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Dine In: Slow Cooker Crustless Pizza


Slow Cooker Crustless PizzaTonight is our city’s annual Christmas parade, and I can’t wait to take my boys.

We’ve gone to the annual parade every year since we moved to this town, and it’s been a highlight of our Christmas season ever since.

Every year, we bundle up (or at least put on a festive Santa hat) and trek downtown to the square surrounding the county courthouse. It will be lit with white twinkle lights, and the buildings around the square will be festooned in holiday finery.

The parade, with marching bands, fire trucks, floats and, of course, jolly-old St. Nick, winds its way around the square in a cacophony of Christmas cheer. After the parade passes, the large and looming Christmas tree in the center of the square comes to life, the lever to light it up pulled by the Honorary Miracle Child of the year.

I hate to sound cliché, but it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

It’s also a wonderful night to go home after the festivities to a meal that’s warm and ready to eat. True comfort food is a perfect end to the night.

Slow Cooker Crustless Pizza

Ingredients:
2 lbs ground beef
2 Tbs garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs dried, minced onion
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
1 (14 oz) jar pizza sauce
2 cups shredded pizza blend cheese
pizza toppings: i.e., pepperoni, black olives, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, ham

Directions:
Brown ground beef in a large, heavy skillet. When the meat is browned, drain the fat. Spray the inside of the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Mix the beef and mozzarella cheese in the slow cooker and spread evenly across the cooking surface. Pour pizza sauce over meat mixture. Top with pizza blend cheese and the toppings of your choice. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 460, Calories from Fat: 143, Fat: 16 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 174 mg, Sodium: 561 mg, Potassium: 773 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 35 g.



Shop the Sale: Firecracker Chicken Tenders


Firecracker Chicken TendersI’ve been on a Chinese food kick lately, and this is one of my favorite recipes from my favorite Chinese restaurant to make at home.

The sauce is sweet, spicy and sticky, and it clings to the golden chicken tenders perfectly.

Speaking of golden chicken tenders, they’re baked not fried, so I can feel good about that as I’m feeding my family. I have to double this recipe with two teenage boys in the house.

I like to serve this with steamed white rice to soak up the extra sauce and green beans with slivered almonds.

Firecracker Chicken Tenders

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
3 eggs plus 3 Tbs water
1/3 cup flour

Sauce:
1/3 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbs ketchup
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs water

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425° F.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Pat tenders dry with paper towels. Add flour and chicken strips to a large zip-top bag and seal. Shake to coat the chicken. Place breadcrumbs in a large bowl.

In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs and water until foamy. Dip the chicken pieces in the egg wash; toss in the breadcrumbs, coating well. Place on the baking sheet, and repeat until all chicken is prepared. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through.

While the chicken is baking, combine all sauce ingredients in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir for about 5 minutes until well-combined. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until chicken is finished cooking.

Remove chicken from the oven. Toss with sauce. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 744, Calories from Fat: 164, Fat: 18 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 274 mg, Sodium: 1203 mg, Potassium: 647 mg, Carbohydrates: 90 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 51 g, Protein: 61 g.

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Dine In – Grilled Beef Kabobs


Grilled Beef KabobsThe weather has finally cooled down and the clean, crisp air is absolutely exhilarating. I mean, I want to roll in the crunchy leaves on the ground and jump into the freshly-raked piles while wearing plaid and boots and drinking apple cider.

I want all things fall, now that it’s finally arrived.

My favorite thing to do on a Friday night is sit on the back porch with a fire in the fire pit and relax with the ones I love. This, of course, includes grilling something delicious.

When I think of the perfect way to end the week, I see my black, wrought iron porch furniture and pinion wood smoke billowing out of the chiminea. I can hear the sizzle as something delicious hits the hot grates of the grill.

This Friday, it will be Grilled Beef Kabobs. If you have time, start marinating these on Thursday night or Friday morning before you go to work or get busy with the hustle and bustle of the day. The extra time in the marinade will make the beef extra tender. For a side dish, double the amount of marinade and soak some cleaned button mushrooms. Then thread them on skewers and grill along with the meat. Grilled bacon-wrapped asparagus would be a great way to round out the meal. Finish by halving Granny Smith apples, brushing them with honey, grilling until tender, and then serving with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Grilled Beef Kabobs

Ingredients:
2 lbs sirloin, cut into 2-inch cubes

Marinade Ingredients:
2 Tbs beef stock or red wine
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Montreal steak seasoning
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried oregano
black pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves

Directions:
Trim the sirloin of visible fat and cut into 2-inch cubes.

Whisk together the beef stock (or wine), balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, steak seasoning, dried rosemary, dried oregano, black pepper, and add bay leaves.

Place in a large, plastic zip-top bag with the meat and marinate for at least 4 to 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Thread meat onto skewers, being certain to leave some room between pieces for even cooking.

When ready to cook, preheat grill to medium-high.

Grill kabobs to desired doneness, about 8 to 10 minutes for rare, 10 to 12 for medium rare or 12 to 15 minutes for medium.

Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 359, Calories from Fat: 161, Fat: 18 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 135 mg, Sodium: 144 mg, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 46 g.

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Dine In: Stuffed Pork Chops


Stuffed Pork ChopsWe debated going out to dinner Friday night, but it was drizzling. It had been a long week, and we had to catch up on Netflix.

Staying home and dining in won out.

During the week before, Paul had mentioned making stuffed pork chops for dinner, but the New York Strips that were on sale at Brookshire’s won out.

On Friday night, however, we went for the pork chops.

It’s funny how, in all my love of Southern cooking, I’d never stuffed a pork chop. Paul, however, knew just how he wanted to make them. The house smelled amazing while they were cooking, and the result was fabulous.

Stuffed Pork Chops

Ingredients:
4 (2-inch thick) pork loin chops
2 Tbs Cajun seasoning
1 Tbs black pepper
1 lb Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 box Stouffer’s Cornbread Dressing (including ingredients to prepare it)

Directions:
Cut a slit in the center of each pork chop, creating a pocket. Season each chop with Cajun seasoning and black pepper. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Prepare cornbread dressing mix according to package directions. Set aside.

Brown sausage in a large, oven-proof skillet. Remove meat with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Stir in chopped green onions and cornbread dressing until well-combined. Stuff 1/4 of each mixture into each chop, pressing meat together to seal.

Reheat the sausage drippings over high heat. Sear each chop in the hot pan, turning once to sear each side. Place pan in the oven; cook for 30 minutes.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 1088, Calories from Fat: 707, Fat: 79 g (28 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 264 mg, Sodium: 1419 mg, Potassium: 1057 mg, Carbohydrates: 26.6 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 65 g.

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Family Matters: Christmas Baking


Christmas BakingOne of my favorite memories of childhood is helping my mom with the Christmas baking.

Our house always smelled good at holiday time, and there was never a shortage of baked treats to eat. In fact, lunch on Christmas Day was usually Christmas cookies sandwiched between a big breakfast of homemade cinnamon rolls and sausage and the Christmas dinner.

You’d know when the season would start because my mom would make her cinnamon raisin bread. We’d take bundles of those loaves of sweet deliciousness in our arms, and we’d carry them to neighbors and to our teachers who looked forward to them every year. I was back home visiting last year, and someone even asked, “Does your mom still make that raisin bread?” Indeed, she does.

One of the best parts of the raisin bread was helping her knead the dough, punching it down, and wrapping the golden-brown loaves in aluminum foil to deliver to loved ones.

Baking with kids is so much fun. It’s great quality time to spend together over scents of yeast, cinnamon and heaps of sugar.

I loved learning how to knead dough until it was no longer sticky but not yet tough, how to punch it down when it had doubled in volume, and how to never open the oven door when it was baking. I got to talk to mom, too. Sometimes, in a household with five kids, one-on-one time was hard to come by, but I could always count on baking together.

We also baked Christmas cookies, usually three or four varieties, but the highlight of the cookie-baking experience was always the Saturday when we made the sugar cookies. It was an all-day endeavor, and it became a tradition that my mom continues with some of my nephews who live nearby. We’d make the dough the night before, so it would have a chance to chill before we rolled it out and cut the shapes. They included candy canes, stars, trees and even Santa, himself. Then, each kid would get a baking sheet and some decorations, and they could decorate to their hearts’ content. My brother was the painstaking one who’d line up individual sprinkles on the cookies in intricate patterns. My other brother was a dumper: the more colored sugar he could get on a cookie, the better. I was somewhere in between. My favorite part was really creaming together the butter and the sugar to make a light yellow, fluffy cloud of cookie base. It was also being in the kitchen with my mom.

Kids can help with so many Christmas treats. Make a memory and a tradition today by picking out a project to make with them. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Dip pretzel rods in melted chocolate, and roll in Christmas-colored sprinkles. Bake pumpkin bread or pecan pie. Whatever you choose, food, family and fun make the holidays special.



Shop the Sale: Turkey Talk


Turkey TalkIt’s time to talk turkey, since the big day is coming right up.

First of all, go ahead and buy your turkey this week since they’re on sale at Brookshire’s.

Secondly, don’t forget to take it out of the freezer in time. Been there, done that. Give it three to five days to thaw in the refrigerator, depending on the size of the bird.

Last year, we smoked our turkey. This year, we’re going to roast it, but we’re also going to brine the bird.

Brining is simply soaking the bird in a solution of salt and some acid (and a little sweetness) to lock the juices into the bird before cooking. It’s like marinating the turkey because your bird will absorb the fluids and flavors by osmosis. Brine your turkey for 18 to 24 hours before roasting it for best results.

Your brine can consist of almost anything, but you want to make sure to use 1 cup kosher salt and 1/2 cup sugar for every gallon of brine you make. You’ll probably need at least two gallons to cover your turkey.

You can flavor your brine with slices of citrus like lemons or limes; with sliced apples; with lots of fresh herbs like sprigs of rosemary and sage or chunks of ginger; or with cloves of garlic. You can use cider or broth in place of the water (although if you’re using cider or something sweeter, I’d only replace half of the water).

After you’ve mixed all the ingredients together until well-combined, submerge your turkey, and place in the refrigerator. Some people feel safe brining in a clean cooler, but I don’t trust Texas weather to keep it cool enough. You can use a roasting bag, a large stockpot/baking pan or whatever vessel is large enough to hold your turkey and the brine and still fit in the fridge.

For extra-crispy skin when you roast the bird, remove from brine the night before Thanksgiving and let dry. Rub with butter and herbs; replace in the refrigerator, UNCOVERED, overnight. Bring to room temperature for an hour before roasting.



Dine In: Bacon-Balsamic Brussels Sprouts


Bacon-Balsamic Brussels SpoutsI was slicing the stems off of some Brussels sprouts last week, planning to toss them with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper before I roasted them, as I usually do.

Then, I got an idea for something a little different. I very well may have seen it somewhere else, but it struck me as an original idea at the time.

I added in a little bacon and some balsamic vinegar. Oh my goodness, the result was amazing. The bacon added smokiness, and the balsamic cut the sometimes bitter flavor of the Brussels with its sweetness.

The veggies end up roasting in some of the bacon fat that’s rendered, and the result is a delicious, filling dish.

This would make a great side dish for a medium-rare ribeye, grilled to perfection and served on your back porch next to a roaring fire.

Bacon-Balsamic Brussels Spouts

Ingredients:
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 slices bacon, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt, to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Whisk the olive oil with the balsamic, salt and pepper. Pour over Brussels sprouts. Stir in chopped bacon. Spread on a baking pan, and roast in preheated oven for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serves 2 to 4 (as a side dish)

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 210, Calories from Fat: 118, Fat: 13 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 21 mg, Sodium: 475 mg, Carbohydrates: 14 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 12 g.

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Shop the Sale: Beefy Cheesy Quesadillas


Beefy Cheesy QuesadillasI’m in full-on comfort food mode!

I want anything that’s warm, cheesy, easy and that my whole family loves because nothing destroys comfort food mojo like complaining at the kitchen table.

This dish fulfills all my comfort food requirements.

I would have to double this recipe to feed my hungry family, but that’s easy (and economical) to do as well.

This is the perfect meal for a cool, fall night.

Beefy Cheesy Quesadillas

Ingredients:
1 Tbs butter
1/3 cup white onions, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 lb Angus ground chuck
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 packet taco seasoning
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
4 cups cheddar cheese/Monterey Jack cheese, grated
butter, for cooking

Directions:
Melt butter in a large cast-iron skillet until it begins to bubble. Add onions; cook until translucent. Add ground beef and salt, breaking up ground meat as it cooks and browns. Drain grease.

Mix taco seasoning into the tomato sauce. Add sauce to beef and onions, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

In a large nonstick skillet, melt more butter over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the skillet. Sprinkle with about 1/2 cup cheese (enough to cover tortilla) and about 3/4 cup of meat mixture.  Spread butter on top of a second tortilla, and place over meat mixture, pressing to help seal. Cook until golden on one side. Flip and cook until golden-brown on the second side. Remove from pan and let cool. Repeat with remaining tortillas and meat mixture. Slice into triangles. Serve with sour cream, guacamole and fresh cilantro.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 832, Calories from Fat: 448, Fat: 50 g (29 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 230 mg, Sodium: 1731 mg, Carbohydrates: 29 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 68 g.

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Healthy Living: Baked Spinach and Eggs


Baked Spinach and EggsI love a hot, cooked breakfast.

I try to make do with cold hard-boiled eggs because I can make those in advance, or with Greek yogurt or, occasionally, breakfast cereal and milk, which are all healthy choices. I love a hot breakfast and try to make sure I get up early enough so that I’m organized and prepared enough to enjoy my favorite meal of the day.

I love this dish because it’s so simple. It comes together so quickly, and it can bake while I finish getting ready in the morning. The spinach is packed with iron, and the fiber helps keep you full. The eggs are also full of iron and protein, and they also help ward off the mid-morning munchies. I love the salty taste of the feta, which adds a little more fat to the mix for a satisfying, healthy morning meal.

I’ve been known to eat this for dinner, too, with a drizzle of hot sauce.

Baked Spinach and Eggs

Ingredients:
6 cups fresh baby spinach, firmly packed
4 eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 Tbs feta cheese, crumbled
nonstick cooking spray or 1 Tbs olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Spray or rub olive oil into individual glass ramekins, individual cast-iron skillets or other small oven-proof bakeware. Set aside.

In a cast-iron skillet, wilt the spinach over medium heat, about 3 to 4 minutes. Distribute the spinach evenly into baking containers.

Crack one egg over spinach in each container. (If using one baking dish, just distribute the eggs evenly over the spinach.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper; top with crumbled feta. Place the baking dishes on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the egg whites are cooked though and the yolks are set to your preference.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 98, Calories from Fat: 59, Fat: 7 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 172 mg, Sodium: 202 mg, Carbohydrates: 2 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 8 g.

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Product Talk: Maple-Pecan Baked Brie


Maple-Pecan Baked BrieI love lolling around the Brookshire’s cheese case. There are so many beautiful cheeses, and I’m making it my personal mission to try them all.

You might wonder what to do with a soft, fragrant wheel of brie. Brie is a soft cow’s milk cheese with a soft rind that can either be eaten or discarded. I eat it, personally as it is completely edible and gives a nice dimension to the cheese.

You can spread brie on a cracker, just as it is, or you can bake it, which makes a wonderful, nutty, melted spread with a rich taste and a decadent feel.

Maple and pecans are the perfect fall pairing with a wheel of brie, and they give a sweetness to the slight bitterness of the rind. This is great for a party or an appetizer for your holiday meal.

Maple-Pecan Baked Brie

Ingredients:
8 oz wheel of brie
2 Tbs real maple syrup
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
sliced baguette, crackers or apple slices, for serving

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place wheel of brie on the paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until softened. Remove from the oven, and set brie on a serving plate to cool slightly.

While the cheese cools, heat maple syrup, brown sugar and cinnamon over low heat in a small saucepan. Stir until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes; stir in pecans. Pour the syrup mixture over the brie, and serve immediately. This is delicious with Granny Smith apples.

Serves 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 144, Calories from Fat: 108, Fat: 12 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 19 mg, Sodium: 120 mg, Carbohydrates: 77 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 5 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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