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Family Matters: Family goes far deeper than bloodlines


Sometimes being a family doesn’t’ mean you’re related by blood. Sometimes it means that you’re there for someone else, through thick and thin, no matter what.

Although my family would do anything, at any time for me, they live far away, but I’m blessed – and blessed is the only word for it – to have several close friends nearby who I consider as much my family as my flesh and blood.

We’ve seen each other through divorces, job losses, ailing, aging parents, a cancelled wedding, countless boyfriends, children troubles, children triumphs, a new baby and several new places to live. We’ve helped each other move, we’ve painted bedrooms, we’ve held garage sales together and taken trips together. We’ve taken a few of us to the emergency room and gone to birthday parties and celebrations for our children. It’s quite fair to say we’ve done a lot of laughing, a little crying, a ton of talking and texting and phone calling. We’ve been irritated with each other and we’ve spoken our minds, but at the end of the day, we’re still so much like sisters it’s… yes, a blessing.

Every Thursday is Girls Night Out. We get together, usually at the same place, and wrap up the week. The food is fabulous and the conversation is even better. I love our weekly tradition and I love the women who are my family, when my flesh and blood is far away.

Family goes far deeper than bloodlines. Family goes straight to the heart.

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Posted in: Family Matters


Shop the Sale: Fresh Catfish Fillets


After 15 years of living in Texas, I almost didn’t realize that you could do anything with catfish other than deep fry it. I’ve been to many a fish fry where golden nuggets of cornmeal battered catfish were served by the pound.

Last summer, I went to eat at a friend’s home. She’s extremely health conscious, as she had a heart attack at an early age.

She grilled the catfish and it was deliciously spicy and the grill brought out a flavor I’d never before experienced with catfish.

With fresh catfish fillets on sale at Brookshire’s this week, it’s the perfect time to expand your catfish repertoire.

Spicy Grilled Catfish
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 (6 oz) catfish fillets
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh gingerroot or 2 tsp ground ginger
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (1 Tbs)
3 green onions, chopped
1 tsp instant minced onion
1 tsp paprika
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:
In a shallow dish, arrange catfish fillets. In a small bowl or jar, combine lemon juice, soy sauce, vegetable oil, ginger, garlic, green onions, minced onion, paprika and cayenne pepper. Pour it over catfish. Cover, marinate then refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Remove the catfish from marinade; grill or broil 4 minutes on each side, or until catfish flakes with fork.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 377, Calories from Fat: 240, Total Fat: 27 g, Cholesterol: 80 mg, Sodium: 992 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 6 g, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 1 g, Protein: 28 g



HEALTHY LIVING: LIGHTENED UP CHICKEN ENCHILADA CASSEROLE


I adore casseroles. A big pan of mixed goodness and usually only one dish to wash.

But I’m not such a fan of the fact that casseroles (at least the ones I love) are usually laden with cheeses and cream-of-something soups.  Perhaps it will be my mission in 2013 to create lighter versions of some of the foods I love best.  It’s often not hard to reduce fat and calories in a recipe. You can often reduce the amount of cheese called for by at least half. Instead of creamy bases, use broth and thicken it with a bit of cornstarch. Certain vegetables, when pureed, also thicken a soup or cream sauce instead of adding extra fat. Increasing the spices adds more flavor without adding any extra calories.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
4 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/3 cup (3 oz) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups chopped onion, divided
6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup salsa verde
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs chopped, pickled jalapeño pepper
9 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/4 cup (1 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425° F.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sauté 4 minutes on each side. Place skillet in oven; bake at 425° F for 10 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 15 minutes. Remove meat from bones; shred. Discard bones. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, corn, and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) to chicken; toss to combine.

Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup onion; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 garlic cloves; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add onion mixture to chicken mixture; stir to combine.

Combine remaining 1 1/2 cups onion, remaining 3 garlic cloves, broth, salsa, 1/4 cup water, and jalapeño in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Carefully pour mixture into a blender; add 2 tablespoons cilantro. Process until smooth.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tortillas; cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove tortillas from pan; repeat procedure with remaining tortillas. Cut tortillas into quarters.

Spread 1/2 cup salsa mixture in the bottom of an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 12 tortilla quarters over salsa mixture. Spoon half of chicken mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers, ending with tortillas. Pour remaining salsa mixture over tortillas; sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake at 425° F for 15 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Top with remaining cilantro.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 371, Fat: 12 g, Protein: 23 g, Carbohydrate: 45 g, Fiber: 5 g, Cholesterol: 80 mg, Iron: 2 mg, Sodium: 759 mg, Calcium: 141 mg

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Posted in: Healthy Living


PRODUCT TALK: ASIAN PEARS


Walking through Brookshire’s last weekend, I spotted something I’d never seen, or heard of, before. And for me, that’s saying a lot. After all, I do eat voraciously. Wait! Did I say “eat?” I meant READ. I READ voraciously.

Ahem.

That little slip aside, the Asian pear is a sight to behold. Rounder than a traditional green pear, with a nutty-colored skin, the Asian pear has a texture more like an apple but a mild, subtle flavor.

The Asian pear is native to northern China but also grown in Japan.

A good-quality Asian pear is selected by smell rather than variations in firmness. Unlike other pears that yield to gentle pressure when ripe, Asian pears are ripe even when they are extremely firm. Select by their strong and sweet aroma. Asian pears, like green pears, are delicate and bruise easily. Ripen in a cool, dark place or refrigerate for a few days. They are meant to be eaten crunchy, not soft.

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Posted in: Product Talk


Dine-In: Meatloaf


MeatloafMeatloaf 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

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



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.

Salsa
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


Family Matters: Keeping your pet warm in the winter


The weather outside can be frightful, but your pet still needs to go outside to potty.

Or, if your dogs are like mine, they spend the majority of their time during the day while I’m at work outside playing (and digging…).

It’s essential your outdoor – or indoor – pet stays warm in the winter. For animals that are spending time outside, whether just during the day or all the time, they need shelter that protects them from wind, rain and snow. A place that is small and well insulated, for the pet’s own body heat to keep the temperature up. You can even use hay and blankets to keep shelters or doghouses nice and cozy. For inside pets, soft, warm places to snooze are a must, especially if you have tile, stone or wood floors instead of carpeting. Older pets, especially, will snuggle into thick beds with egg-crate-type padding. Older pets are extremely susceptible to cold, so think about a warm sweater or wrap for your older pet as well.

Don’t forget about food and water. With freezing temperatures, water bowls freeze as well. Make sure your pet has a fresh supply of non-frozen water to drink during the day. Some retailers even offer heated bowls to help keep your pet hydrated.

In the coldest of colds, use caution when starting your car if you are a cat owner. Cats notoriously creep into car engines to stay warm.

If your pet goes out to potty, you might want to consider pet shoes or booties to keep his paws protected from snow and ice. Just be sure to ask him to wipe his feet before he comes back inside.

Finally, if at all possible, bring your pets inside as often as you can!



Shop the Sale: Whole Chickens


If chicken soup is for the soul, then homemade chicken stock is pretty much for all that ails you.

With cold and flu season in full force, any extra defense we can provide our bodies against germs is critical. Not only does a chicken soup warm the body from the inside out, but it provides its historic medicinal properties for the sniffles and aches, too. A homemade chicken stock is full of calcium. Also, the gelatin-rich broth helps the digestibility of our entire meal, supports liver function, and aides bone and teeth health through the easily absorbed minerals.

Did I mention it smells divine? I leave mine simmering on the stove overnight and when I wake up the following morning, the whole house is infused with the scent of the rich broth. I’ll make a double batch in a huge stock pot and freeze what I don’t use for other projects.

It’s so easy and delicious.

Plus, whole chickens are on sale at Brookshire’s this week.  I’d venture to guess that once you’ve had a homemade chicken stock, you’ll be hooked.

Chicken Stock
Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
Gizzards from 1 chicken (optional)
1 gallon cold filtered water
2 Tbs vinegar
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
3 sticks celery, roughly chopped
1 bunch parsley

Directions:
Butcher your whole chicken into multiple pieces. It doesn’t have to be pretty. In fact, you want some bones exposed. Exposed bones leach calcium and other ions into your broth.  Cut off the wings and the neck and cut those down. Put the chicken pieces in a large stainless steel stock pot and cover with the water, vinegar and veggies (minus the parsley). The role of the vinegar is to suck the calcium and nutrients from the chicken bones and add it to your broth.

Let the mixture stand for 30 to 60 minutes. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Once you have that all skimmed, reduce the heat and cook (covered) for 6 hours to 24 hours. The longer the better – it will yield a much richer stock. About 10 minutes before the stock is done, add the parsley. The parsley is important because it adds mineral ions to the broth.

Let the broth cool slightly and then remove the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon or tongs. If you used a whole chicken, make sure you save the meat for casseroles or soup.  Strain the stock into another bowl and stick it in the fridge until the broth congeals and the fat rises to the top. Skim off the fat and reserve it for future projects.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 164, Calories from Fat: 86, Cholesterol: 64 mg, Sodium: 111 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 5 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 2 g, Protein: 14 g



Healthy Living: Sweet Potatoes


I was thinking about my friend, Steve, today. He passed away recently…but this isn’t a sad post – it’s a happy one.

Steve had this obsession with sweet potatoes. I think he ate them several times a week. I never really understood the love of the orange potato, but I think that was because, until I met Steve, I’d never had them prepared any other way than mashed with marshmallows at Thanksgiving.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamins A and C. They are more nutritious if cooked in their skins.  Some people even refer to the sweet potato as “the perfect food.”

Steve could prepare a sweet potato any way you could imagine. Once when we had dinner, he pureed them with parsnips to make kind of a mashed potato mash up.

He was always posting pictures of his food on Facebook and he’d get dozens of comments of people clamboring for his recipes. Every time I found a sweet potato recipe that looked intriguing, I’d send it his way.  This was one I found that he made and gave “two thumbs up.”

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 cups (1/4-inch) cubed, peeled sweet potato
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 1 medium)
1 1/4 cups fat-free chicken broth, divided
2/3 cup evaporated skim milk
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
Dash of white pepper
Dash of ground nutmeg
Chopped leek (optional)

Directions:
Combine sweet potato, sliced leek, and 1/4 cup broth in a 1-1/2-quart casserole; stir well. Cover, and microwave at HIGH 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes. Place sweet potato mixture in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients except chopped leek; process 30 seconds or until blended. Garnish with chopped leek, if desired. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 136, Fat: 1 g, Protein: 5 g, Carbohydrate: 27 g, Fiber: 3 g, Cholesterol: 2 mg, Iron: 1 mg, Sodium: 416 mg, Calcium: 162 mg



Product Talk: Bacon


Pecan Sugared 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.

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



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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