Are artificial sweeteners the answer to your sweet dessert problems? Not really. Artificial sweeteners do contain far fewer carbohydrates than regularly sweetened foods, and they’ve been proven safe in laboratory tests. But the real issue is health. Foods that use artificial sweeteners take the place of healthier foods. We really should be eating the foods that promote health—fresh fruits instead of pies and cakes. But if you’re stuck or heavily tempted, go for a sugar-free item. Just don’t make a habit of it!
What’s light as a feather, crispy as a cracker and oh-so-impressive to serve? The answer: Anything made with puff pastry! Puff pastry is a simple idea: layers of very-thinly rolled dough, layered with butter. As it bakes, the layers puff and the result is amazing. Making puff pastry from scratch is no easy task, but lucky for us, puff pastry is available at your local Brookshire’s. Look in the freezer case, near the Cool Whip and frozen fruit.
Have you ever had croissants? That’s puff pastry—all those wonderfully crisp and buttery layers. But did you know it’s as simple to make as rolling out pop-n-fresh dinner rolls? Seriously! And when something is simple, impressive and delicious, it’s the perfect choice for a kids-can-help food.
Thaw the dough in the fridge overnight, or on the countertop for 30 minutes. Unfold, roll out just a bit and then go to town. Add a filling and roll up, or cut into shapes and place yummy ingredients (sweet or savory) on top. Bake 20 minutes and you’re ready!
So what can you make with puff pastry? Pop bits of dough into muffin tins, and fill with taco meat for Mexi-puffs. Rollup ground beef, bacon and cheddar, and slice into rounds. Bake and call them Bacon Chedder Rounds. Bake squares of pastry and then top with cream cheese and smoked salmon…or ham and cheese. Wrap a thin strip of puff pastry around a stalk of asparagus and bake….the possibilities are limited only by your creativity. Kids can fill their dough with pizza toppings, sloppy joes and anything else they like.
I like to use puff pastry in place of pie crust when making chicken pot pies. Yummy, crispy golden goodness! Or make a puff pastry pizza…….or cut into small squares and enclose chocolate kisses in each. See what I mean? It’s awesome stuff! At Valentine’s Day, you can cut out heart-shaped pieces, bake and then layer with ice cream and canned cherry pie filling.
Okay, I’ll stop. The rest is up to you, though. Go to www.puffpastry.com for lots more ideas!
So you’re shopping more and eating out less? It’s a great way to save money. It’s also a great way to eat healthier at the same time. Take this week’s advertised special, for instance. Catfish fillets are extremely healthy—unless they’re deep fried. When you have catfish at most restaurants, deep-fried is often the only choice. But if you’re the cook, you make the call!
So instead of a delicious fish fry, how about a just-as-delicious UN fry? Oven-fried fish is easy and way healthier than traditional frying. Just dip in egg and then dip in flour or breadcrumbs (or specially packaged breading). Place the fish on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick coating and bake 10 to 15 minutes. That’s it!
But since no fish fry is complete without French fries, you can do them in the oven, too! If you haven’t yet tried oven fries, please don’t waste more time on the traditional ones! Slice potatoes (or sweet potatoes…yum!) into fry-sized pieces. Load the potatoes into a gallon-sized plastic bag and drizzle in a tablespoon of olive oil. Seal the bag and toss to coat (you won’t need much oil!). Add salt and pepper if you like, and bake on a sheet, along with your fish. Actually, you may want to start the potatoes earlier, since they’re more dense than fish fillets. Thin-sliced potatoes need 20 to 30 minutes; potato wedges will need up to 45 minutes. Don’t turn the taters until they’ve browned on the bottom, or they’ll stick to the pan.
With your fish and potatoes (un-fried) all you need is a salad—or to be more on-target with a fish fry, try some cole slaw! My favorite super-easy slaw recipe is this: take a bag of shredded cabbage mix (in the produce section) and add enough bottled low-fat ranch dressing to make a slaw. That’s it! Easy, peasy!
So take a look at your fish un-fry: oven baked fish, oven baked potatoes and sweet potatoes and cole slaw made with a low-fat dressing. It’s a crispy, homey dinner, and by fixing it yourself at home, you saved money and boosted nutrition!
It’s that time of year again: it’s the time when there aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done; when there are too many conflicting commitments; and when there are too many opportunities to pig out on food that’s not good for you.
We can’t help with the time management part, but we do have a few ideas for when it comes to food.
Overindulging: you can’t really get around it, but you can limit the damage. Consciously choose to eat small portions and skip the things that aren’t irresistible.
But for kids, one of the big issues is all those parties and events. You’ll almost always find candy, cookies and treats at these events. Lots of them. And most kids can’t resist.
Your job, as a parent and as part of a caring family, is to make the at-home times a bit healthier, to help balance out all those not-so-healthy events.
Keep good snacks readily available. In the pantry, set up a basket with ready-to-eat good treats.
Don’t you love it when you find a great sale, stock up, and can eat cheaply for weeks and weeks? Well, here’s your chance!
This week Brookshire’s has chicken split breasts on sale. A split breast is the kind of chicken that has the bone still in. And it’s split because what we call chicken breasts are really breast halves—a full breast has two big meaty sections.
Being big pieces of chicken, with bones still in, split breasts take longer to cook. If you freeze them as they are, they’ll also take a while to thaw. So to best use this sale, you might want to think ahead and do a little prep work. Here are a couple ideas:
Cook in advance. Place split breasts in a single layer on a baking sheet—as many as you can fit in the pan. Bake about 45 minutes at 375° F.—until the chicken is done. Now you can shred or chop this cooked meat, put in individual-sized freezer bags and fill your freezer with ready-to-use chicken meat. That’s more convenient than a rotisserie chicken! Enchiladas, soup, stir fries, you name it: just add the other ingredients and you’re good to go!
Season in advance. Take several split breasts (however many you need for one meal) and season them—sprinkle on fajita seasoning, or a roasting blend of thyme, basil and rosemary. Slide these pieces in a freezer bag, add a few chopped onions and peppers and stash in the deep freeze. Now, when you’re ready to cook, you’ve got the prep work all taken care of! Just bake and serve.
Use them now. Sounds like a no-brainer, but it really works out to your advantage. Make soup: place several split breasts in a pot of water with onions, carrots and celery; simmer until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken and cut the meat up. Add more veggies, some noodles…….and you have soup!
And the same goes for roasted breasts. Fix some for dinner, but fix twice as much as you need. Freeze the rest, or save a day or two to use as a second dinner.
When you get a great price on chicken, you’re smart to take advantage of it. What’s your secret for getting maximum mileage out of split breasts?
Here’s a helpful, healthful resource for those eating a gluten-free (and dairy-free) diet. It’s a free online magazine called Living Without. Brookshire’s doesn’t endorse outside publications or companies—this is merely for your information! You can see the publication at:
Most of the year, leftovers are not very popular. They’re ho-hum, make-do, save-some-money types of food. But Thanksgiving leftovers are another story. I know people who look forward to the day after Thanksgiving every bit as much as the actual turkey day!
Here are some ideas for taking leftovers one step further and turning them into their own extra-special foods. Nobody’s going to notice that they just had some of these foods the day before, because you’ll be transforming them into works of art that stand on their own! And who knows? Maybe next November, you’ll serve some of these dishes as part of the Thanksgiving feast!
Cranberry sauce: Prepare an 8.5 oz box of corn muffin mix. Before baking stir ¼ cup cranberry sauce and ¼ cup shredded Pepper jack cheese into the batter. Bake as usual.
Or here’s another one: Make salsa by mixing ½ cup cranberry sauce with ¼ cup chopped onion and a tablespoon each of chopped jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice. Serve with chips.
Mashed potatoes: Stuff them into halved poblano peppers, top with shredded cheese and bake until tender.
Turkey: In a food processor blender, finely chop a cup of turkey, a cup of mushrooms, 2 tsp soy sauce and 1 tsp fresh ginger. Mix in 1 egg white. Use this mixture to fill wonton wrappers and simmer in turkey broth.
Who says leftovers are boring? In fact, leftovers can be the star attraction when you put them together in new ways. Go for it!
Merry Christmas! Is this the first time your baby has experienced the excitement of Christmas? How do you know how much celebration is the right amount?
A lot depends on how old your baby is. If your little one is 11 ½ months old, the celebration will be different than if he’s just a newborn. Newborns hardly notice the event, and all observations really benefit everyone else. A baby who is nearly a year old will often be walking, babbling and into everything. They can really enjoy the lights and packages and songs!
Moderation usually works well, no matter what age your child is. Over-stimulation often results in fussy crying and sleepless nights. Space out the big events, skip the unimportant ones, and think about making your own family traditions. When you have a little one, long trips to visit relatives might not be the wisest choice; how about if the relatives come to visit you, instead?
If your baby is mobile this Christmas—either walking or crawling—you’ll want to keep safety in mind. Make sure dangerous plants and objects are out of arm’s reach, and take precautions to be sure your Christmas tree is safely anchored.
Happy Holidays—and for Baby, too!
Tony Chachere’s Seafood Bisque
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes Serves: 24
1 stick unsalted sweet cream butter
1 lb crab claw meat
4 Tbs Tony Chachere’s White Gravy
1 lb crawfish tails
15 oz shredded Swiss cheese
1 lb small shrimp
1 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 Tbs parsley, chopped
1 can whole kernel corn
2 Tbs wet garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can cream-style corn
1 Tbs green onions, chopped
2 (10 1/2 oz) cans cream of potato soup
1 Tbs dry sherry
2 quarts Half and Half
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
In a 6-quart pot, sauté onions until tender with melted butter and minced garlic. Add Tony Chachere’s white gravy to make a blond roux. Add corn, cream of potato, all seafood, half and half. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat immediately (put on medium heat to bring to boil). Add cheese, parsley, green onions and sherry. Season with Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning. Season until it has the right salt flavor and the rest will be perfect. Stir until cheese is completely melted. Remove from heat and serve.
For more great seasoning dinner ideas, visit www.tonychachere.com.
Recipe courtesy of Tony Chachere’s.
Prep time: 10 minutes
4 large Mission Life Balance Flour Tortillas
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups leftover turkey slices or pieces
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 cup spinach leaves
4 slices provolone, Swiss or cheddar cheese
8 tomato slices
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and parmesan cheese. Spread over each tortilla. Top with turkey pieces, onion, spinach, sliced cheese and tomato slices, layered along the center one-third of the tortilla. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roll up tortillas tightly to enclose the filling. Cut in half crosswise.
Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 198, Fat: 3 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 28 mg, Carbohydrates: 40 g, Fiber: 6 g, Protein: 5 g
© 2009, Brookshire Grocery Co. Nutrient counts are rounded to the nearest whole number. All dietary and lifestyle changes should be supervised by a physician.
Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.
Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.
On Wednesdays, get a tip or idea on using an item in the circular.
Ideas for the whole family come to you every Thursday.
Stop fighting the crowds, save money and dine in, every Friday.