share. The Brookshire's Blog

Family Matters: Tailgating At Home

With a husband and teenage son in the house who love football, most fall weekends are spent with the TV tuned into one game or another. And no, it cannot just be the two of them watching the game; both of them like to have friends over to watch the game — the more people the better!

With all these guys over every weekend, I need something hardy in the kitchen for them to eat. One of my favorite recipes and theirs too is a slow cooker vegetable soup. This soup is super easy to make and everyone can help, even the young kids can get in the kitchen and help out too.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup

1 Lb ground beef or breakfast sausage
1 family size pkg of frozen soup vegetables
1 can diced tomatoes
1 (16 oz) box vegetable broth
1 bunch green onions
3 cups water
Salt to taste

Brown ground beef or sausage and drain. Add all ingredients to slow cooker and cook on low for eight hours or on high for four hours.

Family Matters: Listen to your life

Some girlfriends and I were having dinner the other night, and the conversation lingered around the times in our lives when our children were still small enough to hold in our arms. I have two huge teenage sons now, so I bypassed this milestone about 10 years and 80 pounds ago. They pick me up and swing me around now!

To be honest, one of us in the group had just become a grandmother. It pains me to write this, knowing that this means I am old enough to be a grandmother as well! I don’t feel old enough to have grandbabies – until I look in the mirror and think, “Who is that woman with the frizzy gray hair and wrinkles?”

My friend is having so much fun snuggling with her little grandson. We all sat around the table and spent probably 30 minutes talking about the little things we remember and miss – like our babies’ sweet smell right after bath time. Believe me, teenage boys don’t smell quite the same.

We went on and on that night over our banana cream pie, remembering some of the most ordinary, everyday experiences in raising our children, but yet these seemingly insignificant events had ended up being quite important.

Presbyterian minister and author Frederick Buechner writes, “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

Banana Cream Pie
Serves 6

1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 pkg (4-serving size) instant vanilla flavor pudding & pie filling
1 envelope (1 1/3 oz) whipped topping mix
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 medium ripe bananas
1 Ready-Crust Pie Crust Keebler® Ready Crust® Chocolate

In large mixing bowl beat milk, pudding mix, topping mix and vanilla on low speed of electric mixer until combined. Increase speed to medium. Beat about 3 minutes or until very thick. Spread 1/3 of mixture in crust.

Slice bananas on top. Spread remaining pudding mixture over bananas. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until set.

Garnish as desired. Store in refrigerator.

Nutritional Information: Per Serving: 116 Calories, Calories from Fat: 2.5g,  Sodium: 343 mg, Carbohydrates:  20.7 g, Fiber: 1.1 g , Protein: 2.6 g

Family Matters: Family Road Trip

We all hear people reminisce about family trips they have taken over the years and what a great time it was for their family to bond.  It is funny to hear someone talk about it and then to sit and recall some of your own family road trips – or adventures, we call them.  There are a lot of fun times that come out of a road trip, but for some reason we seem to always forget (or block out) the rest of the road trip.

As a mother of four teenage daughters I can tell you first hand that a seven hour road trip is an adventure.  Oh, it was fun and we laughed a lot but what about having to stop every hour (or more) because they can’t all seem to need to make a bathroom stop at the same time.  Or, everyone seems to have lost or broke their charger for the electronic devices they are glued to, so you have six people sharing one or two chargers…you can hear the laughter right…

I was really surprised our air conditioner did not burn up from the multiple times I heard it was too cold or too hot and had to adjust it.  Finally after a few hours of that, the cold natured girls were given blankets to cover up with…that took care of that.  What about the four things of snacks you open up and pass back and forth (sharing, that is nice) and then someone ends up spilling the box or bag of goodies all over the car…laughing again?  After eating the snacks they are all thirsty…and yes, time for another pit stop.  You would be amazed at the great souvenirs you find in truck stops.

Don’t get me wrong, after you return these things are really funny when you look back but at the time you feel like you want to pull your hair out or take a vacation by yourself.  You love your children but honestly there are times they make you want to trade them in or tie them to the top of the car for a little peace and quiet.  This does not mean you don’t love your kids it just means that you are human and that things do seem to overwhelm us sometimes, but in the end what great memories we do make and what funny stories about family road trips we will have to share with our grandchildren.

Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you have to share with your family…on and off the road!

Family Matters: A Greek Twist on Pizza Night

Pizza is one of my boys’ favorite foods, but it’s not one of mine. I enjoy a slice or two maybe a few times a year, but it’s not something I crave or make very often – until a friend recently made me her Greek Hummus Pizza. These flavors combine to make one of the most delicious, and healthiest, pizzas I’ve ever enjoyed.

Yes, I know nothing beats a greasy pepperoni and mushroom on a Friday night, but for a quick weeknight family dinner, this Greek Hummus Pizza has become one of our favorites.

If you aren’t familiar with hummus, it’s a very popular Middle Eastern dip usually made with chickpeas (garbanzo beans), tahini (sesame paste), garlic, salt and olive oil. It’s quite versatile, as you can easily find flavored hummus on the Brookshire’s aisles now, from roasted red pepper and pine nut to southwestern and roasted garlic.

It’s so easy to change up the ingredients of this pizza to make it your own as well. It tastes delicious with ANY flavor of hummus you like – from roasted red pepper to roasted garlic or even spicy jalapeno! The amount of cheese called for in the recipe might not seem like enough, as we all like to pile on the toppings, but it’s plenty – and healthier too.  Sometimes I mix in a handful of feta cheese with the mozzarella if I happen to have some on hand.

Most of you know that I’d rather be cooking with kids than most anyone else, and that’s another reason I have made this pizza a family favorite. You start with a purchased refrigerated pizza crust and purchased hummus, making it so easy for any young cook to enjoy success on the first try. In fact, my boys (ages 15 and 13) don’t really need me to help with this anymore; they can make this all on their own!

Greek Hummus Pizza
Serves: 8

1 (10-oz) tube refrigerated pizza dough
1 (7-oz) container hummus, any flavor
1/2 cup chopped ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped red bell peppers
3 slices red onion, separated into rings
1/3 cup sliced, pitted black olives
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 450

Roll pizza crust dough into a large oval. Spread hummus over the crust; top with remaining ingredients. Bake pizza for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is browned.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving:  257; Fat: 12.9 g; Cholesterol: 25 mg; Sodium: 508 mg; Carbohydrates: 22.8 g; Fiber: 2.9g ; Protein: 14.1 g

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

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

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

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

1 cup Food Club sugar
4 cups water

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.


Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie

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)

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

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

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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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