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Dine In: Date Night Greek Lemon Chicken


Date Night Greek Lemon ChickenWhen Friday nights don’t involve football or driving the Mom taxi, I love a date night dish that can be prepared in one pan.

This Greek chicken is bursting with flavor, is healthy and good for you, and comes together in just a few minutes. Definitely marinate this overnight to let the lemon permeate the chicken. It’s so delicious that way. You can marinate the chicken as you’re preparing the rest of the meal, but the flavor is more intense if you do it overnight.

You can buy cauliflower already riced and packaged. It’ll be near the prepared bags of salad in your store, or you can buy a head of cauliflower and pulse it in your food processor. It’s that simple. You can also skip the cauliflower entirely and serve this with a side of orzo.

Date Night Greek Lemon Chicken

Ingredients:
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 lbs)
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs Greek seasoning
1 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white onion, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts
12 oz cauliflower rice
1/2 lemon, sliced

Directions:
Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, Greek seasoning and salt in a small bowl. Pour into a gallon-sized, zip-top plastic bag. Then, place chicken in the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.

When it’s time to eat, heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Sear the chicken, skin-side down, for 5 to 6 minutes without moving. Flip the chicken, reduce heat to medium-high, and continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through and juices run clear. Remove to a plate.

Lower the heat to medium. Add the garlic and onion, and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and artichokes, stirring frequently. Add the cauliflower rice; cook for 5 minutes. Add the lemon slices, chicken and any juices from the chicken. Heat through and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 477, Calories from Fat: 181, Fat: 20 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 151 mg, Sodium: 1027 mg, Carbohydrates: 21 g, Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 55 g.

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Healthy Living: Back to School Breakfast Baked Oatmeal Cups


Back to School Breakfast Baked Oatmeal CupsBack to school breakfasts are wreaking havoc with my psyche this year.

I know breakfast is the most important meal of the day (and my personal favorite), and the PRESSURE to deliver a nutritious, delicious, easy and convenient back to school breakfast is mounting.

I haven’t stressed out about breakfast in the past, but this year, one of my kids will need to take his breakfast to school. For whatever reason, this is throwing a kink in my best-laid breakfast plans.

So, it’s back to the drawing board for his school breakfasts.

I was referred to this recipe on a blog called “Flex with Faith Fitness,” written by a super mom, teacher and fitness instructor committed to a healthy lifestyle. It fits all my requirements for a fabulous school morning breakfast: it’s healthy, easy and can be made ahead of time. It’s also delicious.

I can’t wait to try these!

Baked Oatmeal Cups

Ingredients:
coconut oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large bananas (or 2 cups unsweetened applesauce)
1 Tbs raw honey
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 Tbs ground cinnamon
pinch of cloves
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
toppings of your choice (such as fresh berries, chunks of fresh fruit, nuts, pure maple syrup, chocolate chips, etc.)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat muffin tin with coconut oil or nonstick cooking spray, or use paper liners. Paper liners tend to work best if you’re freezing these.

Combine eggs, vanilla, bananas and honey in a large bowl. Mash bananas and mix well. Set aside.

Combine oats, cinnamon, cloves and baking powder in a small bowl. Stir well and combine with banana mixture. Stir in almond milk and mix well.

Divide oatmeal evenly between prepared muffin cups, and add toppings of your choice.

Bake for 26 to 30 minutes or until golden-brown.

Serve immediately or freeze.

Makes 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 175, Fat: 4 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 31 mg, Sodium: 35 mg, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 6 g.

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Healthy Living: Kid-Friendly Breakfast Sushi


Kid-Friendly Breakfast SushiSchool started last week, and I’m up against an added challenge this year: getting a kid to an athletic practice in the morning before school.

He’s STARVING by the time he finishes practice, but he can’t eat anything heavy before he goes to the workout.

We came up with breakfast sushi, a “roll” that gives him some energy, but it doesn’t weigh him down. It has protein, potassium to help rebuild muscles, and “good” carbs that he can burn during practice.

Bonus points: my other son loves them, too.

Breakfast Sushi

Ingredients:
1 large, firm banana
1 Tbs plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbs natural peanut butter
2 Tbs granola or other whole-grain breakfast cereal, crushed
1/4 cup strawberries, finely chopped

Directions:
Peel banana.

Mix together Greek yogurt and peanut butter. Roll banana in mixture, and then coat with a layer of crushed cereal. Sprinkle with strawberries. Refrigerate overnight, and serve first thing in the morning.

Serves 1

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 262, Calories from Fat: 145, Fat: 16 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 1 mg, Sodium: 17 mg, Carbohydrates: 50 g, Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 24 g, Protein: 13 g.

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Dine In: First Week of School Slow Cooker Chicken Soup


First Week of School Slow Cooker Chicken SoupThe first week of school did me in.

Phew.

Between wrangling school supplies, gym clothes, homework, backpacks, instruments, equipment and early mornings, I’m done with a capital “D.” Done.

It was imperative that I serve an easy but healthy meal to cap off the first week of school.

This chicken soup fit the bill perfectly. It slow cooks all day, so you don’t have to wrangle dinner, on top of everything else Friday afternoon. It’s also Paleo, low-fat and full of flavor. Don’t skip the bones or the skin; they add flavor and nutrients to the soup. If you can make a clean cut, you can even cut through the bone with a cleaver (like I said, clean cut so there’s no shards in your soup), so the bone marrow can leach into your soup and infuse it with flavor and health benefits.

It’s a great meal for a Friday night or any school night.

First Week of School Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

Ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, diced
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs basil
1 Tbs oregano
2 organic chicken breasts, bone-in and skin-on
2 organic chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups filtered water

Directions:
Layer onions, celery, carrots and chicken in the slow cooker, ensuring chicken is bone-side down on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle with spices and apple cider vinegar. Add water to cover the vegetables, and come up to the midway point of the chicken, between 3 to 4 cups.

Cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker. Remove meat; discard skin and bones. Shred the chicken meat, and add back to the slow cooker.

Add more seasoning, if desired; heat through and serve.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 462, Calories from Fat: 153, Fat: 17 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 202 mg, Sodium: 704 mg, Carbohydrates: 7 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 67 g.

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Healthy Living: Super Simple Marinara Sauce


Super Simple Marinara SauceSummer is the perfect time to make a healthy and hearty marinara sauce, using the freshest of summer vegetables and herbs.

It comes together quickly, and it is so fresh and tasty that simmering and stirring on a stove all day is not required (but it sure smells great if you do!).

Right now, tomatoes are at their peak, so grab some for your sauce today. You could also use a hybrid combination of fresh and canned like I do.

The beauty of a marinara sauce is that you can combine any herbs you like, not just limiting yourself to what’s traditional. Everything is at the peak of freshness and flavor right now.

Today, I have some simmering with Cuban oregano from my friend’s garden. She gave me a sprig last week that I’m trying to root hydroponically, but in the meantime, it smelled too good not to use. I also have fresh basil from my garden as well as locally grown onions and tomatoes.

I like a chunky marinara, but you could always give this a whirl in the food processor if you want it to be smoother.

The tomatoes are full of antioxidants and cancer-fighting agents. Make a huge batch of this, and freeze what you don’t use for later use.

Toss with a rigatoni pasta, or serve over slices of eggplant (my plan).

Super Simple Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:
1 lb local tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 can Italian diced tomatoes
2 oz tomato paste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450° F. Spread tomatoes and onions on a baking sheet. Roast until the edges turn dark, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to a large pot.

Add garlic, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, and continue cooking for 30 minutes. Process in food processor until smooth, if desired.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 57, Calories from Fat: 5, Fat: 1 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 406 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 2 g.

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Dine In: Stuffed Mushrooms


Stuffed MushroomsOn some Friday nights, I just don’t feel like cooking an elaborate meal, but luckily “appetizer night” always works well in my house.

These stuffed mushrooms are always one of my favorites. You can also vary this recipe easily, swapping out sausage for bacon or red onions for green onions, or adding hot sauce, bleu cheese and a variety of other ingredients.

They cook up quickly in the oven, and they are great with a meat and cheese board, an antipasto platter or just by themselves.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:
8 oz large button mushrooms, stems removed and brushed clean
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled
4 Tbs green onions, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Combine the cream cheese, bacon, green onions, and salt and pepper.

Remove stems from mushrooms and brush clean. You might need to scoop out some of the mushroom gills if the caps aren’t big enough to hold the filling. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in each mushroom.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Place mushrooms on a baking sheet, and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 266, Calories from Fat: 197, Fat: 22 g (10 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 62 mg, Sodium: 743 mg, Carbohydrates: 4 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 15 g.

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Healthy Living: Zucchini Lasagna Rolls


Zucchini Lasagna RollsI may have mentioned (97 times) that I’m eating low-carb.

I resisted trying to modify any kind of pasta dish because, let’s face it, pasta is pasta, and I’m Italian and we don’t mess with pasta.

However, this dish is an exception. I didn’t really go into it thinking of it as a pasta dish; I went in with the full knowledge I was eating a vegetable, not a piece of pasta. I also knew that swapping out the pasta for a veggie was so much healthier for me.

I grilled my zucchini on the grill instead of in the grill pan because I love the smoky flavor that you get from a grill. You can do either. I also rewrote the original recipe will full-fat ingredients. If you want to substitute lower-fat ricotta, cottage and mozzarella cheeses, you can certainly do that as well.

Zucchini Lasagna Rolls

Ingredients:
8 oz ricotta cheese
4 oz cottage cheese
3 Tbs parmesan cheese
2 Tbs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs fresh basil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
black pepper, to taste
2 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 8 (1/4-inch thick) slices
1 mild Italian turkey sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions:
For the filling, stir together ricotta, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, salt, garlic, red pepper and black pepper. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

For the zucchini, spray slices with nonstick cooking spray or brush with olive oil. Prepare grill pan to medium heat. Grill zucchini for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until flexible but still firm. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Spray a casserole or other dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread 1/4 cup marinara evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Blot zucchini dry. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling onto the zucchini, and spread in an even layer. Top with a tablespoon of cooked sausage crumbles. Roll up and secure with a toothpick. Place seam-side down in prepared pan.

Top with remaining marinara and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until bubbly. Serve immediately.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 184, Calories from Fat: 97, Fat: 11 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 33 mg, Sodium: 597 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 14 g.

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Shop the Sale: Grilled Chicken Peach Salad


Grilled Chicken Peach SaladSummer is prime time for a salad supper, which is super easy when Fresh Express Salad mixes are available at Brookshire’s today. For $6, you get three bags of crisp, fresh lettuce mixes, and you have the base for three fabulous summer salads.

I love to offer this meal at parties. Make up three salads, and let guests mix and match. It keeps guests cool and keeps prep work simple.

I was picking up a few Fresh Express salad mixes recently when a Brookshire’s employee in the produce department gave me a helpful tip.

When buying Fresh Express salad mixes, choose the flattest bags. That means most of the air was squeezed out of them at processing for the crispest, freshest leaves inside.

Thanks for that!

Grilled Chicken Peach Salad

Ingredients:

MARINADE:
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

VINAIGRETTE:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

SALAD:
10 oz Fresh Express Spring Mix or Spinach
1 lb peaches, sliced (about 3 small)
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup) and soaked in ice water for 30 minutes to remove harshness
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:
For the marinade, whisk olive oil, basil, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl, muddling the basil as you stir to help flavor seep from the leaves.

Place chicken breasts between sheets of waxed paper, and pound each to about 1-inch uniform thickness. Place chicken breasts in a zipper-lock bag, and pour marinade over chicken. Place bag with chicken in refrigerator, and let it marinade at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Grill chicken until cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest. When chicken is well-cooled, slice into strips or dice.

Blend all vinaigrette ingredients well. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. This can be made ahead of time.

In a large serving bowl, toss Spring Mix, peaches, pecans, onions and chicken together. Sprinkle with vinaigrette, and top with goat cheese. Serve immediately.

Serves 5

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 534, Fat: 37 g (10 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 105 mg, Sodium: 215 mg, Carbohydrates: 16.5 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 12 g, Protein: 36 g.

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Family Matters: Berry-licious BlackBerries


Skinny Blackberry MuffinsSummer is the perfect annual permission slip for lazy Saturdays, staying in your pajamas all day, breakfast at 11am, hanging out around the pool with friends and eating blackberries. Yes, blackberries! My family just loves blackberries, and on lazy Saturday mornings, their request is for blackberry pancakes, blackberry muffins or even blackberry smoothies.

To try and fulfill their blackberry requests, this year we planted a few blackberry bushes of our very own! Sadly, we’ll have to wait about two years before they produce their first harvest. Oh well! In the meantime, Brookshire’s carries local Texas blackberries that are delicious and perfect for my recipes.

Being the health-nut mom that I am, I always try to twist recipes to be a little “better for you” than the traditional recipes our moms baked up for us. So, if you are feeling the lazy summer Saturday, bake up these Skinny Blackberry Muffins the night before, so you can sleep in and enjoy your lazy summer Saturday!

Skinny Blackberry Muffins

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 12

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp Brookshire’s Baking Powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup Brookshire’s Sugar or Splenda
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blackberries tossed in 2 Tbs flour

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425° F. Spray a 12-cup regular muffin pan with cooking spray. Dust pan with flour; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to combine and set aside.

In another large bowl, combine egg, sugar, almond milk, oil, yogurt and vanilla; whisk until smooth. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring gently until smooth and combined without over-mixing. Add blackberries, folding in gently.

Evenly distribute batter into cups of prepared pan, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake for 5 minutes. Lower temperature to 375° F. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tops are set and lightly golden. Allow muffins to cool in pan on top of wire rack for about 10 minutes.

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Shop the Sale: Summer Salad


Summer SaladBack when I was growing up, we always ate dinner on our screened-in back porch during the summertime.

We had a long, wooden picnic table on the porch, and all seven of us would snuggle in with only minimal complaints of “He’s touching me” or “She kicked me when she got up!” By the time dinner rolled around on a summer evening, we were all pretty tired from an afternoon at the pool and a day of playing with the neighborhood kids in the fort my father built in the backyard.

Mom would set the table with a vinyl tablecloth, which we’d scour clean after every meal, and it was my job to lay out the plates, forks, spoons, knives and napkins in the proper positions. It was also my job to either “wipe” or “sweep” after each meal, alternating the task with the brother next in the birth order.

About once a week, Mom would bring a large bowl of “Summer Salad” to the table. Years later, I’ve realized summer salad was pretty much a very clever way to use a lot of leftovers from earlier in the week, and I learned that preparing dinner in the early morning hours before it got so hot was a chore, not a joy. Summer Salad had various combinations: pasta with ham from Sunday dinner, potatoes with bacon from breakfast or another type of pasta with leftover grilled chicken. Throw in the cold peas from Sunday supper or the steamed broccoli from Tuesday then add a little cheese and dressing, and you had yourself a main course meal in one bowl. It was cool, filling and refreshing on a hot, summer night.

Since we’ve had a big problem with not eating leftovers this summer, I think there’s a Summer Salad in my near future. You can use any pasta, any protein and any add-ins you want!

One thing that always tastes good in Summer Salad, no matter what else you put in it, is bacon! So, after you buy it at your local Brookshire’s, cook some for breakfast, and then crumble the extra into the salad. (Is there such thing as extra bacon? You probably should plan to cook a few extra slices!)

Summer Salad

Ingredients:

SALAD:
12 oz spiral pasta, uncooked
3 cooked chicken breasts, chopped
6 pieces Brookshire’s Bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 zucchini, diced
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

DRESSING:
1 pkg dry ranch dressing mix
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Cook pasta to al dente, and let cool completely. Combine chicken, bacon, tomatoes, zucchini and cheese in a large bowl with pasta.

Mix all dressing ingredients thoroughly. Pour dressing over the salad; toss to coat.

Refrigerate for several hours for flavors to blend.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 421, Calories from Fat: 192, Fat: 21 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 93 mg, Sodium: 610 mg, Carbohydrates: 33 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 24 g.

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



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