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Shop the Sale: Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries


StrawberriesIt’s almost Valentine’s Day and that means roses, chocolate, wine and strawberries, although not necessarily in that order.

For couples, Valentine’s Day can be a romantic time. For us single people, Valentine’s Day comes with a bit of dread. I attend a Sunday school class for single parents, so you can imagine that there’s not a lot of love for February 14 in our group. However, because we always make the best of everything, we usually have a group event on that evening and enjoy each other’s company.
Last year, one woman made cheesecake stuffed strawberries, and I’m pretty sure they were gone before we ate the actual meal.

I’m going to make them this year because even if three of us bring the same thing, we still won’t have enough!

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Ingredients:
1 lb washed strawberries
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
6 Tbsp powdered sugar (add more if it’s not sweet enough)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

Directions:
Use a paring knife to cut stems off strawberries. Hollow out a small hole in the center of the strawberries. You can also cut a small piece off the bottom of each strawberry so it will stand.

Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Using a spoon, put the filling in a plastic bag and snip off a corner; pipe the filling into each strawberry.

You can then sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on the top.

Refrigerate until cold.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 307, Calories from Fat: 186, Fat: 21 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (12 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 62 mg, Sodium: 216 mg, Carbohydrates: 27 g, Fiber: 9 g, Sugar: 19 g, Protein: 5 g



Healthy Living: Scrambled Egg Muffins


Egg MuffinIt’s February! Have your resolutions to eat better and be more healthy gone by the wayside? I’ve been trying to stick with mine, but I’ll admit that breakfast is one of the biggest challenges. I don’t usually sit down at the breakfast table in the morning to eat; I eat whatever I’ve grabbed in the car after I drop the kids off at school. So, a steaming hot bowl of steel-cut oats is out of the question most mornings.

I wanted something that was both portable and healthy. I saw a recipe for a breakfast “muffin” and by modifying the recipe a bit (replacing pork sausage with turkey sausage, swapping out half the eggs for egg whites and skipping the hash browns and adding veggies), I think I came up with a healthier version. I’ll bake a dozen of these on a Sunday evening and toss two in the microwave each morning on the way out the door.

Breakfast Muffins

Ingredients:
6 eggs
12 Tbsp egg whites
1 lb turkey sausage
3 cups fresh spinach
1/4 cup onion
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners or spray generously with nonstick cooking spray.

Brown sausage and drain. Toss with spinach, bell pepper and onion; stir over medium heat until spinach is wilted and onions are opaque.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with egg whites then add crumbled cheese. Add sausage and vegetables to the bowl and stir well to combine.

Fill cupcake liners almost full.

Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until knife inserted in the center of each comes out clean.

Note: You can use almost any vegetables or cheese that you like!

Makes 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 187, Calories from Fat: 129, Fat: 14 g, Trans Fat: 0.1 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 119 mg, Sodium: 415 mg, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 13 g



Product Talk: Far East Couscous


Far East CouscousI just love the word “couscous,” don’t you?

Couscous (pronounced koose-koose) is made from tiny grains of pasta and is a staple of cuisines around the world.

Near East makes couscous that only takes minutes to cook on your stovetop and provides 8 grams of protein per serving.

It comes in so many flavors, too! Of course, there is original. My favorite is Parmesan, but there’s also Broccoli and Cheese, Mediterranean Curry, Herbed Chicken, Toasted Pine Nut, Tomato Lentil, Mushroom and Herb, and more.

Couscous is a great side dish to pork chops, steak, chicken and seafood, or it’s great in cold salads, too.

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Dine In: Buffalo Cauliflower Poppers


Buffalo Cauliflower PoppersSince my boys’ favorite vegetable is cauliflower and my favorite everything is buffalo-flavored, when I saw a recipe on my favorite blog, I knew it was going to be a hit at our house.

I was right because when Kevin Lynch from Closet Cooking posts a recipe, he’s never, ever wrong.

I like to say this one is healthy. Minus the bleu cheese or ranch dip, it’s extremely healthy. In fact, this would even be a great snack for the big game!

Buffalo Cauliflower Poppers
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 Tbsp oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup hot sauce
bleu cheese or ranch dressing for dipping (optional)

Directions:
Toss the cauliflower florets in the oil, salt and pepper; arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 400°F oven until lightly golden-brown, about 20-30 minutes.

Toss cauliflower in the hot sauce and enjoy warm with bleu cheese or ranch dressing for dipping.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 48, Fat: 4 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (0.3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 400 mg, Carbohydrates: 4 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 1 g



Shop the Sale: Hot Chicken Salad Casserole


Hot Chicken Salad CasseroleYou know you’re in the South when the words “chicken salad” and “casserole” appear in the title of the same recipe.

Goodness knows we love our chicken salad and our casseroles, and both are great on a chilly winter night.

There’s a restaurant in my hometown that I’ll go to when meeting girlfriends for lunch. They always have the best selection of warm salads, cold salads and hot soups (oh yes, and pimento cheese, but that’s probably another post). I can totally envision this hot chicken salad casserole fitting right in on their salad bar!

Chicken breasts are on sale this week, so try this one night soon.

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole

Ingredients:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
pinch of dried thyme and rosemary, crushed
4 cups diced cooked chicken
4 eggs, boiled and chopped
1/2 cup minced celery
1/3 cup finely minced onion
1 green onion, sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
topping (below)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13 x 9 baking dish. In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise and soup; blend well. Stir in the cheddar cheese, lemon pepper, thyme and rosemary. Add the chicken, eggs, celery, onion, green onion and almonds; mix. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt only as needed, then transfer to prepared baking dish. Add the topping. Bake 20 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Topping: Vary the casserole toppings by using additional shredded cheese on top, alone or with one of these toppings: 1 cup of Panko bread crumbs, dry bread crumbs, a sleeve of crushed saltines or Ritz crackers mixed with 1 to 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted or simply slice cold butter thinly and scatter over the top; or add 1-1/2 cups of crushed plain or kettle style potato chips to the top.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 389, Calories from Fat: 220, Fat: 24 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 162 mg, Sodium: 686 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 29 g



Family Matters: Birthday Boy


Birthday BoyI could probably write this post every year. In fact, I think I probably have, but where on earth does time go?

My older son will turn 12 on Tuesday, and it feels like he was just born yesterday or the day before.

In the blink of an eye, he went from a 7-pound bundle of joy to a smart, handsome, clever, funny, hardworking young man.

I think back to all those milestones: When he took his first step in the kitchen and I cheered so loudly he fell down and started to cry.

When I left him in the church nursery for the first time and spent the entire worship service worrying.

When he went off to school for the first time and I went home and cried and cried and cried.

When he played on his first soccer and basketball teams. When he wanted to learn Power Point (in the first grade) so he could give his class a presentation on the real meaning of Easter.

When he started middle school and went to his first dance.

It goes by so quickly.

Enjoy every day and every moment, even the tough ones, the mouthy ones, the sleepless ones and the worrisome ones. You never get those moments back.

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Posted in: Family Matters


Healthy Living: Black Bean Stuffed Avocado


Black Bean AvocadoLast night, I went straight from work to an event for the 2014 Cattle Baron’s Gala. The actual gala raises money for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society to provide patient support services and fill other needs for people suffering from cancer in our area.

A Cattle Baron’s event has happened in almost every southern city I’ve lived in, but this is the first year I’ve actually been a part of the committee that puts it all together. The American Cancer Society estimates that right now, more than 13 million people are living with cancer. Chances are that it will impact the lives of each and every one of us, so I definitely felt compelled to get involved with Cattle Barons.

Last night’s event was the announcement of the entertainment for this year’s gala. The fun part was that the headliner himself, Joe Nichols, was in attendance! The other fun part was the FOOD. Let’s be honest, it’s always the food.

There were flat bread pizzas topped with grilled vegetables, brisket and ribs, enchiladas in a white queso sauce and a nacho bar. However, what I went straight for were the stuffed avocados. This particular dish is a signature of the catering company. I only get them at their events, and I look forward to them every time.

There were three different kinds of stuffed avocados: black bean, mango and corn. I love the black bean variety!

Even better, studies show that avocados are a great cancer-fighting food because they’re rich in many nutrients, including potent antioxidants and phytochemicals as well as vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy, monounsaturated fats.

In addition, black beans have been linked to reducing the risk for prostate and breast cancers, as consuming more legumes increases levels of the fatty acid butyrate, which in high concentrations has protective effects against cancer growth.

This dish is a win/win, no two ways about it. 

Black Bean Stuffed Avocados

Ingredients:
2 large, ripe avocados
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup prepared salsa

Directions:
Mix black beans and salsa. Slice avocados in half; remove the stone. In the indentation left by the pit, scoop a generous two tablespoons of the bean mixture and stuff into the avocado. Serve cold or place under the broiler for about one minute.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 366, Calories from Fat: 183, Fat: 20 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 107 mg, Carbohydrates: 31.8 g, Fiber: 14 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 12 g



Product Talk: Red Curry Paste


Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle SoupI’ve been at my current job almost three months now, three months of torture several times a week as my co-workers carry brown paper bags into the newsroom at lunchtime.

The aromas drifting from those bags are nothing less than heavenly.

Finally, I just asked and was told that there was a little Thai restaurant about two blocks from our office building that is pretty much frequented by EVERYONE who works downtown, plus more. I was also told to call at least an hour in advance if I wanted food because this tiny restaurant stays so busy.

Once I tried it, I knew why the wait was so long! The owners are from Thailand, so the food is as authentic as it comes.

I’d rather go eat there, but when I’m at home, it’s fun to make my own Thai food, too.

One of the ingredients in a lot of Thai cooking is red curry paste.

Red curry paste is basically a blend of roasted red chilies, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, onion, tomato and some other seasoning to make a very flavorful blend. It’s spicy, so you can adjust the amount you use in recipes as needed. You’ll find it with the other Asian foods on your Brookshire’s grocery shelves!

Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
1/4 cup red curry paste
4 cups chicken broth
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1 cup sweet potato or butternut squash, peeled and diced
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce
2 Tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
6 oz rice noodles
2 cups bean sprouts
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup peanuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 green onions, sliced

Directions:
Heat the thick part from the top of the can of coconut milk in a large saucepan over medium heat; add the curry paste and blend until fragrant, about a minute

Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, chicken, sweet potato, peanut butter, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked and the sweet potato is tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the soup. Shred or slice it and optionally puree the sweet potato with a hand blender before returning the chicken to the soup.

Add the mushrooms, red bell pepper and rice noodles, and cook until the noodles are tender, about 5 minutes.

Mix in the bean sprouts; remove from heat and serve garnished with cilantro, chopped peanuts and green onions.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 513, Fat: 31 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (17 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 37 mg, Sodium: 1622 mg, Carbohydrates: 33 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 11 g, Protein: 31 g

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

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Dine In: Mac and Cheese with Chicken Sausage


Mac and Cheese with Chicken SausageObviously, any recipe about macaroni and cheese is going to catch my eye; although, it will forever be impossible to top the version my friend, Stephanie, makes. However, in the days of watching my weight, Stephanie’s version, with its heavy cream, pounds of cheese and cheddar soup, is a special-occasion-only meal.

While hers reigns supreme, I’ve tried less caloric versions to get my mac and cheese fix. This version came from a blog I thought was called “The Dude Diet,” but when I went back and looked for it, I couldn’t find it again. Anyway, this includes cauliflower! My kids and I LOVE cauliflower.

We tried it last Friday night and loved it, especially with the addition of chicken sausage to add protein and to satisfy my meat-loving sons.

Mac and Cheese with Chicken Sausage
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1/2 head cauliflower, florets removed
2 cups water
2 cups skim milk, divided
2 1/2 cups gluten-free elbows (or regular macaroni), uncooked
2 pre-cooked chicken sausages, sliced
1 3/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta
1/2 – 3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper

For the topping:
3 Tbsp whole wheat Panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp grated parmesan
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Directions:
Start by cooking the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower florets, 2 cups water and 1 cup milk in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes until the cauliflower is very tender.

Bring a separate pot of water to a boil for your macaroni. When boiling, add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes before straining. It should be slightly undercooked and still firm.
While the cauliflower and pasta are cooking, sauté the sliced chicken sausage in a non-stick pan for 5-6 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.
When the cauliflower has finished cooking, strain it and discard the cooking liquid. Transfer the cauliflower to a blender or food processor; puree until smooth. Return the cauliflower puree to the pot over medium-low heat. Whisk 1 cup milk into the puree then slowly add 1 1/4 cups of the shredded cheddar, the parmesan and the ricotta. Season the sauce with kosher salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

Stir the macaroni and chicken sausage into your cheese sauce.

Pour the mac and cheese into a skillet or baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine the Panko, parmesan and smoked paprika for the topping. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar over your mac and cheese, and top with an even layer of the Panko mixture.
Transfer your mac and cheese to the oven; bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling slightly. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 547, Calories from Fat: 196, Fat: 22 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 70 mg, Sodium: 1085 mg, Carbohydrates: 56 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 32 g

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

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Posted in: Dine In


Family Matters: Valentine’s Tradition


Valentines

Flowers, candy and stuffed animals are what most people think about when you mention Valentine’s Day. At our house, we treat Valentine’s Day differently; we don’t do the traditional flowers and candy. My husband found after a few years of purchasing items for five women in the house that it is a lot of money spent on things that are short lived. So, he decided to make a new tradition that would not take the “sweetness” out of the occasion. 

Every year, my girls and I are treated to a home-cooked meal prepared by their dad and then a trip to a movie. We go to an early show (saves money), and since we just ate at home, no one is hungry for snacks at the movie (another money saving tip). As a family of six, we do not go to the movie but a few times a year, so this is a real treat for us to go together. The meal is always special knowing it was prepared with love and then sitting together as a family and enjoying it. 

To some, our Valentine’s tradition may not be what you consider spectacular, but to our family, it is something we look forward to each year. The money spent on flowers, candy and stuffed animals is something that no one remembers weeks later, but the time my husband spends making Valentine’s special each year, we will forever hold dear. 

Don’t go broke trying to show those you love the most that they are special. Focus on your family by personally adding a little “sweetness” to their Valentine’s. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you are given with them.  

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Posted in: Family Matters


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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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