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Family Matters: Kids in the Kitchen


My favorite people in the world to cook with are children.

I love their imaginations, creativity, willingness to take a risk, and ability to laugh when things don’t turn out exactly as planned!

Think of your kitchen as a playground.

It’s a wonderful place to explore, create, learn and enjoy time together with your children.

You may not have thought about cooking with your kids as a place to teach more than how to get food on the table, but it’s really a beautiful setting for many lessons:

  • Learning to be patient
  • Maintaining a sense of humor
  • How to handle failure
  • Working as a team
  • Following through on a task
  • Mastering health and cleanliness skills
  • Reading and following instructions
  • Developing math, science and reading skills
  • Enjoying a sense of accomplishment
  • Using your imagination
  • Developing healthy eating habits

The first and most important “rule” of learning to cook is to have fun!  Having fun should be the foundation of every kitchen activity you begin with your children. If it’s not fun or if they fear failure, then they’ll never discover the joy and pleasure of food. It will seem like just another chore, and they might miss out on what could be a wonderful passion in their lives.

Two of the many things I appreciate about my mother are that she gave me a lot of freedom in the kitchen and never, ever told me I was making too big of a mess or that what I created was a disaster. Believe me, I was (and am) messy and made many disasters (think baked iceberg salad), but she continually encouraged me and built my confidence. This is a wonderful gift you can give your own children, and here’s a secret I’ve learned: If I let my kids plan and cook the menu, they are much more likely to eat it! This even works with green beans!

I’ve written a few practical suggestions for your child to remember to keep your time in the kitchen running smoothly:

Ask Permission!
Remember to ask your parents’ permission before you begin to cook. Hey, why not let them be your helper in the kitchen? You will learn things together, and the best part is this: At the end, you will have something yummy to enjoy together as a family.

Be Prepared!
Cook like the pros do. Read through the recipe you want to make and look up any words or techniques you don’t know. And gather together everything you need — both ingredients and tools — before you start cooking. You don’t want to be halfway through the recipe and realize you’re missing something! 

Be Clean!
Cleaning is a big part of cooking. Your food needs to be prepared safely and, if you clean as you go along, when you’re ready to sit down and enjoy what you’ve cooked, you won’t have mountains of dishes to worry about. 

Have Fun!
Most of all, remember to enjoy your time in the kitchen and learn to do things your way. Experiment and make changes that work for you.



Shop the Sale: Bacon Wrapped Shrimp


I hope you had a holly, jolly Christmas! I know I’m still swooning from the after-effects of too much sugar, a lot of presents and a great holiday had by all.

So now it’s time to think about New Year’s Eve.

I know! I know!!! STOP THE MADNESS.

This quick and simple recipe, using the peeled and deveined shrimp on sale at Brookshire’s this week, will elevate your New Year’s Eve party from humdrum to VA-VOOM and have everyone partying like it’s 1999! And you’ll reap the benefits in the new year of money saved.

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
Serves 12 as an appetizer portion

Ingredients:
18-24 peeled and deveined pre-cooked shrimp
9-12 slices of Brookshire’s bacon (cut in half)

Marinade:
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp curry
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Toothpicks or wooden skewers 

Directions:
Soak toothpicks or wood skewers in warm water for around 30 minutes.

Stir together all of the ingredients for the marinade in a small to medium sized bowl.

Rinse shrimp, remove tails and pat dry.

Add shrimp to marinade, toss to coat and allow to marinate at least 1 hour at room temperature. In a large skillet, cook bacon around 2 minutes until edges start to curl. Do not cook the bacon entirely; it still has to wrap around shrimp. Perhaps 1 minute total. Drain and set aside until shrimp is done marinating.

Wrap bacon around shrimp and skewer or secure with toothpick.

Grill or broil until shrimp is done and bacon is crisp. This takes around 10 to 15 minutes on both my grill and broiler, but you will need to judge this for yourself. Be careful to not overcook.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 162, Calories from Fat: 87, Cholesterol: 107 mg, Sodium: 632 mg,Total Carbohydrates: 2 g, Sugars: 1 g, Protein: 16 g



Healthy Living: NuVal. New Year, New You


I can’t believe 2013 is almost here! This year has gone by so quickly! Many of us start off the New Year with a healthy bang. We join gyms and stock our fridges with fresh fruits and vegetables in hopes to lose those unwanted pounds that seem to just appear over the Christmas holiday. Unfortunately by mid-January the visits to gym get fewer and the hopes of getting healthy diminish.

At Brookshire’s we have an easy tool that lets you pick the most nutritious products in a short amount of time. NuVal is a scoring system that places food’s overall nutritional value on a scale between 1 and 100. Simply put, the higher the NuVal score, the higher the product’s overall nutrition. You can find these scores located in the blue double hexagon on the price tag.  

NuVal produces the scores by entering the information from the nutrition facts panel and the ingredients list into an algorithm, called Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI). The ONQI takes into account 30 different nutrients that affect the health of the general public, including sodium, fat, carbohydrates, proteins, cholesterol, fiber, antioxidants and a number of vitamins and minerals.

 When using NuVal, there is not a particular score to shoot for; rather it’s a tool to help you compare items. If you normally buy a cereal that scores a 10, try to find one that scores a little higher, like a 17. Just remember the higher the score, the better the overall nutrition of the product. The NuVal system is not a diet and should not take place of any dietary recommendations provided by your doctor. NuVal is a quick and simple tool to help you pick the most nutritious foods for your family. 

I personally love using the NuVal system and use it every time I go to the store. I encourage you to give it a try this January!



Product Talk: Eggnog


My favorite night of the entire year is Christmas Eve.

To me, it’s better than Christmas morning – the anticipation of the birth of Christ and the festivities of the next day practically charge the air with electricity. I love leaving evening church services and coming home to a big meal – it’s traditionally lasagna in my house – and wrangling the kids to sleep at a reasonable hour.

Then, of course, it’s time to wait for Jolly Old St. Nick to bound down the chimney.

While you’re waiting, you can indulge in a treat we really only see once a year — eggnog.

Eggnog is a sweetened dairy-based beverage traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, and whipped eggs (which gives it a frothy texture). Brandy, rum, whisky, bourbon, Kahlúa, vodka, or a combination of liquors are often added. The finished serving is often garnished with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or nutmeg.

Here’s one eggnog recipe my family has enjoyed at Christmas Eve gatherings. Purchase pre-made eggnog from the dairy case at Brookshire’s to get you started.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Golden Blizzard Eggnog
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups eggnog
2 shots Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps
2 shots Arrow peppermint schnapps

Directions:
Add the shots of Goldschlager and Arrow to a mason jar, then fill with eggnog. Shake and pour into 2 cups.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 505,Calories from Fat: 128, Cholesterol: 112 mg, Sodium: 103 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 42 g, Sugars: 33 g, Protein: 7 g

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



Dine-In: Friday Night Slow-Cooker Jambalaya


Slow-Cooker JambalayaIf you’ve read many of the blogs on the Brookshire’s site, then you know that we all have come to have great affection for our slow cookers. It’s the working parent’s answer to getting dinner on the table soon after we all get home, and these days, there are tons of new recipes that make slow cooking a whole new way of cooking that doesn’t involve cream of mushroom soup every time!

There are all kinds of recipes on the internet for modernized slow cooking, from healthier choices to chocolate pudding cakes and everything else you can think of in between. This recipe for Slow-Cooker Jambalaya is one of my teenage sons’ favorites because they love the chicken and  smoked sausage, and along with the rice, the jambalaya seems to fill them up if only for a while!

The last thing you do when you get home from work is add the rice, and 30 minutes later you can have dinner on the table and everyone happy. Easy and delicious for your family’s winter weeknight table.

Enjoy!

Slow-Cooker Jambalaya
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lb smoked sausage, cut into 2-inch slices
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juice
3  garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbs Cajun or creole spice mix
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 3/4 cups long-grain white rice
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Combine chicken, sausage, onion, green pepper, celery, tomatoes, garlic, chicken broth, spice mix, thyme and oregano in a large (5-quart) slow cooker. Cook on low for 5 hours. Add shrimp and rice; raise heat to high and cook for 30 minutes more. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 861, Total Fat: 34 g, Sodium 1064 mg, Carbohydrates 55 g, Protein: 80 g

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

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Family Matters: Giving and Receiving


Christmas is a beautiful time of year with the bright colorful lights, festive music, snuggly weather, and holiday gatherings full of laughter and cheer.  From hanging the lights, decorating the tree, shopping for hours and dancing with glee, sounds like a fairy tale, right?  This is a special time of year for many but a really hard time for others due to circumstances surrounding them.

As we anticipate the holiday season and the true meaning of Christmas let us not forget to remember those less fortunate.  A lesson we learned young, is a lesson worth teaching our children – it is better to give than receive. Giving of our time to help where needed, our talents to bless others, our cooking to fill hunger, a hug to bring comfort, giving is not always monetary. What does it cost to offer hope to someone who has lost a job, lost a loved one, lost direction?  What is the cost of generosity, compassion and humility?  You don’t have to look far to find someone that needs to be blessed by you this Christmas.  Giving a toy, providing a meal, giving a coat or blanket, providing assistance wherever needed, this is important.

Let us focus on others instead of ourselves this holiday.  Let us show mercy and love, and extend a hand that makes the difference in the life of someone you may or may not know.  We were given the “ultimate gift” of mercy and grace at no cost. We can’t afford not to extend it to others.  Let us set an example for those around us and show the love of Christ in all we do.

Giving instead of receiving, the cost is small, the return is priceless.  Let us be a reflection of the true joy of giving and share the true meaning of Christmas.  May your family be a blessing to someone this holiday season.  Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!

 

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Family Matters: Puppy Points


When my older son, Curt, was in first grade, he played soccer for the first time.
Let’s just say it didn’t go so well. He didn’t want to practice; he didn’t want to go to games; it was all very overwhelming for him.

But in our family, when you make a commitment to do something you try your best to stick it out.  We decided to offer Curt the chance to earn something he wanted most of all – a little puppy he could pick up. We had a bigger dog, Jill, but she was rambunctious and high-energy and Curt couldn’t corral her at that stage in life. He wanted a small-breed dog he could carry with him.

So he began to earn “puppy points.” He could earn up to two points per practice and game, not if he played well, but if he tried hard and gave it 100 percent. He had to earn a certain number of points over the course of the season to get his puppy.

Low and behold, Curt earned his puppy points and he picked out Tickles, a Morkie (Maltese-Yorkie mix) from a litter we’d found locally.

Tickles went everywhere with Curt. Curt would just scoop up that fluffy little puppy and tote him around like a toy. Fully grown, Tickles is now only about 12 pounds. But the vet told me recently that you really have to be careful about the weight on small dogs. Dogs can pack on the holiday pounds too, you know.
But here are some tips to keep your pooch fit and trim so they can lead a healthy, happy and long life:

• Don’t feed them table scraps and people food. They don’t need it and it’s not really a treat – it’s just fattening.
• Pay attention to the serving size on your dog’s bag of food. You don’t need to give a small dog an entire big bowl of food every day.
• Keep your pet active – take them on a walk every day or provide a green space for running.
• It’s OK to leave your pet outside during the day in mild weather. They tend to get more exercise outside.
• Give them a chew toy instead of a treat as a reward for good behavior.
• Send your children outside to play with the dog. Both get good exercise that way.
And don’t forget the love – a well-loved and cared for dog is the most happy and healthy.



Shop the Sale: Sausage Queso Fundido


It’s the time of year when work parties, holiday gatherings, outings with friends, potlucks and other festivities abound.

I seem to be stuck in the rut of always bringing the same few dishes to these events, so this year I tried to shake up my tried-and-true routine while still giving people their favorites.

This sausage queso fundido fit the bill perfectly. Who doesn’t love a bowl of warm cheese and some chips? This recipe is just a slight variation of an old favorite. The flavor is heightened with a dash of beer or tequila, but you can omit that if you don’t want to use it (don’t forget the alcohol will burn off).

Traditionally a fundido is made and served in a cast iron skillet, but you can always keep it warm in your slow cooker too.

Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage is on sale at Brookshire’s this week and I’d be willing to bet you have a party coming up sometime in the next week or two!

Sausage Queso Fundido
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1/2 lb Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup tequila or Mexican beer (optional)
1/2 lb Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 Tbs cilantro, chopped

Directions:
Cook the sausage in a pan over medium heat, breaking it apart as you go, about 5-7 minutes. Drain. Add the onion, jalapeno and tomato and cook until the onions are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the tequila, deglaze the pan and cook until most of the moisture is gone, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle on the cheese and cook, stirring, until it melts, about 2-3 minutes.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 449, Calories from Fat: 300, Total Fat: 33 g, Cholesterol: 98 mg, Sodium: 730 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 3 g, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 1 g, Protein: 25 g

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



Healthy Living: Holiday Party Pitfalls


I have been to three holiday parties so far and that has amounted to at least six extra pounds. It’s hard to stay away from the mini-meatballs, the petit-fours, the sausage slices and the cheese balls and crackers.

But there are choices you can make at all these holiday fetes that won’t adversely affect your waistline.

• Bypass the chips and other fried pound-packers and help yourself to a small handful of nuts, reduced-fat cheese and fresh fruit, or chilled shrimp. Or serve a hummus dip with a holiday-themed veggie platter: red or green pepper, zucchini and jicama strips.
• Instead of a slice of pecan pie, opt for a small slice of pie minus the crust, and make it pumpkin, which is lower in fat and calories and also provides a good dose of beta-carotene. Or try a couple of strawberries dipped in chocolate.
• Instead of calorie-laden eggnog, choose hot apple cider spiced with cinnamon.
• Cheese straws are delicious, but how about a pretzel dipped in salsa instead?
• Dodge the mashed potato bar! Grab a baked sweet potato chip in its place.
• Cheesecake is decadent. If you must, bake a bite-sized version in a mini-muffin pan (and only eat one).
• Spinach and artichokes are packed with nutrition, then drowned in cream and cheese for a warm, crowd pleasing dip. Try drizzling roasted artichokes with a little extra virgin olive oil and sprinkling with salt and pepper.
• Traditional gingerbread is a holiday treat – try making cookies instead, which come in with fewer calories and grams of fat.
• Tis the season for rich coffee drinks. Add one crushed peppermint candy to your coffee instead of choosing a peppermint mocha.
• And when all else fails, don’t forget your regular exercise.

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Posted in: Healthy Living


Product Talk: Passion for Pomegranates


Pomegranates are considered one of nature’s “super foods,” thanks to the cancer- and disease-fighting properties of their juicy seeds. And this time of year, pomegranates make a powerful, delicious addition to your wintertime diet – whether you drink the juice or enjoy a snack of pomegranate seeds (which are completely edible).

A ripe pomegranate feels fairly heavy when you pick it up. You want to choose one that is not pale in color; Look for dark or bright red firm skin. And be sure to eat it as soon as you open the pomegranate. It’s easy for this super fruit to dry out, which won’t taste the way it’s meant to be enjoyed.

One of my favorite pomegranate recipes pairs the taste (and nutrition) of the fruit with toasted walnuts in a wonderful winter salad. It’s colorful and beautiful on your plate, not to mention great tasting and great for you!

Enjoy!

Winter Salad with Walnuts and Pomegranates

For the vinaigrette

Ingredients:
2 tsp shallots, chopped
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp thyme, chopped
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad
Ingredients:
2 lbs mixed salad greens
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and julienned
1/4 lb blue cheese
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Directions:
To prepare the vinaigrette, place the shallot, vinegar, mustard and thyme in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Place salad greens, apples and blue cheese in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Add half the pomegranate seeds and walnuts, then toss again. Sprinkle the remaining seeds and walnuts over the salad. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 529, Fat: 40 g, Sodium: 347 mg, Carbohydrates: 35 g, Protein: 0 g, Fiber: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 g

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



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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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