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Mi Blog Hispano: 5 Ideas Para Alegrar La Fiesta Navideña


¡Cómo pasa el tiempo!  Ya queda solo un par de semanas para el gran día de Navidad.  Me encanta este tiempo festivo porque se empieza a sentir una armonía diferente.  Sales a la calle y se respira un aire navideño.  El olor a pinos, a fuego lento, a menta, canela, y manzanas llenan nuestros hogares.  Las tiendas están vestidas de colores rojos y verdes, se ven pinos decorados por doquier, se escuchan canciones navideñas en todas partes, y andamos buscando regalos para nuestros seres queridos.  Casi todos andamos sumergidos en esta época de alegría, paz, amor, y esperanza sin importar que creencias o religión tengamos.  Que hermoso tiempo para estar unidos entre familia y amistades.

Claro que esta época también puede ser un reto para nosotros si es que estamos preparando nuestro hogar para la gran fiesta navideña.  Usualmente, mi familia y yo festejamos en mi casa.  Hoy, comparto con ustedes algunas de nuestras tradiciones.  Cada año estas ideas me han ayudado a mantener el ambiente lleno de alegría.  ¡Me encanta ver a todos mis invitados felices y divirtiéndose!

5 ideas para alegrar y disfrutar su fiesta navideña:

  1. Cuelgue el muérdago de Navidad (mistletoe) – Cada año cuelgo dos muérdagos de Navidad en mi casa. Uno a la entrada, y el otro al pasar de la sala a la cocina.  Aunque esta tradición no es mexicana, es tan divertida y a mis invitados les encanta.  Viene de un viejo mito de Europa que dice que si dos personas pasan por debajo de una rama de muérdago de Navidad, tienen que besarse.  Así que al entrar los invitados, tienen que darse un beso, sin importar quien sea.  A mis hijas les encanta pasar por debajo de ella porque saben que las abrazare y las llenare de besos.  Al entrar los abuelitos, también tienen que darse su beso.  ¡Nos divierte tanto esta plantita hermosa de la Navidad porque llena el ambiente de amor y felicidad!
  1. Escoja un lema de vestidura divertido para la fiesta – Cada Navidad escogemos un lema de vestidura.  Por ejemplo, una Navidad todos nos vestimos en pijamas navideñas.  En otra Navidad, nos vestimos con memelucos.  ¡Que diversión fue esta!  Otra navidad tuvimos un concurso para ver quien usaba el suéter de navidad más feo.  De tanto que disfrute ver la creatividad que cada quien puso en hacerse el suéter más feo, todos se me hicieron bonitos.  ¡Nos reímos tanto!  Esta idea de un lema de vestidura siempre ha sido un éxito.  ¡Se lo recomiendo!
  1. Saquen la guitarra y a cantar música navideña – Claro que es necesario tocar música navideña mientras llegan sus invitados. Yo pongo música en mi tele o en mi teléfono con bocinas, pero también es buenísimo que la música sea en vivo.  En nuestra fiesta navideña, nunca falta la guitarra.  Al acabar de cenar, hacemos tiempo para escuchar a mi padre y a mi sobrina cantar y tocar la guitarra.  Se siente tan bonito disfrutar de esta música.  Así que si tiene un músico en su familia, dígale que se traiga el instrumento.
  1. Tenga una mesa para entretener a los niños – Los niños son tan importantes en nuestras familias latinas. Queremos que ellos se sientan importantes, y siempre los tomamos muy en cuenta.  Así que vamos a continuar eso preparándoles una mesa especial donde pueden ser creativos.  Forre la mesa con papel grueso (butcher paper).  Puede usar los rollos grandes de papel blanco o color café.  Ponga vasos llenos de colores y marcadores.  Déjelos que se sienten a colorear y pintar en el mantel de papel.  Ellos se van a entretener tanto decorando este mantel.  Al final de la fiesta tendrá una gran pieza de arte para enseñar a los invitados.  En esta misma mesa puede poner rompecabezas o hacer alguna artesanía con ellos.
  1. Haga el juego de los regalos del elefante blanco – Este juego es aparte de los regalos que se dan entre familia. Antes de la fiesta dígale a sus invitados que cada quien traiga un regalo de $1 a $5, o usted puede escoger el precio.  Estos regalitos no llevan nombre.  Se ponen los regalos en una mesa.  Escriba números en papelitos para que cada persona saque uno sin ver.  Quien tenga el número 1 va primero y escoge un regalo de la mesa.  Lo tiene que abrir en ese momento y mostrarlo a todos.  La persona con el numero 2 hace lo mismo, pero esta persona tiene que elegir quedarse con su regalo o intercambiarlo con el regalo que le toco al número 1.  Continúe abriendo los regalos, pasando en orden numérica.  Cada persona tiene la opción de quedarse con el regalo que le toco o intercambiarlo con uno que le ha tocado a otra persona.  El juego sigue hasta regresar con la persona del número 1, quien hace el intercambio final y podrá escoger entre todos los regalos.  ¡Este juego es divertidísimo!  Mi familia y yo lo hemos jugado y nos mantiene súper entretenidos porque estos regalitos pueden ser muy chistosos.

Espero que estas ideas le ayuden a entretener a sus invitados en su fiesta navideña, y que disfruten de lo máximo con su familia y amigos.

¡Les deseo una muy feliz Navidad!



Shop the Sale: Smoked, Glazed Spiral Christmas Ham


Smoked, Glazed Spiral Christmas HamAre you making ham for Christmas this year?

I wasn’t going to until I found this recipe that explains how to smoke a spiral-sliced ham to glazed, grilled goodness.

Hormel and Brookshire’s spiral-sliced hams are precooked, but that lends them to being perfectly smoked before serving them on Christmas Day!

This year, I have guests coming for Christmas, so it won’t be just the four of us, which is a great excuse to get a big ham. I never really need an excuse to grill or use the smoker, but Christmas and company are an added benefit. Plus, Paul’s smoker recently came to visit my back porch, and it hasn’t left yet. So, I’m going to take as much advantage of it as I can before he decides he wants it back at his house. If you needed further convincing, using the grill or smoker for your ham frees up your oven for things like cherry pies, bouche de noel or Christmas cookies!

Smoked, Glazed Spiral Christmas Ham

Ingredients:
1/2 cup apricot jam (or grape jelly)
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ancho chile powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp sage
1/16 tsp ground cloves
1 (8 lb) spiral-sliced ham

Directions:
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, except the ham.

Place the ham in a heavy-duty aluminum pan, and slightly separate the slices. Brush between each slice with the glaze, and coat the outside of the ham generously.

Cover the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Preheat the smoker or grill with a side for indirect grilling.

Place the pan over indirect heat. Cooking time is about 12 to 13 minutes per pound to an internal temperature of 140° F to 150° F.

Baste ham with the glaze about every 20 minutes during the cooking process.

Remove the ham from the smoker when it reaches 140° F; let stand, covered, until it reaches 150° F.

Serves 12 to 14

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 676, Calories from Fat: 326, Fat: 36 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 148 mg, Sodium: 3336 mg, Potassium: 35 mg, Carbohydrates: 34 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 31 g, Protein: 53 g.

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Dine In: Baked Jalapeño Chicken Sliders


Baked Jalapeño Chicken SlidersLast year, some girlfriends and I got together on a Friday night in mid-November before the chaos of the holidays really kicked into high gear, and had a wonderful evening of food, fellowship and creating fun Christmas presents for teachers and co-workers. We each brought a dish and sampled each other’s favorites, while helping each other “mass-produce” the cutest Christmas gifts! One friend set up a coffee and hot chocolate bar, so the evening ended around the fireplace with a peppermint mocha espresso for me and whatever else my friends could dream up.

The gifts were easy and adorable. We bought tubes of Brookshire’s Sugar Cookie Dough. Super simple. We purchased metal cookie cutters in bulk, as well as clear glass ball Christmas ornaments. We carefully removed the “hangers” from the ornaments, and filled the glass bulbs with different kinds of cookie sprinkles and jimmies in holiday colors. Red sugar, green sugar, silver jimmies, multi-colored holiday jimmies and anything else festive we found. Then, we packaged several Christmas ornaments in assorted varieties with some sugar cookie dough and a cookie cutter! Voila, instant gift! (You might want to keep the dough refrigerated up until the time you give the gift, however.)
The food was fabulous as well. I made these super-easy sliders that were a huge hit.

Baked Jalapeño Chicken Sliders

Ingredients:
12 King’s Hawaiian rolls
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
5 strips bacon, cooked until crisp and diced
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 large jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 1/2 Tbs butter, melted
1/2 tsp garlic salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F.

Remove rolls from the foil tray, being careful not to separate rolls. Using a serrated knife, slice through the rolls horizontally, so they each have a top and a bottom. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and place the bottom layer of rolls into the dish.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and half the Monterey Jack cheese. Add in the crispy bacon, chicken and jalapeño. Mix well.

Spread the chicken mixture over the bottom layer of the rolls. Sprinkle the top of filling with the remaining cup of cheese. Addtop layer of rolls.

Mix the melted butter with garlic salt. Brush over rolls. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops of the rolls are golden-brown. Serve warm.

Serves 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 247, Calories from Fat: 178, Fat: 20 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (10 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 71 mg, Sodium: 477 mg, Potassium: 139 mg, Carbohydrates: 2 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g, Protein: 15 g.

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



Dine In: Fourth of July Dessert Kebabs


Fourth of July Dessert Kebabs	One elementary school teacher, perhaps Mrs. Riley in the second grade, told us that the way to remember how spelling “dessert” was different from spelling “desert” was that “dessert” has a second “s” because you always want seconds of desserts!

That theory worked for me.

That’s why these patriotic dessert kebabs don’t just stop at “red, white and blue.” They go for the bang with the addition of brownie bites! Two desserts on a kebab can’t be a bad thing, right?

Aside from this dessert being so simple, it’s almost not fair; it’s so cute, super sweet and so delicious that it’s not even funny. I like it because it appeals to adults, kids and everyone in between. They’re easy to prep ahead of time for a party, low maintenance at an event, portable and easy to eat at a picnic, cookout or Fourth of July fireworks show!

They’re also easy enough for your kids to make, as long as they don’t resort to sword fighting with the wooden skewers (that would happen in my house).

Use any combinations you want on the skewers and enjoy!

Fourth of July Dessert Kebabs

Ingredients:
1 pint blueberries, washed and dried
2 pints strawberries, stems removed
1 (12 oz) pkg jumbo marshmallows
1 pan brownies, cut into 1-inch squares
wooden kebab skewers

Directions:
Assemble fruits and desserts onto a wooden skewer in a red, white, blue and brownie pattern!

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 249, Calories from Fat: 77, Fat: 9 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 21 mg, Sodium: 120 mg, Potassium: 117 mg, Carbohydrates: 43 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 18 g, Protein: 2 g

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



Shop the Sale: Cocoa and Chile-Rubbed Pork Loins


Cocoa and Chile-Rubbed Pork LoinI truly believe that whole, boneless pork loins are one of the best values for your money in the meat department, especially on weeks like this one when they are on sale at Brookshire’s.

They are so versatile and delicious, and I manage to get about four meals out of a whole, boneless loin.

This weekend, we’re grilling a cocoa and chile-rubbed pork loin, then I’ll use the leftovers as tacos later in the week.

The addition of cocoa powder to a rub might sound odd, but don’t forget that it’s not sweet until you add sugar to it for dessert purposes.

I love the savory blend of cocoa and chile. You do use a little sugar because that will caramelize beautifully on the grill, but it won’t make it taste like dessert, I promise.

Cocoa and Chile-Rubbed Pork Loin

Ingredients:
1 whole boneless pork loin (about 2 1/2 lb)
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp ancho chile powder (or regular chili powder)
2 tsp light brown sugar
1 Tbs olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 limes, halved

Directions:
Mix together cocoa powder, ancho chile powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Rub pork loin with olive oil; rub with spice mixture. Grill on high heat on all sides until seared. Reduce heat and cook until pork reaches an internal temperature of 160° F. Remove from grill. Squeeze lime juice over pork loin. Let rest. Serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 365, Calories from Fat: 195, Fat: 22 g (8 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 113 mg, Sodium: 386 mg, Potassium: 623 mg, Carbohydrates: 2 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 40 g

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



Shop the Sale: Grilled Marinated Rump Roast


Grilled Marinated Rump RoastThis is the time of year I want to grill meat, not slow-roast it in the oven.

However, for rump roast, you want to not only marinate it but also cook low and slow to thoroughly tenderize the meat. With this recipe, you can have the best of both worlds.

The beer helps break down the connective tissue in the meat, making it more tender (don’t worry, any alcohol burns off in the cooking process).

This is the perfect recipe for a lazy summer afternoon on the back porch. Grab a tall glass of tea, relax in a hammock or lounge chair, and enjoy the smell of roasting meat wafting from the grill.

Grilled Marinated Rump Roast

Ingredients:
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup chili sauce, or your favorite barbecue sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 (12 oz) can or bottle beer
1 (3 1/2 to 4 lb) rolled beef rump roast
2 cups hickory wood chips

Directions:
In a 1-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook onions and garlic in oil until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in chili sauce, salt, pepper and beer.

Place beef in shallow glass or plastic dish, or resealable food-storage plastic bag. Pour beer mixture over beef; turn beef to coat with marinade. Cover dish or seal bag. Refrigerate at least 8 hours but no longer than 24 hours, turning beef occasionally.

Cover wood chips with water; soak 30 minutes. If using charcoal grill, place drip pan directly under grilling area and arrange coals around edge of firebox. Heat coals or gas grill for indirect heat.

Remove beef from marinade; reserve marinade. Insert spit rod lengthwise through center of beef; hold firmly in place with adjustable holding forks. Insert barbecue meat thermometer so tip is near center of beef but not touching spit rod. Drain wood chips. Add about 1/2 cup wood chips to medium-low coals or lava rock.

Cover and grill beef on rotisserie over drip pan 4 inches from medium-low heat about 2 hours for medium doneness (160° F), brushing occasionally with marinade and adding 1/2 cup wood chips to coals or rock every 30 minutes. Remove spit rod, holding forks and thermometer. Discard any remaining marinade. Cover beef with foil and let stand 15 minutes before slicing.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 275, Calories from Fat: 80, Fat: 9 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 105 mg, Sodium: 310 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fiber: 0 g, Protein: 40 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

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



Shop the Sale: Maple-Bacon Toffee Bars


Brookshire’s BaconI was at home alone last night, a rarity for me these days.

I had changed out of my work clothes and into comfy clothes, and I was browsing Pinterest for something totally unrelated to bacon, until I stumbled upon this recipe.

No one else in my house would eat this, but hey, no one else was in my house!

I decided to try it. I had all the ingredients at home, so there was no need to find a baseball cap and try to sneak over to Brookshire’s incognito because we all know that doesn’t work. The very minute you try to slap on a hat to hide the fact that you already took off your makeup and scrunch your T-shirt up so that no one notices the hole in the bottom left corner, you’ll run into everyone you know. And their mother. And your preacher. And your boss.

It’s practically the law.

Not that I’ve ever tried, but I’ve heard about the phenomenon from a friend.

Cough.

Cough.

So, being as that I had all the ingredients at home, I whipped up a batch of these maple-bacon bars, using the Brookshire’s Bacon I’d just bought on sale.

There were none left the next day. I think that friend must have eaten them.

Maple-Bacon Toffee Bars

Ingredients:
1 lb Brookshire’s Bacon
1 pkg Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and liberally grease the foil with cooking spray. Unroll the crescent rolls into one single plane of dough and pinch any perforations together to seal. Stretch the dough out a little with your hands so it’s even. Prick the dough with a fork all over. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook your bacon. Cook it until it’s technically safe enough to eat and just about done, but still lighter in color and not quite crispy. You don’t want it fully cooked and crispy as it will continue to cook in the oven. Drain the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate.

Drizzle 1/4 cup of the maple syrup over the crescent roll dough. Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Top with torn pieces of the cooked bacon. Drizzle the remaining maple syrup on top of the bacon pieces; top with remaining brown sugar.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until bubbling and caramelized. Remove from the oven and allow the pan to come to room temperature (or warm to the touch) before cutting or breaking into pieces. You can serve this at room temperature or slightly warmed. It tastes best the day of but can be eaten the next day, if stored in an airtight container.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 562, Calories from Fat: 296, Fat: 33 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (12 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 62 mg, Sodium: 1649 mg, Potassium: 379 mg, Carbohydrates: 44 g, Sugar: 30 g, Protein: 23 g

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Healthy Living: Roasted Golden Beets


Roasted Golden BeetsI recently blogged about the Wish Night Gala we attended in Dallas at the Hilton Anatole hotel and how delicious the beef tenderloin tasted. I also warned you that I wasn’t done blogging about the amazing food at that event.

The beef tenderloin that night was served with a side of roasted spring vegetables, a healthy side that complemented the rich main course.

The best part of the vegetable medley was the roasted golden beets. I had never had them before and wasn’t sure I’d like them. They were so delicious. The lemon really brings out the flavor of the beets, and these are so simple, so bright and so healthy that they’re the perfect side dish for a heavier main course.

Roasted Golden Beets

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb golden or red beets, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces or wedges
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
2 Tbs chopped fresh or 2 tsp dried herbs, such as marjoram, oregano and/or rosemary
1 tsp lemon zest, freshly grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450° F.

Combine oil, herbs, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add beets; toss to coat with the seasoning mixture.

Spread the beets evenly on a rimmed baking sheet.

Roast, stirring once or twice, until the beets are tender and browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Toss the roasted vegetables with lemon juice.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 118, Fat: 5 g (1 g Saturated Fat, 4 g Monounsaturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Carbohydrates: 17 g, Protein: 3 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sodium: 423 mg, Potassium: 564 mg

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



Product Talk: Brookshire’s Jumbo Flaky Homestyle Biscuits


Brookshire’s Jumbo Flaky Homestyle BiscuitsTo say my boys love biscuits is a total and complete understatement.

I recently made the perfect batch of biscuits. They were light, fluffy, airy and delicious. I slaved over them one Saturday morning. Did the boys eat them? No.

No, they did not. They wanted Brookshire’s biscuits instead.

Admittedly, Brookshire’s Jumbo Flaky Homestyle Biscuits are just as good as the ones I spent a good amount of time working on in the wee hours of a weekend morning. Better even, because getting up at 5am is not required.

They are light, fluffy, airy and delicious! My boys love pulling apart the layers, dripping with butter. Best of all, they’re simple to prepare. Just preheat the oven, open the can and voila! Bake. I like baking mine in a cast iron skillet. I melt about one tablespoon of butter in the skillet as it heats, until it’s bubbly and browning. Then, I pull the skillet out of the oven, add the biscuits, put it back in the oven and bake according to package directions. You’ll get a beautifully golden crust on the bottom of your biscuits.



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