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Dine-In: Buffalo Grilled Shrimp with Blue Cheese Dip


Friday nights are the perfect night for what I like to call “fun food.” There’s just something about the change from the work week to the weekend that makes me want to try new recipes I wouldn’t ordinarily think of on a Tuesday night when I am making large quantities of spaghetti for the teenage appetites in my home.

Some Friday nights, I enjoy making several appetizers instead of one big main meal and side dishes. These “small plates” are a fun way to experiment in the kitchen and ease into the weekend. It’s also a great way to entertain casually. People are free to snack and talk with one another without a formal table setting.

This recipe for Buffalo Grilled Shrimp with Blue Cheese Dip is just a little twist on the traditional “hot wing” recipe. I’m not a big chicken wing fan, but I do enjoy the flavor of this buttery buffalo sauce paired with cool, tangy blue cheese.

Enjoy!

Buffalo Grilled Shrimp with Blue Cheese Dip

Ingredients:

Dip:
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Shrimp:
18 large or jumbo-sized shrimp
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot or Tabasco

Directions:
For the dip, stir together all the ingredients. Chill until ready to use, up to 8 hours.

For the shrimp, toss shrimp with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on medium-high heat, turning once, until cooked through (about 8 minutes). Meanwhile, combine butter and hot sauce in a large bowl. Add grilled shrimp and toss well. Serve with blue cheese dip. Serves 6 as an appetizer or 4 as the main course.

Nutritional Information: Calories per Appetizer Serving: 207, Fat: 19.7g (10.1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 69mg, Sodium: 610 mg, Carbohydrates: 1.5 g,
Protein: 6.6 g



Family Matters: For the Birds


My mom loves birds (except blue jays, but that’s an entirely different story).  Her backyard, resplendent with her flowers and fragrant with her vegetable garden, is also home to dozens of species of feathered friends. She catalogs them with a field guide to birds she keeps handy in her sunroom, which faces the yard on the back of my parents’ home. The well-thumbed-through book sits right next to the binoculars, for a better look at the birds, and the pellet gun.

Oops. Did I say that out loud? I can neither confirm nor deny that there MIGHT be a pellet gun in her sunroom.  Not to hurt the birds, mind you, but to scare off the squirrels which are conniving and constantly finding their way into her bird feeders. She doesn’t hurt the squirrels either, just scares them a bit (not that it works long term, but it deters them for a few minutes, at least.)

All that aside, my mom must have a half dozen different varieties of bird feeders (she won’t stop until she finds one that is truly squirrel-proof). My favorite was always the hummingbird feeders because I am in awe of those amazing birds. I could sit for hours in my mom’s sunroom, and more recently on my own back porch, watching the dance of the hummingbirds as they swoop in to eat, defend their territory and execute age-old mating rituals with each other.

The hummingbird feeders on my back porch are constantly abuzz with activity. The food is super easy and super-inexpensive to make. Store bought hummingbird food and mixes often contain red dye, because hummingbirds are attracted to the color red.

Don’t use it.

It can be harmful to the birds. If the feeder itself doesn’t already contain the color red, then tie a red ribbon onto it. That’ll do the trick without harming the birds.

Homemade Hummingbird Food

Ingredients:
1 cup Food Club sugar
4 cups water

Directions:
This recipe is always in a 1:4 part ratio so make as much as you’d like at a time. You can store the leftovers in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Using a medium sauce pan, bring water to a boil. Slowly add in the sugar, stirring constantly. Once the sugar is added remove the boiler from the heat and continue to stir until the sugar is well blended.

Allow it to cool completely and add to your hummingbird feeder.

Another fun way to feed the birds and let your children in on the action is to make homemade bird feeders. We’ve all coated pine cones with peanut butter and birdseed, but I don’t have any pinecones in my yard. So my boys and I improvised and it works just as well.

Homemade Bird Feeders

1 empty cardboard toilet paper roll
Peanut Butter
Valu-Time bulk birdseed

Cover toilet paper roll in peanut butter. Roll in birdseed. Slip over a branch outside and watch the birds flock to their new feeder.



Shop the Sale: Everyday Roast


As a child, I’d find every excuse in the book to wiggle out of the house on Sunday afternoons and find my way into a friend’s house down the street. All because it smelled SO good. Every Sunday morning her mom would put a roast in the slow cooker so the house was fragrant with rich, savory smells when they arrived home from church. On Sunday afternoons, they’d sit down to their slow-roasted masterpiece. If I timed it right, I’d be lucky enough to be invited.

This week, Brookshire’s has eye of round roasts on sale. Eye of round is a perfect cut for braising, stewing or simmering – in other words, this lean cut is almost custom-made for a slow cooker.  But you don’t have to wait for Sunday to enjoy this complete meal (potatoes and tomatoes are on sale, too!), it would be good for any day of the week. This roast is quick, easy, won’t heat up your kitchen and, if you’re lucky, there will be enough for leftover sandwiches.

Everyday Roast
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 5-lb Eye of Round roast
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large white onion, chopped
3 Vine-clustered or red hothouse tomatoes, chopped
1 cup beef broth
2 Tbs fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper

Directions:
Pat roast dry. Rub liberally with salt and pepper. Place into slow cooker. Arrange potatoes, carrots, onion and tomatoes around the roast. Sprinkle with rosemary. Pour beef broth over the roast and vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Nutritional Information: Calories 792; Calories from Fat 146; Total Fat 16.3g; Cholesterol 208mg; Sodium 307mg; Total Carbohydrates 39.5g; Dietary Fiber 5.6g; Sugars 5.7g; Protein 116.5g.



Healthy Living: Sunscreen


This blog is going to be a little bit like preaching to the choir, because I know ALL of you wear sunscreen on a regular basis.

Right? Don’t you? Oh yes, me too.

That’s why I spent Saturday night slathered with aloe under cool compresses of wet washcloths.

Yes, I’m blushing, but you can’t tell underneath my sunburn.

I know better than to skimp on sunscreen. I know you should apply about 2 TBS all over your body every two hours out in the hot sunshine. I know to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside and I know to reapply more often if I’m swimming. I know not to neglect my lips, which can suffer from skin cancer as well.

But for whatever reason Saturday, I forgot. Or wasn’t diligent. My boys stayed sunburn-free, thankfully. I slather them up to such excess they can still scrape a layer of sunscreen off their skin days later. But they never get sunburned, so that’s OK with me. I’m going to blame the exhilaration of spending the day at the lake for my negligence. Let’s see if that excuse holds up when I’m having skin cancer removed from my shoulder in the future.

Let’s start with some facts about skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation:

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.  More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually.
  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
  • Over the past 31 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
  • About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

Now what do we do about all that?

WEAR SUNSCREEN! WEAR SUNSCREEN! WEAR SUNSCREEN!

Brookshire’s sells sunscreens from SPF 4 to SPF 70 in all forms – lotions, gels, sprays, sticks (great for faces because they don’t drip and run into the eyes). Sunscreen comes in so many handy forms (non-allergenic, non-scented, coconut scented, sport, baby, face-only) that there’s no excuse for not using it. We SHOULD use sunscreen every day, all year long. Don’t think you can get away with skipping sunscreen on an overcast day; clouds don’t block ultraviolet rays.

To protect yourself from sunburn, early skin aging and skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends a sunscreen that offers:

  • Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays).
  • Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or greater.
  • Water resistance

Also do as I say, not as I DID (I won’t be making that mistake again). Apply liberally, at least every two hours. Use about two ounces a time. Apply BEFORE going outside. If you don’t have someone to help you cover those hard-to-reach spots, use a spray. Don’t forget a lip product that contains a broad spectrum SPF. If at all possible, wear protective clothing – hats with a broad brim, sunglasses, lightweight clothing that covers. Don’t miss your ears or the tops of your feet (yep, guilty of that as well).

But if you DO miss a spot, Brookshire’s sells aloe vera gel that is just heavenly applied straight out of the refrigerator!

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Product Talk: Naturally Nutritious Pistachios


Pistachios are addictive, but the good news is that among nuts, pistachios are one of the most nutritious. A one-ounce serving of pistachios, gives you a variety of different vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients. Pistachios are an excellent source of vitamin B6, potassium and fiber. But if you are like me, I have a hard time stopping once I get started popping those little nuts into my mouth. 

At 170-calories a serving, if I am not careful I might have several servings before realizing what I’ve eaten! This past weekend, I tried to think of some new ways to enjoy my cravings for pistachios while making sure I don’t eat the whole bag! This delicious recipe for Chicken with Pistachio Pesto Pasta uses one cup of pistachios, spreading out the calories and fat without sacrificing any flavor. It’s different and perfect served warm…and tasted equally as good when I ate it cold straight from the fridge late one night when I needed a bedtime snack.  It would also be great for your summer picnic table. 

Enjoy!

Chicken with Pistachio Pesto Pasta
Serves 4-6

For the pesto:

Ingredients:
1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 cup crushed pistachios
1/2 cup olive oil
10 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup packed basil leaves
1/4 cup packed parsley leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

For the chicken and pasta:

Ingredients:
16 oz uncooked bowtie pasta
1 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped

Directions:
For the pesto, combine Parmesan cheese, pistachios, olive oil, garlic, basil, parsley, salt and pepper in a food processor and process to a thick paste. Set aside ½ cup of the pesto for this recipe and freeze the rest for future use.

For the chicken and pasta, cook bowtie according to package directions, and drain. Combine olive oil, vinegar and garlic salt in a skillet. Add chicken and cook until cooked through and no longer pink.

Combine pasta and chicken in a large serving bowl. Add pesto and toss to coat well. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 790, Fat: 41.6 g (8.4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 517 mg, Carbohydrates: 64.8 g, Fiber: 5.2 g, Protein: 42.6 g



Dine-In: Sausage-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin


Fridays are the gateway to the weekend and, to me, the perfect time to celebrate a few days off with a festive meal. I love the feeling of Friday nights – the anticipation of soaking up the sun on Saturday, enjoying time with friends, resisting the hustle and bustle of the work day and being able to play epic games of Battleship or Clue with my two boys.

I also love weekends because they give me time to try new recipes and I don’t have to fight crowds at local eateries.

I originally saw something like this recipe posted on Facebook. It caught my attention because it had all my favorite words in it: “bacon,” “sausage” and “pork.” Go ahead, admit it – those words caught your attention too. Initially, I didn’t even READ the recipe my Facebook friend linked to and as it turns out, this recipe I’ve developed from those key words is vastly different than the version of pork paradise he posted.  His version, however, was cooked in a smoker. I don’t have a smoker at home, but the addition of a little liquid smoke in the stuffing plus slow-roasting the pork in the oven produced just as good of a result.

Sausage-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, or, Heaven On A Plate
Cooking time: One hour, 5 minutes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Serves 10

Ingredients:
1 (5 lb) pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
1 lb reduced-fat bulk pork sausage
1/2 large white onion, diced
3/4 lb center-cut bacon
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tbs liquid smoke
2 Tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt and pepper
Kitchen twine

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 F.

In a cast iron skillet or skillet with an oven-proof handle, brown bulk sausage with onion until sausage is cooked through and onion is translucent.  Transfer from skillet into a large bowl. Mix with panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper. Add beaten egg and liquid smoke. Mixture should be slightly damp.

Cut a pocket three-quarters of the way through the pork tenderloin, lengthwise.  Pack sausage stuffing into the pocket.

Place stuffed tenderloin back into the skillet.

Bind with three pieces of kitchen twine.

Using almost the entire pound of bacon, criss cross slices in an alternating pattern, covering the top of the stuffed pork tenderloin, tucking ends underneath.

Cover.

Roast at 325 F for an hour, or until internal temperature of the pork reaches 145 F.

Remove cover, turn broiler to high and brown the bacon, about 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. 

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 713, Fat: 30 g (10.6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 250 mg, Sodium: 600 mg, Carbohydrates: 16.2 g, Fiber: 1.1 g, Protein: 88.6 g

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



Family Matters: Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie


Sometimes the hardest part of making time for a family dinner is not just finding the time, but also selecting a good recipe everyone will enjoy! If your children are anything like mine, then one usually does NOT want what the other wants, even if it’s just the general principle of disagreeing because they are brothers! If one son wants hamburgers, then I can bet you that the other one will often suddenly have an aversion to all things ground beef.

But I have had good luck with this super-easy Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie recipe a friend gave to me at a football game a few years ago (Yes I was trading recipes during the game). Several of us were discussing needing new ideas for the family weeknight dinner table, and this one was easy enough that I could remember it and make it the next night at our house. It was a big hit with everyone!

It’s the perfect recipe when you have left over cooked chicken, maybe from a rotisserie you’ve purchased at Brookshire’s, or if you’ve had time to bake chicken breasts ahead of time and are looking for new ways to serve them.

The refrigerated biscuit topping make this the all-time easiest way to make pot pie…it’s a great recipe for your kids to jump in and help you too, even if it’s simply popping the biscuit can open and stacking the dough on the pot pie.

All you need to complete the meal is “something green” as my mother used to always say. For our dinner plates to be complete, Mama made sure green beans, broccoli, asparagus, peas or a tossed salad was offered to us and “strongly encouraged” to enjoy! She thankfully helped us form good eating habits, and “something green” has now found its way to my sons’ plates every day too.

Enjoy!

Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie

Ingredients:
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs flour
1/4 cup each carrots, yellow onions and celery (small diced)
1 cup chicken stock
1 lb shredded cooked chicken
1 7.5-oz tube refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (small-sized)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450⁰F. Over medium-high heat melt butter in large oven-proof skillet. With a wooden spoon, mix in flour until smooth and just begins to smell toasted. Add ¼ cup each small diced carrots, onion and celery add stir until combined. Stirring constantly add 1 cup stock and simmer until thickened. Add chicken and bring back to a simmer. Cover top with biscuits in a single layer. Bake 8-10 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 430, Total Fat: 20.2 g, Saturated Fat: 6.6 g, Sodium 1332 mg, Carbohydrates: 53.7g, Fiber: 1.3g, Protein: 8.5 g

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



Shop the Sale: The first cake I ever made


It was the summer of 1974, and I wanted to make my Daddy a birthday cake. I was five years old, but already knew my way around my mother’s kitchen fairly well. She had shelf after shelf of cookbooks, and learning to read recipes was one of the ways I actually learned to read words – and perform simple math problems.

I found an old cookbook in the cabinet above Mama’s built-in desk, and I can still see it today as clearly as I did almost 40 years ago. It had a red-and-white gingham cover and the title was “Our Groaning Board.” I thought that was the weirdest title I had ever heard of for any book, much less a cookbook, so I pulled it down and started reading the cake section looking for the easiest, shortest recipe I could find.

Around that same time, I am embarrassed to admit I was fond of Jell-O. I loved the jiggly, fruity dessert and jumped at the chance to incorporate Jell-O into any and all recipes and creations, for better or for worse.

This cake recipe started from a mix, which was good for a beginner, and it also called for my beloved gelatin. I decided this was sure to be a winner for Daddy’s birthday cake.

And it was. To this day, I am asked for the recipe for this cake more than any other cake I make. I’ve learned to bake some fancier ones since 1974, but most people are like I am when it comes to enjoying good food. We seem to return to the simpler, more satisfying tastes of life.

Enjoy!

Daddy’s Favorite Lemon Punch Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:
1 (18.9-oz) Pillsbury yellow cake mix
1 (4.3-oz) box lemon gelatin
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
4 eggs

Glaze:
1 (1lb) box powdered sugar, sifted
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:
For the cake, preheat oven to 350°F. Mix all cake ingredients together in a bowl of an electric mixer until well blended. Bake in a 13 x 9-inch rectangular pan for 30 minutes or until it springs back when touched in middle with fingers. Immediately prick cake several times with an ice pick (all the way to the bottom of the cake) and spoon glaze over entire cake while hot. Serves 10-12.

For the glaze, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice, stirring to remove any lumps.

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 330, Fat: 15.1 g (3.1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 55 mg, Sodium: 83 mg, Carbohydrates: 48.2 g, Protein: 2.4 g

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



Healthy Living: Quinoa and Edamame


I just read that the year 2013 will be recognized by the United Nations as “The International Year of the Quinoa.”  

I have fallen head over heels for the taste and nutritional value of quinoa, but I realize that quinoa is an unfamiliar grain to many people, especially in wondering how to prepare it and enjoy it in various recipes. But first things first, “quinoa” is pronounced “keen-wa.” 

Quinoa is a nutritionally rich source of several flavonoids (which help protect you from cell damage), as well as providing a valuable amount of heart-healthy fat.  

This recipe also adds delicious and nutritious edamame, which is just a fancy name for boiled baby green soybeans. Edamame, pronounced “ed-a-mah-me,” also packs a punch in your diet…and taste great! These soybeans are rich in fiber, protein and several vitamins and minerals. 

I threw this salad together with a few ingredients I already had, trying to replicate a salad I had enjoyed recently. I didn’t have any cilantro on hand, but I think I’ll add ½ cup of chopped cilantro next time. In fact, this kind of recipe is so easy to adapt to your own according to what’s in your fridge. Baby tomatoes, grilled chicken or even leftover diced sweet potatoes would taste great!

Enjoy!

Quinoa and Edamame Salad 

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup edamame, cooked and shelled
1/8 cup chopped red onion
1/2 Tbs light extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar (really makes a difference to use this vinegar)
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped almonds (Whatever kind you have on hand will work)

Directions:
In a bowl combine cooked quinoa, edamame and red onion. In another small bowl whisk to combine oil, vinegar, garlic, red pepper, and salt and pepper. Pour over quinoa and toss well. Cover and let flavors meld in refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve topped with chopped almonds.

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 341, Fat: 11.7 g (1.1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 8 mg, Carbohydrates: 45.2 g, Fiber: 7.1 g, Protein: 15.2 g



Product Talk: Cream Cheese


I love cream cheese.

I REALLY love cream cheese. In fact, I consider it a food group unto itself. I even have a board on Pinterest titled, “Ode to Cream Cheese.”

Someday, I plan to write the definitive cream cheese cookbook. There’s no time like the present to get started.

Cream cheese is made from un-skimmed milk enriched with additional cream. In the refrigerated section of Brookshire’s stores, you can find full-fat, one-third less fat and fat-free varieties of the lovely white stuff. It comes flavored, whipped, herbed and fruited. You can buy it in a brick or in a tub. The options are endless but the taste is ever-so-delicious.

Of course I like to eat cream cheese on a bagel (sesame, toasted). I also like to use it as a party spread, simply placing a block of cream cheese on a chilled platter and topping it with hot pepper jelly and serving with crackers. I use a thin spread of cream cheese in place of shredded cheese on a grilled pizza, under fresh tomato and fresh basil. And I cook with it every chance I get. My kids’ favorite slow cooker meal uses cream cheese: Place four frozen chicken breasts, one can of drained black beans, one 12-ounce bag of frozen corn, one jar of salsa, one jar of salsa verde and one block of cream cheese in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours. Serve over rice.

But usually my favorite cream cheese recipes involve desserts. I made this dish for a cook-out last weekend. Keep it refrigerated until time to serve and it’s even better the second day.

Cream Cheese Dream
Makes one 9×13 pan
Serves one (if it’s me), or about 12

Ingredients:

Crust:
1 cup chopped pecans
1 stick Food Club butter, softened
1 cup Food Club all purpose flour

First Layer:
Ingredients:
1 cup Food Club powdered sugar
1 cup Food Club whipped topping (from a large container)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

Second and Third layers:
Ingredients:
1 pkg. vanilla instant pudding
1 pkg. chocolate instant pudding
2 cups milk

Directions:
Mix together first three ingredients and press in ungreased 9 x 13 glass pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

Mix together next three ingredients and spread on cool crust.

Beat together vanilla pudding and one cup milk  and chocolate pudding and one cup milk and spread on as two creamy layers.

Cover top with the rest of the whipped topping. Refrigerate.

Variations:
•Use pistachio and chocolate puddings.
•Top layer of whipped topping with Heath Bar bits, crushed Butterfinger candy bars, mini-chocolate chips, peanuts, sprinkles or whatever you like.
•Substitute chocolate-flavored whipped topping for regular on top of the dessert.
•Use chocolate milk for an extra chocolate kick.
•Add a third layer of pudding in your choice of flavor.



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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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