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Family Matters: Baby Fever


My older son, Will, celebrated his 16th birthday recently. I was his biggest cheerleader when it came time to get his driver’s license that day – until seeing him pull away from the curb and drive away. Alone.

I was not expecting the huge wave of emotion that hit me down to my core – almost instantly. And before I knew what was happening, I was crying and reminiscing about the day Will was born, his first day of preschool, the day he learned to ride his bike, and on and on. Why I tortured myself with all of the sweet memories I have with him, I’ll never know. I acted like he had driven off into the sunset never to return.

Of course, that is almost true. It was 4 p.m. when he drove away, and several hours passed before he decided he might want to think about coming home. Needless to say, his newfound keys to freedom came and disappeared all in the same day.

While he was gone that afternoon and I wasn’t frustrated with him yet, I decided to pull out some of his old baby photos and scrapbooks and reminisce even more, as if this somehow was going to help the pain.

I found a photo of Will exactly one week old. This would be the same time I took him to our pediatrician with his first “fever.”

I was hysterical that September day. Will was flushed and sweating and overheated, and I was certain he was on the brink of death. I raced to the doctor, without any appointment of course, and rushed in the office. I don’t know how the receptionist even understood what I was saying through my post-partum crying fit.

In just a moment or two, Will and I were back in the doctor’s private office. After looking at Will wrapped in a blanket, hat, gloves, socks and head-to-toe sleeper, the doctor wisely just suggested we take off some of Will’s wintry layers and let him enjoy the September 100-degree sunshine.

Miraculously, Will’s “fever” disappeared.

Will’s Favorite Sweet Potato Apple Baby Food

Ingredients:
3 large sweet potatoes
3 organic apples

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Wash and cut apples and sweet potatoes. Place in a baking pan and cover with foil. Bake until soft, about 45 minutes. Peel apples and place in food processor. Remove sweet potato from the skin and add to food processor. Puree. You can add water if you want a thinner puree. Makes 6 baby servings.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 136, Total Fat: 0.3 g, Sodium 8 mg, Carbohydrates 33.5 g, Fiber: 5.3 g, Protein: 1.4 g



Shop the Sale: Mushroom Risotto


Once upon a time, I was too scared to attempt to make risotto.

The Italian rice dish of my dreams was supposed to be creamy, complex and time consuming.

Admittedly, it is creamy. It is complex in its developed flavors and it does take some time to reduce the cooking liquids into a delicious bath of thick broth. But actually risotto is an amazingly simple dish with spectacular results.

Harvest Club White Mushrooms are on sale at Brookshire’s this week. The addition of this simple ingredient elevates the flavors of risotto to angels-singing-at-the-gates-of-heaven proportions. While you do have to give yourself some time to bring this dish together, the minutes will be well spent. I promise.

No fear involved.

Mushroom Risotto
Serves 6

Ingredients:
6 cups chicken broth, divided
3 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 lb portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 lb white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 shallots, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 Tbs finely chopped chives
4 Tbs butter
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.

Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the shallots. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter, chives, and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional Information: Calories 654; Calories from Fat 176;Total Fat 20 g;Cholesterol 25 mg; Sodium 966 mg;Total Carbohydrates 85 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 2 g; Protein 29 g

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



Healthy Living: Vegetarian Awareness Month


Growing up becoming a vegetarian always interested me. I have never been one who really liked meat; I know it’s weird. In college I would frequently make a meal without meat and my roommates would look at me weird. I would never think twice about a meatless meal. October is Vegetarian Awareness Month and I challenge you to have a meatless meal once a week.

There are a variety of types of vegetarians. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat fruit, vegetables, dairy and eggs only excluding meat. Lacto-vegetarians do not eat any meat or eggs, but do consume dairy. Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs, but not dairy product and meat. Vegans exclude all animal products including honey, gelatin and dairy products. Fruitarians only eat fruit, nut and seeds. Pescetarians avoid meat, but eat seafood. Flexitarians only eat meat on occasion.

Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol reducing the risk of developing heart disease. The vegetarian diet can also be lower in iron, calcium, protein, vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics with a variety of foods a vegetarian diet can meet all the recommendations of these nutrients.

Iron is essential for healthy red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body. Plant sources of iron, non-heme iron, are harder to absorb than heme-iron, which is found in meat. Non-meat sources of iron are iron-fortified breakfast cereal, cooked spinach, chickpeas, lentils, dried beans, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, broccoli and blackstrap molasses. Iron is more readily absorbed when consumed with vitamin C. Foods high in vitamin C are strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli.

Calcium is important to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Most American’s get their calcium from milk and dairy products, which presents a problem in Americans following a vegan, fruitarians or ovo-vegetarian diet.  Sources of calcium are calcium fortified orange juice and green leafy vegetables like turnip greens, collard greens, kale and broccoli.

Protein is important for healthy skin, bones, muscles and organs. Good sources of protein are nuts, nut butters, beans, seed, lentils and whole grains. Quinoa, a whole grain, has all the essential amino acids making it one of few plant-based complete proteins.

Vitamin B12 is almost exclusively found in animal products, but can be found in fortified cereals.

Zinc is essential component of many enzymes and plays a roll in cell division and the formation of protein. Zinc can be found in fortified cereals, dried beans, nuts and whole grains.

Omega-3 fatty acid which is important in a heart healthy diet is found in fish and eggs. Other sources of omga-3 fatty acids are canola oil, walnuts and ground flaxseeds.

With a diet in a variety of fruits and vegetables a vegetarian diet can meet all of your dietary recommendations. Here is one of my favorite meatless recipes:

Black Bean and Corn Quinoa
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 8

1 tsp Food Club Canola Oil(NuVal 24)
1 onion, chopped (NuVal score 93)
3 garlic cloves, minced (NuVal score 91)
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa (NuVal score 91)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp Food Club Salt
1/4 tsp Food Club Ground Black Pepper
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (NuVal score 91)
2 cups cooked black beans
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (NuVal score 99)
1 avocado, diced (NuVal score 89)

Directions:
In a saucepan, over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and garlic; sauté until lightly browned. Mix quinoa into saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in corn and black beans; cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and avocado.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 398, Fat: 9 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 297 mg, Carbohydrates: 64 g, Fiber: 15 g, Protein: 20 g



Product Talk: Deli and Produce Platters


What do you get when 12 of your closest friends decide to move the football party to your house because the previous hostess had a plumbing leak?

Panic. That’s what you get. Sheer panic.

I know because this happened to me not too long ago.  Luckily, I had about 48 hours advance notice. Unluckily, about 46.5 of those hours were already committed to things other than party preparation.  That’s where Brookshire’s comes in. Let’s be honest: that’s where Brookshire’s saved my sanity.

A quick call to the closest store and I was not only in business, but would be proclaimed the hostess with the mostess after my friends saw the spread.  My secret? Deli and produce platters from your nearest Brookshire’s store.

I ordered the Fruit and Cheese explosion, a beautifully decorated platter chock full of baby Swiss, cheddar, Jackby and Muenster cheeses, green and red grapes, cantaloupe, pineapple and strawberries. It has a little something for everyone.

I also got the Drum Drums, where spicy chicken wing drumettes and crispy celery sticks are lined up and ready to be dipped in creamy ranch dressing.

To round off the meal, I ordered the Rounders, a tray piled high with slightly-sweet Hawaiian rolls filled with turkey breast, cooked ham, roast beef and yellow American cheese.

I could have also chosen from platters of fried chicken, rotisserie chicken, finger sandwiches, sandwiches on buttery croissants, snack wraps, salads, just meats and more. The options are endless and your deli staff can even work with you to create a custom offering.

“How did you pull this off?” my friends wondered.

Easy. Brookshire’s.



Dine-In: Update to an Old Classic Casserole


Creamy Chicken Pasta with SpinachThe cooler weather recently not only put an extra skip in my step, it had me craving s’mores, pumpkin bread and my grandmother’s hearty casseroles! It’s amazing what a little cooler temperature can do to bring a lift in your heart and much more energy than I’ve had the past few months of sweltering, humid air.

As I put on my fleece jacket to go walk my dog (yes, I tend to overdo my excitement. I think the temperature was actually about 85°F.), I decided to pull out my old family notebook of generations of recipes that have been passed down throughout the years. These recipes are quite comforting, bringing back old memories of visiting with my grandmother while she cooked away in her tiny little kitchen in Grenada, MS.

One of my favorites was her creamy pasta casserole she made with canned tuna, cream of mushroom soup, and elbow macaroni. I’ve updated it a little here and there over the years to suit my family’s taste, dropping the tuna and replacing it with leftover rotisserie chicken. I’ve also added a bit of spinach and taken the time to make a homemade sauce instead of the canned soup.

This is a perfect Friday night family-pleasing dinner, and so easy to do before you head out to the football game or head to your sofa to catch your favorite shows! Be sure to save the leftovers; the flavor gets even better the next day!

Creamy Chicken Pasta with Spinach
Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups low-fat milk (not skim)
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 slices of any kind of bread, torn into pieces
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 (10-oz) pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess liquid removed
2 cups leftover shredded cooked chicken
12 oz of your favorite pasta shells, cooked according to instructions on package

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°. Heat oil in a medium pot on the stove. Add onion and cook until softened, about five minutes. Add flour, stirring constantly. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine bread, Parmesan cheese and seasonings in a food processor, and pulse to make crumbs.

Add chicken and spinach to the cooled sauce. Gently fold in cooked pasta shells. Taste again for salt and pepper. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray. Top with breadcrumb mixture.

Bake until bubbly and browned, about 20 minutes.

Nutritional Information: Calories per serving: 704, Fat: 32 g, Carbohydrates: 63 g, Protein: 42 g

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

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Family Matters: Balance


I don’t know about you, but there are times I really struggle with balance in my life. Right now is one of those times.

The beginning of the school year is always hectic. There are new class routines for my two boys, getting back into the habit of doing homework and studying math facts, spelling and vocabulary and starting activities again. Luke plays soccer. This year Curt wanted to try karate. In the meantime, I’m short-staffed at work and have been very involved in planning and executing an awesome event that takes place this weekend – Girl Power.

In short, all balance in my life has gone right out the window.

I have to actually remind myself to stop, slow down and not get (too) stressed out.  Because when I’m stressed, my kids are stressed, and that’s not good for anyone.

Here’s a few of the things I’ve found has helped my family achieve balance during the hectic, chaotic times:

1. I use the crock pot several times a week. With karate at 6 p.m. and soccer at 6 p.m. and not leaving work until after 5 p.m., if I hold on to any hope of getting dinner on the table at a reasonable hour, it’ll be something I’d prepared in the crock pot. Plus my house smells so good when we walk in that I’m convinced the added bonus is aromatherapy.
2. When I can’t use the crock pot, I’ve decided that tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich are a perfectly acceptable dinner.
3. I read the Brookshire’s circular and the Shop the Sale blogs and make my grocery list so not only am I saving money, but saving time by only shopping once during the week.
4. I turn off the car radio during my late afternoon commute and either ride in silence, which helps me unwind, or plug my iPhone into the car’s radio auxiliary and only listen to music – no talking. (Recent favorites: Amos Lee, Mumford & Sons, Iron and Wine, the soundtrack to The Hunger Games, The Decemberists and The Civil Wars).
5. Family Reading Time! The boys are required to read AT LEAST 20 minutes a night, so we turn off all electronics and all spend time with our books. We usually all end up curling up on the couch together and it’s quiet, it’s cuddly and we can all escape into our books together. (It’s also a good way to wind down before bedtime).
6. Remembering not to sweat the small stuff. Easier said than done. But in all actuality, washing the bed sheets can wait until the weekend and not every piece of mail has to be attended to immediately.
7. Oh, and did I mention tomato soup?



Ask Leigh


Question: How long can you keep spices in your kitchen shelves? Do they ever go bad?

Answer: It’s not so much that the spices might “go bad” and make you sick in some way. It’s more likely that old spices just lose their flavor and potency. Although I will say that seeds can go rancid, so you definitely want to pay attention to how long you keep those sesame and poppy seeds.

First of all, spices need to be stored in a cool, dry, dark place – away from the heat of the stove or any moisture. Heat and light will actually rapidly affect the shelf life of spices. And don’t store them in the refrigerator either; the humidity can harm them as well.

So if you store your spices correctly:

  • Most ground herbs and spices keep their flavor about a year.
  • Whole spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon sticks, are good up to three years if you keep them tightly closed.

What I’ve started doing is keeping a Sharpie pen in my spice drawer. When I buy a spice, I just write the date of my purchase on the jar. Otherwise, I tend to forget when I’ve bought them, and years fly by.

And in the end, if you have any question as to if they might have “gone bad,” toss them!

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Posted in: Cooking


Shop the Sale: Autumn Salad


Fall is definitely in the air.

I’m ready to wear my tall black boots, go on campouts, crunch the leaves on the local walking trail and hike at the nearby state park.

I’m also ready to use apples in as much of my cooking as is humanly possible.

This week, Northwest Honey Crisp Apples and Fresh Express Salad Blends are on sale at Brookshire’s, so it’s the perfect time to toss together an Autumn Salad, full of fall’s bright flavors and colors. You can add chicken to make this a main course meal. I like this with a poppyseed or raspberry viniagrette, but you can certainly use the salad dressing of your choice.

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

Autumn Salad
Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:
1 bag Fresh Express Salad Blends
3 Northwest Honey Crisp apples, chopped
2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup red grapes, sliced

Directions:
Toss all ingredients together. Add your favorite salad dressing. Enjoy.

Nutritional Information: Calories  185; Calories from fat 57; Total fat 6 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 9 mg; Carbohydrates 32 g;  Dietary fiber 7 g; Sugars 18 g; Protein 3 g



Healthy Living: Breakfast Outside the Box


We all know – and hear regularly – that breakfast is an important meal never to skip, especially for our growing kids. Study after study has shown that kids who eat breakfast are much more likely to perform better in school and stay focused throughout the day. One study I read even suggested that children who eat a good breakfast are much less likely to develop childhood obesity. Breakfast is a powerful tool!

But if you’re like me, I have a hard time getting enough protein first thing in the morning. and my kids would much rather eat a biscuit with butter and jelly than to concentrate on the protein needed to help them concentrate throughout the day. One son doesn’t eat eggs; the other one doesn’t drink milk. It’s a constant struggle to find good, low fat protein sources we all will enjoy for breakfast.

I’ve had to think outside the cereal box for new ideas, and often this means opening the breakfast menu to items they might eat at lunch or dinner. This might sound unusual, but mine love a leftover taco or plate of chicken and pasta for breakfast! I’ve even reheated Chinese fried rice on occasion.

If you’re looking for some creative protein ideas for breakfast, you might try refried beans spread on whole-grain tortillas or as odd as it may sound, I know some kids who love hummus on whole grain tortilla chips for their early morning energy.

I’ve made these healthy black bean quesadillas for my children for breakfast – and no one even noticed or complained about the spinach. You can add eggs or salsa if your family likes those ingredients, and don’t be shy about using any leftover chicken or potatoes from dinner the night before. Breakfast doesn’t have to only be from a box!

Black Bean Quesadillas
Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 cups baby spinach leaves
4 (8-inch) whole-grain tortillas
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
 

Directions:
Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add spinach leaves and cook for two minutes or until wilted. Remove from pan and set aside.  

Spray skillet lightly again with cooking spray and allow to reheat to medium-high heat. Place one tortilla in bottom of skillet and cook for 1 minute.

Add spinach; sauté 1 minute or until spinach is wilted. Remove from pan and set aside. Wipe pan with a paper towel. 

Coat pan with cooking spray; place over medium heat until hot. Place one tortilla in pan. Cook 1 minute or until bottom of tortilla is golden. Sprinkle ¼ of spinach, beans and cheese over one side of tortilla. Gently fold tortilla in half and flip over to cook for 1 more minute. Repeat with remaining tortillas and spinach, beans and cheese. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 292, Total Fat: 10.6 g, Saturated Fat: 6.2 g, Sodium 196 mg, Carbohydrates 32.2 g, Protein: 18.6 g



Product Talk: Food Club Black Beans


I love beans. Black beans in particular.  Stop with the jokes. NOW.

Beans are great for protein and lend themselves well to ‘Meatless Monday’ dishes.

Plus they’re just delicious.

This dish combines the hearty flavors of black beans with a southwestern style casserole the whole family is sure to love.

Food Club Black Beans are savory and a great addition to any meal.  In most recipes,  you’re instructed to drain and rinse your black beans. Definitely drain them, but I’d challenge you not to rinse the beans. The residue makes for a thicker sauce.

Southwestern Black Bean Casserole
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 (15 oz) cans Food Club black beans, drained
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fat-free, low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
4 low-sodium, whole wheat tortillas OR 6 corn tortillas
12 oz salsa
1 cup shredded 2% cheese
Salt to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Drain beans and set aside. In the meantime, in a medium skillet, add oil, heat over medium-low heat. Add garlic and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add black beans and broth and continue cooking approximately 3 minutes. Add cumin, black pepper, salt and cilantro. Stir to combine.

Spray the bottom of an 8×8 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray. Add a tortilla, ¼ cup black bean mixture, ¼ cup salsa and ¼ cheese; continue layering until all ingredients have been used. Top casserole with remaining  ¼ cup cheese.

Cover casserole dish with foil and bake approximately 20 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly. Remove foil and continue cooking 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with sour cream, if desired.

Nutritional Information: Calories 259; Total Fat 5 g; Saturated Fat 2 g; Cholesterol 4 mg; Sodium 436 mg; Carbohydrates 40 g; Dietary Fiber 9 g; Sugars 4 g; Protein 12 g

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



Copyright © 2010-2017, 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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