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Healthy Living: National Frozen Foods Month

National Frozen Foods MonthMarch is Frozen Foods Month, and I love celebrating something that preserves all the farm freshness of fruits and vegetables in a convenient, easy-to-use way.

Believe it or not, two recent studies compared the nutritional value of frozen fruits and vegetables to their fresh counterparts and found that the frozen ones had MORE nutritional value than the fresh products.

Most frozen fruits and vegetables are flash-frozen, which means they are frozen rapidly to prevent ice crystals from forming. They are flash-frozen, either after a light steaming or immediately after being picked at the peak of freshness.

This method also keeps them safe from decay or from micro-organisms being able to grow on them. Frozen fruits and vegetables are transported to your Brookshire’s in a freezer truck, preserving their temperatures.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are also more economical than their fresh friends. Because they are preserved, you have little waste.

These days, you can find almost anything in the frozen food freezers at Brookshire’s, from broccoli florets to purple hull peas to chopped onions and green peppers to strawberries, mangos and blueberries. Check it out today.

Product Talk: Valencia In-Shell Peanuts

Valencia In-Shell PeanutsLast weekend, Paul and I were puttering around in our usual flurry of Sunday afternoon activity, trying to get our ducks in a row before the beginning of the work week. Generally, we’ll only eat one big meal on Sundays, but we will snack while we’re waiting (and puttering).

Last Sunday, Paul grabbed a bag of Cajun peanuts in the shell when we stopped by Brookshire’s after church to pick up something for dinner.

We tore through those things.

What was especially delicious about the peanuts was that the flavor and the salt weren’t just on the shell, they were infused into the peanuts. We ruminated over the method used to make this happen, and then we just Googled it. I love to Google.

Brookshire’s also sells Valencia In-Shell Peanuts in the produce department. These nuts are raw and just waiting to be infused with flavor and roasted.

We had to try it, and they turned out delicious. Now, take our word for it: roast in small batches. It might take you a lot longer, but you won’t end up with a soggy product. We wanted to do it on the smoker, but we decided we needed the heat from the oven. (It was the right call.)

Valencia Peanuts of Hampton Farms are grown in New Mexico and shipped right after harvest. We brined the nuts in a Cajun brine as well, and I was amazed at how fresh and flavorful they were. We’ll definitely be buying raw peanuts and roasting them ourselves again.

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Posted in: Product Talk

Dine In: Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

Pistachio Shortbread CookiesHappy National Pistachio Day!

Don’t you think it’s goofy that there is a day to celebrate pretty much anything? I do, but I love it nonetheless. Several times over my career, I’ve turned a newspaper food page into a celebration of the day’s focal point.

I’m pretty sure National Dark Chocolate Day is a holiday in my honor. Of course, I also claim the same for National Cheese Day.

There is a day designated to celebrate tamales, apples, salads, blueberries, tacos, pizza, ice cream and anything else you can imagine.

Today, we are celebrating pistachios. Pistachios are a member of the cashew family. They are naturally beige in color but often colored green commercially. Pistachios are usually brined and roasted until the shell pops, then they are salted.

I love the sweet, delicate taste of a pistachio. They’re amazing in gelato and delicious in these shortbread cookies.

P.S. National Shortbread Day is January 6 in case you want to start preparing for next year.

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chopped pistachios (roasted and lightly salted)

Remove the pistachios from their shells.

Place butter in the bowl of a large food processor. Add powdered sugar and salt; process until smooth. Add the flour and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse gravel. Add the pistachios and pulse quickly about 4 more times, until they are mixed in but left in a large chop.

Empty dough out of the food processor onto a work surface, and gently shape into a ball. Cut the ball in half; roll each half into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes, or until firm. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Remove dough from freezer and cut into 1/4-inche, consistent slices. Arrange on a backing sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden-brown on the edges, about 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool on the sheets. Remove gently and serve.

Makes 2 dozen

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 140, Calories from Fat: 80, Fat: 9 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 20 mg, Sodium: 118 mg, Potassium: 41 mg, Carbohydrates: 14 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 2 g.

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

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In

Family Matters: Easter Eggs

Homemade Easter Peanut Butter EggsAbout three years ago, I decided to stop putting candy in my kids’ Easter baskets. It almost never got eaten, and they were more about the iTunes gift card anyway. It was kind of a letdown, but it was really just not something they were interested in.

However, we started making our own Easter treats! Now, not only do they eat what we make and love it, but we also get to spend some quality time together in the kitchen, which is our favorite place to be.

These are so much fun to make! There is no baking required (so you can eat them more quickly!), and there are a lot of hands-on steps. You can really make these any size. We’ve done lots of bite-sized versions, and then my son, of course, had to try a super-sized egg, which he kept all for himself.

The spring-colored sprinkles make these pretty and festive, or you can use drizzles of colored decorative icing.

TIP: Some kids don’t like getting their hands dirty and that’s fine. Slip their hands into a plastic baggie sprayed with nonstick cooking spray to keep their hands clean, but still let them participate in the egg-shaping.

Homemade Easter Peanut Butter Eggs
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

1/2 cup Brookshire’s Unsalted Butter, softened
2 1/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup Food Club Graham Cracker Crumbs, finely crushed
1/2 cup Food Club Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Food Club Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
2 Tbs shortening
Food Club Sprinkles, for decoration

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip butter for 1 minute. Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add crushed crumbs, peanut butter and vanilla. Combine well.

Using your hands, shape the peanut butter mixture into 16 egg-shaped ovals. Place on baking sheets that have been lined with waxed paper. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm.

When eggs are firm, melt your chocolate chips and shortening together in the microwave on medium-low power until smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Dip each egg in the melted chocolate, allowing the excess to drip off before placing on the waxed paper or wire rack. Decorate with sprinkles and chill again until set. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Serves 16

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 309, Fat: 18 g (9 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 15 mg, Sodium: 125 mg, Carbohydrates: 37 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 2 g.

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

Shop the Sale: Boneless Glazed Pork Chops

Boneless Glazed Pork ChopsMy son returned home from spending the night at a friend’s house (apparently boy moms are NOT supposed to say “sleepover”), and after a two-hour nap, he couldn’t stop chatting about the great time he’d had with his school buddy.

They stayed up all night (of course) playing video games, flashlight tag, soccer, hide-and-seek, and slept on the living room floor in a blanket fort. They had pigs-in-a-blanket and doughnuts for breakfast, and for dinner, they’d had balsa wood pork chops.

Wait, what?

What is a balsa wood pork chop, I asked him, thinking maybe they smoked the pork chop over balsa wood, although I’d never heard of this and knew that balsa wood is super soft and probably doesn’t lend itself well to smoking. My mom used to craft dollhouse furniture out of balsa wood and could use a small craft knife to slice through it. More importantly, I had no idea how balsa wood would taste!

He set me straight pretty quickly.

You know, he said, that brown stuff that you pour on the pork chops, and it makes them taste good.

I wracked my brain.

They were really juicy, he offered. Kind of spicy, too.

It was driving me crazy. I went to the pantry, opened it and figured it out immediately.

Balsamic vinegar? I asked.

I opened the bottle, he smelled it and immediately, the mystery was solved.

That’s it, he said.

Boneless Glazed Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

In a bowl, combine brown sugar with balsamic vinegar and all the spices until a paste forms. Rub boneless pork chops with the olive oil, and then rub with the paste.

Heat your grill to medium-high heat, and grill chops about 5 minutes per side, only flipping once and keeping the lid closed between turns.

Remove pork from the grill when the internal temperature reaches 150° F; let rest until internal temperature reaches 160° F.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 625, Calories from Fat: 444, Fat: 49 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (16 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 146 mg, Sodium: 430 mg, Potassium: 611 mg, Carbohydrates: 5 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 39 g.

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

Healthy Living: Egg White Breakfast

Egg White BreakfastBreakfast is difficult for me.

Between getting myself ready, getting two teenage boys ready, fixing them breakfast and preparing their lunches, there’s often little time to get myself a healthy breakfast and get out the door. What’s worse is that there is a popular fast-food restaurant on the corner near my office, and I can fall victim to a sausage biscuit, I must admit.

For me, prior planning is the key. If I can grab something and go, I can fix it at work. If not, it’s a sausage biscuit, which you know is more economical with some hash browns and a soft drink. Oops.

I love liquid egg white products. I love eggs, so these are a delicious alternative to a regular egg (and for me, fewer calories and less cholesterol). Last week, I started making healthy breakfast bowls and keeping them in the fridge to grab when I need them. I combine half of a cup of liquid egg whites, like Egg Beaters, with (truth be told) a lot of leftovers. I’m aiming for a breakfast full of protein, so last week I chopped up all the lean round steak, onion and peppers we’d had for fajitas and packaged them in individual plastic containers with the egg whites. I added salt and pepper, some hot sauce and about one teaspoon of grated parmesan cheese.

Then, these were ready to pop in the microwave either at work or at home, depending on what I had time for. I’ve also done them with black beans and spinach; ham, cheese and onions; or whatever lean protein I have available in leftover form.

Microwave on high for about a minute. Stir. Microwave a minute more or until egg whites are set. You’ll have a complete, nutritious breakfast right around 200 calories.

Product Talk: Hampton Farms Hot Nuts

Hampton Farms Hot NutsWe had an unseasonably warm weekend, so Paul and I planned a porch party (for two). At the end of a long day of errands, we grabbed a comfortable seat in the sunshine and enjoyed the breeze, the melodies of the chimes, the smell of the grill and some Hampton Farms Hot Nuts for an appetizer.

We’d just run into Brookshire’s for some potatoes, you see, but the Cajun Spicy Peanuts were in the produce section and we were, well, hangry. You know, so hungry that it makes you upset? Hangry.

We grabbed the bag, our potatoes and headed home.

Once on the porch with our potatoes baking, we settled in to enjoy the warm weather and the peanuts. Paul tried to carefully contain the shells in a plastic bag, but we were on the porch, so what the heck? I was happy to crack shells and discard them at my feet, like we were eating in a popular chain steakhouse. The wind would take care of them, right?

Hampton Farms Hot Nuts are peanuts sold in the shell. This variety happens to have a Cajun spice. The wonderful part of these nuts is that the flavor is infused in the nut, not just dusted on the shell.

We had to read about how this was accomplished (because we’re going to try it at home with Hampton Farm raw peanuts in the shell, mind you). Basically, they brine the whole nut, in the shell, long enough for the flavor-infused liquid to seep into the nut. Then, they dry them and roast them (that’s a horribly simplified version, but it’s one I can understand!). The Cajun flavoring gets sealed right into the nut, so not only do you get that smoky flavor that you look for in a roasted peanut, but you get a dash of Cajun spice as well.

They are addictive.

So much so that I went back this morning and bought another two bags.

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Dine In: Slow Cooker Peach Cobbler

Slow Cooker Peach CobblerI’m writing right now with my mouth watering. There is peach cobbler in my slow cooker, and it smells like heaven on earth or at least spring, which it feels like outside on this unseasonal day.

Peaches are one of my favorite summer fruits and not easy to grow or process, so it makes sense that buying peach pie filling in a can isn’t an inexpensive endeavor. However, a taste of summer is worth it on a winter’s day.

This recipe is super easy and doesn’t take a lot of time. If you start it when you come home from work on Friday night, you’ll have it in time for dessert. I had a variety of frozen nuts in my freezer and almost anything would work, but I chose walnuts for their earthy, sweet flavor, high oil content and overall deliciousness.

Slow Cooker Peach Cobbler

2 (21 oz) cans peach pie filling
1 box yellow cake mix
8 oz butter
1/2 cup walnuts or other nuts, chopped

Pour peach pie filling into slow cooker. Sprinkle with 1/2 of nuts. Top with dry yellow cake mix. Cut butter into slivers and place over dry cake mix. Top with the remaining nuts. Cook, on high, for 2 1/2 hours. Serve warm with ice cream.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 692, Calories from Fat: 317, Fat: 35 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (16 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 62 mg, Sodium: 664 mg, Potassium: 101 mg, Carbohydrates: 90 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 60 g, Protein: 5 g.

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

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Posted in: Dine In

Family Matters: Making Your Home Safe for Your Dog

Making Your Home Safe for Your DogGetting a dog is sort of like having a toddler – they can get into things you never saw coming!

To prepare a safe haven for your pooch, consider pet-proofing very much the same way you’d child-proof.

Use child-proof locks on cabinets that contain cleaning agents, chemicals or even food that your dog could get into and could be potentially harmful. Make sure all medications are on high shelves or in other places your dog can’t reach.

Consider putting a latch or at least a lid on your trash can, or secure it in a cabinet with a latch. That way, your dog can’t get into it and eat something he shouldn’t!

Keep the toilet lids closed. Do you really want your pet drinking toilet water?

Secure cords that your pet could trip over, so he doesn’t knock lamps or other appliances over on top of him.

Keep children’s toys with small parts out of reach of your dog, too.

Some house plants are poisonous. Research them before bringing them into your home and around your pet.

In your garage, make sure that your car isn’t leaking antifreeze, which can cause kidney failure in your pet, or that you don’t have paint, oil, gas, fertilizer or any other chemical agent accessible to your pet.

Family Matters: Keeping Kitty Safe At Home

Keeping Kitty Safe At HomeThey say cats have nine lives, but you don’t want them using up any of those in an unsafe living environment!

Keeping your cat safe in your home requires a few simple steps.

First, think like a cat! You’re going to have to examine your home for nooks, crannies and crevices that your cat can get into (look high, look low), and make sure they aren’t a safety hazard for your cat. Make sure nothing can fall on them and that they can’t get stuck anywhere. Patch any holes in walls or closets.

Keep an eye on your cat! Check the dryer before turning it on (cats like to climb into warm spaces). When outside in the winter, bang on your car hood before starting the car to make sure kitty hasn’t climbed up inside the warm engine.

Certain plants can be poisonous to pets. Research plants before bringing them into your home or remove ones you already have that might be dangerous.

Keep food put away; not all human food (or the packages it comes in) is good for cats.

Many bathroom essentials are toxic to cats, so be sure to keep makeup, cleaning agents and personal hygiene products behind closed doors.

Cats are notorious for playing with cords from electronics or strings dangling from blinds. Be sure to keep those out of reach so they don’t get tangled in them or chew through them, which can be fatal to your feline.

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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.

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

Ideas for the whole family come to you every Thursday.

Dine In

Stop fighting the crowds, save money and dine in, every Friday.

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