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Healthy Living: Spinach Parmesan Muffins


If you’re like me, eating healthy gets a little bit harder during the winter months. I’m a summer fruit fanatic, so there’s never a shortage of healthy options in my house during the hot months. Winter is a bit more of a struggle for me. There are still plenty of healthy choices, but I tend to lean more toward comfort food when the days shorten and there’s a chill in the air.

These ‘muffins’ are the best of both worlds. You get more than a day’s worth of vitamin A in one muffin and quite a bit of folate and vitamin C as well. Not only do they freeze well, but I eat them for breakfast with a scrambled egg white.

You can use mature or ‘baby’ spinach in this recipe. If you use frozen spinach, make sure to thaw it completely and wring as much moisture out of it as possible before using. The pinch of nutmeg really brightens the greens in this recipe, too, so don’t leave it out.

Spinach Parmesan Muffins
Makes 12

Ingredients:
12 oz fresh spinach
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, or low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
2 large eggs, beaten
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Pulse spinach in three batches in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add ricotta (or cottage cheese), Parmesan, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper; stir to combine. Coat 8 cups of the muffin pan with cooking spray. Divide the spinach mixture among the 8 cups (they will be very full). Bake the spinach cakes until set, about 20 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto a clean cutting board or large plate. Serve warm, sprinkled with more Parmesan, if desired.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 141; Fat: 8 g, Cholesterol: 123 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Protein: 13 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sodium: 456 mg, Potassium: 560 mg



Product Talk: Canned pumpkin


Devil’s Food Pumpkin MuffinsI bet canned pumpkin flies off the shelf more in November than in any other month. I have no scientific evidence or statistics to back this up, mind you, but it’s a gut feeling I’d be willing to back up with money that this is correct.

I use pumpkin all year long because I love it. Ironically, I don’t eat pumpkin pie. Ever. But I love pumpkin in just about anything else. Recent favorites are in pancakes, waffles, trifles and hot breakfast oatmeal. Yes, oatmeal. My children cringed when their breakfast cereal came out a happy bright color recently, but with the addition of some cinnamon, cloves and allspice, it was like a pie in a bowl, more or less.

One of my favorite things to do with pumpkin is stump my friends. No, this isn’t a trick or treat, just a great way to make a fun favorite a little healthier – and leave my friends guessing. If I don’t tell them, and even after I do, they never suspect that pumpkin is the secret ingredient in these decadent muffins.

Devil’s Food Pumpkin Muffins
Serves 12

Ingredients:
1 box Food Club Devil’s Food Cake Mix
1 (14.5 oz) can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

Directions:
Empty dry contents of cake mix into large bowl. Add can of pumpkin (nothing else). Mix together until well blended.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spoon mixture into a well-greased cupcake pan or cupcake liners.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 198, Calories from Fat: 44, Cholesterol: 0 mg,Sodium: 292 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 37 g,Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 25 g,Protein: 3 g

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



Ask Leigh


Question: I have seen spaghetti squash in the produce section at Brookshire’s, but I have no idea what to do with it. Is it really like pasta? Could you give me a suggestion?

Answer:  My mother used to cook spaghetti squash for us growing up. She used it in place of pasta during those times she and my father would go on various lower-carb diets.

I think it’s delicious, and really, the hardest part about cooking with spaghetti squash is cutting it in half to cook!

This recipe is from my mother, and it’s a family favorite of my own now.

Herbed Spaghetti Squash 

Ingredients:
1 (2 to 2 1/2 lb) spaghetti squash
3 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs chopped basil
1 Tbs chopped chives
1 Tbs chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a paring knife. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender.

Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into a mixing bowl. Heat a skillet. Add the butter, spaghetti squash, herbs, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

NOTE: Also great with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled over. Serves 4.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 161 g, Total Fat:  11.8 g, Sodium  39 mg, Carbohydrates 15.8 g, Protein: 1.5 g

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Posted in: Produce


Ask Leigh


Question: I have seen spaghetti squash in the produce section at Brookshire’s, but I have no idea what to do with it. Is it really like pasta? Could you give me a suggestion?

Answer:  My mother used to cook spaghetti squash for us growing up. She used it in place of pasta during those times she and my father would go on various lower-carb diets.

I think it’s delicious, and really, the hardest part about cooking with spaghetti squash is cutting it in half to cook!

This recipe is from my mother, and it’s a family favorite of my own now.

Herbed Spaghetti Squash 

Ingredients:
1 (2 to 2 1/2 lb) spaghetti squash
3 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs chopped basil
1 Tbs chopped chives
1 Tbs chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a paring knife. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender.

Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into a mixing bowl. Heat a skillet. Add the butter, spaghetti squash, herbs, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

NOTE: Also great with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled over. Serves 4.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 161 g, Total Fat:  11.8 g, Sodium  39 mg, Carbohydrates 15.8 g, Protein: 1.5 g

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Posted in: Produce


Dine-In: Friday Pie Highlights


Coconut Cream Pie November is my favorite month. I was born in November, and although I actually would rather have a tooth pulled than celebrate my birthday, I still love this month. The weather gets and stays cool in November. And autumn seems to have all of my favorite colors to see in nature (and to wear of course), and pie season officially begins!

Actually, pie season for me is 365 days of the year. If it’s hot outside, I find a reason to make ice cream pie – or a yummy lemon icebox. But when it’s cool and windy – and Thanksgiving is just around the corner – there seems to be a million wonderful reasons why I need (yes, need) to bake a pie.

From apple and pecan to pumpkin and the divine coconut cream, November is all the excuse you need to practice your pie-making skills and enjoy all the fruits of your labor. And listen, if you aren’t an expert at making a pie crust, don’t let that stop you from trying your hand at baking. It’s perfectly alright to use a store-bought crust and save yourself some time and worry.

But I will say this, practice does make perfect, and knowing how to make a pie crust is a great skill to conquer when you have some free weekend time on hand.

Enjoy!

Coconut Cream Pie
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1(9-inch) pie crust, prebaked
3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
3 cups whole milk
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 Tbs unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3 Tbs sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325° F. Stir together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and just enough of the water to make a smooth paste. Heat milk in top of a double boiler over simmering water. When milk begins to steam, gradually whisk in egg mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup of the coconut, the butter and vanilla.

Pour the filling into the baked crust. Set aside to prepare meringue.

For the meringue, combine egg whites and cream of tartar in a chilled bowl and beat with an electric mixer on slow to medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar 1 Tbs at a time and continue beating on slow to medium speed until the whites form stiff peaks, but are not dry. Pile lightly over the pie, sealing the edges well.

Sprinkle the pie with the remaining 1/4 cup coconut.

Bake for 30 minutes, until meringue is golden brown and firm to the touch (be careful not to poke a hole in the meringue). Cool on a wire rack for two hours before slicing. Serve at room temperature.

Nutritional Information:  Calories Per Serving: 513, Total Fat: 22.9 g, Sodium: 309 mg, Carbohydrates: 68.2 g, Protein: 9.5 g

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

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Family Matters: Turkey Cookies


Over the past five years, my little family has started a new tradition of taking a vacation during the week of Thanksgiving. Every year now, we travel to a different state or town to enjoy this holiday. Most of the time we take the grandparents with us so they can spend time with the grandkids and also enjoy the location whether it’s the snow in Colorado or the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

As we began a new tradition with my family, some old traditions can never change. My mom has to make the dressing, which is a recipe handed down from her mother. My sister-in-law has to make the potato casserole which is a recipe handed down from her mother as well. I have to bring the turkey cookies. Yes, turkey cookies. And no, it’s not a recipe handed down from my mother! Well, maybe the sugar cookie ingredients are handed down from her.

Since I was about ten years old, every year at Thanksgiving I would make turkey cookies. Which is actually sugar cookies cut out in the shape of turkeys and decorated with icing.  To this day, the family always asks if I’m bringing the turkey cookies to Thanksgiving.  Now that my daughter has turned 10, I am happily passing this tradition down to her!

Turkey Cookies

Ingredients:

Cookies:
1 cup Crisco
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbs milk
3 cups flour

Directions:
Preheat Oven to 350° F. Combine Crisco, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat with a mixer until creamy. Stir in baking powder then gradually add flour and milk and stir until blended together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least up to 3 hours.
Lightly sprinkle an inverted cookie sheet and rolling pin with flour. Roll dough out onto an inverted cookie sheet. Press cookie cutter into dough and remove excess dough around cutter. Work excess cookie dough back into a ball and repeat process. Bake cookies for 8 minutes (they should not turn brown).

Icing:
2 egg whites, beaten
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 Tbs lemon juice

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until peaks form. Gradually add in sugar and cream of tartar until mixture is thick enough to hold its shape. Spread on top of cookies and serve.

Whatever your tradition is for Thanksgiving, remember that time spent with family is by far the best tradition of all.



Shop the Sale: Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya


If you’re like me, you’re always looking for new things to do with chicken breasts. Chicken is delicious, versatile and inexpensive, especially when, like this week, it’s on sale at Brookshire’s.  My kids love chicken, even in non-nugget form.

Sometimes it is a challenge for me to come up with new ways to prepare this wonderful lean protein. This has been a recent favorite this fall. I usually throw in some shrimp, too, just for good measure. This recipe is easily doubled to feed a crowd and it freezes well, too. For something a little different, skip the rice and serve it over a baked potato.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Dried red pepper flakes, to taste
1 lb cajun or andouille smoked sausage, sliced into 3/4-inch rounds
1 lb chicken breast meat, cubed
28 oz can of diced tomatoes
15 oz can tomato sauce
2 bay leaves
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp creole seasoning
1 1/2 cups uncooked rice

Directions:
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven. Add onion and bell pepper and saute until translucent.  Add garlic and a pinch red pepper (or more if you like heat) and saute until garlic is fragrant.

Add sausage and chicken and cook until chicken is mostly white. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, broth, creole seasoning and uncooked rice.

Cover and reduce heat and cook 45 to 55 minutes or until rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Nutritional Information: Calories 634;Calories from Fat 193; Total Fat 21 g; Cholesterol 144 mg; Sodium 1391 mgp; Total Carbohydrates 54 g; Dietary Fiber 4 g; Sugars 8 g; Protein 49 g



Healthy Living: Election Night Butternut Squash Soup


Butternut squash is in season and that makes me happy, very happy. I love butternut squash soup and have even managed to get my kids to eat it and love it, too.

Butternut squash, besides being delicious, is loaded with vitamin A — 1 cup of cooked squash has 457 percent of the recommended daily allowance. It is also a good source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium. And like most vegetables, it’s fat-, cholesterol-, and sodium-free. Yay squash.

I plan on making this soup for tonight. It’s election night and I have to work late. But I’ll pop the soup in the crock pot to keep it warm and to keep me, and my co-workers, happy on what’s bound to be a late night.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 (2 lb) butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 cup nonfat milk
Nonfat sour cream (optional)
Chopped fresh chives or green onions (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Place squash cut side down in prepared dish. Pierce each squash half several times with toothpick or skewer. Bake until squash is tender, about 45 minutes.

Using large spoon, scrape squash into processor; discard peel. Add 1 1/2 cups broth and nutmeg and puree until smooth. Transfer puree to heavy large saucepan. Mix in milk and enough broth too thin to desired consistency. Stir soup over medium heat until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with dollop of sour cream and chives, if desired.

Nutritional Information: Calories 84; Calories from Fat 2; Total Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 1 mg; Sodium 173 mg; Total Carbohydrates 20 g; Dietary Fiber 3 g; Sugars 5 g;Protein 3 g



Product Talk: Sweet Potatoes


Texas-Style Sweet Potato Soup It wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered the wonderful flavor of sweet potatoes when NOT prepared in the traditional super-sweet casserole – hidden under marshmallows or corn flakes or tons of brown sugar and pecans. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the buttery brown sugar topping my mom makes every Thanksgiving, but I don’t think I would eat that more than one day each year!

I was actually eating in an Italian restaurant when I saw sweet potato ravioli on the menu. It was prepared with sage and browned butter, similar to how I have seen butternut squash and pumpkin. It was delicious!

The ravioli dinner made me curious to research other ways to eat sweet potatoes, and I ran across a version of this sweet potato soup recipe from my friend Courtney. She had given it to me a few years ago, and honestly, I forgot I had it until now.

The healthiest way to enjoy a sweet potato is plain, of course. And honestly a plain baked sweet potato has tons of flavor without adding any butter or brown sugar. One regular-sized sweet potato will add about 100 calories to your day’s diet – and less than one gram of fat. It’s loaded in Vitamin A and healthy carbs too.

The soup recipe below also works great if you’ve baked a few extra sweet potatoes. Just skip the boiling part and add the cooked, peeled potatoes when you add the broth.

Enjoy!

Texas-Style Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients:
5 lb sweet potatoes, cleaned and quartered
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup pickled sliced jalapenos
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup half-and-half (fat free works too)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Place sweet potato quarters in large pot. Add water to cover, and boil until potatoes are softened. Drain water, and peel potato skins when cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, melt butter in another large pot. Add bacon, onion and garlic. Sauté on medium-low heat until bacon is cooked through. Add chicken broth, cover and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and puree with a hand blender – or blend in a regular blender in small batches. Stir in jalapenos, cumin, cilantro and half-and-half. Taste for salt and pepper. Heat through and serve warm.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 751, Total Fat: 27.7 g, Sodium 1298 mg, Carbohydrates 111.0 g, Protein: 17.0 g



Ask Leigh


Question:  My mother used to make a delicious pot roast with Coca-Cola. She also made a wonderful chocolate cake with it. Can you use any soft drink or does it have to be a regular Coca-Cola?

Answer:  My favorite cake in the world might be a chocolate sheet cake made with Coca-Cola…I am betting that’s the same chocolate cake you mention here! I’ve never had a roast using a carbonated soda in the marinade, but you made me very curious! I found several delicious-sounding roast recipes – and yes, they all called for a regular cola.

I played around in the kitchen to see what would happen if I used a diet soda. It didn’t work. But I remembered that a couple of summers ago I marinated some flank steak in Dr. Pepper (didn’t have anything else!) before grilling, and everyone loved it. I thought I’d share my recipe with you – and these would work great with regular Coca-Cola too. Enjoy! 

Dr. Pepper-Marinated Flank Steak Nachos
Serves 8

Ingredients:
1 lb flank steak
24 oz Dr. Pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
4 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1 (9-oz) bag of your favorite, sturdy large-sized corn chip
2 cups refried beans
2 tsp ground cumin
2 1/2 cups Mexican-blend shredded cheese

Optional toppings: Sour Cream, sliced pickled jalapenos, favorite salsa

Directions:
Combine flank steak and Dr. Pepper in a non-reactive container and refrigerate at least 6 hours in refrigerator.

When it’s time to make the nachos, heat your gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Combine salt, brown sugar and pepper in small bowl. Remove steak from Dr. Pepper and rub spices into meat. Grill steak 3-4 minutes on each side until medium-rare. Do not overcook. Let steak rest 5 minutes before slicing.

To make the nachos, preheat oven to 350. Place corn chips on cookie sheet, in one layer. Combine black beans with cumin. Spread small amount of black beans over each chip. Sprinkle cheese over chips. Slice flank steak against the grain into ½-inch wide strips. Cut again into bite-sized pieces. Distribute meat over nachos.

Bake 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Remove and serve with toppings.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 528, Total Fat: 26.4 g, Sodium 1223 mg, Carbohydrates 43.3 g, Protein: 30.1 g

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Posted in: Entertaining


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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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