoa is bubblin’ away, brown the pre-cooked sausage slices in a skillet. This helps keep their flavor within themselves but also warm them up a bit. I also spooned about 1/2 can of the refried beans into a pan to heat them up too. While everything is heating on the stove, you should have time to grate the cheese, if not do it before starting and set aside. Almost done… Spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce across the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish so the tortillas don’t burn or stick to the bottom. Lastly, warm up some tortillas in the microwave (covered for 15-20 seconds). Having warm tortillas makes them a bit easier to roll and handle as they stretch instead of just breaking when you bend them. Now comes the fun part: Combine and Smother! Everyone prepares burritos/enchiladas differently, so here’s how I do it: Spread a nice spoonful of beans on a tortilla then layer with two or three spoonfuls of quinoa, add your shrimp and/or sausage, top with a sprinkle of cheese, and finally drop two spoonfuls of sauce into the middle. Roll it up and place it in the baking dish. Repeat until there’s no more room or you run out of ingredients! Top with a healthy amount of cheese and sauce and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is starting to brown.

Quinoa Enchiladas Baked

Ready to be devoured!


1 cup uncooked Quinoa
1/2 lb cooked sausage, sliced
1/3 lb cooked shrimp, peeled
1 can low-salt refried beans
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 16oz can green enchilada sauce (El Pato)
8 flour tortillas, standard size

Makes 8 enchiladas. 30-45 minutes from start to finish. ~$2/plate – shrimp & cheese the most expensive parts. By using low-salt beans and adding the quinoa, I think this is actually a fairly healthy dish. Especially so if you drop the cheese down to a cup total.

Written by Brent

January 18, 2011 at 7:00 am

Butternut Squash Risotto

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The original recipe called for four and a half cups of squash, but that seemed like too much so I ended up using about four. Still too much squash for the risotto ratio. ESC still loved it anyway, but she’ll say anything for more veggies. I was a little worried this might turn out disastrous because I’d never cooked butternut squash another way other than roasting in the oven. Luckily, it all worked out to be tasty and delicious.

Cook the risotto as normal, but just after adding the first cup or so of broth to the rice, also add the squash. It gets cooked by the steaming and heat produced by cooking the rice all around it. It ends up being a nice slightly mushy consistency very similar to the cooked rice.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto - Yummy Mushy

1 large clove garlic, mashed
1 cup uncooked Aborrio Rice
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups uncooked, peeled Butternut Squash (~1/2 a large squash)
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons Italian spices
salt & pepper to taste

Makes ~4 servings. 5 minutes prep, 20 minutes cooking. ~$1/plate. Starches and some veggies, not too bad!

Written by Brent

January 17, 2011 at 12:18 pm

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Shrimp and Gouda Risotto is-ah Very Good-ah… Har Har Har!

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Happy December everybody! For those in colder places than San Diego (read: everywhere else), this will surely warm your hands and your bellies. Risotto isn’t quite a rice and not quite a pasta – it’s a …. wait for it… rista! There are so many variations on risotto it’s ridiculous. Chipotle Risotto, Risotto Cakes, and now this! This lovely dinner was served with perfectly cooked Green Beans and a beautiful salad. ESC’s been getting bored with the regular lettuce and dressing, so she added some cucumber, brown-sugar bacon bits, mini heirloom tomatos, raspberry-walnut dressing, raisins, and more! MMmmmmmmm… Jealous?

Shrimp Gouda Risotto


The green beans and salad are easy enough, but the risotto might be a little tricky to get just right. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan on medium-high for a minute or two, until just about to start smoking. Add the rice and stir/shake/rattle making sure it doesn’t burn. Add garlic and stir some more. Sauté until the risotto turns to sort of a translucent and just start to have a hint of browning. Dial down the heat to medium-low and add broth 1/2 cup at a time stirring frequently. The goal is to get all of the broth absorbed into the rice and not boil it away. After a few minutes add your assorted spices. Total time for absorption is usually 15-20 minutes. Taste often to make sure it’s done (shouldn’t be too crunchy, and definitely shouldn’t be super mushy). When the risotto is 2 minutes from being done, add the shrimp, green onion and fresh cilantro and mix well. Top with a couple bits of green onion and cilantro for good presentation, serve piping hot.

2 tbsp Olive Oil (or Butter)
1 Cup Aborio (risotto) rice
1 lg Clove Garlic, mashed
2 1/2 Cups Chicken/Veggie Broth
20 thawed cooked shrimp, de-veined and shelled
2 tbsp Italian seasonings (my favorite spices!)
Salt & Pepper
1 handful cubed smoked gouda
2 tbsp chopped green onion
1 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves

Makes ~3 large servings. 5 minutes prep, 20 minutes cooking. ~$3/plate – shrimp & cheese the most expensive parts. Using olive oil instead of butter helps keep this a healthier dish, but the cheese & shrimp add too much flavor to not use! Probably fairly high in carbs, eat with veggie sides. 🙂

Written by Brent

December 7, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Chicken Caesar Salad with Fresh Veggies

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On a hot spring/summer day, the last thing you want to do is be in the kitchen slaving away over a hot stove. Chicken Caesar Salad is a great summer meal: cold, refreshing, healthy and delicious. It is also ridiculously easy and quick to make. This could be a great appetizer for a larger meal or a dinner party! We had three kinds of raw veggies to much on between creamy chicken caesar salad bites: carrots, green beans, celery. They really helped clean the plate of creamy caesar dressing.

Chicken Caesar Salad

Refreshing, Delicious, Creamy Chicken Caesar Salad

Cook the chicken the same way as you would in Lemon-Herb Chicken. In a pan with some olive oil, season chicken breast with herbs & ground pepper, when it’s almost done, squirt them with lemon juice (use fresh lemons to make it even tastier!). While the chicken is cooking, wash and prepare the lettuce. ESC utilized the “Rip-Em-Apart” method to tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces. The chicken should be about done so get out your cutting board! Chop the chicken into small bites and let them cool a bit. Toss the lettuce with dressing and Parmesan, add chicken and toss again. Top with fresh ground pepper and more Parm.

1 Chicken Breast
~6 Large Romaine Leaves, chopped/torn
1/3 cup Creamy Caesar Dressing
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
~3 tbsp Lemon Juice
Assorted fresh veggies

Makes 2 large plates of salad. Total Time: 15 minutes. ~$3/plate. Very healthy, use Lite Caesar Dressing!

Written by Brent

May 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Chicken, Spinach & Hummus stuffed in a Baguette = Yum.

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It was a scrounger tonight. Used the last of a 6lb bag of frozen chicken breasts, the last of the broccoli, and some neglected personal sized French bread loaves. This was very easy & simple to prepare, just takes a while to actually cook. Would make for a great weeknight meal too. Hummus makes everything better!

Hungry Hands makes for Blurry Pictures

I most definitely cheated and used a rice pilaf mix, so follow the directions! Also know that the rice takes ~35 minutes to cook so start it early. I started it then checked email and stuff for 15 minutes before starting the chicken and veggies. Now would also be a great time to preheat the oven for the baguettes so they’re nice and warm when we’re ready. Season the chicken with a pinch of salt and plenty of ground pepper before cooking. Heat oil (I used Grapeseed Oil, but it didn’t really change the flavor much) in a skillet until starting to smoke, add chopped onion and let them caramelize before putting the chicken in. I added a glob of honey on top of the chicken… I was thinking caramelizing needs a sugar or something to help, or something. Be sure to push the chicken around with the onions to get some of that flavor! While the chicken was cooking, I was trying to think of a sauce or something to put on the chicken so it wouldn’t be soooooo dry in the baguette. Luckily ESC came to the rescue with Roasted Garlic Hummus (any flavor of hummus will be delicious)!

The assembly was kinda interesting and creative. I wasn’t really sure what the outcome would look like so I just made it up as I went. Slice the baguette down the side to make a sandwich type of thing. Slather a spoonful of hummus on one or both sides of the bread. Take a small handful of spinach leaves and crush them in your hands. When they’re uncooked they’re pretty stiff, so they need to be put in their place! Add spinach along the spine of the loaf leaving enough room for the chicken. Slice the cooked chicken and stuff it in! Voilà! Now add the rice to the plate and inhale. Smells wonderful, don’t it?

1 large chicken breast, chopped
2/3 cup raw spinach
2 spoonfuls Hummus
1 glob of honey
2 8″ baguette loafs
1 box Near East Rice Pilaf

Serves 2 with a cup of rice for leftovers. 40 minutes. ~$5.00/plate. Probably high in carbs and the rice can be pretty salty.

Written by Brent

April 21, 2010 at 10:03 pm