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Dine In: Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breasts


Spinach-Stuffed Chicken BreastsBack in my single days, my friends and I would go out to eat on Friday nights, and we’d almost always get an appetizer of bubbling, warm, cheesy spinach dip with pita chips.

We’d talk and laugh and eat so much spinach dip that we often weren’t hungry for dinner after we finished.

I still love to go out on Friday nights, but I also love to stay home, especially this time of year when the stores, restaurants and roads are packed to overflowing, and you sometimes wait as long for your meal, or to get a table, as it would just to make the same thing at home.

I tried to come up with something recently that would channel the flavors of the spinach dip that I loved in a date night dish that would be perfect for a Friday night at home.

Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts, about 3/4 lb
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup fresh baby spinach
2 Tbs parsley, chopped
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Italian cheese blend
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbs olive oil
16 oz jar marinara sauce, or homemade
parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat until shimmery and fragrant.

Add spinach and parsley; sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic; cook until spinach is wilted. Set aside.

Cut the chicken breasts lengthwise halfway through until they open like a book. Pound until each is about 1/4 inch thick. In a small bowl, mix together ricotta, Italian cheese blend and spinach mixture; add salt and pepper.

Spoon mixture onto the middle of the flat chicken breasts and roll, securing with a toothpick.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the skillet until shimmery and fragrant. Brown chicken on all sides. Place in oven, and cook for 35 minutes. Pour marinara sauce over the chicken, and cook for another 10 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese, and broil for 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 843, Calories from Fat: 406, Fat: 45 g (14 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 190 mg, Sodium: 1339 mg, Carbohydrates: 39 g, Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 20 g, Protein: 69 g.

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Healthy Living: Cranberry Pear Crisp


Cranberry Pear CrispMy first thought after someone mentions “holiday meal” is usually “holiday desserts.”

I can’t help it; I love a sweet treat.

This holiday season, I’m going to try to eat fewer slices of pecan pie or bouche de noel and make healthier choices.

One thing I really love about the holidays is the abundance of fresh cranberries, so I like to incorporate those into my foods as frequently as humanly possible.

This dessert will satisfy your sweet tooth, but it won’t stack up the calories or amount of sugar you’re consuming. The tartness of the cranberry plays well against the sweet pear, and the crisp topping adds texture and pulls all the flavors together.

It’s also much healthier than eating something laden with chocolate and sugar.

Cranberry Pear Crisp

Ingredients:
For the filling:
2 Anjou pears, cored and diced
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon

For the topping:
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal
1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar, or 2 Tbs Splenda Brown Sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs coconut oil, melted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F, and spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.
Roughly chop cranberries; toss them with diced pears, cornstarch, syrup and cinnamon.
In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients. Sprinkle topping mixture over the filling, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve warm.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 375, Calories from Fat: 128, Fat: 14 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 7 mg, Potassium: 405 mg, Carbohydrates: 58 g, Fiber: 9 g, Sugar: 31 g, Protein: 6 g.

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Product Talk: Louisburg Honeycrisp Apple Cider


Louisburg Honeycrisp Apple CiderLouisburg Honeycrisp Apple Cider reminds me of picking apples on Carter’s Mountain and being able to taste the cider pressed right after the apples came out of the field.

Louisburg Cider Mill aims for exactly that flavor. It captures the freshness and bright sweetness of a honeycrisp apple, and bottles it for Brookshire’s customers.

The Mill in Louisburg, Kansas processes apples at the peak of freshness, so your cider tastes like it was just poured from the tree itself.

“Our cider-making method dates back 2,000 years, and it still produces the best quality cider,” the Louisburg Mill website says. “We continue our old-fashioned methods in the manufacture of our many other products as well.”

Look for Louisburg Honeycrisp Apple Cider near the honeycrisp apples in your Brookshire’s produce department. This cider is delicious at room temperature, chilled or even served warm, with a cinnamon stick for stirring.



Food Watch: Prepping for Natural Disasters


Prepping for Natural DisastersOn a venture to visit friends during what seemed to be a light rain, I came to find how unprepared you can be going into natural disasters. My drive was great until I reached the road before theirs. My phone made a resounding alarm that made me jump: “TORNADO WARNING IN THIS AREA. TAKE SHELTER NOW.” I looked toward the direction in which I’d be going, and I saw dark, swirling clouds starting to rotate around each other.

Once I arrived, everyone was on their phone trying to figure out what was going on. The wind picked up, and then it was silent. Next, quarter-sized hail showered down around the house, followed by a torrent of wind and rain. At that moment, we decided to run to the storm shelter. We went to the storm shelter twice that night – six of us along with the family dog – and the realization of how much we lacked set in.

It was a great opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of storm shelter use. However, since I work in grocery, I thought mostly of what foods could keep for extended periods of time to not only prepare for such an event, but to help keep you alive if you were trapped. Food should have a long shelf life with little to no cooking required, and it must meet the needs of all family members (including pets).

Canned meats and vegetables can keep a few years on average depending on the product. Highly acidic canned goods like fruit and juice store well for less time (12 to 18 months). Water can also last quite a long time.

Thankfully, Brookshire’s has a plethora of high-quality canned products that will help you stock up if need be. I really like their vegetable assortments, which are picked at the peak of freshness and come with a handy pop top. No can opener needed!

Also, consider how your food is stored. If you’re preparing for a natural disaster, make sure that your food and water are stored away from the outside door, away from the elements. Keep these items elevated and, if possible, in a storage area of their own.

You most likely won’t need to hide in your storm shelter for years at a time, but you never know when a natural disaster may hit. It’s best to prepare in advance, and that will be one less thing to worry about when the time comes.



Dine In: Bacon-Balsamic Brussels Sprouts


Bacon-Balsamic Brussels SpoutsI was slicing the stems off of some Brussels sprouts last week, planning to toss them with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper before I roasted them, as I usually do.

Then, I got an idea for something a little different. I very well may have seen it somewhere else, but it struck me as an original idea at the time.

I added in a little bacon and some balsamic vinegar. Oh my goodness, the result was amazing. The bacon added smokiness, and the balsamic cut the sometimes bitter flavor of the Brussels with its sweetness.

The veggies end up roasting in some of the bacon fat that’s rendered, and the result is a delicious, filling dish.

This would make a great side dish for a medium-rare ribeye, grilled to perfection and served on your back porch next to a roaring fire.

Bacon-Balsamic Brussels Spouts

Ingredients:
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 slices bacon, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt, to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Whisk the olive oil with the balsamic, salt and pepper. Pour over Brussels sprouts. Stir in chopped bacon. Spread on a baking pan, and roast in preheated oven for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serves 2 to 4 (as a side dish)

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 210, Calories from Fat: 118, Fat: 13 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 21 mg, Sodium: 475 mg, Carbohydrates: 14 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 12 g.

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Healthy Living: Baked Spinach and Eggs


Baked Spinach and EggsI love a hot, cooked breakfast.

I try to make do with cold hard-boiled eggs because I can make those in advance, or with Greek yogurt or, occasionally, breakfast cereal and milk, which are all healthy choices. I love a hot breakfast and try to make sure I get up early enough so that I’m organized and prepared enough to enjoy my favorite meal of the day.

I love this dish because it’s so simple. It comes together so quickly, and it can bake while I finish getting ready in the morning. The spinach is packed with iron, and the fiber helps keep you full. The eggs are also full of iron and protein, and they also help ward off the mid-morning munchies. I love the salty taste of the feta, which adds a little more fat to the mix for a satisfying, healthy morning meal.

I’ve been known to eat this for dinner, too, with a drizzle of hot sauce.

Baked Spinach and Eggs

Ingredients:
6 cups fresh baby spinach, firmly packed
4 eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 Tbs feta cheese, crumbled
nonstick cooking spray or 1 Tbs olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Spray or rub olive oil into individual glass ramekins, individual cast-iron skillets or other small oven-proof bakeware. Set aside.

In a cast-iron skillet, wilt the spinach over medium heat, about 3 to 4 minutes. Distribute the spinach evenly into baking containers.

Crack one egg over spinach in each container. (If using one baking dish, just distribute the eggs evenly over the spinach.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper; top with crumbled feta. Place the baking dishes on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the egg whites are cooked though and the yolks are set to your preference.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 98, Calories from Fat: 59, Fat: 7 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 172 mg, Sodium: 202 mg, Carbohydrates: 2 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 8 g.

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Dine In: Chile Relleno Soup


Chile Relleno SoupThere was a time when I made it my mission to taste every chile relleno at every Mexican restaurant in a 100-mile radius.

I think I was pretty successful; there’s really no more relleno dishes left that I haven’t taste-tested. I know to avoid the soggy, greasy dish at one certain restaurant. I know that at another, the golden, crisp goodness and gooey cheese is what I’m going to eat before I even open the menu.

I’ve tried making chile rellenos at home, with varying degrees of success.

However, this soup highlights the essence of the dish, without having to deep-fry anything.

The best part is that you can eat it at home on your back porch in front of a roaring fire on a lazy Friday night. No reservations or gratuity required.

Chile Relleno Soup

Ingredients:
4 poblano peppers
4 Tbs butter
1/4 cup onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
4 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 oz cream cheese, cut into cubes
3 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Directions:
Roast the peppers over a gas flame or in the oven under the broiler on high heat until pepper skin is charred and blistered. Put peppers into brown paper bag, and close bag. Let steam and cool for about 20 minutes. Rub the skin to remove as much char as possible. Then, remove seeds and pith; finely chop.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and cook until foamy. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and poblano peppers. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add in the chicken broth; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add the chicken, and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Incorporate cream cheese and cheddar cheese into the broth, whisking until smooth. To serve, divide into bowls, and then top with remaining cheese. Serve immediately with finely diced tomatoes and minced fresh cilantro, optional.

Nutritional Information: Calories from Fat: 341, Fat: 38 g, Carbohydrates: 10.24 g, Fiber: 2.64 g, Protein: 41.11 g, Cholesterol: 183 mg.

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Dine In: Slow Cooker French Onion Soup


Slow Cooker French Onion SoupA few weeks ago, I had lunch at my favorite local bakery and café, a place I eat so frequently that everybody knows my name. It helps that my BFF’s daughter is the manager there, too.

I went in for lunch, and the owner greeted me and suggested that I try the French Onion Soup.

To be totally honest, while I like French Onion Soup, it’s never something I crave or choose off a menu.

She brought me a little cup of soup, and I was hooked. I even went back later in the week for some more, and now I’ve made them promise to alert me on days they are serving the magical soup.

Their French Onion Soup is a secret family recipe. No amount of cajoling could get them to give it up. However, I do know one of the major ingredients, so I set off to find a similar recipe featuring red wine. I also know it’s slow-cooked for hours.

French Onion Soup is definitely a meal that you can dress up for a stay-at-home date night or serve as a hearty fall family dinner.

I can’t wait to make it at home, and then enjoy the leftovers all weekend long.

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

Ingredients:
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 large yellow onions, slivered
8 cups beef broth
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1 loaf French bread, sliced into 4 thick slices
6 Tbs butter
1/2 lb Gruyere cheese, sliced

Directions:
Combine bay leaf, garlic, onions, beef broth, wine, salt and pepper in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or more.

Spread butter on 4 slices of bread. Ladle soup into four oven-proof bowls. Top each bowl with a slice of bread, butter-side up, and then add a slice of Gruyere cheese. Broil on high until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 648, Calories from Fat: 351, Fat: 39 g (22 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 108 mg, Sodium: 2470 mg, Carbohydrates: 32 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 8 g, Protein: 32 g.

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Healthy Living: Autumn in a Skillet


Autumn in a SkilletLast week, my aunt from Maine flew down to visit my mom in Virginia.

I was a little jealous. My aunt is one of the most amazing people I know and certainly one of the strongest women (aside from my mom) in my life.

They had four days filled with fun sister time (again, I was a little jealous). They walked through a designer house, took in the sights and sounds of Richmond, and finally went to western Virginia to visit some historical sites and go apple picking.

Going apple picking is one of my favorite memories from this time of year in Virginia. We did it as a family growing up, but I even went a few times in college, since the picturesque mountain where the orchard was located was also close to the school I attended.

The cool air, crisp fruits and distinctly fall aromas made for the perfect day. There’s nothing like apple picking in the fresh air except maybe turning those apples into delicious treats. This dish combines protein, good fiber, and a ton of vitamins and nutrients in one quick and easy skillet dinner.

Autumn in a Skillet

Ingredients:
1 Tbs olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 slices bacon, chopped
3 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken stock, divided

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet until fragrant and shimmering. Add chicken, salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium. Add the bacon; cook until the bacon is crisp. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon, and add to the same plate as the chicken.

Turn the heat to medium-high. Add Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and onions. Cook and stir until the vegetables are crisp-tender and the onions are translucent. Stir in the apples, garlic, thyme and cinnamon. Stir in 1/2 cup of the broth. Bring the broth to a boil, stirring often, and cook down until the broth has evaporated. Add in chicken, bacon and the remaining 1/2 cup of broth. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 425, Fat: 20 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 106 mg, Sodium: 1250 mg, Carbohydrates: 25 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 38 g.

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Healthy Living: Stuffed “Pumpkins”


Stuffed “Pumpkins”It’s never too early to trot out the fall treats!

These fun and fanciful “pumpkins” don’t have to wait until Halloween to make an appearance, and they might even entice your kids to devour this healthy meal.

You can stuff the bell pepper “pumpkins” with almost anything you want: a mixture of ground turkey, quinoa and corn; this chicken mixture; or even make it all veggies and grains.

Your family will get vitamin C and antioxidants from the peppers. The chicken and black beans provide protein, and there’s lots of beta-carotene in the tomatoes in the salsa.

Plus, you can make these in advance, and just pop them in the oven for dinner when you get home in the evening. They’re a fun and healthy way to feed your family!

Stuffed “Pumpkins”

Ingredients:
4 large orange bell peppers
4 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup onions, diced
1 Tbs cumin
1/2 Tbs garlic salt
1/2 Tbs chili powder
1/2 to 1 cup salsa
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Slice the tops off of the orange peppers, removing seeds and pith. Using the sharp tip of a paring knife, “carve” faces into the peppers, small enough that filling won’t come out but large enough to see a pumpkin “face.”

In a large bowl, mix together shredded chicken, black beans, onions, spices, salsa (to taste) and cheese. Stuff 1/4 of mixture into each pepper, and cap with the top of the pepper.

Place in a baking dish with a lid or cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove cover, and bake for 15 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 568, Calories from Fat: 138, Fat: 15 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 137 mg, Sodium: 480 mg, Carbohydrates: 46 g, Fiber: 12 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 61 g.

View this recipe to print or add items to My 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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