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Healthy Living: Purell Hand Sanitizer


Purell Hand SanitizerWhen my kids went back to school last week, the item at the top of each school supply list was “Purell Hand Sanitizer.”

Back-to-school means germs, germs and more germs, and Purell Hand Sanitizer helps fight the germs that might be spread from kids with colds touching the pencil sharpener then to other kids.

Purell Hand Sanitizer was invented in 1988 to help reduce the spread of germs in the healthcare and restaurant industries. There needed to be an effective way to stop the spread of germs, and keep things sanitary when soap and water were not readily available.

Purell Hand Sanitizers are effective at killing 99.99% of most common germs, and have been available to the general public since 1997. I think it’s been on every school supply list of ours since then.

My teacher friends keep bottles everywhere in their classroom. I have one on my desk at work, as does my co-worker. There’s Purell Hand Sanitizer dispensers in most public restrooms. I haven’t been into a commercial kitchen since I stopped waiting tables in college, but I imagine they’re found there as well. I have a travel-sized bottle in my purse.

Used correctly, Purell Hand Sanitizer will help keep you germ-free this fall and winter.



Family Matters: Make Every Night A Family Night


Make Every Night A Family NightBe sure to put September 28 on your calendar as National Family Day. Family dinnertime does not have to be perfect. CASA’s Family Day is a national movement to celebrate parental engagement as an effective tool to help keep America’s kids substance free. Eating at the table with your kids is a simple way to stay engaged with time to talk, eat and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t expect your meals to always turn out delicious where everyone is raving about your cooking. Also, don’t expect your kids to always be polite and on their best behavior. Let’s be real, good food is only as good as the people you enjoy eating it with. Dinnertime is about sitting down at the table for at least 30 minutes and catching up with everyone. Let the kids tell you what went on at school, open up to one another and share the day’s events with each other.

Keep your family grounded this fall with these 15 ideas for fabulous dinners and family nights:

  1. Enjoy a movie night with homemade pizza. Make your own individual pizzas, and let each family member take a turn selecting the movie.
  2. Have an overnight staycation at home with a cookout and camping. Pitch a tent in your yard, and cook over an open fire (or on the barbecue). Sit around the fire pit and tell stories.
  3. Volunteer as a family. Help out at a school fundraiser or serve meals at the local soup kitchen.
  4. Bake together. Take turns picking favorite recipes and let everyone join in on the fun.
  5. Take family photos. Get out the camera, and have some fun taking photos of each other. Be silly, be serious and have fun.
  6. Have a formal family dinner. Set the table with your best tableware, have everyone dress up and use your best manners. Give everyone a fancy name and title — like prince or princess — and behave as one would.
  7. Play show-and-tell. Have each family member choose an item that is important to him or her, and tell all about it.
  8. Play a casual game of baseball, football or basketball.
  9. Play “Name That Tune.”
  10. Make a family cookbook. Have every family member choose several of his or her favorite recipes and type it up. Make copies to pass out as gifts at Christmas.
  11. Have a family slumber party. Put blankets down in the living room and pile on top!
  12. Visit a local bookstore and read together. Buy a chapter book each member of the family can read aloud from to the others.
  13. Go for a walk around the neighborhood or park. Play “I Spy.”
  14. Play charades.
  15. Have a Bible lesson, songs and snacks.


Dine In: Crazy Candy Pie


Crazy Candy PieLuke was sitting next to me yesterday morning while I was scrolling through Pinterest on my laptop.

“WE NEED THAT!” he yelled, pointing at the candy confection on the screen.

I followed the link. It was a pie, full of bits of candy bars! Essentially, it’s like a blondie in a pie crust with candy. What more do you need to know?

“We should probably have that tonight, you know, to celebrate school starting on Monday,” he said.

That’s solid reasoning if I ever heard it.

This pie came together quickly and simply. It’s bright and colorful, and it was delicious.

“That sure was a special dessert” was Luke’s final comment on the subject.

I agree, Luke. I agree.

Crazy Candy Pie

Ingredients:
1 frozen pie crust, thawed
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 cup candy bars (I used M&M’s, mini Twix, mini Rolos and mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups)
extra candy for the top of the pie

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. If using a frozen pie crust, make sure crust is defrosted.
Using an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until combined. Stir in baking powder, salt and flour. Mix well.

If you’re not using “mini” candies, chop your candy into bite-sized chunks.

Add candy to batter using a slow speed of the mixer or stirring it by hand.

Press batter into pie crust. It will be too thick to pour and somewhat sticky, so you might want to spray your spatula with nonstick cooking spray before you attempt this maneuver. Sprinkle remaining candy on top for decoration.

Bake for about 24 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the top of the pie is golden. It may still be a little jiggly in the center. Cool completely. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Nutritional Information (calculated with 1 cup of M&M’s): Calories Per Serving: 409, Calories from Fat: 159, Fat: 18 g, Trans Fat: 0.1 g (8 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 40 mg, Sodium: 248 mg, Potassium: 206 mg, Carbohydrates: 58 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 36 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Product Talk: Special K with Red Berries


Special K with Red BerriesSchool has started and that means making sure my kids are getting a nutritious breakfast in the mornings. They’ve never been cereal types…until now, that is.

This year, I introduced them to one of MY favorite cereals, Special K with Red Berries.

They love how the red berries, dehydrated strawberries, plump up when they add milk, but they mostly love the taste!

Special K with Red Berries is a great source of fiber. It’s made with whole-grains including rice and wheat, and does not contain high-fructose corn syrup. At 110 calories per serving, it does not have any fat, and provides a lot of the vitamins and minerals kids need to get going every morning.



Dine In: Steak and Cheese-Stuffed Pretzel Bites


Steak and Cheese-Stuffed Pretzel BitesSchool started this week, and that calls for a celebration, you know, before the weeks wear you out so much that you can only muster delivery pizza on Friday nights.

My boys LOVE this recipe, and I have to admit that I’m a pretty big fan as well. This is a great recipe for kids to help with, as they can roll pretzel balls to their heart’s content. You can swap out the filling ingredients. We’ve tried ham and Swiss with chopped pickles, roast beef with provolone, pepperoni and mozzarella, and scrambled eggs with ham and cheese. Did I mention we like this recipe?

The secret to the pretzel texture of the dough, crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, is the boil-then-bake approach. Don’t skip this step, although it is a bit more labor-intensive. The result is well worth it.

Serve with a salad, and these back-to-school bites make a great meal.

Steak and Cheese-Stuffed Pretzel Bites

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 pkg active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil, for bowl
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 1/2 to 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 to 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups rare roast beef, coarsely chopped
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 Tbs water

Directions:
In the large bowl of your electric mixer, mix warm water, sugar and salt. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water, no need to mix. Let sit for about 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes foamy.

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Family Matters: Mother’s Day Out


Mother's Day OutAt this age, your little one might be ready for a Mother’s Day Out situation. Lots of kids LOVE to socialize with others their age, while others are a little more hesitant to be left alone.

If you have the latter, ease your child into the situation by starting out small, leaving them for small increments of time. I remember leaving my younger son in the gym’s childcare so I could try to squeeze in a 30-minute workout. I also remember the loudspeaker at the gym asking me to return to the child care area before I even broke a sweat. However, we went consistently, and each time, he held out a little longer before he would cry for me. Finally (and it probably wasn’t that long in the great scheme of things), he played happily in the child care and actually got excited when I dropped him off.

My older son never had separation anxiety. He just took to new situations with ease, which is kind of funny considering their personalities today (total opposite of their baby years).

If you’re considering leaving your little one in a social situation, visit the facility and make sure it’s clean; the staff is competent, warm and friendly; and YOU are comfortable with the whole package. Then, take baby by for a visit, staying with them the first time. Remember, they will pick up on your cues, so if you are excited, you might help them feel more at ease.

Then, try to leave them alone. They might take to it easily; they might be nervous at first. You have to get a feel for your little one. In most cases, there’s no need to force the situation. If they hate it, try again in a few weeks.



Family Matters: Talk To Your Baby


Talk To Your BabyMy niece and nephew just turned seven months.

The twins are as cute as they can be and at an adorable age. I loved the time between six and 12 months. Babies are responsive and interactive, and you can really see their personalities emerging.

Emma is pure sunshine. She giggles and laughs, and her blue eyes sparkle. Her twin, Patrick, is much more serious. He looks at you with his big, brown eyes like he’s thinking deep thoughts.

Emma is having babbling conversations with her parents and her big brother and sister. They encourage her by babbling back and talking to her in voices with different pitches and volumes.

Patrick loves peek-a-boo. His big sister, Claire, will hold a blanket over her face and spring out from behind it, shrieking “PEEK A BOO.” Patrick will laugh and laugh.

Babies will also start to understand that different tones of voice mean different things and can start learning a stern “no.”

Your job is to facilitate this conversation with baby, no matter what form it takes. Baby loves the sound of your voice and can recognize the voices from family members. Talk, talk, talk.



Family Matters: Sleepy Time


Sleeping BabyThe other day, I was looking at my boys, both now in middle school, and missing the newborn days when they slept in my arms for hours on end.

I also remembered just how much a baby sleeps, although it felt to me like they were never doing that good sleep at nighttime.

A one-month-old baby needs eight hours of sleep at night and another eight hours during the day. At three months, it’s about 10 hours at night and five during the day. At six months, your little one needs 11 hours at night and about three-and-a-half during the day.

To help your baby get the sleep he needs, try to keep his schedule as consistent as possible. Put him to bed and wake him up at about the same time every day. Let him sleep in the same place each night and in the same place for naps each day.

Of course, if your baby is less than a month old, he’ll probably sleep anywhere and everywhere he can.

It’s not a bad thing to hold your baby while he sleeps during the first weeks of his life. You can’t spoil a baby, but you do want him to get accustomed to his own bed as well.

You might notice a newborn baby can sleep through anything, and there’s no reason to change your daytime routine to accommodate his sleep needs. However, this might change as he gets a little older and becomes used to silence (or noise).

Remember to keep baby’s crib clear of blankets or large stuffed toys. Use a sleep sack or other weather-appropriate pajama set.

Establish a bedtime routine and stick to it. The familiar transition will help baby get to sleep more easily and stay asleep!



Dine In: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough FudgeMy obsession this summer has been Andy’s Frozen Custard, specifically a chocolate chip cookie dough concrete with molten peanut butter poured into the middle. Chocolate chip cookie dough is my love language. I pretty much love anything chocolate chip cookie dough. It’s my favorite flavor of ice cream. It’s my favorite “mix-in” at Marble Slab Creamery. Yes, I even eat it raw by the spoonful every time I make cookies, and I haven’t gotten sick yet.

My sweetie loves fudge, and I love cookie dough. Trying this recipe was a no-brainer, a beautiful marriage of confections. It comes together quickly. The only problem with it is that the recipe says it keeps for a week in the refrigerator. In what alternate universe does chocolate chip cookie dough fudge last a week? Not in my house, for sure.

The directions tell you that 4 cups of powdered sugar make softer fudge, while 5 make a stiffer, sweeter version. I split the difference at 4 1/2 cups, and I thought it was just perfect. It had a great texture without making your cheeks pucker from overwhelming sweetness.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

Ingredients:
For the cookie dough:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbs half-and-half
1/2 cup all purpose flour

For the fudge:
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup butter
pinch of salt
1/3 cup half-and-half
4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:
Using heavy-duty foil or parchment paper, line an 8 x 8-inch pan, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Spray liberally with nonstick cooking spray.

Make this fudge in 2 parts. First, you prepare the “cookie dough” portion, then you stir it into the fudge base.

For the cookie dough, combine butter and sugar in a large bowl, and beat together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, salt and half-and-half. Stir in the flour until just incorporated. Don’t overmix. Set aside.

To make the fudge base, combine the brown sugar, butter, salt and half-and-half in a heavy saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until the butter melts and the brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth and well-combined. Add the vanilla.

Add the cookie dough to the fudge base and stir gently to combine. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish; chill until set, at least 3 hours.
Keep in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In, Kids


Family Matters: Family Fishing


Family FishingThis summer, we have spent a lot of time fishing with our girls, our family and the kids’ friends. Since I was a child, I have always loved to fish, but as our family got busier, we never seemed to have time because something else was always more important. I can absolutely say that everyone has enjoyed not only catching fish but also the time spent laughing, getting fishing lines out of the trees, playing with the worms and the family gatherings to fry up the fish we caught. Nothing is better than the taste of fresh fish, french fries and hushpuppies. My middle brother is always the one that prepares and cooks our fish. No secret ingredient, just soaking it in milk the night before, rolling in yellow cornmeal, adding his seasonings, and frying it up nice and hot. Simple, but delicious!

Our friendly fishing contest consists of the largest fish, the smallest fish and kids against adults. There is midnight fishing, fishing at dawn and fishing until we are all too blistered and sore to move the next day. During this time, we are reminded of childhood memories of fishing with our grandfather or dad, and of being able to share with our kids as we all laugh at the funny things that have happened in the past, good and simple times long forgotten.

As we get older and go through life’s trials, we learn that it is getting back to these simpler things like fishing, sitting and visiting, and just enjoying each other’s company that is really important. Maybe fishing is not for you; maybe it is nature trails and bird watching. Whatever it is, as long as you are with family, it will be time well-spent. Fishing gets everyone out of the house, off the couch and cellphones put up (kids don’t want to drop phones in the water!!)…what better use of our time.

Now, as we move toward school starting and the cooler months, the cousins are all talking about weekend fishing and camping trips together and more family fish fries….what great memories for our kids and family. Fishing stories passed down for generations… Who would have ever thought that fishing would be the bond that “reels in” the family together and reminds us of the important things in life? Count your blessings daily and give thanks for time with your family.



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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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