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Dine In: Veal Milanese

Veal Milanese with Lemon Wine Caper SauceOver the weekend, we tried a new-to-me restaurant in our town where my boyfriend, Paul, used to be a regular. I can’t believe I’ve lived in Tyler, Texas, for seven years and had not been to this restaurant yet (especially with my love of eating out), but I hadn’t. When Paul suggested it for a pre-symphony feast, I readily hopped on board.

The Italian restaurant, in an unobtrusive commercial location, strikes the perfect balance between traditional and kitschy, with homage to the red-checked tablecloths that have come to mean Italian dining, juxtaposed with pictures of famous movie stars and singers that lend a slightly pretentious suggestion of connections to a bright, bold and flashy world. The lounge singer who came on while we were there was the perfect touch.

Kitsch aside, the waitstaff and the food were impeccable. The bread, freshly out of the oven, was crisp on the outside, and chewy and hot on the inside. The house Chianti was fragrant and fruity, and the meatballs were just like the ones my mom makes.

I indulged in the Veal Milanese because it’s a dish I would rarely make at home, except for maybe a special Friday night every once in a while. A traditional milanesa is a breaded veal cutlet. This version featured a lemon wine sauce, but what set it apart, other than the fact you could tell it was fresh and homemade, was the capers. The capers were plump and bright, and lent a burst of acidity to the rich dish.

This dish also works if you substitute chicken for veal.

Veal Milanese with Lemon Wine Caper Sauce

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup flour
2 lbs veal, portioned into 4 parts and pounded to about 1/2 inch thick
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 Tbs butter
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup capers
1/2 lemon, juiced
chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced (for garnish)

Mix salt, pepper and flour in a shallow dish.

Pound veal cutlets to thin and even dimensions.

Dredge the veal cutlets in the flour mixture. Shake off excess; set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons olive oil with the butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the veal and brown on both sides. When cooked through, remove from pan and tent with foil to keep warm. Deglaze the pan with white wine and swirl, scraping the bits of browned veal up into the sauce. Add the chicken stock; cook until the liquid has thickened. Add 1 tablespoon more olive oil, capers, lemon juice and parsley. Stir over high heat for about 5 minutes. Pour sauce over the veal. Garnish with sliced lemons and serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 687, Calories from Fat: 305, Fat: 34 g (12 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 250 mg, Sodium: 886 mg, Potassium: 853 mg, Carbohydrates: 26 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 59 g.

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Shop the Sale: Slow Cooker Beef and Rice

Slow Cooker Beef and RiceI’ve made no secret of the fact that my younger son is obsessed with rice. Anything he can eat with the rice is A-OK in his book.

I’ve also overshared about my love of the slow cooker. Seriously? How did we get through life without this invention? Oh yeah, we didn’t work full-time, have second jobs, have to be at soccer practice by 7pm, but before that, homework, chores, more homework and, oh yeah, dinner.

I wouldn’t survive Tuesday nights without my slow cooker; it’s as simple as that. Dinner is ready when we walk in the door. Anything extra that has to be cooked, like rice, can be done during homework. We eat at a reasonable hour so no one is getting a stomachache at soccer practice, and we can get out the door (reasonably) sane.

I also love it when meat is on sale at Brookshire’s because then I can stock up for my meat-and-potatoes (or rice) guys!

Slow Cooker Beef and Rice

4 cups beef broth
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce1 onion, chopped
2 lbs rump roast, cut into small chunks
2 to 3 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs garlic, minced
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup cold water
3 Tbs cornstarch
4 to 6 cups white or brown rice, cooked

Mix broth, Worcestershire sauce and chopped onions in slow cooker. Add beef. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic and Italian seasoning.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. (I’ve found this works better on low.)

Just before serving, drain juices into a large pot; bring to a boil. Whisk together cold water and cornstarch. Add to pot and stir until thickened. Put gravy back in the slow cooker; stir. Serve over rice.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 494, Calories from Fat: 139, Fat: 15 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 1 mg, Sodium: 1970 mg, Potassium: 264 mg, Carbohydrates: 12 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 76 g.

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Product Talk: Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin SnickerdoodlesIt’s inevitable.

It’s the time of year we’re going to talk about pumpkin. Have you seen the hashtag #pumpkinspicelife? It’s because everything this month is pumpkin. That’s fine by me!

Pumpkin is super-healthy. It’s also super-great to cook with.

Libby’s Pure Pumpkin comes in a can, packed with nutrients, low in calories and fat and virtually sodium-free.

Pure pumpkin is not just for pumpkin pie (although that’s a mighty delicious way to use it). You can mix it into oatmeal for a vitamin boost. You can mix it with a prepared cake mix to make a low-calorie muffin. And you can use it to make cookies; snickerdoodles to be exact.

I wasn’t sure how these would go over at my house. I mean, I LOVE pumpkin, but I wasn’t sure how the people who would (hopefully) be eating the vast majority of the cookies would react.

I needn’t have worried: two dozen of this spin on the classic cookies were gone in the first day. (Disclaimer: They did NOT eat only cookies all weekend.) Chilling the dough overnight is a must; they were tender on the inside and crisp with cinnamon sugar on the outside.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Makes 4 dozen

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar for topping
2 tsp ground cinnamon for topping

Cream together sugar, butter and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer until pale yellow and fluffy. Add eggs and blend thoroughly.

In another bowl, sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Add in small batches into the wet ingredients. Do not over-mix. Add the pumpkin puree at low speed.

When well-mixed, place dough in the freezer for 90 minutes (or in the fridge overnight).

Pre-heat oven to 350º F. Mix extra sugar and cinnamon together well in a bowl. Roll a small mound of dough (about 2 Tbs) into a ball in your hand, and then roll in cinnamon sugar. Place on baking sheet 12 to a sheet (they will spread a little).

Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes. When just the edges of the cookies start to brown, you will know they are done. The middle part of each cookie is going to appear undercooked. Cool on a wire rack and you will see them look like they are cooked through.

Store in an airtight container.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 94, Calories from Fat: 39, Fat: 4 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 13 mg, Sodium: 56 mg, Potassium: 40 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Sugar: 8 g, Protein: 1 g.

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Dine In: Butternut Squash-Stuffed Shells

Butternut Squash-Stuffed ShellsThis has been one of the best weeks in recent history for a variety of reasons, but principal among them was finding out that my parents are coming to visit for Christmas!

Most years, I only see my parents once during summer vacation in Sandbridge, Virginia. On extra-special bonus years, I might get another visit in. This appears to be one of those years.

I’m already planning my menu for the four whole days they’ll be visiting.

I come from an Italian family, and my mom’s stuffed shells are the best ever. Mine are never as good as hers, so I’m not even going to try to duplicate the recipe this time around. Instead, I’m going to honor the dish with a variation on the traditional take on stuffed shells.

This is a recipe full of interesting flavors. The butternut squash is slightly sweet, especially after it has roasted and caramelized. The spinach, with its touch of acidity, offsets the sweetness of the butternut squash while the creaminess of the ricotta is balanced by the texture of the pine nuts. Then, the lemon brings it all together with a lovely brightness.

This is a great dish for a fall Friday night or to put in your holiday repertoire this year.

Butternut Squash-Stuffed Shells
Serves 8

2 cups roasted butternut squash
olive oil, for tossing
1 box jumbo pasta shells
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1 egg
1 tsp lemon zest, grated
4 Tbs butter, melted
1/2 cup butter
10 sage leaves (if you can’t find sage, substitute oregano or basil)
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon

Peel and chop the butternut squash, and then toss in olive oil. Roast at 425° F for 15 to 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.

Meanwhile, cook your jumbo pasta shells according to directions.

In a bowl, combine 2 cups ricotta, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic, spinach, egg, salt and pepper. Combine well. Add the roasted squash and grated lemon zest.

Spoon about 2 heaping tablespoons of the mixture into each shell, and place in a single layer in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour 4 tablespoons of melted butter over shells. Bake shells at 400° F for about 20 to 25 minutes.

While the shells are baking, make your sauce.

To make the sage brown butter sauce, melt the 1/2 cup butter in a sauté pan until it’s golden-brown, bubbly and has a nutty fragrance. Add at least 10 sage leaves and sauté until slightly crisp. Remove from heat and add the fresh lemon juice.

Remove shells from oven, pour sauce over shells and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 527, Calories from Fat: 292, Fat: 32 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (17 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 96 mg, Sodium: 344 mg, Potassium: 370 mg, Carbohydrates: 41 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 20 g.

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Shop the Sale: Mexican Steak Salad

Mexican Steak SaladThe days are getting shorter, dusk is coming earlier and my new solar-powered porch lights are making me want to spend more evenings on the back patio. Well, that and it’s not 100 degrees every night any more.

As much as I can complain about the summer heat in Texas, I do love the more mild autumns and winters. I REALLY love the fact you can comfortably grill outside all year long in the South, minus maybe a handful of days.

I like this steak salad because it combines my favorite food group, steak, with a more healthy salad, making it a hearty meal. The acid from the lime juice offsets the rich fattiness of the steak and the queso fresco provides a pop of flavor without a lot of added fat.

I also like this steak salad because boneless sirloin strip steak is on sale this week at Brookshire’s. The boneless sirloin really benefits from the marinade, so don’t skip that step!

Mexican Steak Salad

1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs cumin
2 Tbs garlic, minced
1 lb boneless sirloin steak strips
1/4 small red onion, sliced
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tsp
1 small head romaine lettuce, torn
1 small head butter lettuce, torn
1/2 cup cilantro
1 cup queso fresco or feta cheese, crumbled
1 avocado, sliced
3 Tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Mix the soy sauce with cumin and garlic. Marinate the steak in the soy sauce mixture for 30 minutes. At the same time, soak the red onions in ice water for 30 minutes. (It takes away the “bite” of the onion.)

Preheat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the steak 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest 5 minutes, and then slice against the grain. Follow the same directions for a gas grill.

Toss the steak with the romaine, butter lettuce, cilantro, queso fresco, onions and avocado. Whisk 3 tablespoons olive oil with the lime juice, and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour over salad and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 384, Fat: 26 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 52 mg, Sodium: 663 mg, Protein: 29 g, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Sugar: 2 g, Fiber: 5 g, Iron: 3 mg, Calcium: 140 mg.

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Dine In: Mashed Potato Pancakes

Mashed Potato PancakesOn Monday, you’ll read about the Swiss Steak that Paul made for dinner last weekend, so I apologize that these posts are coming in a little out of order. You see, to go with the Swiss Steak, we made mashed potatoes, and because we had leftovers the second day, we made the first day’s mashed potatoes into mashed potato pancakes.

They were delicious, but I think we’ll both readily admit there was a steep learning curve involved. Turns out you can’t just smash the day-old mashed potatoes into patties and drop them in hot oil. I mean, you can and we did, but I think there is a better method out there. In fact, I know there is.

You start with cold, day-old mashed potatoes, but then you need a binding agent, like egg. We used cheese, which is a delicious add-on, but it wasn’t enough to hold the potato pancakes together. We didn’t dredge the potatoes in anything, but it turns out, that would have given them a crispy, golden crust.

Ours were still good, but these are even better! We had them with leftover Swiss Steak, but I even had one again the next morning, topped with Canadian bacon and a fried egg. The golden yolk ran down over that potato pancake, and it was a little bite of heaven.

Mashed Potato Pancakes

2 cups mashed potatoes, cold
1 large egg, lightly beaten
6 Tbs all purpose flour
2 Tbs onions, minced or grated
2 Tbs green onions
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper, to taste
vegetable oil, for frying

Preheat oven to 250° F. Keep the potato pancakes warm in the oven when you’re done frying them.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and the egg. Then, add the onions, chives or green onions and cheddar. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Combine well.

In a large heavy skillet like cast iron, heat 1/8 inch of the oil over moderately high heat until it is shimmering but not smoking. Press a heaping mound of potatoes into a patty and place in the oil. Fry until they are golden-brown, about 1 minute per side. When they are golden, place on a platter lined with paper towels and keep them warm in the preheated oven.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 146, Calories from Fat: 44, Fat: 5 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 39 mg, Sodium: 253 mg, Potassium: 275 mg, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Protein: 6 g.

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Family Matters: Cooking = Responsibility

 Cooking = ResponsibilityAs my girls have gotten older, I found how helpful they can be, if given the opportunity to do something on their own. They get home from school before we get home from work, so they know if they wait for us to cook supper that it will be late when we eat. Therefore, they have taken on the responsibility of cooking a few nights a week. My rule is that I don’t care what you cook because I will eat it! It’s just nice getting home and not having to go straight to the kitchen.

When I buy groceries, they tell me what items they need for what they are planning on cooking that week. They check the weekly grocery ad and let me know what is on sale (budget shoppers!). They have learned that Pinterest has lots of recipes, or they look through our cookbooks (I know, who uses those anymore!). The twins are 16 now, and they cook just about anything you can imagine. I always tell them how great the food was and how much I appreciate them.

We make cookies for a boys’ home as part of a church ministry, and I came home the other night to them having made 8 dozen cookies. They were not all perfectly round nor did they look like the cookies I would have made, but they tasted great. What a blessing to me (who was exhausted) and to the boys receiving them! Letting your kids grow in responsibility reaches outside your home…what a great lesson!

What a blessing it is that my children do not feel the need for someone to wait on them hand and foot, but they step up and act responsible in helping. If we all pitch in on things that need to be done, then there’s more time we can spend as a family doing things together. Most children are willing (definitely able) to cook, clean and even do laundry if parents would let them. Don’t worry that it may not be the best meal you ever ate or chores may not be done exactly like you would have done it. Let your children learn responsibility; it is good for them and it helps them grow!

What a comfort I have in knowing my girls can cook, clean, plan ahead and work through matters on their own. They will be responsible adults which is a great virtue to have in college, at work, in church ministry and in your family. I count my blessings daily, and I give thanks for my girls and the responsible young ladies they have become!

Shop the Sale: Beef and Broccoli

Beef and BroccoliConsidering my son’s current affinity for white rice, I try to work it into as many dishes as humanly possible. While Luke is a sweet boy, he’s a picky eater. He likes rice, approximately two vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) and meat.

That doesn’t always make cooking easy.

This dish satisfies all his requirements AND is made in the slow cooker (which makes me happy). In addition, chuck roast is on sale at Brookshire’s this week, so really, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Beef and Broccoli

1 lb boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef stock or beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbs sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs cornstarch
1 (12 oz) bag frozen broccoli florets
white or brown rice, cooked

Whisk together the beef stock, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, sesame oil and garlic in the crockery of a slow cooker. Place beef strips in the sauce, tossing to coat. Cook on low setting for approximately 6 hours.

When your beef is almost finished, remove about 4 tablespoons of the sauce from the slow cooker, and whisk it with cornstarch. Stir it back into the slow cooker and add broccoli. Turn heat to high; let cook for about 30 more minutes, or until sauce is thickened and broccoli is cooked through. Serve over rice.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 563, Calories from Fat: 316, Fat: 35 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 117 mg, Sodium: 2090 mg, Potassium: 402 mg, Carbohydrates: 24 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 14 g, Protein: 34 g.

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Dine In: Steak Shish Kebabs

Steak Shish KebabsOne of the things Paul and I love to do together is cook. Specifically, grill. If it’s a Friday or Saturday night, you can pretty much guarantee we’re on the back porch grilling.

We love steak, but that’s just not practical every single time we grill. However, there are great ways to stretch a sirloin into a date-night meal without stretching your budget.
Enter Steak Shish Kebabs.

They cook up quickly, and the juices from the steak flavor the other ingredients on the skewers. They’re a meal right on a stick, so to speak.

Last Friday night, we made some with steak, tomatoes, Noonday onions and Honey Gold potatoes. We sat on the back porch, watched the hummingbirds flock to the newly-filled feeder, and enjoyed some good company, sizzling sounds and succulent smells.
To me, that’s the best kind of date night.

Steak Shish Kebabs

1 1/2 lb sirloin steak, cut into large pieces
2 Tbs Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 lb Honey Gold potatoes, parboiled and cut into large chunks
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 large sweet onions, cut into large chunks
wooden skewers

Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes, so they don’t burn when placed on the grill.

Season steak with Lawry’s and black pepper. Toss parboiled potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Thread steak, potatoes, tomatoes and onions onto skewers, alternating items.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place skewers on the grill. Grill for about 3 minutes per side, turning three times.

Carefully remove from grill. Enjoy.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 309, Calories from Fat: 86, Fat: 10 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 101 mg, Sodium: 90 mg, Potassium: 681 mg,
Carbohydrates: 16 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 37 g.

Shop the Sale: Bacon and Egg Cheese Ball

Bacon and Egg Cheese BallEverywhere I go, there are eggs on the food.

Eggs on pizza, eggs on burgers, eggs on noodles, eggs on sandwiches of any kind.

They’re easily the “it” ingredient of 2015.

What goes well with eggs? Well, bacon, of course.

Eggs and bacon clearly aren’t just for breakfast anymore, but when I was asked to bring a dish to a potluck brunch recently, I didn’t have to look much further than the classic breakfast staples. This cheese ball, a classic party food, makes breakfast so much fun. The trick is the soft-boiled egg. I’d probably soft-boil a few, just in case the first one doesn’t work out. Just remember to handle with care!

Use Brookshire’s Bacon for this recipe. On sale this week in your local Brookshire’s store, Brookshire’s Bacon stays crisp, even when cooked a few hours before you need it. This cheese ball lets you enjoy the creamy richness of the egg yolk with its best complimentary flavors: bacon and cheese!

Bacon and Egg Cheese Ball

8 oz aged cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz cream cheese, softened
6 slices Brookshire’s Bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 soft-boiled egg
crackers of your choice

Partially spread cream cheese on a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Place your soft-boiled egg gently in the center of the softened cream cheese, and use your hands or a small spatula to mold cream cheese around the egg, forming a ball.

Roll your ball of cream cheese in the shredded cheddar cheese until it’s covered, and then press bacon into the cheeseball, covering the bacon.

The cheese ball is now ready to serve, but you can also refrigerate it for a few minutes to encourage it to hold its shape.

Serve with crackers.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 336, Calories from Fat: 258, Fat: 29 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (15 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 105 mg, Sodium: 759 mg, Potassium: 189 mg, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Protein: 18 g.

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

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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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