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Family Matters: Smothered Steak & Potatoes Time


This is a meal that our family loves to make together. My two young daughters like to prepare the steak while I handle the potatoes. I believe they enjoy the “dipping” of the steak because of the mess it makes by the time they are finished cooking! Of course, they disappear when it comes time to clean up, but it is fun to watch them enjoy themselves while learning to cook… it gives them a sense of being needed and teaches them to be self-reliant. 

By the time they leave our home they will be ready to cook for their families and hopefully remember all the fun, so they will choose to make these same kinds of memories with their own kids.    

Smothered Steak with Brown Gravy

Ingredients:
Tenderized round steak
Flour
Vegetable oil
2 packages Food Club Brown Gravy Mix

Directions:
Take tenderized round steak and cut the pieces to individual portions.  Dip the steak in water and then in to a bowl of flour and repeat two times.  Place the steak in a shallow frying pan with oil (you do not want to cover the meat) and cook on medium heat until each side is brown on the outside. 

Take all finished meat and put in a large glass cake pan.  Mix as directed two (2) packages of Food Club Brown Gravy Mix and pour over the meat, cover the pan with foil and cook at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes; then uncover for about 5 minutes.  Pull from the oven and cover until ready to eat.  The meat will be so tender it will melt in your mouth.  

If you put two layers of meat in the pan you will need to add an additional package of Food Club Brown Gravy Mix to make sure the meat is completely covered. 

Baked Sliced Potatoes

Ingredients:
Russet potatoes
Garlic powder
Morton’s Nature’s Seasoning
Colby-jack cheese, grated 

Directions:
Peel as many potatoes as needed for your family. Rinse the potatoes and then slice in 1/4-inch thick, round circles into a large bowl. Sprinkle with garlic powder and Morton’s Nature’s Seasoning, and mix thoroughly so the seasonings get on all the potatoes. 

Pour the slices into a glass baking dish, add small amount of water in the bottom and cover with foil.  Cook on 350 degrees until the potatoes are tender, then remove the foil and let the potatoes get slightly brown on top. Pull the pan out of the oven and add grated cheese; turn the oven on broil and place pan back in for just a few minutes until the cheese is melted and crunchy. You may enjoy them as is, or you can add bacon, sour cream, ranch dressings or chives to the potatoes once you get them on your plate. 

Make a green salad (or green vegetable) to go with the meal and you are all set.  

I hope you find the meal enjoyable while taking time this week to sit together at the table as a family. Savor the moments you have together. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family. 



Family Matters: Will Eat For A Snow Cone


Meat, corn, carrots and fruit are all the foods my daughter will eat. That’s it! She will not eat bread, sandwiches, peanut butter, cheese, pasta, nuts—nothing else! Oh, do we have a challenge packing her lunch everyday for school.  On the other hand, my teenager son will eat everything on his plate and in the house! 

Like other Moms, I come home from work and head straight to the kitchen to prepare dinner for that night. After slaving in the kitchen, I proudly sit dinner on the table thinking I have accomplished this grand task and that I’m truly an amazing Mom! Then out of her mouth comes the dreaded words, “I don’t like this, do I have to eat this, what is this stuff?” My self-accomplishment just went into the trash along with her dinner. 

I knew I had to devise a plan to get my picky eater to start trying new foods or she would be eating meat, fruit and those two vegetables for the rest of her life.  So she and I sat down and developed the “Will Eat For A Snow Cone” picky eater plan.

Here’s how it works. For every new food she tries, she gets to put a sticker on a chart, when she earns 10 stickers, she get a reward. When earning 10 stickers becomes to easy for her, then we’ll raise the bar to 20 stickers for a reward. Right now her reward is walking the dog 2.5 miles round trip to the snow cone stand. She looks forward to this every weekend and is working hard to earn her 10 stickers so she doesn’t miss out on her snow cone treat and walking the dog adventure. 

So in the future, I’ll keep preparing new foods for her to try. Hopefully she will find a few that she really likes. If not, I pray that when she becomes a teenager she’ll be somewhat like her older brother and eat everything on her plate too!



Family Matters: “The Suzanne”


The months before my first son, Will, was born were some of the most stressful in my life. He wasn’t easy to get here, and I was worried sick for months that something bad was going to happen.

On top of that, I have a tendency to obsess when I am passionate about something, whether it’s working on a project, training for a race or becoming a mother. I am either all in or all out…nothing in between.

I read every baby book I could find, researching cribs, car seats, food, diapers and anything else I thought a mom needed to know to ensure success from day one.  But there is one thing I forgot to factor into my equation: Will was a real live baby – not what I came to call Handbook Baby.

Handbook Baby is the baby in all the parenting books who apparently follows a schedule, eats and burps on command and sleeps through the night from the time you bring him or her home from the hospital.

Handbook Baby does not exist, and all I could think was someone without children had to have written these books.

Little by little, I learned to recognize Will’s cues and figure out what he and I both needed to survive our first year together. For me, part of that meant he slept on my chest for the first three months, and right by me for the next nine.

I could not bear to hear his cry, and if it weren’t for the wisdom and experience of my dear friend, Suzanne, Will and I would have had many difficult late nights of tears…both of us.

Suzanne came over just after Will was born, bringing us a homemade apple pie and some advice that I use to this day when holding restless babies. In fact, among my friends, we came to call this calming move, “The Suzanne.” It isn’t a complicated move, but it works to quiet crying babies almost every single time.

Holding your baby, simply stand with your feet together. Take a step to the right with your right foot. Bring your left foot over to your right foot. Then bend at the knees, like you would to sit in a chair but not quite that far. Stand back up and repeat moves to the left. Back and forth.

There’s something about the rhythm of “The Suzanne” that is almost magical. I’ve seen babies quit crying in under a minute. It worked for Will – and his younger brother – again and again.

My sons are now teenagers and twice my size. It was a sad day for me when I realized I could no longer hold them. These days, I like to find a crying baby in a restaurant and ask the parent if I can hold the little one for a minute. Most of the time people will let me, and “The Suzanne” gets passed to another grateful family.



Family Matters: Baseball and Hot Dogs


Throughout the year there are two seasons I look forward to. The first one is without a doubt my favorite – Christmas. There’s just something magical in the cool, crisp Christmas air! The other season I look forward to is baseball season. I count down the days to when the gates swing open at the Ballpark in Arlington and the first pitch flies straight into the opponent’s strike zone. 

I grew up with a love for baseball. After World War II my Poppy was a pitcher in a softball farm league. Growing up he would take my brother and I to what we called “the lot.” He would pitch ball after ball to us until we hit a game winning home run. When I started playing softball I was fortunate enough to be the pitcher and I knew it made my Poppy proud. To this day people still tell me what a great pitcher my Poppy was. I truly cherish the time we spent at the lot playing softball and I feel he is where I got my love for baseball. 

Every year I anticipate going to the Ballpark in Arlington to watch a Rangers game.  The excitement of the fans all around you makes the experience worthwhile. The one thing that makes the trip to the ballpark outstanding is a juicy, ballpark hot dog. Having a hot dog while the warm, Texas sun is beaming down on you, the fans are cheering, and your team is winning makes the perfect package for a wonderful game. I was unable to watch the Ranger’s Opening Day victory, but that evening my family enjoyed a hot dog in honor of Opening Day. I know hot dogs are not the most nutritious choice of protein, but having one occasionally for a baseball game is just fine. Of course I used the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System when picking out which hot dog I would enjoy. This is what I discovered about NuVal hot dog scores: 

Ballpark Beef Hot Dogs: NuVal Score 7
Oscar Mayer Beef Hot Dogs: NuVal Score 9
Jennie-O Turkey Hot Dogs: NuVal Score 12
Oscar Mayer Turkey Hot Dogs: NuVal Score 14
Ballpark Turkey Hot Dogs: NuVal Score 23
Hebrew National 99% Fat Free Beef Hot Dogs NuVal 23 

We all know a hot dog is not complete without a bun. While scanning the buns this is what I found: 

Mrs. Bairds Hot Dog Buns: NuVal Score 24
Sara Lee Heart Healthy Hot Dog Buns: NuVal Score 29
Nature’s Own Whitewheat Hot Dog Buns: NuVal Score 33 

Hot dogs are fun treats for watching baseball on a Friday night or fireworks on Fourth of July!

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Family Matters: Duke to the rescue


Before my dog Duke came into my life, I wasn’t much of an animal lover. It’s not that I disliked dogs and cats; it’s just that I never understood the connection some people have with their pets. I kind of thought these people were crazy. 

It all began when we were at a friend’s house watching the 2011 Super Bowl when my sons came running in and asked if I would come outside and see a dog that some neighbors had found but couldn’t keep. The boys begged me to consider taking him home with us. If I remember correctly the exact words were, “This dog is going to be put to sleep if we don’t take him with us, Mama! You don’t want to be known as the one who killed a dog, do you?” 

No, I don’t want to be remembered as the dog killer, although at that moment I thought I might be a child killer if they kept trying to guilt me into a new dog. I went outside with the boys, telling them that there was no way we were adding more chaos to our already chaotic home. 

And on top of that, the dog needing rescuing wasn’t a cute little lap dog. It was a 95-pound German Shepherd. All I could think was: Huge. Sheds. Eats. Kills on command. 

At this point, I forgot I was the parent. I looked at the boys and said, “Have you lost your minds?” 

The boys have a nickname for me: “The Changer-Minder.” I have a very hard time enforcing “no means no” when they either make me laugh or melt me with their sweet words and kisses. 

And that was that. Somehow this big dog went home with us that night for a trial sleepover. 

For the next couple of days, Duke and I spent a lot of time together. He turned out to be the sweetest, gentlest – and smartest – creature I had ever been around. He stayed by my feet all day as I worked. He followed me from room to room, and slept at the end of my bed every night, coming to my side of the bed several times a night to check on me. 

Needless to say, Duke never left our home. Duke attached to me as his primary caregiver, always hovering and protecting and loving. There have been times he has done things at just the right time, in just the right way that I truly believe he has to be my angel. 

I know, I know, I now sound like one of those crazy dog people, but I don’t care. It’s been a little over a year that we rescued Duke, but I’m pretty sure he has done most of the rescuing. 



Family Matters: Our Camping Staycation


Our children never ask us what our plans are each spring break. They know that, in our home, spring break means one thing: Time to go camping! 

It seems everyone else had the same idea we did because every state park nearby was full before I could make our reservation. I guess lots of folks enjoy camping in the great outdoors! 

I did not want our camping tradition to be broken, so I decided we would just have to have a “camping staycation”— camping at home! 

We spent Thursday night preparing the menus and grocery shopping for the weekend’s events. Friday night’s menu was grilled steak, corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, rolls and our traditional s’mores for dessert. Saturday night was hamburger and hotdog night followed again with the kids’ favorite—s’mores! Sunday was a busy day – the perfect time to make taco soup in our slow cooker. 

Each night, we sat outside at our picnic table and pretended we were camping in a state park. We live in the country with lots of critters running around, so it was easy to imagine! 

One of our camping traditions is to watch scary movies at our camp site, so each night, I popped popcorn, and my husband set up a TV on the deck to make sure our scary movie nights continued. We turned off all of the outside lights, lit lanterns and built a fire in the outdoor fireplace. 

Even though we didn’t actually go anywhere to camp out, our family had a great time during our own backyard “camping staycation!” 

Slow Cooker Taco Soup 

Ingredients:
1.5 Lbs ground beef
1 chopped onions
2 cans chopped tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
2 cans pinto beans
1 can chopped chilies
1 can corn
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
1 pkg ranch dressing mix 

Directions:
Brown ground beef with onions. Drain water from beans and corn. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Add 2-3 cups of water. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.



Family Matters: Celebrity chef creates baby food


Now that I have teenagers, I look back and realize that things may not have been as difficult with my babies as I face now, but at the time, I worried myself to death about everything from how long my children would sleep each night to if I were giving them the best nutrition possible.

A child’s relationship with food begins earlier than you might think, and I did not want to create any stress or bad habits that might haunt them later on. I just wanted them to grow strong, be healthy, and learn to enjoy the pleasures of good food.

My first child was born 15 years ago, and honestly, there just wasn’t a lot on the market I felt really good about feeding him. And although I did make a lot of his baby food from scratch, hours in the kitchen were not a practical, long-term solution for my schedule – which of course only seemed to add stress and guilt to my list of new mom angst.

Thankfully, parents today have many great choices for giving their children the best possible start in life when it comes to creating a healthy food relationship. Some of these new choices have sprung to life because of to the popularity of cooking shows and celebrity chefs. We are paying more attention to how we cook and eat, and although some of it may not be only entertainment, chefs such as Tyler Florence are making a real difference.

“As a father, I’m always thinking about how I can get my children to eat healthy, even when time is an issue,” Florence states on the Sprouts website. “As a chef, I want to treat them to foods that are delicious, and create a good relationship with a variety of foods.”

Being the chef he is, he rose to the creative challenge and started the company, “Sprouts.” Sprouts is a 100 percent organic line of nutritious, delicious food options for young eaters, and Brookshire’s is proud to be carrying it now as part of our initiative to help our customers make healthier lifestyle choices.

We all know that obesity is on the rise in our country, and thanks to companies such as Sprouts, we can take the steps needed early in our children’s lives to instill good habits and delight in healthy eating.



Family Matters: Self-serve parfait bar


For birthday parties or a special after-school treat, kids love the fun of a make-it-yourself sundae bar. So why not steal the idea, but give it a healthier twist – and create a self-serve parfait bar. (After all, as Donkey famously said in the first Shrek, everybody loves parfaits!)

Grade-school kids can make these themselves, with a little supervision and prep work from you, and even younger kids can choose what toppings they want. You can make this work with just about any kind of non-citrus fruit, but berries, peaches and bananas seem to work the best. We’ve listed some treat ideas for toppings, but use your imagination. To keep it healthier, offer only a small amount of things like chocolate chips, and make sure there are plenty of better choices such as nuts and seeds.

For a shortcut, you can use pre-sweetened vanilla yogurt or honey yogurt, but I prefer plain. That way, you can control the amount and type of sweetener used.

Do-it-yourself yogurt parfait

Makes 2 parfaits

Ingredients:
1 cup nonfat plain or Greek yogurt
2 Tbs honey or agave nectar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sliced fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, bananas, peaches, pineapple)
1/3 cup granola

Directions:
Additional toppings, such as toasted coconut, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate shavings, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, chopped nuts

Combine yogurt, honey or agave nectar, and vanilla.

In an ice-cream sundae glass, or a medium-size clear plastic cup, place a couple of spoonfuls of yogurt. Layer with about one-quarter cup of fruit and a spoonful of granola. Repeat layers of yogurt, fruit and granola, ending with one small dollop of yogurt. Repeat to make second parfait.

Let each guest add choice of toppings. Serve immediately.

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Family Matters: Only Use Car for Emergency


The other weekend, my husband and I went out of town with some friends to hear Mat Kearney in concert at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas.

We had been planning the night away for months, which meant we had also painstakingly arranged for our boys to stay with friends while we were gone. 

But as the date approached, our 15-year-old son decided he was old enough to stay home alone, and thus began his campaign to convince us that he indeed could handle any possible problem that could come his way. 

I now know he is destined to be an attorney, God help him. I’ve never heard any trained lawyer more eloquently or determinedly develop a rational argument to explain why his or her side is the right one. 

If only all attorneys approached their work with such determination and passion! 

Well, either way, he wore us down. By Friday he convinced his father and I that he was up to the task. We decided this was one of those moments we needed to listen to him and give him an opportunity to be responsible. We didn’t tell him that we had every neighbor in a three-mile radius checking on him and checking in with us all night long. 

I should also tell you we have a 100-pound German Shepherd who would kill anyone who tried to enter our home unannounced. So, all in all, we thought we were good to go. 

Apparently, our 13-year-old son stopped in that night to get a change of clothes while the older one was still at baseball practice. When we got home the next morning, we found this note from the younger to the older on the kitchen counter: 

ONLY USE CAR FOR EMERGENCY
(NO POT OR BEER OR GIRLS) 

And here all this time I was worried they would simply forget to brush their teeth and say their prayers. 

All joking aside, my boys are great, and I don’t have to worry about these things in their lives just yet. But it’s a much harder world than when I was their age, so I think I will choose to be grateful for each day with no pot…or beer…or girls. 

Parents are Gone Pepperoni Bread
(OK, you know as well as I do he ordered Domino’s. If I were home, we would have this homemade!)

Ingredients:
12 Rhodes™ Dinner Rolls or 1 Loaf Rhodes™ Bread Dough, thawed & risen
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
4 ounces sliced pepperoni
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Directions:
Spray counter lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Roll loaf or combined dinner rolls into a 12×18-inch rectangle. Combine butter with seasonings. Brush mixture on dough, reserving a small amount to brush on top later. Arrange pepperoni on top of seasoning mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Beginning with a long side, roll up dough jelly roll style. Tuck ends under and place, seam side down, on a large sprayed baking sheet. Using a sharp serrated knife cut several vents in the top. Brush with reserved seasoning mixture. Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Remove wrap and bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes.



Family Matters: Natural pet foods


When it comes to pet food, a big trend the last few years has been a growing consumer interest in more natural, wholesome pet foods. This makes a lot of sense: Many of us are more interested in eating more natural, organic, fresh foods, so why wouldn’t we want the same thing for our four-legged family members? And because pet obesity rates have been growing sharply, many of us have become more vigilant about watching exactly what is going in those food bowls. 

One in five pet owners even admits to purchasing human foods to feed their pets, according to a recent national pet owner’s survey. But you don’t have to go that route: More companies are responding to the demand for healthier pet foods by developing natural, high-quality foods and treats. 

Check out some of these wholesome options, available at most Brookshire’s stores, unless noted otherwise: 

Freshpet:  This company uses high-protein meats and eggs, real grains and veggies, and no byproducts or artificial preservatives in its dog and cat foods. Its philosophy is that pets benefit from eating fresh, minimally processed foods, just like humans do. These refrigerated foods include Freshpet Select slice-and-serve rolls, Home-style cups, prepared Roasted Meals for dogs and cats, and Dog Joy treats. Available at select Brookshire’s and Super 1 Foods, plus FRESH by Brookshire’s.

Nurture Heavenly Harvest Holistic Dog Food: This food is notable for what they do use – healthy natural grains, veggies, fruit and herbs – as well as what they don’t. (No corn, wheat or soy meal; no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or excess water.) Developed for owners interested in a healthier, holistic lifestyle for their pets, the natural food includes a unique vegetable and herb blend that promotes digestion, plus natural antioxidants that assist in the aging process. 

Purina ONE Beyond: Dog kibble and cat food with real meat, whole grains, and all-natural nutrient and whole grains, to provide all-natural nutrients. Keeping with the natural theme, Purina has adopted several sustainable practices in making this food. For instance, it comes in packages made from 92 percent renewable materials, printed entirely with vegetable-based soy inks, which are also more renewable than other inks. 

Milkbone Healthy Favorites: These biscuits are made with real beef, rolled oats, flaxseed and carrots, but no corn, soy or artificial preservatives.  Corn and soy can cause allergic reactions or digestive issues in some dogs, even in small amounts as they’d get in a treat, so this may be a healthier option for your pet.



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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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