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Healthy Living: Mayo-Free Slaw Salad


Mayo-Free Slaw SaladI don’t like mayonnaise. Paul doesn’t like mayonnaise. I do like coleslaw, and it’s such a fun complement to so many Southern dishes like barbecue or Tex-Mex recipes like tacos.

So, I went on a search for a non-mayo coleslaw.

Eliminating the mayo makes this dish healthier, too. A vinegar-based version of this dish, which gives you the acidity you need to pair with so many proteins, cuts out so much fat and so many calories. A bracing slaw salad lets you combine so many healthy veggies into one cohesive dish.

You don’t even have to use mayo.

Mayo-Free Slaw Salad

Ingredients:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs brown mustard
1 Tbs raw honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
3/4 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup English cucumber, grated
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tbs celery seed
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Whisk together dressing: vinegar, mustard, honey and olive oil. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine thinly shredded cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, green onions and celery seed. Season with salt and pepper.

Slowly drizzle the dressing onto slaw until desired amount is reached.

Chill until ready to serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 155, Calories from Fat: 119, Fat: 13 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Potassium: 197 mg, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 1 g.

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Dine In: Butternut Squash-Stuffed Shells


Butternut Squash-Stuffed ShellsThis has been one of the best weeks in recent history for a variety of reasons, but principal among them was finding out that my parents are coming to visit for Christmas!

Most years, I only see my parents once during summer vacation in Sandbridge, Virginia. On extra-special bonus years, I might get another visit in. This appears to be one of those years.

I’m already planning my menu for the four whole days they’ll be visiting.

I come from an Italian family, and my mom’s stuffed shells are the best ever. Mine are never as good as hers, so I’m not even going to try to duplicate the recipe this time around. Instead, I’m going to honor the dish with a variation on the traditional take on stuffed shells.

This is a recipe full of interesting flavors. The butternut squash is slightly sweet, especially after it has roasted and caramelized. The spinach, with its touch of acidity, offsets the sweetness of the butternut squash while the creaminess of the ricotta is balanced by the texture of the pine nuts. Then, the lemon brings it all together with a lovely brightness.

This is a great dish for a fall Friday night or to put in your holiday repertoire this year.

Butternut Squash-Stuffed Shells
Serves 8

Ingredients:
2 cups roasted butternut squash
olive oil, for tossing
1 box jumbo pasta shells
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1 egg
1 tsp lemon zest, grated
4 Tbs butter, melted
1/2 cup butter
10 sage leaves (if you can’t find sage, substitute oregano or basil)
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon

Directions:
Peel and chop the butternut squash, and then toss in olive oil. Roast at 425° F for 15 to 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.

Meanwhile, cook your jumbo pasta shells according to directions.

In a bowl, combine 2 cups ricotta, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic, spinach, egg, salt and pepper. Combine well. Add the roasted squash and grated lemon zest.

Spoon about 2 heaping tablespoons of the mixture into each shell, and place in a single layer in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour 4 tablespoons of melted butter over shells. Bake shells at 400° F for about 20 to 25 minutes.

While the shells are baking, make your sauce.

To make the sage brown butter sauce, melt the 1/2 cup butter in a sauté pan until it’s golden-brown, bubbly and has a nutty fragrance. Add at least 10 sage leaves and sauté until slightly crisp. Remove from heat and add the fresh lemon juice.

Remove shells from oven, pour sauce over shells and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 527, Calories from Fat: 292, Fat: 32 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (17 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 96 mg, Sodium: 344 mg, Potassium: 370 mg, Carbohydrates: 41 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 20 g.

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Shop the Sale: Mexican Steak Salad


Mexican Steak SaladThe days are getting shorter, dusk is coming earlier and my new solar-powered porch lights are making me want to spend more evenings on the back patio. Well, that and it’s not 100 degrees every night any more.

As much as I can complain about the summer heat in Texas, I do love the more mild autumns and winters. I REALLY love the fact you can comfortably grill outside all year long in the South, minus maybe a handful of days.

I like this steak salad because it combines my favorite food group, steak, with a more healthy salad, making it a hearty meal. The acid from the lime juice offsets the rich fattiness of the steak and the queso fresco provides a pop of flavor without a lot of added fat.

I also like this steak salad because boneless sirloin strip steak is on sale this week at Brookshire’s. The boneless sirloin really benefits from the marinade, so don’t skip that step!

Mexican Steak Salad

Ingredients:
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs cumin
2 Tbs garlic, minced
1 lb boneless sirloin steak strips
1/4 small red onion, sliced
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tsp
1 small head romaine lettuce, torn
1 small head butter lettuce, torn
1/2 cup cilantro
1 cup queso fresco or feta cheese, crumbled
1 avocado, sliced
3 Tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:
Mix the soy sauce with cumin and garlic. Marinate the steak in the soy sauce mixture for 30 minutes. At the same time, soak the red onions in ice water for 30 minutes. (It takes away the “bite” of the onion.)

Preheat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the steak 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest 5 minutes, and then slice against the grain. Follow the same directions for a gas grill.

Toss the steak with the romaine, butter lettuce, cilantro, queso fresco, onions and avocado. Whisk 3 tablespoons olive oil with the lime juice, and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour over salad and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 384, Fat: 26 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 52 mg, Sodium: 663 mg, Protein: 29 g, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Sugar: 2 g, Fiber: 5 g, Iron: 3 mg, Calcium: 140 mg.

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Healthy Living: Pumpkin


PumpkinsIt’s that time of year for all things pumpkin.

I know you’ve seen the jokes about Pumpkin Spice everything (have you seen the new pumpkin spice M&M’s candies?), but pumpkin deserves the hype it gets this time of year.

Pumpkin (not the spiced latte version) is rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Technically a gourd, pumpkin is low in calories but abundant in vitamin A and flavonoid antioxidants such as lutein, xanthin and carotenes.

Pumpkin is recommended by dieticians to control cholesterol and help in weight reduction (again, not the candied variety). Pumpkin is full of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E, and has a lot of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a great source of dietary fiber and monounsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health. Pumpkin seeds are also a wonderful source of protein, minerals and vitamins. Nutritionally, 100 grams of pumpkin seeds account for 559 calories; 30 grams of protein; 110 percent RDA of iron; 4,987 milligrams of niacin (31 percent of RDA); selenium (17 percent of RDA); zinc (71 percent) and no cholesterol.

Pumpkin can be baked, braised, stewed, simmered, pureed, steamed, roasted and eaten in almost any way you can imagine! If you haven’t already hopped on the pumpkin bandwagon, take a hayride with this awesome vegetable this fall.



Dine In: Mashed Potato Pancakes


Mashed Potato PancakesOn Monday, you’ll read about the Swiss Steak that Paul made for dinner last weekend, so I apologize that these posts are coming in a little out of order. You see, to go with the Swiss Steak, we made mashed potatoes, and because we had leftovers the second day, we made the first day’s mashed potatoes into mashed potato pancakes.

They were delicious, but I think we’ll both readily admit there was a steep learning curve involved. Turns out you can’t just smash the day-old mashed potatoes into patties and drop them in hot oil. I mean, you can and we did, but I think there is a better method out there. In fact, I know there is.

You start with cold, day-old mashed potatoes, but then you need a binding agent, like egg. We used cheese, which is a delicious add-on, but it wasn’t enough to hold the potato pancakes together. We didn’t dredge the potatoes in anything, but it turns out, that would have given them a crispy, golden crust.

Ours were still good, but these are even better! We had them with leftover Swiss Steak, but I even had one again the next morning, topped with Canadian bacon and a fried egg. The golden yolk ran down over that potato pancake, and it was a little bite of heaven.

Mashed Potato Pancakes

Ingredients:
2 cups mashed potatoes, cold
1 large egg, lightly beaten
6 Tbs all purpose flour
2 Tbs onions, minced or grated
2 Tbs green onions
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper, to taste
vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:
Preheat oven to 250° F. Keep the potato pancakes warm in the oven when you’re done frying them.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and the egg. Then, add the onions, chives or green onions and cheddar. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Combine well.

In a large heavy skillet like cast iron, heat 1/8 inch of the oil over moderately high heat until it is shimmering but not smoking. Press a heaping mound of potatoes into a patty and place in the oil. Fry until they are golden-brown, about 1 minute per side. When they are golden, place on a platter lined with paper towels and keep them warm in the preheated oven.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 146, Calories from Fat: 44, Fat: 5 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 39 mg, Sodium: 253 mg, Potassium: 275 mg, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Protein: 6 g.

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Shop the Sale: Beef and Broccoli


Beef and BroccoliConsidering my son’s current affinity for white rice, I try to work it into as many dishes as humanly possible. While Luke is a sweet boy, he’s a picky eater. He likes rice, approximately two vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) and meat.

That doesn’t always make cooking easy.

This dish satisfies all his requirements AND is made in the slow cooker (which makes me happy). In addition, chuck roast is on sale at Brookshire’s this week, so really, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Beef and Broccoli

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef stock or beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbs sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs cornstarch
1 (12 oz) bag frozen broccoli florets
white or brown rice, cooked

Directions:
Whisk together the beef stock, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, sesame oil and garlic in the crockery of a slow cooker. Place beef strips in the sauce, tossing to coat. Cook on low setting for approximately 6 hours.

When your beef is almost finished, remove about 4 tablespoons of the sauce from the slow cooker, and whisk it with cornstarch. Stir it back into the slow cooker and add broccoli. Turn heat to high; let cook for about 30 more minutes, or until sauce is thickened and broccoli is cooked through. Serve over rice.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 563, Calories from Fat: 316, Fat: 35 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 117 mg, Sodium: 2090 mg, Potassium: 402 mg, Carbohydrates: 24 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 14 g, Protein: 34 g.

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Healthy Living: Grilled Peaches


Grilled PeachesOne of my favorite healthy treats in the summertime is grilled peaches.

They’re a perfect summertime dessert or a healthy snack. Peaches are about 50 calories per fruit and have zero fat. They’re full of antioxidants and phytochemicals. They have lots of vitamins A and C, which are good for your skin. Peaches are also said to reduce anxiety! They have a diuretic effect, which is good for the kidneys and bladder.

Plus, they’re super-easy to grill.

Grilling a peach caramelizes it beautifully, bringing out all its natural sugars. If you use local honey, you get added sweetness and a crisp crust on your peach.

Slice your peach in half. Remove the stone. Brush cut-side with local honey. Place on grill, cut-side up, over medium heat; grill until it begins to soften. Flip over to cut-side, and grill until there are char marks and the honey has caramelized.

Serve immediately.



Healthy Living: Greek Chicken Pita


Greek Chicken PitaFueled by the introduction of two new restaurants in my city recently (one Greek and one Mediterranean), I’ve been cooking with lots of fresh flavors this summer.

Lots of cucumbers, fresh tomatoes, basil from my garden, lemon, red onion and meals that are more “small bites” instead of heavy feasts.

It reminds me of my visits to the Amalfi Coast of Italy. The air is clean, the water is clear, the views are stunning and the food is some of the best in the world, in my opinion. Breakfast one morning was figs drizzled in local honey with whole-grain bread, freshly baked of course, and a selection of local cheeses. Then, lunch was a platter of olives, cured meats, cheeses, grapes and crostini. But dinner! Oh my! Dinner was a roasted chicken, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers with just-picked oregano leaves, a block of feta cheese topped with slivered onions and drizzled with olive oil and lemons picked from the trees in the grove next to the hotel. It was sublime.

This dish reminds me of that meal, and even better, you can pack it for lunch.

Greek Chicken Pita

Ingredients:
1 (6 1/2-inch) whole-wheat pita, cut in half to make pockets
3 oz cooked chicken breast, boneless, skinless and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup cucumbers, chopped
1 Tbs red onions, chopped
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup romaine lettuce, shredded
2 Tbs crumbled feta cheese (about 1/2 oz)

Directions:
Combine chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions in a large bowl. Whisk olive oil and lemon juice to combine. Add oregano and stir. Fold into chicken mixture and gently add cheese. Stuff into pita halves with romaine lettuce. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 245, Calories from Fat: 99, Fat: 11 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 43 mg, Sodium: 302 mg, Potassium: 269 mg, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 18 g.

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Healthy Living: Sweet Potato Slices


Sweet Potato SlicesI’m a sucker for any recipe that promises a secret ingredient.

Case in point, this sweet potato recipe.

If I’m browsing online, I have to click the link to find out what the secret ingredient might be. Call it a compulsion, but I have to do it.

In addition, sweet potatoes are one of those foods I know I SHOULD love, but I haven’t quite made it that far. That ambivalence fuels my determination to find the ultimate sweet potato recipe as well.

When I clicked on this link, I discovered the secret ingredient was kettle corn seasoning! Brilliant! That perfect balance of salty and sweet on a potato that needs both salty and sweet, in my opinion. I loved the result even more because sweet potatoes are SO GOOD FOR YOU. They are oozing with vitamins and nutrients, low in fat, high in potassium and often called “the perfect food.”

I’ll make this one again.

Sweet Potato Slices
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 to 3 large sweet potatoes, about 1 1/2 lb
nonstick cooking spray
2 Tbs kettle corn seasoning
1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Wash potatoes and slice into 1/2-inch rounds. Lay flat on a baking sheet covered with tin foil or parchment paper. Spritz with nonstick cooking spray, and sprinkle with kettle corn seasoning and cinnamon. Bake for 12 minutes or until tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 123, Calories from Fat: 2, Fat: 0 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 41 mg, Potassium: 540 mg, Carbohydrates: 28 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 11 g, Protein: 2 g.

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Product Talk: Local Produce Salad


Tomato, Cucumber and Onion SaladWe are lucky enough to live in the South, where summer produce is as plentiful as hot days and sultry nights.

Near the Brookshire’s headquarters in Tyler, Texas, we are doubly-blessed to have two of my favorite products on hand all summer: Jacksonville tomatoes and Noonday onions.

Both are sweet, juicy and can almost be eaten straight out of the fields. Jacksonville even hosts a tomato festival each year, with tomato-eating contests, cooking contests, a street dance, vendors and a showcase of the season’s best fruits.

I like combining the two products with a few other fresh ingredients to make a simple, but hugely flavorful, salad.

Tomato, Cucumber and Onion Salad

Ingredients:
4 large local tomatoes, diced
2 large local sweet onions, diced
4 large local cucumbers, sliced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
Combine all chopped fruits and vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk red wine vinegar with olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. Refrigerate until chilled.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 90, Calories from Fat: 45, Fat: 5 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (0.7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 397 mg, Potassium: 454 mg, Carbohydrates: 11.1 g, Fiber: 2.7 g, Sugar: 6 g, Protein: 2 g

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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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