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Dine In: Chile Relleno Soup

Chile Relleno SoupThere was a time when I made it my mission to taste every chile relleno at every Mexican restaurant in a 100-mile radius.

I think I was pretty successful; there’s really no more relleno dishes left that I haven’t taste-tested. I know to avoid the soggy, greasy dish at one certain restaurant. I know that at another, the golden, crisp goodness and gooey cheese is what I’m going to eat before I even open the menu.

I’ve tried making chile rellenos at home, with varying degrees of success.

However, this soup highlights the essence of the dish, without having to deep-fry anything.

The best part is that you can eat it at home on your back porch in front of a roaring fire on a lazy Friday night. No reservations or gratuity required.

Chile Relleno Soup

4 poblano peppers
4 Tbs butter
1/4 cup onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
4 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 oz cream cheese, cut into cubes
3 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Roast the peppers over a gas flame or in the oven under the broiler on high heat until pepper skin is charred and blistered. Put peppers into brown paper bag, and close bag. Let steam and cool for about 20 minutes. Rub the skin to remove as much char as possible. Then, remove seeds and pith; finely chop.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and cook until foamy. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and poblano peppers. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add in the chicken broth; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add the chicken, and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Incorporate cream cheese and cheddar cheese into the broth, whisking until smooth. To serve, divide into bowls, and then top with remaining cheese. Serve immediately with finely diced tomatoes and minced fresh cilantro, optional.

Nutritional Information: Calories from Fat: 341, Fat: 38 g, Carbohydrates: 10.24 g, Fiber: 2.64 g, Protein: 41.11 g, Cholesterol: 183 mg.

Family Matters: Halloween Parties

Halloween Parties Somehow my boys talked me into having a Halloween party this year.

We were in a local Halloween store, and my older son was begging me to buy a fog machine.

“We don’t need a fog machine,” I reasoned. Who sits around the living room enveloped in fog?

“We could use it for a Halloween party,” he said.

“What Halloween party?” I fired back.

Then, I got to thinking about it: My boys LOVE Halloween. We’ve never had a Halloween party, so why not?
Good, solid logic, I decided.

We didn’t buy the fog machine (my best friend has one I can borrow), but we will have ambiance at the party.

The boys are so excited.

They’ve even sat with me, and we browsed Pinterest boards to plan for the big event. They want the fog machine, of course. We’ll string spooky spider webs up around the covered porch in the backyard and replace the lightbulbs on the front porch with black lights.

We’ll hang paper lanterns from the big tree out back, which will also be festooned with scary spider webs and glow-in-the-dark spiders.

The food table will feature grilled sausages spilling out of a stuffed shirt, which will be attached to a bowl of potato salad for the “head” (grapes for eyes, pimentos for a mouth) and a pair of stuffed jeans for legs. The spooky specter’s hands will be food service gloves stuffed with popcorn and candy corn fingernails.

I wanted to put out bowls of peeled grapes and cold spaghetti for eyeballs and brains, but they declared that “so last century.”

“You probably did that when YOU were growing up, Mom,” they said.

Well, yes. Yes, I did, and I loved it.

They will love having friends over. We’ll light a fire in the chiminea on the porch and maybe bob for apples because some things that are so last century are still fun today. We’ll play some scary music, give the costumed guests glow necklaces and bracelets, and the kids will have a memory to take with them for the rest of their lives.

When they’re parents, they can tell their sons that fog machines and spider webs are SO 2016.

Shop the Sale: Pork and Pasta Stew

Pork and Pasta Stew“Hey Mom, what are you writing about?” my younger son just asked me.

“Pork butt,” I replied.

He collapsed into fits of raucous laughter only a teenage boy could produce at the mention of the word “butt.” Boys never really grow up.

Teenage boys do, however, eat me out of house and home. That’s why it’s important to be able to make them a meal that is filling, nutritious and economical.

Enter Brookshire’s Boston butt roast.

This is one of my favorite things to cook because one roast will feed a small army (aka, teenage boys), and the pork gets so much flavor from the fat.

This meal is super easy because you make it in the slow cooker, so it’s ready when you walk in the door at night.

Pork and Pasta Stew

1 1/2 lbs pork butt roast (Boston butt), cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, chopped (liquid reserved)
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 Tbs crushed red pepper
1 Tbs oregano
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
6 oz small shaped pasta, uncooked
4 oz baby spinach
2 oz parmesan cheese, grated

Combine the pork roast, broth, tomatoes and the liquid, garlic, red pepper, oregano and salt in a large slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours.

Just before serving, add the pasta. Cover and cook for 10 more minutes. Stir in the spinach. Cover and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately topped with parmesan cheese.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 400, Calories from Fat: 104, Fat: 12 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 132 mg, Sodium: 1175 mg, Carbohydrates: 26 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 47 g.

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.

Healthy Living: Easy Cure for What Ails You

Easy Cure for What Ails YouDid you know there’s an easy, natural and healthy way to ease congestion or a sore throat during this season of sickness?

You simply make a “tea” of one cup warm water, one tablespoon honey and some lemon to help chase away the chills, congestion and sore throat. You can add cinnamon, too, as cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties that effectively prevent colds.

Honey has been shown to contain antioxidants, and it offers antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that help fight against the virus, bacteria and fungus to treat the cold and its underlying symptoms.

In addition, it will help boost the immune system, which lessens the severity of the cold and helps to prevent future colds.

It will also help soothe a sore throat naturally, and it relieves irritation.

You can also take a tablespoon full of straight honey when you feel a cough coming on to help fight that ailment as well.

Product Talk: Chobani Pumpkin Spice Yogurt

Chobani Pumpkin Spice YogurtIn my eternal quest to taste everything that’s pumpkin spice-flavored, a container in the diary case caught my eye the last time I was at Brookshire’s.

Chobani Yogurt makes a Pumpkin Spice Greek Blended Yogurt.

Of course, I bought it.

Made with real pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg, this smooth and creamy concoction smacks of fall. With only two grams of fat and 12 grams of protein, this slightly sweet treat makes the perfect breakfast or snack.

Chobani uses only natural, non-GMO ingredients for their yogurts, and this contains 40 percent less sugar than regular yogurt.

I can feel good about that, especially with how good it tastes!

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Dine In: Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

Slow Cooker French Onion SoupA few weeks ago, I had lunch at my favorite local bakery and café, a place I eat so frequently that everybody knows my name. It helps that my BFF’s daughter is the manager there, too.

I went in for lunch, and the owner greeted me and suggested that I try the French Onion Soup.

To be totally honest, while I like French Onion Soup, it’s never something I crave or choose off a menu.

She brought me a little cup of soup, and I was hooked. I even went back later in the week for some more, and now I’ve made them promise to alert me on days they are serving the magical soup.

Their French Onion Soup is a secret family recipe. No amount of cajoling could get them to give it up. However, I do know one of the major ingredients, so I set off to find a similar recipe featuring red wine. I also know it’s slow-cooked for hours.

French Onion Soup is definitely a meal that you can dress up for a stay-at-home date night or serve as a hearty fall family dinner.

I can’t wait to make it at home, and then enjoy the leftovers all weekend long.

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 large yellow onions, slivered
8 cups beef broth
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1 loaf French bread, sliced into 4 thick slices
6 Tbs butter
1/2 lb Gruyere cheese, sliced

Combine bay leaf, garlic, onions, beef broth, wine, salt and pepper in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or more.

Spread butter on 4 slices of bread. Ladle soup into four oven-proof bowls. Top each bowl with a slice of bread, butter-side up, and then add a slice of Gruyere cheese. Broil on high until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 648, Calories from Fat: 351, Fat: 39 g (22 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 108 mg, Sodium: 2470 mg, Carbohydrates: 32 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 8 g, Protein: 32 g.

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.

Family Matters: A Rabbit In Winter

A Rabbit In WinterPet rabbits love to live outside, and they can withstand moderately cold weather with their layer of soft fluffy fur and extra fat.

However, it’s still important to winterize your rabbit’s hutch if he’ll be outside as temperatures drop.

First, make sure it’s in good repair with no leaks where no water can seep in and no major cracks.  You don’t want it to get damp. Make sure it’s water-tight.

Make sure your rabbit hutch is raised off the ground. If the hutch doesn’t have legs, place a brick under each corner. That will allow air to circulate and alleviate any dampness. If you experience excessive rain or flooding, make sure to move the hutch indoors or raise it well above the level of the water.

Reduce draftiness by covering mesh doors with a plastic panel. Look for panels designed for greenhouses as they still allow the hutch to be ventilated without letting gusts come in. At night, you can cover the hutch with a tarp or blanket, making sure to let an area away from the wind be exposed to keep air flowing.

Make sure your rabbit’s bed is warm and dry. His bed will be a box inside the hutch, offering him further protection from the elements. Use newspaper or straw for insulation in the hutch and in his bedding.  He will burrow into it. A heating pad, turned to low, might also be a good option for your rabbit.

Family Matters: Must Love Dogs

Must Love DogsWhen you have to go out of town, as is inevitable for one reason or another, you have to make a decision about your pet: Do you board them, or do you find a pet sitter to come to your house?

I’ve tried both. While I’ve boarded my dog at fabulous places where he was well taken care of and well loved, he didn’t like it one single bit. He expressed his displeasure by refusing to leave the house again after he came home. He didn’t even want to go out in the backyard, lest we sneak him off into the car.

So, when I went out of town last week, I hired a pet sitter to come to the house.

Ideally, this person should be licensed and bonded, unless it’s your sister or best friend who you can hold accountable should anything go wrong.

The pet sitter should meet your pup before the assigned time of care. Ours came to the house twice a few days before I was scheduled to leave.

She met my dog and gave him a treat. We walked through his routine, and she asked me 8,943 questions about him, all the while petting him and loving on him before she was scheduled to actually take over.

I knew he’d be in good hands.

As a super duper bonus, she texted me pictures of my pup every evening when she came over.

Look for all these things in a good pet sitter. Make sure it’s someone you trust and someone who not only likes your pup, but he likes her as well. While being home alone is never great, at least a good pet sitter makes it a little more bearable and even fun.

Family Matters: Keeping the Fluff Off

Keeping the Fluff OffBirds can get overweight, just like humans can. In fact, it’s pretty easy for that to happen, as food is the most oftenly used reward, in place of things like exercise or toys.

You should establish good eating habits immediately with your newly weaned bird, so you won’t have to undo bad habits in the future.

Don’t use food as a reward. Instead, while you’re training them, use a favorite toy or outside (the cage) time as an incentive.

Pelleted foods are more carefully controlled and parceled out than seeds. They’re less messy, too. “Treats” can be melons or apples.

Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise outside his cage. Even if his wings are clipped, he can hop around in a larger space. Some birds even like to go on walks through the house.

Making sure your pet has a good diet and plenty of exercise makes for a happier, healthier bird.

Family Matters: Grooming

GroomingYes, cats groom themselves, but they could use some help from their human friends to stay in tip-top shape.

We see cats licking their fur to stay clean. They do a pretty good job of it, but you can also help them.

Cats don’t really need a bath. If they do, use room temperature water, and place an oven rack in your sink or bathtub. The cat will cling to that instead of to your arm.

Brush your cat regularly. They’ll probably love the feeling of being groomed with a medium-bristle brush. Don’t brush against the grain of their hair, though. That will probably ruffle some proverbial feathers.

Regular brushing keeps their skin healthy, prevents matting, and reduces shedding and hairballs.

You also need to trim their nails, no matter how many scratching posts (or table legs) you have available for them.

If your cat has fleas, it might be a good time to see your vet or professional groomer to take care of the issue.

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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.

Product Talk

Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.

Healthy Living

Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.

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On Wednesdays, get a tip or idea on using an item in the circular.

Family Matters

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