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Dine In: Spicy Thai Beef Salad

Usually, I’m a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. Serve me a salad for dinner, and I’ll be looking around, wondering where you hid the main course.

This spicy beef salad is an exception to that rule. It’s one of my absolute favorite Thai dishes, combining spicy, sweet and savory flavors, all in each bite.

I’ve had versions with tomatoes, Chinese long beans, bell peppers, and other vegetables added in. But I like to keep it more traditional and simple, both to highlight the great flavors of the ingredients and to keep it quick to make.

Especially in the summer, this salad makes a light and refreshing dinner, but yet it’s hearty enough that you won’t be left asking where’s the beef. When the weather cools down, I might serve this as a first course, maybe with a Thai curry or soup, for an Asian-inspired soup-and-salad dinner.

Thai beef salad
Serves 3-4


3 limes, juiced
1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce (found in Asian section of grocery)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, roughly chopped

1 pound skirt steak
salt and pepper to taste
1 small head butter lettuce, clean and leaves separated
1 medium carrot, julienned
½ cup cucumber, peeled and sliced
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Place dressing ingredients in a food processor and puree until liquid. The dressing should be sweet, sour, salty and spicy. All of these can be adjusted to taste. Set aside.

Season skirt steak with salt and pepper and grill over high heat. Cook to medium rare. When the meat is done, set aside to rest for a few minutes while you make the salad.

Toss the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.

Slice the steaks across the grain into small bite-size pieces and mix with dressing. Save any of the meat juices and mix with the dressing. Combine with the salad while steak is warm.

Arrange salad on plates and serve.

Family Matters: Keeping Pets Cool

I’ve always thought the “dog days” of summer were misnamed. What dog, or cat, really enjoys the broiling heat of a typical summer?

In the hot months, you need to take extra steps to keep your four-legged family members cool, healthy and happy. Even dogs and cats used to living outdoors need some special care during our long hot summers. Some ideas:

Water, water, water. If your pet’s water bowl is outside, place it in a shady spot so it stays cooler, and empty it daily to keep it clean. To cool it down, you could place a block of ice in the water bowl each morning before leaving for work. Metal bowls absorb heat and make water hotter, and some animals won’t like the taste. Ceramic or heavy plastic are better. Finally, if your animals spends time both inside and outside, make sure they have a clean water supply in both locations.

Lighten up on exercise: Even if you can handle a noontime run, your dog might not be able to. Switch daily walks to early morning or cooler evenings if possible; take along a doggie water supply if you’re out more than 30 minutes. And don’t let your dog drink from puddles in the street. Even if the water appears clean, it can contain traces of antifreeze,  pesticide or fertilizer runoff, or other chemicals that can sicken your dog.

A summer haircut:  Many breeds need more frequent grooming in summer. Keeping hair about an inch or two long will keep most breeds cooler, but never shave a dog down to the skin. They can get sunburn too.  For cats, especially long-haired ones, brush them more frequently, to remove excess hair that may make them feel hotter. Most dogs also shed more in the summer, so you may need to brush them more frequently in between haircuts, to keep hair from matting.

Sunscreen for dogs? Yes, we repeat: Dogs can sunburn too. If possible, keep your dog inside or in a shady area during the brightest sunlight of the day, about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you’re going to be out during that time – like at the park or the lake – you can rub a bit of sunscreen on the tip of your dog’s nose and ears, and around the lips, where fur can’t protect them.

High-protein diets: Like us, animals may eat less when it’s scalding hot. To make the most of each bite, consider switching to a higher-protein dog food, so they’re still getting the nutrients they need even if they’re consuming less.

Frozen treats: Dogs like cold treats just like we do, but those made for humans are usually filled with things like chocolate and sugar that animals shouldn’t eat. You can make your own. Simply freeze beef or chicken stock in ice cube trays, disposable plastic containers, or plastic cups.

Shop the Sale: Sweet Cherries on Sale!

I’m not going to lie and say pitting fresh cherries is easy. No, it can be slow and tedious, even if you have the technique down.

But this is work that’s worth it. Fresh, sweet cherries are such a treat, and so good for you. (A cup of fresh raw cherries is high in fiber, Vitamin C and antioxidants, which can help prevent cancer and heart disease.)

And this week, they’re such a steal: just $1.99 on sale at your neighborhood Brookshire’s! That’s as much as $5 off the regular price. And that’s also a pretty good incentive to learn how to properly pit a cherry.

Of course, sweet cherries are good just eaten out of hand, but if you want to use them in pies, cobblers, sauces or salsas, you need to master the art of pitting. You can buy special cherry pitting tools which makes the job much easier, by forcing out the pit in one move, but if you don’t have one, here are two techniques to try: 

  1. The paperclip method: Then, remove the first cherry’s stem. Insert a clean, unused paper clip into the hole left by the removed stem. Push paperclip deeper into the cherry, twisting, until you can feel the paperclip touching the pit. Gently scoop out the pit. (You can also use a toothpick, a thin bamboo skewer, a manicure stick or another small, sharp object, but paperclips seem to work best for most people.)
  2. The knife method: Use a small paring knife to cut each cherry in half. You can then remove the pit with the tip of your knife or your fingers.

Don’t worry if your first few (or all of them) are a little mangled; they’ll still taste good. Then, once you’ve pitted them all, add to your favorite fruit salad or cobbler recipe. Or make this simple cherry sauce, to spoon atop ice cream or cheesecake.

Cherry sauce

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pitted sweet cherries

Stir together water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and almond extracts.

Place cherries in bowl and pour over sugar syrup. Let marinate several hours or overnight.

What food represents your state?

Berry Rice Pudding
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 6

2 cups water
1 cup Full Circle Basmati Brown Rice
1/2 cup Full Circle Fat Free Milk
1/4 cup Food Club Sugar
1 tsp Food Club Ground Cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup chopped strawberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

In a saucepan bring water to a boil. Add rice to boiling water, reduce heat, cover, and let rice simmer 25 to 30 minutes. Add milk, sugar, cinnamon and egg to rice; mix well. Let rice cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in berries and almonds; cook for 5 minutes.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 203, Fat: 4 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 31 mg, Sodium: 23 mg, Carbohydrates: 38 g, Fiber: 3 g, Protein: 5 g

What food represents your state?

Alabama – cornbread
Alaska – king crab
Arizona – fly bread
Arkansas – jelly pie
California – grapes
Colorado – Denver omelette
Connecticut – hamburger
Delaware – crab puff
Florida – oranges
Georgia – peaches
Hawaii – pineapple
Idaho – potatoes
Illinois – hot dog
Indiana – popcorn
Iowa – loose meat sandwiches
Kansas – wet barbecue
Kentucky – fried chicken
Louisiana – crawfish
Maine – lobster
Maryland – blue crabs
Massachusetts – clam chowder
Michigan – pastries
Minnesota – fried food on a stick
Mississippi – mud pie
Missouri – toasted ravioli
Montana – Rocky Mountain oysters
Nebraska – corn
Nevada – buffets
New Hampshire – maple syrup
New Jersey – Italian sub
New Mexico – chiles
New York – pizza
North Carolina – dry barbecue
North Dakota – knoephla
Ohio – Cincinatti chili
Oklahoma – fried okra
Oregon – hazelnuts
Pennsylvania – cheesesteaks
Rhode Island – coffee milk
South Carolina – benne wafers
South Dakota – chislic
Tennessee – tomatoes
Texas – barbecue
Utah – green Jell-O
Vermont – Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
Virginia – ham
Washington – apples
West Virginia – ramps
Wisconsin – cheese
Wyoming – buffalo burger


A Slice of Summer

Watermelon and Jícama Salsa
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 12

1 cup watermelon, seeded and diced
1 cup honeydew melon, seeded and diced
1/2 cup jícama, peeled and diced
2 Tbs green onions, sliced thin
2 Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
Food Club Salt, to taste

In medium bowl combine all ingredients except salt.
Add salt to taste and adjust with more lime juice if needed.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 24, Fat: 0 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 6 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 1 g

Watermelon and Feta Salad
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 3

2 pints cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 tsp Food Club Salt
1/2 tsp Food Club Sugar
1 Tbs Food Club White Vinegar
2 Tbs Food Club Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Food Club Ground Black Pepper, to taste
3 Tbs fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 green onion, sliced

In a medium bowl toss together tomatoes, salt and sugar. Let tomatoes stand for 30 minutes. Transfer tomatoes to colander and stir until seeds and excess liquid have been removed. Return tomatoes to bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl mix together vinegar, olive oil, cheese, pepper and mint. Add watermelon, onions and tomatoes; toss gently. Season with salt if needed and serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 238, Fat: 18 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 34 mg, Sodium: 679 mg, Carbohydrates: 15 g, Fiber: 3 g, Protein: 8 g

Healthy Living: Sunscreen Safety Tips

Do you wear sunscreen every day? Just as importantly, what do you know about the stuff that you’re slathering on yourself and your kids?

Last month, the federal government announced some big changes in how sunscreen makers can label and advertise their products. The changes won’t take effect until 2012, but you can use this information now when you’re choosing, and using, sunscreen, to get the best protection possible.

There’s no such thing as waterproof sun protection. Starting next year, companies can no longer claim their sunscreen is waterproof. So even if you’re using something this year that says it lasts through water exposure, or is “sweatproof,” it doesn’t, and it’s not.  Always re-apply sunscreen after swimming or sweating, and at least every two hours while outside, regardless of what you’ve been doing.

There’s no such thing as sunblock. Sunblock implies complete protection, and even the strongest formulations can’t block every ray. The term will be banned next year. In the meantime, take label claims with a grain of salt, and remember to take other precautions from the sun: Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and light, protective clothing when possible. And stay out of the sun during the brightest part of the day when you can.

The best sunscreens protect against two kinds of rays. So-called “broad-spectrum” products provide protection again both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Many products don’t; read the labels to be sure. Only those products that protect against both rays will help protect against skin cancer and skin aging, because both rays can cause skin cancer. Many products protect only against UVB, the rays that cause sunburn, but UVA protection is especially important, as those are the rays that penetrate deep into your skin and can cause premature skin aging. Zinc oxide products provide UVA protection.

70+ SPF  ratings? Unnecessary. Those products with super-high SPF ratings are overkill. (The SPF rating measures the product’s ability to prevent sunburn, caused by UVB.) For the best protection, you need a product with at least 30 SPF, and up to 50 SPF, but according to the Food and Drug Administration, ratings over 50 SPF do not offer any more protection. However, don’t choose a product with under 15 SPF. It is not strong enough to be effective.

Use enough product to protect yourself. The FDA didn’t mention this, but your dermatologist probably would love us to bring it up: Cover your skin liberally. Most people need one ounce to properly coat their exposed skin. That means if you apply it as you’re supposed to – every single day – that 8-ounce tube will only last a little more than a week. But then again, isn’t your skin, and your health, worth protecting?

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Posted in: Healthy Living

Dine In: National Creative Ice Cream Day!

I am a dessert kind of girl, and one of my favorite desserts is ice cream. Several times during the summer, I convince my dad to make me homemade ice cream. I love my dad’s homemade ice cream! It’s so far from being healthy, but it’s so delicious!

I do add peaches, which have one of the highest possible NuVal scores, at 99 out of 100. That always makes me feel a little better about eating it. I have tried to get my dad to make a lower-calorie version, but he assures me it would not be the same. You have to splurge every now and then, right?

Today is National Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day! Make your family’s regular  homemade ice cream recipe, or you can use my dad’s recipe. Then go wild on adding different ingredients to make yourself a creative, delicious bowl of ice cream.  You never know  – you could be the next Ben or Jerry!

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus churning time
Serves: 20

1 pint Food Club Whipping Cream
1 (14 oz.) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbs Food Club Vanilla Extract3 large eggs
4 cups Food Club Sugar
2 cups Full Circle 2% Milk

In a large bowl combine whipping cream, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, eggs, sugar and milk; mix well. Pour milk mixture into ice cream maker. Fill the canister of your ice cream maker with milk until full. Follow manufacturer’s directions on making ice cream.

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Posted in: Dine In

Family Matters: Family Reunion

Summer is a great time to plan a family reunion with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, so everyone can share fun, food and fellowship.

Pick a home or place that has enough room for everyone to be comfortable, and plenty of space to enjoy outside activities. If your family has become far-flung, choose a location that’s centrally located, so as many family members as possible can join the fun.

Make your family reunion a “pot luck” meal where everyone brings their favorite foods, desserts or snacks to share.  This lets everyone share the work and the expense, and  takes a lot of the much-dreaded planning out of the process.  Make it even easier on yourself: Stop by your neighborhood Brookshire’s and pick up some prepared foods, such as fried chicken and potato salad from the deli. You are sure to be a hit at the reunion.

Bring dominos, playing cards and inside games, as well as outside games like volleyball, horse shoes and a slip n’ slide. Choose games for all ages, from young to, well, not so young. If yours is a competitive crew, consider adding a challenge, like a horseshoe tournament, a BBQ cookoff or a pie-competition, for fun and bragging rights.

Don’t forget the lawn chairs so you can sit around on the porch or in the yard and visit and catch up on what has been happening in the lives of the ones you love. And, of course, don’t forget the camera!

Family reunions don’t cost much money…just some of your time. Consider it time well-spent and rewarding as to what you and your family will gain from it.   Family is important and taking time to have a reunion will be something your kids will always treasure.  The laughter, tears and photos you share during this special time will be memories never forgotten.

Set aside some quality time this week for your own family.  Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with them.

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Posted in: Family Matters

Shop the Sale: Wonderful Watermelons

Most summers, I end up eating my weight in watermelons. Not that that is a bad thing _ watermelon is the perfect dessert or snack when it’s so hot you don’t want to move, it’s loaded with antioxidants, and because it’s mostly water, it’s practically negative-calories.

Let’s review a few things you may not know about this fruit.

To thump or not to thump? Maybe if you’ve picked out a bunch of watermelons in your day, thumping is a good way to choose a ripe one. Supposedly, if you flick a ripe watermelon with your thumb, it will give off a hollow sound, meaning it’s ready to eat. For most of us, however, it’s hard to interpret that sound. Instead you can just look over the melon carefully. If the green stripe is dark green and shiny, and you can’t clearly see veins, it’s good and ripe. Also, choose a melon that is heavy for its size, without any bruises, cuts or dents. One side also should have a creamy yellow spot from sitting in the patch, ripening.

Good for you: Because it’s mostly water and relatively low in sugar for fruit, watermelon is low in calories, with just 80 calories in two cups. Watermelon also has high concentrations of lycopene, the same antioxidant found in tomatoes, which has been linked to reducing risk of cancer and heart disease.

A square melon? Have you ever seen a picture of a square watermelon? It wasn’t done in Photoshop. Japanese farmers have developed real square melons, by growing them in boxes. They taste the same, but are easier to store, stack, and ship.

Now that’s a big melon: Most watermelons you’ll find in the super market are under 40 pounds, and you can now even buy personal watermelons, which are usually under 5 pounds, or about the size of a big cantaloupe. But given time and the right pedigree, watermelons can get humongous. The title of world’s largest watermelon goes to a melon grown in Hope, Ark. It weighed in at 268.8 pounds.

The whole enchilada _err, melon: The entire watermelon is edible. You can roast the seeds, and the rind can be pickled, or turned into relish.

Think beyond the slice: Of course, many people think the only way to eat watermelon is by the slice. But their mild flavor is so versatile that they are great additions to salsa, salads, sauces and smoothies. Expand your watermelon repertoire with this refreshing salad, bursting with summer flavor:

Cherry Tomato and Watermelon Salad

Made in the USA

There’s something about a backyard cookout, or any entertaining occasion in the summer, that just cries out for all-American food.

Of course, depending on where you live or grew up, your definition of all-American food may vary.

Your best food memories probably are linked to what grew abundantly around you, and the culinary traditions of not just your family, but your hometown.

From Chicago? You probably can’t imagine a baseball game or cookout without a real Chicago hot dog.

Grow up in Georgia? Your favorite summer desserts almost certainly involve peaches. Ever live anywhere along the Gulf coast, or spend much time in Louisiana? Crawfish are probably part of your culinary DNA.

To us, the best summer feasts are those that combine the best of all worlds–a little bit from around here, a lot from all over, and plenty of fresh, in season treats. For instance, serve traditional Texas barbecue with homemade potato chips, or finish off a lunch of Chicago ‘dogs and Idaho potato chips with a rich, chocolate Mississippi mud pie.

Mix and match a few of these all-American summer dishes, and cook up a new warm-weather dining tradition of your own.

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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