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Product Talk: Home-style tamales


For some families, getting together to make tamales for Christmas is as much of a tradition as stringing lights, putting up a tree and making cookies. Tamales are so labor-intensive, you just about need a whole set of cousins, sisters, grandchildren or friends to make the time fly and those corn-husk wrappers fill up quickly.

But if your family hasn’t found time this year for a tamale-making party – or if you’ve never developed the tradition but have always relied on buying someone else’s tamales – we have you covered. We have recently introduced some wonderful home-style tamales in our stores with delis, sold by the half-dozen so you can get enough for all your holiday get-togethers.

These are good-sized, meaty tamales, with a moist, traditional shell of masa around a flavorful filling, and all wrapped up in the classic corn husk. We have three varieties: Traditional shredded pork, shredded chicken, and a more modern, vegetarian-friendly variety, spinach and Monterrey jack cheese. They are made with lean, flavorful meat, so they are moist, but not greasy.

The tamales are already steamed and sold warm from our steam table or warmers that you will find in our deli area. You can eat them right away, or warm up at home, in your own steamer or even in the microwave.

The tamales also star in our holiday tamale dinner, new this year. It includes two dozen tamales, two pounds of charro beans, and two pounds of Spanish rice. This dinner will feed up to 8 diners, for an everyday price of just $29.99. This meal deal will be available through Christmas at selected stores, as supplies last.  Or, you can just pick up tamales on their own. Either way, this may be the year that you decide your annual tamale party doesn’t have to be about making tamales – just eating them.

 

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Posted in: Product Talk


Dine-In: Gingersnap Cookies


Three years ago I had no interested in having ground ginger in my spice cabinet.

In my last semester of college I had to write a huge paper on a functional food. After class we lined up to draw the topic that would consume our lives for the next 2 months. As soon as I pulled the little piece of paper apart my smile went right to a frown. I was really hoping for green tea, but I got ginger. I did not even like ginger and I was going to write a huge paper on it.

Over the next 2 months I learned many interesting facts about ginger. Ginger has historically been used to treat colds, fever and digestive problems. In a study by Hoffman in 2007, ginger was found to lower cholesterol and thin the blood to lower the risk of developing heart disease. Growing up my mother would always tell me if I did not feel good to drink ginger ale. My mother was right! Ginger is in fact known medically to reduce nausea. However the mechanism of how ginger prevents vomiting is unknown. How could I not like something that had so many possible health benefits?

I soon learned I did like ginger. Ginger was in my favorite winter drink, chi tea and I loved ginger snap cookies. Now when the weather turns cold I make sure I have ginger to make some of my favorite winter treats.

Ginger Snaps
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Serves: 36

Ingredients:
1 cup packed Food Club Brown Sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp Food Club Vanilla Extract
1 egg
1 cup Food Club All-Purpose Flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp Food Club Salt
1 tsp Food Club Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/3 cup Turbinado sugar, or to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F. In a large bowl combine brown sugar, oil, molasses, vanilla extract and egg. In a medium bowl combine flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Slowly combine molasses mixture with flour mixture; mix well. Roll dough into 1 1/4 –inch balls. Roll each ball in Turbinado sugar and place on baking sheet. Bake cookies 10 to 12 minute.

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 97, Fat: 5 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 5 mg, Sodium: 91 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 0 g, Protein: 1 g

© 2011, Brookshire Grocery Co.  Nutrient counts are rounded to the nearest whole number.  All dietary and lifestyle changes should be supervised by a physician.

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Posted in: Dine In, Kids


Family Matters: Fireplace Memories and Cookout


Did you ever sit around the family fireplace talking and visiting during the cold winter months?  No television noise, maybe just some soft holiday music in the background. Quality time laughing with family and friends.  A time to share funny stories of things from the past or catch up on new exciting things just now happening.  You can turn off the lights and just sit around in the glimmering light and reflection of the open fire.

You can drink hot chocolate or apple cider, snack on popcorn, peanuts and finger foods.  Some other fun things to do are roasting hot dogs in the fire place and making fresh s’mores over an open flame!  Memories in the making…

Take a wire clothes hanger, untie the top and unfold it to a straight wire.  Then hold one end over the open fire for a few minutes to heat up the wire and get ready for cooking.  Take a hot dog and push the wire through the end a few inches and then hold over the open flame until it is cooked the way you like it.  You can go for slightly browned or almost black and crunchy…your preference – you are the cook!

You can then use the clothes hanger to make delicious s’mores for dessert.  Take a large marshmallow and put on the end of the clothes hanger, hold it over the open flame and cook to perfection. Again, you can go for slightly roasted or black and crunchy…your preference.  Put the marshmallow between two graham crackers with a piece of chocolate bar (like a sandwich) and you have s’mores, warm and ready to enjoy.

If you have a fireplace this is a wonderful way to spend cold days or evenings and what better way to spend quality time with friends and family. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with them.



Shop the Sale: Perfect Poinsettias


Except for the Christmas tree, no plant says “Christmas” like the poinsettia. Bred to bloom best throughout December, the brilliant red plant is a perfect centerpiece, looks great next to the Christmas tree or on a holiday buffet, and makes an easy seasonal  hostess gift for neighbors and friends.  (And, hey, they’re on sale starting today, two for just $12 – so you can make a splash with a whole display of them, or buy one for yourself, one for a gift.)

There’s a wonderful Mexican legend about how the poinsettia first became associated with Christmas. According to the story, a poor girl was on her way to church on Christmas Eve, but had no money for a gift or offering. She gathered some tropical weeds and fashioned them into a bouquet. When she laid them at the feet of the baby Jesus inside the church, the branches supposedly burst into the brilliant red we now associate with the poinsettia. To this day, the poinsettia is known as the flor de noche buena in Mexico – Spanish for  “Christmas Eve flower.”

What else do you need to know about the poinsettia?

  1. They’re not poisonous after all. For years, you’ve probably heard that poinsettias can be deadly to children and pets. Not true. Ohio State University researchers actually disproved this as far back as the early ‘70s, but the myth kept getting repeated, possibly because some plants related to poinsettias ARE poisonous. Yes, a small dog who eats an entire poinsettia could end up sick to its stomach, and may vomit, and a child who nibbles on a leaf may get an upset stomach, but that’s true of many plants. However, it’s unlikely even an animal would eat more than a leaf or two; they’re bitter and inedible to humans and animals alike.
  2. They don’t like the cold. The poinsettia is native to Mexico and Central America, so it thrives in warmer, slightly humid temperatures. Some of the traditional spots to showcase poinsettias, including the hearth and on windowsills, actually may cause them to drop leaves or wither, as poinsettias do not like drafty, cool places. They’ll do best if you don’t let temperatures drop below 65 degrees.
  3. Don’t overwater. A poinsettia needs water only when the soil is actually dry to the touch. If the air in your home is warm and dry, that may mean every few days. Don’t let it rest in standing water, either. In between waterings, you may want to mist poinsettias briefly with plain water, to keep the air moist and humid.
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Posted in: Shop the Sale


Healthy Living: Cutting back on salt


Most of us probably eat more salt than we should. It’s hard not to; processed and convenience foods, fast foods, and the salty snacks that we love are all packed with sodium.

Too much sodium can cause us to retain fluids and end up with higher blood pressure – which can lead to heart disease and stroke. But if you don’t have any of those problems, you’re free to eat as much salt as you want, right?

Not necessarily. Earlier this year, the federal government released new dietary guidelines that recommend many of us eat less salt.

The new rules suggest a daily salt intake of 1,500 milligrams per day for anyone who is 51 and older and all black persons, in addition to anyone who has already been diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. That is just a bit over a half-teaspoon or about the amount in many frozen dinners. Everyone else is supposed to take in just 2,300 milligrams daily, or about a teaspoon.

Since the average American now takes in about 3,400 milligrams of sodium, it would do us all good to review some ways to reduce salt in our daily diet:

Recognize how much sodium you’re eating: For a few days, note the sodium content of as much of your daily diet as you can. Does the total surprise you?

Cook from scratch: This is obvious, but if you start with raw foods, you retain total control over the amount of sodium you use. Fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables naturally contain little sodium; fresh and dried herbs, chills and fresh-squeezed citrus juice can punch up flavor in place of salt.

Read labels: Sodium is often hidden in ingredient lists, and there can be a wide variation in sodium content for any given food, even seemingly innocuous foods like bread or pasta. In addition to plain salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), disodium phosphate, and sodium nitrate are common ingredients that can lead to higher sodium levels.

Understand salt-free vs. low sodium vs. “lite.” Lots of products advertise their sodium content, but are careful. Sodium-free means each serving has 5 mg. of sodium or less. Very low sodium products contain 35 mg or less. Low sodium products can contain as much as 140 mg of sodium. However, reduced-sodium products or even “light” in sodium products are not necessarily all that low in sodium. They simply have a salt content that has been reduced by at least 50 percent from the original product. With some items, like soups, chips13 or frozen meals, these products may still be quite high in sodium.

Season with hard cheeses: Just a pinch of parmesan or other hard, intensely flavored cheese can add a lot of savory flavor; just don’t season with it AND salt.

Switch to coarse-grained kosher salt or sea salt: Kosher and sea salts have the same amount of sodium as regular table salts by weight – but not by volume. So, a teaspoon of coarse salt contains less sodium than fine salt, because the teaspoon contains fewer grains. Some people also find that they naturally use less coarse salt at the table, because they can see and taste the individual grains more easily.

Cut back gradually: You have probably become slowly used to saltier and saltier foods. So, first, reduce the sodium by about one-quarter when you’re cooking. After a few weeks, take away the salt shaker at the table. Once you’re used to that, reduce salt in recipes by another quarter. Eventually, you’ll wonder how you managed to eat all that salt.



Dine-In: Wild-rice dressing


If you’re like most of us, you end up enjoying not just one turkey-and-dressing feast during the Thanksgiving-to-New-Year’s stretch. You have two or three or four, when you add in dinner at both sides of the family, the church supper, the office potluck and other festivities.

So if you’re looking for something to make the next holiday meal a little different from the others, here’s a new take on traditional dressing. It has some of the familiar flavors, such as sage and thyme, but instead of dried bread or cornbread, this uses a combination of white and wild rice, and includes dried fruit as a complement to the onion and celery.

This dressing goes well with turkey, but it also makes an excellent side dish for roast pork or even a mild baked fish. 

Wild Rice-Cranberry Stuffing
Makes about 8 cups

Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter, divided
2 cups red onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
5 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cup wild rice
1 1/4 cups long grain white rice
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup golden raisins
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. sage, dried
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped coarsely
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 x 9 casserole or baking dish, and set aside.

In skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion and celery and sauté until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.  In a large pan, bring stock to boil. Add wild rice and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Stir in white rice, cover and simmer until liquid is almost absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Stir in cranberries, thyme, sage, onions, celery and remaining two tablespoons of butter. Cover and simmer about 3 minutes. Stir in pecans. Salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer stuffing to prepared baking dish and cover with lid or aluminum foil. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until heated through.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Family Matters: Caring for new pets at the holidays


What child hasn’t wished for a new puppy or kitten for Christmas?

Although some experts discourage giving animals as gifts, the holidays can also be a great time to adopt a new pet as a family: The children are home from school, and many of us have extra vacation time, so we’ll be home more to attend to the needs of a new pet.

If your holiday plans include adopting a new family member of the four-legged variety, here are some ideas to help ease the transition during this very busy time of year.

Introduce gradually to other animals in the household. Ask your veterinarian for advice on the best way to introduce your new pet to older dogs or cats, especially if the existing pet has lived alone for some time, or if your pet doesn’t always get along with new animals. At a minimum, be prepared to feed the new and existing pets on opposite sides of the room or in different rooms altogether; provide a new litter box for any new cat; and provide separate sleeping arrangements, whether in a kennel or in a quiet, closed rooms. Never leave the new animal alone with other pets until you’ve had a chance to observe them together, preferably several times.

Avoid adopting new pets right during the busiest part of the holidays.  New puppies, especially, need almost as much attention as a baby for the first few weeks, and during house training. Cats may not adjust well to a new home if there is a lot of commotion, whether from decorations, lights or parties. So, if you expect lots of guests, or if you plan to leave town for part of the holidays, ask the breeder or the animal shelter if you can pick up the animal later in the holidays. If you’ve intended the animal as a gift for your children or spouse, you can provide a photo and some of the gear, like a leash, bowl, toys, and bed, so there is something to unwrap on the holidays itself.

“Puppy-proof” the house first. Consider which rooms you’ll allow the new pet into, and then set about making them safe for a new dog or cat. Until you know how much of a “chewer”  the puppy is, you’ll want to limit the dog’s access to just about anything – electrical cords, shoes, remote controls, throw rugs, pillows. Cats tend to be less potentially destructive, but you’ll also want to secure cords, drapery pulls and other items that could present a choking hazard. Check the placement of houseplants; they can be poisonous to animals. Finally, get plenty of toys, even just some old socks, so the new animal has plenty to keep its attention, and will be less likely to be destructive.

Make sure they have the proper diet. Kittens and puppies aren’t just little versions of adults; they have their own special dietary needs. Puppies, especially, grow very fast, and need extra nutrients to build muscle, bone and organs. You should feed puppy formula, preferably one that matches the size of your dog’s breed, until the puppy has reached about 90 percent of his or her expected adult weight. (For small dogs, this will occur by the time the dog is one year old; for larger breeds, it might take up to 18 months.) Kittens should be fed kitten formulas to support their growth, for at least the first nine months of life and preferably for one year.

Finally, even though it’s tempting, do not feed table scraps, even as a treat. It’s hard to break eating habits learned young, and too much human food contributes to pet obesity and other health problems. If you want to provide treats – which can be a great tool while training your puppy – choose those that are appropriate to your pet’s size and breed, and limit them to special rewards.



Shop the Sale: Hass Avocados


Hass avocados are the Mercedes of avocados – beautiful  and consistently high-quality. But they’re also an affordable luxury, especially this week, as we’ve just started a special 5-for-$5 deal on large Hass avocados in our produce sections.

These avocados are highly recognizable because of their dark green, pebbly skin, sometimes with a deep purple or blackish tinge. But the color of the rind isn’t the best way to choose them, according to the experts at the Hass Avocado Board.

Instead, you should gently squeeze the avocado in the palm of your hand, without using your fingertips (to avoid bruising the fruit), to determine if it will be ready when you are. (You don’t want the disappointment of bringing home a bunch of beautiful avocados and realizing they haven’t ripened enough for the guacamole you planned for supper!) Here’s their guide to choosing:

Firm avocados: If the avocado will not yield at all to gentle pressure, they’re not ready to eat. They will ripen at room temperature in up to four-five days, so buy these if you’re not planning to eat right away.

“Breaking” avocados: Avocado isn’t rock hard, but doesn’t quite yield to gentle pressure. These will be ready to eat in two or three days.

Ripe avocados: These yield to gentle pressure, but don’t feel too mushy or soft. You can eat these right away. Store them in the fridge to keep them from softening too much.

Hass avocados make great fresh guacamole, of course, but there’s so much else you can do with fresh avocados. Make a BLA sandwich – bacon, lettuce, and slices of creamy avocado.  Puree them into soup or salad dressing. Make a chunky pico de gallo for fish or shrimp, or just to serve with chips.

Or try this recipe for an out-of-the ordinary vegetable dish, an interesting side dish idea for the holidays, from the Hass Avocado Board. (They have lots of other recipes, which you can find here. (hyperlink to http://www.avocadocentral.com/avocado-recipes)

Holiday Vegetable and Hass Avocado Saute
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ripe fresh Hass avocado, seeded, peeled and cut into chunks (about 8 ounces)

Directions:
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallot and thyme, sauté for 3 minutes.

Mix in zucchini, bell pepper and lemon peel, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Lower heat and cover, cooking for 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice with avocado. Add to skillet and gently mix. Cook for 2 minutes to allow flavors to blend.



Healthy Living: Safer toys for the holidays


How’s that holiday shopping going? If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably still got at least a few gifts to pick up. So this is a good time to remind you that December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month – a time set aside to help us focus on choosing safe, age-appropriate presents, especially for the youngest family members and friends in our lives.

Sponsored by Prevent Blindness America, the observation comes at a good time; most children receive more toys in December than they get the rest of the year! And, of course, many of those toys come from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, and other family members and friends who may be unfamiliar with current toy safety standards and recommendations, and who may be years removed from buying toys on a regular basis.

Some ideas before heading out to buy presents for the kiddos:

  1. Take a minute to research toys that have been recalled recently.  www.cpsc.gov/  is a great place to start. Although most retailers do their best to pull recalled items promptly, sometimes there can be a brief period between the announcement of a recall and the time the item is removed from shelves.
  2. Buy toys that are age-appropriate. Read the age recommendations and warnings on the toy package and follow them, even if you think the intended recipient is mature for her or his age. This is especially important for younger children; there’s a huge developmental difference between a two-year-old and children even a year or 18 months older, which is why so many toys carry warnings that they are not to be used for children under three. But even for older children, it can prevent frustration or boredom; few six-year-olds will be able to understand or build a toy or game meant for eight- or 10-year-olds.
  3. Choose sturdy toys. Lightweight plastics can break into shards that could cut a child; toys with many parts can easily break or quit working. You can look for the letters ASTM on the label; this means the toy has met national safety standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials.
  4. Avoid loud toys. The parents will thank you, for one thing. But also, some toys, especially toy guns, phones and electronic toys, can emit sounds as loud as 120 decibels – loud enough to permanently damage a child’s hearing.
  5. Read video game labels and ratings. For children, the EC (early childhood) or E (everyone) rating is recommended, but be careful; some E games contain some violence or even mild language. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, read some reviews before buying.
  6. Check on food allergies. Candy and nuts may seem like harmless stocking stuffers – unless the recipient has allergies! If you’re unsure, use stocking stuffers like  hard candy or popcorn that are unlikely to prompt an allergy, or stay away from food entirely and choose inexpensive items like colorful pencils or markers, stickers or temporary tattoos.
  7. If in doubt, ask the parent. If you’re buying for someone else’s child and unsure if your choice is suitable, be sure the parent will approve of your selection. For instance, chemistry sets, certain video games, and BB guns may have been great gifts for your child, but another parent may feel his or her child isn’t sufficiently mature, even if they meet the age guidelines.


Product Talk: The gift of fruit


The tradition of giving fruit as a holiday gift is an old one, but it’s just as good an idea today as it was 50 years ago. In these days, when everybody seems to be avoiding sugar, developing food allergies, or going on a diet, fruit is one food gift that just about every person on your gift list will appreciate.

We are making it even easier this year to finish your holiday shopping, by carrying fruit gift packs that are ready to give to family, friends, clients or neighbors. Most of our stores have several gift ideas available, so look for these in your neighborhood store or ask your produce manager to see what gift packs may be available this season:

Spanish Clementines: Sweet, seedless and easy to peel, clementines have a smaller window of availability than most other citrus fruits. They’re at their peak from about November through January – which might be why they’re sometimes called “Christmas oranges.” Available in five-pound gift crate.

California Navel Oranges:  Perhaps because they were once available only to the wealthy, oranges continue to be associated with prosperity and luxury, and remain a traditional Christmas treat. Of course, oranges are also at their peak, and most delicious, at this time of year.   Available in gift crate, approximately 24 to 36 count.

Texas Rio Star Grapefruits: Texas’ shining contribution to the citrus industry, these are the sweetest, juiciest grapefruit you can find; the kind that even people who swear they don’t like grapefruit end up loving. Available in holiday gift pack, approximately 12-18 count.

Red Delicious Apples: Shiny, picture-perfect red apples are always a good gift-giving choice; have you ever heard of anyone who didn’t like apples?  Didn’t think so. Available in holiday gift pack, featuring Washington-grown apples, approximately 18-22 count.



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.

Product Talk

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