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Family Matters: Hunting to become a vegetarian

Growing up, my father and brother hunted all the time. They still get out to our land as often as possible, although I think they are napping in the stands more than they are hunting these days.

Hunting is not for me, but I do love to shoot skeet. One day, when I was about 10 years old, my brother drove me out to our hunting land to shoot targets, not animals…so he said.

My first clue that my brother was up to something should have been when he told me—holding his deer rifle—that we needed to check out one of the stands and make sure it was all cleaned and ready for deer season.

We had not been there a minute or two when I saw a beautiful white-tailed doe walk across the field. I pointed her out to my brother like an idiot, and before you can say “Bambi,” the rifle was up and the deer was down.

It was a traumatic experience for me, one that involved hitting and kicking my brother for days, as well as not eating meat for a long time. I still like to take a step back from the butcher on occasion and fill my plate with other delicious foods instead of meat. I think the experts label people like me “less meatatarians.”

I don’t think I can ever give up meat all together, but I will say the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles require mindful eating. During the times when I was not eating meat, I realized that I couldn’t just run through a drive-thru window and grab a burger. This attention to my diet forced me to stop, plan, prepare and enjoy time in my kitchen more often. We ate more family dinners during that time than we ever had before.

Here’s our favorite vegetarian lasagna, and I promise your meat lovers will never miss the meat!

Vegetarian Lasagna

9 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (14.5-oz) can vegetable broth
1 (14-oz) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 (28-oz) jar purchased tomato pasta sauce
3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
4 oz feta, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook 8-10 minutes until done but not soggy. Drain water. Spray large skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium. Sauté onion and garlic three minutes. Stir in broth.

Boil and add artichoke hearts and spinach. Reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes. Add pasta sauce and stir. Spread1/4 of artichoke and pasta sauce mixture on bottom of dish. Top with 3 cooked noodles. Sprinkle 1 cup of Mozzarella cheese over. Repeat layers twice, ending with artichoke mixture and Mozzarella. Top with crumbled feta cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes until bubbly. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving or cutting.

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

Healthy Living: Pizza

A few of us have experienced folding a thin crust pizza while walking the streets of New York City, or having to sit down with a knife and fork to enjoy a deep dish pizza in Chicago. Pizza is constantly evolving and, depending on where you are, pizza can be vastly different.

If you were King Umberto I or Queen Margherita visiting Naples in 1889, you would have enjoyed a simple but delicious pizza made by Raffaele Espositio. Raffaele’s pizza resembled the Italian flag with white mozzarella cheese, green basil and red tomatoes. This pizza is now known as Pizza Margherita.

About a month ago, I was visiting some friends in San Antonio. As soon as I walked through the door after a six-hour drive, they insisted we go to their favorite local pizza place. Being hungry from the drive and always open to eating local food, I hopped in the car. My friend, Kim, kept telling me how fresh and amazing this pizza was. The pizza was simply fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. It was amazing. After coming home, I quickly learned this was the same pizza Raffaele made the king and queen.

Wanting to share this fresh pizza with my family, I decided to make it one Sunday. I like to make everything as homemade as possible, so I was searching for a homemade wheat pizza crust. After having hungry faces staring at me, I knew I could not wait for the crust to rise, so I looked for a recipe that did not require 45 minutes of rising time. After a few tweaks I had a quick, delicious pizza crust. I added diced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil and the pizza was a hit. My whole family loved it and it took me no time to make a fresh homemade pizza.

Margherita Pizza
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup Food Club all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp Food Club salt
1/2 tsp Food Club sugar
1 (1/4 oz) pkg rapid rise yeast
3/4 cup water (100° F to 110° F)
1 Tbs Food Club olive oil
1 Tbs dried Italian seasoning
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
1 cup shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
1 (2/3 oz) pkg Full Circle fresh basil

Preheat oven to 450° F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. In the bowl of a standing mixer, add flours, salt, sugar and yeast; mix until well combined.

Slowly add warm water until mixture is well combined.

Mix dough two to three minutes, or until dough has formed a ball and is no longer sticky. If dough remains sticky, add 2 TBS of all-purpose flour.

Form dough into a ball and coat ball with olive oil. Roll pizza dough out on baking sheet until dough fits pan. Sprinkle dried Italian seasoning onto crust.

Bake crust for two to three minutes. Remove crust from oven and spread diced tomatoes over crust. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over tomato mixture. Bake pizza 10 to 12 minutes. Add basil leaves to pizza and slice.

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 323, Fat: 11 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 18 mg, Sodium: 450 mg, Carbohydrates: 43 g, Fiber: 3 g, Protein: 4 g

Product Talk: Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil

I have a confession to make: I have lived in Texas for 15 years and I lived in parts of Louisiana for four years as a child and I have NEVER been to a shrimp boil.

Since it’s almost an official state pastime, I’ve been more-than-a-little embarrassed over my lack of shrimp-boiling prowess. I decided summertime was the perfect time to rectify that problem.

First stop: Brookshire’s for Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil, gorgeous 16/20 shrimp in the shells, earthy red potatoes and bright ears of corn on the cob. Let me just tell you, I love me some Zatarain’s. And while I’m at it, I have another confession: I always thought my mom’s red beans and rice was the best in the universe, but Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice gives it a run for its money! (Please don’t tell my mom). So it was practically a no-brainer to use a Zatarain’s product for my first shrimp boil.

Second stop: My very own kitchen to dig out my beautiful blue and white enamel stock pot, the one I’d use if ever called upon to cook for a small army.

I was ready.

The Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab boil is exactly as its name promises: a concentrated, spicy blend of red pepper, bay, clove, black pepper, thyme, marjoram and other spices. It comes in an 8-ounce bottle and you really only need a capful per two quarts of water, unless you really want to spice up your party. It’s easy to use and you don’t need any other spices or flavorings.

A shrimp boil is an extremely quick, easy party meal and fun for the whole family. I’d recommend spreading newspaper out on your table so you can dig in and enjoy your shrimp and not worry about the mess!

Southern Shrimp Boil
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Serves 8

2 quarts water
2 Tbs salt (optional)
2 lbs large shrimp with shells on (21 to 30 count)
4 ears of corn on the cob, shucked and sliced in half
8 red potatoes, whole
1 lb cooked smoked sausage (optional)
2 tsp Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil

Bring water and salt to boil in large stock pot.
Add potatoes and corn, cook for about 5 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
Stir in shrimp, sausage if using, and Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil. Return to boil; cover. Cook 2 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat. Let stand 2 minutes. Drain well.

Dine-In: The smell of smoke

My father’s job required him to keep crazy hours. Well, it was actually the babies he delivered who had the say-so of when he needed to show up for work. Somehow Daddy made it to almost all of our piano recitals, tennis matches and baseball games – even just for a moment. He always made the effort.

When my father was home, he was continually working on some project around the house, from hand-waxing our old pine floors to pruning every bush in sight.

Another thing Daddy enjoyed in his spare time – and still does – was firing up the grill or the huge charcoal smoker he has parked in our back driveway. From pork butts and hamburgers to ribs and rib-eyes, we all loved it when the smell of smoke entered the woods around our home. Something good was coming to our table that night, usually on Friday evenings.

As a child, I would hang out with my father as he tended the grill, desiring to be close to him. He told wonderful stories and played silly word games with me. And of course, he taught me how to cook outdoors.

These were wonderfully sacred moments between a father and daughter, although I didn’t realize it at the time. And to this day, the smell of smoke – mixed in with a little beeswax from the floors and a hint of wintergreen from his tobacco– comforts me, reminding me of the safest time I have ever known.

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

Teriyaki Burgers

1 1/2 lb ground chuck (15-22 percent fat content)
3 Tbs purchased teriyaki sauce
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 hamburger buns, buttered and toasted
Garnishes: Lettuce leaves, tomato slices, red onion rings, grilled pineapple rings

Combine first 6 ingredients and shape into 4 equal-sized patties.  Prepare grill by spraying grate with nonstick cooking spray and then heating to high heat. Place burgers on grill over direct heat, cooking 3-4 minutes per side (only turning once) until you reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F for medium burgers. To serve, place burgers on toasted buns, top with desired garnishes and serve immediately.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In

Family Matters: Oobleck

On the last day of school one year, my older son, Curt, came home with a bag of slime.

No, it wasn’t the contents of a long-lost lunch bag, it was, as he explained to me in great detail, oobleck.

I watched him extract the green oobleck from the plastic bag, stretching it the length of his arm as he did so. Then he and his brother, Luke, proceeded to play with the oobleck for two hours.

Named for a slime in a Dr. Seuss book, “Bartholomew and Oobleck,” that had the power to gunk up a whole land, oobleck , besides looking like green gunk, has properties of both solids and liquids. Oobleck wiggles and jiggles like a liquid or jelly, but if you squeeze it in your hand, it will seem like a solid. In the scientific world, oobleck is called a dilatant, a substance that causes another to expand. If you slowly lower your hand into oobleck, it will sink, but it’s much, much harder to remove your hand without taking all the oobleck and its container with you. But in the real world, oobleck is just plain fun and easy to make with ingredients you probably have right in your pantry, perfect for a craft – or science experiment – on a hot summer’s day.


Corn starch
Food coloring (optional)

Mix 1 part water with 1.5 to 2 parts cornstarch. Start with 1 cup of water and 1 1/2 cups of cornstarch, then work in more cornstarch if you want a more ‘solid’ oobleck.

Mix for about 10 minutes to get the right consistency. If you mix oobleck in a plastic bag with a zipper lock, kids can “squish” it to the right consistency.

Mix in a few drops of food coloring if you want colored oobleck.

Try this:
Squeeze or punch the oobleck. The cornstarch particles will not move out of the way quickly, so the oobleck will feel solid.

Mold oobleck in a container, but when you remove the mold, watch the oobleck lose its shape.

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Posted in: Family Matters

Shop the Sale: Southern-Style Cola Barbecue

It wasn’t until I moved to Texas that I learned that you could cook with cola.

I admit I was skeptical at first, but when a friend introduced me to sausage links simmered overnight in the slow-cooker in a combination of cola and barbecue sauce, I was hooked. The meat becomes melt-in-your mouth tender.

I’ve come to use that combination of cola and barbecue sauce to cook almost any meat. I especially love being able to use my slow-cooker during the hot summer months when turning on my oven is almost unbearable.

This week, the Brookshire’s sale circular is chock full of great goodies to use in slow cooker barbecue.

Southern-Style Cola Barbecue

2 lbs Hormel Assorted Pork Chops OR Eckrich Smoked Sausage Links OR Brookshire’s Split Chicken Breasts OR Boneless Beef Short Ribs
2 cups Food Club cola
1/2 cup Food Club orange juice
2 cups Food Club barbecue sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large slow cooker and simmer on low heat for 8 hours.

You can shred the pork or chicken and serve on a sandwich, or serve whole alongside potato salad and corn on the cob. The sausage is great for parties alongside whatever you’re making on the grill and the short ribs are amazing with a side of mashed potatoes and green beans.

Healthy Living: Coconut Water

When I started working with a professional trainer, one of the first things he suggested was drinking coconut water after a particularly grueling workout.

Not to be confused with coconut MILK, coconut WATER, the clear liquid inside young, green coconuts, was, to my palate, a strangely refreshing beverage my trainer promised would prevent me from being too sore the following day.

He was right.

Coconut water is making the news all across the country and here in the South, it’s readily available and a natural alternative to sports drinks. Some claim to be energy enhancers and some claim to be an all-natural sports drink, so let’s just look at the facts.

One cup of coconut water equals 46 calories, nine grams of carbohydrates– six from sugar and three from fiber, and two grams of protein. It’s perhaps most touted for its potassium content, 600 milligrams of potassium per serving, which equals about 17 percent of your daily value, more than a banana.  Coconut water is also rich in magnesium at 60 milligrams per serving or 15 percent of your daily value; sodium with 252 milligrams per serving or 11 percent of your daily value and calcium, offering 58 milligrams per serving or six percent of your daily value.

It’s rich in vitamins B and C, contains all-natural sugars and shouldn’t contain any additives or colors. Coconut water is a natural diuretic and is naturally fat free. It’s available in pulp and low-pulp varieties.

I’m glad I tried the latest trend in healthy sports drinks, because let me just tell you, I wasn’t nearly as sore the day following an intense workout as I could have been. Thank you to my trainer and to coconut water.

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Posted in: Healthy Living

Dine-In: Grilled Pizza

Growing up, Friday night was always pizza night at my house. My mom would spend a huge portion of the day kneading homemade dough and letting it rise, punching it down and letting it rise again, while homemade sauce was simmering on the stove. We’d arrive home from school to the most wonderful medley of aromas in the air and knew dinner was going to be one we all loved.

Today, Friday nights are still pizza nights at my house, but I rarely (ok, never) have time to let dough rise and sauce simmer. Plus, with it being so warm outside, I hate to turn on the oven to the scorching temperature it takes to get a perfect crust: crisp on the outside, doughy and chewy on the inside, and firm enough not to bend under the weight of toppings.

So lately on Friday nights, I’ve been turning my gas grill into a pizza oven of sorts. The crust is crisp and smoky, the cheese melty, it’s quick and it doesn’t heat up my entire kitchen.

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

Pizza on the Grill
Easily adjusts to fit number of servings needed

Pre-made 6-inch pizza crusts, such as Mama Mary’s or Boboli
Extra virgin olive oil
Herbed cream cheese
Fresh spinach leaves
Roma tomatoes, sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat either your gas grill or your charcoal grill to medium heat. (Make sure your grill grate is clean.)

Lightly brush both sides of pre-made pizza crusts with extra-virgin olive oil.

Place on the grill for about 3 minutes, or until char lines begin to appear. Flip the crust and repeat on the opposite side.

Remove crust from grill.

Spread with a thin layer of herbed cream cheese. Press a layer of spinach leaves into crust and top with thinly sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sometimes I also add thin slices of fresh mozzarella.

Carefully place pizza back on grill. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes until the cream cheese and spinach are softened and tomatoes render their juices.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In

Family Matters: Summer Pupsicles!

When I picked up my German Shepherd, Duke, from the groomer one afternoon last week, I realized my dog was already wincing having to walk his paws across the hot parking lot.

The temperatures have already started their upward climb to triple digits, and we are all searching for relief from the scorching sun – including our beloved pets! Making homemade frozen dog treats can help make staying cool more fun! It’s an easy way to get your kids involved in a kitchen activity that is relatively easy and quick to prepare.

When Duke hears me opening the freezer, he comes running, even from a dead sleep! Often I just toss him an ice cube to cool off, which he seems to enjoy…although I think he deep down is hoping for one of his refreshing treats.

The ingredients are all natural and are actually quite healthy for your dog. You could use applesauce instead of the banana, or molasses instead of honey. Don’t use chocolate, though, as chocolate can be toxic to many of our pets.

These Summer Pupsicles are easy to make in large batches and keep on hand in your freezer. And they are a cost-effective way to provide a sweet summer treat for the dog days of summer!

Summer Pupsicles

1 mashed banana 
1 (32 oz) Vanilla yogurt 
2 Tbs honey 
2 Tbs creamy peanut butter

Blend all thoroughly in a blender or food processor until creamy and smooth. Place mixture into small paper cups and freeze until solid.  To serve, microwave the cups for three seconds to make the paper easier to release. 

Shop the Sale: Asian-Style Loin Back Ribs

It’s easy to tell the difference between beef and pork ribs. But it’s also important to know what kind of beef or pork ribs you’re eating in order to prepare correctly. It’s all about location, location, location. Today, I’m just talking about loin pork ribs because they are on sale this week at Brookshire’s.

Loin back ribs come from the same part of the hog as pork chops. They are also called “baby back ribs” in the grocery store. Loin ribs are smaller in size than spare ribs and are less meaty and less fatty. They are also more tender than spareribs.  

This week, shop the sale to find a great deal on Hormel loin back ribs at your local Brookshire’s, and try our oven-prepared Asian-Style Ribs. Not all of us are master grillers, and this delicious recipe gives you a way to stay cool indoors and enjoy a new twist on tender pork ribs. 

I like to serve these ribs with Asian slaw and an egg and scallion fried rice. Easy and delicious! 


Asian-Style Loin Back Ribs 

6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 Tbs peeled and coarsely chopped fresh ginger
3/4 cup purchased jalapeno pepper jelly
1/2 cup purchased hoisin sauce (on the Asian aisle)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup rice vinegar
6 Tbs fresh lime juice
2 Tbs sesame oil
2 Tbs Chinese chili-garlic sauce (on the Asian aisle)
9 lbs Hormel meaty loin back ribs

In a food processor, combine everything except ribs. Pulse until smooth. Set the racks in a large baking dish and slather with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before continuing. 

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400°F, and cover three large rimmed baking sheets with foil. Remove the ribs from the marinade, reserving marinade. Cut each rack so that each piece has 4 to 5 ribs. Place ribs on baking sheets, meaty side down. Roast each sheet in batches for 30 minutes, turning over halfway through. Also, baste ribs with the reserved marinade at least three times throughout roasting, including once at the end. Remove from oven and preheat broiler of oven. 

Broil ribs 3 inches from the heat for 3 minutes. Let ribs rest for 10 minutes, before slicing and serving.

Copyright © 2010-2017, 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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