Cheesing hardcore...the Claes4.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I was a weird kid.  Shocking, right?  One of my favorite things to eat was 3 bean salad.  You've seen it on salad bars and pot luck tables for years.  Usually a combination of kidney beans, green beans or wax beans and the star in my opinion, garbanzo beans (or as more commonly known as chickpeas).  They are seasoned with a great combination of salty and tangy I have always liked them.  

Peep, peep little chickpeas!

Now that I am older I still enjoy 3 bean salad but I know I can cut out the middle man and just have the chickpeas on their own.  There are lots of yummy things you can do with chickpeas...hummus, falafel, add to a soup, curry or roast them.  Depending on time you can use canned chickpeas or make your own.  I am about 50/50 on what I use. When I make my own I usually make a large batch of hummus and roast the rest.

My hummus is simple...drained chickpeas, salt, lemon and garlic (I use fresh and roasted) and let it go in a food processor until it is the consistency you want.  You might have to use some of the reserved liquid to thin it out.  Homemade chickpeas seem a little grittier to me so I have to blend them longer.  Also, the fresh garlic has quite a bite so start with half a clove and add a little bit more at a time...the garlic flavor also seems to intensify as it sits.  This is great with fresh veggies, as a sauce for chicken or even a salad dressing.

To roast them, as pictured, I drain and dry them with a paper towel, put them on a baking pan in one layer and then drizzle a little bit of coconut or olive oil on them (about 1/2 tablespoon) and sprinkle some garlic salt on them.  Shake them till they are well coated and pop them in a 400 degree and depending on how roasted you want them, I usually check and shake them after 10 minutes and then let leave them in for another 10 minutes.

When they are done they remind me of unpopped popcorn kernels or cornuts.  Little nuggets of yum!  I like them plain, straight out of the oven but they are also good as a side dish.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Baked brown rice

Rice, rice baby!
My husband doesn't really care for pasta or rice.  My kids only really like white rice drowned in soy sauce.  I LOVE pasta and rice...period.  I have found a happy medium for all of us is brown rice.  I like the texture and the nuttiness but it does take a long time to cook. 

What I find works perfectly for us, as long as I am thinking ahead, is baked brown rice (!).  Alton Brown is a genius!  This easy recipe comes out right every time (except that one time I doubled it).  I don't deviate from the recipe at all and I use short grain rice because it is firmer. 

This is great to make if you are cooking several things in the oven at one time.  I started this rice at 350 degrees for 30 minutes since I was cooking something else at the same time.  I then finished it at 400 degrees for 15 minutes because I was finishing something else.  After sitting for 5 minutes it was perfect and not sticky.

This is one of my favorite things to make and be able to have with baked chicken and salad through the week.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Crock pot pinto beans and whole wheat cornbread muffins

My people call it maize.
Cornbread is comfort food to me.  It reminds me of my Dad because he liked it and he would tell us about when all he had to eat was "cornbread mush".  I normally use a mix like Jiffy when I make cornbread but it is on the sweet side so I wanted to find something more savory.  My daughters are also starting to cook on their own and thought cornbread would be a good recipe for them to know.

This recipe from Keeper of the Home came out really nice (  It made 12 medium size muffins easily.  I like the texture of the whole wheat flour with the cornmeal, it was hearty but still tender.  The only substitutions I did was to use coconut oil instead of palm oil and I used regular baking powder, but I am going to purchase aluminum-free in the future.  I also did the white vinegar in milk to make buttermilk trick.

Once the muffins were totally cooled I froze them on a cookie sheet and then put in a gallon freezer bag so they can be used one at a time.  Perfect to pack for lunch for the girls or to defrost and drop into a bowl of pinto beans.

You can find my pinto beans recipe from this previous post (

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Baked boneless skinless chicken breasts

Future chicken taco filling.
I could offer a ton of lame excuses as to why it has been over 2 years since my last blog but I'll come right out and say it...I'm lazy, I get really down on myself and I'm scatterbrained.  Those 3 things together are my kryptonite!  But with a new year comes high ideals and goals.  Once of those for me is starting up Say A Mouthful again.

First recipe back puts the "winner, winner" in chicken dinner.  We eat a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  They are quick to cook, take seasoning well and can used for so many quick dishes.  Their biggest downfall, to me is, is they are usually expensive and can get tough or overcooked very quickly. 

So how to make a boneless, skinless chicken breast amazingly moist and flavorful?  I sometimes bake them when they are about 3/4 of the way defrosted, but those results vary.  I wanted to find something more exact and by the power of Google, I did!  This recipe from the kitchn is perfect and made me feel quite fancy (ohhhh...parchment paper).

I used 4 large defrosted boneless, skinless chicken breast and split them in half.  I patted them dry with paper towels, seasoned with just sea salt and cracked black pepper and then sprayed 2 large glass pans with non-stick spray (I normally use coconut oil instead of non-stick spray but I was all out of that and butter).  Then I measured enough parchment paper to cover both pans.  Before covering the chicken I sprayed one side of the parchment.  I then covered the chicken and pressed the parchment onto each breast.  I baked them in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, checked on them and gave them another 15 minutes.  These suckers came out so juicy and with the flavor of roasted chicken.  Even with no excess oil or liquid I got about 1.5 cups of broth from the 2 pans.

So how will we use them this week?  Tonight with brown rice (watch for the recipe) and steamed broccoli.  Later in the week as tacos or flautas and hopefully there will be enough for a dish to take to Wednesday night fellowship at church.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pork and hominy pozole

Simple, simmered goodness.
I am not a big fan of Sam's Club but they carry a really good deal on a nice, lean pork loin.  It is a huge piece of meat, like as large as a forearm, but if we cut it up and freeze it at home we get about 8-10 packages (minimum) out of it.  

With the just a bit of fall in the air soup, chili and stew all sound good.  With pork loin, hominy and diced tomatoes I knew I had the makings for something good.  I browned up the cubed pork loin (about 3/4 pound), seasoned with salt, pepper, chili powder and comino, in a deep skillet until it was very caramelized.  I then added diced onion and cooked it till it was translucent before adding finely diced garlic.  Once that was all cooked up and fragrant I added a can each of yellow and white hominy (strained and rinsed) and then a can of diced tomatoes.  I followed by adding about 3-4 cups of chicken broth but water is fine too.  Realizing I wanted the broth a bit thicker I added 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour, blended into a slurry, and added it to the broth.  If I would have been thinking clearly I would have reserved some hominy and blended it to use as a thickener or I would have used some frozen pumpkin from last year...that is my favorite thing to add to chili and similar items.  You let that all simmer together for about 20 minutes.  Adjust the seasonings to what works for you and your family.  From start to finish it took about 40 minutes but it just depends on how long you simmer it.

We ate it as is, but you can top it with sour cream, salsa, lime juice, cheese...whatever works for you.  I made a 1/2 cheese quesadilla for each of as to use for dipping.  Overall this was great and hit the spot but I keep forgetting that one of my chili powders is very spicy for some reason...too spicy for the kiddos, so they had grilled cheese.

A pozole is a a thick soup chiefly of Mexico and the United States Southwest made with pork, hominy, garlic, and chili.  There are a lot of great pozole recipes out there, I really like the green versions.  Some quick and easy like this and others that are very authentic and take longer to make.  I like pozole because it is an alternative to chili and tortilla soup.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Meatball lettuce cups

Bright and fresh!
We are being very conscious of not going grocery shopping till we have to.  After looking at our bank statement and seeing how much we are spending at HEB has made that a priority.

So end of the month and things get interesting.  What do we have to use that are on the good side of bad?  Carrots and lettuce cups (meal deal gets me every time).  What protein do we have that doesn't need to be defrosted?  Beans...we had lots last week.  Meatballs?  Yeah...I can heat those in the oven.  So Asian style meatball lettuce cups were on the menu.

I had remembered seeing a Bahn mi sandwich a while back that featured meatballs and I thought that sounded interesting.  I kind of had already figured out what I wanted to do but needed help with the amounts.  This Good Housekeeping recipe used most things I had on hand, with a few modifications:

What it calls for:
3 limes (used equivalent in lemon juice)
3 cup(s) shredded carrots
1/2 cup(s) packed fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced (used about a 1/4 cup of fresh basil instead)
2 clove(s) garlic, finely chopped (used in carrot salad)
1 teaspoon(s) lower-sodium fish sauce, for carrots (used soy sauce)
1 1/4teaspoon(s) sugar (used honey)
1 pound(s) lean (93-percent) ground turkey (used prepared meatballs)
12 Boston lettuce leaves 

My additions:
ground ginger and toasted sesame seeds

The response was great!  The kids loved them and so did we.  Light, fresh and fairly healthy. Only things I would suggest is to make sure your sesame seeds are good and not really old (slightly rancid sauce hid it well) and make sure to use a light hand with the ginger.  I overdid it a bit and that is a flavor that is hard to mask.  I will make this again and make my own meatballs or use soy crumbles.

Served this with my favorite Alton Brown baked brown rice and prepared egg rolls.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Thin crust delight.
Tonight was a big a deal.  I used yeast for the first time.  Mark another thing off the “before I’m 40 list”.  I don’t know why but using yeast has always scared/confused me.  I guess it is too much like science for me.

I decided to start with something easy, pizza dough.  I chose one that used whole wheat flour only, not whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour (I don’t buy all-purpose flour any more).  This was the recipe I followed:  It took no more than 5 minutes to do.  I let it rise for about 2.5 hours but was a little nervous because it didn’t look like it had risen much.  I’m not sure if it was suppose to double or not.  I went ahead and punched it down and rolled it out.  I really liked how easy and quick it was to roll out.  No more than 90 seconds per crust (one batch made 2 crusts) and it wasn’t sticky at all.  I rolled it very thin since that is what we like.  I pre-baked each crust for about 5 minutes at 400°. 

While the dough was rising, I made some pizza sauce and sautéed mushrooms.  For my pizza sauce I used an inexpensive spaghetti sauce and added sautéed shallots and garlic to it.  I also added about a tablespoon of chopped basil, about a 1/3 coup of sun dried tomatoes and some dry parsley.  I let that all simmer and blend together and then adjusted the seasoning with a little bit of sea salt, black pepper and 1 teaspoon of sugar.  For some reason it seemed a little sour to me so adding the sugar helped mellow it out.  To sauté the mushrooms I sliced them and then added them to a hot skillet that had a little oil in it.  Just let the mushrooms cook down until the liquid all comes out.  Once the liquid evaporates they will start to brown.  You don’t want to add any seasoning to them until they start to brown.

I loaded the first pizza with sauce, chopped spinach, bacon pieces and shredded mozzarella cheese.  For the second pizza I also added a bit of crumbled feta and diced jalapenos.  I cooked them for another 5 minutes at 375°.

This was super easy and really good if you like cracker thin crust.  Next time I will add flax seed, a bit more honey and probably some dried herbs to the crust.  The kids really, really liked it.