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Healthy Living: Sweet Potato Slices


Sweet Potato SlicesI’m a sucker for any recipe that promises a secret ingredient.

Case in point, this sweet potato recipe.

If I’m browsing online, I have to click the link to find out what the secret ingredient might be. Call it a compulsion, but I have to do it.

In addition, sweet potatoes are one of those foods I know I SHOULD love, but I haven’t quite made it that far. That ambivalence fuels my determination to find the ultimate sweet potato recipe as well.

When I clicked on this link, I discovered the secret ingredient was kettle corn seasoning! Brilliant! That perfect balance of salty and sweet on a potato that needs both salty and sweet, in my opinion. I loved the result even more because sweet potatoes are SO GOOD FOR YOU. They are oozing with vitamins and nutrients, low in fat, high in potassium and often called “the perfect food.”

I’ll make this one again.

Sweet Potato Slices

Ingredients:
2 to 3 large sweet potatoes, about 1 1/2 lb
nonstick cooking spray
2 Tbs kettle corn seasoning
1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Wash potatoes and slice into 1/2-inch rounds. Lay flat on a baking sheet covered with tin foil or parchment paper. Spritz with nonstick cooking spray, and sprinkle with kettle corn seasoning and cinnamon. Bake for 12 minutes or until tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 123, Calories from Fat: 2, Fat: 0 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 41 mg, Potassium: 540 mg, Carbohydrates: 28 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 11 g, Protein: 2 g.



Dine In: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough FudgeMy obsession this summer has been Andy’s Frozen Custard, specifically a chocolate chip cookie dough concrete with molten peanut butter poured into the middle. Chocolate chip cookie dough is my love language. I pretty much love anything chocolate chip cookie dough. It’s my favorite flavor of ice cream. It’s my favorite “mix-in” at Marble Slab Creamery. Yes, I even eat it raw by the spoonful every time I make cookies, and I haven’t gotten sick yet.

My sweetie loves fudge, and I love cookie dough. Trying this recipe was a no-brainer, a beautiful marriage of confections. It comes together quickly. The only problem with it is that the recipe says it keeps for a week in the refrigerator. In what alternate universe does chocolate chip cookie dough fudge last a week? Not in my house, for sure.

The directions tell you that 4 cups of powdered sugar make softer fudge, while 5 make a stiffer, sweeter version. I split the difference at 4 1/2 cups, and I thought it was just perfect. It had a great texture without making your cheeks pucker from overwhelming sweetness.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

Ingredients:
For the cookie dough:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbs half-and-half
1/2 cup all purpose flour

For the fudge:
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup butter
pinch of salt
1/3 cup half-and-half
4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:
Using heavy-duty foil or parchment paper, line an 8 x 8-inch pan, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Spray liberally with nonstick cooking spray.

Make this fudge in 2 parts. First, you prepare the “cookie dough” portion, then you stir it into the fudge base.

For the cookie dough, combine butter and sugar in a large bowl, and beat together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, salt and half-and-half. Stir in the flour until just incorporated. Don’t overmix. Set aside.

To make the fudge base, combine the brown sugar, butter, salt and half-and-half in a heavy saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until the butter melts and the brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth and well-combined. Add the vanilla.

Add the cookie dough to the fudge base and stir gently to combine. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish; chill until set, at least 3 hours.
Keep in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In, Kids


Shop the Sale: Smoked Mojo Chicken Leg Quarters


Smoked Mojo Chicken Leg QuartersOne of the first things Paul made, when he got a smoker for his birthday, was a smoked whole chicken. I’ve been craving it again ever since.

This recipe uses leg quarters, which smoke beautifully and have great potential for presentation.

The chicken marinates in a bright, flavorful marinade full of citrus flavors with the heat of jalapeño peppers and the depth of spices including cumin and oregano. I’d recommend marinating it overnight or at least all day. That just gives you more flavor.

One of the things I really love about this recipe is that you don’t need a traditional smoker to make it work. The Applewood chips add smoke and a slightly sweet flavor to this chicken, a perfect complement to the sweetness in the chicken.

Pilgrim leg quarters are on sale this week at Brookshire’s, and it might just be the perfect time to smoke some more chicken.

Smoked Mojo Chicken Leg Quarters

Ingredients:
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbs orange zest, loosely packed
1 Tbs lime zest, loosely packed
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed
6 large garlic cloves
2 red jalapeño peppers
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 chicken leg quarters (about 5 1/2 lb)
6 cups Applewood chips

Directions:
Combine the first 12 ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for about 20 seconds, or until everything is finely chopped and incorporated. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the mixture for later use. Chill.

Place chicken in an extra-large, plastic zipper bag. Pour the rest of the marinade over the chicken, zip closed and let marinate overnight, or at least 8 hours.

When you’re ready to cook, place 3 cups dry Applewood chips in the center of a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil and fold over to make a packet. Poke a few holes at the top of the packet. Make two packets, reserving one.

Preheat grill to 350° F, either leaving one side unlit on a gas grill or banking coals to one side on a charcoal grill. Place the packet of Applewood chips, hole-side up, on the lit side.

Drain marinade and discard. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Move Applewood chips to the unlit side of the grill, and replace with the chicken over the direct heat. Grill 4 to 6 minutes per side or until grill marks appear. Move to unlit side of the grill and the Applewood chips back to the lit side. Cover and cook, about 90 minutes, until the skin is golden-brown and chicken is cooked through.

You should replace Applewood chip packet halfway through the cooking process.

Warm reserved marinade and serve chicken with the sauce.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 763, Calories from Fat: 500 g, Fat: 56 g (14 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 287 mg, Sodium: 1080 mg, Potassium: 115 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 65 g.

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Healthy Living: Back-to-School Breakfasts


Back to School BreakfastThere’s no disputing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for our kiddos going off to school each morning. Eating breakfast stabilizes blood sugar, revs up the metabolism, and gives the body and mind fuel for the day ahead.

The best breakfasts are the ones that combine protein and a complex carbohydrate.

Here’s a list of breakfast ideas that will get your child powering through the school day:

  • Whole-grain waffles spread with natural peanut butter
  • Steel-cut oats with Greek yogurt and fruit
  • A whole-wheat tortilla filled with scrambled eggs and some cheese
  • A toasted, whole-grain English muffin with Canadian bacon and an egg
  • Scrambled eggs mixed with veggies like onions, peppers and mushrooms
  • An egg white omelet with zucchini, tomatoes and cheese
  • A fruit smoothie with a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread
  • Egg “Muffins.” Mix 6 eggs, 1 cup baby spinach, 1 cup black beans, 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese and 4 ounces ham. Pour into muffin tins lined with cupcake liners. Bake at 350° F until set, about 12 minutes.
  • Breakfast roll-ups. Press refrigerated crescent roll dough into triangles. Top with sausage, ham or bacon, and scrambled eggs and cheese. Roll up; bake at 375° F for 8 minutes.
  • Peaches and cream: Slice peaches and top with Greek yogurt. Sprinkle with granola.
  • Oatmeal topped with blueberries and slivered almonds
  • Homemade granola bars
  • Yogurt parfaits. Layer yogurt, fruit and granola in a pretty glass.


Dine In: Dip for Dinner


Mexi-QuesoA few weeks ago, Paul and I ate at a popular Mexican restaurant in downtown Tyler. During the day, this establishment is packed to overflowing with business people, jurors, politicians and anyone who works downtown.

On a Saturday afternoon it was just about deserted, which was fine with me because I could take a little more time to enjoy the ambience and get some recommendations from our waitress on dishes to try. I must confess, as popular as that restaurant is, I’d never strayed beyond a few menu items. I think it’s because there are so many things to try, I get overwhelmed with the decision.

Paul decided we’d order the Choriqueso.

“What’s that?” I wanted to know.

Turns out it’s exactly what it sounds like: chorizo and cheese.

On the menu it says, “Mexi-sausage and mozzarella.” Oh really? Most queso dips I’d tried didn’t have mozzarella in them, especially at a Mexican food restaurant. I wondered what else was in it.

Nothing. Nothing else was in it. The waitress brought us a bowl of browned, spicy Chorizo sausage mixed with melted mozzarella cheese. It was served with chips.

Oh my goodness, it was delicious.

One recent Friday night, we decided to make our version of the dip, which you had to eat really, really, really quickly or the mozzarella cheese got stringy. We married the American version of queso with the restaurant’s concept and ended up with the best of both worlds.

Oh, and we ate it for dinner.

Mexi-Queso

Ingredients:
1 lb chorizo links, removed from the casings
1 16-oz box Velveeta, cubed
1 10-oz can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies

Directions:
Brown sausage in a large skillet. Drain well. Pat with paper towels to remove excess fat.
Place into a slow cooker with cubed cheese and undrained can of tomatoes.

Cook on low until cheese melts. Serve with chips or tortillas.

Nutritional information: Calories: 285, Calories from Fat: 203, Fat: 23 g (10 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 60 mg, Sodium: 1079 mg, Potassium: 192 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 16 g.

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Family Matters: Back-To-School Time Savers


Busy Day Italian-Style Rump RoastIt’s back-to-school time, and we all know how busy school nights can be! With so much to do during the day, from getting kids up in the mornings and making the PTO meeting, to running them to soccer and dance after school, it’s easy to forget about making healthy meals—at least until it’s dinnertime!

For a lot of parents this can be an overwhelming time of the year. We send our kids off to school expecting them to keep up with all their classes and not lose any of their school supplies. Yet as we head to the kitchen to figure out what’s for dinner tonight, we begin to feel inadequate, unorganized and so wish we had a meal-planner genie!

As an out-of-the-home working Mom, I have found a few tricks that help me maintain sanity while putting a delicious meal on the table most nights of the week. For our family, mealtime is a wonderful time to sit down together, relax and talk about the day’s events.

FREEZE
Make a big pot of homemade soup, double the recipe of a casserole or lasagna and freeze half of it for a later evening when you have no time.

PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE
Prepare entrees you can mix together the night before, store in the refrigerator and then transfer to the oven right before dinnertime.

USE A SLOW COOKER
This has got to be the easiest way to have dinner ready the minute you walk in the door! There are hundreds of slow cooker recipes online to suit your family from chicken and beef recipes to appetizers and soups. Did you know you could even bake breads and desserts using a slow cooker?

One of my family’s favorite meals is a roast cooked in the slow cooker. With a boneless rump roast and your slow cooker handy, this meal is almost a no-brainer.

Busy Day Italian-Style Rump Roast
Servings: 8
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours

Ingredients
3 lbs boneless beef rump roast, well-trimmed
5 cups cut-up fresh vegetables, such as carrots, celery, onions and potatoes
1 package McCormick Slow Cookers Savory Pot Roast Seasoning
1 cup red wine or water

Directions
Place beef and vegetables in slow cooker. Mix seasoning mix and water until blended. Pour over beef and vegetables. Cover. Cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Remove roast and vegetables to serving platter. Stir sauce before serving.

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Shop the Sale: Taco-Stuffed Baguette


Taco-Stuffed BaguetteMy younger son, Luke, has been all into cooking this summer. He wants to help in the kitchen every time I make a meal, and he’s mastered several dishes on his own (like his breakfast scrambled eggs or omelet) over the past few months as well.

While I LOVE cooking with him, he makes me nervous. He wants to wield my chef’s knife like Jet Tila and that makes me uneasy. So far (knocking on wood), so good; no injuries reported in our kitchen!

Last night we watched Food Network together and played along with the shows, describing what we’d make if we were in the contestants’ place. Luckily, Luke doesn’t have free reign of the kitchen (Laffy Taffy Cheesecake, anyone?), but he is a pretty creative cook.

We were eating dinner one night recently and he said something like, “Wouldn’t tacos be good with bread instead of shells?” I whole-heartedly agreed. Pretty much anything is better with bread.

We found this recipe on Pinterest together and he made it recently. It doesn’t require any sharp knives, and he loved scooping out the bread (and eating it) along the way. You could also make croutons or breadcrumbs with the bread you take out of the middle of the loaf.

Angus ground chuck is on sale this week at Brookshire’s, so we made a double batch for big appetites!

Taco-Stuffed Baguette

Ingredients:
12 oz Angus ground chuck
1 (4.5) oz can chopped green chilies
1 (1 oz) package taco seasoning mix (or make your own)
½ cup salsa
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 20-inch bakery baguette, fully-cooked
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
Sea salt, to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Brown Angus ground chuck in a heavy skillet (we love cast iron) over medium high heat. Stir in taco seasoning and mix well. Drain grease and return the seasoned ground beef to the skillet.

Stir in green chilies and salsa.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, meat mixture, cilantro and both types of cheeses. Stir well to mix thoroughly.

Using a long serrated bread knife, slice the heels off both ends of the bread. Cut bread in half or into quarters for easy handling. Scoop out the soft, middle part of the bread, leaving about a ½-inch shell in tact.

Carefully fill each section of bread with the cream cheese mixture, being careful not to tear the shell of the bread.

In a small bowl, combine melted butter, garlic and sea salt.

Place bread on a large piece of heavy duty foil and brush with the butter mixture. Wrap completely. Place foil-wrapped bread in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes until inside is fully melted and the bread is browned.

Cut into more slices and serve immediately.

Nutritional information: Calories Per Serving: 351, Calories from Fat: 259, Fat: 29 g (16 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 94 mg, Sodium: 737 mg, Carbohydrates: 7 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 16 g

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



Healthy Living: Make-Ahead Snacks and Meals


Make-Ahead Snacks and MealsMy friend, Anthony, has been on an amazing healthy eating journey.

He has a job where his weight is closely scrutinized, and he’ll be the first to tell you that a love of Raising Cane’s chicken was not good for his figure.

So, he set about to eat healthier and make a lifelong change. He started exercising and lifting weights, and he prepares most of his meals and snacks in advance. That way, he has something ready and doesn’t resort to fast-food chicken.

He posts a lot of his ideas on Facebook, and I studied one of the posts lately to get some ideas for myself.

Some ideas for healthy, make-ahead meals and snacks include:

  • Overnight oatmeal.
  • Freezer breakfast sandwiches (whole-grain English muffins, egg whites, Canadian bacon)
  • Breakfast bowls (egg whites, black beans, baby spinach)
  • Sliced apples with a cup of natural peanut butter
  • Sliced pears with a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese
  • Tuna in a baby pita pocket
  • 1/2 cup of granola with dried cranberries
  • String cheese with 1/2 cup grapes
  • Zucchini crisps
  • Mason jar salads
  • Prepared stir-fry bags – slice up meats and veggies; store in serving-size bags (separately) and stir-fry when you get home


Product Talk: Rotisserie Chicken


Buffalo Chicken Salad with Brookshire's Rotisserie ChickenThis could be my favorite product in Brookshire’s, seriously.

The steam table with beautiful, golden rotisserie chickens is somewhere near your deli and meat counter in your local Brookshire’s. Mine is conveniently located near the checkouts and main doors, so as you’re either standing in line or dashing into the store at 5:30pm that heavenly smell of slow-roasted poultry envelops your senses.

You can do ANYTHING with a rotisserie chicken, I’m telling you. I’ve eaten them as is. I’ve used them for filling in enchiladas and empanadas, in a pasta dish and in soup.

Last week, I used one in a Buffalo Chicken Salad. Rotisserie chickens, which are cooked right in the store and set out all through the day for maximum freshness, come in either traditional or lemon pepper flavors. Both are superb.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Ingredients:
1 rotisserie chicken, meat shredded
4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 ribs celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
4 Tbs buffalo sauce or hot sauce
1/4 cup bleu cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Whip softened cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add salt, pepper, sour cream and hot sauce; blend well. Add bleu cheese, celery and chicken; stir gently. Refrigerate 2 hours or until flavors blend, but is still spreadable. Serve on a sandwich or on crackers.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 270, Calories from Fat: 136, Fat: 15 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (9 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 105 mg, Sodium: 217 mg, Potassium: 283 mg, Carbohydrates: 2 g

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Dine In: Cajun Chicken and Rice


Cajun Chicken and RiceThe other night at dinner, I asked my guys what was ONE food they could eat for the rest of their lives.

Curt was non-committal. After all, he’s 13 and it’s no longer cool to play Mom’s games at the dinner table.

Luke didn’t hesitate.

“Rice!” he declared.

Rice?

I mean, I like rice as much as the next person, but he waxed poetic about rice for several minutes.

A few days later, we went out to a Mexican restaurant. I told him he could ask for a double serving of rice instead of beans.

He ate his double rice, my rice and would have eaten his brother’s rice if I hadn’t put the kibosh on that, due to the fact his brother had a heinous summer cold (Luke caught it anyway).

While he’ll eat other forms of rice, his favorite is plain, old white rice.

However, there’s only so much of that I can take and am willing to serve. The best part of it is that if a dish contains rice, Luke is pretty much guaranteed to eat it!

Cajun Chicken and Rice
Serves 4

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.

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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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


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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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