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Dine In: Stuffed Pepper Soup

A few years ago, I bought an iron chiminea.

Chimineas, by design, are made of a hard, baked clay to keep the heat in but without being scorching to the touch.

I, however, got a black, cast-iron chiminea, and once I finally wrangled it from the car to the backyard (a feat that left me sore for days, thank you very much), it earned a place of honor on the patio (where it hasn’t moved in two years.) It gets fiercely hot, and the fire that blazes from the belly of the black beast is intense.

My very favorite thing to do on Friday nights all fall and winter (and a large portion of the spring) is to sit on the back patio with the fire blazing. I’ve finally mastered the art of the chiminea fire (and cursed myself for never having been a Girl Scout); the secret is the pyramid shape of the logs. The other secret is having VERY dry logs, which my dog makes difficult because he likes to drag the wood from the wood pile out into the backyard. The other secret, which I read somewhere online and finally tried this year, is the humble dryer lint fire starter. Don’t laugh; it works. Collect dryer lint and stuff inside an empty toilet paper roll. Once you have enough lint to fill the roll (about two days worth in my house), the fire starter is ready to use. It will ignite almost immediately.

But back to the back porch. I love sitting outside with a good fire and good friends while enjoying a good meal. On chillier nights, soup tastes wonderful while watching the fire. This is a new favorite!

Stuffed Pepper Soup

1 lb lean ground beef
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small yellow onion, chopped (1 cup)
3/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped (a little over 1/2 of a medium pepper)
3/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5) can beef broth
2 1/2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped (plus more for garnish)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 cup uncooked long grain white or brown rice
cheddar or mozzarella cheese, for serving (optional)

In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add beef to pot, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally while breaking up beef. Drain beef and pour onto a plate lined with paper towels; set aside.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in pot then add onions, red bell pepper and green bell pepper. Sauté 3 minutes. Then, add garlic and sauté 30 seconds longer. Pour in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and beef broth. Add parsley, basil, oregano and cooked beef, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring just to a light boil, and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While soup simmers, prepare rice according to directions listed on package. Once soup is done simmering, stir in desired amount of cooked rice into soup. Serve warm topped with optional cheese and garnish with fresh parsley.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 437, Calories from Fat: 123, Fat: 14 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 51 mg, Sodium: 3742 mg, Potassium: 1675 mg, Carbohydrates: 32 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 43 g.

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


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Posted in: Dine In

Family Matters: Picky Eaters

Picky EatersBoth of my boys went through a picky-eating phase.

When my older son turned about one, he stopped eating anything that was remotely nutritious. He was the kid who ate pureed Brussels sprouts, for goodness sake, and then he just stopped eating. His diet consisted largely of cheese toast, applesauce, bananas and milk.

I had to get sneaky. Did you know cooked and pureed broccoli and carrots are GREAT in pancakes? They sure are. Pumpkin is delightful mixed into oatmeal and sweet potatoes pass as french fries.

Now, a lot of toddler food comes in easy-to-handle, delicious pouches in a variety of flavors and combinations, so parents have a lot more choices for their toddlers without having to resort to stealth tactics.

From peas to potatoes and carrots and everything in between, pouch foods offer parents an excellent option for on-the-go nutrition or just a sit-down dinner at home.

You can also sneak veggies into pasta sauce, like this:

Chock Full o’ Veggies Pasta Sauce

1 (32 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (16 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini squash, diced
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs dried basil
1 Tbs garlic salt

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté all vegetables until tender. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, basil and garlic salt. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer for about an hour. Serve over pasta. To put this sauce into stealth mode, puree the sauce in a food processor immediately after it comes to a boil, then return to pan to let simmer.

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

Family Matters: Baby Skin Care

Baby Skin CareWhen my little guy was an infant, I had a very hard time taking care of his skin.

First, he had baby eczema, which is totally normal. Then, it dried out and he had cradle cap. Then, the eczema flared up again.

With his sensitive skin, there weren’t any products I found that wouldn’t irritate it even further, until I found Aquaphor.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment is perfect for a newborn’s skin because it is fragrance-free and preservative-free.

You can use it to help heal AND prevent diaper rash. Luke had diaper rash so frequently that his bottom would bleed, until I began applying a preventative layer of Aquaphor at each diaper change.

I also used it on his eczema. It was the perfect balance of soothing, healing and moisturizing, so the eczema cleared up and stayed away.

When he started teething, you’d have thought he rubbed sand paper on his chin because it became so irritated by the constant drool. Aquaphor to the rescue again!

Along with the Healing Ointment, Aquaphor makes a shampoo and baby wash as well.

(P.S. The Healing Ointment is also extraordinary for nursing moms!)

Family Matters: Many Uses for Baby Wipes

Many Uses for Baby WipesI’ll admit, even LONG after my babies have grown, I still stock a great supply of baby wipes.


Because you can use them for so much more than just cleaning a bottom.

For example, you can use Tippy Toes Baby Wipes to clean off eye makeup.

A recent report shows that 57 percent of us have used them as toilet paper. Camping, anyone?

You can use a baby wipe to clean the interior of your car. All that dust and french fry residue will be gone in a flash.

Keep them in your picnic basket or cooler for easy hand cleanup.

Soothe hemorrhoids during pregnancy.

You can use baby wipes to dust off the leaves of your houseplants or use on a dry mop in place of the brand-name cleaning pad.

Baby wipes remove pen, crayon, pencil and paint from most surfaces, including skin. They get deodorant stains out of clothes and pet hair off of furniture.

They clean hairspray goo off of any surface, and they polish shoes.

You can use them to wipe off the screens on your electronics and temporarily tame flyaway hair.

Oh, did we mention you can use them to clean baby’s bottom?

Reading Books

Shop the Sale: Asian Marinated Pork Chops

I’ve been on this Asian food kick ever since yet another one of my friends took a trip overseas.

One of my friends, Jon, retired early so he could sell everything and travel, and that’s exactly what he did. He’s over in Thailand right now, posting pictures and writing blogs about the amazing experiences and the even more marvelous-looking food.

Another set of friends is traveling through Vietnam right now. She is also posting pictures of interesting cultural differences and of all the delicious dishes they are eating.

I love Asian flavors, especially anything with ginger which is also a digestive aide. If you want, swap out the ground ginger for fresh minced ginger in this recipe for a bolder flavor.

I decided to take my own trip to the Orient while boneless pork chops were on sale this week at Brookshire’s. I love pork with Asian flavors and this recipe did not disappoint.

Asian Marinated Pork Chops

1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
6 boneless pork chops

Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, cumin and chili powder in a large plastic zipper bag or bowl with a lid until sugar is dissolved. Place pork chops in the marinade and seal securely. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours. After marinating, preheat a grill or skillet to medium-high heat. Place pork chops onto preheated grill or skillet, and cook for 5-7 minutes per side until the meat is no longer pink inside (or reaches an internal temperature of 145° F).

Serves 6
Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 552, Calories from Fat: 108, Fat: 12 g, Trans Fat: 0.1 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 243 mg, Sodium: 2595 mg, Potassium: 1544 mg, Carbohydrates: 16 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 12 g, Protein: 90 g.

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

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Posted in: Shop the Sale

Healthy Living: Portobellos with Eggs

Portobellos with EggsI’d always heard things go “downhill” after age 40.

Sadly, I’ve found that isn’t as much of an exaggeration as I hoped it would be. It seems like all kinds of health issues started cropping up after I hit the big 4-0.

One of the ways I’m treating these issues is to try to consume as many whole foods as possible with lots of protein and fiber, and without preservatives or a lot of calories.

I also try to keep things simple, especially in the mornings. This dish is packed with protein, and the mushrooms, to me, make it feel substantial without adding a lot of extra calories. This comes together in minutes, and if you set your yolk more firmly, it can be eaten in the car on the way to work. Don’t ask me how I know that.

Portobellos with Eggs

2 portobello mushrooms, stems cut
2 large eggs
1 Tbs olive oil
fresh dill, rosemary and basil, chopped (to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste

Drizzle olive oil on portobellos, and season with salt and pepper. Place them on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle the herbs on top. Crack open the eggs and carefully put one inside each mushroom. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 300° F.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 152, Calories from Fat: 108, Fat: 12 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 186 mg, Sodium: 70 mg, Potassium: 367 mg, Carbohydrates: 3 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 9 g.

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

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Posted in: Healthy Living

Product Talk: Dr. Teal’s

I recently discovered one of those “where-have-you-been-all-my-life” products on the shelves at Brookshire’s.

Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaking Solution Soothe & Sleep with Lavender and Dr. Teal’s Foaming Bath Relax & Relief with Eucalyptus Spearmint came home with me, and I couldn’t wait to try them both. The Epsom salts are perfectly scented with essential oils (they have other scents as well), and I just poured a cupful into a warm bath and soaked myself right to sleep. Almost literally.  The foaming bath is not only therapeutic but extremely relaxing as well. It’s like getting a massage in your very own bathtub.

Dr. Teal’s bath and body products claim to “soothe the senses, relax tense muscles and promote well-being.”

I can attest that they do exactly what they claim to do.

I have sleep issues and horrible restless leg syndrome that I try to treat with natural remedies, and I will make sure that I forever have some Dr. Teal’s stocked in my bathroom cabinets.

When it comes to therapeutic bath products, the doctor is definitely in.

Other scents include Rosemary & Mint to promote reducing tension, Milk & Honey for softening skin, Comfort & Calm to ease your mind (I have to try that one!), and Foaming Vapor Bath for Tension & Fatigue (I could use that one every night).

I can’t wait to see how the others work.

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Posted in: Product Talk

Dine In: Halloween Treats

I just had a total breakdown.

As I write this, it’s several weeks before Halloween, and I feel quite accomplished to have procured costumes for my two children.

Then, I made the mistake of logging into my Pinterest account and typing “Halloween” into the search bar.

Holy spiders and slithery things, Batman! I thought I was doing well to have costumes nailed down and fake spider webs up all over my house (a few real ones, too, just saying). Now, according to Pinterest, I have to carve watermelons into brains, make black-light lemonade, serve hot dogs shaped as mummies and a cheese bull formed into a skull, and hand out homemade rice treats that look like candy corn.

I think I’ll hibernate until New Year’s.

Let’s be real: I have two kids, two jobs and a daily two-hour commute. I will not be carving watermelons into brains (although the black-light lemonade was pretty cool).

There are a few treats, however, that would be super simple to make for fun on Halloween night and your kids can even pitch in to help.

This is what we’ll be making for ourselves and close friends (seeing how it’s frowned upon in this day and age to pass out homemade treats to strangers). They’re super easy, super cute and make it look like I spend a lot of time on Pinterest.

Spooky Marshmallow Dippers

24 large or jumbo marshmallows
12 oz vanilla candy coating/bark
variety Halloween sprinkles
orange food coloring
lollipop sticks or straws
wax paper

Lay wax paper all over your work surface. Pierce each marshmallow with a straw or lollipop stick.

Follow the directions on the package to melt the candy coating/bark. Stir in orange food coloring to turn your dipping mixture orange.

Pour sprinkles onto a paper plate. Dip your marshmallows into the melted orange candy coating/bark. Allow the excess dip to drip off for a moment and then dip the still wet marshmallow into the sprinkles. Place on the wax paper to cool.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 135, Calories from Fat: 17, Fat: 2 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 48 mg, Potassium: 1 mg, Carbohydrates: 29 g, Sugar: 19 g, Protein: 0.5 g.

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

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Posted in: Dine In

Family Matters: Halloween Through the Years

Family Matters HalloweenLast night, I was thumbing through 12 years of Halloween pictures and it made me nostalgic.

My older son was 10 months old when his first Halloween rolled around, and I probably have seven dozen pictures of him sitting in the lawn in his green frog costume. It was probably also WAY too hot for the fleece costume, being October in Texas, but he was going to wear it, by golly.

My second son didn’t have to suffer through as many pictures, but he was only five weeks old on his first Halloween. He wouldn’t have known any better. He was a pea-in-the-pod for his first Halloween, a costume his father wouldn’t let me live down for months. However, when I was pregnant with him before we knew his gender, I called him “Sweet Pea,” so he was going to be a pea that Halloween come heck or high water. He was the sweetest, fattest little pea you’ve ever seen.

A few years later, they were Buzz Lightyear and Woody. Another year, they were Superman and Batman. I found a picture last night that was from one of my favorite years. Curt, the older son, was Mr. Incredible. Luke, the younger son, wanted to be a Sparkly Green Ghost. His words. I asked him what a Sparkly Green Ghost looked like, and he told me quite simply, “a green ghost who sparkles.”

Well, that was easy enough. We went to the fabric store, and he picked out a few yards of a sparkly green fabric. I cut eyes into it, and, voila, there was his costume. He loved it.

I made a spider costume one year, stuffing black tights with batting, sewing them onto a black sweatshirt then stringing the “legs” with fishing line so that the arms could move independently of each other.

There were two years of zombie costumes; those were easy ones and I got to play with gory, gooey costume makeup.

I thought this year could be the year they decided they were done with Halloween. Not a chance. They begged me to go to the Halloween store a few weekends ago. (I thought I could get ideas for homemade costumes, but they suckered me into buying some.) We’ll have a soldier and “Creeper” from Minecraft this year.

The fun part about my kids, and probably yours too, is that Halloween costumes aren’t only a big deal for a few hours one night a year. My boys wear their costumes out. I caught Luke sleeping with his foam Minecraft sword a few nights ago. So, even though I spent way too much money on a cardboard head and foam sword, you can’t put a price on that kind of delight.

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Posted in: Family Matters

Mi Blog Hispano: Infusiones para Conciliar el Sueño

Infusiones para Conciliar el SueñoEl sueño para algunos representa una parte más del día a día, como comer, respirar o caminar, pero realmente es más que eso y es importantísimo que estemos conscientes de lo fundamental que es el sueño en nuestro ciclo vital. Dormir adecuadamente tiene sus beneficios y la deficiencia de este también tiene sus consecuencias.

Me interesé en profundizar en este tema porque en estos últimos días estuve durmiendo pocas horas, no sé por qué razón me estaba despertando en la madrugada sin poder conciliar el sueño de nuevo. En esos días noté que estaba agotada, de mal humor, triste, me costaba mucho concentrarme y hasta recordar cosas, así que, me preocupé y empecé a investigar y descubrí que esto tenía conexión con no dormir lo necesario.   

Durante el sueño, liberamos las hormonas que harán que nos sintamos bien al despertar, fortalecemos nuestro sistema inmunológico y nuestro metabolismo, se refuerzan la memoria y los conocimientos adquiridos, las articulaciones y músculos se relajan y se regeneran, al igual que nuestro corazón ya que, mientras dormimos, desciende la presión arterial y, con ello, mejora el sistema circulatorio.

En cuanto a los tratamientos de  belleza, la regeneración celular durante el sueño es mayor y la circulación sanguínea mejora, estas dos circunstancias hacen que nuestra piel asimile mejor los activos nutritivos presentes en dichos tratamientos cosméticos y que, al despertar, nuestra piel esté más tersa, hidratada y tengamos mejor aspecto.

Cuando dormimos nuestro cerebro también trabaja.  Por lo mismo es importante que logremos un sueño profundo para que nuestra mente reorganice la información que adquirió durante el día y para extraer los datos más relevantes. El sueño favorece que produzcamos ideas nuevas y más creativas y así logremos mejorar nuestra memoria.

Infusiones maravillosas para ayudar a conciliar el sueño

Como preparar las infusiones:

Caliente agua sin que llegue a hervir. Añade las plantas y deja reposar durante unos minutos. Puede añadirle azúcar o miel para endulzarla.

Valeriana. Una de las plantas más potentes para nivelar las alteraciones nerviosas, contribuye a la relajación de los músculos y a un sueño más profundo. También es recomendada para el déficit de atención, epilepsia, síndrome de fatiga crónica, dolor de cabeza, malestar estomacal, dolores menstruales, etc.

Pasiflora. Además de contribuir a conciliar el sueño gracias a su poder de relajación, es utilizada como antidepresivo. Es ideal para quienes no logran descansar por alguna preocupación o un bajón en el estado de anímico.

Tila. Es una de las plantas más reconocidas debido a que cuenta con propiedades somníferas, también es utilizada para curar los problemas digestivos y hormonales. Tiene efecto sedante sobre el sistema nervioso. Ayuda a quienes padecen nerviosismo, estrés e insomnio, alivia sus síntomas. En caso de padecer mucha ansiedad, se recomienda beber al día 2 o 3 tazas de té de tila en infusión, unos 15 minutos después de las comidas. Para el insomnio, una taza antes de acostarse.

Melisa o Toronjil. Es una planta relacionada con problemas relacionados con los nervios, es relajante y contribuye a conciliar el sueño.

Lavanda. Usada para combatir el sueño y es altamente relajante.

Manzanilla.  Propiedades relajantes ayuda a conseguir un mejor descanso  y disminuye  malestares estomacales.

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

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Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.

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On Wednesdays, get a tip or idea on using an item in the circular.

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Ideas for the whole family come to you every Thursday.

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