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Dine In: Ice Cream in a Bag


Ice Cream in a BagOne of my sons’ favorite things to do in school, mainly in the lower grades, was to make ice cream in a bag.

I know they did it in preschool, again in kindergarten and probably even in first grade since they both had the same wonderful, bubbly, creative teacher.

Ice cream in a bag sounds weird, but it’s super fun for kids (adults too!), and it is a tradition we repeat every summer on the back porch.

We’re going to do it again on Friday night after dinner.

Seriously, there’s nothing better than a good sit on the back patio with the dog chasing crickets around in the yard, the solar lights flickering and everyone I love gathered in one place.

You can add extra goodies to this recipe. Just be aware that it might alter the way it freezes a tiny bit. Each bag makes an individual serving.

Ice Cream in a Bag

Ingredients:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs sugar
4 cups crushed ice
4 Tbs salt
2 quart-sized zipper-lock plastic bags
1 gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic freezer bag

Directions:
Mix the milk, vanilla and sugar together in one of the quart-sized bags.

Seal the bag tightly, pressing out excess air. If you leave too much air in the bag, you might have a mess on your hands during the shaking process.

Place the quart-sized bag inside another of the same size to help prevent ice or salt from leaking into your mixture. Place the double-bagged mixture into the gallon-sized bag and fill with ice. Then, sprinkle salt on top.

Press out excess air and seal the bag. Wrap the bag in a towel; shake the bag vigorously for 5 to 8 minutes or until the “ice cream” has formed.

Pour into a chilled bowl and eat immediately.

Serves 1

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 112, Calories from Fat: 23, Fat: 3 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 10 mg, Sodium: 58 mg, Carbohydrates: 18 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 17 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In, Kids


Family Matters: A Movie and More


A Movie and MoreAfter a very long day at work, I went home ready to plop on the couch and do nothing, but I was approached by my teenage twin daughters to take them to the movie. Wow, that was the furthest thing from my mind, and I expressed this to my kids. I could tell they were disappointed, and after a long discussion back and forth (wearing me down), I agreed. After all, they chose a “chick flick” as we call them, something with love and romance…couldn’t get any better, right?

We saw one of the best movies I have seen in years. I cried through almost the last hour with both girls laughing hysterically at me (telling me to blow my nose) and vowing to never sit with me again! After the movie, we proceeded outside where the laughter continued once they saw my red swollen face and absolutely no makeup left. The crying to my surprise was such a stress relief that I had not expect after my long day at work…it was refreshing and something I totally needed.

We continued to talk in the car and at home. Now, weeks later, we are still talking about the movie and what we got out of it. There were some good life lessons in the movie and topics for family discussion, which added up to even more than what I anticipated out of the night. As I reflect back on the instant they asked me to take them to the movies and my immediate response, I am so thankful that I changed my mind. I did not get just another movie; I got so much more out of the time I spent with my daughters.

Every day, there are moments we can’t get back. Don’t deny yourself and your kids just simple times of hanging out and visiting…you will never be so glad you did something in your life. You, your kids and your family as a whole will benefit from the laughter, tears and great conversations that come out of your quality time together. The next time you’re exhausted and want to say “no” to your kids, just reconsider for a moment what you might be missing. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for your time with family!



Family Matters: Summer Snacks


Summer SnacksSchool’s out for summer, and it’s time for the kids to be a little self-sufficient during the day.

I’m at work the vast majority of days in the summer, but that doesn’t mean my kids can’t eat a healthy meal and snacks while I’m at work.

One of their favorite things is apple slices with assorted toppings.

I slice the apples into rounds because, let’s face it, the knife is really sharp, and it makes me nervous if they use it if I’m not in the house. They do the rest. They love to slather an apple round with peanut butter. Then, they top it with raisins, almond slivers, coconut shreds, chocolate chips and dried cherries.

They also love celery sticks filled with cream cheese and topped with taco meat or buffalo chicken.

They also love to snack on fresh strawberries mixed with blueberries, Greek yogurt topped with granola and bagel thins spread with peanut butter.

If I can’t be at home, then I’m happy to know they’re eating healthy snacks that will sustain their energy throughout the day.



Shop the Sale: Cheesy Pork Chop Bake


Cheesy Pork Chop BakeA one-pan meal is a delicious solution to a Wednesday night meal. A lot of folks go to church on Wednesday nights. Or, this time of year, you might be at baseball, at the pool or just tired of the school year grind.

This dish, with boneless pork chops on sale this week at Brookshire’s, can be prepared in advance and popped into the oven for a satisfying meal, all in one pan. Serve with a side salad, add some chopped broccoli to the dish or add additional veggies.

I know that last Wednesday after a swim party, a long day at work and a long day for my kids, this was an easy dish to prepare for dinner. If you make it in advance, make sure the potatoes are coated in the soup mixture before you pop the pan in the fridge, or they’ll turn brown. Alternately, you could toss them in olive oil before you layer the casserole.

For a bit of bite, chop jalapeños or chili peppers, and mix into the soup before pouring it on top of the pork chops and potatoes.

Cheesy Pork Chop Bake

Ingredients:
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
6 (6 oz) boneless pork chops
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
4 potatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high-heat until oil is fragrant and shimmering. Sear the pork chops quickly on each side. Remove from pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk soup, milk, salt, pepper and garlic powder together. Arrange the potatoes and onions in the baking dish. Place the seared chops over the potatoes and onions. Then, pour the soup mixture over all.

Bake for 30 minutes. Top with cheese, and bake for 30 more minutes.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 688, Calories from Fat: 478, Fat: 53 g (21 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 169 mg, Sodium: 729 mg, Carbohydrates: 19 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 45 g.

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Healthy Living: Paddleboarding


Paddleboarding	A few summers ago when we were on our annual beach vacation, my siblings and I rented paddleboards, and we took them out in the Back Bay in Sandbridge, Virginia.

The Back Bay is calm, much calmer than the ocean, for sure. It has ripples and eddies and swells, but nothing like the vigorous waves of the Atlantic. It was the perfect place to learn how to paddleboard. None of us had ever attempted it before.

I’ll tell you that I was nervous. I had no idea how I was going to get from a crouching position to a standing position on the board.

Basically, paddleboarding is as simple as standing on a heavy board similar to a surfboard and paddling to move yourself forward, backward or in a direction with one oar, similar to what you’d use in a rowboat.

My lithe and nimble sisters and sisters-in-law hopped right onto their boards. I took it a little more slowly. You kneel on the board, plant your hands in front of you, lift with your legs into a standing position, and then slowly stand upright. The board is pretty heavy and weighted, so you need less balance than you’d think. That’s not to say you don’t have to stay balanced, but it wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined.

We headed out into the open water with the breezes at our back and the smell of ocean air wafting over the sea grasses. We paddled out to a duck blind, circled it and raced around it. We all had the hang of the boards.

Paddleboarding builds great core strength. You need it to maintain balance. It also works your legs because you are also using them to stay erect and your arms as you paddle.

To me, it was a great way to relax and get exercise at the same time. The water is my happy place, so the serenity and stillness of gliding through the water was good for the body and soul.

After about two hours, we were worn out but not tired enough for my sister-in-law, a devout yogi, to execute a backbend and handstand on her board.

I stuck to standing without falling.

So many lakes and rivers have paddleboards for rent now. Try it today! I recommend it for any skill or fitness level or age (as long as you’re a proficient swimmer). Always wear your life vest!



Healthy Living: Kids’ Summer Breakfasts


Kids’ Summer BreakfastsSummers can be tough.

I still have to go to work, but my kids don’t have to go to school.

They’ve hit the age where they’re old enough not to need summer day camp, so they stay home during the day. They spend their hours running or biking (being certain to text me before they leave and as soon as they get home), working through the job list I leave every morning, playing outside with the kids down the street, and probably playing too many video games, truth be told.

I can’t always control what they do during the day, but I can make sure they have a good breakfast to start the day.

They are often still asleep when I leave, so I make sure to stock up on things they can prepare themselves that will give them energy and nutrition to have a great summer.

Some of those things include whole grain Bagel Thins with peanut butter, Greek yogurt with diced fruit and granola, homemade breakfast burritos (if you wrap them in foil, they stay warm for a pretty long time), homemade sausage rolls (same foil trick applies) and all kinds of fruit bars.

These are their favorite.

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Ingredients:
For the strawberry bars:
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbs sugar, divided
10 oz fresh strawberries, chopped

For the glaze: (optional)
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbs milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper so that it hangs over the sides.

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, ginger and salt. Swirl in the melted butter, and stir until it forms crumbs and the dry ingredients are moistened. Set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture. Press the rest into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.

Spread about 1/2 the strawberries over the crust. Sprinkle with the cornstarch, lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Top with remaining berries and the remaining sugar. Spread the topping crumbs over the strawberries. It’s fine to have fruit showing through.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the fruit bubbles and topping is golden. Cool completely.

For the topping, combine powdered sugar, vanilla and milk; whisk until smooth. Add more milk if you want the glaze to have a thinner consistency. Drizzle bars with glaze. Slice and serve.

Makes 16

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 115, Calories from Fat: 43, Fat: 5 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 12 mg, Sodium: 68 mg, Carbohydrates: 17 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 8 g, Protein: 2 g.

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Shop the Sale: Bacon-Mushroom-Swiss Slow-Cooked Chicken


Bacon-Mushroom-Swiss Slow-Cooked ChickenIn a house with two picky eaters, one dieter and one kid who eats everything but the kitchen sink (and that’s only because I’ve never put hot sauce on it and put it on a plate), dinner can sometimes be a challenge to put together without repeating the same dishes over and over.

One kid doesn’t like mushrooms. One man doesn’t like white cheese or white sauce. One dieter doesn’t eat carbs.

Does anyone else feel my pain?

Luckily, bacon makes everything better, especially John Morrell Bacon on sale this week at Brookshire’s.

For whatever the reason (likely the bacon), this dish passed muster with everyone in my house. (I’ll just pretend I didn’t see one kid picking out the mushrooms).

This is delicious served over rice (cauliflower rice if you’re the low-carb dieter) with a side of steamed green beans or a fresh salad.

The bacon gives this dish a smoky flavor and pulls all the flavors together.

Bacon-Mushroom-Swiss Chicken

Ingredients:
3 slices John Morrell Bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 pint fresh button mushrooms
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of chicken soup
6 slices Swiss cheese

Directions:
Spray the crock of the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker. Top with mushrooms and cream of chicken soup. Cook on low for 8 hours. Top with Swiss cheese, and cover lid until cheese begins to melt. Sprinkle with bacon and serve.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 484, Calories from Fat: 200, Fat: 15 g (8 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 175 mg, Sodium: 890 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 63 g.

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Dine In: S’mores Oreo Ice Cream Pie


S’mores Oreo Ice Cream PieI was in the mood to make an ice cream pie last weekend. I envisioned a S’mores Ice Cream pie, but when I mentioned it to my son, he said, “Oh, with Oreo ice cream?”

Why not with Oreo ice cream? We made a combination S’mores Oreo pie, and it was delicious.

The great thing about ice cream pies is that you can make any flavor combination you want. This particular pie borrows a technique from a famous ice cream dessert, the Baked Alaska. Make sure the pie is super frozen when you put it under the broiler, or it will quickly turn to ice cream soup.

Ice cream pie on Friday nights reminds me of growing up, when a bowl of our favorite frozen flavor was a weekend treat. Start it a day ahead if need be, so it has enough time in the freezer.

S’mores Oreo Ice Cream Pie

Ingredients:
1 prepared graham cracker crust
1 pint Oreo (or cookies and cream) ice cream
1 (8 oz) jar hot fudge
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup Oreo cookies, crushed

Directions:
Let ice cream soften, and stir in 1 cup mini marshmallows. Spread into the bottom of the prepared graham cracker crust; freeze until firm. Remove from freezer, and spread a layer of hot fudge over the ice cream. Put back into the freezer until fudge is firm. Preheat broiler in oven to high. Remove pie from freezer; spread with marshmallow fluff. Place under the broiler for 2 minutes or until marshmallow fluff is lightly golden-brown. Sprinkle with crushed Oreos. Either serve immediately or place back in freezer until ready to serve.

Serves 10

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 354, Calories from Fat: 123, Fat: 15 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 13 mg, Sodium: 288 mg, Carbohydrates: 56 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 37 g, Protein: 4 g.

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

 

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Posted in: Dine In, Kids


Family Matters: Springtime Benefits


Springtime BenefitsDays of beautiful springtime weather are upon us. We begin to breathe a little deeper, closing our eyes and inhaling as much fresh air as possible…what an amazing feeling! Another great feeling is getting out of the house and doing something with your family, like working in the yard.

I know, your first thought is “what is great about that?” Well, how about working side-by-side with your kids to pick up limbs, rake leaves, mow the yard, clean flower beds and plant flowers. If you are not looking for a big task, just get plastic containers, fill them with potting soil, and plant a few tomato , onion or radish plants, a little “garden” so to speak. The time you spend working together, communicating and spending time in the sun is so rewarding for a parent and the child. You have their undivided attention doing something that does not involve an electronic device, and you get the health benefits of the fresh air and sunshine. Even if you can afford to have someone else do your yard work, you need to do this once and see the benefits firsthand. You could also volunteer to do yard work for a friend or neighbor that needs help. Setting an example for our kids is so important.

Our youngest daughters like working at the barn with their dad, building things out of materials laying around and tearing things down to take to the scrap yard (for spending money). They built a wire cage to put our empty aluminum cans in and a planter made out of a pallet to put herbs in (herbs that keep mosquitoes away). These are things, along with yard work, that they enjoy doing, and it teaches them responsibility of helping around the house and earning money for “extra” things they might want.  All the time that they are working, they are visiting with dad about school, friends and life in general.  There is always a lot of laughter involved, and nothing is sweeter than seeing your child happy and smiling.

Springtime is a great time to reconnect with your kids – get outside and enjoy them, Time passes quickly, and they are grown and gone. Work together to accomplish something around the house. Laugh together to remind you of the joy of having kids, of raising them and of knowing you are teaching them to be strong, independent and thankful. Count your blessings daily, and give thanks for time with your family!



Family Matters: Fun with Mom


Fun with MomSome of my favorite memories with my mom happened in the kitchen.

Whether we were at the kitchen counter cooking or at the kitchen table crafting, to say that the kitchen was the heart of our home is probably an understatement.

My mom can create anything. She’s a wonderful cook and an amazing seamstress. She can master any craft or art, and she can grow anything beautifully. She has a million more talents I don’t even have room in which to enumerate.

She tried to pass along those things. Key word: “tried.”

I’m a good cook. Better than average, probably. However, when it comes to sewing, crafting or any other visual talent, I’m strictly skill level glue gun and spray paint.

Still, those times spent with my mom, learning something new, at least being exposed to it, are better than any material possession she could have given me. As a small child, we made clothes-pin dolls by the hundreds. Remember the wooden, stationary clothes pins used to hang clothing on an outside line that had two “legs” and  a “head?” We turned those into dolls with fuzzy yard hair, painted faces and all sorts of elegant clothing culled from my mom’s bag of scraps. We did the same thing with dried corn husks. Mom would twist and turn then fashion them into robust women figures, and I’d paint them, dress them and play with them until they fell apart. Mom spent hours trying to teach me how to sew and quilt. I can whip out a hem or sew a button with the best of them, and for years, I slaved over my grandmother’s solid metal Singer sewing machine until I conceded that sewing just really isn’t in my temperament. I remember painting a rock one time – red – and painstakingly cutting letters out of a magazine that I decoupaged onto the painted rock, “I love you, Daddy.” One year, we used stained glass paint in clear glass ornaments for Christmas décor. She let me punch down the dough and knead it when she made her famous raisin bread each holiday season. I stirred red sauce simmering on the stove for hours. I licked the beaters after she made chocolate chip cookies.

Now, with Pinterest offering projects galore, you don’t have to have great skills to spend time with your kids, at the kitchen counter or table, making memories.

If the memories turn out better than the project, well, that’s fine, too.



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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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