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Family Matters: Handle With Care


Handle With CareCats aren’t called man’s best friend. That title is reserved for dogs.

Cats get a bad rep sometimes, as being more aloof and standoffish than other types of pets. Training your cat to be friendly is a great way to forge a fabulous bond with your feline friend.

Handle them with care. Cats don’t like to roughhouse like dogs often do. Touch, hold and pet your cat gently from an early age. They will be more responsive, loving and touching if they feel you can be trusted to treat them gently.

Your cat can be taught to come when you call him. Use a gentle voice to repeat their name, and reward them with a small treat when they respond to their name and to your command.

Be affectionate with your cat, and keep him close to you, whether that’s letting him sit on your lap while you watch TV, letting him take a nap beside you or letting him walk over you when you’re sitting at your desk. You may want to wrap him in a soft blanket and cuddle him close to you as well. Take care when you’re picking him up, as that interaction will set the stage for how much he lets you cuddle.



Shop the Sale: Beefy Cheesy Quesadillas


Beefy Cheesy QuesadillasI’m in full-on comfort food mode!

I want anything that’s warm, cheesy, easy and that my whole family loves because nothing destroys comfort food mojo like complaining at the kitchen table.

This dish fulfills all my comfort food requirements.

I would have to double this recipe to feed my hungry family, but that’s easy (and economical) to do as well.

This is the perfect meal for a cool, fall night.

Beefy Cheesy Quesadillas

Ingredients:
1 Tbs butter
1/3 cup white onions, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 lb Angus ground chuck
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 packet taco seasoning
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
4 cups cheddar cheese/Monterey Jack cheese, grated
butter, for cooking

Directions:
Melt butter in a large cast-iron skillet until it begins to bubble. Add onions; cook until translucent. Add ground beef and salt, breaking up ground meat as it cooks and browns. Drain grease.

Mix taco seasoning into the tomato sauce. Add sauce to beef and onions, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

In a large nonstick skillet, melt more butter over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the skillet. Sprinkle with about 1/2 cup cheese (enough to cover tortilla) and about 3/4 cup of meat mixture.  Spread butter on top of a second tortilla, and place over meat mixture, pressing to help seal. Cook until golden on one side. Flip and cook until golden-brown on the second side. Remove from pan and let cool. Repeat with remaining tortillas and meat mixture. Slice into triangles. Serve with sour cream, guacamole and fresh cilantro.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 832, Calories from Fat: 448, Fat: 50 g (29 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 230 mg, Sodium: 1731 mg, Carbohydrates: 29 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 68 g.

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Healthy Living: Baked Spinach and Eggs


Baked Spinach and EggsI love a hot, cooked breakfast.

I try to make do with cold hard-boiled eggs because I can make those in advance, or with Greek yogurt or, occasionally, breakfast cereal and milk, which are all healthy choices. I love a hot breakfast and try to make sure I get up early enough so that I’m organized and prepared enough to enjoy my favorite meal of the day.

I love this dish because it’s so simple. It comes together so quickly, and it can bake while I finish getting ready in the morning. The spinach is packed with iron, and the fiber helps keep you full. The eggs are also full of iron and protein, and they also help ward off the mid-morning munchies. I love the salty taste of the feta, which adds a little more fat to the mix for a satisfying, healthy morning meal.

I’ve been known to eat this for dinner, too, with a drizzle of hot sauce.

Baked Spinach and Eggs

Ingredients:
6 cups fresh baby spinach, firmly packed
4 eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 Tbs feta cheese, crumbled
nonstick cooking spray or 1 Tbs olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Spray or rub olive oil into individual glass ramekins, individual cast-iron skillets or other small oven-proof bakeware. Set aside.

In a cast-iron skillet, wilt the spinach over medium heat, about 3 to 4 minutes. Distribute the spinach evenly into baking containers.

Crack one egg over spinach in each container. (If using one baking dish, just distribute the eggs evenly over the spinach.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper; top with crumbled feta. Place the baking dishes on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the egg whites are cooked though and the yolks are set to your preference.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 98, Calories from Fat: 59, Fat: 7 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 172 mg, Sodium: 202 mg, Carbohydrates: 2 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 8 g.

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Product Talk: Maple-Pecan Baked Brie


Maple-Pecan Baked BrieI love lolling around the Brookshire’s cheese case. There are so many beautiful cheeses, and I’m making it my personal mission to try them all.

You might wonder what to do with a soft, fragrant wheel of brie. Brie is a soft cow’s milk cheese with a soft rind that can either be eaten or discarded. I eat it, personally as it is completely edible and gives a nice dimension to the cheese.

You can spread brie on a cracker, just as it is, or you can bake it, which makes a wonderful, nutty, melted spread with a rich taste and a decadent feel.

Maple and pecans are the perfect fall pairing with a wheel of brie, and they give a sweetness to the slight bitterness of the rind. This is great for a party or an appetizer for your holiday meal.

Maple-Pecan Baked Brie

Ingredients:
8 oz wheel of brie
2 Tbs real maple syrup
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
sliced baguette, crackers or apple slices, for serving

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place wheel of brie on the paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until softened. Remove from the oven, and set brie on a serving plate to cool slightly.

While the cheese cools, heat maple syrup, brown sugar and cinnamon over low heat in a small saucepan. Stir until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes; stir in pecans. Pour the syrup mixture over the brie, and serve immediately. This is delicious with Granny Smith apples.

Serves 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 144, Calories from Fat: 108, Fat: 12 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 19 mg, Sodium: 120 mg, Carbohydrates: 77 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 5 g.

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Dine In: Cajun Chicken & Rice


Cajun Chicken & RiceI need dinner tonight to be easy. Super easy.

It’s been a week; you know what I’m talking about. Two nighttime events for work. One nighttime event for school. After-school play rehearsals for one child; early morning training workouts for the other. Add in carpool, homework times two and a full work week, and Friday-night dinner has to come together quickly and easily and be delicious and filling.

Anything with rice qualifies as comfort food in my book, and if you start the rice a few minutes before the chicken, everything will come together perfectly when the chicken and vegetables are finished cooking. We like spicy, so I add quite a bit of Cajun seasoning. However, you can adjust the amount for your family’s tastes. I also prefer to use broth instead of water, as it just deepens the flavor.

Cajun Chicken and Rice

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups water or chicken broth
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbs Cajun or Creole seasoning
2 Tbs olive oil
4 cups diced onions and bell peppers
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Louisiana Hot Sauce, for serving

Directions:
Combine rice and water (or broth) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 14 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, leaving the cover alone. (This is always the mistake I make with rice. Don’t. Touch. The. Lid.)

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, and season with a Cajun or Creole seasoning like Tony Chachere’s. Add half of the olive oil to a large pot and set heat to medium-high. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken without overcrowding the pan. Brown on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes, and then brown on the other side. Remove chicken to a plate to rest.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan; increase heat to high. When the oil is hot, add the onions, bell peppers and more seasoning; sauté until the vegetables become soft and browned.

Add the tomatoes, and then add the chicken back in, along with any juices that may have collected on the plate. Add the cooked rice and stir until well-combined. Add the cheese if desired and stir well to combine.

Serve with Louisiana Hot Sauce.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 610, Calories from Fat: 227, Fat: 25.3 g (9.4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 131 mg, Sodium: 495 mg, Potassium: 662 mg, Carbohydrates: 48.3 g, Fiber: 3.4 g, Sugar: 6.3 g, Protein: 44.8 g.

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Family Matters: Transitioning from the Crib


Transitioning from the CribTransitioning your toddler from his crib or co-sleeping situation to his own bed can be a little daunting, but it might be an effortless move.

When it’s appropriate for your toddler, start by putting the new bed into his room. Talk about the new bed. Let him sit on it, climb up and down from it, and start to let him lie on it with his familiar blanket or stuffed toys.

His first bed might be a toddler-sized bed, depending on his age. You may or may not put a safety railing on one side, and put the other side against the wall. Your child might not need the safety rails, depending on his comfort level and yours, and whether he’s likely to wander.

You might start the transition with his nap times, and build up to spending the entire night in his Big Boy Bed.

Make his new bed exciting! Find bedding, pillows or stuffed toys in a theme he loves, and use those on his bed.

Some children need a quick transition, and it’s best to take the crib away when you introduce the new bed. Other children need the security of having their crib around, just in case.

My older son moved out of his crib at a pretty early age because his baby brother was taking it over. We moved him to an entirely new room, and he never missed the crib when he had his new toddler bed.

Whenever and however you choose to transition, you probably don’t need to fight your child over it. When he is ready, he will move. He probably won’t still be sleeping in a crib when he goes to kindergarten. At some point, he’ll want the “big boy” status the new bed imparts.



Family Matters: Baby’s Feet


Baby's FeetMy friend’s daughter is just about 10 months and has just taken her first steps. But she’s decided she hates all kinds of shoes and socks.

That’s OK!

In fact, many pediatricians actually recommend letting your little one learn to walk in bare feet. They can get a good feeling for how their foot grips the floor, they can develop a natural gait and they’ll probably be more confident and comfortable as they venture forth into the world. The bones of the foot don’t fully develop until about 5 years of age, so baby’s foot is naturally flexible and wiggles into the best position for them to feel comfortable walking as they take their first steps.

When you do buy baby shoes, let it be a flexible, soft shoe, not the hard ones with ankle supports that we probably wore as toddlers.



Family Matters: Kangaroo Care


Kangaroo CareSkin-to-skin contact is great for your new baby!

Sometimes called “kangaroo care” because a mama kangaroo carries her baby snuggly in her pouch, skin-to-skin contact has been shown to calm your infant, stabilize her temperature and heartbeat, and make her happier.

Start immediately. When baby is born, place her directly on mom’s bare chest. If mom is recovering from the birth, dad’s bare chest works exactly the same way.

As much skin-to-skin contact a baby can get in the first weeks of life is best. It has been shown to reduce allergies, help with feeding and, of course, help with bonding. If baby is breast-feeding, this can happen naturally and frequently, but don’t forget about dad. It’s important for him to spend the same kind of time with baby.

Kangaroo care is also important for preemies and babies born with a few complications, like unstable blood sugar.

Don’t worry if the delivery was rough, and you can’t initiate kangaroo care immediately. Do it when it’s safe for all involved.



Shop the Sale: Volcano Potatoes


Volcano PotatoesWe have potato wars in my house.

I like a nice, fluffy baked potato with butter and sour cream. My older son likes mashed potatoes. My younger son likes “potatoes you can chew.” (ie, a roasted potato). My boyfriend likes french fries.

So, it’s not always easy to find a recipe we can all agree on, until it came to this one. It has baked, mashed, chewable and kind of fried (basting these potatoes with butter and baking them in bacon grease puts it in the same category as frying it, in my opinion).

Then, of course, there is bacon. Lots and lots of bacon. John Morrell Bacon adds a crispy, salty flavor to the otherwise bland potato and really takes this recipe to the next level.

Volcano Potatoes

Ingredients:
12 slices John Morrell Bacon
4 large baking potatoes
4 Tbs butter, melted
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 Tbs hot sauce
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Wash and dry potatoes thoroughly. Piece potatoes with a knife in several places. Cut a slice off one of the potatoes so it can stand firmly on its end.

Wrap three slices of uncooked bacon around each potato, overlapping slightly and covering as much of the potato as you can. Secure with a toothpick. Leave about 1 inch from the top of the potato.

Place potatoes on baking sheet, and brush with melted butter. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender and bacon is beginning to crisp. Baste potatoes with melted butter during baking process.

In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream and hot sauce; chill until ready to serve.

Remove potatoes from the oven; allow to cool, about 5 to 10 minutes. Slice the inch not covered by bacon off the top of potatoes, and scoop out the cooked potato inside, leaving about a 1/4-inch shell of bacon-wrapped potato.

Place the scooped potato into a bowl with 1/4 cup butter. Add diced onions, sour cream, crumbled bacon and cheeses to the potato mixture. Mash or blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place potato mash into a pastry bag or plastic zip-top bag with a corner snipped off. Pipe potato mash back into baked potato shells. Press shredded cheese on top, and place potatoes back into the oven. Broil on high until cheese is melted. Remove from oven; drizzle with sour cream and hot sauce mixture. Top with green onions, and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 1412, Calories from Fat: 968, Fat: 107 g (53 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 291 mg, Sodium: 3631 mg, Carbohydrates: 41 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 71 g.

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Healthy Living: Healthy Habits for Every Day


Healthy Habits for Every DayPut down the Halloween candy!

I know it’s hard to resist sneaking a bite-sized Heath bar from your son’s trick-or-treat bag, and certainly one isn’t going to hurt. However, now that fright night is over and Thanksgiving is not yet upon us, here are a few things to make a habit of daily for a healthier, happier lifestyle.

I saw 27 versions of this same list online, so I’m not really sure where it came from originally. Of course, add something special for you to make it something you can stick with!

By the Numbers
0 empty calories/processed foods daily
1 hour of exercise and/or reading per day
2 liters of water per day
3 cups of green tea/green juice per day
4 mental and stretch breaks per day
5 things you’re grateful for every day
6 A.M. meditation daily
7 minutes of belly laughs daily
8 hours of sleep nightly
9 thousand steps every day
10pm nightly bedtime

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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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