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Shop the Sale: Firecracker Chicken Tenders


Firecracker Chicken TendersI’ve been on a Chinese food kick lately, and this is one of my favorite recipes from my favorite Chinese restaurant to make at home.

The sauce is sweet, spicy and sticky, and it clings to the golden chicken tenders perfectly.

Speaking of golden chicken tenders, they’re baked not fried, so I can feel good about that as I’m feeding my family. I have to double this recipe with two teenage boys in the house.

I like to serve this with steamed white rice to soak up the extra sauce and green beans with slivered almonds.

Firecracker Chicken Tenders

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
3 eggs plus 3 Tbs water
1/3 cup flour

Sauce:
1/3 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbs ketchup
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs water

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425° F.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Pat tenders dry with paper towels. Add flour and chicken strips to a large zip-top bag and seal. Shake to coat the chicken. Place breadcrumbs in a large bowl.

In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs and water until foamy. Dip the chicken pieces in the egg wash; toss in the breadcrumbs, coating well. Place on the baking sheet, and repeat until all chicken is prepared. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through.

While the chicken is baking, combine all sauce ingredients in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir for about 5 minutes until well-combined. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until chicken is finished cooking.

Remove chicken from the oven. Toss with sauce. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 744, Calories from Fat: 164, Fat: 18 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 274 mg, Sodium: 1203 mg, Potassium: 647 mg, Carbohydrates: 90 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 51 g, Protein: 61 g.

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



Healthy Living: Chimichurri Hummus


Chimichurri HummusMy friend Paula is the one who introduced me to hummus while I was living in Germany, of all places.

Paula, of Middle Eastern descent, made all kinds of foods that were exotic to me: baba ganoush, tabouli, falafel. I loved them all.

While I’ve always loved food of any kind, the years I lived overseas really solidified my adventurous taste buds. It’s almost a necessity when burgers and pizza aren’t available on every corner.

Paula also introduced me to the benefits of a healthier Middle Eastern diet, much like the Mediterranean way of eating, full of whole foods and healthy oils.

Hummus was, from early on, my favorite thing she made.

Fast forward about 20 years (I’m not saying exactly how many!), and I still love hummus. I love to add different flavors into the base recipe and use it as a dip for my veggies.

I always hear people asking if they can skip the tahini (sesame paste) in hummus recipes. No, you cannot. It’s what gives the hummus that extra depth of flavor, umami, if you will, that makes it positively addictive.

This healthy recipe can be eaten in large quantities.

Chimichurri Hummus

Ingredients:
2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked or canned
1 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1/3 cup tahini
1/2 cup shallots, diced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
juice of one lemon
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Drain beans thoroughly.

Chop parsley and basil so that stems are removed.

Place beans, parsley, basil, tahini and shallots in a food processor and blend until smooth. Drizzle in oil and pulse until well incorporated. Add remaining ingredients except chili flakes and black pepper.

Blend until you reach the desired consistency, smooth and thick.

Top with chili flakes and black pepper.

Makes 2 to 3 cups

Serves 8 to 11, as an appetizer or snack

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 273, Calories from Fat: 118, Fat: 13 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 78 mg, Carbohydrates: 31 g, Fiber: 9 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 10 g

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

 



Product Talk – Top Care Ibuprofen


Top Care IbuprofenI recently began exercising again, and let me just tell you, starting an exercise program in your 40s is vastly different from going out on a Saturday morning and running a 5k effortlessly in your 20s.

Needless to stay, I’ve been SORE.

Top Care Ibuprofen to the rescue! It soothes my sore muscles with the same active ingredients that are in the name brands for a fraction of the cost, so I feel even better about that.

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, so it relives inflammation in the body to help with headaches, sore muscles and other ailments. It doesn’t interact with other drugs and is pretty safe for almost everyone to take, but always consult your doctor. It also doesn’t have any significant side effects.

Top Care makes an entire line of medications that you can feel good about using, and you can definitely feel good about the price.

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Dine In – Grilled Beef Kabobs


Grilled Beef KabobsThe weather has finally cooled down and the clean, crisp air is absolutely exhilarating. I mean, I want to roll in the crunchy leaves on the ground and jump into the freshly-raked piles while wearing plaid and boots and drinking apple cider.

I want all things fall, now that it’s finally arrived.

My favorite thing to do on a Friday night is sit on the back porch with a fire in the fire pit and relax with the ones I love. This, of course, includes grilling something delicious.

When I think of the perfect way to end the week, I see my black, wrought iron porch furniture and pinion wood smoke billowing out of the chiminea. I can hear the sizzle as something delicious hits the hot grates of the grill.

This Friday, it will be Grilled Beef Kabobs. If you have time, start marinating these on Thursday night or Friday morning before you go to work or get busy with the hustle and bustle of the day. The extra time in the marinade will make the beef extra tender. For a side dish, double the amount of marinade and soak some cleaned button mushrooms. Then thread them on skewers and grill along with the meat. Grilled bacon-wrapped asparagus would be a great way to round out the meal. Finish by halving Granny Smith apples, brushing them with honey, grilling until tender, and then serving with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Grilled Beef Kabobs

Ingredients:
2 lbs sirloin, cut into 2-inch cubes

Marinade Ingredients:
2 Tbs beef stock or red wine
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Montreal steak seasoning
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried oregano
black pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves

Directions:
Trim the sirloin of visible fat and cut into 2-inch cubes.

Whisk together the beef stock (or wine), balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, steak seasoning, dried rosemary, dried oregano, black pepper, and add bay leaves.

Place in a large, plastic zip-top bag with the meat and marinate for at least 4 to 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Thread meat onto skewers, being certain to leave some room between pieces for even cooking.

When ready to cook, preheat grill to medium-high.

Grill kabobs to desired doneness, about 8 to 10 minutes for rare, 10 to 12 for medium rare or 12 to 15 minutes for medium.

Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 359, Calories from Fat: 161, Fat: 18 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 135 mg, Sodium: 144 mg, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 46 g.

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



Healthy Living: Using Hand Sanitizer


Using Hand SanitizerBack in the day, when my younger son was at that age, I taught preschool for two years. It was great because I got to go to work with him every day while still earning an income, but the downside was that I spent the first year teaching preschool sick. I mean, really sick. I not only contracted every cold that came through my classroom door, but I also battled a bout of strep throat and pneumonia. My immune system was the pits.

The next year, I invested in the industrial sized bottles of hand sanitizer for my classroom. The kids learned to apply some when they entered the room, when they came back from the bathroom (even after they washed their hands) and after recess.

I didn’t get sick that year.

Hand sanitizer is an easy and convenient way to help stay healthy on the go. An alternative to soap and water, hand sanitizer usually comes in liquid, gel or foam form. It contains a high level of alcohol. Alcohol rub sanitizers kill most bacteria and fungi and stop some viruses. Alcohol rub sanitizers containing at least 70 percent alcohol (mainly ethyl alcohol) kill 99.9 percent of the bacteria on hands 30 seconds after application and 99.99 percent in one minute, according to studies.

I have a small, travel-sized bottle in my purse, for on-the-go sanitizing. It really came in handy at the state fair, let me tell you.

I have another bottle on my desk and another in the boys’ bathroom in my home.

You can’t avoid all germs this fall and winter, so protect yourself the best way you can.



Product Talk: Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce


Ocean Spray Cranberry SauceWe have three kinds of cranberry sauce at my house for Thanksgiving – homemade, canned jellied cranberry sauce and canned whole berry cranberry sauce. It’s too good not to have a variety.

Homemade is good because you get whole berries and you can add your own seasonings. I prefer to put orange, lemon, lime, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom in mine.

But I love canned Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce. I like the whole berry variety, and my boys love the “smooth” jellied kind.

The jellied variety slices so beautifully for a serving tray and also (let’s be honest) to use on sandwiches later.

Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce is made with the freshest ingredients and is available year round, but you’ll find it especially prominent throughout the holiday season. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

If you really want to switch things up this holiday season, try the Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry Cranberry Sauce. I might have to add a fourth kind of cranberry sauce to my table this Thanksgiving.

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Dine In: Stuffed Pork Chops


Stuffed Pork ChopsWe debated going out to dinner Friday night, but it was drizzling. It had been a long week, and we had to catch up on Netflix.

Staying home and dining in won out.

During the week before, Paul had mentioned making stuffed pork chops for dinner, but the New York Strips that were on sale at Brookshire’s won out.

On Friday night, however, we went for the pork chops.

It’s funny how, in all my love of Southern cooking, I’d never stuffed a pork chop. Paul, however, knew just how he wanted to make them. The house smelled amazing while they were cooking, and the result was fabulous.

Stuffed Pork Chops

Ingredients:
4 (2-inch thick) pork loin chops
2 Tbs Cajun seasoning
1 Tbs black pepper
1 lb Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 box Stouffer’s Cornbread Dressing (including ingredients to prepare it)

Directions:
Cut a slit in the center of each pork chop, creating a pocket. Season each chop with Cajun seasoning and black pepper. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Prepare cornbread dressing mix according to package directions. Set aside.

Brown sausage in a large, oven-proof skillet. Remove meat with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Stir in chopped green onions and cornbread dressing until well-combined. Stuff 1/4 of each mixture into each chop, pressing meat together to seal.

Reheat the sausage drippings over high heat. Sear each chop in the hot pan, turning once to sear each side. Place pan in the oven; cook for 30 minutes.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 1088, Calories from Fat: 707, Fat: 79 g (28 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 264 mg, Sodium: 1419 mg, Potassium: 1057 mg, Carbohydrates: 26.6 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 65 g.

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



Family Matters: Christmas Baking


Christmas BakingOne of my favorite memories of childhood is helping my mom with the Christmas baking.

Our house always smelled good at holiday time, and there was never a shortage of baked treats to eat. In fact, lunch on Christmas Day was usually Christmas cookies sandwiched between a big breakfast of homemade cinnamon rolls and sausage and the Christmas dinner.

You’d know when the season would start because my mom would make her cinnamon raisin bread. We’d take bundles of those loaves of sweet deliciousness in our arms, and we’d carry them to neighbors and to our teachers who looked forward to them every year. I was back home visiting last year, and someone even asked, “Does your mom still make that raisin bread?” Indeed, she does.

One of the best parts of the raisin bread was helping her knead the dough, punching it down, and wrapping the golden-brown loaves in aluminum foil to deliver to loved ones.

Baking with kids is so much fun. It’s great quality time to spend together over scents of yeast, cinnamon and heaps of sugar.

I loved learning how to knead dough until it was no longer sticky but not yet tough, how to punch it down when it had doubled in volume, and how to never open the oven door when it was baking. I got to talk to mom, too. Sometimes, in a household with five kids, one-on-one time was hard to come by, but I could always count on baking together.

We also baked Christmas cookies, usually three or four varieties, but the highlight of the cookie-baking experience was always the Saturday when we made the sugar cookies. It was an all-day endeavor, and it became a tradition that my mom continues with some of my nephews who live nearby. We’d make the dough the night before, so it would have a chance to chill before we rolled it out and cut the shapes. They included candy canes, stars, trees and even Santa, himself. Then, each kid would get a baking sheet and some decorations, and they could decorate to their hearts’ content. My brother was the painstaking one who’d line up individual sprinkles on the cookies in intricate patterns. My other brother was a dumper: the more colored sugar he could get on a cookie, the better. I was somewhere in between. My favorite part was really creaming together the butter and the sugar to make a light yellow, fluffy cloud of cookie base. It was also being in the kitchen with my mom.

Kids can help with so many Christmas treats. Make a memory and a tradition today by picking out a project to make with them. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Dip pretzel rods in melted chocolate, and roll in Christmas-colored sprinkles. Bake pumpkin bread or pecan pie. Whatever you choose, food, family and fun make the holidays special.



Shop the Sale: Turkey Talk


Turkey TalkIt’s time to talk turkey, since the big day is coming right up.

First of all, go ahead and buy your turkey this week since they’re on sale at Brookshire’s.

Secondly, don’t forget to take it out of the freezer in time. Been there, done that. Give it three to five days to thaw in the refrigerator, depending on the size of the bird.

Last year, we smoked our turkey. This year, we’re going to roast it, but we’re also going to brine the bird.

Brining is simply soaking the bird in a solution of salt and some acid (and a little sweetness) to lock the juices into the bird before cooking. It’s like marinating the turkey because your bird will absorb the fluids and flavors by osmosis. Brine your turkey for 18 to 24 hours before roasting it for best results.

Your brine can consist of almost anything, but you want to make sure to use 1 cup kosher salt and 1/2 cup sugar for every gallon of brine you make. You’ll probably need at least two gallons to cover your turkey.

You can flavor your brine with slices of citrus like lemons or limes; with sliced apples; with lots of fresh herbs like sprigs of rosemary and sage or chunks of ginger; or with cloves of garlic. You can use cider or broth in place of the water (although if you’re using cider or something sweeter, I’d only replace half of the water).

After you’ve mixed all the ingredients together until well-combined, submerge your turkey, and place in the refrigerator. Some people feel safe brining in a clean cooler, but I don’t trust Texas weather to keep it cool enough. You can use a roasting bag, a large stockpot/baking pan or whatever vessel is large enough to hold your turkey and the brine and still fit in the fridge.

For extra-crispy skin when you roast the bird, remove from brine the night before Thanksgiving and let dry. Rub with butter and herbs; replace in the refrigerator, UNCOVERED, overnight. Bring to room temperature for an hour before roasting.



Healthy Living: Perimeter Shopping


Perimeter ShoppingI ran into one of my uber-healthy friends while grocery shopping this morning. In addition to the fact that she’s beautiful, fit and ENJOYS eating celery, I was wearing scuzzy clothes and didn’t have on any makeup. Of course, that’s pretty much the law when you leave the house in a state of disrepair. The best I had going for me is that I was clean.

However, makeup and T-shirt aside, I found myself wanting to hide my shopping cart from her. Oh yeah, I had salmon, broccoli, zucchini and grapes, but I also had frozen waffles and ice cream. Hey, they are for my KIDS, okay?

Then, I started thinking that I should probably shop so that I don’t feel the need to hide my cart when a healthy eater walks by. My next thought was that I should do a better job of emphasizing healthy choices to my kids.

I put the frozen waffles back. My son will be just as happy with Greek yogurt for protein and dairy, and a banana for fruit and fiber. The other son can have real scrambled eggs instead of a frozen breakfast pastry.

I left the ice cream because I think it’s fine for growing, active kids to have a treat every once in a while.

One of the best ways to shop in a healthy way is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where the fresh fruits and vegetables are stored, along with the meats and dairy. I really do love walking through the Brookshire’s produce department and seeing the beautiful displays of colorful fruits and veggies.

Maybe next time I run into her, I won’t feel the need to hide my cart.

I’ll try to be wearing some makeup as well.

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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.

Product Talk

Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.

Healthy Living

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.

Dine In

Stop fighting the crowds, save money and dine in, every Friday.

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