share. The Brookshire's Blog

Product talk: Versatile stocks


At the holidays, lots of cooks use stocks and broths for their favorite traditional dishes, especially gravy and stuffing. But I have never understood why more people don’t use chicken or beef stock in their cooking all year long.

Learning how to make and use good stocks were some of the first skills I learned in culinary school. That’s because slowly simmered stocks add a lot of flavor to dishes, without adding many calories, too much salt or even much expense. I promise you, they are a secret ingredient in a lot of your favorite restaurant dishes.

Even if you don’t want to go to the trouble of boiling bones and vegetables and making your own stocks to use or freeze, there are a lot of good, prepared, commercially available stocks that are now available. (Emeril even introduced a line of them a few years back.) At home, I always keep beef, seafood, chicken and vegetable stock on hand. They are a must-have for risotto, paella, and just about any sauce that goes with beef, chicken or fish, but you can also use them for lots of other things:

Start homemade soup with stock instead of water for a shortcut that pays off big. You will be able to use a shorter cooking time but the resulting soup will still have deep flavor.

Use stock to cook rice pilaf, or grains like quinoa or barley, or even just plain rice: Again, stock intensifies the flavor, and creates better taste and aroma even in boring, blander grains. Choose a flavor of stock that complements the dish you’re serving with the rice or grain.

Use it to thin soups, soups, stews, gravies and chili instead of water: For intensely flavored dishes like chili, I prefer vegetable stock, which doesn’t clash or overpower spicy dishes.

Mashed potatoes or vegetable purees taste better if you use chicken or vegetable stock for all or part of the cooking liquid. This tricks works especially well with potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots  and other root vegetables. This also allows you to use less butter or cream and still have a rich-tasting dish.

Roasting veggies? Toss them in stock and just a little olive oil first. Again, you can get away with less fat if you use stock as a cooking liquid

Save the leftovers: If you don’t use the whole container, it will keep in the fridge for up to a week. If you don’t cook often, or in large quantities, freeze leftovers in a zippered plastic bag or even in an ice cube tray, so you will have just enough to use the next time you’re in the kitchen.



Dine-In: Pepperoni Cheese Mini Muffins


This time of year, I love serving finger foods whenever guests pop in. They’re easy to serve and easy for guests to eat, especially if they’re balancing a drink and a plate after plucking goodies off a buffet.

But I’m picky about what new dishes I try: They need to be delicious, of course, but I also look for things that are a twist on the familiar, that are fun to eat, and that are a snap to put together.

This recipe, which I taught at a cooking class last month, fits the bill on all counts.  You can whip them up in just minutes, they bake quickly, and you probably have all or most of the ingredients on hand already. A good-quality prepared pasta sauce will work just fine for the dipping sauce, too.

Pepperoni Cheese Mini Muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup diced pepperoni, tightly packed
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
1 tsp baking powder
1 TBS granulated garlic
1 TBS dried basil leaves
1 TBS dried oregano leaves
warm marinara sauce for dipping

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray mini muffin cups with non stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients  and mix well.  Drop mixture by teaspoonfull into the muffin cups.  Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Serve warm with the marinara sauce.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Family Matters: Tamales for Christmas!


One of my favorite Christmas memories is of a book my mother always read to us, Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto. Every year, my brother and I would look forward to hearing the story of Maria and the trouble she ran into when making tamales with her family for Christmas dinner.

Actually, what my brother and I really looked forward to were the tamales themselves! That night, we would always get to eat some delicious, steaming hot tamales.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but tamales have been a Christmas tradition in Mexico and in American families of Mexican descent for many years. And, many other American families, like mine, have now made them part of their holiday traditions as well.

Tamales are traditionally made of a corn meal, or masa, shell, holding a spicy meat filling. They are carefully wrapped up in a corn husk and then the whole thing is steamed, so the tamale comes out moist and hot. Traditionally, the filling is pork or chicken mixed with some chiles, but you can also find beef or even vegetarian versions.

Why they have become a holiday tradition is a little less clear. My best guess, and one I’ve heard from others, is that making tamales is so much work, people only want to go to all the trouble if they’re serving them for a special occasion. Many families have an annual tamale-making day, set aside for several generations to share the labor of making enough tamales for the whole extended family.

If you don’t have a family or friends to share the work, you can still enjoy this Christmas tradition. Just pick up a few dozen tamales at your neighborhood Brookshire’s. They’re already steamed and ready for you and your family to enjoy, so you don’t have to miss out on this wonderful Christmas tradition.

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Posted in: Family Matters


Shop the Sale: Apples galore


It may be almost Christmas, but apple season is still in full swing, and we’re still bringing in the best of the fall’s crop.

Just in time for last-minute baking or stocking stuffers, we’re offering special prices this week on some of our most popular varieties.

There’s an apple to suit every taste among this selection:

Jonagold: A cross between the Jonathan and the Golden Delicious, this apple carries the best traits of both its “parents:” It’s big like the Golden Delicious, but has a nicely tart flavor and crisp texture like the Jonathan. Particularly good in applesauce, but they also make a fine pie.

Gala: Originally developed in New Zealand, these are firm, crisp apples with a lot of juice and a flavor that’s on the sweet side of sweet-tart. To me, these are best eaten fresh, or made into a Waldorf salad with grapes, walnuts and a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing.

Ambrosia: These are very sweet, firm apples which are not as acidic as many other varieties, so children often particularly enjoy these. A good all-around apple for snacking, baking or cooking.

Pink Lady: Thought to be a cross between the old favorite Golden Delicious and a Lady William, an apple popular in Australia but not in the United States, this is the brand name for a variety also known as Cripps Pink. The Pink Lady is more sweet than tart, but juicy and very firm. They’re best eaten out of hand or tossed into a salad, but they make a perfectly respectable pie.



Healthy Living: Sending Christmas Goodies


When I was in college, my nana would always mail me a package full of my favorite cookies. Since she lived so far away, she was unable to just drop them off at my apartment, but she wanted me to enjoy my favorites and still get that taste of home.

In today’s world, many of our family and friends live too far away to easily share in our holiday goodies. But you can still send them favorite treats, and if you act fast, they can even still get them before we ring in the New Year. Follow these tips for safely sending food to family and friends:

  • Some ideal foods to send are fruitcakes, biscotti, packaged cakes, packaged cookies, hard candies, pralines, toffee, quick breads, jerky, nuts and dried fruit. Foods high in sugar are good to send because their high sugar content prevents the growth of bacteria. Avoid sending cookies and cakes that contain creams, custards and frosting. Other foods to avoid sending are foods that crumble easy, pies and yeast breads.
  • Avoid sending foods in glass containers. If you must mail a glass jar, place the jar in a zip-top bag and wrap with bubble wrap.
  • When packing homemade goodies, pack them in air-tight containers. Separate any moist foods from crisp foods to prevent moist foods from drying out and crisp foods from getting soggy. Pack the heavy items in the bottom of the box and fill with packing peanuts or wadded up newspaper.
  • Avoid sending perishable foods like meats, poultry, fish and soft cheese. If you need to ship a perishable item, let the recipient know a perishable item is on the way. Before packing, make sure the food is already cold. Pack the food in an insulated cooler surrounded by frozen gel packs. Be sure to label your box Perishable: Keep Refrigerated.  When the recipient receives their food, ice crystals should be visible.  If recipient‘s food is warmer than 40°F, the food should be thrown away. The Center of Disease Control states perishable foods held between 40°F and 140°F are the leading cause of food-borne illness. Once food enters this temperature danger zone, bacteria doubles every 20 minutes.
  • Consider paying a little extra for expedited delivery, so foods are as fresh as possible when they arrive.

Everyone enjoys opening a box of goodies during Christmas –or any time, really. Just be safe and smart about sending your gift, so your loved one can safely enjoy it.

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Posted in: Healthy Living


Product Talk: Home-style tamales


For some families, getting together to make tamales for Christmas is as much of a tradition as stringing lights, putting up a tree and making cookies. Tamales are so labor-intensive, you just about need a whole set of cousins, sisters, grandchildren or friends to make the time fly and those corn-husk wrappers fill up quickly.

But if your family hasn’t found time this year for a tamale-making party – or if you’ve never developed the tradition but have always relied on buying someone else’s tamales – we have you covered. We have recently introduced some wonderful home-style tamales in our stores with delis, sold by the half-dozen so you can get enough for all your holiday get-togethers.

These are good-sized, meaty tamales, with a moist, traditional shell of masa around a flavorful filling, and all wrapped up in the classic corn husk. We have three varieties: Traditional shredded pork, shredded chicken, and a more modern, vegetarian-friendly variety, spinach and Monterrey jack cheese. They are made with lean, flavorful meat, so they are moist, but not greasy.

The tamales are already steamed and sold warm from our steam table or warmers that you will find in our deli area. You can eat them right away, or warm up at home, in your own steamer or even in the microwave.

The tamales also star in our holiday tamale dinner, new this year. It includes two dozen tamales, two pounds of charro beans, and two pounds of Spanish rice. This dinner will feed up to 8 diners, for an everyday price of just $29.99. This meal deal will be available through Christmas at selected stores, as supplies last.  Or, you can just pick up tamales on their own. Either way, this may be the year that you decide your annual tamale party doesn’t have to be about making tamales – just eating them.

 

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Posted in: Product Talk


Dine-In: Gingersnap Cookies


Three years ago I had no interested in having ground ginger in my spice cabinet.

In my last semester of college I had to write a huge paper on a functional food. After class we lined up to draw the topic that would consume our lives for the next 2 months. As soon as I pulled the little piece of paper apart my smile went right to a frown. I was really hoping for green tea, but I got ginger. I did not even like ginger and I was going to write a huge paper on it.

Over the next 2 months I learned many interesting facts about ginger. Ginger has historically been used to treat colds, fever and digestive problems. In a study by Hoffman in 2007, ginger was found to lower cholesterol and thin the blood to lower the risk of developing heart disease. Growing up my mother would always tell me if I did not feel good to drink ginger ale. My mother was right! Ginger is in fact known medically to reduce nausea. However the mechanism of how ginger prevents vomiting is unknown. How could I not like something that had so many possible health benefits?

I soon learned I did like ginger. Ginger was in my favorite winter drink, chi tea and I loved ginger snap cookies. Now when the weather turns cold I make sure I have ginger to make some of my favorite winter treats.

Ginger Snaps
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Serves: 36

Ingredients:
1 cup packed Food Club Brown Sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp Food Club Vanilla Extract
1 egg
1 cup Food Club All-Purpose Flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp Food Club Salt
1 tsp Food Club Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/3 cup Turbinado sugar, or to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F. In a large bowl combine brown sugar, oil, molasses, vanilla extract and egg. In a medium bowl combine flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Slowly combine molasses mixture with flour mixture; mix well. Roll dough into 1 1/4 –inch balls. Roll each ball in Turbinado sugar and place on baking sheet. Bake cookies 10 to 12 minute.

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 97, Fat: 5 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 5 mg, Sodium: 91 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 0 g, Protein: 1 g

© 2011, Brookshire Grocery Co.  Nutrient counts are rounded to the nearest whole number.  All dietary and lifestyle changes should be supervised by a physician.

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Posted in: Dine In, Kids


Family Matters: Fireplace Memories and Cookout


Did you ever sit around the family fireplace talking and visiting during the cold winter months?  No television noise, maybe just some soft holiday music in the background. Quality time laughing with family and friends.  A time to share funny stories of things from the past or catch up on new exciting things just now happening.  You can turn off the lights and just sit around in the glimmering light and reflection of the open fire.

You can drink hot chocolate or apple cider, snack on popcorn, peanuts and finger foods.  Some other fun things to do are roasting hot dogs in the fire place and making fresh s’mores over an open flame!  Memories in the making…

Take a wire clothes hanger, untie the top and unfold it to a straight wire.  Then hold one end over the open fire for a few minutes to heat up the wire and get ready for cooking.  Take a hot dog and push the wire through the end a few inches and then hold over the open flame until it is cooked the way you like it.  You can go for slightly browned or almost black and crunchy…your preference – you are the cook!

You can then use the clothes hanger to make delicious s’mores for dessert.  Take a large marshmallow and put on the end of the clothes hanger, hold it over the open flame and cook to perfection. Again, you can go for slightly roasted or black and crunchy…your preference.  Put the marshmallow between two graham crackers with a piece of chocolate bar (like a sandwich) and you have s’mores, warm and ready to enjoy.

If you have a fireplace this is a wonderful way to spend cold days or evenings and what better way to spend quality time with friends and family. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with them.



Shop the Sale: Perfect Poinsettias


Except for the Christmas tree, no plant says “Christmas” like the poinsettia. Bred to bloom best throughout December, the brilliant red plant is a perfect centerpiece, looks great next to the Christmas tree or on a holiday buffet, and makes an easy seasonal  hostess gift for neighbors and friends.  (And, hey, they’re on sale starting today, two for just $12 – so you can make a splash with a whole display of them, or buy one for yourself, one for a gift.)

There’s a wonderful Mexican legend about how the poinsettia first became associated with Christmas. According to the story, a poor girl was on her way to church on Christmas Eve, but had no money for a gift or offering. She gathered some tropical weeds and fashioned them into a bouquet. When she laid them at the feet of the baby Jesus inside the church, the branches supposedly burst into the brilliant red we now associate with the poinsettia. To this day, the poinsettia is known as the flor de noche buena in Mexico – Spanish for  “Christmas Eve flower.”

What else do you need to know about the poinsettia?

  1. They’re not poisonous after all. For years, you’ve probably heard that poinsettias can be deadly to children and pets. Not true. Ohio State University researchers actually disproved this as far back as the early ‘70s, but the myth kept getting repeated, possibly because some plants related to poinsettias ARE poisonous. Yes, a small dog who eats an entire poinsettia could end up sick to its stomach, and may vomit, and a child who nibbles on a leaf may get an upset stomach, but that’s true of many plants. However, it’s unlikely even an animal would eat more than a leaf or two; they’re bitter and inedible to humans and animals alike.
  2. They don’t like the cold. The poinsettia is native to Mexico and Central America, so it thrives in warmer, slightly humid temperatures. Some of the traditional spots to showcase poinsettias, including the hearth and on windowsills, actually may cause them to drop leaves or wither, as poinsettias do not like drafty, cool places. They’ll do best if you don’t let temperatures drop below 65 degrees.
  3. Don’t overwater. A poinsettia needs water only when the soil is actually dry to the touch. If the air in your home is warm and dry, that may mean every few days. Don’t let it rest in standing water, either. In between waterings, you may want to mist poinsettias briefly with plain water, to keep the air moist and humid.
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Posted in: Shop the Sale


Healthy Living: Cutting back on salt


Most of us probably eat more salt than we should. It’s hard not to; processed and convenience foods, fast foods, and the salty snacks that we love are all packed with sodium.

Too much sodium can cause us to retain fluids and end up with higher blood pressure – which can lead to heart disease and stroke. But if you don’t have any of those problems, you’re free to eat as much salt as you want, right?

Not necessarily. Earlier this year, the federal government released new dietary guidelines that recommend many of us eat less salt.

The new rules suggest a daily salt intake of 1,500 milligrams per day for anyone who is 51 and older and all black persons, in addition to anyone who has already been diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. That is just a bit over a half-teaspoon or about the amount in many frozen dinners. Everyone else is supposed to take in just 2,300 milligrams daily, or about a teaspoon.

Since the average American now takes in about 3,400 milligrams of sodium, it would do us all good to review some ways to reduce salt in our daily diet:

Recognize how much sodium you’re eating: For a few days, note the sodium content of as much of your daily diet as you can. Does the total surprise you?

Cook from scratch: This is obvious, but if you start with raw foods, you retain total control over the amount of sodium you use. Fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables naturally contain little sodium; fresh and dried herbs, chills and fresh-squeezed citrus juice can punch up flavor in place of salt.

Read labels: Sodium is often hidden in ingredient lists, and there can be a wide variation in sodium content for any given food, even seemingly innocuous foods like bread or pasta. In addition to plain salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), disodium phosphate, and sodium nitrate are common ingredients that can lead to higher sodium levels.

Understand salt-free vs. low sodium vs. “lite.” Lots of products advertise their sodium content, but are careful. Sodium-free means each serving has 5 mg. of sodium or less. Very low sodium products contain 35 mg or less. Low sodium products can contain as much as 140 mg of sodium. However, reduced-sodium products or even “light” in sodium products are not necessarily all that low in sodium. They simply have a salt content that has been reduced by at least 50 percent from the original product. With some items, like soups, chips13 or frozen meals, these products may still be quite high in sodium.

Season with hard cheeses: Just a pinch of parmesan or other hard, intensely flavored cheese can add a lot of savory flavor; just don’t season with it AND salt.

Switch to coarse-grained kosher salt or sea salt: Kosher and sea salts have the same amount of sodium as regular table salts by weight – but not by volume. So, a teaspoon of coarse salt contains less sodium than fine salt, because the teaspoon contains fewer grains. Some people also find that they naturally use less coarse salt at the table, because they can see and taste the individual grains more easily.

Cut back gradually: You have probably become slowly used to saltier and saltier foods. So, first, reduce the sodium by about one-quarter when you’re cooking. After a few weeks, take away the salt shaker at the table. Once you’re used to that, reduce salt in recipes by another quarter. Eventually, you’ll wonder how you managed to eat all that salt.



Copyright © 2010-2014, 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.

Product Talk

Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.

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Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.

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On Wednesdays, get a tip or idea on using an item in the circular.

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