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Shop the sale: Pears


A very simple pear-blue-cheese-and-pecan salad  was one of the most popular dishes on my menu when I owned a restaurant in Cozumel, Mexico.

No one ever seemed to figure out the secret ingredient in the dressing (maple syrup!) but everyone loved the texture and contrast of sweet, juicy, crisp pears to the salty, savory cheese and nuts.

Both green D’Anjou and Bosc pears are at special prices this week at your neighborhood store, so when you’re buying some for lunchboxes, get a few extra for this salad. You can use either one, as it’s a matter of taste and appearance preferences. Personally I find the brown-skinned Bosc tend to be a little sweeter, so you may find they present a little better contrast to the strong blue cheese flavor.

Pear, Blue Cheese and Pecan Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients:

Salad:
1 small container spring mix lettuces  (or any lettuce mix of your choosing)
1 large or two small pears, halved, cored, and sliced thinly lengthwise
4 to 6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup salted or candied pecans
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, optional

Dressing:
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup lime juice, fresh only (do not use bottled)
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
For dressing: In a squirt bottle or sealable plastic container, combine maple syrup, lime juice and olive oil. Seal container and shake well to combine. Season with salt and fresh pepper to taste. Shake again and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

In a med.-large mixing bowl, combine spring lettuce mix, pear slices, blue cheese and pecans. Toss to combine. Remove dressing from refrigerator and shake well to recombine.  Add about ¼-1/2 cup of dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Divide onto salad plates and serve immediately.



Product Talk: A cook’s best friend – Buttermilk


I grew up in the Deep South in a time and place where all tea was sweet and all sodas were called “co-colas.” I can also remember my grandmother’s answer every time I asked her for a glass of milk: “Butter or sweet?”

And as stereotypical as it sounds, it really wasn’t unusual for us to sit on her screened porch and enjoy a glass of cold buttermilk – maybe even with some leftover cornbread or biscuits crumbled in it as well.

I don’t know when I grew out of the habit of enjoying buttermilk as a beverage, but I’m guessing it was probably around the time chocolate milk hit the market. Suddenly buttermilk was nothing but sour!

Thankfully, I never gave up my appreciation for buttermilk as one of the most versatile ingredients in my cooking. From brining to baking and all points between, buttermilk adds a dimension of flavor you just can’t get from “sweet” milk.

I hope you’re already familiar with how delicious buttermilk is in biscuits and pancakes, and I really hope you’ve discovered the heaven on earth known as buttermilk pie. But next time you’re cooking, think about choosing buttermilk instead of milk in your mashed potatoes, homemade salad dressings, blueberry muffins, and even your chocolate sheet cake icing.

And just like my grandmother taught me, I always use buttermilk to soak my chicken breasts and chicken fried steak before dipping them in flour and frying them in the cast-iron pan she left to me when she passed away.

Brookshire’s Southwest Dairy makes the Food Club buttermilk you can find in our stores. Our churns may be a bit bigger than the old days, but the taste and quality is as good as it gets. From savory to sweet, our buttermilk’s slightly tangy flavor has been the secret best friend for generations of cooks  ̶  and doting grandmothers  ̶  across the south.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes 

Ingredients:
3 large or 5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, halved, and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons salt, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2/3 cup Food Club buttermilk, warmed
2 green onions, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are pierced easily with a fork, about 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

Drain, reserving about a 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Using a potato ricer, gently press the potatoes over a large bowl. (If you don’t have a potato ricer, use a sieve and wooden spoon. For best results, don’t use an electric mixer.) Mix in butter, 1 teaspoon salt, buttermilk and green onions and gently stir to blend. Add a tablespoon or 2 of cooking liquid if necessary to obtain desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.



Dine-In: Working for the Weekend


As far as I’m concerned, there are only two food groups: Weekday and Weekend.

I realize I just caused nutritionists everywhere to choke on their granola, but there’s something about the weekend that begs for fun food – not the baked chicken and steamed broccoli that I dutifully ate Monday through Thursday.

I understand the value of a balanced lifestyle, but I also lean toward the attitude of the wonderful cook Julia Child: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

But here’s the deal, by Friday night I’m too tired to go anywhere or do anything fun. I just want to come home from work, put on soft clothes, make a great dinner and hopefully watch the episode of “Modern Family” I recorded two days earlier.

I’ve long given up trying to watch an entire movie before falling asleep. It’s simply not going to happen.

Most weeks, I’ve bought a couple of rotisserie chickens from Brookshire’s during the week when I didn’t have time to bake my own, and we usually have leftovers. My family loves this Barbecue Chicken Pizza recipe, and it’s so easy to do…especially if you take some shortcuts and use purchased pizza dough, barbecue sauce and leftover rotisserie chicken.

It’s Friday. I can already feel the weight of the work week lifting from my shoulders. Tonight I’m going to open some wine, play some Adele, make a couple of pizzas and be in bed by 10 – the same hour my teenagers are just getting started.

I never thought I would agree with my parents, but I hear myself now repeating to the boys the same thing my parents said to me when I was younger and begged to stay out late, “Nothing fun happens late at night…at least nothing fun you’re going to know about.”

Barbecue Chicken Pizza 

Ingredients:
1 unbaked pizza crust (see recipe below or purchase 1 13.8-ounce tube of refrigerated pizza dough)
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 Tbs fresh cilantro leaves
3 Tbs cooked, crumbled bacon (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out pizza crust to form a 10-inch circle and place on a greased baking sheet or pizza pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and spread 1/2 cup barbecue sauce over crust, leaving a ½-inch border around edges. Combine remaining 3 tablespoons of barbecue sauce with shredded chicken and spread over pizza crust. Sprinkle cheese over. Sprinkle onions, bacon and cilantro over pizza. Bake an additional 8-10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Never-Fail Pizza Dough 

Ingredients:
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, around 105° degrees
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water. In a large mixing bowl, stir flour and salt together. Add yeast mixture and stir until smooth. Let rest 10 minutes. Lightly flour hands and knead dough for 10 minutes, until elastic and smooth. If dough becomes sticky while kneading, add a little bit of flour and work it in until no longer sticky.

Divide dough into two balls and coat each ball well with olive oil. Coat the insides of two bowls with more olive oil and place one ball in each bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 ½ hours. If you plan on making only one pizza, place the other bowl in the refrigerator up to 24 hours. You can also wrap carefully in plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 months. Simply thaw in refrigerator overnight before using.

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Family Matters: MyPlate


March is one of my favorite months because it’s National Nutrition Month. Today, with 17% of children from ages 2 to 19 years old classified as obese, it’s more important than ever to take advantage of this annual observance, and resolve to teach our children more about nutrition.

And teaching kids about nutrition is getting easier. Last summer, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) replaced the nutrition icon that many of us grew up on – MyPyramid – with a new one, MyPlate.

MyPlate is super-easy for children to understand. It provides a visual representative of a balanced diet based on the 2010 Dietary Guideline for Americans. MyPlate is divided into the 5 food groups; fruit, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.

Fruit and veggies: The USDA suggests half your plate should be filled with nutritious fruits and vegetables. This could be a 1/2 cup of cranberry juice at breakfast, an orange at lunch and a half cup of sliced apples at dinner. Have a sweet tooth? End each meal with a piece of fruit. For many families, vegetables can be a harder sell – it’s harder to find veggies that kids will like, and they’re often more work for parents to prepare. But don’t be discouraged – frozen and canned vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh, and a lot easier for busy families to fit into their meal plan.

Grains: One-fourth of your plate should be made up of grains. This can be a 1/2 cup of cooked pasta, 1 cup of dry cereal or a slice of bread. Half of your grains should be whole grains. Look for products with whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur, buckwheat, oatmeal, whole grain cornmeal, whole oats, whole rye or wild rice as the first ingredient; this ensures you’re getting a whole grain.

Protein: The remaining fourth of your plate is reserved for protein. Protein is not only steak and chicken, but also nuts, seeds, peanut butter and beans. Meat, poultry and fish should be 2 to 3 ounces or the sizes of a deck of cards. Other protein options are 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or 1/2 cup cooked beans.

Dairy: Off to the side of the plate is a place for your nice, cold glass of low-fat or fat-free milk. You can replace the cup of milk with a cup of yogurt or 1 1/2 ounces of low-fat natural cheese. (Sour cream fan? Replace it with plain, low- fat yogurt).

With the new MyPlate icon, kids can easily visualize what a healthy diet is supposed to look like. As you’re planning meals, get them to discuss how to make the meal fit that pattern, and encourage them to come up with healthy foods they like that will balance out the plate. And soon, helping them eat better will be a piece of cake…or, make that a piece of fruit.

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Posted in: Family Matters


Shop the Sale: Orange Glazed Pork Chops


Dinner in a Dash:

I would like to pretend that I get dinner on the table for my family every night…and on time. But if your  life is anything like mine, then there are simply some evenings that supper arrives in a sack through my car window. It’s just the way it is.

But I don’t want to be a fast-food family all the time.  Yes, it takes some planning on my part, and yes, some nights don’t go as I hope and I end up alone in the kitchen with nothing but dirty words and dirty dishes.

These are the nights I try to remember how cute my teenagers were before they decided that I know nothing about anything.

But for the most part, I have found that some my family’s best conversations and laughter happen around our dinner table. One of my family’s favorites is this quick, delicious recipe for Orange Glazed Pork Chops.  This week, the Hormel Pork Chops and Food Club Orange Juice are on sale in all Brookshire’s, making this an even better deal for your family.

The sauce is delicious on hot, cooked rice, and I usually just steam some fresh broccoli to serve with it…which happens to also be on sale this week.

There’s something about coming together at the end of our day in a place where we can let our guard down and enjoy a good meal together that gives us all a much-needed sense of security in this crazy world.

Orange Glazed Pork Chops
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 Hormel boneless pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup Food Club orange juice
2 tablespoons honey or light brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspooon crushed red pepper, optional
Hot cooked rice

Directions:
In a bowl, combine orange juice, brown sugar, marmalade, vinegar and crushed red pepper. Set aside. Season pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. In a large, heavy skillet, heat oil to medium-high and brown pork chops on both sides. Remove to a plate and drain excess grease from skillet. Return pork chops and skillet to heat. Pour orange juice mixture over pork chops. Cover and simmer on low heat for 35 to 45 minutes, until pork chops are tender. Remove pork chops to a warm platter. Spoon additional sauce over pork chops. Serve pork chops over hot cooked rice. 



Healthy Living: Healthier Microwave Popcorn


Popcorn and movies go together like peanut butter and jelly; I hardly ever watch a movie without it. You can imagine how excited I was when I found out popcorn was a whole grain, making it a healthier snack than most.

What’s not healthy about popcorn? All the fats and salt and flavorings that it often contains. Even the healthiest microwave popcorn has much more fat and salt than the kind you make in an old-fashioned air-pop popcorn maker.

But since those air-pop makers can be hard to find in stores, I needed to find a way to make my own, healthier microwave popcorn. Luckily, it’s easy – and you don’t have to make room in the kitchen for yet another special cooking device!

You just need popcorn (the original kind, which boasts a super NuVal score of 91) and Paper Chef Parchment Bags.

Add about 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels to the parchment bag. Fold the bag down about 3 or 4 times. Microwave the popcorn 2 1/2 minutes on high.

Meanwhile, put just a little bit of butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the bowl to the microwave with the popcorn and microwave for about 15 seconds. Remove the popcorn from the microwave and carefully open it. Add the melted butter and shake the bag. Serve!

I haven’t felt so good about indulging in popcorn since I was a kid, and we used to pop big bowls of popcorn in my brother’s Scooby Doo air-pop popcorn maker. In fact, when the Breaking Dawn movie was recently released on DVD, I rushed right out and got my collector’s edition – and not just because I’m a big fan of the Twilight movie vampires. I also knew it would give me the perfect opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy a movie with a bowl of my favorite movie snack …popcorn. Guilt-free.



Product Talk: Atlantic salmon


Scared of cooking salmon at home? Don’t be. With our precise instructions, anybody who can set a timer can sear salmon like a pro.

Salmon is a popular fish for a reason – it’s meaty, tasty AND heart-healthy. (It’s full of those Omega-3 fats we’re all supposed to be eating.) And yet it’s one of the easiest, most forgiving fish to grill, sauté or sear.

With this precisely timed recipe, all the salmon needs is a few minutes in a hot pan, plus a squirt of lemon juice or a sprinkle of fresh herbs to “finish” it if you desire.  Serve with a side of rice and a green vegetable for a heart-healthy meal worthy of a restaurant chef, but at affordable, cook-at-home prices.

Pan-Seared Salmon
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 salmon fillets (skin-on), each about 6 ounces and 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick
Salt and ground black pepper

Directions:
Heat a 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet for 3 minutes over high heat. Sprinkle salmon with salt and ground black pepper.

Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. When oil shimmers (but does not smoke) add fillets skin side down and cook, without moving fillets, until pan regains lost heat, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue to cook until skin side is well browned and bottom half of fillets turns opaque, 4 1/2 minutes. Turn fillets and cook, without moving them, until they are no longer translucent on the exterior and are firm, but not hard, when gently squeezed: 3 minutes for medium-rare and 3 1/2 minutes for medium. Remove fillets from pan; let stand 1 minute. Pat with paper towel to absorb excess fat on surface, if desired. Serve immediately.



Dine- In: Easy French Toast


French toast may be my favorite weekend breakfast/brunch dish: It’s just as easy to make as a pancake, it’s a great centerpiece for bacon and eggs, and it’s even a smart way to use up bread that’s just on this side of going stale. Really, what’s not to like?

This super-easy recipe not only makes a good brunch dish, but you can even serve it as a dessert, especially if you dress it up with fresh berries and whipped cream, or even a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

If you’re going the fruit route, try a technique called macerating to sweeten and soften it up:  Place berries (or other cut-up fruit, like peach slices) in a small metal bowl, sprinkle with granulated sugar, splash with a bit of vanilla, honey and fresh lemon juice, and stir. Cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Easy French Toast
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
2 slices crusty white bread
Maple syrup

Directions:
Beat together egg, milk, cinnamon, vanilla and salt.

Heat a lightly oiled skillet or griddle over medium heat.

Soak bread slices in egg mixture for 20 seconds on each side, or until thoroughly coated and slices have begun to soften slightly. Cook bread until both sides are lightly browned and crisp. Serve hot with maple syrup.

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Family Matters: Life is Short, Eat Dessert First!


You can learn a lot about people by simply reading the words on their t-shirts. In an instant, you can know which teams they cheer for, how they vote, where they vacation, and which motorcycle they drive in their fantasy life.

One of my favorites was a shirt I saw on a darling white-haired lady one summer while we were in an ice cream shop in Florida. She was sitting at a picnic table in the shade, along with three or four of her grandchildren, happily enjoying huge scoops of melting ice cream. Her shirt read, “Life is Short, Eat Dessert First!”

I read the shirt quickly and thought, “yeah, yeah, cute saying on a cute lady” but didn’t think too much about it until a few weeks later when we were back home and I saw a car with the same saying on a bumper sticker. It reminded me of that day at the beach when my family was having such a good time together, away from the stresses of real life and our fast-paced routines.

Something triggered in my head and I thought how funny it would be if I served dessert first that night at the dinner table. I never let my children have sweets before dinner time, and I wondered what their reactions would be if we sat down, said the blessing, and then I pulled a pie out of the fridge.

The more I thought about it, the more I became certain I needed to make the idea a reality. I still had several hours before everyone got home from school and work, so I decided to make each of their favorite desserts: chocolate sheet cake for Ron, lemon icebox pie for Smith, and Will’s never-varying two scoops of lime sherbet.

Let me just tell you this: Do it. Do it tonight. The expression on their faces and the uncontrollable laughter and delight around our table that night is one of my favorite memories of all time.

I don’t know why I had never thought of serving dessert first before that night, and now that I’m writing this, I think it’s about time for me to do it again. I feel like I just blinked and suddenly those cute little boys wearing matching bathing suits have become huge teenagers well on their way out of our door once and for all.

Life really is short…painfully short at times. So tonight, I’ll do it if you will. Throw the good parent handbook out of the window, and dig in. Eat dessert first.

Smith’s Favorite Lemon Icebox Pie

Ingredients:

Crust:
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Whipped Cream:
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

Directions:
For the crust, preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl until combined, then press mixture evenly onto the bottom and up side of a 9-inch glass pie plate. Bake in middle of oven 10 minutes. Cool completely, leaving oven preheated.

For the pie, whisk together condensed milk and yolks until combined well. Add juice and whisk again until mixture is slightly thickened. Pour into crust and bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely, cover, and then chill in refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

For the whipped cream, just before serving, beat cream and powdered sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Serve pie cold topped with whipped cream.

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Posted in: Family Matters


Shop the sale: Shrimp with pasta


Seafood is traditional during Lent, which starts today – I’m pretty sure that, growing up, we all ate a lot of fish sticks during this season. So this week, we have special prices on lots of your favorite fish and shellfish, including Atlantic salmon, tilapia, and my favorite, shell-on shrimp.

This shrimp dish is easy to throw together – even if you have to clean the shrimp, you can get it on the table in 30 minutes or less, so it’s perfect for a quick after-work supper.

You can substitute other favorite fresh herbs, depending on your tastes, but I don’t recommend dried herbs for this dish; they just won’t give it the depth of flavor.

Shrimp with Capellini and Herbs
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 pound capellini (angel hair) pasta
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1-2 tsp. Kosher salt
Pepper to taste

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside in a large bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and the garlic and salt and pepper. Sauté the shrimp until they are pink on both sides, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the pasta to the skillet along with the herbs, lemon juice, and salt. Toss to coat. (Note: To make it easier use a separate large mixing bowl to toss all ingredients)

Serve immediately.



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.

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