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Family Matters: Pets


Chicken JerkyRecently, two of my friends hosted a wedding.

For their dogs.

No, really, they did.

Their new boxer puppies were wed in a backyard ceremony complete with a water fountain, doggie guests and a lavish buffet of puppy chow.

The bride wore a white bow tied around her neck, which clearly she wasn’t fond of, and the groom donned a sharp new black collar.

After the short ceremony, the couple began their new life together in a custom dog run, complete with a log cabin doghouse. I think they’ll live happily ever after.

What do you get the couple that has everything?

I decided to make homemade dog treats.

These chicken jerky treats aren’t just for dogs, though; you could eat them yourself if you were so inclined.

I packaged them in a Mason jar closed tightly, and although Mr. and Mrs. Boxer did not send thank-you notes, I’m assured they were well-received.

You can make these in a food dehydrator or right in your oven.

Chicken Jerky

Ingredients:
11/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, sliced into strips about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp salt
dog-friendly seasonings, such as parsley, rosemary and sage

Directions:
Rinse off chicken breast strips and remove any fat. Slice the chicken with the grain. Next, coat the chicken slices with your dog-friendly seasonings.

Place the chicken breast strips in an even layer across the entire tray, leaving an equal amount of space between pieces and making sure that they do not touch each other. This is so air can flow between them while they are drying out, which helps dehydrate them.

Once the strips are all set out, place the trays in the food dehydrator, turn it on and set the temperature for 140° F. It will probably take between 3 and 12 hours for the chicken to fully dry, depending on how thick you cut your slices and the exact temperature of your food dehydrator. Check the strips once every hour after the first hour. To do that, simply open up the tray and take one slice out; cut it open with a sharp knife and examine the inside. You should see no moisture at all, and if it is properly dried, the chicken will have the same color throughout. If it is not finished, put it back in for another hour. Once it gets close, start checking once every half hour.

In an oven, bake the chicken strips at 200° F for approximately 2 hours.

Once your chicken jerky is done, store it in sealed containers; zip-locking bags work great for this. Write the date you made it on them. You can also store the finished product in the refrigerator for an even longer shelf life.

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Shop the Sale: Chocolate Coffee Rubbed Steak with Coconut


Chocolate Coffee Rubbed SteakI sometimes get frustrated because I’d like to try new ways to cook steaks, but I catch myself saying, “There’s only so many ways to cook a steak.”

Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing better than a simple steak, and a great cut of meat lets the flavor shine through. Every once and awhile, though, I like to get creative.

My friend, Sophia, is from Spain and really needs her own cooking show. She’s vivacious and her food has flavor even bigger than her personality. When she told me about this recipe, I knew it would be larger-than-life.

New York strip steaks are on sale this week at Brookshire’s, so try this flavor-rubbed treat today.

Chocolate Coffee Rubbed Steak with Coconut

Ingredients:

2 New York strip steaks (about 1 lb)

For the rub:
1 tsp ground coffee
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp coconut sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch of pepper
2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes, for garnish

Directions:
Combine the rub ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

Cut any large, visible chunks of fat off the steak, and coat it with the rub. Really get in there and make sure the steak is well-covered.

Cover the steak and let it sit for at least an hour in the refrigerator, preferably longer to really infuse the flavor in the meat.

Spray a grill pan (or a regular pan) with cooking spray and preheat on high heat. Also, preheat your oven to 400° F.

Cook the steak until it is nice and seared on each side, about 1-2 minutes per side.

Turn down the heat to medium and continue cooking until it has reached the desired level of doneness.

Once the steak is cooked, transfer to a plate and cover with tinfoil to rest for 5-7 minutes.

While the steak is resting, toast the coconut flakes on a small, parchment paper-lined baking tray. Watch closely as they only take 1 or 2 minutes to get nice and golden.

Serve the steak topped with the toasted coconut flakes.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 489, Calories from Fat: 271, Fat: 30 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 150 mg, Sodium: 408 mg, Potassium: 52 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 51 g.

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Healthy Living: Watermelon Feta Bites


Watermelon Feta BitesI’m always looking for something different to serve as an appetizer, especially during the spring and summer. Dips and spreads are delicious. I’ve never been known to turn down a cheese-laden cracker, but sometimes you’re looking for something a little lighter and a little healthier.

My friend, Jenae, got married recently, and I helped throw a bridal shower for her and the wedding party, family and friends. While planning the menu, I came upon this recipe. I gave it a test run at a Girls’ Night In (ie, on my back porch), and it was proclaimed a hit. I also brought it to the shower, where it was the first dish completely devoured.
It’s light, refreshing and healthy!

Watermelon Feta Bites

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 small seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small bunch basil
5 oz feta cheese, cut into 1″ x 1″ x 1/2″ squares

Directions:
Drizzle a serving dish with balsamic vinegar.
Skewer one cube of watermelon, one basil leaf, one feta slice and another watermelon cube onto a decorative toothpick. Repeat until all ingredients have been used. Place Watermelon Feta Bites on balsamic drizzled serving dish.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 94, Calories from Fat: 47, Fat: 5 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 21 mg, Sodium: 265 mg, Potassium: 136 mg, Carbohydrates: 9 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Product Talk: Sesame Oil


Rainbow Thai Chicken SaladSesame oil is exactly what it sounds like: an oil derived from sesame seeds.

Sesame oil, fragrant and pungent, is used as a cooking oil in South India and as a complimentary flavor in Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Korean and Southeast Asian cuisines. I would venture to guess that most Americans find the flavor too overpowering to use as a primary cooking oil, but it’s delicious as an added flavor in so many foods.

Some also use sesame oil as an alternative medicine. The antioxidants and polyunsaturated fats in sesame oil have been shown to help control blood pressure and relieve stress.

This recipe, which uses sesame oil in the dressing, might be the most visually appealing dish you’ve ever made. Along with a burst of flavor, it’s beautiful to look at, too.

Rainbow Thai Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

Thai Chicken Salad:
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
2 cups purple cabbage, shredded
1 cup green cabbage, shredded
1 avocado, diced
1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1 (large) carrot, julienned or shredded
1 red pepper, cored and julienned (or diced)
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup cashews or peanuts, chopped

Peanut Dressing:
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2-3 Tbsp hot water
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp sesame oil
juice of 1 lime
pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions

To Make The Salad:
Toss all salad ingredients together until combined. Drizzle with dressing or toss to combine, then serve immediately.

To Make The Dressing:
Whisk all ingredients together until combined. If the dressing is too thick, add hot water a teaspoon at a time until it reaches the consistency you desire.

Serves 4-6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 415, Calories from Fat: 201, Fat: 22 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 54 mg, Sodium: 369 mg, Potassium: 562 mg, Carbohydrates: 26 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 15 g, Protein: 30 g.

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Posted in: Product Talk


Dine In: Spicy Mustard Shrimp


Spicy Mustard ShrimpI had big plans one recent Friday night. I was going to get home from work, put some shrimp on the barbie and relax on the back porch.

Well, you know what they say about best laid plans.

It rained.

No, more accurately, it monsooned. (Ok, I know that’s not a word).

I quickly Googled shrimp recipes I could cook inside and found this gem. The mustard sauce is a perfect pairing for the shrimp.

Spicy Mustard Shrimp

Ingredients:
2 tsp canola oil
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard  
1 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
2/3 cup green onions, (3-inch) diagonally cut  
1 cup mango (about 1 medium), peeled and diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped  
4 lime wedges

Directions:
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add mustard and pepper sauce to pan; sauté 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in onions; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in diced mango. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 181, Fat: 4.5 g (1 g Saturated Fat, 2 g Monounsaturated Fat, 2 g Polyunsaturated Fat), Protein: 26 g, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Fiber: 2 g, Cholesterol: 172 mg, Iron: 3 mg, Sodium: 247 mg, Calcium: 82 mg.

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Posted in: Dine In


Family Matters: Pools


Kiddy PoolToddlers love them some pools! At least, my boys did. I could fill a plastic wading pool with two inches of water, and they’d be happy for hours. 

Fill it with toys: balls, sponges, cups and anything they can manipulate and play with. Foam squirt guns are great for older toddlers. Cups and action figures occupy kids of almost any age. Water wheels are super exciting and teach baby about physics. 

A few drops of food coloring in your pool won’t hurt anything but will let baby experience something new. 

Shaving cream, marbles and floating plastic fish are also super fun for your little one.



Family Matters: Vacation Time


Smiling BabyIt’s vacation season and you want to take your first trip with baby! 

Is it easy? 

Um, not really, but there are definitely ways you can make traveling more effortless with a little one. 

Stock the diaper bag. Baby will need snacks, sippy cups, several changes of clothes (you’ve never experienced a blowout at 30,000 feet? Really?), extra diapers, toys, books, an extra blanket, a lovey, ear plugs if you’re flying, and more toys and snacks. 

  1. Sanitize. Bring hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for public areas and any weird things baby might touch.
  2. Pacifiers. If your baby loves them, bring them. They are soothing in almost any situation and perform double duty as ear pressure relievers on air planes.
  3. Food. I already mentioned snacks. I’m mentioning it again. Food never fails. It’s ok if they have 17 snacks while traveling for one day if that makes it easier on everyone (fruit is always a healthy snack that won’t break the calorie bank).
  4. Slings. Does your baby feel more comfortable in a carrier? Do it. Slings or carriers are the most efficient way to transport baby from point A to point B, and they feel most secure. 


Family Matters: Colic


Crying BabyWhen my younger son was about three weeks old, he started howling. From approximately 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., he’d scream. Sometimes if I was holding him up on my left shoulder, cradling his bottom and pointing northwest, he’d stop for about 3 seconds. The pediatrician diagnosed him with colic, a condition you can’t really do anything about. You have to ride it out. He was prescribed gas drops, as a common cause of colic is intestinal distress. However, they didn’t really work.



Shop the Sale: Barbecue Chicken Skewers


BBQ Chicken SkewersWhen I start to read a recipe about barbecued chicken, I’m not expecting to see the word “bacon,” let alone the words “bacon paste.”

So, when I did see all those words, I was captivated.

Say it with me: “Everything tastes better with bacon.”

Bacon paste takes it to a whole new level. Raw bacon is processed in a food processor or blender until a paste is formed. It’s then mixed with the spices and rubbed onto the chicken.

It doesn’t get much better than that, except when chicken breasts are on sale at Brookshire’s.

Barbecue Chicken Skewers

Ingredients:
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp smoked paprika
4 tsp sugar
2-3 slices raw bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup barbecue sauce

Directions:
Trim chicken of excess fat, and then cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the salt. Then, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Turn all grill burners to high heat, close lid and heat for about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on, but turn off other burners.

Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the paprikas and sugar. Place the raw bacon in a food processor and pulse for about 30-45 seconds until a smooth paste forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl twice throughout. Add the bacon paste and spice mixture to the chicken. Mix with hands or spatula until the ingredients are blended and chicken is coated. Thread the chicken onto the skewers, rolling or folding as needed to maintain 1-inch cubes.

Grill the chicken over the primary burner with lid closed, turning one-quarter of a turn every 2 minutes or so until browned and slightly charred (about 8 minutes total for chicken breast and 10 minutes for thighs). Brush the top of kebabs with barbecue sauce; flip and cook until sauce is browned in spots, about 1 minute. Brush second side with sauce; flip and cook for another minute or so until cooked through.

Remove kebabs from grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve, passing remaining barbecue sauce separately, if desired.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 290, Calories from Fat: 90, Fat: 10 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 104 mg, Sodium: 108 mg, Potassium: 383 mg, Carbohydrates. 14 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 34 g.

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Healthy Living: Avocado Caprese Salad


Avocado SaladI considered dialing back my avocado recipes, but after careful thought, I decided I’d just declare this summer the “Year of the Avocado.”

We will celebrate it as such, in my house at least.

I love a caprese salad. They remind me of Italy, in both the flavors and in the national colors in the salad itself. I love Italy almost as much as I love avocados. It’s a toss-up.

So, when I saw this recipe combining two of my loves, I knew I had to try it.

Spicy arugula is the key to this recipe. It’s both crunchy and has a spice to it that gives this salad incredible texture and flavor. Arugula is sometimes called the “salad rocket” because it really makes basic lettuce and other ingredients taste out of this world.

Arugula is low-calorie at 25 calories per 100 grams. However, it packs a powerful nutritional punch with many vital phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can benefit health. It’s also a great source of folates and vitamins A, B, C and K. Combine that with the heart-healthy fats in avocado, the vitamin C in tomatoes and the calcium in mozzarella, and you’ve got a wonderfully healthy meal.

Avocado Caprese Salad

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh arugula
1/2 avocado, pitted and sliced
3 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar or honey
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Assemble the arugula, avocado slices, tomatoes and mozzarella in a serving bowl. Top with torn or slivered basil leaves. Whisk the extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl with the balsamic vinegar and sugar (or honey); season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and pour over the salad. Toss to coat and serve.

Serves 2 (as a side dish)

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 312, Calories from Fat: 222, Fat: 27 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (8 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 23 mg, Sodium: 1431 mg, Potassium: 558 mg, Carbohydrates: 12 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 14 g.

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Copyright © 2010-2014, Brookshire’s. All rights reserved.
The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

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