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Shop the Sale: Pear and Walnut Salad


One of my first loves was blue cheese. Strange, I know, for a child to fall in love with stinky cheese. But as soon as I tasted it, I was hooked. One of my all time favorite salads uses blue cheese with walnuts, fresh greens and succulent, ripe pears. The sweet, savory and tangy combines for an amazing umami.

Bartlett pears are in season right now. Buy them when they’re firm and green. As they ripen, their skin will begin to yellow and the flesh begins to soften. I prefer them when they’re somewhere in between. They have to yield to the touch, but not be mushy.

Serve this salad with balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette.

Pear, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 (10-oz) bag Fresh Express Salads
2 medium Bartlett pears, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup blue cheese

Directions:
Toss all salad ingredients. Top with balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette.

Nutritional Information: Calories 224; Calories from Fat 128; Total Fat 14 g; Cholesterol 13mg; Sodium 287mg; Total Carbohydrates 18g; Dietary Fiber 5g; Sugars 8g; Protein 10g



Healthy Living: It’s a Wrap Veggie Spring Roll


While we don’t formally do a “meatless Monday” in our house, I do try to incorporate vegetable-based main courses into our menu at least once a week. It’s so easy to do in the summertime, when nature’s bounty is being particularly generous. I’ve also made a concerted effort this summer to get my boys to eat something besides pepperoni pizza, tomato soup and grilled cheese. I’ve actually been surprised at how receptive they’ve been to all the changes I’ve made in our menus.

These spring rolls are chock full of vegetables and use a healthy oil – extra virgin olive oil – to bind the ingredients together.

This carrot slaw is something of a staple in Europe. I used to look forward to it being on my plate when I dined out during the 3 ½ years I lived in Germany. I also learned to make it while I was there from my downstairs neighbor. Somehow, between her halting English and my extremely-flawed German, (not to mention that whole metric system business) she shared her recipe with me. It’s fresh and light and great for picnics because it doesn’t contain anything that will spoil.

Best of all, your entire dinner is between 500 and 600 calories.

It’s a Wrap Veggie Spring Rolls with Carrot Slaw
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp soy sauce, plus more for serving
7 oz dried rice noodles
12 to 16 rice paper wrappers
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 head butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 Tbs fresh ginger, grated
1 cup loosely packed mixed fresh herb sprigs, such as spicy oregano, cilantro or basil

Directions:
Trim the stems from the mushrooms and slice the caps. In a large, nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 1/2 tsp of the oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 30 seconds (if you overcook garlic it will turn bitter). Add the mushrooms and sauté until they have released their juices, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the 1 tsp soy sauce and cook until dry, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles, stirring to separate them, and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Toss the noodles with the remaining 1/2 tsp. oil and 2 TBS rice wine vinegar.

Fill a large, shallow bowl with very hot tap water. Soak the rice-paper wrappers 1 or 2 at a time until flexible, about 30 seconds. Shake off the excess water and stack on a plate.

Place 1 wrapper flat on a work surface. Toss  noodles, bell pepper, avocado, jalapeno, mushrooms, lettuce, carrots and herb sprigs with fresh ginger, then spread an assortment across the center of the wrapper; fold the ends in over the filling, then roll up tightly from the edge closest to you. Repeat to make more rolls. Cut the rolls in half. Serve with Spicy Asian Dipping Sauce or soy sauce.

Nutritional Information: Calories 311; Calories from Fat 159; Total Fat 17.7g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 259mg; Total Carbohydrates 37.3g; Dietary Fiber 11.2g; Sugars 7.1g; Protein 5.1g

Spicy Asian Dipping Sauce
Makes one cup

Ingredients:
6 Tbs toasted sesame oil
3 Tbs rice vinegar
2-3 Tbs soy sauce
3 Tbs chopped ginger
3 Tbs chopped cilantro leaves and stems
1-2 Tbs minced garlic
1 green onion, chopped (about 2 tbsp)
1 Tbs chopped jalapeno pepper

Optional Ingredients:
1 Tbs Sriracha or chili oil
1 Tbs Honey

Whisk all ingredients. Best made a day or two ahead so flavors can blend.

Nutritional Information: Calories 105; Calories from Fat 93; Total Fat 10.3g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 227mg; Total Carbohydrates 2.3g; Protein 0.6g

Carrot Slaw
Serves 8

Ingredients:
2 lbs carrots, peeled and ends trimmed
5 Tbs country-style Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 Tbs minced fresh chives
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 tsp orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:
Fit a food processor with the grating blade. With the processor running, feed carrots down the tube to grate them. Or if you don’t have a food processor, grate carrots on large holes of a box grater. You should have about 6 cups.

Whisk together remaining ingredients in a nonreactive (use glass, ceramic or plastic, not metal) mixing bowl until evenly blended. Add carrots and toss together until they are well coated. Season well with freshly ground black pepper.

Let marinate at least 15 minutes and serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories 109; Calories from Fat 62; Total Fat 6.9g; Saturated Fat 0.9g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 560mg; Total Carbohydrates 11.8g; Dietary Fiber 3.3g; Sugars 5.4g; Protein 1.2g



Product Talk: Fat-Free Half and Half


The definition of an oxymoron is, “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.” For example, “pretty ugly” and “jumbo shrimp” are both oxymorons.

I haven’t thought of the term “oxymoron” in years – maybe since my English major days at Baylor – until the other day strolling the dairy aisle to pick up a pint of “fat-free half-and-half.”

Regular half-and-half contains half milk and half cream, which makes it usually about 12 percent butterfat. To make the half-and-half fat-free, dairies replace the fat with other ingredients (such as corn syrup and other thickeners) that “feel” like the fattening version.

I have used fat-free half-and-half in my coffee for years, and I don’t miss the fat one bit. However, I have been reluctant to try it in actual cooking, as I haven’t had great luck with using modified versions of fattening foods when it comes to baking or making sauces.

The other day I decided to make these Green Chile and Egg Cups, a healthful morning “muffin” recipe my mother had given me. She adapted it from a South Beach Diet recipe, which called for the fat-free half and half. They are delicious and you won’t miss the fat one bit.

To make them even more healthful, use egg whites or an egg substitute in place of whole eggs. Sometimes I also throw in a handful of whatever leftover vegetables I might have on hand, such as chopped spinach, tomatoes, peppers or onions.

Enjoy!

Green Chile and Cheese Egg Muffins
Makes 12

Ingredients:
12 eggs
1 (4-oz) can diced green chiles
1 1/2 cups grated low-fat cheddar cheese
2 Tbs fat-free half and half
1 tsp seasoned salt
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray baking cups with nonstick spray. In each muffin cup put a very generous pinch of grated cheese. The muffin cup should be about 2/3 full of cheese before you put the egg in.

Break eggs into bowl, add half and half if using, and beat well. Add spices and green chiles, and mix into eggs.

Pour egg mixture over cheese so each muffin cup liner is full. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until all muffins are puffed up and the top is starting to brown.

Egg muffins will keep in the freezer for a month or in the fridge for one week. To reheat, put on small plate and microwave on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Check carefully, as if you overcook they will be rubbery. 

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 123, Total Fat: 9.1g, Saturated Fat: 4.3g, Sodium 1567 mg, Carbohydrates15.3, Fiber: 5.3g, Protein: 9.1g



Dine In: Camp-IN S’mores


Fall and spring weekends – even winter weekends here in the South, were made for camping. And when you’re camping, you MUST have S’mores.  I’m pretty sure it’s a rule.

Every time we went camping, one of the first things I’d pack in the cooler was the giant-sized Hershey bar and the marshmallows. The graham crackers went on top of the grocery sack so they wouldn’t be crushed.

Sitting around the campfire on a Friday night, after arriving, setting up camp, a hike or bike ride and a dinner cooked over the open flame, we’d break out the ingredients for S’mores.  We’d find sticks and clean them of their crusty bark and whittle the ends into points which could pierce the flesh of the marshmallow just perfectly. We’d roast our marshmallows over the flickering campfire until they were just browned outside and gooey inside. Someone, usually me, would always catch their marshmallow on fire (that’s OK, I ate them burned, too).  We’d pull the melty confection off the stick and quickly smush it on top of a graham cracker topped with Hershey bar rectangles. Pop another cracker on top and there was a little bit of heaven right out at the camp site.

Just because it’s summer time doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy S’mores. But I don’t often want to cozy up around a roaring fire on 100 degree nights. So this version is one you can make inside, in the comfort of your own, air-conditioned home, and pretend you’re spending a Friday night by the campfire.

S’mores Dip
Serves about 6

Ingredients:
1 (14 oz) can Food Club sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups Food Club chocolate chips
1/2 cup marshmallow cream
graham crackers, for serving

Directions:
In a small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and condensed milk on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring about every 30 seconds, until chips are melted. Mix well. Pour into 9-inch glass pie pan, spreading evenly. Drop marshmallow cream by tablespoonfuls randomly over chocolate mixture. Microwave on high about 30 seconds or until marshmallow cream is softened. Immediately make several swirls through marshmallow and chocolate, creating a marbled appearance. Serve immediately with graham crackers for dipping.

Nutritional Information for Dip: Calories: 640.3; Carbohydrates 100.83 g; Protein 9.7 g; Total Fat 22.71 g;  Cholesterol 32.01 g; Dietary Fiber3.82 g

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In, Kids


Family Matters: Grace’s Garden


My daughter Grace, who is 10, is my outdoor, nature-loving, recycling type of girl. She wants to garden, save all the animals and recycle everything in the house. So it didn’t surprise me, in early spring, when she started saving all the seeds from the fruit she had eaten. She would dry the seeds out and then plant them, hoping they would grow into big fruit trees someday. Most of the time, she usually forgot where she’d planted her seeds.  

This year, she planted cantaloupe seeds from a cantaloupe I had bought at the store. She put up some fencing and made a scarecrow to decorate her little garden. She watered the seeds everyday, and would you believe they started growing?  At first, I thought they were weeds or bull-nettles and was thinking about pulling it all up. But instead, I let her keep watering them and continued to watch them grow.  

I’m so glad I didn’t pull her garden up because it produced a handful of cantaloupe. And may I say, the best tasting cantaloupe we’ve had all year. My daughter is so proud of her garden and already has plans for a bigger garden next year. 

So the next time your kiddo wants to plant a garden, love on nature or recycle everything in the house, let them do it and give them the tools to do it with. You may just reap the benefits!



Shop the Sale: Stuffed Baked Potatoes


A staple meal of my college days and early single life was the baked potato.

I could toss them in the oven or microwave and forget about them while they baked and they’d emerge fluffy, light, steamy and delicious. I’d top them with broccoli and cheese, sour cream and cheese, butter and cheese, or basically anything with cheese.

These days, I still love making baked potatoes a meal, but I try to avoid the cheese. And the sour cream.  And the butter. A baked potato is high in carbohydrates and vitamin C, but I try not to add a lot of extra fat with (admittedly delicious) dairy products.  I also make sure to eat the skin of the potato, which is super-high in potassium, something that helps alleviate the symptoms of my restless leg syndrome and helps your muscles recover more quickly after a workout.

Russet potatoes are on sale at Brookshire’s this week. Stuffed with this vitamin-laden and colorful salsa, they are an easy meal in itself. Almost all the ingredients are on sale, so take advantage of this in-season special this week. The salsa is almost meatless, but the bacon imparts a nice, smoky flavor and adds depth to the meal. You won’t even miss the butter.

Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 large Russet potatoes
4 strips Wrights’s brand smoked bacon, cooked crisp
1 medium yellow squash, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 Hot House orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 Honey Sweet Yellow onion, diced
1 cup Bird’s Eye Steamfresh corn, lightly steamed
3/4 cup Pace Picante Sauce

Directions:
Scrub Russet potatoes. Prick with a sharp knife and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until potatoes are tender.

While potatoes are baking, cook bacon. Reserve drippings for another use. Crumble bacon in a large bowl.

Add zucchini, squash, corn, onion, pepper and picante sauce. Stir to mix. Serve on top of the baked potato, fresh out of the oven.

Nutritional Information: Calories 403; Calories from Fat 64; Total Fat 7.1g; Cholesterol 10mg; Sodium 645mg; Total Carbohydrates 74.9g; Dietary Fiber 12.7g; Sugars 12.6g; Protein 12.0g



Healthy Living: Eggplant


Ever since the days my mom cut eggplant into strips and fried it and told me they were French fries, I’ve been in love with the majestically dark purple vegetable.

Truth be told, she probably never had to trick me into eating eggplant; I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love it. My brothers and sisters, on the other hand, were probably a different story.

Not only is eggplant delicious, but it’s good for you too. Eggplant is a great source of dietary fiber. One cup of cubed eggplant has 2.8 g of dietary fiber, or 8 percent of the recommended daily intake. Dietary fiber soaks up water in the digestive track, helping slow the intestines from absorbing starch and sugar. The delayed absorption helps lower cholesterol and sugar levels, ultimately preventing heart disease and stroke, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Eggplant is rich in several B vitamins, including B1, B3 and B6, which help your body convert carbohydrates into usable energy by helping to break down fats and proteins. It’s also full of magnesium, manganese and potassium. One of the best parts! It’s essentially fat and cholesterol free (as long as you don’t fry it!).

This is one of my favorite things to do with eggplant – I use it as a topping for pasta or just eat it as is. It’s delicious either way.

Eggplant, Roma Tomato and Red Onion Ragu
Serves 4 

Ingredients:
1 large eggplant
5 Roma tomatoes
1 large red onion
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs fresh spicy oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup goat cheese

Directions:
Wash eggplant thoroughly. Slice into 3/4-inch rounds. Spread the rounds on paper towels and salt liberally (don’t worry about using too much salt; you’ll be rinsing it off).

Eggplant holds a lot of water that can result in an end-product that is spongy from too much moisture. The salt sucks the excess water out of the eggplant before you cook it.

Let the salted eggplant sit for between 10 and 20 minutes.  It will start to sweat.

After 20 minutes, rinse the salt from the eggplant and pat dry. Dice.

In the meantime, dice your Roma tomatoes. Cut your red onions into chunks. They don’t have to be pretty.

Chop fresh spicy oregano. This is my most favorite herb of late and I grow it in my herb garden. It smells good and tastes delicious. Just enough heat for any dish.

Toss oregano with eggplant, tomatoes and red onions.  Drizzle your veggies with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.

Bake at 325 F for about an hour, stirring about every 15 minutes.  The vegetables will get nice and caramelized.

Serve over pasta, as a side dish or as a topping for chicken or other meats. Top with goat cheese. 

Nutritional Information: Calories 150; Calories from Fat 79; Total Fat 8.8g; Cholesterol 3mg Sodium 38mg; Total Carbohydrates 16.2g; Dietary Fiber 6.4g; Sugars 8.4g; Protein 4.2g



Product Talk: Northwest Cherries


I used to have a very strict “no fruit and meat” policy.  In other words, I wouldn’t mix fruits and meats of any kind. And then I tried a raspberry chipotle barbecue sauce on pork tenderloin and I became a convert. The acidity in fruit actually complements most meats and proteins brilliantly, tenderizing them to mouth-watering morsels.

The stunning array of flavors you can get with oranges, pineapples, limes, lemons and berries is amazing.  So when I saw a recipe for a cherry sauce that was savory and slightly spicy, I knew I had to try it.

Cherries are my favorite summer fruit but they aren’t in season for very long. Usually they’re on the Brookshire’s shelves from June to the end of August. This is a fun way to use cherries in something other than a dessert and I like this sauce because it combines the sweet and the spicy.

Spicy Cherry Sauce
Adapted from www.nwcherries.com

Ingredients:
3 cups pitted, fresh sweet cherries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup onion, minced
2 Tbs local honey
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp crushed, dried red ancho chiles
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 Tbs oregano

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in heavy saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, 30 minutes or until mixture thickens; stir frequently.

Serve as a sauce on baked or grilled chicken, fish or pork. If using it with a grilled meat, apply during the last minute or two of cooking so the sauce doesn’t scorch.

Nutritional Information: Calories 104; Total Fat, 1g; Carbohydrates 22g; Protein 1g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Fiber 2 g; Sodium 154 mg



Dine-In: Super Foods on a Friday Night


During the sweltering temperatures of August, the last thing I want to do is add more heat with my stove or oven! And on a Friday night after a long work week, I’m looking for something to feed my family that’s cool, quick and hopefully still healthy for our bodies.

“Super foods” are foods that contain multiple disease-fighting nutrients. And How you feed your brain is at the center of most every human function, and how you eat may be the single-most effective tool you have to control weight, fight mental illness and live longer.

Our spinach salad is filled with foods that are optimal for super brain power. Feed your brain, feed your body! We make our salad with baby spinach, boiled eggs, berries, salmon, walnuts and a curry vinaigrette – all “super” foods that are known to help your brain function at its best. Your body, mind and taste buds will thank you!

Super-Food Spinach Salad

Ingredients:

Salad:
2 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
2 Tbs dried cranberries
1 6-oz salmon filet
Olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 boiled egg, halved

Dressing:
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs curry powder
2 tsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
For the dressing, combine white wine, curry powder, honey, salt, and pepper and blend. Add olive oil. Blend well to combine.

For the salmon, place the salmon fillet on a large plate and brush with olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Put the salmon fillet on hottest part of the grill or in a nonstick skillet heated on medium-high heat, starting with the skinless side down. Grill for about 5 to 10 minutes on each side, or until desired doneness.

To serve, place spinach leaves on plate. Sprinkle walnuts and berries over. Place salmon in center and egg halves on each side. Drizzle dressing over and serve immediately (will have dressing left over). Serves one.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 670, Total Fat: 64 g, Saturated Fat: 8.1 g, Sodium 1567 mg, Carbohydrates15.3, Fiber: 5.3g, Protein: 15.3 g

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Posted in: Dine In, Produce


Family Matters: Traveling With Baby


My older son, Curt, was about five months old on Memorial Day weekend 2002. His dad and I thought it would be a great idea to rent a beach house on the Bolivar Peninsula for the holiday weekend and enjoy our first trip as a small family.

We opted for a beachfront cabin, not right in the thick of things so we could enjoy some quiet, but not too far out that we couldn’t get to the convenience store easily, either. This proved to be quite a serendipitous choice. This was the first time we’d be away from home with our son. Overnights to see his grandparents in Houston didn’t really count – their house was already stocked with a crib, swing, bouncy seat, diapers and a lot of the things we’d need for a long weekend with a baby.

I never realized how much it takes to get one small baby to the beach for three days.

First of all, we needed the portable play yard – and several changes of sheets to keep the sand off – for him to sleep in. We loaded the jogging stroller into the back of the SUV thinking it would be easy to transport him over to the sand with the big wheels (we were right – the jogging stroller with its sun shade was a lifesaver on the beach). It also came in handy to lull him to sleep on long walks along the ocean so one of us didn’t have to leave the beach during his naptimes.

Then there was the beach bag. And the baby beach bag. Diapers. Swim diapers. Hats. Suntan lotion in 19 different baby varieties. Baby powder (very helpful for getting sand off of mom and baby!). Pacifier. Baby sunglasses. Water. Baby wipes. Toys. And the list goes on and on, seemingly interminable.

We found ourselves running to the convenience store for things we’d forgotten, paying so much more than if we’d shopped at our local Brookshire’s before we left home.

So here’s a checklist of things you might need to travel with baby this summer, or any time.

• Car seat
• Stroller
• Portable highchair
• Portable crib
• First aid kit
• 1-2 outfits for baby per day
• Bibs and burp cloths
• Extra shirt for mom and dad in case baby has a blowout
• Toys and books
• Baby’s lovie
• Breastfeeding cover or 2 bottles filled with formula
• Sippy cup with water
• Baby food
• Diapers – about one for every two hours
• Wipes
• Plastic grocery bags to store or dispose of dirty clothes or diapers
• Infant car seat or convertible car seat
• Stroller
• Baby carrier (optional)
• 2 daytime outfits, 4 pajama/loungewear outfits
• 3 pairs of socks
• 3 days worth of bibs and burp clothes
• 1 pair of shoes
• 3 days worth of bibs
• 1 weather appropriate hat.
• Baby toothbrush and baby toothpaste
• Baby bath soap and lotion
• 1 baby bottle and 1 Sippy cup
• 2 favorite books (1 bedtime, 1 anytime)
• Baby formula and food
• Hand pump or breast pump if needed
• Baby detergent (optional)
• Baby bottle squeegee and dish detergent
• Baby monitor
• Noise maker
• Baby proofing stuff

Oh, and the baby.

Happy travels!



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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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