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Family Matters: Homemade Banana Bread


Homemade Banana BreadAbout a year ago, I found a recipe for banana bread made with buttermilk that is fantastic; it is so moist and has the best flavor. This is now our favorite bread recipe…it is delicious for breakfast (quick and easy for kids before school), 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! It has been a family tradition to bake loaves of strawberry bread and give as gifts to close friends and teachers, and serve at family gatherings. Now, we have added this banana bread. If you enjoy bananas, this is a must-try recipe!

Homemade Banana Bread

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup Brookshire’s Buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups  ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:
Cream together the sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time using a mixer. Stir baking soda into buttermilk then add to the mixture. Sift flour and baking powder; add to the mixture. Add vanilla and mashed bananas next; mix in and stir in pecans as the last item. Pour in a greased and floured 9 x 5 loaf pan (or 4 mini loaf pans, less cooking time). Bake at 300° F for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until bread is done (check with toothpick). Let cool shortly before removing from pan, or cut immediately and enjoy fresh hot bread with a glass of milk. Note: Bake it in a bundt pan for a fancy look and sprinkle with powdered sugar; it is a great party item.

Plan an afternoon and try this banana bread recipe – time in the kitchen with your family is an opportunity to bond and grow relationships. It may become a favorite family recipe that you can pass on for generations to come. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!



Shop the Sale: Smoked Spare Ribs


Smoked Spare RibsMy boyfriend got a smoker for his birthday a few weeks ago!

As of right this second we (notice I interjected myself right into his birthday gift there?) haven’t used it yet, but we’ve been fantasizing about the epic meals we will create in it once it finally stops raining. (Please, please, let it stop raining soon!).

One of the first things we’d like to do is smoke pork spare ribs. You see, we spent the weekend in Fort Worth not too long ago and we ate our body weight in meat. One of the memorable meals we had was at Riscky’s, in the Stockyards. We both had ribs and they had a crisp bark, a spicy sauce and a deep, smoky flavor.

We can’t wait to duplicate them. We might not have to wait much longer, as pork spare ribs are on sale this week at Brookshire’s.

Smoked Spare Ribs
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 racks (about 4 pounds) pork spare ribs
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Your favorite barbecue sauce

Directions:
Let the ribs rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, make the rub by combining the sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper, and cayenne pepper with a fork.

Pat the ribs dry with paper towels. Then coat the ribs with the rub, using your hands to completely cover the surface of the meat with the spices.

Following the instructions below, smoke the ribs at 225°F (107°C) for 5 hours (about 1 hour more than the number of pounds of meat). Keep the coals smoldering at low heat so that the ribs don’t burn, catch fire, or overcook. Check the ribs periodically to make sure they aren’t drying out. Flip and move the ribs 90° every hour in order to get crosshatch sear marks across the flesh. The meat is done when it is tender and releases easily from the bone.

If using a smoker: Put your soaked chips in the smoking basket and your meat on the top racks.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 607, Calories from Fat: 347, Fat: 39 g (16 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 148 mg, Sodium: 1467 mg, Potassium: 72 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Protein: 55 g

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Dine In: Steak and Potato Bites


Steak and Potato BitesMy boyfriend is a carnivore if there ever was one. He likes meat. He likes potatoes. The more ways I can cook them, the better.

So, last Friday night, we were trying to decide what to make for dinner. I’d worked a long day, and he’d worked an even longer one at his job, where he doesn’t follow a traditional schedule. All that to say, we were both tired.

The temptation to go out was strong, but the lure of making a meal at home together and relaxing (this means yoga pants, people) was a far greater pull. While this meal has a lot of steps, it’s easy and comes together quickly.

Don’t flip the potatoes once you have them on the grill. That will get messy. Instead, after they’re golden-brown on the bottom, close the lid of the grill in order to let the tops of the potatoes get warm and melty.

You can make these as appetizers and serve a big group, or as a dinner for two as we did. (Make more steak and this could easily serve four, just by the sheer volume of potatoes!)

Steak and Potato Bites

Ingredients:

For the Potato Bites:
1 lb baby potatoes
1/2 cup butter, divided
1 cup mozzarella
1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, diced super small
1/2 tsp onion salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt or powder
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

For the Steak Bites:
1 1/2 lb sirloin steak
4 Tbs butter
salt and pepper, to taste
1 to 2 Tbs roasted garlic
1 to 2 Tbs mixed black pepper, red pepper and paprika

Directions:
Preheat the grill to medium heat.

For the Potato Bites:
Boil your potatoes for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on their size, until they are fork-tender but still firm enough that they won’t fall apart when hollowing them out.

Drain your potatoes and allow to cool slightly.

Take a small measuring spoon or melon baller, and scoop out as much of the inside of the potatoes as possible without them falling apart. Transfer those scooped out bits to a food processor bowl that’s been fitted with a steel blade for mixing. Set the hollowed-out potatoes aside.

Add the rest of your ingredients to the food processor bowl, and process a few times until your potato mixture is the consistency of cookie dough. Add a small amount of olive oil, if necessary. Scoop out about 1 tablespoon of your mixture for each potato and start stuffing them. Place the finished potatoes in a grill pan.

Add butter; don’t fear the butter.

Put the grill pan on a preheated medium-heat outdoor grill, and cook for about 10 minutes (covered). Uncover and cook another 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes and the heat of the grill. You want them browning on the bottom and the filling just starting to ooze and melt.

Once they are ready, carefully remove them from the grill and transfer them to a serving plate.

For the Steak Bites:
Cut the beef into bite-sized pieces; think beef tips when you go to a restaurant.

Add half of the butter to a cast iron pan. Put the pan on the grill. Allow it to sizzle a bit and start to turn to brown butter, then toss in your beef to cook it. Stir the beef as it cooks.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss the rest of the butter, the garlic and the pepper into the pan.

Continue to cook and allow the spices to coat the meat. Total cooking time should only be about 6 or 8 minutes total, depending on the size of the beef pieces.

Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl or plate.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 920, Calories from Fat: 549, Fat: 61 g (30 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 260 mg, Sodium: 755 mg, Potassium: 1111 mg, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 74 g

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Shop the Sale: New York Strip


New York Strip SteakMy boyfriend had a birthday recently. To celebrate the day, we grilled steaks, baked potatoes, tossed a crisp, fresh salad and steamed some green beans (before we got to the chocolate-on-chocolate cookie cake, that is.)

I went to Brookshire’s and got ribeyes for me and my boyfriend. (I couldn’t even eat half of mine because they were so huge and delicious.) However, my boys are really picky about steak (this makes me question their parentage) and don’t like ribeye because of the marbling. A sirloin is “too chewy” for them, so I ended up getting a New York strip. Not only is it tender but it’s also flavorful, and my boyfriend works magic on the grill. I promised them the steak would be as tender as a maiden’s heart, as Celebrity Chef David Wade used to say.

When it came almost time to eat, my boys asked if they could have their steak on a sandwich.

Are you kidding me? Steak is delicious plain.

Apparently, steak is also delicious on a sandwich.

I had soft, chewy pretzel rolls in the pantry and some sharp cheddar in the refrigerator, so when the New York strip came off the grill all crusty and juicy, I let it rest. Then, I sliced it into thin slivers across the grain and laid it on the bread.

The boys loved it. They even picked the steak off the bread and ate it just as it was meant to be eaten.

So, whether you eat it on a sandwich or as a steak, the New York strip, on sale at Brookshire’s this week, is a great choice.



Healthy Living: Monkey Butter


Monkey ButterFirst things first: This is the Healthy Living post, so you should know right up front that this is not really butter, nor is it made out of monkeys.

Now that we have that out of the way, what we DO have is a healthy, sweet and delicious spread that’s absolutely yummy on English muffins, toast, waffles, pancakes, over ice cream or on a sandwich with peanut butter, for starters.

The pineapple brightens the bananas, and the coconut gives it a lovely sweetness.

Bananas have tons of potassium, and the pineapple has lots of vitamin C.

Enjoy!

Monkey Butter

Ingredients:
5 medium-sized perfectly ripe bananas (no brown spots)
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, not drained
1/4 cup ground coconut (Look near the flaked coconut. If you can’t find it, grind it yourself in a spice/coffee grinder or your food processor.)
3 cups white sugar (can substitute equivalent artificial or other natural sweetener)
3 Tbs bottled lemon juice

Directions:
Peel and slice the bananas, and then put them into a large pot. Add the rest of the ingredients; put the pot on the stove to bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

After bringing to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until thickened, still stirring constantly.

When properly thickened, spoon the mixture into sterilized glass jars and let cool. At this point in the recipe, this jam can just be refrigerated and will keep for approximately 4 to 6 weeks. The lemon juice in the recipe will keep the bananas fresh.

Or, after putting the jam in the jars, you can seal the jars with sealing lids and rings, and process in a water bath for 15 minutes. Just a note: if you process the jam in this method, it will turn out to be a little pink instead of the mellow yellow color.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 206, Calories from Fat: 11, Fat: 1 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 2 mg, Potassium: 136 mg, Carbohydrates: 51 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 46 g, Protein: 1 g

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Dine In: Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes


Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried TomatoesI’m always in the market for a good pasta dish.

Sun-dried tomatoes were a popular ingredient a few years ago. You saw them in salads, casseroles, on pizzas and in pastas, but I hadn’t seen them around for a few years until I ran across this recipe recently.

Sun-dried tomatoes are exactly what they say, sun-dried slices of summer. You can find them dried or packed in oil. They have a concentrated flavor and a chewy texture. They are delicious!

This recipe calls for shredded mozzarella, but if you use fresh, cut it into small chunks about the size of dice. You’ll love the fresh flavor it imparts to the dish.

This meal packs protein, carbs and delicious flavor into one meal. Serve with a salad and breadsticks for a wonderful Friday night dinner that will wind down the week in style.

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients:
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small jar (3 to 4 oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, or use 3 to 4 oz fat-free sun-dried tomatoes
1 lb chicken breast tenders
salt, to taste
1 tsp paprika
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz penne pasta
1 Tbs basil, if using dry basil (if using fresh basil, you can add more)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup cooked pasta water, reserved

Note: If using sun-dried tomatoes in oil (in a jar), make sure to drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil before using them. Reserve 2 tablespoons of this drained oil for sautéing as described below:

Directions:
In a large pan on high heat, sauté garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (drained from oil) in 2 tablespoons of oil reserved from the sun-dried tomatoes jar (see note above) for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant. Remove sun-dried tomatoes from the pan, leaving the oil. Add chicken tenders, salted and lightly covered in paprika (for color); cook on high heat for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve some cooked pasta water. Drain and rinse the pasta with cold water (to stop the cooking process).

Slice sun-dried tomatoes into smaller bits and add them back to the skillet with the chicken. Add half-and-half and cheese to the skillet, too. Bring to a gentle boil. Immediately, reduce to a simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms. (If the sauce is too thick, don’t worry. You’ll be adding some cooked pasta water soon.) Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the creamy sauce; stir to combine. Add 1 tablespoon of basil and at least 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.

Add about 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water because the creamy sauce will be too thick. (Do not add all water at once. You might need less or more of it.) This will water down the thickness of the cheese sauce and make it creamier. Immediately, season the pasta with salt and more red pepper flakes to taste, if needed. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes for flavors to combine.

Note: Make sure to salt the dish just enough to bring out the flavors of basil and sun-dried tomatoes.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 339, Calories from Fat: 88, Fat: 10 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 83 mg, Sodium: 685 mg, Potassium: 796 mg, Carbohydrates: 35 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 29 g

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Shop the Sale: Summer Sausage


Summer SausageI remember going to the mall with my mom while I was growing up and looking forward to the free samples at the Hickory Farms store. The sesame sticks and summer sausage were my favorites, hands down.

I don’t think Hickory Farms has stores in the mall anymore. Although, I do see kiosks pop up around Christmastime, and they still sell their famous summer sausage.

Once, at the holidays, someone sent a Hickory Farms gift basket to my college dorm room. I think I devoured the sausage and cheese, and gave the rest to my roommate.

I love the sausage because it wasn’t too “sausage-y.” It was lean and flavorful, yet delicious at room temperature, and nothing was required for preparation.

I saw this recipe on Pinterest. It came from a blogger who makes everything she eats homemade. I figured I might as well try it. After all, it looks so simple to do, no casings required. I was a bit dubious about the results, but it turned out DELICIOUS. I think I might add something like finely chopped jalapeños to make a spicy version next time.

Summer Sausage

Ingredients:
3 lb extra ground chuck
3 tsp Morton’s Tender Quick
3 tsp smoked salt
2 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
3/4 tsp garlic salt
4 tsp liquid smoke

Directions:
Mix together all ingredients then refrigerate for 24 hours, re-mixing 4 to 5 times during that time.

Roll into 3 logs.

Place logs on a broiler pan (or you can use a cooling rack that has been put over an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet.)

Bake 8 hours at 170° F.

Cool completely. Slice and enjoy.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 148, Calories from Fat: 105, Fat: 12 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 40 mg, Sodium: 476 mg, Potassium: 161 mg, Carbohydrates: 0.3 g, Protein: 10 g

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Healthy Living: Spinach-Tomato Tortellini Soup


Spinach-Tomato Tortellini SoupI love this time of year.

The promise of spring and summer produce is tantalizing. Mouthwatering, if you will.

Even in the South, the spring and summer produce haven’t quite hit their stride yet. Luckily, we still have a bit of cool weather to enjoy before the warm-up because I’m not quite done with this healthy and delicious soup.

The tomatoes are great cancer-fighting agents, and the spinach provides potassium and iron. The rest is just delicious.

Spinach-Tomato Tortellini Soup

Ingredients:
1 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
4 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (9 oz) pkg refrigerated three-cheese tortellini
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups baby spinach, chopped
2 Tbs parmesan, grated

Directions:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.

Add garlic and onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Whisk in chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tortellini, basil, oregano, bay leaf and 1 cup water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tortellini is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Stir in spinach until it begins to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with parmesan cheese.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 161, Calories from Fat: 47, Fat: 5 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 9 mg, Sodium: 632 mg, Potassium: 303 mg, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 9 g

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Dine In: Parmesan-Crusted Bacon Chicken


Parmesan-Crusted Bacon ChickenI have been putting in some really long hours at work, as I prepare to leave one career and start a new one, but that still gives me time for my favorite hobby: cooking.

Friday nights are the perfect time for trying new recipes. I don’t want to fight the crowds at a restaurant on a Friday night, but I do want to unwind with my kids, my sweetie, a glass of wine and delicious smells coming from my kitchen.

When it’s just me and my boyfriend at home, we tend to grill. When my boys are home, anything I’ve come across that looks delicious is fair game.

I don’t usually fry foods, but putting a golden sear on this chicken adds to the flavor. It’s more of a quick pan-sear than it is a deep-fry. However, it does give the chicken a yummy crust.

We made this not too long ago, and it was devoured before I could make a second batch.

Parmesan-Crusted Bacon Chicken

Ingredients:
3/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying
4 (4 to 5 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups Asiago cheese, shredded
3 to 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbs water

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a small shallow bowl, mix egg and water.

In another shallow bowl, mix parmesan cheese, pepper, salt and garlic.

Heat oil over high heat.

Dip each chicken breast first in egg mixture then in cheese.

Fry in hot oil until crust is golden-brown. *Note: If oil isn’t hot enough, your crust may stick to the bottom of the pan.

Prepare a baking pan by covering with foil and placing wire rack on top.

Place chicken on rack and bake about 20 minutes, or until juices run clear. (Cook time will depend on thickness of chicken.)

Remove from oven and turn oven to broil setting.

Top each piece of chicken with Asiago cheese and bacon; place under broiler to melt cheese.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 959, Calories from Fat: 685, Fat: 76 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (21 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 198 mg, Sodium: 1258 mg, Potassium: 374 mg, Carbohydrates: 3 g, Protein: 67 g

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Shop the Sale: Baked Buffalo Chicken Bites


Baked Buffalo Chicken BitesI went to Irving for job training recently, and when we took a break for lunch, a small group of us decided to try a new restaurant recommended by one of the locals.

It sounded like it had an eclectic mix of lunch fare, ranging from salads to sandwiches to burgers to seafood and pasta dishes.

The ambiance was incredible. We sat at a wrought-iron bistro table next to a beautifully landscaped canal. The water was crystal clear, so clear that you could see giant goldfish swimming around. There were palm trees swaying in the breeze that day and tropical flowers somehow in bloom, showing off their pinks, reds and yellows.

It was a lovely setting.

I was intrigued by an item on the appetizer menu and ended up having it for my main meal. Their Buffalo Chicken Bites were deep-fried, but when I came home, I found this healthier version. It’s almost identical in taste. The food at this restaurant was delicious, too. Try it for an appetizer, meal or snack this week when Brookshire’s boneless chicken breasts are on sale.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Bites

Ingredients:

For the yogurt dip:
1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
2 Tbs cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 cup bleu cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup red onions, finely diced
salt and pepper

For the chicken bites:
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or finely chopped
1/4 to 3/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 bunch green onions, white and pale green parts chopped
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
cooking spray

Directions:
Mix all of the dip ingredients together well. Stash in the fridge while you prepare the chicken.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, wing sauce, cheese, green onions and cream cheese until well-combined.

Mix panko and a pinch of salt and pepper in a shallow dish.

Form chicken mixture into 2 1/2-inch balls (for dinner-sized) or 1 1/2-inch balls (for appetizer-sized).

Roll the chicken balls in the panko and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Before cooking, spray the tops of the balls with cooking spray.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tops of bites are brown and crunchy.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 393, Calories from Fat: 195, Fat: 22 g (12 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 119 mg, Sodium: 1136 mg, Potassium: 311 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 36 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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