share. The Brookshire's Blog

Product Talk: Picnic Fried Chicken Gets a Makeover

It’s amazing how much weather affects our feelings. I don’t know how people in places like Buffalo or Chicago survive their winters, rarely glimpsing the sunshine or enjoying outdoor fun several months of the year.

I love the fact that in our part of the country it’s not unusual to be in shorts in the middle of January, and by March, my kids are ready to swim.

One of the first things we like to do when the sun hits the sky is to eat outdoors as much as possible. We might pack a picnic for the lake or simply sit on the patio with friends and enjoy the first blue skies and gentle breezes of spring.

I grew up in a time when warm-weather picnics meant fried chicken – no questions asked…but these days, fried food is not something I want to feed my family very often. We still have my cast-iron, buttermilk-brined fried chicken every now and then in the summertime during fried okra season, but otherwise, I have tried to find healthier ways to enjoy the crunch and juiciness of good ol’ picnic fried chicken.

This fried chicken recipe is actually baked, but you won’t miss a thing. It’s the perfect recipe when you have half a bag of corn chips left in the pantry and need to use them before they get stale. Don’t leave out the cumin and chili powder…you’ll love the flavor and aroma.

And just like the real deal, these drumsticks are also delicious the next morning when you open the fridge looking for that one piece of leftover cold fried chicken, although from experience, I can tell you that you might want to double the recipe if you’re planning on enjoying any leftovers.

Tortilla Chip Crusted Chicken Drumsticks

8 ounces corn tortilla chips
4 teaspoons chili powder, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 pounds chicken drumsticks (about 6)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place corn chips, 2 teaspoons chili powder, cumin and salt in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, then transfer to a shallow dish. Whisk egg and remaining 2 teaspoons of chili powder together in a bowl big enough to hold one drumstick. Dip drumsticks in egg and allow excess to drip back into the bowl. Coat with crumbs, turning and pressing crumbs to help them stick. Place on baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 40 minutes. Easily doubled.

Dine-In: Warm Cookie Sundaes

It didn’t dawn on me until too late that graduating college would mean no more Spring Break. This loss might have been enough incentive for me to stay in school and go for a Ph.D., but then again, the fact that it didn’t occur to me that school holidays don’t follow you throughout life probably shows I am not a strong doctoral candidate.

Fast forward 22 years and I’ve managed to still sneak in a few great Spring Break trips here and there, but this year between my work and the boys’ school baseball games, my family just can’t find the time to get away.

So…I am trying to convince them that we will enjoy what the world now calls a “staycation.”

My teenage sons are all for the sleeping late part of the plan, but after that, I’m having to use my imagination to help them believe Tyler, Texas, is as fun as oh, say, Breckenridge, Colorado.

Without snow, snowboards and snow bunnies, I am not having much luck. However, I do know one thing teenage boys love, no matter where we are. Food.

To try and make the week more fun, I thought I would cook some of the boys’ favorite foods  from vacations we’ve taken over the years. We discovered an affinity for fried grouper sandwiches one time down in Florida. Shrimp and grits in South Carolina. Steak and cheese sandwiches in Philly. You get the idea.

Tonight, I’m making Warm Cookie Sundaes we enjoyed on a trip to Colorado one March. I like to make homemade cookies and hot fudge, but the world won’t come to an end if you decide to buy refrigerated cookie dough and hot fudge sauce in a jar. Either way, these sundaes are warm, gooey, delicious and full of happy memories.

It’s the perfect way to end a family…staycation.

Warm Cookie Sundaes 

6 Chocolate chip cookies (recipe below makes about 18, so you’ll have leftovers )
1 (half-gallon) Goldenbrook Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (you’ll have leftovers)
1 cup Hot Fudge Sauce (see recipe below)
1 cup purchased Food Club frozen whipped topping, thawed 

Place individual warm cookies in bowls. Top with scoops of ice cream, warmed hot fudge sauce and whipped cream. So easy!


2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips (chunks are even better!) 

Combine flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix butter, sugars and cinnamon until thoroughly blended. Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla. Using the lowest speed possible, add dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips with a wooden spoon. Refrigerate dough until ready to use.  

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325°F. Shape cookies into 1/3-cup size balls. Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, at least 2 1/2-inches apart. Bake 12 minutes for gooey cookies, 15 minutes for more well done. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool or to your sundae bowls. 

Hot Fudge Sauce:
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark or semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, salt and chips to a low boil, stirring constantly. Simmer until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Serve warm. Store leftovers in refrigerator up to two weeks.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In

Family Matters: Natural pet foods

When it comes to pet food, a big trend the last few years has been a growing consumer interest in more natural, wholesome pet foods. This makes a lot of sense: Many of us are more interested in eating more natural, organic, fresh foods, so why wouldn’t we want the same thing for our four-legged family members? And because pet obesity rates have been growing sharply, many of us have become more vigilant about watching exactly what is going in those food bowls.

One in five pet owners even admits to purchasing human foods to feed their pets, according to a recent national pet owner’s survey. But you don’t have to go that route: More companies are responding to the demand for healthier pet foods by developing natural, high-quality foods and treats.

Check out some of these wholesome options, available at most Brookshire’s stores, unless noted otherwise:

Freshpet:  This company uses high-protein meats and eggs, real grains and veggies, and no byproducts or artificial preservatives in its dog and cat foods. Its philosophy is that pets benefit from eating fresh, minimally processed foods, just like humans do. These refrigerated foods include Freshpet Select slice-and-serve rolls, Home-style cups, prepared Roasted Meals for dogs and cats, and Dog Joy treats. Available at select Brookshire’s and Super 1 Foods, plus FRESH by Brookshire’s.

Nurture Heavenly Harvest Holistic Dog Food: This food is notable for what they do use – healthy natural grains, veggies, fruit and herbs – as well as what they don’t. (No corn, wheat or soy meal; no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or excess water.) Developed for owners interested in a healthier, holistic lifestyle for their pets, the natural food includes a unique vegetable and herb blend that promotes digestion, plus natural antioxidants that assist in the aging process.

Purina ONE Beyond: Dog kibble and cat food with real meat, whole grains, and all-natural nutrient and whole grains, to provide all-natural nutrients. Keeping with the natural theme, Purina has adopted several sustainable practices in making this food. For instance, it comes in packages made from 92 percent renewable materials, printed entirely with vegetable-based soy inks, which are also more renewable than other inks.

Milkbone Healthy Favorites: These biscuits are made with real beef, rolled oats, flaxseed and carrots, but no corn, soy or artificial preservatives.  Corn and soy can cause allergic reactions or digestive issues in some dogs, even in small amounts as they’d get in a treat, so this may be a healthier option for your pet.

Shop the Sale: Grateful for Green Chiles

The other day, I went out to eat for lunch and ordered a green chile chicken sandwich. I’ve had green chile cheeseburgers before, but for some reason I had never thought to put it on my grilled chicken sandwiches. It was love at first bite, and I wanted more.

I spent some time playing in my kitchen, trying to perfect the flavors of the sandwich I had enjoyed at the restaurant, which of course involved a return visit or two for “research.”  After a few more sandwiches, I think I’ve gotten fairly close to recreating the delicious marinade, which provides the perfect balance to the green chiles and cheese.

I’ve also thrown in a great oven-baked potato wedge recipe for you. I love French fries but try hard not to fry food very often. These satisfy my craving for French fries without too much guilt. I like to dip mine in spicy ketchup or spicy Ranch dressing. The spicier, the better!

And the best part of this meal just may be the price. This week at Brookshire’s, the three-pound bag of Pilgrim’s boneless, skinless chicken breasts are on sale, as well as the Wright Brand Sliced Bacon, a 10-pound bag of Harvest Club Russet potatoes, Kraft Mayonnaise and Food Club Charcoal Briquets. This is definitely the time to try something new!


Green Chile Chicken Sandwiches with Spicy Roasted Potato Wedges

4 Pilgrim’s boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
3/4 cup soy sauce
1 /4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
4 slices Wright brand sliced bacon, cooked and cut in half
4 slices Monterey Jack cheese
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
Toppings: Kraft Mayonnaise, avocado, leaf lettuce, ripe tomato, red onion

Place one chicken breast at a time in a large resealable plastic bag and close. Gently pound chicken to flatten to 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with each breast and then place all four breasts back in the bag. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, honey and olive oil and mix well. Reserve ¼ cup of marinade and pour the rest over the chicken. Seal bag and make sure chicken is coated well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour. Meanwhile, prepare grill with Food Club Charcoal Briquets to medium heat.

Remove chicken from refrigerator and discard marinade and plastic bag. Grill chicken, turning and basting with reserved marinade until juices run clear, about  7 minutes.  Remove from grill and place on platter. Top each breast with 1/4 of the green chiles, one slice of bacon cut in half, and one slice of cheese. Tent with foil to allow cheese to melt. When ready to serve, top each sandwich as desired with mayonnaise, avocado, lettuce, tomato and onion. Serve warm with Spicy Roasted Potato Wedges.

Spicy Roasted Potato Wedges

4 large Harvest Club Russet potatoes, washed and dried
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional for less spicy version)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cut each potato into about 8 long wedges.  Place oil, smoked paprika, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Toss in potatoes and seal. Shake well to evenly coat potatoes. Transfer potatoes to baking sheet, making sure the peel is on the pan. Bake until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, about 40 minutes. Serve hot.

Healthy Living: Whole-wheat corn muffins

When it comes to eating more healthily, I’m a big believer in incremental changes. It’s hard to give up meat cold-turkey, or replace every potato chip with a carrot stick – but a few, smaller choices, made daily, will have a big difference in your overall  diet.

Take whole grains. Add just a bit of whole-wheat flour into your favorite recipes, and your family may not even notice the difference – but you will know.  A cup of whole-grain, whole-wheat flour has an average of 15 grams of fiber and 16 grams of protein.  A cup of all-purpose white flour has an average of just 3 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein.

This recipe for whole-grain corn muffins uses both whole-wheat flour and a little bit of white, to maintain a texture similar to regular cornbread. If you can, try using stone-ground cornmeal. This kind of old-fashioned cornmeal is a little coarser than regular cornmeal, because the hull and germ of the corn have usually been left in during the grinding process. That means you are getting still more whole grain!

These muffins are delicious served warm with a little honey for breakfast; you can freeze leftovers so you can grab one for breakfast on your way out the door.

Whole-wheat corn muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1 3/4 cups cornmeal (stone-ground if available)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
One half stick butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
Baker’s sugar, for tops (optional)

Pre-heat oven to350 degrees . Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners OR spray cups with nonstick cooking spray.

In large mixing bowl, stir together cornmeal, both types of flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Melt butter in medium microwave-safe bowl. Let cool slightly, at least five minutes. Then, stir in honey, eggs and buttermilk, mixing well to combine.

Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and stir gently, just until well-mixed. Small lumps are OK.

Divide batter among muffin cups. Sprinkle each with a few grains of coarse baker’s sugar, if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and centers appear done. Serve warm.

Product Talk: Expanding K cup choices

When those single-serve coffeemakers first came out, everybody loved their convenience and the fact that you could brew a single, gourmet, coffeehouse-quality cup in just seconds. The only drawback?  A somewhat limited selection of flavors available in the K-Cup capsules made for these systems.

But that has changed. We now carry nearly 20 different kinds of K-Cups that work in your single-serve system. And we don’t just have coffee – now you can also get tea and cocoa, in those same convenient little pods.

This has changed because Keurig, the company behind the popular single-serve brewing systems, has begun licensing that technology to other manufacturers. That has opened the door to other companies,  including Folger’s and Starbucks, both of which now create their own K-Cups.

The selection is likely to grow even more in the near future, because the patent on the K-Cups is due to expire later this year.

In the meantime, I totally understand why these systems have gotten so popular. No beans to grind or scoop; no mess to clean up. You don’t end up with more coffee than you’ll drink, or have to settle for warmed-over coffee that was left in the pot. You get one, perfect, fresh cup every time. One more thing: Because you’re brewing it yourself at home or in the office, it’s just a fraction of what you’d pay for a similar quality cup in a restaurant or a coffee shop.

If you’ve been on the fence about investing in a single-serve brewer, the new, wider selection of beverages may just win you over. For instance, we stock both black tea and green tea pods,  Green Mountain Coffee chai latte, Newman’s Own special blend coffee, and Folger’s Gourmet Caramel Drizzle.  Recently, we started carrying three new K-Cups from Starbucks – Sumatra, House Blend, and French roast.

All of these work exactly the same as the K-Cups you’ve been using: Put in a pod, push a button, and seconds later, enjoy your personal hot beverage. It’s a sure way to start – or end – a day on a good note.

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Posted in: Product Talk

Dine-In: Springtime Pasta Salad

OK, it’s not officially spring yet, but with daylight savings time starting this weekend, it’s sure starting to feel like it. So here is a spring-inspired pasta salad –chock-full of colorful, fresh vegetables. This is perfect for a light supper or lunch, or a healthy side dish, as the days grow warmer.

One of the reasons I like this recipe is that it’s very flexible. Don’t have penne pasta? Use whatever you have around the house. Bowtie (also known as farfalle), shells or even plain old elbow macaroni also work just fine. And, you can add or substitute other vegetables according to taste or, again, what you have on hand. Asparagus, snow peas, broccoli or fresh mushrooms would all be good here– just think about a mix of colors, shapes and textures.

Springtime Pasta Salad


1 lb penne rigate pasta (or any pasta of your liking)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 red onion, cut in half and julienned (cut into thin strips)
1/2 of a 6 oz bag baby spinach
1/2 cup sliced black olives, kalamata olives, or green olives, pitted (your choice)

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
4 TBS lemon zest
2 TBS Dijon mustard
2 TBS sugar
4 TBS fresh chopped tarragon
4 TBS minced fresh garlic
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and then rinse under cold running water to chill. Place pasta in large mixing bowl. Add vegetables to bowl and set aside.

Combine all dressing ingredients and mix well. Pour over pasta and veggies. Toss to coat. Can be served immediately, or chilled to serve the next day.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In

Family Matters: Birthdays and Bombs

In our home, birthday mornings begin early with stacks of pancakes and presents piled on our kitchen table. Our son Will’s five-year-old birthday morning began this way — September 11, 2001.

It was still early when the phone rang, and I remember asking Will to come answer it, thinking his grandparents were calling to wish him a happy birthday. A good friend was on the other end, and she said, “I know you don’t watch much TV, but you need to turn it on. Right now.”

And that was that.

My husband and I shielded Will and his younger brother from the day’s horrific events. I tried hard to appear calm, but inside I was freaking out. My mothering instincts went into overdrive, and I kept the boys home from preschool in case something else horrible was coming our way. I’m not sure what I could have done to protect them, but I wanted them under my wings.

Do you know how surreal it was to spend that day on a golf course with two giggly toddlers, hitting golf balls, doing somersaults, and drinking lemonade, while continually checking the sky? God knows what I expected to see.

What I did see that day — what the whole world saw — was widespread destruction and death. The death of many innocent people. The death of feeling safe on our own soil. And the death of beliefs we assumed were sacred and, therefore, untouchable.

It’s impossible for us to ever again feel as free now as we did before September 11. The same feeling happens when you lose someone you love; life’s rose-colored glasses shatter, and your life becomes marked in terms of that one single event. Pre-divorce. Post-cancer. And now, post-9/11.

But we don’t need those glasses anymore to see what we need to see. In fact, we might even see better. Until 9/11, the values we held close to our hearts were just part of an assumption of a way of life. You’re not supposed to wake up in America and wonder if a bomb is going to drop in your backyard.

Everything has shifted, and yet nothing has changed.

Many birthdays have thankfully passed since that day, and we still sit at our table to open presents and eat pancakes. We laugh, love and give thanks for the time we have…today.

Birthday Blueberry Pancakes

2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups Food Club buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup fresh blueberries (or other berry, chocolate chips, nuts)
Maple syrup, as desired

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs on medium speed until frothy. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla. Stir just until the batter is smooth, being careful not to overmix.

Heat an electric griddle or skillet to medium-high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle 1/3 cup batter onto the griddle for each regular-sized pancake. Scatter 1 tablespoon of blueberries or other mix-in over each pancake. Cook until the top is bubbly and the batter is set, about 90 seconds. Carefully flip pancakes with a spatula and cook 2-3 minutes more. Continue with remaining batter. (Hint: To keep pancakes warm while cooking, heat your oven to 200°F and place cooked pancakes on a baking sheet in the oven, tented with foil.)

Serve with butter and warmed maple syrup. Makes enough for 4 hungry people.

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Posted in: Family Matters

Shop the sale: Pears

A very simple pear-blue-cheese-and-pecan salad  was one of the most popular dishes on my menu when I owned a restaurant in Cozumel, Mexico.

No one ever seemed to figure out the secret ingredient in the dressing (maple syrup!) but everyone loved the texture and contrast of sweet, juicy, crisp pears to the salty, savory cheese and nuts.

Both green D’Anjou and Bosc pears are at special prices this week at your neighborhood store, so when you’re buying some for lunchboxes, get a few extra for this salad. You can use either one, as it’s a matter of taste and appearance preferences. Personally I find the brown-skinned Bosc tend to be a little sweeter, so you may find they present a little better contrast to the strong blue cheese flavor.

Pear, Blue Cheese and Pecan Salad
Serves 4


1 small container spring mix lettuces  (or any lettuce mix of your choosing)
1 large or two small pears, halved, cored, and sliced thinly lengthwise
4 to 6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup salted or candied pecans
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, optional

1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup lime juice, fresh only (do not use bottled)
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For dressing: In a squirt bottle or sealable plastic container, combine maple syrup, lime juice and olive oil. Seal container and shake well to combine. Season with salt and fresh pepper to taste. Shake again and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

In a med.-large mixing bowl, combine spring lettuce mix, pear slices, blue cheese and pecans. Toss to combine. Remove dressing from refrigerator and shake well to recombine.  Add about ¼-1/2 cup of dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Divide onto salad plates and serve immediately.

Product Talk: A cook’s best friend – Buttermilk

I grew up in the Deep South in a time and place where all tea was sweet and all sodas were called “co-colas.” I can also remember my grandmother’s answer every time I asked her for a glass of milk: “Butter or sweet?”

And as stereotypical as it sounds, it really wasn’t unusual for us to sit on her screened porch and enjoy a glass of cold buttermilk – maybe even with some leftover cornbread or biscuits crumbled in it as well.

I don’t know when I grew out of the habit of enjoying buttermilk as a beverage, but I’m guessing it was probably around the time chocolate milk hit the market. Suddenly buttermilk was nothing but sour!

Thankfully, I never gave up my appreciation for buttermilk as one of the most versatile ingredients in my cooking. From brining to baking and all points between, buttermilk adds a dimension of flavor you just can’t get from “sweet” milk.

I hope you’re already familiar with how delicious buttermilk is in biscuits and pancakes, and I really hope you’ve discovered the heaven on earth known as buttermilk pie. But next time you’re cooking, think about choosing buttermilk instead of milk in your mashed potatoes, homemade salad dressings, blueberry muffins, and even your chocolate sheet cake icing.

And just like my grandmother taught me, I always use buttermilk to soak my chicken breasts and chicken fried steak before dipping them in flour and frying them in the cast-iron pan she left to me when she passed away.

Brookshire’s Southwest Dairy makes the Food Club buttermilk you can find in our stores. Our churns may be a bit bigger than the old days, but the taste and quality is as good as it gets. From savory to sweet, our buttermilk’s slightly tangy flavor has been the secret best friend for generations of cooks  ̶  and doting grandmothers  ̶  across the south.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes 

3 large or 5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, halved, and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons salt, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2/3 cup Food Club buttermilk, warmed
2 green onions, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are pierced easily with a fork, about 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

Drain, reserving about a 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Using a potato ricer, gently press the potatoes over a large bowl. (If you don’t have a potato ricer, use a sieve and wooden spoon. For best results, don’t use an electric mixer.) Mix in butter, 1 teaspoon salt, buttermilk and green onions and gently stir to blend. Add a tablespoon or 2 of cooking liquid if necessary to obtain desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.

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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