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Family Matters: Patchwork of Memories


We all go through daily routines of things “we must get done” in order to feel like our day was a success.  In reality, sometimes we find out too late that it is really time with our family that matters the most and where our time should be focused.

My dad recently passed away and my days now are not as busy as they used to be, because some things don’t seem to matter like they did.  I constantly encourage my kids to treat each day like it may be their last – speak kind words, help others, be a good friend, give a hug, share your faith and always tell those you love how much they mean to you.  We get so busy and wrapped up in things that we fail to speak the words “I love you” to those we care for the most. Words are powerful and can make a difference in the lives of people around you.  You may not think you need to hear it, but be assured there is someone you come in contact with each day that those three simple words are exactly what they need to hear.

I was very close to my dad and talked to him every day, and I always made sure the last thing he heard was “I love you”.  I was (and will always be) a “daddy’s girl” and my life is forever changed without him in it.  I have great memories and stories to share but I wanted something more that would give me a sense of him being with me always – unlike photos that fade and memories that grow vague over time.  I had a quilt made of my daddy’s shirts and it will be a keepsake to be passed down for years to come.  It will keep me warm, bring me comfort and will help me feel closer to him.  When others see it, it will only look like a quilt, but to me it is a patchwork of memories…each square a beautiful reminder of my dad.

I spent the last two weeks of my dad’s life at his hospital bedside caring for him.  I did not know it at the time, but looking back I know now, that it was a precious “gift from God” and I will be forever thankful for that special time.  The last words he heard me speak were “I love you”, so I have no regrets.  My family matters and I let them know daily…what about you?

Focus on your family and tell them what they mean to you.  Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you are given with them.

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Posted in: Family Matters


Family Matters: Cool Weather Treats are for the Birds


The house I grew up in – and the one I have lived in for the past eight years – have walls across the backs that are floor-to-ceiling windows, opening up lovely views to the backyard. In fact, my most recent house was built to “copy” the window wall of my childhood home.  

The kitchen table sits just in front of one of the windows, and of course, I have all kinds of bird feeders and bird baths to be able to enjoy the playful sounds and actions of hummingbirds, robins, sparrows and even a squirrel or two. There were many a mornings as a child that the sound of “Bob White” was my alarm clock. Now, the woodpecker alarm clock…I could have lived without. 

Bird watching may sound like it would be boring, but it’s actually quite interesting for young kids as well as adults once you get going. You might want to invest in a bird book and a decent pair of binoculars too, just to enjoy the scene in a bit more detail – or to identify a rare sighting. 

I had an indigo bunting visit one morning and wasn’t sure what it was until I could see closely through my binoculars and ask my father what it was I was seeing. The indigo bunting is now my favorite bird, I do believe. 

Offer the birds of your yard a variety of seeds, and you will have a variety of visitors – all throughout the year.  During the cooler months (and few cold days we have!), birds need extra fat to help them survive.  Try this easy peanut butter bird seed ball recipe with your kids or grandkids and you’ll enjoy your backyard all year long! 

Cool Weather Bird Treats 

Ingredients:
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup crushed eggshells
1 cup vegetable shortening
Cornmeal as needed to hold mixture together

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except cornmeal in a bowl. Add enough cornmeal to be able to form into small balls. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight. When ready to feed the birds, hang balls on a garden stake or on bird feeder. 



Shop the Sale: Lasagna


Today is my birthday, so in honor of turning a year older, I’m going to share with you the recipe for my very favorite birthday dinner.

Growing up, it was a special treat to be able to select our favorite meal for our birthdays. Mom would prepare it exactly according to specifications, along with our favorite birthday dessert, and we’d eat dinner in the dining room, reserved for major holidays and family birthdays. We’d gather around the oblong table, set with my mom’s wedding china, elegant with candles in carefully polished silver candlesticks, and laid with a crisp white tablecloth (clearly, with five children, my mom was a glutton for punishment.) What I’m trying to say is, I always felt like a princess on my birthday.

The birthday honoree got to sit at the head of the table and was the center of attention when mom or dad paraded in with the piece de resistance – the birthday cake (or in my brother Andy’s case, birthday pie, his choice).

I think most years I had a double chocolate birthday cake – chocolate cake wedged under a heaping mound of chocolate buttercream (all homemade of course, no box in sight). Also most years, I picked lasagna for my birthday dinner.

I doubt my mother ever wrote down a recipe for lasagna, so I’ve had to adapt it ove the years. I’ve finally come up with a version that I love. The recipe calls for Angus ground chuck, on sale this week at Brookshire’s. What perfect timing!

Lasagna
Serves 12

Ingredients:
1 box (16 oz) lasagna noodles
6 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz sliced Provolone cheese
16 oz mozzarella cheese, divided
1 egg
1 lb Angus ground chuck
1 lb Italian sausage

Sauce:
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (4 oz) can tomato paste
2 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs dried basil

Directions:
For the sauce: (it’s best if you start this several hours or a day ahead, to let simmer). Heat olive oil over medium high heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and saute for about 3 minutes or until it begins to soften. Add garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat. Simmer, stirring frequently, for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.

When it’s time to prepare the lasagna, boil noodles in a large pot of water, adding salt AFTER water begins to boil (if not, it was scar your pot). Cook noodles al dente (firm in the middle). Remove noodles from water, drain, lay on clean towels to cool.

Brown ground Angus and sausage. Drain fat. Set aside. Combine ricotta, Parmesan, egg and half the mozzarella.  When noodles are cool, spread each noodle with about 1 Tbs of cream cheese. In a 9×13 casserole dish, spread one cup of sauce. Layer noodles, cream cheese side up.

Spread with about one and half cups of the ricotta mixture. Top with one-third of the meat mixture. Cover with sauce. Repeat three times. Finish with sauce. Top the remaining half of mozzarella cheese.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake, covered with foil, for 45 minutes. Remove foil. Finish baking for 15 more minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Nutritional Information: Calories 907; Calories from Fat 501;Total Fat 55 g; Cholesterol 192mg; Sodium 1744mg; Total Carbohydrates 43 g;Dietary Fiber 4 g; Sugars 9 g Protein 58 g



Healthy Living: Grilled Okra


My friend, Nicholas, sent me an excited text not too long ago.  “Hey – I have a great idea for your blog,” he said.  Well obviously I wanted his great idea, because if it excited him, it was bound to interest others.

“You know how most people fry okra,” his text continued, “Well I made a healthier version.”

I was all over this.  Do tell, I texted back.  I was especially curious because, I have to admit, okra has never been my favorite vegetable. I like it in gumbo, but beyond that I don’t really cook with it.

However, it’s super mega healthy and has a lot of great benefits, including (according to nutritionandyou.com):

• Okra is just 30 calories per 100 g and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. It is a rich source of dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins; often recommended by nutritionists in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
• The rich fiber and mucilaginous content in okra pods help in smooth peristalsis of digested food particles and relieve constipation condition.
• The pods contain healthy amounts of vitamin A, and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta carotenes, xanthin and lutein. It is one of the green vegetables with highest levels of these anti-oxidants. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties and are essential for vision. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
• Fresh pods are the good source of folates; provide about 22% of RDA per 100 g. Consumption of foods rich in folates, especially during the pre-conception period helps decrease the incidence of neural tube defects in the offspring.
• The okra pods are also an excellent source of anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C, providing about 36% of daily-recommended levels. Research suggests that consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop immunity against infectious agents, reduce episodes of cold and cough and protect the body from harmful free radicals.
• The veggies are rich in B-complex group of vitamins like niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. The pods also contain good amounts of vitamin K.  Vitamin K is a co-factor for blood clotting enzymes and is required for strengthening of bones.
• The pods are an also good source of many important minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium.

It didn’t take him long to text back, “I grilled it!”
Yum! What a great idea.

He sliced it in half lengthwise, then tossed it with a teeny bit of extra virgin olive oil, and slapped those babies on a grill over medium  heat.

I can’t wait to try it myself.



Product Talk: Butter Toffee Popcorn


I was so excited to find out that Brookshire’s now carries a line of Microwave Popcorn.

Popcorn is a food group, after all.

Gracing the shelves of a store near you are now boxes of Original Butter, Extra Butter, 98% Fat Free and Kettle Corn. Popcorn is a great snack at any time and sometimes a meal when the kids aren’t home. Did I say that out loud? Yes, yes I did.

Fall is one of my favorite times to make toffee popcorn, like caramel corn but with more of a candy coating and buttery flavor. Over the years, I’ve found that microwave popcorn works best for this recipe, as popping your kernels in oil sometimes doesn’t produce a good popcorn for the coating to adhere to. Plus using microwave popcorn makes the whole process faster.

You can be sure I’ll be stocking up.

Butter Toffee Popcorn
Serves 8-10

Ingredients:
2 bags Brookshire’s Original Butter Microwave Popcorn
2 sticks butter
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease two large rimmed baking sheets and set aside.

Pop the popcorn according to package directions. Vent bag and let cool.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When melted add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, for 3 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thickened. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. The mixture will bubble so be careful. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix slightly until the popcorn is evenly coated.

Turn the popcorn out onto the baking sheets, spreading into an even layer. Bake the popcorn for one hour, stirring and tossing every 20 minutes. Move the bottom tray to the upper rack and vice versa each time you stir. The popcorn will deepen in color and harden a bit as the caramel bakes and sets. Cool the popcorn to room temperature. Store in an airtight container. I’ve found the popcorn will keep, stored tightly, for 1-2 weeks.

Nutritional Information: Calories 386; Calories from Fat 181; Total Fat 20 g;  Cholesterol 49 mg; Sodium 444 mg; Total Carbohydrates 53 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Sugars 39 g; Protein 1 g



Ask Leigh


Question:  On the last visit to my doctor for an annual check-up, she told me I needed to increase the fiber in my diet? Any suggestions?

Answer:  When I think about adding fiber to my diet, I think of foods I don’t usually like to eat very often! I like oatmeal and I like raw broccoli, but I don’t want to eat them every day.  

A few foods you may not have thought of that are good sources of fiber include refried beans (1 cup gives you 13 grams of fiber), avocado (one-half is about 7 grams of fiber), and chunky peanut butter (2 Tbs gives you 3 grams). The recommended daily intake is between 21-38 grams, depending on age and gender. This isn’t easy to get in our fast-food diet! 

And to make sure we’re talking about the same thing, there are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber is what is found in oats, beans and a few fruits. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps to slow down how fast sugar enters our bloodstream – and some evidence shows it may help lower bad cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and help prevent hardening of the arteries. 

A quick fiber-rich dinner I like to make for my family is a simple black bean burrito. I use fat-free refried black beans and whole-wheat tortillas. Just top ‘em with cheese, lettuce, tomato – anything else you like and you’ve got a delicious, easy dinner that also helps you reach your daily fiber intake.

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Posted in: Nutrition


Dine-In: Friday Night Football Food


Slow-Cooker Beef Italian Ragu Friday night in the fall means football night for my family. Well, so is Thursday night, and counting all of their after-school practices and, of course, what we watch on television, “football night” spreads to every other night of the week!

To be honest, I don’t watch a lot of football unless my boys are out on the field – or the SEC is stomping someone else. I grew up in the southeast, and as far as I can tell, there isn’t any other conference that can stand up to what I see in the SEC.

For all of my fellow Ole Miss fans, Hotty Toddy!

Ok, well, at least Ole Miss can say it is the only school in the country that had a New York Times article devoted to the university for its excellence in tailgating. We win the party every time.

Tonight, I am having some friends over to eat supper before we go to watch our children play in our high school’s football game. And I wanted to have something warm and filling for the boys when they come in tired and starving after the game.

The easiest thing for me to do is to pull out my slow cooker before leaving for work Friday morning, and it means I won’t make a huge mess cooking before my friends come over, which I tend to do. (By the way, I want to give a shout out to the person who thought of the slow cooker liners you use and throw away, leaving not much of a mess at all. What a timesaver!)

This Slow-Cooker Beef Ragu is an Italian-derived recipe that came about from throwing together what I had in the fridge and pantry. It is really simple, and the sauce makes a delicious “gravy.”

My teenage boys always ask for me to serve this beef dish over egg noodles or Italian polenta, otherwise known as “grits” in the South.

The leftovers (if we have any!) also make wonderful sandwiches.

Enjoy!

Slow-Cooker Beef Italian Ragu
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup tomato paste
3 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 (4-lb) beef chuck or rump roast
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups beef broth
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

Directions:
Combine onion, garlic, tomato paste and Italian herbs. Season roast with salt and pepper to taste, and cut in half. Place onion mixture in the bottom of a large slow cooker, and set roast halves on top. Pour beef broth carefully around sides. Cover and cook for 9 hours on low heat. Let cool in the cooker for 15 minutes before shredding with two forks. Stir in vinegar just before serving.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 528, Fat: 32 g, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Protein: 51 g

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

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Family Matters: Melted Witch Parfait


This month, to celebrate Halloween, we’re making a parfait that uses pudding, crushed chocolate sandwich cookies and orange sprinkles to create a spookie and yummy colored treat.

Top it off with a handmade witch’s hat, and you have a dessert all your friends will want to try!

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

• Food Club Vanilla Pudding Cups
• Orange Nonpareils Or Orange Sugar Sprinkles
• Food Club Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, Crushed
• Black Construction Paper
• Scissors
• Glue
• Spoons
• Glass Parfait Dishes Or Plastic Cups

Step 1

Spoon in pudding

Place vanilla pudding, orange sprinkles, another layer of pudding and crushed sprinkles one at a time in a parfait glass.

Step 2

Layer with extras

Add sprinkles on the next layer against the side of the glass, another layer of pudding, then a layer of crushed Food Club Sandwich Cookies. Alternate layers until they reach the top and place a spoon in the parfait.

Step 3

Cut, roll & glue cone

To make the top of the witch’s hat, cut 2 1/2-inch circle out of black construction paper, roll into cone shape and glue sides to adhere.

Step 4

Glue cone to circle

For the hat’s base, cut out a 2-inch circle out of black construction paper. Cut two 1/2-inch slits in the middle of the circle. Glue cone to 2-inch circle to cover up the 1/2-inch slits. Dry and top the hat onto the spoon handles.



Shop the Sale: Northwest Gala Apples


I grew up not far from Charlottesville, Virginia, where Carter’s Mountain orchard is a stone’s throw from the homestead of Thomas Jefferson, Monticello.

There, in the shadow of the historic rotunda, is a family-owned orchard where you can pick your own apples in the fall and fill up on homemade cider and apple butter while your eyes feast on the palette of fall colors in the magnificent foliage.

One of the joys of picking your own apples is eating them fresh from the trees, with nothing more than a quick buff on your flannel shirt. The other is devouring the tasty treats you can make from apples.

Northwest Gala Apples are on sale at Brookshire’s this week. See what you can make with them.

Apple Butter Bread 

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine, melted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 pint (1 1/2 cup) apple butter, divided
1/2 cup apple juice
1 cup finely diced Northwest Gala apples
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in 3/4 cup apple butter, apple juice, margarine and egg. Fold in apples and walnuts. Pour half of the batter into prepared pan. Spread remaining 3/4 cup apple butter over batter. Gently pour remaining batter over apple butter. Bake at 350° F for 65 to 75 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched in center. Cool 15 minutes before removing from pan and continue cooling on rack. Makes 1 loaf.

Nutritional Information: Calories 440; Calories from Fat 103; Cholesterol 20 mg;Sodium 318 mg;     Total Carbohydrates 81 g; Dietary Fiber3 g; Sugars 48 g; Protein 7 g

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

Recipe from Carter’s Mountain Orchard



Healthy Living: The Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen


There’s been a lot of hype in the news the past two years over the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen.”

The Environmental Working Group (an organization of scientists, researchers and policymakers), has studied which fruits and vegetables are grown exposed to toxins such as pesticides.

They put together two lists, “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15,” to help consumers know when they should buy organic and when it is unnecessary. These lists were compiled using data from the United States Department of Agriculture on the amount of pesticide residue found in non-organic fruits and vegetables after they had been washed.

The Clean 15 are a list of fruits and vegetables that, when conventionally grown, bore little to no traces of pesticides, and is safe to consume in non-organic form. This list includes:

  • avocados
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • mango
  • sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • kiwi fruit
  • cabbage
  • eggplant
  • cantaloupe
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • sweet potatoes
  • sweet onions
  • onions

The Dirty Dozen tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals, with some testing positive for as many as 67. For produce on the “dirty” list, experts recommend that you buy organic produce, which should be pesticide free. The Dirty Dozen are:

  • celery
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • domestic blueberries
  • nectarines
  • sweet bell peppers
  • spinach, kale and collard greens
  • cherries
  • potatoes
  • imported grapes
  • lettuce

Now that you know, it’ll help you make the choice between organic or non-organic when you’re doing your family’s grocery shopping.



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The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

Product Talk

Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.

Healthy Living

Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.

Shop the Sale

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

Family Matters

Ideas for the whole family come to you every Thursday.

Dine In

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

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