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Product Talk: The whole chicken

Back in the day, any cook worth her (or his) salt knew how to handle a whole chicken. Whether you roasted it, stewed it, or cut it apart for frying, that’s just how chickens came at the market.

Today, however, many people seem to be intimidated by a whole chicken –even though it is a much more economical choice. It’s just too easy to pick up a package of skinless breasts, or thigh quarters, rather than wrestle with a full chicken, bones, skin, and all.

But if you know how to cook a real chicken, you’ll save money , as they can cost less than half what you might pay for specialized packages of prepared, boned or skinless chicken. And, you’ll find the flavor is often richer and deeper, since you’re getting flavor from all the fat, skin and bones.

If you don’t want to mess with cutting up a chicken, there are three easy ways to cook the bird whole, with almost no mess and fuss. Note: Always remove any “innards” such as neck or giblets, from inside the chicken cavity, before cooking.

Crockpot: This is stupid-simple, and produces a really moist dish.  Roughly chop a couple of onions and carrots and place in the crockpot, then add a three-to-four-pound chicken, seasoned with salt, pepper and any herbs or spices you like. You don’t need liquid. Cook for four-five hours, and the chicken will be falling-off-the-bone tender. Bonus: If you pick the meat off the bones before serving, you can make chicken stock from the carcass. Just add more carrots, chopped celery, and maybe some thyme, and enough water to reach the top of the crockpot. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.

Stew: Almost as easy as the crockpot. Use the same carrot-onion-herb combo as in a crockpot chicken; you may also want to add some celery. Place everything in a large stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook on low up to about 90 minutes. Again, it’s done when the meat is tender and pulls away easily from the bone. Tip: For a richer flavor, replace some of the water with chicken broth.

Roast: Baking a chicken can be the trickiest way to go, because it’s easy to overcook it and end up with a dry bird. I recommend the use of a meat thermometer. This country-style roasted chicken, reminiscent of an old-fashioned Sunday dinner, is a good recipe to start with:

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Dine In: Summery shrimp ceviche

Ceviche is a wonderful summer dish, especially when you don’t want to cook. Well, when you don’t want to cook with heat, that is.

The fish or shellfish in ceviche IS cooked, but with acid, usually from citrus juice. It has the same texture as if it had been cooked on the stove, but the acid in the lime or lemon juice is what causes the chemical reaction and produces the “cooked” texture.

If you are new to ceviche, or have not prepared it at home, I like to suggest starting with shrimp. Shrimp “cooked” in lime/lemon juice has a really nice, firm texture. And, for some reason, even people who might be a little squeamish about the whole ceviche concept are usually willing to try this version. Serve with chips or tortillas, and maybe a side of guacamole, and you’ve got a great summer dinner – without turning on a single burner. 

Shrimp Ceviche

1 lb large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound)
1 tsp lime zest (about 1 lime)
1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced fine
1 jalapeño stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 garlic clove , minced
1/4 cup olive oil
4 scallions , sliced thin
1 cup cherry tomatoes , quartered
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1 ripe avocado, pitted and finely
Ground black pepper

Peel shrimp, devein, and slice each shrimp in half lengthwise using a paring knife.

Stir the lime zest, lime juice, lemon juice, bell pepper, jalapeño, garlic, and 1/2 tsp salt together in a medium bowl. Gently stir in the shrimp, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until the seafood is firm, opaque, and appears cooked, 45 to 60 minutes, stirring halfway through the marinating time.

Place the mixture in a fine-mesh strainer, leaving it a little wet, then return to the bowl. Gently stir in the oil, scallions, tomatoes, cilantro, and sugar followed by the avocado. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

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Posted in: Dine In

Shop the Sale: Blue Diamond Almonds

Already the most popular nut in the U.S., the almond has gotten a lot of attention lately. Almonds keep showing up on the list of “superfoods”, recommended by dietitians and doctors because they pack a lot of nutritional punch per calorie.

The argument that almonds are a “superfood” is pretty compelling:

  • Almonds are rich in monounsaturated fat – the kind we’re supposed to be eating.
  • Studies have shown that eating them regularly can help reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your cholesterol.
  • Almonds can help you lose weight! Some research shows that because almonds contain a balance of protein, fat and fiber, eating them helps you feel full and satisfied, leading you to reduce food intake during the rest of your day.
  • They’re gluten-free.
  • They’re often tolerated by individuals who are allergic to peanuts (which are actually a legume, not a tree nut.)
  • Ounce for ounce, almonds have more protein, fiber, calcium and Vitamin E than any other nut.

This week is a great time to get into the almond habit: Blue Diamond almonds, a trusted brand for more than 100 years, are on sale at Brookshire’s.

My favorite way to eat almonds is just right out of the container. But you can also toss a few into your morning yogurt or oatmeal; use flavored or salted ones to add crunch to a salad; add a few for crunch into tuna or chicken salad; or substitute them for other types of nuts in your favorite cookie or dessert recipe.

Blue Diamond has also developed several flavored almond varieties, both savory and sweet. I find these make a great, mid-afternoon snack that’s much healthier than heading to the vending machine for a bag of chips.

Or try this recipe, courtesy Blue Diamond, which adds even more flavor, but very little extra fat, to plain almonds.

Roasted Almonds with Coriander, Chili and Olive Oil 

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups blanched almonds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 to 3 small dried red chili peppers
2 generous pinches of sea salt

Add the olive oil and almonds to a hot saute pan. Saute and toast the almonds until golden brown, shaking the pan regularly to color them evenly and accentuate their nutty flavor. Crumble in the coriander and chili to taste, and add the sea salt. Toss over and serve hot on a large plate.

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Posted in: Shop the Sale

Healthy Living: Staying hydrated

If you grew up hearing you needed to drink 6-8 glasses of water every day to stay healthy, you may have been surprised to hear recent news reports that this advice might be,  well, all wet.

Several studies over the last several years, including a widely reported report from a British medical journal this summer, have come up with new recommendations. The gist of it: There’s no magic number when it comes to water. You just need to drink enough liquids to avoid being thirsty.

That said – in a broiling hot summer like we’ve been enduring this year, it’s good advice to make sure you’re ingesting enough cool, clear water, to make up for what you naturally lose during the day.  This is especially important if you work outdoors;  exercise outside (even in the morning or evening); if you are pregnant or nursing; or if you are taking medications that lead to dehydration.

Beverages such as tea, coffee, milk or juice can make up part of your daily beverage allotment. But plain water is still the best, because it doesn’t add fat, sugar or calories to your daily diet.

If you don’t particularly like the taste of water, or you just forget to make yourself drink, here are simple ways to keep up your water intake.

  • Keep a water bottle at your desk, in your car, and in your gym bag, so you’re not tempted to always down a soft drink when thirst strikes.
  • Try sparkling water (with no sugar or sodium added) instead of plain tap or bottled water. Look for plain sparkling water, or those that have the added flavor of lime, grapefruit, lemon or other citrus flavors, without added sugar.
  • Add lemon or lime slices for a splash of flavor with no calories. You can also add a few slices of cucumber, or even a couple of sprigs of fresh mint.
  • Eat foods with high water content, like watermelon, cucumber, lettuce and grapefruit. Each of these foods are more than 90 percent water.
  • Try one of the powdered mixes that can be added to a bottle of water  for an instant, refreshing fruit-flavored beverage. Just be careful if you’re watching your weight; some of these do contain added sugar and calories.
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Posted in: Healthy Living

Product talk: Delicious “donut” peaches

A doughnut peach isn’t much to look at, at least compared to a beautifully shaped, traditional peach. A doughnut peach is small, flat and kind of squashed, almost like it got stuck under the wheels of a grocery buggy.

But once you try one, you’ll understand why your mother always told you to never judge a book by its cover.  Doughnut peaches are really delicious – sweeter and often juicier than most regular, full-sized peaches, with a slightly different flavor that some people think tastes like almonds.

Doughnut peaches – which are also called saucer peaches, Saturn peaches and UFO peaches by some growers – are not some weird, recently developed hybrid. They’re an actual peach variety that has been grown for centuries in China, and was first planted in the United States more than 100 years ago. It’s only been a few years, however, that doughnut peaches were rediscovered by U.S. growers, and have been widely available in supermarkets here.

They’re getting more popular fast, though, and as a peach fan, I understand why.  Because they’re small and fit nicely in the palm of your hand, they’re easier, and less messy, to eat than a regular peach. (Kids especially seem to like them, because of their cute, petite size.  And the name. Who doesn’t want to eat something called “donut”?)

Doughnut peaches are also freestone, meaning  the small  pit doesn’t cling to the flesh of the peach. Again, that makes it easier, and less messy, to eat. The skin has just a thin layer of fuzz,  so if you’re one of those who don’t like the fuzzy skin of regular peaches, you may happily eat this one without peeling it.

Finally, doughnut peaches also have a slightly later growing season than many other varieties. They’re at peak freshness now and into the fall.

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Posted in: Product Talk

Dine-In: Homemade pimento cheese

It always strikes me as a little funny when the rest of the world discovers food that those of us in the South have been eating all along.

Like pimento cheese.

Growing up in Texas, my grandma, like many others, made it for all occasions. In the South, it’s hard to find a church supper, a family potluck or a tearoom menu where it’s NOT among the offerings. But recently, pimento cheese has made it to the big time. It was listed as one of the trendy foods of 2011 by Bon Appetit magazine. And it’s been showing up on restaurant menus, even those not in the South, often dressed up with new ingredients like chipotles or feta cheese.

Me, I’m a traditionalist. I like the classic version we make in many of our in-store delis. And I like this basic recipe, because it’s simple, fresh, and reminds me of the kind my grandma made.

Pimento Cheese Spread

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup shredded Mozzarella
1/2 to 3/4 cup good-quality mayonnaise (I prefer Hellman’s or Duke’s brands)
1/2 teaspoon  garlic powder
1 teaspoon sugar
4-ounce jar diced pimentos, drained

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

Note: All ingredients can be adjusted to taste, add more or less mayo to adjust creaminess and or spreadability.

Variation: Hot Pimento Cheese Spread. Add two or three pickled jalapenos, finely minced, for a spicy kick.

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Posted in: Dine In

Family Matters: A more natural dog food

The biggest trend in pet food the past couple of years has been the rise of natural, healthier foods _more meat that pets need, fewer fillers and artificial ingredients that they don’t.  But until recently, many of these ultra-premium pet foods came from newer, smaller, sometimes untested companies, and were often hard to find in your favorite stores.

That’s why we are happy to announce we’re now carrying a new, natural pet food, from a company you probably already know and trust: Purina.

The longtime pet food leader has just introduced Purina One Beyond, a high-quality dry kibble that has no fillers and no artificial preservatives.

The first ingredient? Real meat. (That means no meat byproducts.) Each recipe also includes vitamins, minerals, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables, like spinach, carrots and apples, to provide all-natural nutrients to keep your pet their healthiest.

There are two adult dog flavors, one with chicken and whole oatmeal, and the other with lamb and whole barley. Purina One Beyond also offers two recipes for adult cats: salmon and whole brown rice, and chicken and whole oatmeal.

Beyond the emphasis on good nutrition, Purina is committed to sustainability with this new product. The manufacturing facilities are committed to responsible processes; the Denver facility, for instance, uses some solar power. The pet food comes in packages made from 92 percent renewable materials, printed entirely with vegetable-based soy inks, which are also more renewable than other inks.

The brand has also made a commitment to help homeless or abandoned pets. Last year, the Purina ONE brand donated more than a million pounds of food to U.S. animal shelters.

Purina One Beyond is a natural extension of the Purina One line, which includes more than a dozen canned foods, dry formulas and treats for dogs, and several other dry food recipes for cats. Look in the pet-food aisle of your neighborhood store to  see which one might best suit the four-legged members of your family.

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Posted in: Family Matters

Shop the Sale: Back to School specials

Back to School specialsSummer seems to slip by faster every year. I don’t know about you, but it feels like we were just attending graduation and field day, and now the calendar says it’s almost time for school to start again.

If you’re like me, and you’re shocked to see the start of a new school year staring you in the face,  I have good news: We’ve got your back, with all kinds of Back to School items on sale starting today at your neighborhood Brookshire’s.

Stock up for lunches: Scrambling to put together lunches every morning? Not if you plan ahead and stock up on grab-and-go items that kids love. On sale this week are lots of lunchbox staples, including Food Club individual-size applesauce, Oscar Mayer Lunchables, Bumblebee tuna, KoolAid Bursts, Jell-o pudding snacks, Nabisco snack packs, and Kraft string cheese.

School supplies:  You can never have too many spiral notebooks, so we’ve got them for a real steal. While you’re in the school aisle, check out our great prices on other classroom essentials like pens, pencils, crayons, and glue.

One-stop shop:  To make it easier on you, many of our stores have brought in lots of other school must-haves at special prices, including lunchboxes and backpacks. That way, you can get your back-to-school shopping done in one fell swoop _ and get back to enjoying what’s left of your summer.

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Posted in: Shop the Sale

Peaches and Cream Tart

Peaches and Cream Tart
Prep Time: 25 minutes, plus chilling
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 8


1 1/4 cups Food Club All-Purpose Flour
1 Tbs Food Club Light Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Food Club Salt
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup cold water

2 oz Food Club Fat Free Cream Cheese
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp Food Club Vanilla Extract
2 Tbs Food Club Honey
1 to 2 peaches, sliced
1/4 tsp Food Club Ground Cinnamon

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, brown sugar and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture. Slowly add water while stirring with a fork. Roll dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill dough for 1 hour.

In a medium bowl whisk cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth. Add yogurt, vanilla and honey; blend well.

Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll chilled dough out into a circle and place on baking sheet. Spread cream mixture over center of the dough about 2 inches away from the edge. Place sliced peaches on cream mixture. Fold sides on dough over to make a crust. Sprinkle cinnamon over tart. Bake tart 35 to 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 229, Fat: 14 g (9 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 39 mg, Sodium: 180 mg, Carbohydrates: 22 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 3g

Shrimp with Rosemary Skewers

Grilling Goodness!

Shrimp with Rosemary Skewers

6 (6-8 inch) Rosemary sprigs
12 Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined (keep tails on)
2 teaspoon Olive Oil
3/4 teaspoon Seasoned Salt
3/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder with Parsley

Remove rosemary leave to within 2 inches of the tip.  Soak sprigs in water for 4 hours.  Remove sprigs from water.   Skewer 2 shrimp per sprig.  Brush each side of shrimp with oil and sprinkle with Seasoned Salt and Garlic Powder with Parsley.  Grill over medium-high heat, until shrimp turn opaquie and pink about 2 to 4 minutes.  Turn once during grill time.

Recommended wine pairing:  Chardonnay, Moscato or Sweet Red

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

Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.

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Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.

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