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Dine In: First Week of School Slow Cooker Chicken Soup


First Week of School Slow Cooker Chicken SoupThe first week of school did me in.

Phew.

Between wrangling school supplies, gym clothes, homework, backpacks, instruments, equipment and early mornings, I’m done with a capital “D.” Done.

It was imperative that I serve an easy but healthy meal to cap off the first week of school.

This chicken soup fit the bill perfectly. It slow cooks all day, so you don’t have to wrangle dinner, on top of everything else Friday afternoon. It’s also Paleo, low-fat and full of flavor. Don’t skip the bones or the skin; they add flavor and nutrients to the soup. If you can make a clean cut, you can even cut through the bone with a cleaver (like I said, clean cut so there’s no shards in your soup), so the bone marrow can leach into your soup and infuse it with flavor and health benefits.

It’s a great meal for a Friday night or any school night.

First Week of School Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

Ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, diced
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs basil
1 Tbs oregano
2 organic chicken breasts, bone-in and skin-on
2 organic chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups filtered water

Directions:
Layer onions, celery, carrots and chicken in the slow cooker, ensuring chicken is bone-side down on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle with spices and apple cider vinegar. Add water to cover the vegetables, and come up to the midway point of the chicken, between 3 to 4 cups.

Cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker. Remove meat; discard skin and bones. Shred the chicken meat, and add back to the slow cooker.

Add more seasoning, if desired; heat through and serve.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 462, Calories from Fat: 153, Fat: 17 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 202 mg, Sodium: 704 mg, Carbohydrates: 7 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 67 g.



Family Matters: Breakfast Cookies


Breakfast CookiesGive me breakfast foods or give me cookies. I love them both! Then, what could be more perfect than cookies to start your day! Before you think I’ve gone off the deep-end, these cookies are packed with lots of wholesome ingredients like oats, bananas, blueberries and pecans.

These are so easy to make ahead of time and store in the freezer until you are ready to eat them. You can pop them in the microwave to enjoy hot or take them on the go with you. You will love these, and your kiddos will think you are awesome for giving them cookies for breakfast!

Breakfast Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Brookshire’s Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 cup Brookshire’s Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
1 Tbs golden flax meal
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried blueberries
3 very-ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed to liquid form
1 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325° F. Combine oats, coconut, flax meal, salt, pecans and blueberries in a bowl. Stir in bananas, coconut oil, agave and vanilla until well-combined. Firmly press together 2 tablespoons of mixture into a 2 1/2-inch flat round onto baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Continue with remaining mixture. Bake at 325° F for 20 minutes or until golden-brown. Let cool on pan.

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Shop the Sale: Friday Night Football Layered Pork Barbecue Cups


Friday Night Football Layered Pork Barbecue CupsMy son starts high school today.

Not two minutes ago, he was a toddler banging his head into tables, chairs, door frames and handles. Two minutes, I tell you.

Today, he will walk into the new high school building after cross country practice and go to his first period AP Algebra class. I won’t walk him into school. He won’t carry a Superman lunchbox, and he won’t be able to stand it if I write a note on his napkin.

Instead, he’s been hanging out with his cross country teammates. He volunteered at the fundraiser garage sale. He’s hauling around his trombone for Jazz Band.

Oh, and he eats. He and his friends can decimate a meal.

That’s why, when a group of parents and I were brainstorming for a fall fundraiser that had to serve food, we knew we had to come up with something hearty, filling and cost-effective for high school kids and their parents.

This would be a great meal for a fall football Friday night to sell at a concession stand, for a fall football tailgate, for a lunch fundraiser or for a block party. It looks a little messy, but it is kid – and parent – approved. Adjust the amounts as necessary for the number of people you’re serving (double that for high school boys).

Stock up on pork butt while it’s on sale at Brookshire’s this week for some spectacular savings.

Layered Pork Barbecue Cups

Ingredients:

PORK:
1 (5 lb) pork butt
salt
ground black pepper
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 large onions, roughly chopped

CUPS:
plastic cups
barbecue sauce
prepared pork (see above)
baked beans
prepared mashed potatoes
chopped onions
chopped pickles

Directions:
Rub pork butt with salt and pepper. Place in a slow cooker with apple cider vinegar and onions. Cook on low until fork tender, about 8 to 10 hours. Remove pork from slow cooker, reserving some of the juices; shred meat. Place back in slow cooker, and mix with juices.

To assemble the cups, place a scoop of baked beans in the bottom of a plastic cup. Top with shredded pork, some barbecue sauce and finish with a scoop of mashed potatoes drizzled in more barbecue sauce. Sprinkle with onions and pickles, if desired. Serve this portable treat with a spoon and plenty of napkins.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 548, Calories from Fat: 170, Fat: 19 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 261 mg, Sodium: 178 mg, Carbohydrates: 0 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g, Protein: 88 g.

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Dine In: Buffalo Chicken Casserole


Buffalo Chicken CasseroleSometimes, I need a buffalo chicken fix like nobody’s business.

It happened not too long ago on a Friday night when my kids weren’t home. My sweetie and I had the option to go to a nice restaurant for an adult meal at a place where there were no video games or TVs playing sports, where they put wine glasses on the table, and where they don’t hand you a roll of paper towels to clean your hands.

Did we do that? No.

“Um, can we go get wings?” I asked.

Wings it was; my sweetie is quite accommodating that way. I pile-drived through a basket of spicy buffalo wings, and I don’t even think I came up for air. Yes, there was a roll of paper towels on the table.

When I saw this recipe, I knew I was going to pile-drive through it, too. It’s a super fun recipe for a Friday night, and who doesn’t love fun on Friday? I know I do!

You can adjust the heat in this recipe; I tend to make it hotter.

Buffalo Chicken Casserole

Ingredients:
6 small chicken thighs
6 slices bacon
3 medium jalapeños, seeded and pithed
12 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
2 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Debone chicken thighs, and season with salt and pepper. Bake chicken thighs at 400° F for 40 minutes or until cooked through.

Chop up bacon slices, and cook until crisp. Just before the end of cooking, add jalapeños to the pan; cook until soft. Drain fat.

Return the pan to the stove (turn off heat). Add cream cheese, mayonnaise and hot sauce. Mix together until smooth.

When chicken is cool to the touch, remove skins. Place in a casserole dish, and top with cream cheese mixture. Then, add a layer of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Return to 400° F oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until cheese is slightly browned and bubbly.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 711, Fat: 462 g (24 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 222 mg, Sodium: 1165 mg, Carbohydrates: 5 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 55 g.



Shop the Sale: Southern Slow-Cooked Steaks


Southern Slow-Cooked SteaksI didn’t grow up with the tradition of the Sunday dinner (or as I’d have called it: lunch). However, since I moved to Texas, I’ve discovered that the Sunday dinner, which takes place after church and before the Sunday nap, is the main meal of the day.

We’ve recently come to adopt this tradition. Although, we tend to eat a big breakfast, skip lunch, and then have a big dinner in the late afternoon, before we have to start easing back into the Monday mindset.

This recipe is perfect for a Sunday lunch or dinner, whatever you want to call it and whenever you want to eat. However, it is slow-cooked, so you might want to adjust your timing accordingly.

Top sirloin steak is on sale at Brookshire’s this week, so stock up and save for your Sunday supper.

Southern Slow-Cooked Steaks

Ingredients:
2 lbs top sirloin steaks, cut into 3 to 4-inch pieces
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 cups water, divided
1 beef bouillon cube
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

Directions:
Sprinkle the steak pieces with the salt and pepper; toss to coat. In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is fragrant and sizzles, add half the steak pieces, and brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to the slow cooker, and brown the remaining steak. (Be careful not to overcrowd the pan, as the steak will steam instead of brown.)

Pour 2 cups of the water into the hot pan along with the bouillon cube and Worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat to medium; bring to a simmer.

Whisk flour, garlic powder and onion powder into the remaining 1 cup of water. Slowly pour this into the simmering liquid in the pan, stirring well to incorporate. Stir until the mixture thickens. Pour over steak in the slow cooker.

Optional: Add a cup of sliced onions or mushrooms before slow cooking.

Cover with the lid. Cook for 4 hours on high or 6 to 8 hours on low.

Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, cornbread or noodles.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 346, Fat: 14 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 135 mg, Sodium: 617 mg, Carbohydrates: 5 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 47 g.

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Healthy Living: Super Simple Marinara Sauce


Super Simple Marinara SauceSummer is the perfect time to make a healthy and hearty marinara sauce, using the freshest of summer vegetables and herbs.

It comes together quickly, and it is so fresh and tasty that simmering and stirring on a stove all day is not required (but it sure smells great if you do!).

Right now, tomatoes are at their peak, so grab some for your sauce today. You could also use a hybrid combination of fresh and canned like I do.

The beauty of a marinara sauce is that you can combine any herbs you like, not just limiting yourself to what’s traditional. Everything is at the peak of freshness and flavor right now.

Today, I have some simmering with Cuban oregano from my friend’s garden. She gave me a sprig last week that I’m trying to root hydroponically, but in the meantime, it smelled too good not to use. I also have fresh basil from my garden as well as locally grown onions and tomatoes.

I like a chunky marinara, but you could always give this a whirl in the food processor if you want it to be smoother.

The tomatoes are full of antioxidants and cancer-fighting agents. Make a huge batch of this, and freeze what you don’t use for later use.

Toss with a rigatoni pasta, or serve over slices of eggplant (my plan).

Super Simple Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:
1 lb local tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 can Italian diced tomatoes
2 oz tomato paste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450° F. Spread tomatoes and onions on a baking sheet. Roast until the edges turn dark, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to a large pot.

Add garlic, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, and continue cooking for 30 minutes. Process in food processor until smooth, if desired.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 57, Calories from Fat: 5, Fat: 1 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 406 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 2 g.

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Dine In: Stuffed Mushrooms


Stuffed MushroomsOn some Friday nights, I just don’t feel like cooking an elaborate meal, but luckily “appetizer night” always works well in my house.

These stuffed mushrooms are always one of my favorites. You can also vary this recipe easily, swapping out sausage for bacon or red onions for green onions, or adding hot sauce, bleu cheese and a variety of other ingredients.

They cook up quickly in the oven, and they are great with a meat and cheese board, an antipasto platter or just by themselves.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:
8 oz large button mushrooms, stems removed and brushed clean
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled
4 Tbs green onions, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Combine the cream cheese, bacon, green onions, and salt and pepper.

Remove stems from mushrooms and brush clean. You might need to scoop out some of the mushroom gills if the caps aren’t big enough to hold the filling. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in each mushroom.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Place mushrooms on a baking sheet, and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 266, Calories from Fat: 197, Fat: 22 g (10 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 62 mg, Sodium: 743 mg, Carbohydrates: 4 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 15 g.

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Healthy Living: Zucchini Lasagna Rolls


Zucchini Lasagna RollsI may have mentioned (97 times) that I’m eating low-carb.

I resisted trying to modify any kind of pasta dish because, let’s face it, pasta is pasta, and I’m Italian and we don’t mess with pasta.

However, this dish is an exception. I didn’t really go into it thinking of it as a pasta dish; I went in with the full knowledge I was eating a vegetable, not a piece of pasta. I also knew that swapping out the pasta for a veggie was so much healthier for me.

I grilled my zucchini on the grill instead of in the grill pan because I love the smoky flavor that you get from a grill. You can do either. I also rewrote the original recipe will full-fat ingredients. If you want to substitute lower-fat ricotta, cottage and mozzarella cheeses, you can certainly do that as well.

Zucchini Lasagna Rolls

Ingredients:
8 oz ricotta cheese
4 oz cottage cheese
3 Tbs parmesan cheese
2 Tbs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs fresh basil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
black pepper, to taste
2 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 8 (1/4-inch thick) slices
1 mild Italian turkey sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions:
For the filling, stir together ricotta, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, salt, garlic, red pepper and black pepper. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

For the zucchini, spray slices with nonstick cooking spray or brush with olive oil. Prepare grill pan to medium heat. Grill zucchini for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until flexible but still firm. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Spray a casserole or other dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread 1/4 cup marinara evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Blot zucchini dry. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling onto the zucchini, and spread in an even layer. Top with a tablespoon of cooked sausage crumbles. Roll up and secure with a toothpick. Place seam-side down in prepared pan.

Top with remaining marinara and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until bubbly. Serve immediately.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 184, Calories from Fat: 97, Fat: 11 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 33 mg, Sodium: 597 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 14 g.

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Dine In: Chili Hot Dog Bake


Chili Hot Dog BakeI’m trying to eat a low-carb diet.

This isn’t always easy.

Case in point, my family went out to dinner last night to a local pizza place where the crust is sublime. Best crust ever. Do you know how hard it is to scrape the pepperoni and cheese off your pizza and abandon the crust at the side of your plate? It’s excruciating.

So is eating a salad when your family is pile-driving pizza.

It’s been worth it, though. I’m getting my weight back to a healthy level, and I’m eating a ton more veggies because veggies are good carbs, if you didn’t already know.

One of the things that helps with a low-carb diet is eating more fat. Now, this sounds counterintuitive. Eat fat to lose fat, but it actually helps you stay full longer, so you don’t eat as much or snack as often.

This recipe has a lot of protein and fats to give you energy and to keep you full. Use a hot dog like Hebrew National, made with a lot of great ingredients, to make this recipe a little “cleaner.”

This comes together quickly on a Friday night, and you can serve it topped with some extra diced onions.

Hold the mustard.

Chili Hot Dog Bake

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
1 cup onions, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 cup water
8 all-beef hot dogs, sliced lengthwise and cut in half
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:
Combine the ground beef, onions, bell peppers and garlic in a large cast-iron skillet. Sauté until beef is browned. Drain the fat.

Add in the spices, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste and water. Stir to combine, and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Lay hot dogs in the bottom of a casserole dish. Top with the chili mixture. Top with cheese. Bake at 400° F for 15 to 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 440, Calories from Fat: 255, Fat: 28 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 118 mg, Sodium: 1447 mg, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 6 g, Protein: 35 g.

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Shop the Sale: Grilled Honey-Lime Chicken


Grilled Honey-Lime ChickenOne of the easiest things to do for dinner in the summertime is to throw some chicken on the grill!

It’s even tastier if you’ve marinated it overnight. This is a great recipe for an evening after a long Monday. I make it up on Sunday afternoon and leave it in the refrigerator until I need to grill it on Monday night. The only prep work you have to do on Monday is throw together a few side dishes (hello, baked potatoes and salad).

The lime juice is a wonderful acidic touch to the sweetness of the honey in this dish. I love adding heat to sweet, so I added the Sriracha to the marinade. You don’t have to include it, but I think it adds a depth of flavor that really complements the chicken.

Brookshire’s Combo Packs of chicken are on sale this week. Since this recipe doesn’t call for a specific piece of chicken, it’s perfect and definitely will please everyone in your family. Bone-in chicken is great for the grill because the bones help keep the juices in the meat somehow. Maybe it’s magic or maybe it’s the marinade, but it’s delicious anyway.

Grilled Honey-Lime Chicken

Ingredients:
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs Sriracha
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 lbs Brookshire’s Chicken Breasts, Thighs, Wings and Legs, skin removed

Directions:
Mix lime juice, honey, soy sauce, olive oil, Sriracha, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper in a gallon-sized zip-top lock bag. Add the chicken, and place in the refrigerator. Marinate a minimum of 3 hours up to overnight.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Grill each side of the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes, or until cooked through and juices run clear.

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 410, Calories from Fat: 75, Fat: 8 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 140 mg, Sodium: 731 mg, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 28 g, Protein: 53 g.

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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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