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Dine-In: Chicken Cacciatore


Chicken cacciatore is a fancy name for what’s really a pretty simple dish – braised chicken, Italian style.

The name comes from the Italian phrase for “hunter’s style,” which in culinary terms usually means “with mushrooms,”  but in this case also means cooked with tomatoes and wine. Chicken cacciatore was a popular dish in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and you can still find it in some old-school Italian restaurants, but for the most part it is one of those dishes you just don’t see much anymore.

I don’t really understand that, because it’s actually a very solid dish, easy to make but full of flavor. Serve it over pasta, or with some warm, crusty bread, and you have a hearty dinner for a cool evening.

I prefer using thigh meat, because I think the dark meat is moister and more flavorful, but if you like white meat better, you can substitute an equivalent amount of bone-in chicken breasts, probably about one package of four breasts, depending on the size. Do not use boneless, skinless breasts unless that’s all you have; cooking the chicken with the bones and skin adds a much richer flavor.

In all, this is a pretty classic recipe, including the use of red wine. If you are not used to cooking with wine, be aware that the alcohol evaporates during the cooking. If you prefer not to use it, perhaps because of allergies to the sulfites in red wine, you can substitute additional chicken stock, but the finished dish will not have quite the depth of flavor as the original recipe. 

Chicken Cacciatore with Mushrooms and Herbs
Serves 4

Ingredients:
8 bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
1 tsp. teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbls.unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2  cups dry red wine
1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes (14 1/2 ounces), drained
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind (2 inches, about 1 ounce), optional
2 tsp. fresh sage leaves, minced

Directions:
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Add four chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook, not moving them until skin is crisp and well browned, about 5 minutes; using tongs, flip chicken and brown on second side, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer browned chicken to large plate; brown remaining chicken thighs, transfer to plate, and set aside.

Drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot. Add onion, mushrooms, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; sauté over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until moisture evaporates and vegetables begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, remove and discard skin from browned chicken thighs. Add garlic to pot and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add wine, scraping pot bottom with wooden spoon to loosen brown bits. Stir in stock, tomatoes, thyme, cheese rind (if using), 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit salt if using cheese rind), and pepper to taste. Submerge chicken pieces in liquid and bring to boil; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes, turning chicken pieces with tongs halfway through cooking. Discard cheese rind, stir in sage, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, and serve.

If your Dutch oven is large enough to hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer without crowding, brown all the pieces at once instead of in batches. The Parmesan cheese rind is optional, but it is recommended for the robust, savory flavor it adds to the dish. An equal amount of minced fresh rosemary can be substituted for the sage.



Family Matters: Halloween for Pets


Halloween is a fun time for the whole family – except, sometimes, for your pets.

Although some animals, especially dogs, love costumes and parties and parades of trick-or-treaters, other pets get irritated or anxious about all the commotion. And the holiday can bring some risks for pets, too. Our friends at Purina, along with the experts at the ASPCA, offer some tips on keeping your four-legged friends happy and healthy during this festive time:

Costumes? Maybe not. Dogs are often willing to play along and wear a costume, especially if they wear sweaters or other clothing during cold weather. But don’t force the issue if your dog seems scared or exhibits anxious behaviors, like whining or licking, while wearing it. Make sure any costume does not limit your dog’s mobility, including use of his tail, or obscure his vision. Most cats are far less likely to suffer the indignity of a costume; unless your cat is very easygoing, it’s probably best not to try.

If you really want to play dress-up, almost all dogs (and even most cats) will happily wear a decorated collar or even a bandana, since they’re already accustomed to wearing collars.

Safe decorating:  Don’t let your curious cat get too close to a lit jack-o-lantern or lit candles including Halloween-themed luminaries. They can easily knock one over and start a fire, or even burn their tail or ears. If you want the glow of illuminated pumpkins, look for battery-operated synthetic ones, but avoid those with electrical cords, which animals may play with or get tangled up in, creating a risk of strangulation or even electric shock.

Watch the treats. Watch where you leave the candy intended for trick-or-treaters, especially if it is something you don’t normally keep around the house. Dogs may seize the opportunity to dive right in. And if they’re not too discriminating, they may eat the wrappers right along with the treats, posing choking hazards and intestinal issues.  In large doses, chocolate can even be toxic to dogs. So make sure candy – including the haul your own children bring home – is not left unattended. Put it in a high spot or a closed cabinet that animals can’t reach.  If you want pets to join in on the festivities, get them their own favorite treats, like Beggin’ Strips for dogs and Friskies Crispies for cats.

Meeting and greeting.  Even if you think your very social pet would love to help you greet trick-or-treaters at the door, it’s better for everyone if animals are secured during festivities.  Cats should stay in their kennel or a quiet back room. Dogs should be kept in their crate or in a back room during the busy part of the night, or at least on a leash.

Loose dogs may get frightened and snappish, or may get over-excited and jump on young guests – which can be traumatic for both parties. And, both dogs and cats may take the opportunity to make a break for it and slip out through an open, unwatched door. That’s bad news when there are lots of children and extra traffic in your neighborhood. Finally, do not leave animals unattended in the back yard. The extra noise in the neighborhood may traumatize them, and you don’t want them to be targeted for teasing or worse by pranksters with bad intentions.

Keep your pet safe and you’ll all have a happier Halloween!



Shop the sale: Deli Deals


I think it must have been a working parent who came up with the idea of putting prepared-food deli sections in grocery stores.

Who else could so clearly see the beauty of having homemade-quality side dishes, salads, and even main courses available right where you’re doing your grocery shopping, to help with the workload of putting three meals on the table every day?

So when I’m coming up with our weekly Deli Deal of the Week, I try to think of things that will help solve that age-old dilemma of what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner – and in a money-saving way.  That’s how we came up with this week’s deal:  Buy one pound or more of our bone-in or boneless wings, and you’ll get a one-pound Brookshire Brand salad free.

These meaty wings are just moderately spicy, so they can be enjoyed by even younger members of the family. The salads are all family favorites, including:

  • Southern mustard potato salad – chunky potato salad jazzed up with yellow mustard.
  • Coleslaw – a colorful mix of cabbage and carrots, in a mayonnaise-based dressing.
  • Gourmet macaroni salad – Just like mom used to make, with elbow macaroni  and diced veggies in a creamy dressing.
  • Original potato salad – the mayonnaise-dressed classic that goes with everything.

Add some French bread  (from our bakery, of course) and some fresh fruit, and you can call it a meal. Without messing up the kitchen or taking away from precious after-work family time.

Our deli deals change weekly – so check back every week to see what meal we can make easier for you.

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Healthy Living: Natural help for colds


You know it’s coming – coughs, runny noses, sore throats, all the symptoms that signal the beginning of the winter cold and flu season in your house.

There’s often not a lot you can do for a common cold. The symptoms are going to hang around seven to 10 days, no matter what prescription or over-the-counter medicines you throw at them. The most you can often do is try to lessen the severity of that cough or sore throat. And that does not always have to mean conventional medicines. Here are some old-fashioned (and newer-fangled) home remedies to remember this season if you want to try something more on the natural side:

Honey: Nature’s sugar, honey does more than just help the medicine go down; it can help medicate some symptoms. A teaspoon or two of honey, alone or dissolved in a hot liquid, can help alleviate sore throat pain. Newer studies indicate it can also help soothe and diminish coughs, even nagging nighttime ones. Finally, honey has antioxidant properties, so it can help boost your body’s immune system, so you can fight off new colds better.

Zinc lozenges: Especially in the last few years, zinc has been hailed by some as a miracle cure for colds; fans claim that zinc lozenges, allowed to dissolve in the mouth, can reduce the length and severity of cold symptoms. The benefit is thought to be linked to zinc’s antioxidant properties, which help stave off infection and inflammation. And although the most recent studies have supported zinc’s usefulness in fighting off cold symptoms, other scientific reviews have been inconclusive. For the best chance of working, zinc should be taken at the first signs of a cold, and used no more than five days.

Chewable vitamin C: Again, scientific reviews are mixed. However, some studies have shown that taking extra vitamin C can shorten the duration of some cold symptoms. Also, vitamin C has antioxidant properties, which help your immune system in general

Fluids, fluids, fluids:  Stay hydrated.  You need to drink even more water than you normally do, to help your body flush out toxins, and aid in the production of mucus. If you like, clear juices, broths and tea, especially green tea, which has lots of powerful antioxidants, can also help. Stay away from coffee and caffeinated sodas, which dehydrate you. Finally, a hot toddy may relax you, but it may not be the best choice; alcohol is also a known dehydrating substance. Better to stick with plain, non-alcoholic drinks until you feel better.

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Posted in: Healthy Living


Dine-In: Benne Cheese Biscuit Bites


Charleston, South Carolina, is a fantastic food city. I lived there several years ago, before moving to Texas, and I still have many fond memories of living, cooking, and eating there. I even took my husband there on our honeymoon, and it helped him share my love of fresh seafood. (Charleston-style shrimp and grits– it doesn’t get better  than that!)

So for this weekend’s suggested dish,  I’ve chosen a delicious recipe that reminds me of Charleston. These savory little cheese bites are made with benne seeds – what most of us know as sesame seeds. In Charleston, however, they’re called benne, the word for sesame in Bantu, the language of the African people who introduced the seeds into the local cuisine hundreds of years ago.

These mini-biscuits are super-easy to put together, but they are great for a quick snack or side dish. If you’re making a weekend brunch, make a couple of batches, line a basket with your favorite team colors, and you’ve got a fresh-baked treat that the crowd will adore.

Benne Cheese Biscuit Bites

Ingredients:
1 (8-count) refrigerated biscuits in a can (any brand)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup benne seeds (sesame)
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 cup fresh chives (very thinly sliced)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Cut biscuits into quarters.  Mix the cheddar, sesame seeds, garlic, salt, chives, and cayenne, in a dish.  Dip the biscuits in the butter, then roll in the cheese mixture.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for roughly 8 minutes, give or take.  Keep an eye on them as all ovens cook slightly differently, and you don’t want them to overbake.

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Family Matters: Autumn trail mix


After a long, hot – OK, super-hot – summer, we’re finally getting into the fall mood around my house. One of our favorite fall traditions for the past few years has been making seasonal goodies together. It’s just more fun to get in the kitchen when there’s a hint of cool air outside.

My daughter Grace’s favorite treat to make is a Harvest Trail Mix, good for Halloween or any fall occasion. Grace loves making this because there’s no real recipe to follow. She can mix-and-match, depending on what we have in the house and what she feels like snacking on. This is a good treat to take to fall parties or to let the kids munch on after school; Grace likes to include a small bag in her lunchbox, for a healthy treat.

Making trail mix is so easy that even very young children can help. For younger kids, you can put a small quantity of each ingredient in a large bowl and let them scoop as much as they want of each into the container, rather than turning them loose with big, spillable bags and boxes. Let them mix it with their (well-washed) hands! Then, store in a tightly covered container.

If you’re taking it to a party, older kids can also help you package it in individual packs. You can just use sandwich bags, or for a themed event, buy individual goodie bags and secure with black-and-orange ribbon or raffia.

Your ingredients can vary, but here are some ideas for a simple autumn mix:

  • Popcorn
  • pretzels
  • goldfish (any flavor)
  • Cheerios
  • raisins
  • candy corn
  • M&Ms (fall colors are fun)
  • Peanuts (plain or honey-roasted)
  • Yogurt-covered or chocolate-covered raisins
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds
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Posted in: Family Matters


Shop the Sale: Buy One, Get One Vitamins


Your mother always told you to take your vitamins, and like most things Mom said, you probably should have listened to her. Especially if you are like most of us, and your busy life means it’s sometimes hard to eat the balanced diet, full of fruits, vegetables and lean protein, that you know you need.

Vitamin supplements can help fill in the gaps between the nutrients your body needs and what you give it in the form of nutritious foods. This week, we’re offering a great chance for you to pick up vitamin supplements for the whole family, with a Buy One, Get One event on Nature’s Bounty nutritional supplements.

Nature’s Bounty has been supplying consumers with vitamin supplements for decades, and the company offers a dizzying array of supplements to meet your nutritional needs. In fact, if you haven’t been taking your vitamins, despite Mom’s advice, it can be hard to narrow down which of their products you need most.

A good multi-vitamin is a good starting point for most healthy adults and children. That way, you’ll be sure to get the “letter” vitamins that are so important for your overall health.  Here’s a review of the primary benefits of the letter vitamins, which may help you determine which additional vitamin supplements to consider:

  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is mostly associated with maintaining vision, and yes, that’s why you were also always told to eat those carrots; they are a good source. Vitamin A also helps maintain healthy skin, teeth and your immune system.
  • Vitamin B: The B complex has a wide array of benefits, mostly to do with your nervous system, circulation, heart health and metabolism. The newest thing in B vitamins has been the introduction of sublingual tablets, which dissolve under your tongue and quickly reach your circulatory and nervous system.
  • Vitamin C: A natural antixodant, Vitamin C provides a big boost to the immune system, protecting your body from disease and helping it heal when it is ill or wounded.
  • Vitamin D: Your body produces Vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, so in the winter, more people experience a deficiency. Vitamin D is important because it promotes healthy bones and teeth, and also helps your body absorb calcium.
  • Vitamin E: Another effective antioxidant, Vitamin E is necessary for a good immune system, and helps your heart and circulatory system work more efficiently.
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Healthy Living: Fall Allergies


When the leaves begin to change colors we all rejoice! The hot summer months are over and fall is finally here.

But if you’re one of the people whose seasonal allergies kick into high gear in the fall, this time of year isn’t quite so carefree. It’s hard to feel excited about cooler weather when you’re dealing with a runny nose, sneezing bouts, and itchy, watery eyes.

We often assume that allergies strike only in the spring, but fall has its own set of allergens. Ragweed is one of the most prevalent this time of year, and it can pose problems until November, or the first frost.

If you suffer allergy symptoms in cooler weather, here are a few tips to help you enjoy fall again:

  • When you first experience a runny nose, watering eyes and sneezing, it’s best to go to the doctor. The doctor can determine if you’re suffering from allergies, a cold or the flu. Your doctor will also be able to suggest the best allergy medication for your symptoms.
  • When searching for allergy medication, make sure to read the labels. Some medications may cause drowsiness, so reserve those for nighttime use. By the same token, some “all-day” medications can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep at night. Again, consult your doctor if your medicine seems to be affecting your sleep patterns.
  • If you’re working in your yard, wear a mask that covers your month and nose.
  • The fall weather may feel great and you may be tempted to open your windows, but if fall means allergies, keep your windows closed. Unfortunately, that also means in your car; keep windows and sunroofs closed, and don’t lower the top on a convertible.
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Posted in: Healthy Living


Product Talk: The great pumpkins


If you consider pumpkins one of the sure signs of fall, you need to start pulling out your sweaters. Fresh, colorful pumpkins have started arriving in our stores, ready to be turned into jack-o-lanterns, seasonal centerpieces, or pies.

The pumpkin patches sprouting up at our stores offer a variety of fall classics:

Magic Lantern: These medium-sized pumpkins are great for carving or decorations. They’re uniform in size, usually 20 pounds or less, and have a beautiful, deep orange skin and a thick, sturdy stem. Although these are edible, they don’t make pies as good as some other, smaller varieties; their flesh tends to be more watery and stringy than a pie pumpkin.

Mini-pumpkins: A pumpkin in miniature scale, these are mostly used as fall decorations. Use them in a centerpiece, spilling out of a cornucopia or artfully arranged in a basket, with some colorful Indian corn.  Or hand them to your children, along with markers, googly eyes, pipe cleaners and yarn, and see what art projects they create.

Mystic Pie: Grown mostly in New Mexico and Texas, these gorgeous, small pumpkins are bred for cooking. They have a sweet, smooth flesh that cooks up into a rich, flavorful texture that’s perfect for pie, breads, cakes or any other recipe that calls for pumpkin or even squash.

If you’ve never tasted a pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin, make this the year you try it. Using fresh pumpkin can be little messy and time-consuming, but the flavor is absolutely worth it. Fresh pumpkin tastes a little brighter, a little more intense, and really magnifies the flavor of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and other spices.

We asked Barb Grey of GWR Produce, a major pumpkin distributor, how to handle a soft-shelled pumpkin like the Mystic Pie. She swears it’s easy, if you follow her directions:

  • Cut the top off the pumpkin.
  • Scoop out seeds and set aside. (These can be roasted separately.)
  • Pour about an inch of water in a sturdy baking dish, like a brownie pan or cake pan.
  • Place the pumpkin in the pan, upside down. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on size of pumpkin, or until flesh is soft.
  • Remove from oven and scoop out flesh.
  • Place cooked pumpkin in a colander, and let the watery juice drain away. The cooked, solid pumpkin that remains is ready to use in your favorite recipe.
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Posted in: Product Talk


Dine-In: Easy goulash


Goulash is a comfort food for me. Growing up with a mother from the Old Country – Germany – my family ate it a lot in the winter, because it reminded her of home. It’s warm, hearty and makes the house smell wonderful as it slowly cooks.

In this country, goulash has become kind of a catch-all term for a lot of dishes, usually involving beef, some sort of tomato or stew base, and usually noodles. But real European goulash is just a rich, thick beef soup with lots of paprika. It can be served over noodles, but it doesn’t have to be.

Goulash apparently originated in Hungary, but variations are found all over Europe. This version is based on the German-ized dish I ate as a child, but because it’s made in a slow cooker, it’s a good weeknight supper. Turn it on before you leave for work, and you’ll return to a home that smells fragrant and warm – and a dinner that will be ready with just a few minutes of final cooking.

Slow-cooker Goulash
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup yellow onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2  tsp pepper
1 cup water
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs sweet paprika
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sour cream
Cooked egg noodles

Directions:
Place beef in pot cover with water and bring to boil. Drain, rinse and place in slow cooker. Add onion, garlic. and season with salt and pepper.

Whisk together 1/2 cup of water, tomato paste, and paprika; pour over beef mixture. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours.

Combine flour, remaining water, and sour cream; stir into meat mixture. Cook, uncovered, on HIGH for 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Serve with egg noodles.

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Posted in: Dine In


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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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