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Product Talk: Self-Rising Cornmeal

Self Rising Corn MealI’d heard of self-rising flour before, but I’d never heard of self-rising cornmeal until I saw it in Brookshire’s the other day. I was shopping for regular cornmeal when I noticed the self-rising variety. It fit my recipe, so I decided to give it a try.

Self-rising corn meal has a leavening agent, usually baking soda and salt, and is often enriched with B vitamins. It does not contain flour. It’s perfect for cornbread or casseroles that contain cornbread mix, basically saving you a step.  

You can’t use it in place of regular cornmeal in recipes without reducing the leavening and salt in whatever recipe you’re using, but you can use this where recipes call for cornmeal, salt and some leavening agent. You just might have to experiment a little with the proportions. 

Self-rising cornmeal has the same sweet tasty and gritty texture as regular cornmeal. Make it a staple in your pantry today.

Dine In: Spinach and Artichoke Dip Pasta

PastaWhen we had our children 17 months apart, we didn’t go out much. Go figure.

Every Friday night, the boys’ dad would bring home take-out. I’d get a break from cooking, and he’d get a break from helping me clean up. That was pretty much heaven to the parents of two babies, both of whom had jobs other than the sweet children.

When the kids got a bit older, we’d venture out every now and then, every once in a GREAT while, mind you. Taking two kids under three years old out to dinner isn’t always fun. Plus, they often can’t eat what’s on the menu, so you either have to pack them food or find something to order they’ll like.

One Friday night, we were at a fairly well-known national restaurant, and we ordered spinach and artichoke dip for an appetizer. Our older son, not known for his proclivity for green veggies, kept reaching for it. We finally gave him a taste and he ended up eating most of the rest of it, with a spoon.

I found this recipe for a pasta that mimicked the dish he loved that night, and it’s been a family favorite ever since. 

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Pasta

8 oz penne pasta
2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (parmesan), grated
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
8 oz spinach, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Start cooking pasta as directed on the package. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for a few minutes while stirring. Add the milk and cook while stirring until it thickens up, about 1-2 minutes. Add the cheese and cook while stirring until they melt, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the artichokes and spinach, and cook while stirring until the spinach wilts, about 1-2 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste; remove from heat.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 497, Fat: 20 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (11 g Saturated Fat, Cholesterol: 97 mg, Sodium: 488 mg, Carbohydrates: 59 g, Fiber: 7.4 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 24 g.

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

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In

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

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)

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

Product Talk: Philadelphia Cooking Crème

If you know me at all, you know I firmly believe cream cheese is a food group. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to all things cream cheese. I have a Philadelphia brand cream cheese cookbook at home, and I plan to someday write the definitive cream cheese cookbook.

So, imagine my delight when the Philadelphia brand (makers of all things cream cheese) came out with Cooking Crème. A more “pourable” version of cream cheese, Cooking Crème is perfect for sauces and soups. It comes in several flavors, leaving very little work for you to do when creating a delicious meal at home. Choose from Italian Herb, Savory Garlic, Creamy Pesto, Savory Lemon and Herb, or Santa Fe Blend.

Also, imagine my delight when I met a man who feels the same way about cream cheese that I do, earning him scads of points in my book. He also gets bonus points for being an adventurous eater and being more than willing to eat anything I whip up. This recipe was born on a night of “let’s see what’s in the fridge and pantry” and will become a regular meal in the rotation!

Italian Herb Cream Pasta

12 oz linguine
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
3 cups fresh spinach
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tub (10 oz) Philadelphia Cooking Crème in Italian Herb

Boil water in a large pot. Add pasta; cook until al dente.
While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic, squash and bell pepper. Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften. Add can of tomatoes and reduce liquid by half. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Add Cooking Crème and heat through. Drain pasta. Toss with sauce and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 446, Calories from Fat: 143, Fat: 16 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 95 mg, Sodium: 583 mg, Carbohydrates: 62 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 9 g, Protein: 17 g

Dine In: Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce

I recently polled my friends on Facebook to see what constituted their favorite dine-in meals, and I promised them I’d include their recipes and ideas if they answered my query.

So here’s my first recipe, from my friend Melinda, who said she and her husband have Date Night on Friday nights at home.

“We like to listen to jazz, and I like to recreate a meal we had on our first date,” Melinda wrote. “We went to a Thai restaurant, which I had picked because it sounded exotic. I didn’t know the first thing about Thai food but I wanted to impress (my now-husband), so I suggested Thai. He went right along with it, sounding all worldly, but when it came time to order we both had to admit we knew nothing about Thai food. Good thing our waiter was used to morons and guided us through it. Now, we make it at home as a favorite dish and a bonding experience.”

Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce


12 oz linguine
4 Tbs sesame oil
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1 cup finely shredded carrot
2 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables
3 Tbs minced fresh garlic
1/2 Tbs ground ginger or 1 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbs rice vinegar
1/2 Tbs chili-garlic sauce


Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Add 2 tablespoons sesame oil and toss to coat. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil in heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add green onions, carrots, stir-fry vegetables, garlic and ginger. Sauté until vegetables soften, about 4 minutes.

Add honey, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar and chili-garlic sauce and mix well. Simmer sauce 2 minutes.

Pour sauce over pasta and toss well. Transfer to platter and serve warm. Garnish with additional green onions, if desired.

Serves: 8

Nutritional Information:Calories Per Serving: 318, Calories from Fat 104, Fat: 12 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sugars: 12 g, Sodium: 555 mg, Carbohydrates: 46 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugars: 12 g, Protein: 9 g

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In

Family Matters: A Touch of Strawberry

Our family loves strawberries and we are always looking for new ways to prepare them.   We experiment to see how they taste in different recipes or prepared with different toppings.   Our favorite recipe is for Strawberry Bread…it is delicious for breakfast, snack time or a bedtime treat.  

You can heat a slice in the microwave and add a little butter – my husband’s favorite thing to do!  A friend shared this recipe with me back in 1986, and I have been making it ever since.  It is a family tradition each year to bake loaves of the Strawberry Bread and give as gifts to close friends, teachers, and serve at family gatherings.   If you enjoy strawberries, this is a must try recipe!

Strawberry Bread

2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs Beaten
1 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Soda
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cup Chopped Pecans (optional)
2 – 10 oz. Strawberries

Mix sugar, eggs and oil well and then add strawberries.  Sift together flour, soda, salt and cinnamon and then add to the mixture.  Add nuts (optional) and stir together until moist.  Put in greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.  After it is cooled sprinkle top with a little powdered sugar (optional). 

When strawberries are in season, it is nice to use fresh strawberries mashed up in place of the frozen.  Also, you can bake it in a Bundt pan for a fancy look and it is a great party item.  

Take time and try this bread recipe – time in the kitchen with your kids is an opportunity to talk and bond with them.  It may become a family tradition that you can pass on for generations to come as I have with my girls.  Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!      

Shop the Sale: Ground Round

Has your child ever gone on an eating strike?  Mine do, on a regular basis. I feel like a broken record, saying my kids don’t like anything except pizza and tacos.

For example, tonight I made homemade dirty rice. My younger son PICKED THE GROUND MEAT OUT OF THE DISH AND ONLY ATE THAT.


Don’t even ask about the steamed green beans I made as well. He dissected them and only ate the “beans” out of the green beans.


Needless to say, finding recipes they don’t pick apart is a challenge. This one includes ground round, which is on Luke’s “Approved To Eat” list, and it’s a soup, so he’ll drink the broth.  That’s a win/win in my book.  Win/win/win if you consider ground round is on sale this week.

Tortilla Meatball Soup
Serves: 6

2 jalapeño peppers
1 red bell pepper
2 ears corn on the cob
4 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
Cooking spray
3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 lb ground sirloin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce, minced
1 Tbs olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 (3/4-inch) cups cubed red potatoes
1 (1/2-inch-thick) cup sliced carrot
3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup (1 oz) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat broiler.

Cut jalapeños and bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Arrange corn on baking sheet with peppers. Broil 4 to 6 minutes or until blackened, turning corn once. Place peppers in a paper bag; fold to seal. Let stand 15 minutes; peel. Mince jalapeños, and coarsely chop bell pepper. Cut corn kernels from cobs. Set aside.
Place tortilla strips in a single layer on a baking sheet; lightly coat with cooking spray. Broil for 3 minutes or until golden brown, turning after 2 minutes. Set aside.

Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 garlic clove, panko, and the next 3 ingredients (through chipotle chile) in a large bowl, and gently mix until just combined. With moist hands, shape the meat mixture into 24 meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each).

Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add meatballs to pan; sauté for 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan. Add onion, potatoes, and carrot to pan; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 5 garlic cloves; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add peppers, broth, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender, stirring occasionally. Return meatballs to pan. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and corn; return to a simmer.

Cook 10 minutes or until meatballs are done. Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with 4 teaspoons Monterey Jack cheese, 2 teaspoons cheddar cheese, and 4 teaspoons cilantro. Top evenly with tortilla strips.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 380, Fat: 16 g, Saturated fat, 7 g, Protein: 25 g, Carbohydrate: 33 g, Fiber: 5 g, Cholesterol: 98 mg, Iron: 3 mg, Sodium: 631 mg, Calcium: 159 mg 

Healthy Living: Soup and Sickness

It seems over the past few weeks everyone around me has gotten sick. As soon as one person is better another person is starting to feel ill. Growing up whenever my brother or I got sick we knew chicken noodle soup and crackers were on the menu for lunch. My mom would always tell us chicken noodle soup would make us feel so much better and it normally did. While my mom thought the secret ingredient to getting well was a bowl of chicken noodle soup I personally preferred a bowl of warm, cheesy broccoli soup. 

A couple of years ago, I had mentioned to my mom about not feeling well. I had not been home for too long when there was a knock on my door. I opened my door to find my mom holding a bowl of broccoli cheese soup and a package of crackers. The next day I felt better. I don’t know if it was the TLC, the soup or maybe it was the medicine I took. 

So, with everyone sick I thought I would make my family a bowl of broccoli cheese soup. With most recipes calling for whole milk, half-and-half, a lot of butter and a lot of cheese, the amount of saturated fat was so high. I decided I would turn this not so healthy soup into something more nutritious. 

Instead of cooking the onions and garlic in butter (NuVal Score:2) I chose to cook them in canola oil ( NuVal Score 24). I also added diced carrots (NuVal Score: 99) to the mixture for a little added vitamin A . I replaced the whole milk (NuVal Score: 52) and half-and-half (NuVal Score: 28) with fat-free milk (NuVal Score:91). The soup turned out delicious and well, a little more nutritious!  

Broccoli and Cheese Soup
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 cup chopped onion (NuVal Score: 93)
1 cup diced carrots (NuVal Score: 99)
2 garlic cloves, minced (NuVal Score: 91)
1 Tbs Food Club Canola Oil (NuVal Score: 24)
3 cups Food Club Fat-Free, Less Sodium Chicken Broth (NuVal Score: 2)
1 (16 oz) pkg Food Club Broccoli Florets (NuVal Score: 100)
2 1/2 cups Brookshire’s Fat-Free Milk (NuVal Score: 91)
1/4 cup Food Club All-Purpose Flour (NuVal Score: 77)
1/4 tsp Food Club Salt
1/4 tsp Food Club Ground Black Pepper
1 cup Food Club Shredded 2% Cheddar Cheese (NuVal Score: 23) 

In a pot, over medium-high heat, sauté chopped onion, diced carrots and garlic cloves in canola oil. Add broth and broccoli and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. 

In a medium bowl combine milk and flour; whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until cheese melts. Place half of soup in a blender and process until smooth. Return puree soup to pan. Serve. 

Nutritional Information:  Calories Per Serving: 191, Fat: 9 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 22 mg, Sodium: 516 mg, Carbohydrates: 17 g, Fiber: 3 g, Protein: 12 g

Dine-In: Fondue

I admit it. I had a horrible case of the winter doldrums last week during the extreme temperature changes and the endless rain. I also had a challenging week at work and a host of other annoying things crop up like needing new rotors on my car and both of my kids busting holes in their school shoes.

By the time Friday rolled around, I didn’t want to even exert the energy to order pizza. Plus, with my new year’s fiscal resolution in place, I didn’t want to spend that money, either.

I knew I needed something to cheer us all up, kick off the weekend right and make our dine-in Friday night a pleasant way to end a rough week.

What’s more fun than fondue?

I got a fondue pot for Valentine’s Day a few years ago, but you don’t have to have any special equipment to make fondue a fun feast for the family.

You can do meat, cheese, or dessert varieties.

I opted for cheese, but you’re only limited by your imagination. It only took about 15 minutes and we all had a blast cooking and eating.

Basic Cheese Fondue
Serves 6

1/2 lb Swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 lb Gruyère cheese, shredded
2 Tbs cornstarch
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 cup dry white wine
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp dry mustard
Pinch nutmeg
Assorted dippers

In a small bowl, coat the cheeses with cornstarch and set aside. Rub the inside of the ceramic fondue pot with the garlic, and then discard.

Over medium heat, add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a gentle simmer. Gradually stir the cheese into the simmering liquid. Melting the cheese gradually encourages a smooth fondue. Once smooth, stir in mustard and nutmeg.

Serve with chunks of French and pumpernickel breads. You could also use apples and blanched vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and asparagus. Spear with fondue forks or wooden skewers.

Nutritional  Information: Calories: 343, Calories from Fat: 205,Total Fat: 23 g, Saturated Fat: 14 g, Cholesterol: 76 mg, Sodium: 202 mg,Total Carbohydrates: 6 g, Sugars: 1 g, Protein: 22 g 

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Posted in: Cooking, Dairy, Dine In

Shop the Sale: Fresh Catfish Fillets

After 15 years of living in Texas, I almost didn’t realize that you could do anything with catfish other than deep fry it. I’ve been to many a fish fry where golden nuggets of cornmeal battered catfish were served by the pound. 

Last summer, I went to eat at a friend’s home. She’s extremely health conscious, as she had a heart attack at an early age. 

She grilled the catfish and it was deliciously spicy and the grill brought out a flavor I’d never before experienced with catfish. 

With fresh catfish fillets on sale at Brookshire’s this week, it’s the perfect time to expand your catfish repertoire. 

Spicy Grilled Catfish 
Serves 4  

4 (6 oz) catfish fillets
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh gingerroot or 2 tsp ground ginger
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (1 Tbs)
3 green onions, chopped
1 tsp instant minced onion
1 tsp paprika
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

In a shallow dish, arrange catfish fillets. In a small bowl or jar, combine lemon juice, soy sauce, vegetable oil, ginger, garlic, green onions, minced onion, paprika and cayenne pepper. Pour it over catfish. Cover, marinate then refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.  

Remove the catfish from marinade; grill or broil 4 minutes on each side, or until catfish flakes with fork. 

Nutritional Information: Calories: 377, Calories from Fat: 240, Total Fat: 27 g, Cholesterol: 80 mg, Sodium: 992 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 6 g, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 1 g, Protein: 28 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.

Product Talk

Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.

Healthy Living

Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.

Shop the Sale

On Wednesdays, get a tip or idea on using an item in the circular.

Family Matters

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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