Brent's Food Blog

mmmmm foooood…..

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

Posted in Risotto

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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

Holiday Pies – Pear Maple Ginger

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Happy week after Thanksgiving everybody! This Thanksgiving, ESC & I ventured out of our warm corner of the ‘States and into the semi-frigid temperatures of Akron, OH where Travis and Emily live! They played wonderful hosts to many of us visitors (22 people turkey dinner!!) and we all had a grand time meeting Emily’s family. Travis and I also kept with our turkey day tradition of Gin & Tonics the night before an early morning flight… oof it made for a long day!

And now on to the pie! I’m sure I’ve promoted my pie making ability to many of you, so I thought I’d share my delicious recipe found one day a couple years ago when I was nominated to bake a pie for some holiday. I’ve made this pie a couple times and it has always received rave reviews. Maybe it’s just that I’m making it and they aren’t… but I still think it’s scrumptious. If pears aren’t in season or ripe, you can definitely use crisp sweet apples (Fuji) as a substitute for a spin on the traditional apple pie. I apparently didn’t take any pictures of this edition, but it was gorgeous nonetheless!

Pear Maple Ginger Pie

*not my picture* but I wish it were...

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, toss together the pears, cornstarch, ginger, brown sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Make sure everything is mixed well, there will be a bit of mapley-liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Pour the filling into the pie crust, filling completely, possibly mounded. Bake for 45 minutes. Put foil on the edges after 30 minutes if they start to brown. Reduce heat to 375°F, remove pie from oven and carefully place the oatmeal topping over the pie, patting it to make a nice smooth top. There may be extra topping, no need to make the topping super thick. Bake for another 10-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before serving to allow the pears and juices to become awesome-er.

1 9″+ Pie Crust (Frozen or freshly made) – Add more pear for bigger crust
5 Cups peeled, chopped pears (Bosc or Bartlett)
1.5 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Lemon Zest
2 tbsp chopped candied ginger (or 1/2 tsp fresh ground ginger)

Oatmeal Crumb Topping
2/3 cup Flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1/3 cup cold, unsalted butter, 1/4″ pieces

Makes 1 delicious pie. 20-25 minutes prep, 1 hour baking. ~$10/pie depending on your cupboards. Packed with sugar and sweetness, you’ll definitely end up with a sugar high, but the adult in you will be happy there is fruit in it.

Written by Brent

November 30, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Posted in Dessert, Pie, Sweet

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Perfect Pistachio Pesto Pasta w/ Peppered Poultry

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Pesto In Da Choppa!

Pesto In Da Choppa!

Today’s blog post is brought to you by the letter ‘P’! Pesto is a fantastic dish that can be served fresh or refrigerated for a week and used in a multitude of leftovers. The combination of pesto and chicken made for a great weeknight meal that provided leftovers to take to work AND a little tub of extra pesto to be used in a few days. It can even be made well ahead of time to add to that quick meal!

Making pesto is super simple and requires almost zero effort. Just put the basil, olive oil, garlic and nuts into a food processor (we have a very cute baby one that holds about 4 cups) and pulse until everything is well processed. It should be sort of an oily paste-y consistency before adding the cheese. Now add the cheese, mix/process enough to get the cheese incorporated and you’re done! My lovely sous chef did the rest of the cooking while I made the pesto, but as for timing to do by yourself:

Pesto Chopped!

Pesto Chopped!

  1. Gather Pesto ingredients
  2. Start Pasta water
  3. Start chicken in a skillet
  4. Make Pesto
  5. Finish rest of everything
  6. ????
  7. Have a root beer float for dessert
  8. Eat Deliciousness
Pistachio Pesto Pasta with Peas and Poultry

Pistachio Pesto Pasta with Peas and Poultry

1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 3/4 cup Fresh Basil
2 large Garlic Cloves, pressed
2 tbsp Pistachos (Dry Roasted or Raw)
1 tbsp chopped Walnuts (raw)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 boneless skinless chicken breast
3 pinches pepper
3 pinches salt
2 pinches crushed red pepper
1 Garlic Clove, pressed

Makes ~5 servings of pesto. 7-10 minutes prep. ~$3/tub. Nothing that’s exactly unhealthy, but it’s probably not something you want to gorge yourself on — your sweat will taste like garlic.

P.S. – I am totally fired for only having 3 posts since returning from Europe! Time to rectify!

Written by Brent

November 15, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Mac N’ Cheese courtesy of Alton Brown

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It’s been a gloomy and rainy couple of days out here in normally perfect San Diego, but perfect for some good homemade comfort food. ESC and I are getting settled into our new place and with the prodding of my big brother, I have no more excuses not to post the most recent culinary expedition!!

I have always been a Mac N’ Cheese enthusiast and used to love the generic boxed versions because they were sooooo cheesy and for some unfathomable reason, delicious. I stopped eating them because I was scared of the cheese powder. Scared that I would accidentally sneeze and it would go POOF all over the kitchen and completely ruin a perfectly tasty afternoon snack. Imitating the boxed flavor can be annoying to find the right recipe, but one of the food blogs I occasionally peruse had Alton Brown’s recipe in one of the comments. This recipe uses REAL CHEDDAR CHEESE and is just as cheesy and delicious as that crappy boxed version.

Warm Cider w/ Rum makes a great addition for a cold evening dinner!

Instructions! Bring water to a boil and cook macaroni al dente. While cooking the pasta: mix eggs, milk, salt & pepper in a smallish mixing bowl and set aside. Drain the cooked macaroni and return to the pan on low-medium heat. Melt butter into macaroni & stir, coating every precious curved pasta with buttery goodness. Mix in the egg-milk mixture, cheese and optional bacon. Let it heat up again to get the cheese to melt (~5 minutes). Mix thoroughly and serve hot in bowls. Serving sizes can be adjusted to make 5-6 side dish servings, or more pasta added with only minor porportional additions of milk & cheese. Enjoy!

Mr. Ghosty being welcomed!

Windup toys saying "HI!" to Mr. Ghosty.

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
4 tbsp Butter
2 Eggs
6oz Evaporated Milk – This stuff is crazy
Salt to taste
Fresh black pepper
10oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Bits of Cooked Bacon

Makes 2 large bowls of goodness. ~3$/bowl. Completely unhealthy but stick to your ribs delicious.

Written by Brent

October 20, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Orange Honeyed Chicken – Back in Action!

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It has been ENTIRELY toooooooo long since I actually wrote down some of the delicious things I’ve been cooking! Lasagna, Pizza Bagles, Assorted Pasta dishes to name a couple. Time to remedy that whole writing thing right hurrrr. Also, happy end of August to you all and keep bugging me about posting things, it’s very encouraging even if I have the lamest excuses! Most of the time I really just get distracted by the ESC being awesome.

Overall this was a pleasant dish and not quite what I expected. I found this recipe in a cookbook given to me by a loving relative titled “New California Cuisine” – Published 1984. Needless to say it is pretty good, but definitely could use some sprucing up. ESC definitely agrees. Fresh pressed garlic when browning the chicken and using a White Wine instead of water when thickening the sauce would both be welcome additions. The sauce has a great orange flavor, but it needs something else. Either more sugary-sweetness or some spicy bits to add a different dimension.

Brown both sides of chicken breasts in the hot butter using a large skillet. Add Orange Juice, Onion, Salt, Pepper & assorted spices to pan, cover and simmer for 10ish minutes (until chicken is cooked). Remove chicken and set aside, cover them to keep warm. Mix the flour into water then add to the skillet along with 2 oranges peeled & sectioned. For best results, mash 3/4 of the orange slices with a wooden spoon or something to get some extra juices and mushy bits into the sauce. Also add some orange zest fit that extra bit of flavor. Let the sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes to thicken and unify. Place the chicken on a bed of rice and spoon sauce & remaining orange bits over completely. For timing consideration, always start the rice before you do anything else, it’s easy to keep rice warm but not easy to make it cook faster.

Orange you sweet, honey! You brought me chicken!

2 tbsp butter
4 chicken breasts
2 Oranges
1/2 cup Orange Juice
2-3 tbsp Honey
1/4 cup chopped Onion
Salt & Peppa’ to taste
Hot Rice
1/4 cup White Wine (Riesling for sweetness?)
1 mounded spoonful Flour

Makes ~3 servings. 2 minutes prep, 20 minutes cooking. ~$4/plate. When oranges are in full season this would be a fantastic way to get your recommended 5 fruits & veggies a day! Serve with steamed broccoli or fresh farmer’s market veggies for extra healthy.

Written by Brent

August 30, 2010 at 10:21 pm