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Dine-In: Wild-rice dressing


If you’re like most of us, you end up enjoying not just one turkey-and-dressing feast during the Thanksgiving-to-New-Year’s stretch. You have two or three or four, when you add in dinner at both sides of the family, the church supper, the office potluck and other festivities.

So if you’re looking for something to make the next holiday meal a little different from the others, here’s a new take on traditional dressing. It has some of the familiar flavors, such as sage and thyme, but instead of dried bread or cornbread, this uses a combination of white and wild rice, and includes dried fruit as a complement to the onion and celery.

This dressing goes well with turkey, but it also makes an excellent side dish for roast pork or even a mild baked fish. 

Wild Rice-Cranberry Stuffing
Makes about 8 cups

Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter, divided
2 cups red onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
5 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cup wild rice
1 1/4 cups long grain white rice
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup golden raisins
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. sage, dried
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped coarsely
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 x 9 casserole or baking dish, and set aside.

In skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion and celery and sauté until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.  In a large pan, bring stock to boil. Add wild rice and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Stir in white rice, cover and simmer until liquid is almost absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Stir in cranberries, thyme, sage, onions, celery and remaining two tablespoons of butter. Cover and simmer about 3 minutes. Stir in pecans. Salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer stuffing to prepared baking dish and cover with lid or aluminum foil. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until heated through.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Family Matters: Caring for new pets at the holidays


What child hasn’t wished for a new puppy or kitten for Christmas?

Although some experts discourage giving animals as gifts, the holidays can also be a great time to adopt a new pet as a family: The children are home from school, and many of us have extra vacation time, so we’ll be home more to attend to the needs of a new pet.

If your holiday plans include adopting a new family member of the four-legged variety, here are some ideas to help ease the transition during this very busy time of year.

Introduce gradually to other animals in the household. Ask your veterinarian for advice on the best way to introduce your new pet to older dogs or cats, especially if the existing pet has lived alone for some time, or if your pet doesn’t always get along with new animals. At a minimum, be prepared to feed the new and existing pets on opposite sides of the room or in different rooms altogether; provide a new litter box for any new cat; and provide separate sleeping arrangements, whether in a kennel or in a quiet, closed rooms. Never leave the new animal alone with other pets until you’ve had a chance to observe them together, preferably several times.

Avoid adopting new pets right during the busiest part of the holidays.  New puppies, especially, need almost as much attention as a baby for the first few weeks, and during house training. Cats may not adjust well to a new home if there is a lot of commotion, whether from decorations, lights or parties. So, if you expect lots of guests, or if you plan to leave town for part of the holidays, ask the breeder or the animal shelter if you can pick up the animal later in the holidays. If you’ve intended the animal as a gift for your children or spouse, you can provide a photo and some of the gear, like a leash, bowl, toys, and bed, so there is something to unwrap on the holidays itself.

“Puppy-proof” the house first. Consider which rooms you’ll allow the new pet into, and then set about making them safe for a new dog or cat. Until you know how much of a “chewer”  the puppy is, you’ll want to limit the dog’s access to just about anything – electrical cords, shoes, remote controls, throw rugs, pillows. Cats tend to be less potentially destructive, but you’ll also want to secure cords, drapery pulls and other items that could present a choking hazard. Check the placement of houseplants; they can be poisonous to animals. Finally, get plenty of toys, even just some old socks, so the new animal has plenty to keep its attention, and will be less likely to be destructive.

Make sure they have the proper diet. Kittens and puppies aren’t just little versions of adults; they have their own special dietary needs. Puppies, especially, grow very fast, and need extra nutrients to build muscle, bone and organs. You should feed puppy formula, preferably one that matches the size of your dog’s breed, until the puppy has reached about 90 percent of his or her expected adult weight. (For small dogs, this will occur by the time the dog is one year old; for larger breeds, it might take up to 18 months.) Kittens should be fed kitten formulas to support their growth, for at least the first nine months of life and preferably for one year.

Finally, even though it’s tempting, do not feed table scraps, even as a treat. It’s hard to break eating habits learned young, and too much human food contributes to pet obesity and other health problems. If you want to provide treats – which can be a great tool while training your puppy – choose those that are appropriate to your pet’s size and breed, and limit them to special rewards.



Shop the Sale: Hass Avocados


Hass avocados are the Mercedes of avocados – beautiful  and consistently high-quality. But they’re also an affordable luxury, especially this week, as we’ve just started a special 5-for-$5 deal on large Hass avocados in our produce sections.

These avocados are highly recognizable because of their dark green, pebbly skin, sometimes with a deep purple or blackish tinge. But the color of the rind isn’t the best way to choose them, according to the experts at the Hass Avocado Board.

Instead, you should gently squeeze the avocado in the palm of your hand, without using your fingertips (to avoid bruising the fruit), to determine if it will be ready when you are. (You don’t want the disappointment of bringing home a bunch of beautiful avocados and realizing they haven’t ripened enough for the guacamole you planned for supper!) Here’s their guide to choosing:

Firm avocados: If the avocado will not yield at all to gentle pressure, they’re not ready to eat. They will ripen at room temperature in up to four-five days, so buy these if you’re not planning to eat right away.

“Breaking” avocados: Avocado isn’t rock hard, but doesn’t quite yield to gentle pressure. These will be ready to eat in two or three days.

Ripe avocados: These yield to gentle pressure, but don’t feel too mushy or soft. You can eat these right away. Store them in the fridge to keep them from softening too much.

Hass avocados make great fresh guacamole, of course, but there’s so much else you can do with fresh avocados. Make a BLA sandwich – bacon, lettuce, and slices of creamy avocado.  Puree them into soup or salad dressing. Make a chunky pico de gallo for fish or shrimp, or just to serve with chips.

Or try this recipe for an out-of-the ordinary vegetable dish, an interesting side dish idea for the holidays, from the Hass Avocado Board. (They have lots of other recipes, which you can find here. (hyperlink to http://www.avocadocentral.com/avocado-recipes)

Holiday Vegetable and Hass Avocado Saute
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ripe fresh Hass avocado, seeded, peeled and cut into chunks (about 8 ounces)

Directions:
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallot and thyme, sauté for 3 minutes.

Mix in zucchini, bell pepper and lemon peel, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Lower heat and cover, cooking for 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice with avocado. Add to skillet and gently mix. Cook for 2 minutes to allow flavors to blend.



Healthy Living: Safer toys for the holidays


How’s that holiday shopping going? If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably still got at least a few gifts to pick up. So this is a good time to remind you that December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month – a time set aside to help us focus on choosing safe, age-appropriate presents, especially for the youngest family members and friends in our lives.

Sponsored by Prevent Blindness America, the observation comes at a good time; most children receive more toys in December than they get the rest of the year! And, of course, many of those toys come from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, and other family members and friends who may be unfamiliar with current toy safety standards and recommendations, and who may be years removed from buying toys on a regular basis.

Some ideas before heading out to buy presents for the kiddos:

  1. Take a minute to research toys that have been recalled recently.  www.cpsc.gov/  is a great place to start. Although most retailers do their best to pull recalled items promptly, sometimes there can be a brief period between the announcement of a recall and the time the item is removed from shelves.
  2. Buy toys that are age-appropriate. Read the age recommendations and warnings on the toy package and follow them, even if you think the intended recipient is mature for her or his age. This is especially important for younger children; there’s a huge developmental difference between a two-year-old and children even a year or 18 months older, which is why so many toys carry warnings that they are not to be used for children under three. But even for older children, it can prevent frustration or boredom; few six-year-olds will be able to understand or build a toy or game meant for eight- or 10-year-olds.
  3. Choose sturdy toys. Lightweight plastics can break into shards that could cut a child; toys with many parts can easily break or quit working. You can look for the letters ASTM on the label; this means the toy has met national safety standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials.
  4. Avoid loud toys. The parents will thank you, for one thing. But also, some toys, especially toy guns, phones and electronic toys, can emit sounds as loud as 120 decibels – loud enough to permanently damage a child’s hearing.
  5. Read video game labels and ratings. For children, the EC (early childhood) or E (everyone) rating is recommended, but be careful; some E games contain some violence or even mild language. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, read some reviews before buying.
  6. Check on food allergies. Candy and nuts may seem like harmless stocking stuffers – unless the recipient has allergies! If you’re unsure, use stocking stuffers like  hard candy or popcorn that are unlikely to prompt an allergy, or stay away from food entirely and choose inexpensive items like colorful pencils or markers, stickers or temporary tattoos.
  7. If in doubt, ask the parent. If you’re buying for someone else’s child and unsure if your choice is suitable, be sure the parent will approve of your selection. For instance, chemistry sets, certain video games, and BB guns may have been great gifts for your child, but another parent may feel his or her child isn’t sufficiently mature, even if they meet the age guidelines.


Product Talk: The gift of fruit


The tradition of giving fruit as a holiday gift is an old one, but it’s just as good an idea today as it was 50 years ago. In these days, when everybody seems to be avoiding sugar, developing food allergies, or going on a diet, fruit is one food gift that just about every person on your gift list will appreciate.

We are making it even easier this year to finish your holiday shopping, by carrying fruit gift packs that are ready to give to family, friends, clients or neighbors. Most of our stores have several gift ideas available, so look for these in your neighborhood store or ask your produce manager to see what gift packs may be available this season:

Spanish Clementines: Sweet, seedless and easy to peel, clementines have a smaller window of availability than most other citrus fruits. They’re at their peak from about November through January – which might be why they’re sometimes called “Christmas oranges.” Available in five-pound gift crate.

California Navel Oranges:  Perhaps because they were once available only to the wealthy, oranges continue to be associated with prosperity and luxury, and remain a traditional Christmas treat. Of course, oranges are also at their peak, and most delicious, at this time of year.   Available in gift crate, approximately 24 to 36 count.

Texas Rio Star Grapefruits: Texas’ shining contribution to the citrus industry, these are the sweetest, juiciest grapefruit you can find; the kind that even people who swear they don’t like grapefruit end up loving. Available in holiday gift pack, approximately 12-18 count.

Red Delicious Apples: Shiny, picture-perfect red apples are always a good gift-giving choice; have you ever heard of anyone who didn’t like apples?  Didn’t think so. Available in holiday gift pack, featuring Washington-grown apples, approximately 18-22 count.



Dine-In: Pork Schnitzel


Even people who think they don’t like German and Austrian food usually like schnitzel. It’s pork and it’s fried – what’s not to like?

Actually, the Germans and the Austrians may not have invented schnitzel, which is traditionally a thin, breaded cutlet of meat that’s fried till golden. Most food historians think they borrowed it from a northern Italian dish called milanesa. But, well, pretty much every other culture has a version of this dish, too. (Chicken-fried steak? It’s basically a schnitzel, or milanesa, made with beef, and then covered with gravy.)

Although in Europe schnitzel is often made with veal, I prefer pork, because it’s easy to get and inexpensive. This is a good weeknight meal because it cooks so fast; the thinner you pound the meat, the faster it cooks. Serve it with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable or salad, or with German potato salad and cooked cabbage if you want to go the traditional European route.

Schnitzel
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 cups+ 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pork tenderloin (1 1/4 pounds). trimmed of fat and silver skin and cut on angle into 4 equal pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste

Garnish:
1 lemon, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons parsley, fresh chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed (optional)

Directions:
Place bread crumbs to shallow dish. Spread flour in second shallow dish. Beat eggs with 1 tablespoon oil in third shallow dish.

Place one piece of pork cut-side down inside a large plastic freezer bag and pound to even thickness, until cutlet is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with remaining pieces of pork. Season cutlets with salt and pepper.

Working with 1 cutlet at a time, dredge cutlets thoroughly in flour, shaking off excess, then coat with egg mixture, allowing excess to drip back into dish to ensure very thin coating, and coat evenly with bread crumbs, pressing on crumbs to adhere. Place breaded cutlets in single layer on wire rack set over baking sheet; let coating dry 5 minutes.

Heat remaining 2 cups oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it registers 375 degrees on instant-read thermometer. Lay 2 cutlets, without overlapping, in pan and cook, shaking pan continuously and gently, until cutlets are wrinkled and light golden brown on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer cutlets to paper towel-lined plate and flip cutlets several times to blot excess oil. Repeat with remaining cutlets. Serve immediately with garnishes.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Family Matters: Homemade Ornaments


Does it feel like the holidays rush by every year, and they’re over before you’ve even had a chance to relax and enjoy them?

This year, make a promise to slow down and create some special holiday memories with your family – in the kitchen, of course. These old-fashioned dough ornaments are fun for the whole family to make, and easy enough that even the littlest kids can get in on the act. Double or triple the recipe and you’ll have enough dough to invite friends, neighbors and cousins for an ornament-making party. While the ornaments are baking, serve hot chocolate and play board games, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

The basic dough recipe is below, but you can find illustrated step-by-step directions in the December issue of Celebrate Cooking. You can pick up your free copy at your local store, or view the digital edition online at brookshires.com.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Dough Ornaments

Ingredients:
4 cups Food Club Flour
1 cup Food Club salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
Red and green food coloring

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead by hand until elastic and smooth.

Divide dough into roughly three equal pieces. Leave one portion white. In the other two portions, work in red and green food coloring by kneading,  adding color until you reach the desired hue.

Roll small pieces of dough into long, thin ropes and twist together to form candy canes and wreaths. Hand-cut small bows of red or green dough to decorate wreaths. Place ornaments on parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake until hard, about one hour.



Shop the sale: Brookshire’s Best Angus chuck roast


If you’ve never tried our Brookshire’s Best Angus beef, this is the week to treat yourself. We’ve got our Brookshire’s Best Angus chuck roast on special starting today.

Angus cattle are often called the Cadillac of the beef world, and the nickname actually makes a lot of sense:  Raised with careful quality control, American-ranched Angus cattle produce superior cuts of tender, juicy beef. It’s considered some of the best in the business.

And our Brookshire’s Best Angus beef is the best of the best. We select only the highest-quality Angus beef for this program, so you are guaranteed a consistently tender, delicious cut.

What makes Angus such good beef?

It starts with genetics. American ranchers have been raising Angus cattle for more than 100 years, after the first Angus were brought here from their native Scotland in the 1870s. These Angus cattle have been bred to produce beef that is finely marbled, meaning the fat is well-distributed throughout the muscle, so that the meat cooks up juicy and tender.

And it continues through production and selection. The Angus beef we choose for our Brookshire’s Best line comes from ranches following high standards of feeding and care, so that their beef is consistently of the highest quality.

Finally, this beef is hand-cut, the old-fashioned way.

It all adds up to a cut of beef that’s not just good; it’s seriously good.



Healthy Living: National Diabetes Month


November is American Diabetes Month, and last week in this space, my colleague, pharmacist Dr. Charlotte Weller, shared some important news about health care for those who are living with diabetes. But as a nutrition specialist, I see that many people are very unfamiliar with this all-too-common disease, and are not aware of the steps they can take to make sure they do not develop it.

Because many cases of diabetes can be prevented with proper nutrition and exercise, I think it’s important to review the basic facts of this disease, with help from information from the Centers for Disease Control.

Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes affects 8.3% of the U.S. population, resulting in 2.8 million Americans suffering from diabetes. There are 3 types of diabetes; type 1 (5% of cases), type2 (90% to 95% of cases) and gestational.

Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile-onset diabetes, occurs when the only cells in the body that produce insulin, pancreatic beta cells, are destroyed. This can be due to an autoimmune disorder, genetics or environment. Insulin is required to help regulate the level of glucose in your blood. Insulin transport glucose into the cells through special receptors. Once the beta cells are destroyed, your body is unable to produce insulin resulting in glucose remaining in the blood. People suffering from type 1 diabetes receive insulin from an insulin pump or insulin injections. Type 1 diabetes is not currently preventable, but can be controlled.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not use insulin properly. This can occur due to a number of factors, including age, lifestyle, family history, and race/ethnicity. Changes in lifestyle, like eating healthy and regularly exercising, can delay and even prevent type 2 diabetes.  A clinical study, the Diabetes Prevention Program, monitored a group of people who had a high risk of developing diabetes. After three years, the participants who increased their amount of exercise and lost weight were 58% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes occurs among 2% to 10% of pregnant women. Five to ten percent of women with gestational diabetes were found to be diabetic after the pregnancy.

How do you know? Type 2 diabetes, especially, sometimes goes undetected for too long because the early symptoms can be vague or may seem minor. Symptoms may include increased thirst, hunger and urination; fatigue; blurred vision; tingling in the feet; and unexplained weight loss. If you are over the age of 45, the American Diabetes Association suggests you have regular screenings for pre-diabetes and diabetes. Additionally, regular screenings are also suggested for those who are under 45 but who are overweight or obese and also have other risk factors, such as a family history of diabetes.

Help educate the ones you love.

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Posted in: Healthy Living


Product Talk: Brown Rice


As food writer Mark Bittman put it in The New York Times earlier this month – Brown rice isn’t just for hippies anymore.

But I’m willing to bet that most of you don’t eat it very often – or at all. If you don’t, you really ought to try it, not just for a change of pace but because in most cases it really is a better choice, nutrition-wise. It has more fiber and more minerals than white rice, and slightly fewer calories.

Brown rice is simply the less-refined cousin of refined white rice. (Brown rice can be any kind, including exotics like jasmine or sushi rice, but the kinds that are easiest to find are short-, medium-, or long-grain rices.)

During processing, only the outer, inedible hull is removed. The bran and the germ, which are stripped out of refined rice, remain behind in brown rice. That makes brown rice one of those whole grains we’re all advised to eat more often, and gives the clear health advantage to brown rice:

  • On average, brown rice has about four times as much fiber as white – 4 grams of fiber per cup of brown rice, compared to less than one for most varieties of white rice.
  • Brown rice has much higher levels of such nutrients as manganese, iron, selenium, and many B vitamins. While some of these nutrients are added back into enriched white rice, many of the minerals are not.
  • Brown rice gets a NuVal score of 82. Enriched white rice is scored about 30 points lower. (Remember, the higher the NuVal score, the better the overall nutrition of the product.)
  • A study by Harvard researchers indicated that eating brown rice regularly may even help lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Convinced yet? You might be if you try some, as long as you don’t compare it to the white rice you’re used to. Brown rice has a nutty flavor and a chewier, heavier texture; it may remind you more of a whole grain like barley, quinoa or even oatmeal.

Simply served plain, yes, brown rice can be a little boring. So incorporate it in other dishes: Serve it as a base for chili or stir-fries; cook it in chicken or beef stock instead of plain water; substitute it for white rice in your favorite pilaf recipe.

And if you’re in a hurry, or intimidated by cooking something new, try one of the faster-cooking or microwave varieties that have hit supermarkets in recent years. Regular brown rice does take much longer to cook than typical white rice, but some of these newer products can be ready in as little as a couple of minutes. So you really have no excuse not to give one a try.

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Posted in: Product Talk


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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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