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FAMILY MATTERS: RISE N’ SHINE…IT’S BREAKFAST TIME


Pigs in BlanketStarting out each morning trying to figure out what to feed kids for breakfast is frustrating some days.  Don’t get me wrong, my kids will eat cereal, cinnamon rolls or packaged muffins and be perfectly happy, but I like to cook them breakfast at least 3 days a week.  There is just something about a hot breakfast that starts your day off right.  There is one easy recipe that they love so I thought I would share it. 

Pigs n’ Blanket

  • Texas Style Butter Biscuits (Food Club or Brookshire’s) – 10 ct
  • Eckrich Smok-y Breakfast Sausage Links – 10 ct
    •  Original or w/cheese – Fully-Cooked  

Place the pre-cooked sausage on a plate and microwave for 2 minutes.  Take a biscuit, place a sausage in the center and then pull the dough from both sides and pinch them together.  Place them on a cookie sheet and cook at 400 degrees for approximately 9 minutes (less time than the given directions).  You thin out the dough when you stretch it, so it does take as long to cook.  Brown the biscuits to your liking and remove from stove.

Serve plain, with jelly, syrup or preserves.  I serve these by themselves or add them to a plate of eggs and hash browns as a finishing touch.  They are soft, buttery and delicious!  Also, if your kids are running late you can throw them in a sandwich bag and send them off to school, with no mess.  

Try this recipe and see how easy it is and how much your kids with love them.  Make “rise n’ shine” at your house a breakfast time they will look forward to.  That little personal touch of home cooked food is just another way to show you care.  Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!    

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FAMILY MATTERS: LEST WE NOT FORGET


Lest We Not ForgetI’m not sure how many of you have loved ones in nursing homes, but each time I go, it reminds me of the importance of not forgetting these special people. They are the ones who have been a part of our lives for so many years and helped us through our own life journeys. We must remember that even though someone is caring for them daily, we have a responsibility to be there for them. 

My stepmother has Alzheimer’s and is in the stage where she does not remember my name and a lot of days has no idea what is happening around her. Even with this, I visit at least twice a week and take her a banana milkshake (bananas are her favorite!), which she sips until the entire cup is empty. To see her smile when she sees me coming makes the visit worthwhile. Even though she does not “know me,” I am familiar and she remembers, I believe. This is a small gesture on my part, but I know she loves the sweet taste and that it brings her joy. Adding an ounce of happiness for her, at this stage in life, brings me even greater joy. 

We try to instill in our girls that even though our loved ones look different, act different and may not recognize us at times, they are a part of who we are and we WILL continue to love and care for them until the end. We are blessed to come in contact with so many others each time we visit, and I pray we are making an impact in their lives, also. There are so many people that are placed in homes and forgotten. It makes my heart ache. Colossians 3:12

Gratitude, patience, compassion, faithfulness….they don’t ask for much, only that we hold their hand, stroke their hair and be there. It may only be a banana milkshake, but it is so much more, for both of us. May this be a reminder to us all, lest we not forget those who have loved us for so long. Count your blessings daily, and give thanks for the time and opportunity you are given to be with them.   

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FAMILY MATTERS: TREADING NEW TERRITORY


Recently my husband and twin daughters decided they wanted to go camping. This would not seem unusual except that we did not own a tent and had never been camping before. I am not sure what brought on the new adventure, but it was definitely just that. They ordered a tent and started making plans for what to take and what to do while at the lake. As they prepared, they pulled out their bicycles, fishing poles, chairs, etc. and made their pile of things to take. The trip to the grocery store to get their food came next. Three people would only be spending two nights, but it took a full-sized plastic tub to hold just their snacks. Their reason being that you never know what you might be hungry for and there is not a grocery store nearby. 

When Friday came, they were so excited to pack the truck and off they went. A few hours later I received a text with a photo of the tent set up and ready to go. They had their camp looking like home and had already gone for a bike ride. Another daughter and I went out that afternoon to join in the fishing. Within about an hour, we caught a handful of fish, and I had gotten hooked in the lip but not from my fishing pole! Why does it always happen to mom?

After fishing, they decided to cook their hot dogs and S’mores over the open fire (which if it had not been 98 degrees would have been fun!). By that time, I was ready to head back to the air conditioned house and my nice comfortable bed. They proceeded to watch scary movies after dark (I still don’t understand that decision) and talked until they fell asleep. When they returned home two days later, our girls talked non-stop about everything they did while they were gone and wanted to know when they could do it again. 

This trip was treading new territory, and even though I did not understand them wanting to sleep in a tent on the ground, it was such a wonderful experience. What memories they now have of a “first” camping trip with their dad, something they will always treasure! We are already planning another trip (in cooler weather, of course) with the whole family this time.   Count your blessings daily, and give thanks for the time you have to share with your family.  

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Family Matters: Twice the Fun


Last week, my twin daughters turned 14 and decided they wanted to decorate their own cake for their birthday. I make cakes for family parties and have the decorating tips and coloring, so they have watched me prepare cakes for years. I was excited they wanted to decorate their own cake, knowing this would save me hours of work…nice break! I baked a large cake, mixed their desired colors of icing and let them go. 

First came a long discussion of what each was doing on “their side” of the cake. They wanted to make sure whatever the other one was doing would not make their side look bad. A line was then drawn across the center to mark boundaries. Now, picture two teenage girls in the kitchen working beside each other for hours…not all fun and games. Immediate frustration came from them both trying to decorate at the exact same time and needing to turn the cake closer to them. This was followed by the critical evaluation of the other’s decorating skills (and impact it was having on their side). I finally decided that mowing the lawn would be a good escape from the kitchen trials.

The funny thing is that after it was all said and done, the cake looked great. Apparently,  they actually learned something from watching mom over the years. They worked together to accomplish a task and realized how much hard work, time and effort it takes, and according to both, their back and feet were throbbing (all along I thought it was my old age!). They have never volunteered to help me on a cake, and I am pretty sure after doing their own, that will still be the case!  We laughed as we listened to them tell their friends at the party how much fun it was to decorate. Even after all the drama, the end results brought much joy and trials were soon forgotten. The next life lesson will be how to clean up the kitchen after you get through decorating a cake! 

Homemade Cake Icing

Ingredients:
1 Crisco Stick
2 Food Club Butter Sticks
2 tsp vanilla
3-4 Tbsp  milk
1 bag powdered sugar (sifted)

Directions:
Mix Crisco, butter and vanilla well, and then slowly add sifted powdered sugar. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.   

Schedule a time to try this icing and encourage your kids to work together to decorate a cake of their own – life lessons learned. Count your blessings daily, and give thanks to the Lord for the time you share with your family. It “bakes” a difference!      

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Family Matters: Hand-Me-Downs


I don’t know about your family, but our kids love to get “hand-me-downs.” It is getting new things without the hassle of shopping and it costs nothing…what could be better! When we get a bag of hand-me-downs from a friend, our girls put it in the middle of our living room and tear through the bag to see what fits and what looks good on them, and then they claim it as their own. Of course in a house where three of the girls wear the same size clothes, nothing is really ever your own, but it feels good at the moment to think it is all yours!

Our family takes all of our hand-me-downs to a local clothes closet that benefits less fortunate families.  We can take clothes, shoes, toys or anything that is still in good shape and donate it to be used for the good of others. We have a saying at our house: “Your hand-me-downs can raise someone else up.” This means that something we can no longer use or wear can be given to someone who is in need, and it will bring them comfort and a sense of joy. What is more rewarding than knowing you are helping others by just giving — something that cost you nothing? 

Don’t throw good, used clothing away for there is always someone who can benefit from items that your kids have outgrown. If you can’t find a local charity that takes used clothing, I promise there is some friend with kids that would love to have them, just ask. Rule of thumb: don’t donate items that have holes in them or stains (things that your kids would not wear).  When you want to raise someone else up, make your hand-me-downs something they will be proud to wear. A great time to do this is right before your kids go back to school. If they are like mine, they grow out of everything by the next school year. Clothes and shoes are expensive so this is a great way to teach your kids how to give to others.

Count your blessings daily, and give thanks to the Lord for the time you have to share with your family and the opportunities you have to raise others up!



Family Matters: Collage of Times Past


As I near the high school graduation of yet another child, my family and I have begun gathering items to celebrate this special occasion. We pull out our large plastic containers of family photos from birth to present and begin the process. As the family sits on the living room floor and thumbs through the photos one by one, what memories it brings back. First we laugh, then I cry, then we laugh (rolling on the floor), I cry again and it goes on for days.  My family finally told me if I did not stop with the tears, I was not going to be allowed to look at any more photos! 

In my defense, I am the mother, and the photos bring back so many happy and sad times of our life together as a family. The pictures of my children when they were young and photos with them doing silly things makes me laugh, but also brings tears for how they have grown into beautiful young ladies, not babies anymore. Seeing photos of loved ones we lost floods my heart with sadness, as they will miss this special time of graduation. How quickly time passes us by and so many times we fail to slow down and savor the memories as they are happening.

I will use the photos we gather to make a photo collage slide show that we will share with extended family and friends after graduation as we celebrate her life. What a great thing she will then have to share with her kids one day. Our future grandchildren will be able to see their mother as a child up through graduation and see the joy that she has brought us as her parents. 

Our life is but a collage of events that make up who we are as an individual. Every moment from the time we are born, our accomplishments, our failures, each and every life decision we make determines who we become. Remember to take pictures and capture moments that define your family. Though life is not perfect, our children are a blessing sent from God, and we should give thanks daily for what they bring to our life.

Take time with your kids to sit and go through family photos; it is a great way to bring you together for a special time of laughter…and tears. You will be amazed at the feeling you will have sharing so many memories together. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you have to share with your family. 

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Family Matters: Family Recipes, Fond Memories


One of my fondest memories, when I was young, was getting off the school bus every afternoon knowing that my grandmother had cake ready for us to eat. My MeMaw made the most delicious old-fashioned loaf cake, and it was wonderful with a big glass of cold milk from our dairy farm. It never got old eating the cake each afternoon. Maybe it was the sitting around the table telling her about our day at school that made the cake taste that much better. My grandmother taught me so many memorable things like crocheting and cross-stitching, but the one I treasure the most was learning to cook from scratch. The recipe I am sharing is one that my family loves, and each time I make it, I am overwhelmed with the special memories of standing in my MeMaw’s kitchen, by her side, baking.  I have many of her recipes that are old, torn and faded, but the memories of her taking such care to teach me will never disappear.  These recipes will be passed down to my four girls for them to share with their families one day. 

1-2-3-4 Loaf Cake

         1 cup shortening
         2 cups sugar
         3 cups flour, sifted
         4 eggs
         1/4 tsp soda

 Mix with the flour:

         1 tsp baking powder
         1 tsp salt

 Mix Together:

         1 cup buttermilk
         1 tsp vanilla

Mix ingredients in the order given and pour in bundt pan.  Bake 1 hour at 350° F. Enjoy the cake just like it comes out of the oven. Bet you can’t eat just one slice…it is addicting! You can also add fresh strawberries and whipped cream and have strawberry loaf cake dessert. 

It is as easy as 1,2,3,4. Prepare the cake this week, sit together at the table with your family and delight in the goodness of building your own fond memories. It can be the smallest things that make the greatest memories for your children or grandchildren. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family.  

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Family Matters: First Times


Remember the first time your child smiled, their first tooth, their first steps, first words, first day of kindergarten?  These are moments as parents that we will always remember and cherish.  As our children continue to grow, they experience the first day of middle school, first boy or girl friend, first broken heart, first day of high school, etc…  No matter how old our children are, they will continue to have “first times” in every area of their life.  As parents we should hold these times close to our heart and not take these moments for granted.

I remember the first time our 18-year-old daughter played Little Dribbler basketball in third grade and the laughter there was in watching her attempt to dribble the ball (or run with it).  As years passed she continued to play, and each year, as she progressed, the more exciting it was to watch her play.  She loves the game of basketball, and in doing so, it taught her leadership, perseverance, hard work and dedication. This year she is a senior, and watching her play was even more extraordinary. We cherished the moments of each game (win or lose) knowing it was her last time on the court.  Senior night was a special time for her to be recognized for her hard work and love of the game and a moment that we were honored to stand by her side. 

Now, as she moves forward, there will be the first time she attends college, first time to hold a full-time job, first time…first time…and life goes on.  As parents, we will continue to be there for all the “first times” she encounters and encourage and support her. 

Life is unpredictable and “first times” will never come again.  Don’t let your children’s “first times” in life be something you take lightly.  Let them see you smile (or laugh), give them hugs and always tell them “I love you.”  These moments are times they will remember, and it will make a difference in their lives.  Focus on your children and all the “first times” you are blessed to be a part of.  Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you are given with them.  

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Family Matters: A Touch of Strawberry


Our family loves strawberries and we are always looking for new ways to prepare them.   We experiment to see how they taste in different recipes or prepared with different toppings.   Our favorite recipe is for Strawberry Bread…it is delicious for breakfast, snack time or a bedtime treat.  

You can heat a slice in the microwave and add a little butter – my husband’s favorite thing to do!  A friend shared this recipe with me back in 1986, and I have been making it ever since.  It is a family tradition each year to bake loaves of the Strawberry Bread and give as gifts to close friends, teachers, and serve at family gatherings.   If you enjoy strawberries, this is a must try recipe!

Strawberry Bread

Ingredients:
2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs Beaten
1 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Soda
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cup Chopped Pecans (optional)
2 – 10 oz. Strawberries

Directions:
Mix sugar, eggs and oil well and then add strawberries.  Sift together flour, soda, salt and cinnamon and then add to the mixture.  Add nuts (optional) and stir together until moist.  Put in greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.  After it is cooled sprinkle top with a little powdered sugar (optional). 

When strawberries are in season, it is nice to use fresh strawberries mashed up in place of the frozen.  Also, you can bake it in a Bundt pan for a fancy look and it is a great party item.  

Take time and try this bread recipe – time in the kitchen with your kids is an opportunity to talk and bond with them.  It may become a family tradition that you can pass on for generations to come as I have with my girls.  Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!      



Family Matters: Friends and Family


When you think about friends and family, some people may consider them separate, but to many of us, our friends are part of our family.  We all have people in our lives who are more than just a friend; they are sometimes even closer to us than some of our own family.  When you find that special friendship, it is something that you cherish and hold tight too.  

As years pass, we find ourselves in situations we thought we would never see ourselves in and face things that seem impossible.  It may be something with a spouse, a child, our health, church, work or life in general.  It is during these times that we rely on our friends to pick us up, dust us off and help us put one foot in front of the other and make some sense out of what has happened.  If you stop and think, for just a moment, you can remember a time when one of your friends did this exact thing for you.  Think now…have you done that same thing for them?  It is great to have a friend, but even more so to be that special friend to someone else. 

A friend is someone who helps you move forward when you think it is not possible, gives you a hug, a shoulder to cry on, listens when you talk, believes in you when others don’t, and someone that no matter what, is there to support you in any situation.  Most importantly, a friend is someone who will pray for you daily, pray with you when you need it and gives thanks for you and what you mean to them.  We are blessed with extraordinary friendships during our lifetime and it is up to us, not to take them, for granted.  Having a special friend(s) is a true gift from God. 

Focus on your friends and family. It is time well spent and most rewarding.  Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you are given with them.  

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