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Shop the Sale: The Return of the Slow Cooker

People often ask me what appliance or kitchen tool I could never live without. I used to say my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and Cuisinart food processor, until last year when I was asked to teach a cooking class on slow cookers – or Crock Pots as they have been called since the decade of shag carpet and avocado green dishwashers.

All the major food magazines, networks and cooking shops have re-introduced this trend, but it seems now the new, more hip term is “slow cooker.” And with the popularity of the cookers, foodies everywhere are flooding the marketplace new recipes and healthier ideas. No longer do we start every recipe with cream of mushroom soup and onion soup mix!

Now that baseball season is here and I find myself racing between work and games, I don’t think my family would ever enjoy dinner before 10 p.m. unless I was using my slow cooker all the time. And with the new slow-cooker insert bags you can find at the store, clean-up is as easy as throwing away the bag!

Brookshire’s has boneless pork roasts on sale this week as a buy one get one free item. This is the perfect time to pull out that old Crock Pot and bring something new to your family table: Balsamic Glazed Pork. My family loves this recipe with mashed potatoes (I mix in a little goat cheese) and fresh steamed green beans with caramelized shallots.

Balsamic Glazed Pork


2 pound boneless pork roast, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Combine salt, pepper and garlic, and rub over the roast. Place roast in slow cooker, and pour the 1/2 cup water around the sides. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. To make the glaze, bring mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pork from the slow cooker, shred and place on a platter or plate. Drizzle the glaze over pork and serve.

Healthy Living: Feeding teenage boys

In my house of teenage boys, quantity is just as important as quality when it comes to getting food on the table each night. I had no idea how much they can eat!

The other night I fed them flank steak, sweet potatoes, green beans and rolls. I went to bed before them, and when I woke up the next morning, I found pasta leftover in the refrigerator and pots and pans strewn everywhere.

It seems the two of them decided to make spaghetti as a midnight snack and ate almost the entire batch. The boys can eat more in one meal than I do in three days!

Trying to fill them up without fattening them up is not easy to do. We are on the go so much with baseball and football, and unfortunately, fast food is part of our life at times. When we are home, I really want to make sure their meals are as nutritious as possible, while also being delicious!

This meat loaf recipe is not only healthier for you, I can happily tell you it is teenage boy-approved! No one noticed the changes, and no one felt like they were being deprived from their usual weeknight favorite. I also love the recipe because it makes enough for leftovers or midnight snacks!

Meat Loaf Made Healthier

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, preferably whole-wheat if available
2 tablespoons Food Club low-fat or fat-free milk
1/2 cup ketchup, divided
2/3 pound extra-lean ground beef
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 pound lean ground pork or chicken
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning herbs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a regular-sized loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl. Let sit 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the ketchup and all remaining ingredients Stir to combine well.

Shape meat mixture to fit loaf pan. Spread remaining ketchup over top of meat loaf. Bake for 1 hour or until a thermometer registers 160°F.

Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into 10-12 slices and serving.

Product Talk: A Chili Sauce Worth Crowing About

A few years ago as I was shopping on the Asian aisle at Brookshire’s, a clear squeeze bottle decorated with a bright green top and a rooster on the label caught my eye. I was looking for the usual ingredients to stir-fry for my family that night when I noticed the cool bottle and its unusual name: Sriracha Sauce. You pronounce it “sir-ra-cha,” which comes from the coastal city Si Racha in Thailand.

I’ll try most anything at least once, so I brought the bottle home and thought we would give it a taste. I would be lying if I said it didn’t take some trial and error before I discovered how deliciously addictive this sauce is for me. I now find reasons to add it to everything from burritos and pizza to burgers and Chinese food!

Sriracha Sauce, or “Rooster Sauce” as it is known by its cult-like followers, is basically a puree of sun-ripened chiles, along with a fairly strong garlicky flavor and a little hint of sweetness. It definitely packs some heat, which is why you need to play with it a while to find your sweet spot.

Start with just a little, maybe adding it to your mayonnaise or ketchup to kick them up a notch. It is fantastic mixed with soy sauce for Asian dishes, and I love mixing it with grilling spices to make a wonderful paste for smoking brisket and pork butt. I even add it to my spaghetti sauce, deviled eggs, and Bloody Marys!

The more I have researched Sriracha Sauce, the more I realize that the sauce is the secret ingredient in not only my kitchen, but many popular chefs across the world. There’s even a cookbook out now completely devoted to the sauce.

To help you get started, try this delicious Honey Sriracha Glaze for your favorite grilled meats:

Honey Sriracha Glaze

1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha Sauce

Dine-In: Taking back the chicken nugget

Now to be clear, I’m not talking about the heavily breaded “parts is parts” chicken nuggets you get through your car window from fast-food joints. My love comes from the homemade kind – big chunks of white-meat chicken carefully dipped and double-dipped before frying to make a crispy, juicy one-bite wonder. There’s just something about the miniature size, along with homemade dipping sauces, that make chicken nuggets a fun food for all ages to enjoy.

But at my house, I try not to fry our food very often, unless it’s okra season of course and then all bets are off.  Otherwise, I have worked to turn my traditional fried recipes into baked ones without sacrificing any flavor or texture.

My family’s favorite baked chicken nugget (or tender if you prefer a bigger size) uses a triple-dip process to get the crispy crunch without having to fry in oil. The flour, egg and breadcrumb coating also seals in the chicken’s delicious juices.

I love serving these with spicy ketchup or a jalapeno Ranch-style dressing.

Baked Chicken Nuggets

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped dried herbs of your choice (such as parsley, rosemary or thyme)
Coarse salt to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine Panko with Parmesan, herbs and a dash of salt. Drizzle oil over and stir well to combine. Place flour and eggs in two separate dipping bowls as well.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Dip each chicken nugget in flour, egg and Panko mixture, pressing to adhere. Place on baking sheet and bake 7 minutes. Flip and bake an additional 5 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauces.


Family Matters: Our Camping Staycation

Our children never ask us what our plans are each spring break. They know that, in our home, spring break means one thing: Time to go camping!

It seems everyone else had the same idea we did because every state park nearby was full before I could make our reservation. I guess lots of folks enjoy camping in the great outdoors!

I did not want our camping tradition to be broken, so I decided we would just have to have a “camping staycation”— camping at home!

We spent Thursday night preparing the menus and grocery shopping for the weekend’s events. Friday night’s menu was grilled steak, corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, rolls and our traditional s’mores for dessert. Saturday night was hamburger and hotdog night followed again with the kids’ favorite—s’mores! Sunday was a busy day – the perfect time to make taco soup in our slow cooker.

Each night, we sat outside at our picnic table and pretended we were camping in a state park. We live in the country with lots of critters running around, so it was easy to imagine!

One of our camping traditions is to watch scary movies at our camp site, so each night, I popped popcorn, and my husband set up a TV on the deck to make sure our scary movie nights continued. We turned off all of the outside lights, lit lanterns and built a fire in the outdoor fireplace.

Even though we didn’t actually go anywhere to camp out, our family had a great time during our own backyard “camping staycation!”

Slow Cooker Taco Soup 

1.5 Lbs ground beef
1 chopped onions
2 cans chopped tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
2 cans pinto beans
1 can chopped chilies
1 can corn
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
1 pkg ranch dressing mix

Brown ground beef with onions. Drain water from beans and corn. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Add 2-3 cups of water. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Shop the Sale: Goldenbrook Ice Cream

One of my favorite things to do is to spend time in the kitchen with younger people who want to learn to cook – or who at least want to get their hands messy and play around for a while!

Kids are not afraid to explore, imagine, risk and even fail. And on the flipside, cooking can give children a quick boost of confidence when their creations come out of the oven and into their mouths as planned.

Not too long ago, a mom I know asked me to come hang out with her college-age daughter and a few of her friends. These young women were moving from dorm life to apartment life, and this mother wanted me to help the girls make the transition from cafeteria dining to apartment cooking as smoothly as possible.

Of course, I think I ended up learning the most and having the most fun, which is usually the case when you’re the teacher, isn’t it? We had a wonderful afternoon together, and it was such a delight to be a part of their beautiful lives.

Half-jokingly, I told the girls that the way to a man’s heart is often straight through his tummy, and it might be a good idea to have a dessert ready to go on those late nights they found themselves “studying” with the cute boy from the business school.

This recipe for Toffee Ice Cream Squares is one I put to good use while a student at Baylor University, and I still do today. It makes a ton and can stay in the freezer for several days, cutting off only the amount of squares you need at any one time.

The recipe is also quite versatile. Feel free to use graham cracker crumbs instead of chocolate; use chocolate chips or nuts instead of toffee; and definitely experiment with lots of different ice cream flavors. And now is the perfect time to do that, as Goldenbrook Ice Cream is on sale this week at all Brookshire’s.


Toffee Ice Cream Squares 

1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
1/3 cup unsalted melted butter
9 ounces chocolate toffee candy bars, crushed
1/2 gallon Goldenbrook Homemade Vanilla or other favorite flavor ice cream, softened
Hot fudge sauce (see recipe below)

Mix chocolate wafer crumbs and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch pan. Freeze 15 minutes to set crust. Meanwhile, mix the crushed candy bars in with the softened ice cream. Scoop back into crust, making even with the back of a spoon. Put back into the freezer to harden. To serve, cut into squares and drizzle with warmed hot fudge sauce. Serves 8-12.

Hot Fudge Sauce

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup butter, unsalted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar, cocoa, evaporated milk and corn syrup together in saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture begins to boil. Boil for 5 minutes to thicken. Make sure you time it from a good roiling boil and not the first few bubbles that will persist for several minutes beforehand. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. OPTION: If you want really thick hot fudge sauce, you can boil for a few minutes more.

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Posted in: Shop the Sale

Healthy Living: Live Greener. Go Organic

April 22 is Earth Day, and millions of people across the world come together to celebrate our planet.

As awareness of the need to care for our planet has grown over the past few years, I have also tried to do my part to become “greener.” I ride my bike or walk instead of driving short distances; I’ve planted a few trees; and I even started a compost pile.

Two simple habits I have added to my life are using my reusable Brookshire’s bags and buying more organic foods.

Organic doesn’t just mean “all natural” or “good for you.” According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA, organic produce is grown without irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides and genetically modified organisms. This results in fewer chemicals in the air, earth and water.

You may think going organic is expensive, but you don’t have to buy all things organic. The Environmental Working Group has a list of foods you don’t necessarily have to buy organic called “The Clean 15.” This list is of 15 produce items that have very little pesticide residue and are not necessarily better if you buy them organically.

On the other hand, the group released a list called “The Dirty Dozen,” which are 12 produce items they encourage you to buy organic all the time.

In addition to produce, I always buy organic milk and organic meat. This means the animals must have access to the outdoors and have been fed 100 percent organic food. The animals also can’t be injected with any growth hormones or antibiotics.

It does not take a huge life change to become greener. It’s more about being aware and doing what you can do to help our planet stay healthy and strong for generations to come.

Start using your reusable Brookshire’s bag and slowly start buying organic and you will be on your way to a greener life.

The Dirty Dozen (Buy organic)

peaches • apples • celery • sweet bell peppers • strawberries • kale/collard greens         nectarines • spinach • lettuce • domestic blueberries • grapes • potatoes

The Clean 15

onions • sweet corn • pineapples • avocado • asparagus • sweet peas • mangos • eggplant•cantaloupe • kiwi • cabbage • watermelon • sweet potatoes • grapefruit • mushrooms

Dine-In: Burgers and Barefoot in the Park

Friday nights are usually low key in our home. Between work and busy teenage boys’ schedules, we really try to wind down the week with a little family time before Saturday cranks up again full speed. Of course, as the boys have gotten older this is not as easy to do, so I try really hard to grab any opportunity I can for a fun night at home with them.

Most nights this means playing poker and watching shows that make me nauseated, such as Hogs Gone Wild and My Strange Addiction. But every now and then I take back the TV and try to get everyone to watch a movie that I like as well. I gave up on trying to get them to sit through Sound of Music a long time ago, but I have won on To Kill A Mockingbird, Shawshank Redemption and Heaven Can Wait.

Tonight, I have a plan to bribe them with cheeseburgers and French fries (and a healthy spicy Napa cabbage slaw) and then hopefully persuade them to watch one of my very favorite movies of all time, Barefoot in the Park, which is based on a 1963 Neil Simon play.

Jane Fonda and Robert Redford are barely in their 20s and are nothing if not delightful. Redford plays a conservative young lawyer who marries a vivacious, risk-taking woman, played by Fonda. She just wants to have fun; he just wants to pay the bills. It’s funny, well-written and a classic on my list of favorite movies.

What are some of your family’s Friday night traditions? I’d love to hear about them and include them here in future “Dine-In Friday” blogs. Email me at

Happy Friday!

Spicy Napa Cabbage Slaw

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 red Thai chile, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cups shredded Napa cabbage
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts or toasted sesame seeds

Combine lemon juice and chile slices in a bowl. Slowly add olive oil, whisking constantly. In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, green onion and cilantro. When ready to serve, drizzle with dressing. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Sprinkle with peanuts or sesame seeds and serve.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In

Family Matters: Celebrity chef creates baby food

Now that I have teenagers, I look back and realize that things may not have been as difficult with my babies as I face now, but at the time, I worried myself to death about everything from how long my children would sleep each night to if I were giving them the best nutrition possible.

A child’s relationship with food begins earlier than you might think, and I did not want to create any stress or bad habits that might haunt them later on. I just wanted them to grow strong, be healthy, and learn to enjoy the pleasures of good food.

My first child was born 15 years ago, and honestly, there just wasn’t a lot on the market I felt really good about feeding him. And although I did make a lot of his baby food from scratch, hours in the kitchen were not a practical, long-term solution for my schedule – which of course only seemed to add stress and guilt to my list of new mom angst.

Thankfully, parents today have many great choices for giving their children the best possible start in life when it comes to creating a healthy food relationship. Some of these new choices have sprung to life because of to the popularity of cooking shows and celebrity chefs. We are paying more attention to how we cook and eat, and although some of it may not be only entertainment, chefs such as Tyler Florence are making a real difference.

“As a father, I’m always thinking about how I can get my children to eat healthy, even when time is an issue,” Florence states on the Sprouts website. “As a chef, I want to treat them to foods that are delicious, and create a good relationship with a variety of foods.”

Being the chef he is, he rose to the creative challenge and started the company, “Sprouts.” Sprouts is a 100 percent organic line of nutritious, delicious food options for young eaters, and Brookshire’s is proud to be carrying it now as part of our initiative to help our customers make healthier lifestyle choices.

We all know that obesity is on the rise in our country, and thanks to companies such as Sprouts, we can take the steps needed early in our children’s lives to instill good habits and delight in healthy eating.

Hunting for the Golden Egg

I wish I could tell you that as a child I woke up on Easter morning thinking about my salvation and who gave it to me. Instead, the truth is this: I woke up wondering if I would be the lucky one to find the Golden Egg in our family’s
Easter egg hunt.

My parents always bought one of those huge golden eggs that had pantyhose inside. I don’t think anyone wore the pantyhose, but my brother, sisters and I sure fought over the egg. Mama and Daddy always hid money inside, and then skillfully hid it in the yard among the other colorful plastic jelly bean eggs. I was six years younger than my older siblings, so I was rarely the one to find the golden egg before anyone else did.

I wonder if now is a good time to confess to my siblings that my father always snuck me $20 later that day.

After church and a roast beef lunch at Morrison’s cafeteria, it was time to investigate my basket. The Easter Bunny was nothing if not consistent, year after year: New Sunday dress, new white knee socks, a new book and a chocolate peanut butter egg.

I don’t know what it was about those eggs, but there was something different about them than any other time of the year I ate peanut butter and chocolate together. A few years ago, I stumbled upon a recipe that brought me right back to those childhood memories, and I finally figured out the secret ingredient that gave the eggs the perfect texture: graham cracker crumbs.

You get to use your hands, lick your fingers and use candy sprinkles. And best of all, you get to make sweet Easter memories with those you love.

View a video of the chocolate peanut butter egg preparation or view the recipe to print or add items to your Shopping List.

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Posted in: Kids

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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.

Product Talk

Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.

Healthy Living

Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.

Shop the Sale

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

Family Matters

Ideas for the whole family come to you every Thursday.

Dine In

Stop fighting the crowds, save money and dine in, every Friday.

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