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Dine In: Chili-Lime Cod


Chili-Lime CodMy doctor told me to eat a low-fat diet.

Of course, when I hear “low-fat,” I translate that to “low-flavor.”

However, that isn’t remotely true.

You can eat low-fat with loads of flavor, and this fish is the perfect example. I was tired of eating lean pork and chicken. I love fish, so I decided to give this a whirl.

The lime and spices brighten up this fish so much that you totally forget you’re eating low-fat, plus it’s really high in protein.

My family has not always been receptive to eating fish, but they loved this recipe. White fish isn’t too “fishy” for them, and the spices remind them of their favorite Mexican meals. Plus, I got to eat low-fat with big flavor, so this recipe was winning all around!

I left out the butter in this recipe, but you certainly don’t have to!

Chili-Lime Cod

Ingredients:
2 lbs fresh cod fillets
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp dried parsley or 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs butter
1/4 tsp cumin
1 lime, juiced

Directions:
Heat oven to 450° F. Coat oven-safe pan with oil or cooking spray. Place cod in pan. Sprinkle chili powder, herb and salt. Roast 5 to 7 minutes or until opaque. Melt butter in small saucepan. Add cumin and lime juice; cook for 1 more minute. Before serving, drizzle butter mixture over cod.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 485.6, Calories from Fat: 133, Fat: 15 g (8 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 226 mg, Sugar: 0.4 g, Sodium: 951.4 mg, Carbohydrates: 3 g, Fiber: 0.6 g, Sugar: 0.4 g, Protein: 81 g

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Dine In: Parmesan Tomatoes


Parmesan TomatoesJust in case you missed me talking about our beach trip from two months ago, let me revisit the amazing experience for you!

We ate at Gaido’s Famous Seafood Restaurant. “Famous” by their own standards and famous by the fact they’ve been around since 1911. I love things with history, historic homes, churches and definitely a business with longevity and tradition. Gaido’s has that in spades. The restaurant has been passed down through the generations, and it has survived storms, depressions and economic downturns by consistently providing delicious food and stellar service.

Of course, I also loved dressing up a bit for dinner, the pressed white tablecloths and the decorum of the service.

Paul had Parmesan Tomatoes as his side dish. I wanted to taste them, but I also wanted to devour my roasted asparagus.

Luckily, I could recreate the recipe at home on a recent Friday night, minus the sea air and the waves crashing across the seawall.

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes

Ingredients:
4 tomatoes, halved horizontally
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450° F.

Place tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet. Top with parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and bake until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 91, Fat: 6 g, (2 g Saturated Fat, 4 g Monounsaturated Fat), Cholesterol: 4 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Protein: 3 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sodium: 375 mg, Potassium: 363 mg

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Dine In: Ice Cream Cupcakes


Ice Cream Cupcakes	Every night after dinner without fail, my boys ask, “Mom, can I have a dessert?”

If they ate a decent amount of nutritious food, the answer is always “yes.”

They favor ice cream, and I usually have assorted ice cream snacks in the freezer for desserts. They love ice cream sandwiches, frozen ice cream candy bars, ice cream cups, you name it. If it’s frozen and tasty, they love it.

So, when I saw this recipe in a magazine, I knew we’d be trying it. The original recipe called for a layer of ice cream on the bottom, but I thought it made more sense to put a “solid” layer on the bottom, and it worked out well that way. Easier to hold and eat!

Ice Cream Cupcakes
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 cups ice cream, any flavor
3/4 cup pretzels, crushed
3/4 cup Oreo cookies, crushed
1 bottle Magic Shell ice cream topping
6 cupcake liners

Directions:
Mix pretzels with 1/4 cup Magic Shell; spoon into the bottom of 6 paper cupcake liners.

Freeze for 30 minutes.

Let ice cream soften. Spoon a generous scoop full on top of pretzel mixture. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Mix crushed Oreos with Magic Shell. Spoon over ice cream. Freeze until firm.

Serve and enjoy.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 250, Calories from Fat: 96, Fat: 11 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 24 mg, Sodium: 371 mg, Potassium: 149 mg, Carbohydrates: 36 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 17 g, Protein: 4 g

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Dine In: Lobster Bisque En Croute


Lobster Bisque En CrouteSo, about that gala I went to a few weekends ago…

Are you tired of hearing about it yet? I’m sorry, but the whole evening was so magical. I’ve been thrilled to relive it over and over on my dining room table, minus the stunning flower arrangements, crystal chandeliers and napkins folded like a tuxedo over a menu card.

Maybe I could try that at home, but I’m not sure my kids would really appreciate a menu card at their place setting before each meal.

But back to the gala…

The meal opened with a velvety lobster bisque en croute, which is a fancy, gala-esque way of saying soup with a lovely pastry topping.

It was marvelous. The creaminess of the bisque played perfectly off the acidity of the tomato, and the lobster was just little chunks of heaven in the soup. The pastry layer, which was baked on top of the bowl, was light, flaky, buttery and magnificent.

Despite the fancy name, this recipe is really quite easy to make.

Enjoy!

Lobster Bisque En Croute

Ingredients:
2 oz butter
1/4 cup flour
1 (1 to 1 1/2 lb) lobster
1 celery stalk, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup French brandy
1 shallot, minced
1 quart fish stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp tomato puree
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs lobster base
2 sheets frozen puff pastry dough

Directions:
Melt butter in a large, heavy ovenproof skillet or saucepan. Whisk in flour to make a light roux.

Break the lobster up into sections. Brown the onions, celery and lobster meat in a 425° F oven; stir every 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove from oven when browned and place on the range; flame with French brandy. Add in the shallots, fish stock and white wine; let simmer for at least 1 hour. Cool slightly and strain through a fine sieve.

To the strained bisque, add in tomato puree, cream and lobster base to taste. Thicken the bisque with the roux to desired consistency.

At serving time, fill six oven-proof serving dishes with the bisque. Top with puff pastry dough, cut to size. Bake in 425° F oven until golden and puffed. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 263, Calories from Fat: 44, Fat: 16 g (10 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 71 mg, Sodium: 663 mg, Carbohydrates: 7 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 9 g



Dine In: Porcini-Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Wild Mushroom Sauce


Porcini-Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Wild Mushroom SauceMy cooking at home can be heavily influenced by something I’ve tried in a restaurant or at someone else’s house. I taste something delicious and can’t wait to get home and recreate it.

Last weekend, my devastatingly handsome date and I went to a gala in Dallas. Not just any gala but Wish Night, the largest fundraiser of the year for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. You’ll probably see a few of the recipes from the night’s meal appearing on this blog, as everything was delicious and I couldn’t wait to make it again at home. The event was held at the Hilton Anatole in downtown Dallas, a sprawling, sophisticated, gorgeously-appointed luxury hotel.

The evening was amazing, from the luxurious table centerpieces of white hydrangeas and roses to the cleverly-folded napkins, perfectly appointed waiters and, of course, the amazing cause.

The food was superlative. It’s not easy to cook for 1,300 people at once, but clearly the expert staff at the Hilton Anatole pulled it off flawlessly.

This beef dish was the first thing I wanted to try to cook myself at home. We cook beef (a lot), but this version had a porcini mushroom crust. It melts in your mouth. I’m glad my gown had a flowy skirt because I ate every single last morsel.

Porcini-Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Wild Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 1/2 oz), divided
1 (3 1/2 lb) center-cut beef tenderloin
3/4 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp white pepper, divided
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
cooking spray
2 cups boiling water
2 Tbs chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F.

Place 1/2 cup mushrooms in a blender; process until finely ground. Trim fat from tenderloin. Sprinkle beef with ground mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef; cook 1 minute on all sides or until browned. Place tenderloin on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Insert meat thermometer into thickest portion of tenderloin. Bake at 400° F for 30 minutes, or until meat thermometer reaches 145° F (medium-rare) to 160° F (medium).

Place tenderloin on a platter and cover with foil. Let stand 10 minutes.

Combine boiling water and 1 cup mushrooms in a bowl; cover and let stand 30 minutes. Drain mushrooms through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a medium saucepan, reserving soaking liquid. Coarsely chop mushrooms. Bring reserved soaking liquid to a boil and add chopped mushrooms. Reduce heat; simmer until reduced to 1 cup (about 12 minutes). Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and butter, stirring with a whisk until butter is melted. Serve with tenderloin.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 226, Calories from Fat: 48%, Fat: 12 g (5 g Saturated Fat, 4 g Monounsaturated Fat, 1 g Polyunsaturated Fat), Protein: 25 g, Carbohydrates: 4 g, Fiber: 0.6 g, Cholesterol: 79 mg, Iron: 3 mg, Sodium: 303 mg, Calcium: 8 mg

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Dine In: Chicken Parmesan Sliders


Chicken Parmesan SlidersThere is nothing I love more than coming home to a meal completed in the slow cooker, except maybe if it’s coming home to an ITALIAN meal completed in the slow cooker.

I also love when I find a classic recipe that’s been repurposed (especially for a slow cooker).

This Chicken Parmesan Slider recipe is one of those.

Classic Chicken Parmesan is pounded, tenderized, breaded, pan-fried and broiled with Mama’s red sauce then finished with some parmesan cheese.

In this recipe, the breading becomes a slider roll. The tomato sauce is mixed in with the chicken, and I see nothing wrong with adding a bit of provolone (warming it just heightens the flavor profile) to the dish. If you don’t care for provolone, you can swap for mozzarella.

The best part about this dish is that it’s ready when you walk in the door from work. It’s not your traditional chicken parmesan, but then again, it’s not supposed to be.

Chicken Parmesan Sliders

Ingredients:
8 slider rolls
4 chicken breasts
1 cup marinara sauce
2 Tbs garlic, minced
4 slices provolone cheese, halved
8 oz parmesan cheese, divided

Directions:
Place chicken breasts in a slow cooker. Top with garlic and marinara sauce. Cook on low setting for 8 hours. (can be done in advance) Shred chicken with two forks, leaving it in the marinara sauce.

Preheat broiler to low. Halve slider rolls. Top with about 3 tablespoons of chicken mixture, then top with provolone and parmesan.

Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 857, Calories from Fat: 354, Fat: 39 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (21 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 182 mg, Sodium: 1758 mg, Potassium: 568 mg, Carbohydrates: 53 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 73 g



Dine In: Crusty Fish and Jalapeño Pasta


Crusty Fish and Jalapeño PastaMy best friend and I have Girls Night Out every Thursday.

Well, not EVERY Thursday. Life has gotten in the way, but we try to meet as often as possible, if only for an hour or two.

Our favorite restaurant is the same (that’s part of the reason we’re BFFs), and we go there as much as we can. The restaurant is in an old mansion on a hill, and we love sitting out on the expansive deck decorated with lights, comfortable with a fan and under the webbing of trees, shade and sanctuary.

I also love their jalapeño fish pasta.

It’s spicy, yet mild. It’s creamy, yet bold.

Delicious! You can probably make this with any kind of hardy white fish you want.

Crusty Fish and Jalapeño Pasta

Ingredients:
2 (4 oz) tilapia fillets
1/2 cup white flour
2 oz melted margarine
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1/4 cup jalapeño, diced
1 cup de-stemmed fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
1 pinch garlic salt
4 oz heavy cream
1/4 cup lemon butter (1/4 cup butter mixed with 4 Tbs lemon juice)
5 oz angel hair pasta
1 tsp fresh parsley
1/8 cup Roma tomatoes, diced

Directions:
Dredge the tilapia fillets in the flour; add them with the melted margarine and garlic to a medium temperature sauté pan.

Once the tilapia has finished cooking on one side, flip the fillets over and add the jalapeños, spinach, salt, pepper and garlic salt.

Prepare the angel hair pasta in boiling water. Allow it to cook 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the temperature of the water.

As the fillets begin to flake, add the heavy cream, then bring it to a slight boil.

Once the cream begins to boil, remove the pan from the fire, and reduce the lemon butter into the sauce.

Place the pasta in a bowl, and pour the fish with the sauce over the pasta.

Garnish with fresh Roma tomatoes and parsley.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 2226, Calories from Fat: 1284, Fat: 142.6 g (67.9 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 398.7 mg, Sugar: 5.8 g, Sodium: 1295.3 mg, Carbohydrates: 163.3 g, Fiber: 8 g, Protein: 75.7 g

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Dine In: Eggplant Parmesan


Eggplant ParmesanIt’s Mother’s Day weekend, so for at least one meal over the next three days, I would like one of my favorites (just saying, to anyone who might be reading this).

Growing up, eggplant parmesan was one of my favorite dishes. It was often requested as a birthday or special occasion dinner.

Never mind that my mom initially tricked us into liking eggplant, cutting it in wedges and frying it.

“Oh, they’re french fries,” she’d say.

I don’t remember if I believed her or not, but I did love eggplant no matter how she cooked it, ESPECIALLY with red sauce and cheese on top.

Growing up, I realized that you didn’t really have to fry the eggplant to make a delicious parmesan dish. Besides, too many people don’t fry correctly and the eggplant becomes soggy with grease (I know this because I try it in almost every new Italian restaurant I discover). So, this is a lightened-up version, and it would taste delicious tonight (again, just saying, in case anyone I know is reading this).

Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients:

Eggplant:
2 egg whites from large eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tbs water
2 cups panko
1/4 cup (1 oz) fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
2 (1 lb) eggplants, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
cooking spray

Filling:
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn
1/4 cup (1 oz) fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1 (16 oz) ctn part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Topping:
1 (24 oz) jar premium pasta sauce (or homemade)
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
3/4 cup (3 oz) fontina cheese, finely grated

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

To prepare eggplant, combine 2 egg whites and 1 tablespoon water in a shallow dish. Combine panko and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano in a second shallow dish. Dip eggplant in egg mixture; dredge in panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere and shaking off excess. Place eggplant slices 1 inch apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° F for 30 minutes or until golden, turning once and rotating baking sheets after 15 minutes.

To make filling, combine basil and next 6 ingredients (through egg).

To assemble, spoon 1/2 cup pasta sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer half of eggplant slices over pasta sauce. Sprinkle eggplant with salt. Top with about 3/4 cup pasta sauce. Spread half of ricotta mixture over sauce, and top with a third of mozzarella and 1/4 cup fontina. Repeat layers once, ending with about 1 cup pasta sauce. Cover tightly with aluminum foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° F for 35 minutes. Remove foil; top with remaining third of mozzarella and 1/4 cup fontina. Bake at 375° F for 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melts; cool 10 minutes.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 318, Fat: 15.1 g (8.2 g Saturated Fat, 2.7 g Monounsaturated Fat, 0.6 g Polyunsaturated Fat), Protein: 19.3 g, Carbohydrates: 26.8 g, Fiber: 4.8 g, Cholesterol: 99 mg, Iron: 1.6 mg, Sodium: 655 mg, Calcium: 365 mg

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Dine In: Seared Scallops With Orzo and Butter Wine Sauce


Seared Scallops With Orzo and Butter Wine SauceI just got back from a trip to the beach, where I consumed my body weight in fresh seafood.

Aside from special time with my sweetie, the highlight of the trip, for me, was the food.

There was a fried shrimp po’boy on day one, but I had to cry “uncle” pretty early on the homemade sourdough roll. It was just too big. I picked the shrimp out and ate it by itself. Then, there was the blue crab stuffed with tender lumps of crab meat, and succulent shrimp alongside the fillet of red snapper and the pan-seared scallops. Then, there were oysters on the half-shell and seafood gumbo. On our final night at dinner, I had the most sublime sea scallops I’d ever tasted. They literally melted in my mouth. The restaurant where we had dinner is 104 years old, which means it has survived two of the country’s most devastating hurricanes and a host of other horrible storms. It’s still in the family of the original owners, and they greet guests and mingle through the dining room.

I’ll never be able to prepare my scallops as well as they did, but I’m sure not going to give up trying.

Seared Scallops with Orzo and Butter Wine Sauce

Ingredients:
3/4 cup uncooked orzo
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley, divided
2 Tbs chopped fresh chives divided
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 lb large sea scallops
3/8 tsp kosher salt, divided
3/8 tsp black pepper, divided
cooking spray
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 Tbs shallots, chopped
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
3 Tbs chilled butter, cubed
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

Directions:
Prepare orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Return to pan; stir in 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 tablespoon chives, olive oil and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Keep warm.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle scallops evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; coat scallops with cooking spray. Add scallops to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Combine wine, shallots and vinegar in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until liquid reduces to 1 tablespoon. Reduce heat to low. Add butter cubes 1 at a time, whisking after each addition until butter is fully incorporated. Stir in 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 tablespoon chives, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Serve scallops with sauce and orzo.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 382, Fat: 12.9 g (5.9 g Saturated Fat, 4 g Monounsaturated Fat, 1 g Polyunsaturated Fat), Protein: 32.8 g, Carbohydrates: 29 g, Fiber: 1.3 g, Cholesterol: 79 mg, Iron: 0.7 mg, Sodium: 577 mg, Calcium: 50 mg

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Dine In: Hushpuppies


HushpuppiesMy boyfriend unearthed a treasure the other day while rummaging around in his kitchen. He found the staple of every Southern kitchen: a deep fryer.

I was inordinately excited.

I’d never deep-fried anything in my life.

I know it’s not the healthiest way to eat, but it was one of those things I’d always wanted to try and had never gotten the chance.

As luck would have it, we were planning on smoking some ribs, chicken and brisket on his new smoker that weekend, and it seemed that something fried would go perfectly with slow-cooked, smoked meats.

We decided on hushpuppies (because there’s really no other way to make a hushpuppy other than deep-frying it) and because we both LOVE them and RARELY eat them.

I found a Paula Deen recipe (if you’re going to deep-fry something, you might as well do it the Paula way). Hers called for onions, but I omitted those and added a few extra spices to the batter. I can’t tell you the level of satisfaction I derived from dropping those nuggets into the bubbling oil and letting them cook to a golden perfection.

I also read that you can swap out the buttermilk for beer, but I’ll try that next time!

It’s not something you want to do every day or every week for obvious health reasons, but they sure were a delicious special treat for a Friday night!

Hushpuppies
Makes 18

Ingredients:
6 cups peanut oil
1 1/2 cups self-rising cornmeal
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions:
Using a deep fryer or deep pot, preheat oil for frying to 350° F.

Using a mixing bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, cayenne, garlic and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and egg. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients, and mix until blended. Drop the batter, 1 teaspoon at a time, into the oil. Dip the spoon in a glass of water after each hushpuppy is dropped in the oil. Fry until golden-brown, turning the hushpuppies during the cooking process.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 191, Calories from Fat: 117, Fat: 13 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 10 mg, Sodium: 378 mg, Potassium: 29 mg, Carbohydrates: 17 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 2 g

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