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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

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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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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.

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Dine-In: Filet Bourguignonne with Mashed Potatoes


You know how ‘they’ say never to try a new recipe on guests or for an important occasion? Well I never listen.

My fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants method had never really failed me. Until I got cocky. “Sure, I’m a decent cook. What does it matter if I’m trying this recipe for the first time when I have eight dinner guests arriving in 45 minutes?”

After all, how hard could it be to grill potatoes?

Unless, ahem, you were supposed to parboil the potatoes first. But someone (not naming names) didn’t read the recipe carefully first.

Let me tell you, raw potatoes just aren’t that tasty.

I learned my lesson. Now I at least carefully study each recipe if I’m going to make it for guests or a special dinner.

Valentine’s Day is about a month away and you probably want to make something special for your sweetie. Luckily, there are several weeks to get ready for that meal you’re sure to prepare. Friday nights are the perfect times to try out new recipes – makes the end of the week feel special and ensures no flub ups on the Big Night.

This recipe is faster than the traditional version – perfect for making on a Friday night (or Thursday night if it happens to be Valentine’s Day).

Filet Bourguignonne with Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4 

Ingredients:
1 lb baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1 lb beef tenderloin, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
5 tsp butter, divided
1 bacon slice, finely chopped
1 (8 oz) pkg mushrooms, quartered
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp no-salt-added tomato paste
1/2 cup earthy red wine
1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
2 Tbs water
2 tsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbs 2% reduced-fat milk
Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

Directions:
Place potatoes in a saucepan over high heat; cover with cool water. Bring to a boil; cook 10 minutes or until very tender. Drain. Return potatoes to pan; keep warm.

While potatoes cook, place onions in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with a paper towel. Microwave at high 4 minutes. Finely chop 1 (2-inch) cube of tenderloin, and set aside. Pat dry the remaining beef cubes with a paper towel; sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan; swirl to coat. Add seasoned beef cubes; sauté 3 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add finely chopped beef and bacon to pan; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes or until mushrooms brown, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, chopped thyme, and sugar; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add wine, and bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 2 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.

Add onions and broth; bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute. Combine 2 tablespoons water and flour in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture to pan; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return browned beef cubes to pan; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cooked to medium-rare or desired degree of doneness.

Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, remaining 2 teaspoons butter, and milk to potatoes in saucepan; mash with a potato masher until desired consistency. Serve beef and sauce over potatoes; garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 382, Fat: 13 g, Protein: 31 g, Carbohydrates: 28 g, Fiber: 3 g, Cholesterol: 91 mg, Sodium: 505 mg, Calcium: 65 mg.

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



Family Matters: Elementary school


Adding to the list of “I Will Never” is ‘I will never get my elementary school aged child a cell phone’.

Really, what does an elementary school aged child need with a phone? They can’t bring them to school. They’re only going to call me, Dad, 911 or the one other elementary school aged child who has a cell phone.  Right.

That one went down in a blaze of glory at Christmas this year.

My older son, who just turned 11 and is in the fifth grade, didn’t even specifically ASK for a phone for Christmas. What he asked for was an iTouch, which does everything an iPhone does, without the telephone capabilities. He wanted it for games, apps and music. Well, an iTouch starts at about $200 and you still have to add it to a data plan. I didn’t really see the point, knowing that his dad and I had agreed he could get a phone the summer before sixth grade anyway. Why buy the iTouch now and a phone six months from now? Especially when said iPhone 4 was FREE with a contract.

So he got the phone and was beyond thrilled. I really thought his eyes were going to roll back in his head in electronic ecstasy.

But he’s in fifth grade.  He’s 11 years old. We had to talk about rules.

1. Mom and Dad have the pass-lock code, the iTunes log in and password and access to anything, anywhere on your phone, at any time. If we say “hand it over,” we’d better be able to look at anything we want to look at. Immediately.

2. Having a phone is a privilege, not a right. It goes right back into the box in Mom’s locked office drawer if you abuse this privilege.

3.  Never answer a call from a number you do not know. No one accept Mom, Dad and the few family members we entered into your contacts needs to be calling you.

4. Do not give out your phone number to anyone. We can revisit this next year, when social norms shift a bit, but for now, it’s private.

5. Ditto No. 3, but with text messages. And especially do not click on a link on any text that you receive from a strange number.

6. When Mom or Dad calls or texts: answer. Answer immediately. We’re having some issues with this one. He claims he keeps letting the charge run out (I know this is somewhat true). Keep the phone charged and answer it.

7. Do not buy anything off of iTunes without permission. True story, I had a friend whose son racked up almost $300 of iTunes charges before she checked her email to see the iTunes receipts. Oh. Horror. If you want to buy a song, or an app, we’ll negotiate what that app will “cost.”

8. Do not even download a free app without Mom or Dad knowing what it is.

9. Share with your little brother every once and awhile.

10. And if we play against each other in Chess, let Mom win. Just once.



Shop the Sale: Hoisin Pork


I think I may have mentioned recently that I have an affinity for a certain local Chinese-food restaurant.

Luckily for the establishment and unluckily for my waistline, it’s very close to my house. I’ve been going so often for a bowl of Hot and Sour Soup that, by now, everyone knows my name (cue music to popular ’80s sitcom).

Being a regular has its perks.

I went in on Christmas Eve (Hush! Yes, I said Christmas Eve – don’t judge until you’ve tried their soup!) and the proprietor beckoned me over to the edge of the shiny silver counter. He practically shoved a covered plate into my hands.

“Try this,” he said.

Without any further urging, I took the offering to my table along with the soup and eggroll.

I uncovered one of the most delicious pieces of pork I’d ever tasted.

“Not on menu. Special,” he told me.

Yes it was.

I can’t wait to make it at home.

As my fortune cookie predicted (wink), boneless pork tenderloin is on sale this week at Brookshire’s. Try this today!

Hoisin Pork
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbs sliced green onions
2 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1 lb) pork tenderloin, trimmed
Cooking spray
1 Tbs sesame seeds

Directions:
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add pork to bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 2 hours, turning bag once.

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Remove pork from bag, reserving marinade. Place pork on the rack of a broiler pan or roasting pan coated with cooking spray; place rack in oven. Bake at 425° F for 15 minutes. Sprinkle pork with sesame seeds; bake an additional 5 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160° F (slightly pink). Place pork on a cutting board; let stand 10 minutes. Cut into (1/2-inch-thick) slices.

Pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 2 minutes); serve with pork.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 194, Fat: 6 g, Protein: 25 g, Carbohydrate: 9 g, Fiber: 1 g, Cholesterol: 68 mg, Iron: 2 mg, Sodium: 574 mg, Calcium: 37 mg



Product Talk: Parsnips


Parsnip Fries with RosemaryParsnips might be one of those vegetables you overlook in the store or you’re not quite sure how to prepare it. So you slide by it in the produce section, trying not to make eye contact.

But parsnips, a root vegetable, shouldn’t be passed over. They’re related to the carrot, but much paler in color and have a sweeter taste, especially when you cook them (I’m not a fan of the raw parsnip myself).

They can be boiled, roasted or used in stews, soups and casseroles.

In some cases, the parsnip is boiled and the solid portions are removed from the soup or stew, leaving behind a more subtle flavor than the whole root, and starch to thicken the dish.


Find these in season in your local Brookshire’s right now!

Parsnip Fries with Rosemary
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 1/2 lbs parsnips or carrots, peeled, cut into about three 1/2 inch strips
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus 5 sprigs rosemary
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 Tbs olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp (or more) ground cumin

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450° F. Mix parsnips, chopped rosemary, garlic, and oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer. Scatter rosemary sprigs over.

Roast for 10 minutes; turn parsnips and roast until parsnips are tender and browned in spots, 10-15 minutes longer. Crumble leaves from rosemary sprigs over; discard stems and toss to coat. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more cumin, if desired.

Nutritional information: Calories: 180, Calories from Fat: 55, Fat: 11 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg,Carbohydrates: 20 g,Dietary Fiber: 6 g, Sugars: 10 g, Protein:  2 g, Sodium: 140 mg

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



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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.

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