share. The Brookshire's Blog

Family Matters: Frozen Fun


In my long list of never-say-never, I vowed I would never have a dog.

Not that I didn’t like dogs, but I just never had a dog growing up and wasn’t accustomed to being around man’s best friend.

But along came Jack, a sweet little beagle mix puppy abandoned on a co-workers front lawn. Jack came home with me one day and quickly found a place by my feet on the couch and a bigger place in my heart.  Sadly, Jack met his untimely demise after escaping through a hole in a neighbor’s fence. I was never going to get another dog.

But along came Jill, a mutt of mixed heritage including Italian greyhound, possibly boxer, possibly a lot of things. She was silly and loyal and an all-around easy dog.

When my son needed an incentive to complete an activity he hated, he wanted a dog more than anything. He earned Tickles, a Morkie (Maltese/Yorkie) mix, who is now 4 ½ years old.

After Jill moved out, I didn’t even try to fool myself. I got online and quickly found Gretel, an Australian shepherd who’d been dumped on the driveway belonging to a friend-of-a-friend.  Soon after acquiring Gretel, our veterinarian talked me into the German shepherd mix who had been found wandering a busy thoroughfare. We brought Shiloh home to complete our brood.

I love my puppies, but having dogs isn’t always a walk in the park, although I’m sure all three of my pooches wishes it was. My large breeds are also active breeds and while my backyard is substantial, it’s not a ranch where they can herd sheep and run wild. It’s fun to take them to the park for exercise and they love it, but it’s so hot outside all summer and most of the fall. And my dogs are hairy!!!

When I saw this fun and frozen activity, I did it again. I said, “I’d NEVER make that for my dogs; it’s silly.”

But I did. Gretel, Shiloh and Tickles LOVED it. The boys had fun watching the dogs play, too. All you need to do is round up your pet’s favorite toys. Freeze them in a large bowl of water (or beef broth, delish!) and then turn them out of the container into the back yard. Your pets will love licking the block of ice to get to their favorite toys and it will cool them down in the process.



Family Matters: Grace’s Garden


My daughter Grace, who is 10, is my outdoor, nature-loving, recycling type of girl. She wants to garden, save all the animals and recycle everything in the house. So it didn’t surprise me, in early spring, when she started saving all the seeds from the fruit she had eaten. She would dry the seeds out and then plant them, hoping they would grow into big fruit trees someday. Most of the time, she usually forgot where she’d planted her seeds.  

This year, she planted cantaloupe seeds from a cantaloupe I had bought at the store. She put up some fencing and made a scarecrow to decorate her little garden. She watered the seeds everyday, and would you believe they started growing?  At first, I thought they were weeds or bull-nettles and was thinking about pulling it all up. But instead, I let her keep watering them and continued to watch them grow.  

I’m so glad I didn’t pull her garden up because it produced a handful of cantaloupe. And may I say, the best tasting cantaloupe we’ve had all year. My daughter is so proud of her garden and already has plans for a bigger garden next year. 

So the next time your kiddo wants to plant a garden, love on nature or recycle everything in the house, let them do it and give them the tools to do it with. You may just reap the benefits! 



Family Matters: Traveling With Baby


My older son, Curt, was about five months old on Memorial Day weekend 2002. His dad and I thought it would be a great idea to rent a beach house on the Bolivar Peninsula for the holiday weekend and enjoy our first trip as a small family.

We opted for a beachfront cabin, not right in the thick of things so we could enjoy some quiet, but not too far out that we couldn’t get to the convenience store easily, either. This proved to be quite a serendipitous choice. This was the first time we’d be away from home with our son. Overnights to see his grandparents in Houston didn’t really count – their house was already stocked with a crib, swing, bouncy seat, diapers and a lot of the things we’d need for a long weekend with a baby. 

I never realized how much it takes to get one small baby to the beach for three days.

First of all, we needed the portable play yard – and several changes of sheets to keep the sand off – for him to sleep in. We loaded the jogging stroller into the back of the SUV thinking it would be easy to transport him over to the sand with the big wheels (we were right – the jogging stroller with its sun shade was a lifesaver on the beach). It also came in handy to lull him to sleep on long walks along the ocean so one of us didn’t have to leave the beach during his naptimes.

Then there was the beach bag. And the baby beach bag. Diapers. Swim diapers. Hats. Suntan lotion in 19 different baby varieties. Baby powder (very helpful for getting sand off of mom and baby!). Pacifier. Baby sunglasses. Water. Baby wipes. Toys. And the list goes on and on, seemingly interminable.

We found ourselves running to the convenience store for things we’d forgotten, paying so much more than if we’d shopped at our local Brookshire’s before we left home.

So here’s a checklist of things you might need to travel with baby this summer, or any time.

• Car seat
• Stroller
• Portable highchair
• Portable crib
• First aid kit
• 1-2 outfits for baby per day
• Bibs and burp cloths
• Extra shirt for mom and dad in case baby has a blowout
• Toys and books
• Baby’s lovie
• Breastfeeding cover or 2 bottles filled with formula
• Sippy cup with water
• Baby food
• Diapers – about one for every two hours
• Wipes
• Plastic grocery bags to store or dispose of dirty clothes or diapers
• Infant car seat or convertible car seat
• Stroller
• Baby carrier (optional)
• 2 daytime outfits, 4 pajama/loungewear outfits
• 3 pairs of socks
• 3 days worth of bibs and burp clothes
• 1 pair of shoes
• 3 days worth of bibs
• 1 weather appropriate hat.
• Baby toothbrush and baby toothpaste
• Baby bath soap and lotion
• 1 baby bottle and 1 Sippy cup
• 2 favorite books (1 bedtime, 1 anytime)
• Baby formula and food
• Hand pump or breast pump if needed
• Baby detergent (optional)
• Baby bottle squeegee and dish detergent
• Baby monitor
• Noise maker
• Baby proofing stuff

Oh, and the baby.

Happy travels!



Family Matters: The wonder years


Awhile back, my 13-year-old son, Smith, and I had a date. Of course this means Smith got to choose any restaurant he wanted. 

In our family, this means one of two things: a big steak or Japanese food. Smith chose the hibachi place in town, probably because he gets to toss eggs at the chef and also the proximity to open flames. 

The place was packed. We shared our table with a couple of teenagers on a painful first date and a family with three or four kids barely old enough to see over the table. These children could not have shown more excitement had we been sitting in the middle of Disney World. 

The children had apparently been to the restaurant before because they kept screaming for “Fire, Fire!” as soon as the young chef arrived at the table with his rolling cart of culinary magic tricks. He quickly answered their squeals by squirting the hot griddle with something flammable and creating three-foot-tall flames. 

If you’ve been to Japanese-style restaurants, then you know the chef’s routine. Slice and stack a white onion and light it like a volcano. The onion then becomes a whistling train. And on and on. 

The chef’s 15-minute routine – night after night – just can’t be all that fun for him. Unless of course, he does his work not for himself but for the delight of everyone (especially the 13-and-under crowd) he serves. 

Life through the eyes of a child is wonder-full.  

Smith’s very first word was not “Mama” or “Daddy.”  It was “WOW!” He walked – or ran – everywhere his little legs would take him. He would pick up everything from a pine cone to a plastic ball, examine it, look up at me and exclaim, “WOW!”. 

I have a video of him saying “WOW!” over and over one day as he explored his surroundings, probably when he was about 18 months old. The video is a joy to watch, especially since I’ve grown older and sometimes forget what it is about life that is good, true and beautiful — three things that children seem naturally to understand. 

Betsy’s Chicken Yakisoba
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs garlic chile paste (on the Asian aisle)
2 cloves minced garlic
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 cup soy sauce (low-sodium works well)
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
4 cups shredded cabbage
3 carrots, chopped
8 oz whole-wheat noodles, cooked and drained

Directions:
In a large wok or skillet, stir-fry sesame oil, vegetable oil and garlic chili paste together for 30 seconds. Add garlic and stir-fry 30 more seconds, careful not to burn. Add chicken and half of the soy sauce, cooking until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from pan using a slotted spoon. Keep warm while finishing the recipe. 

In the same wok or skillet, combine vegetables and stir-fry 2 minutes. Stir in rest of soy sauce, prepared noodles and the prepared chicken mixture. Toss well to combine and serve immediately.  

Nutritional Information:  Calories Per Serving: 295, Total Fat: 4.8g, Sodium 1621 mg, Carbohydrates 40.7g, Fiber: 3.0g, Protein: 26.3 g.



Family Matters: For the Birds


My mom loves birds (except blue jays, but that’s an entirely different story).  Her backyard, resplendent with her flowers and fragrant with her vegetable garden, is also home to dozens of species of feathered friends. She catalogs them with a field guide to birds she keeps handy in her sunroom, which faces the yard on the back of my parents’ home. The well-thumbed-through book sits right next to the binoculars, for a better look at the birds, and the pellet gun.

Oops. Did I say that out loud? I can neither confirm nor deny that there MIGHT be a pellet gun in her sunroom.  Not to hurt the birds, mind you, but to scare off the squirrels which are conniving and constantly finding their way into her bird feeders. She doesn’t hurt the squirrels either, just scares them a bit (not that it works long term, but it deters them for a few minutes, at least.)

All that aside, my mom must have a half dozen different varieties of bird feeders (she won’t stop until she finds one that is truly squirrel-proof). My favorite was always the hummingbird feeders because I am in awe of those amazing birds. I could sit for hours in my mom’s sunroom, and more recently on my own back porch, watching the dance of the hummingbirds as they swoop in to eat, defend their territory and execute age-old mating rituals with each other.

The hummingbird feeders on my back porch are constantly abuzz with activity. The food is super easy and super-inexpensive to make. Store bought hummingbird food and mixes often contain red dye, because hummingbirds are attracted to the color red.

Don’t use it.

It can be harmful to the birds. If the feeder itself doesn’t already contain the color red, then tie a red ribbon onto it. That’ll do the trick without harming the birds.

Homemade Hummingbird Food

Ingredients:
1 cup Food Club sugar
4 cups water

Directions:
This recipe is always in a 1:4 part ratio so make as much as you’d like at a time. You can store the leftovers in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Using a medium sauce pan, bring water to a boil. Slowly add in the sugar, stirring constantly. Once the sugar is added remove the boiler from the heat and continue to stir until the sugar is well blended.

Allow it to cool completely and add to your hummingbird feeder. 

Another fun way to feed the birds and let your children in on the action is to make homemade bird feeders. We’ve all coated pine cones with peanut butter and birdseed, but I don’t have any pinecones in my yard. So my boys and I improvised and it works just as well.

Homemade Bird Feeders

1 empty cardboard toilet paper roll
Peanut Butter
Valu-Time bulk birdseed

Cover toilet paper roll in peanut butter. Roll in birdseed. Slip over a branch outside and watch the birds flock to their new feeder.



Family Matters: Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie


Sometimes the hardest part of making time for a family dinner is not just finding the time, but also selecting a good recipe everyone will enjoy! If your children are anything like mine, then one usually does NOT want what the other wants, even if it’s just the general principle of disagreeing because they are brothers! If one son wants hamburgers, then I can bet you that the other one will often suddenly have an aversion to all things ground beef. 

But I have had good luck with this super-easy Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie recipe a friend gave to me at a football game a few years ago (Yes I was trading recipes during the game). Several of us were discussing needing new ideas for the family weeknight dinner table, and this one was easy enough that I could remember it and make it the next night at our house. It was a big hit with everyone! 

It’s the perfect recipe when you have left over cooked chicken, maybe from a rotisserie you’ve purchased at Brookshire’s, or if you’ve had time to bake chicken breasts ahead of time and are looking for new ways to serve them. 

The refrigerated biscuit topping make this the all-time easiest way to make pot pie…it’s a great recipe for your kids to jump in and help you too, even if it’s simply popping the biscuit can open and stacking the dough on the pot pie. 

All you need to complete the meal is “something green” as my mother used to always say. For our dinner plates to be complete, Mama made sure green beans, broccoli, asparagus, peas or a tossed salad was offered to us and “strongly encouraged” to enjoy! She thankfully helped us form good eating habits, and “something green” has now found its way to my sons’ plates every day too.

Enjoy!

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

Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie

Ingredients:
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs flour
1/4 cup each carrots, yellow onions and celery (small diced)
1 cup chicken stock
1 lb shredded cooked chicken
1 7.5-oz tube refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (small-sized)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450⁰F. Over medium-high heat melt butter in large oven-proof skillet. With a wooden spoon, mix in flour until smooth and just begins to smell toasted. Add ¼ cup each small diced carrots, onion and celery add stir until combined. Stirring constantly add 1 cup stock and simmer until thickened. Add chicken and bring back to a simmer. Cover top with biscuits in a single layer. Bake 8-10 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

Nutritional Information:  Calories Per Serving: 430, Total Fat: 20.2 g, Saturated Fat: 6.6 g, Sodium 1332 mg, Carbohydrates: 53.7g, Fiber: 1.3g, Protein: 8.5 g



Family Matters: Lavender Baby Bath


As most parents know, multi-tasking becomes a way of life when you have small children, especially babies.

My boys are close together in age, about 18 months apart, so the ability to multi-task was critical to the smooth flow of our household.

Plus, as a new parent, I was tired. Did I mention, TIRED?  Luke, my younger son, needed to eat every 90 minutes, at most, for the first several months of life. I remember waking up to his hunger cries, incredulous that he was hungry again. But sure enough, he’d eat vigorously and fall back to sleep…until the next time his belly needed filling.

Needless to say, I was exhausted and more-than-a-bit stressed out those first months of both boys’ lives, but then I discovered a way to double up on a task and get much-needed-relaxation.

Enter Lavender Baby Wash – Brookshire’s carries several brands of the lavender scented-baby wash.

Each evening, I’d fill my large bath tub (it was such a blessing to have!) with warm water and add a capful of lavender-scented baby wash, which bubbled up just enough to entertain the babies.  I’d put the boys in the tub together and inhale the soothing, steamy scent of the lavender-scented bath water. Both boys were bathed at once and we’d take advantage of the comforting, tranquil properties of lavender at the same time.

Lavender, sometimes called the “Mothering Oil,” is known for its relaxing properties and is used to alleviate not only stress but also anxiety. The ancient Egyptians added it to their baths for extra relaxation. Lavender settles irritability and is gently sedating, restoring mind and body to a state in which healing – and rest – can take place.

In closing, I have a confession: my boys are now 8 and 10 years old and I will STILL buy lavender baby wash.

No, they don’t use it; it’s for me.



Family Matters: Hunting to become a vegetarian


Growing up, my father and brother hunted all the time. They still get out to our land as often as possible, although I think they are napping in the stands more than they are hunting these days. 

Hunting is not for me, but I do love to shoot skeet. One day, when I was about 10 years old, my brother drove me out to our hunting land to shoot targets, not animals…so he said. 

My first clue that my brother was up to something should have been when he told me—holding his deer rifle—that we needed to check out one of the stands and make sure it was all cleaned and ready for deer season. 

We had not been there a minute or two when I saw a beautiful white-tailed doe walk across the field. I pointed her out to my brother like an idiot, and before you can say “Bambi,” the rifle was up and the deer was down. 

It was a traumatic experience for me, one that involved hitting and kicking my brother for days, as well as not eating meat for a long time. I still like to take a step back from the butcher on occasion and fill my plate with other delicious foods instead of meat. I think the experts label people like me “less meatatarians.” 

I don’t think I can ever give up meat all together, but I will say the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles require mindful eating. During the times when I was not eating meat, I realized that I couldn’t just run through a drive-thru window and grab a burger. This attention to my diet forced me to stop, plan, prepare and enjoy time in my kitchen more often. We ate more family dinners during that time than we ever had before. 

Here’s our favorite vegetarian lasagna, and I promise your meat lovers will never miss the meat! 

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

Vegetarian Lasagna 

Ingredients:
9 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (14.5-oz) can vegetable broth
1 (14-oz) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 (28-oz) jar purchased tomato pasta sauce
3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
4 oz feta, crumbled 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook 8-10 minutes until done but not soggy. Drain water. Spray large skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium. Sauté onion and garlic three minutes. Stir in broth.

Boil and add artichoke hearts and spinach. Reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes. Add pasta sauce and stir. Spread1/4 of artichoke and pasta sauce mixture on bottom of dish. Top with 3 cooked noodles. Sprinkle 1 cup of Mozzarella cheese over. Repeat layers twice, ending with artichoke mixture and Mozzarella. Top with crumbled feta cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes until bubbly. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving or cutting. 



Family Matters: Oobleck


On the last day of school one year, my older son, Curt, came home with a bag of slime.

No, it wasn’t the contents of a long-lost lunch bag, it was, as he explained to me in great detail, oobleck.

I watched him extract the green oobleck from the plastic bag, stretching it the length of his arm as he did so. Then he and his brother, Luke, proceeded to play with the oobleck for two hours.

Named for a slime in a Dr. Seuss book, “Bartholomew and Oobleck,” that had the power to gunk up a whole land, oobleck , besides looking like green gunk, has properties of both solids and liquids. Oobleck wiggles and jiggles like a liquid or jelly, but if you squeeze it in your hand, it will seem like a solid. In the scientific world, oobleck is called a dilatant, a substance that causes another to expand. If you slowly lower your hand into oobleck, it will sink, but it’s much, much harder to remove your hand without taking all the oobleck and its container with you. But in the real world, oobleck is just plain fun and easy to make with ingredients you probably have right in your pantry, perfect for a craft – or science experiment – on a hot summer’s day.

Oobleck

Ingredients:
Corn starch
Water
Food coloring (optional)

Directions:
Mix 1 part water with 1.5 to 2 parts cornstarch. Start with 1 cup of water and 1 1/2 cups of cornstarch, then work in more cornstarch if you want a more ‘solid’ oobleck.

Mix for about 10 minutes to get the right consistency. If you mix oobleck in a plastic bag with a zipper lock, kids can “squish” it to the right consistency.

Mix in a few drops of food coloring if you want colored oobleck.

Try this:
Squeeze or punch the oobleck. The cornstarch particles will not move out of the way quickly, so the oobleck will feel solid.

Mold oobleck in a container, but when you remove the mold, watch the oobleck lose its shape. 

| Permalink | Print
Posted in: Family Matters


Family Matters: Summer Pupsicles!


When I picked up my German Shepherd, Duke, from the groomer one afternoon last week, I realized my dog was already wincing having to walk his paws across the hot parking lot.

The temperatures have already started their upward climb to triple digits, and we are all searching for relief from the scorching sun – including our beloved pets! Making homemade frozen dog treats can help make staying cool more fun! It’s an easy way to get your kids involved in a kitchen activity that is relatively easy and quick to prepare.

When Duke hears me opening the freezer, he comes running, even from a dead sleep! Often I just toss him an ice cube to cool off, which he seems to enjoy…although I think he deep down is hoping for one of his refreshing treats.

The ingredients are all natural and are actually quite healthy for your dog. You could use applesauce instead of the banana, or molasses instead of honey. Don’t use chocolate, though, as chocolate can be toxic to many of our pets.

These Summer Pupsicles are easy to make in large batches and keep on hand in your freezer. And they are a cost-effective way to provide a sweet summer treat for the dog days of summer!

Summer Pupsicles

Ingredients:
1 mashed banana 
1 (32 oz) Vanilla yogurt 
2 Tbs honey 
2 Tbs creamy peanut butter

Directions:
Blend all thoroughly in a blender or food processor until creamy and smooth. Place mixture into small paper cups and freeze until solid.  To serve, microwave the cups for three seconds to make the paper easier to release. 
 



Copyright © 2010-2014, Brookshire’s. All rights reserved.
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.

Mi Blog Hispano

De Todo un Poco
Subscribe via RSS