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Dine-In: Getting Ready for Valentine’s Day


Dine In Fridays are the perfect practice for the upcoming holiday.
What upcoming holiday, you might ask?

Don’t close this blog, men!!!!

Valentine’s Day, of course.

It’s the perfect time to make a meal at home and not try to beat the crowds at a hot restaurant. I mean, who really wants to make reservations for 3 p.m. or 11 p.m. trying to avoid the rush?

I had a friend once who made a Valentine’s Day escape right on her own back porch. Inspired by a Moroccan visit, she draped the porch in diaphanous fabrics and piled pillows and soft rugs onto the floor. She served a meal on trays and lit the room with dozens of candles.

Setting the stage is romantic, but so is cooking a simple meal for your sweetie.  In fact, some experts say to keep your meal light so you don’t make yourself bloated and sleepy….for later….

This “salad” hits the spot! For date night in or Valentine’s Day dinner, it’s the perfect end to a day and the beginning of a great night.

Steak and Purple Potato Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 clove garlic, mashed into a paste
8 oz sirloin steak, trimmed
3/4 lb small purple potatoes, (see Tip), scrubbed
2 Tbs sherry vinegar
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 large radishes, sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

Mix lime juice, chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and garlic in a small bowl to form a paste; rub onto both sides of steak. Refrigerate the steak.

Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Drain, let cool for 10 minutes, then quarter.

While the potatoes cool, preheat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Oil the grill rack (see Tip) or pan. Grill the steak, turning once, until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 140° F, about 10 minutes total on the grill or 16 to 20 minutes in a grill pan. Let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Whisk vinegar, oil, cumin, pepper and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the steak and any accumulated juices, the potatoes, radishes, scallions and cilantro; gently toss to coat.

Nutritional Information
: Calories: 360, Fat: 12 g, Cholesterol 42 mg; Carbohydrates: 34 g, Protein: 27 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sodium: 660 mg, Potassium: 413 mg



Dine-In: Meatloaf


Meatloaf is easy to make – but it’s also easy to make wrong. I’ve had dry and tasteless meatloaf, and I’ve had it where each slice is heavy and brimming with grease. Neither were worth eating! But there are a few things you can do to make sure your meatloaf is perfect every time – and well worth making on a cold Friday night at home with a fire in the fireplace and a movie to watch. 

Sauté your vegetables first, and use plenty of them. I like them when they are soft and caramelized. Also, I use oats instead of breadcrumbs to absorb and retain more of the ground beef’s natural juices. And it’s really all about the ketchup, isn’t it? I admit, I don’t normally eat ketchup, but I haven’t found another condiment that adds the moistness and the zing that good ol’ ketchup does. 

Finally, to top it all off, strips of bacon on top bastes the loaf as it cooks while adding more flavor in the meantime. If you’re worried about the fat weighing things down, I use a rack instead of a loaf pan so excess grease can drip away. 

Enjoy!

Meatloaf
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large rib celery, finely chopped
2 large eggs
2 lbs lean ground beef
2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup rolled oats, not instant
1/2 cup ketchup, divided
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
3 strips bacon

Directions:
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat for several minutes. When hot, add butter, onions, green pepper and celery. Cook until vegetables are slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Lower heat and cook 15 minutes more. Transfer to a plate to cool. 

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Spray a standard-sized loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk eggs into a large bowl. Add sautéed vegetables, ground beef, thyme, oats, 1/4 cup ketchup, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and press into the prepared loaf pan, pounding the pan a few times to make sure all air pockets are removed. 

Spray a roasting rack with nonstick cooking spray. Set it on a rimmed baking sheet. Turn meatloaf onto the rack, patting back into shape if any of it sticks. Spread the top with remaining 1/4 cup ketchup and arrange bacon slices lengthwise over ketchup. 

Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes. Slice and serve.  

Nutritional Information: Per Serving: Calories: 438, Fat: 19 g, Sodium: 1370 mg, Carbohydrates:  11 g, Protein: 53 g.



Ask Leigh


Question:  We ate at a restaurant recently where the salsa was just delicious. Our server said they roasted the tomatoes and jalapenos first. Do you have a recipe like this? 

Answer:  Definitely! This one is fairly spicy, so if you want a milder flavor, make sure you remove all the jalapeno seeds after roasting. 

 

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb. ripe tomatoes, preferably plum 
2 to 3 fresh jalapeño chiles, stemmed
½ white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick 
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely packed
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar 

Directions:
Heat the broiler of your oven to high. Lay the whole tomatoes and jalapeños on a broiler pan or baking sheet. Set the pan 4 inches below the broiler and broil for about 6 minutes, until darkly roasted — even blackened in spots — on one side. With a pair of tongs, flip over tomatoes and chiles and roast other side for another 6 minutes. Set aside to cool. 

Change the oven temperature to 425˚F. Separate onions into rings. Place onion and garlic on another baking sheet. Roast in the oven, stirring carefully every couple of minutes, until the onions are browned, and the garlic is soft and browned in spots, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. 

In a food processor, pulse the jalapeños with onion and garlic until moderately finely chopped, scraping everything down with a spatula as needed to keep it all moving around. Remove to a big bowl. Without washing the processor, coarsely puree tomatoes and add them to the bowl. Stir in enough water to give the salsa a spoonable consistency. Stir in the cilantro. Taste and season with salt and vinegar. Refrigerate it covered and use within 5 days. 

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Posted in: Produce


Product Talk: Bacon


Bacon has reached cult status these days. It seems everywhere I look someone else is pledging their love to the salty strips of pork – even in chocolate!

You can find bacon salt at the grocery store, and I’ve seen some funny bacon bandages at a novelty gift shop in the mall. Nothing like covering your child’s cut with a “strip of bacon” to help wipe away the tears. 

I recently enjoyed this Pecan Sugared Bacon at a baby shower. I’ve had it before with brown sugar, but not with the wonderful addition of pecans. It is deliciously addictive, so consider yourself warned! 

Pecan Sugared Bacon 

Ingredients:
2 Tbs finely chopped pecans
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
10-12 thick-cut bacon slices  

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Mix pecans, brown sugar and pepper.  Lay bacon slice on mixture and press into one side only. Lay in a single layer on a lightly greased wire rack in an aluminum foil-lined baking pan (sugar side up). Press pecan mixture as needed on bacon slices. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned and crisp. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut slices into desired lengths.



Dine-In: Friday Night Slow-Cooker Jambalaya


If you’ve read many of the blogs on the Brookshire’s site, then you know that we all have come to have great affection for our slow cookers. It’s the working parent’s answer to getting dinner on the table soon after we all get home, and these days, there are tons of new recipes that make slow cooking a whole new way of cooking that doesn’t involve cream of mushroom soup every time! 

There are all kinds of recipes on the internet for modernized slow cooking, from healthier choices to chocolate pudding cakes and everything else you can think of in between. This recipe for Slow-Cooker Jambalaya is one of my teenage sons’ favorites because they love the chicken and  smoked sausage, and along with the rice, the jambalaya seems to fill them up if only for a while! 

The last thing you do when you get home from work is add the rice, and 30 minutes later you can have dinner on the table and everyone happy. Easy and delicious for your family’s winter weeknight table. 

Enjoy!

Slow-Cooker Jambalaya
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lb smoked sausage, cut into 2-inch slices
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juice
3  garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbs Cajun or creole spice mix
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 3/4 cups long-grain white rice
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish 

Directions:
Combine chicken, sausage, onion, green pepper, celery, tomatoes, garlic, chicken broth, spice mix, thyme and oregano in a large (5-quart) slow cooker. Cook on low for 5 hours. Add shrimp and rice; raise heat to high and cook for 30 minutes more. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired.  

Nutritional Information:  Calories Per Serving: 861, Total Fat: 34 g, Sodium 1064 mg, Carbohydrates 55 g, Protein: 80 g

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Ask Leigh


Question:  At an office birthday party the other day, a woman mentioned that the meringue on the pie being served was made with marshmallows. Is that really possible?

Answer: Yes! And although it does give the meringue a bit of a creamier taste and texture, this recipe works every single time. It seems to help keep the meringue from shrinking, as well as tasting absolutely delicious! 

Marshmallow Meringue

Ingredients:
1 (7 oz) jar Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Crème
3 large egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar

Directions:
Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Using rubber spatula, scrape marshmallow crème into large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in another large bowl until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff and glossy peaks form.

Add 1/2 cup beaten egg whites to marshmallow crème and stir with rubber spatula or spoon just until incorporated to lighten. Marshmallow crème is very sticky and will be difficult to blend at first, but blending will become easier as remaining whites are folded in. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions just until incorporated.

Spread meringue over top of cold pie, mounding slightly in center and swirling with knife to create peaks. Bake for about 5 minutes until meringue is browned. Enjoy!

 

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Posted in: Cooking


Family Matters: Creating Family Memories


When the holidays roll in and school lets out, it’s a great time to stop and enjoy some free time with your children and grandchildren. Yes, I know it’s the most hectic time of the year, but it’s also the most wonderful from what I hear. And these little moments with our little ones disappear before you can say, “Happy New Year!” 

I have teenage sons and they are way more interested in what their friends are doing than spending too much time with me in the kitchen, so I try to grab every opportunity I can to draw them in to hanging out with me. It’s a great time to talk, as everyone is pretty relaxed and knows some good food is on the way soon! 

These two recipes were some of my sons’ favorites when they were younger. They loved chicken nuggets, but I just didn’t care for the frozen kind – or for frying the nuggets too often. I bake mine, and no one notices that they haven’t been in the deep fryer. The quality of the chicken is also so much better than anything you can get in a drive-thru! 

And once you’ve made Homemade Applesauce, you’re going to be hooked for life. Yes, it takes a bit of time to prepare and to allow too cool down, but it’s worth every single delicious spoonful. Depending on how sweet you like yours, choose a variety of apples and play with the flavors. You really can’t go wrong, and its five simple ingredients I bet you already have at home. 

We still make these recipes from time to time, and it’s adorable to see them flashback to memories from their preschool days. We have had some sweet conversations simply because the food triggered fun days back when I could still carry them on my hip and read Dr. Seuss every afternoon at nap time. Those days are gone, but the memories and the food will stay with us…until grandchildren one day (a long, long way away!). 

Enjoy! 

Baked Chicken Nuggets

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut chicken into bite-size chunks. Mix bread crumbs with parmesan cheese and garlic salt. Dip chicken into melted butter. Roll in crumb mixture. Lay on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve warm. Also good cold for leftovers. 

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 458, Total Fat: 27 g, Sodium: 360 mg, Carbohydrates: 7 g, Protein: 44 g 

Homemade Applesauce
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
6 red apples, or whatever kind you like
1 cup water
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar

Directions:
Core and peel all apples. Quarter the apples, and then cut into chunks. Place apple chunks in a medium saucepan. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover to simmer until apples soften and break apart. Stir every few minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse until you reach your desired consistency. Refrigerate until cooled. Keeps about a week in the refrigerator.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 128, Total Fat: 0 g, Sodium: 3 mg, Carbohydrates: 34 g, Protein: 1 g

 



Dine-In: Chicken Soup and Mexican Corn Bread


I’m one of those people who could eat soup every day, even when it’s hot as blazes outside in the summer. And yes, I do like chilled soups, such as gazpacho, but I’m really talking about hot soups. There’s just something comforting about a bowl of soup and a hunk of corn bread that very few other foods can do for me. I may be wearing a tank top and flip flops, but I still like my soups no matter what the weather!

But as a mother of two big teenage sons, soup just isn’t on our radar as much as I like, unless of course it is an appetizer or filled with hearty, filling ingredients. It’s kind of a running joke now in our home that the boys are used to me answering the “what’s for dinner” question with “You’re gonna love it! Soup!”

So far I don’t think they’ve been disappointed yet, as I do my best to remember quantity is a key ingredient when you are a growing teenage boy. And they usually offer me a big smile when they see the soup bowls coming with a hunk of Mexican corn bread and honey butter.

Enjoy! 

Southwestern Chicken Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients: 
1 (12 oz) jar salsa verde
3 cups cooked diced chicken
1 (15 oz) can white beans or black beans, drained
3 cups chicken broth
1 tsp ground cumin
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups tortilla chips, crushed

Directions:
Empty salsa into a large saucepan. Cook for 2 minutes over medium-high heat. Add chicken, beans, broth and cumin. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top each bowl with a sprinkling of green onions, a spoonful of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips.  

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 630, Fat: 11 g, Sodium: 1183 mg, Carbohydrates: 72 g, Protein: 61 g 

Mexican Corn Bread

 Ingredients:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
3 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs
4 Tbs shortening
1 chopped onion
1 (15.25 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup chopped green and red chiles

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350º F. Spray an 8×8-inch pan with nonstick spray. Combine cornmeal and buttermilk and let stand 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Stir in cheese, eggs, shortening, onion, corn and chiles. Stir buttermilk mixture into batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Serves 16.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 154, Total Fat: 7 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 31 mg, Sodium: 258 mg, Total Carbohydrate: 20 g, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 3 g

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Posted in: Dine In


ASK LEIGH


Question: I bought a bag of frozen shrimp the other day at Brookshire’s. Do you have any suggestions besides boiling the shrimp and eating with cocktail sauce?

Answer: This is perfect timing because I just spent the day in Mabank at the new Brookshire’s store grilling shrimp all day for the Grand Opening! The customers LOVED this recipe and it’s super easy to prepare. If you don’t have a grill, don’t worry…it works just wonderfully in a hot skillet too!

The grapefruit juice gives the shrimp and sauce a wonderful citrusy flavor, but it’s not too strong at all. This recipe is was in our November Celebrate Cooking magazine, and it’s one I will make again for sure!

Grilled Shrimp with Grapefruit Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients:
3/4 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 Tbs Food Club Light Brown Sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs Food Club Olive Oil
1 tsp liquid smoke
3 lbs jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups cooked rice
Skewers

Directions:
Heat grill or stovetop grill over medium-high heat. In a shallow dish whisk together grapefruit juice, ketchup, mustard, sugar, chili powder, cumin, olive oil and liquid smoke. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Place shrimp on skewers. Brush grill or grill pan with oil. Place shrimp on grill and cook 2 minute per side, or until bright pink and cooked through. Brush constantly with barbeque sauce while cooking. Serve with rice if desired.

Nutritional Information:  Calories Per Serving: 654, Fat: 5 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 699 mg, Sodium: 4173 mg, Carbohydrates: 84 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 68 g

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Posted in: Seafood


Product Talk: Candy Cane Christmas


Candy canes and Christmas go hand in hand. The red and white striped delights are everywhere during the holiday season — in chocolate bark, marshmallows, milkshakes, coffee and most anywhere else you can imagine a sprinkling of crushed Christmas candy canes! 

One of my favorite Christmas cookies has a peppermint flavor, both in the cookie and the delicious icing. I first had this cookie decades ago at a neighborhood Christmas cookie exchange, and it was like no other cookie I had eaten before. I was delighted to get the recipe and to be able to share it with you! 

The addition of oats might sound a bit heavy with peppermint, but it gives the cookie a bit of depth and texture you don’t find in a regular sugar cookie. And the “drizzle” icing is foolproof for people who, like me, always have trouble making decorated Christmas cookies look like you see in all the food magazines. A drizzle works every time! 

Enjoy and Merry Christmas! 

Peppermint Rounds
Makes 36 

Ingredients:

COOKIE:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup regular oats
1/3 cup hard peppermint candy, crushed 

ICING:
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
Dash of salt
1/4-1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tsp peppermint extract
Red food coloring 

Directions:
Beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg and vanilla, beating well. Combine flour and salt; add to butter mixture. Stir in oats and candy. Cover and chill 1 hour. Divide dough in half. Roll each portion to 1/8-inch thick on surface dusted with powdered sugar. Cut with 2-inch cookie cutter; place on greased, foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° F for 8 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool. 

For the icing combine powdered sugar and salt. Add half-and-half to desired consistency. Add extract. Remove 1/4 cup icing and stir in 1 to 2 drops of food coloring for pink color. 

Spread cookies with white icing. Before icing sets, drizzle lines of pink icing across the top of each cookie.   

Nutritional Information:  Calories Per Serving: 165, Total Fat: 6 g, Sodium: 81 mg, Carbohydrates: 27 g, Protein: 2 g



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