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Shop the Sale: Eckrich Smoked Sausage Casserole

I don’t know about you, but I loved every minute of the Thanksgiving holiday.

I also know that I’m done with turkey and leftovers, at least until Christmas rolls around.

So when planning my menus this week, I was looking for something that didn’t involve, well, turkey.

I was glad to see Brookshire’s has Eckrich smoked sausage on sale. I love sausage of any kind and when you combine sausage with pasta and cheese, I’m in heaven. This is a great dinner on a cool fall night.

Cheesy Smoked Sausage Casserole
Serves 6

2 cups uncooked penne pasta
1 lb smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
1 1/2 cups cheddar french-fried onions, divided
1 (4 oz) cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup frozen peas

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown sausage over medium heat for 5 minutes; drain. In a large bowl, combine milk and soup. Stir in 1/2 cup onions, 1/2 cup cheese, peas and sausage. Drain pasta; stir into sausage mixture.

Transfer to a greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Cover and bake at 375° F for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with remaining onions and cheese. Bake, uncovered, 3-5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 525, Calories from Fat: 264,Total Fat: 29 g, Cholesterol: 117 mg, Sodium: 1072 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 36 g, Dietary Fiber: 2 g, Sugars: 4 g,Protein: 28 g

Healthy Living: Salmon Florentine

It’s fairly common knowledge now that salmon is good for you. In fact, salmon is considered a “superfood” which simply means it is “super” healthy for your body in one way or another. Most superfoods help ward off heart disease or cancer, lower your cholesterol and lots more.  Superfoods include blueberries, walnuts, dark chocolate and of course, salmon.

Salmon is rich in the essential fatty acid, omega-3s, which helps to lower heart disease risk, prevent arthritis, and may possibly help with neurological function and memory loss. Most experts recommend 2 to 3 servings of foods rich in omega-3s each week.

You’ll be hooked on the delicious taste of salmon and spinach in our healthy Salmon Florentine, not to mention it provides a hefty 8 grams of heart-protective polyunsaturated fats.

Salmon Florentine
Serves 4

1Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 tsp minced garlic
2 (10 oz) pkg frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
4 (6 oz) skinless salmon fillets, patted dry

Heat oven to 350° F. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes more. Remove from heat, and let cool 15 minutes. Then add ricotta cheese and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pack 1/2 cup spinach mixture on top of each fillet, covering to the edges. Place fillets on a rimmed baking sheet or in a glass baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake until cooked through,  about 15 minutes. 

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 334, Fat: 14 g, Carbohydrates: 11 g, Fiber: 4, Protein 43 g

Product Talk: Brookshire’s Bacon

Jalapeño Popper Chicken I’ve tried a lot of bacon in my day (Who hasn’t? Just admit it!) and hands down, Brookshire’s brand original sliced,  hickory smoked is my favorite.

It crisps nicely when cooked, either in the microwave or on the stovetop, it’s not too salty, it’s full of hickory flavor and it doesn’t tend to burn.

I could probably write 97,351 blog posts using bacon, but this is one I made last week and my family has already asked for it again.

It combines the flavor of a jalapeño popper with chicken and, of course, bacon. The traditional jalapeño “popper” is a deep-fried, breaded jalapeño stuffed with cream cheese. This take on it makes a mouthwatering meal that would be great for a family dinner or  a special occasion.

Jalapeño Popper Chicken
Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/3-inch
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz cheddar cheese
2 jalapeño peppers, diced
1 Tbs hot sauce
12 strips Brookshire’s Original Sliced, Hickory Smoked Bacon

Pound chicken breasts until they are about 1/3-inch thick.  Soften cream cheese. Add cheddar, jalapeño and hot sauce. Mix well.

Place about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese mixture on one end of chicken. Roll chicken around filling. Wrap chicken with three slices of bacon, secure with a toothpick.

Bake at 400° F for 25 to 30 minutes (I had to finish mine under the broiler to “crisp” the bacon).

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 614, Calories from Fat: 366 g, Total Fat: 41 g,Saturated Fat: 20 g, Cholesterol: 213 mg, Sodium: 1069 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 2 g, Sugars: 1 g, Protein: 58 g

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

Dine-In: Mexican Lasagna

Mexican LasagnaI’m the mother of boys. Hungry ones. Ones that go from a state of  “I’m starving to death” to “I’m stuffed” and back to “I’m starved” all in less than an hour. This happens 24 times a day, it seems!

In the afternoons after sports practices, I have to have huge snacks ready when they walk through the door – just to tide them over long enough to shower and come to the table for the real meal I’ve been fixing as fast as I can after work.

These “snacks” are usually what I would consider enough food to last me two days!

Right now we are in between football and baseball seasons, so Friday nights are back at home as much as we can. I love this time together, winding down from busy work and school days and yet not jumping headfirst into the crazy weekend that always lies ahead.

I’ve figured out that if I can make the house smell good when they walk in, I have a very good chance of keeping them home just a bit longer before heading out with their friends to wander the neighborhood – or now that my older son is driving, I’m not sure exactly all the stops he makes before his curfew hits! 

This recipe for Mexican Lasagna has nothing Italian about it really, but the corn tortillas act as the pasta layers. It’s easy, filling and can be made ahead and  just baked right before serving. I just serve it with a green salad and dinner is done! 


Mexican Lasagna
Serves 8

1 lb. ground beef
1 (1.25 oz) pkg taco seasoning
1 cup water
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 cup salsa
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can kernel corn, drained
1 (4 oz) can sliced black olives, drained
1 (4 oz) can diced mild green chiles, drained
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375° F. Brown meat; add taco seasoning and water. Cook until thickened. Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place 6 tortillas in pan, overlapping as needed to fit. Mix salsa and tomato sauce; set aside. Top tortillas with half of the meat, corn, olives and chiles. Pour half of salsa mixture over this, and sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Repeat layers, finishing with cheese. Bake 30 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 381, Fat: 16 g, Sodium: 737 mg, Carbohydrates: 33 g, Protein: 29 g

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

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In

Family Matters: Apple and Eve Fruitables

It’s that time of the year again.

No, I’m not talking about Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah; I’m talking about ARD time for our family.

ARD is the acronym given by state’s education association for an “Admission, Review or Dismissal” meeting. If you have a child in special education, as I do, you have an annual (at least!) ARD meeting to check on your child’s progress, review his goals and set new ones for the year, assess his needs and put in place anything that needs to be changed in his education plan. My son’s team attends his ARD meetings; his father and I are present, as is his homeroom teacher, the school principal, the diagnostician, his occupational therapist and the school resource representative. ARD meetings can be stressful, but luckily ours this year was smooth sailing.

When my older son, Curt, was diagnosed with autism at age 2 1/2, we didn’t know what the future would hold for the little boy with the big brown eyes who didn’t speak, but who loved lights, ceiling fans and anything else that spun or sparkled.

Today, those brown eyes are even bigger and he talks a blue streak. He still has an affinity for spinning objects, but he can also tell you any fact you want to know about the Titanic, is developing a Power Point presentation for this fifth grade teacher about division and just earned his yellow belt in karate.

I don’t know what caused his autism and this is not the platform for the varied theories on the topic. I do know, however, that when he was diagnosed with a disability (or different ability, as I like to think of it) then my mind kicked into overdrive trying to think of ways to make all other aspects of his life healthier and happier.

For a long time, Curt was on the GFCF diet – gluten free and casein free. While many children on the autism spectrum benefit from this diet, we didn’t see any significant change in Curt during the time he was on the diet.  What the diet did do, however, was emphasize the importance of whole foods, fruits and vegetables, not only in his diet, but in the eating regime of the entire family.

As Curt did not like hot foods, but loved cold ones, we ended up making a lot of homemade popsicles when he was younger (and still today!).

Apple and Eve Fruitables have one full serving of the USRDA of fruits and vegetables, and 1/3 less sugar, to boot.

In a Popsicle mold, pour your favorite flavor to fill halfway. We like Strawberry-Kiwi. Freeze until set. Fill the other half with another flavor, like Apple Harvest. Freeze until set and enjoy! These treats are pretty to look at and parents can rest assured that their kid – any kid – is getting some of the nutrients they need.

Shop the Sale: Turkey Cassoulet

I think I look forward to Thanksgiving leftovers as much as I look forward to the Thanksgiving dinner itself. I know a lot of you agree with me judging by the number of “doggie bags” I pack up for my guests to take home after the main event on Thursday.

One of my favorite ways to use leftover Thanksgiving turkey is in a cassoulet recipe my mom makes. It’s so easy to throw together the day after Thanksgiving (or the weekend after) and can feed any lingering house guests or visiting family. The smell of this rich, savory dish slow cooking is almost as good as the bird itself.

Cassoulet with White Beans, Sausage & Turkey
Serves 6

2 links sausage, cut into rounds
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
6 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14.5 oz) can Great Northern beans (or similar white beans)
4 oz roasted turkey, chopped (dark meat is best)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 Tbs lemon zest
1 Tbs olive oil

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Place a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook through. Remove the sausage, leaving the drippings in the pan. Add the garlic and onion and cook in the sausage drippings until they begin to soften — about 5 minutes. Add the carrot, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, rosemary, thyme and pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally to help break down the tomatoes, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the beans.

Spoon half of the tomato and bean mixture into a 3-quart casserole dish or Dutch oven. Scatter the turkey and sausage over it, then top with the remaining beans. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and lemon zest over the top, then drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 60 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and the bread crumbs have browned (if necessary, you can put it under the broiler for 5 minutes at the end to help brown the bread crumbs). Let sit for 15 minutes prior to serving.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 346, Calories from Fat: 51, Cholesterol: 7 mg, Sodium: 166 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 57 g, Dietary Fiber: 16 g, Sugars: 8 g, Protein: 19 g

Healthy Living: Orange and Kiwi Ambrosia

Orange you glad you read this blog today?

Bad puns from childhood aside, I’ve been a little obsessed with oranges lately.

Not only are they bursting into season with their juicy deliciousness, but they’re really good for you too. Oranges are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also a good source of thiamin, folate and potassium, and a very good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C. In fact, one orange supplies 160 percent of the US recommended daily allowance for vitamin C.

So maybe it’s not an apple a day that keeps the doctor away!

Orange Kiwi Ambrosia
Serves 4

4 oranges, peeled, cut in cartwheel slices
1 Kiwi (or banana), peeled, thinly sliced
1/2 orange, grated zest
1 orange, juiced
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup whole almonds
2 Tbs shredded coconut, toasted

In bowl, arrange orange and kiwi slices. Combine orange zest, juice and juice. Pour over fruit mixture, chill. Spoon onto individual dessert dishes, sprinkle with almonds and coconut.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 68 g,Calories from Fat: 14 g,Total Fat: 2 g,Cholesterol: 0 mg,Sodium: 1 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 14 g,Dietary Fiber: 2 g,Sugars: 10 g,Protein: 1 g

Product Talk: Cranberries

Jalapeno Cranberry SalsaIt’s cranberry season, and it’s time to try something new with these deliciously healthy berries! Most of us stick to our tried-and-true cranberry sauces and relishes for holiday meals, but this delicious Jalapeno Cranberry Salsa combines some of the best flavors I know to make a wonderful chunky salsa. You could easily use it as the relish for your turkey and dressing too!

And if you want to feel even better about adding real cranberries to your diet, scientific research shows that cranberries and cranberry products contain significant amounts of antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may help protect against heart disease, cancer and other diseases.


Jalapeno Cranberry Salsa
Makes 8 appetizer servings

3 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 medium red onion, quartered
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and halved (use less for milder flavor)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
Dash kosher salt

Place all ingredients in food processor. Pulse 8 times, until coarsely chopped. Scrape sides of bowl midway through pulses. Cover and chill at least 8 hours. Tastes great served with sweet potato chips!

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 86, Total Fat: 0 g, Sodium 114 mg, Carbohydrates 23 g, Protein: 0 g

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Ask Leigh

Questions:   Do you have a foolproof method for roasting vegetables?

Answers:   Cool weather is the perfect time to try your hand at roasting vegetables. Winter  produce – such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, onions and carrots – are perfect for roasting in the oven. The high temperature intensifies the flavors  and sweetness.  Roasting is a great seasonal alternative to steaming your side dishes.  First of all, you have to use high, dry heat, so preheat your oven to 450°F. Make sure it is preheated all the way before you put the vegetables in the oven or they won’t turn out the way you expect.

Another key step is to make sure your vegetables are all relatively the same size so they will cook evenly. And I always coat my vegetables lightly with olive oil, but I also have friends that use an olive-oil nonstick cooking spray to save a few calories. This works as well.

Make sure you spread the veggies out on a cookie sheet in one layer. You don’t want to overcrowd them or they won’t caramelize and brown properly.

Roast for 20 minutes and check with a fork for tenderness. Toss veggies carefully and continue roasting up to 45 minutes depending on desired doneness. Sprinkle with kosher salt if you want. Delicious and works with all kinds of vegetables – even broccoli!

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Posted in: Cooking, Produce

Dine-In: Popcorn with Brown Butter and Parmesan

Popcorn with Brown Butter and ParmesanI’ve written before about how, growing up, Friday nights meant pizza night at my house.
Well, pizza was followed by popcorn.

You see, in my house growing up, and pretty much in my house now, popcorn is considered a food group. I remember as a child, listening to the sounds of my mother popping popcorn on the stove, as her treat, long after us kids had gone to bed.  The clank of the “special” popcorn pot touching down on the stove coils reverberates in my memory, almost as loudly as the sizzle of that first kernel hitting the oil to test to see if it was hot enough. I used to love the cacophony of the popping kernels as they started out slowly, then built speed and rolled into a rollicking crescendo as they burst from under the pot lid and spilled out into the bowl. Then there was the smell….ahhhhh…why is there no popcorn scented Scentsy cube?

On Friday nights, the five of us kids got to partake in a “popcorn party.” Mom just doused our portions with a little salt and we were happy as clams. I still use only a tiny bit of salt on my popcorn if I’m making it for myself. If I’m making it for friends, however, because we often get together for a fire and fellowship at my house on Friday nights, I jazz it up a bit.

Popcorn with Brown Butter and Parmesan
Serves 4

1 (3.5 oz) pkg microwave popcorn or 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
3 Tbs  unsalted butter
3 Tbs  grated parmesan
1/4 tsp kosher salt, to taste

Pop the popcorn according to the package directions.
Brown the butter: Melt the butter in a skillet or small saucepan over medium heat. Swirl or stir the butter with a wooden spoon as it starts to foam and sputter. Remove the butter from the heat as soon as it begins to turn golden brown and smells nutty, about 1 minute.
Drizzle over the popcorn. Sprinkle with the parmesan and 1/4 teaspoon salt and toss well.

Nutritional Information: Calories 199; Calories From Fat 105; Fat 12 g; Cholesterol 26 mg ; Sodium 372 mg; Protein 5 g ; Carbohydrate 19 g; Sugar 0 g; Fiber 4 g; Iron 1 mg; Calcium 80 mg

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

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In

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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.

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