Cooking with Brandy: Weekend Trip Edition

I hope to eventually start a few collected series of blog posts, one of them being Cooking with Brandy, my kitchen adventures with one of my closest friends, Brandon.

This past weekend I drove down to Orlando for a short visit. My main reason to go was for orientation, but Brandon was actually taking summer classes down at UCF, so I decided it would be nice to stay a couple nights and spend some time with him. Of course, this meant cooking a few meals and taking advantage of the fact that he had an apartment-style dorm. Here are some of the things we made during my visit.

Also featured in this post is the debut of my new camera! I’m still trying to figure out all the features…

Chicken Milanese


We made this the first night I was there, in a Chopped/30 Minute Meals hybrid challenge. We didn’t go to the grocery store or anything – everything was made with ingredients he already had in the fridge, and I must say, I’m pretty proud of what happened. Then again, chicken milanese is pretty basic, but usually it takes me ages to cook anything, and we managed in thirty minutes. I would’ve definitely preferred panko over Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, but it still worked well. The blue cheese almost turned into a spread after melting, which seemed to diminish the harsh flavor of it, and it actually complimented with the Italian-seasoned chicken. The marinara sauce was microwaved and he boiled the pasta, and I tossed a quick salad together with spinach, frozen fruit, and blue cheese. How college.

Mexican Pizza


I was inspired by The Cozy Apron’s mini Mexican pizzas, and I was really in the mood for some ground beef, so this is what we came up with. We used taco seasoning on ground beef, added some spices to marinara sauce, and just began a layering process on some corn tostadas. We started with one tostada, put refried beans, meat, cheese, and another tostada, and topped it with the “spiced” marinara sauce and more cheese. They broiled for a few minutes before we topped them with sour cream, cilantro, and some fresh vegetables.

Toasted Almond Horchata Risotto


At this point, I wanted to keep up the Mexican theme, and I was itching to make some risotto, so I settled on horchata risotto. I started by toasting a handful of almonds, then I allowed them to soaked in milk and cinnamon over low heat. When it came to making the actual risotto, I’ve always used stock, not milk, but I figured it would work the same way. Making risotto is actually not as difficult as some people believe – it’s just time consuming and somewhat tiring. Slowly adding your liquid and stirring constantly allows the starch in the rice (arborio works best) to be released, forming a sticky and viscous dish. My final product wasn’t exactly what I thought it’d be, however. Sure, it had an amazing spicy flavor from the cinnamon and cayenne pepper, but the texture of the risotto was a bit off. The rice was still relatively firm, though I cooked it for almost twice the amount of time that I regularly do. Perhaps it was the milk? To be remedied…

Other highlights of my trip included eating at Ikea for the first time (Swedish meatballs, hell yes) and realizing that, come fall semester, I’ll be eight minutes away from a Shake Shack (bless). Till the next Cooking with Brandy!


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