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Family Matters: Easy Meal Idea


Easy Meal IdeaI recently prepared a meal for my family that was so easy to make, and it was delicious not only for dinner but it also made a great leftover meal for the next day.

Slow Cooker Pork Loin
Cut pork loin in 3/4” to 1” pieces, and dip in a milk and egg mixture to moisten the outside of the meat. Place pieces of pork loin in breadcrumbs (flip several times to make sure they are covered). Place the breaded pork loin in a slow cooker and seal off with cover. I put 3 layers of pork chops with no problem. Do not put any type of water or juice in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove from slow cooker, and you are ready to eat. Meat comes out crunchy and tender. If your family likes gravy, it would be great on top of the finished pork loin.

Baked Diced Potatoes
Wash whole potatoes thoroughly in warm water. Cut potatoes in half and then cut into small cube-shaped pieces (as large or small as you like). Place in a large bowl, rinse with cold water and then drain. Add olive oil in the bowl and mix potatoes until they are covered. Add at least 1 package of dry ranch dressing, and toss potatoes so the seasoning is mixed in well. Bake at 400° F for 1 hour or until tender. Remove from oven and enjoy. Potatoes are soft, full of flavor and better for you since they are baked!

Try this easy meal idea and use the extra “free time” to enjoy your family or to do something special for yourself…you deserve it! Count your blessings daily and give thanks for time with your family.



Dine In: Basil Garlic Chicken


Basil Garlic ChickenThe first time I went to Italy was around this time of year. It was cold and gray in Germany where I lived, and almost at the spur of the moment, a friend and I decided to flee south to what we hoped were warmer temperatures and sunny skies.

We got one out of two.

Crossing the Alps, chugging through Switzerland on an overnight train, lulled to sleep by the swaying rhythm of the wheels on the tracks as we lay in our tight berths, we doubted we’d ever be warm again. The snow-capped mountains didn’t give us much hope of warmer weather in Italy.

It wasn’t much warmer in the northern part of the country, but it was sunny.
We stopped first in Milan, the fashion capital of the country, if not of Europe itself.

After sightseeing all day in the cold while fairly sleep-deprived, we found a little trattoria tucked down a side street near our hotel. The lights were bright, the fireplace was blazing and the long, planked benches were crowded with festive folks.

We ordered this chicken dish, which warmed us from the inside out. The matron insisted the secret was the butter, which she probably churned herself.

I don’t churn my own butter, but I certainly enjoy making this dish at home. When tomatoes aren’t in season, you can substitute a can of diced tomatoes. Don’t skip the butter, though.

Basil Garlic Chicken

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 to 6 Roma tomatoes, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh basil, shredded
1/4 cup salted butter
8 oz whole-wheat spaghetti

Directions:
Place boneless, skinless chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Pound to an even thickness using a mallet, about one-inch thick.

Remove the chicken from the paper, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Dice the tomatoes, mince the garlic and shred the basil.

Cook pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet. When the oil is fragrant and shimmering, add the chicken and pan fry until golden-brown on each side. When the chicken is cooked through, remove from the pan.

Cool pan slightly. Add tomatoes and simmer until they’ve cooked down and are releasing juices. Add the garlic and butter; combine until butter is melted. Add the chicken back to the pan and baste with the sauce. Simmer for a few minutes until the chicken is well-coated.

Just before serving, stir in the basil.

Drain pasta; serve with chicken and sauce.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 571, Fat: 25.9 g, (9.5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 113.3 mg, Sodium: 64.7 mg, Carbohydrates: 49.4 g, Fiber: 3.9 g, Sugar: 5.6 g, Protein: 34.9 g.

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Dine In: Cilantro-Lime Rice


Cilantro-Lime RiceMy parents were in town for Christmas, and we had a blast celebrating together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The day after Christmas, the six of us (my parents, me, my boys and my boyfriend) went and tried one of those escape rooms. You know, where you have to work as a team to figure out clues, open locks to get more clues and eventually escape the last lock on the door. It was so much fun! It was so DIFFICULT! The room we tried was the most difficult level. It was pitch black in the room with only glow-in-the-dark features which served the dual purpose of being clues and our only light source, save for a small flashlight. We had the benefit of knowing each other well and how the other people in the group worked together, but I can’t imagine trying this with a group of strangers. Ultimately, we did not succeed in getting out of the room in the time allotted, but I want to go back and try a different room soon.

After the adventure, we went out to eat. We grabbed Mexican food because my parents, being from Virginia, don’t have access to Tex-Mex on every corner.

The waitress suggested cilantro-lime rice to complement my dish instead of the usual Mexican rice. I don’t usually eat all the rice at a Mexican restaurant. I can take it or leave it, but I ate every morsel of the cilantro-lime dish. It was delicious enough to try to recreate it at home!

Cilantro-Lime Rice

Ingredients:
2 cups water
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 Tbs butter
salt, to taste
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 Tbs lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp lime zest

Directions:
Bring water to a boil. Add the rice and butter, and then add salt to taste. Bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until cooked through and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. When rice is cooked, stir in cilantro, lime juice and lime zest. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 195, Calories from Fat: 29, Fat: 3 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 8 mg, Sodium: 27 mg, Potassium: 66 mg, Carbohydrates: 37 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 3 g.

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Dine In: Spicy Black-eyed Peas


Spicy Black-eyed PeasHappy New Year!

I love the first day of the year; there’s so much potential, so much joy, so much hope.

The best part is that the clock striking midnight or the calendar page turning over isn’t the only way to signify a new beginning. It’s my personal belief that we are constantly renewed by the grace of the Lord, and that can happen at any hour of any day!

Back to New Year’s Day… Even though I grew up in the South, I had never been introduced to the traditions of eating black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day until I moved to Germany, of all places. My friends in the apartment across the hall were invited for New Year’s, and I asked them what they wanted to eat. “Collard greens and peas” was the answer. I was shocked. I’d never heard of this! I opened up my red and white-checked Betty Crocker cookbook and went to work.

That year, I thought the collard greens stunk to high heaven when simmering all day in my small apartment, and I didn’t eat any of the black-eyed peas. I think I still had a lucky year regardless of what it was I ate, however.

I’ve come to appreciate black-eyed peas so much more. Collard greens, well, not so much, but I can always swap it out for spinach, which is still leafy green and a promise of good fortune in the new year. In fact, this recipe originally didn’t call for the spinach, but I added it in and it worked just fine, not to mention killing two traditions with one stone. Or something like that.

Happy 2016, friends!

Spicy Black-eyed Peas with Spinach

Ingredients:
4 slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (16 oz) pkg dried black-eyed peas, washed
1 (12 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 cups water
3 cups fresh baby spinach
4 Tbs hot sauce

Directions:
In a large heavy saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan, reserving the grease; crumble bacon. Set bacon aside.

Add the onions to the bacon grease in the pan and sauté until translucent and tender. Add the peas, tomatoes and green chilies, salt, chili powder, pepper and water.

Cover and cook over medium heat for about 1 hour, or until the peas are tender. Add spinach and hot sauce; cook until the spinach is wilted.

Serve topped with crumbled, crispy bacon.

Note: You can even serve this over rice for a heartier dish.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 280, Calories from Fat: 117, Fat: 13 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 31 mg, Sodium: 1949 mg, Potassium: 560 mg, Carbohydrates: 24 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 4.5 g, Protein: 18 g.

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Product Talk: Clementines


ClementinesI was thrilled to walk into Brookshire’s last week and see a bag of tiny, tender, juicy clementines!

I love this winter citrus and so do my kids (they’re so perfect for school lunches).

A clementine is sort of a cross between a tangerine and an orange. It’s Spanish in origin and features a dark, glossy orange skin that is easy to peel with super-juicy segments inside.

Less acidic than oranges, a clementine is very sweet and sometimes hard to distinguish from a mandarin orange.

At only 35 calories per fruit, it provides 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.

One of the greatest things to do with a clementine this time of year is to peel it, eat the flesh and simmer the peel, along with cinnamon sticks and whole cloves, in some water on your stove for a wintry aroma.



Healthy Living: Slow Cooker, Roasted Rainbow Vegetables


Slow Cooker, Roasted Rainbow VegetablesOne of my favorite flavors of fall and winter is roasted vegetables. When I read you could cook them in the slow cooker, I became over the moon ecstatic: all the flavors I love with the convenience of the slow cooker.

Roasted veggies are a great way to help build your immune system during cold and flu season. They impart so many of the valuable vitamins and nutrients we need to stay healthy. You can use almost any combination of vegetables in this roasted version, and you can serve it as a colorful side dish, a vegetarian main course with couscous or quinoa, or just eat them as is.

Slow Cooker, Roasted Rainbow Vegetables

Ingredients:
2 bell peppers (any color), cut into large chunks
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3 small zucchini, cut into thick slices
2 yellow squash, cut into thick slices
1/2 cup garlic cloves, peeled
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning

Directions:
Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

Toss vegetables with olive oil and seasonings; place in the slow cooker. Cook 3 hours on high, or 4 – 5 hours on low.

Serves 4 (as a side dish)

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 151, Calories from Fat: 41, Fat: 4 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 1 mg, Sodium: 622 mg, Potassium: 910 mg, Carbohydrates: 25 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 9 g, Protein: 5 g.

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Healthy Living: Super Soup


Super Vegetable SoupNothing is more comforting than soup.

It’s what I want after a migraine; when I have the sniffles; when it’s cold, rainy, dreary or snowy; and when I want a filling, healthy meal that won’t cost me the bank as far as fat and calories go.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of soups that are high in fat and calories (think anything cream-based), but this is the exact opposite. I joke that this soup burns calories when you eat it. In fact, I was first introduced to this soup through Weight Watchers, and I have used the same basic recipe, with a few tweaks, ever since!

Super Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock (or homemade, skimmed of all fat)
1 can low-sodium diced tomatoes
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 green zucchini, diced
3 Tbs garlic, minced
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs dried basil

Directions:
Spray a large stockpot with nonstick cooking spray.

Sauté vegetables until tender. Add stock, tomatoes and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes or until flavors have blended.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 61, Calories from Fat: 0, Fat: 15 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 100 mg, Potassium: 435 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 3 g.

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Healthy Living: Organic Apples


Organic ApplesOne day in the fall when I was growing up as a child, my mom announced an “adventure.” Adventures were the BEST. She’d whisk us off to somewhere secret, the destination unknown to us until our actual arrival. The suspense and anticipation were as much a part of the outing as the outing itself.

This particular day, we went to an apple orchard about an hour away from our house in Virginia, where you could pick your own apples and sample freshly-made apple sauce, apple butter and apple cider. The day was crisp and cool. The orchard was saturated with the hues of autumn. The air smelled like cinnamon and earthy tartness.

Picking our own apples was exhilarating. They tasted so much better, since we’d worked for them ourselves.

I get that same taste now whenever I eat an organic apple, knowing that someone else’s labor has benefitted my health.

Organic apples are grown with no chemicals or pesticides. They’re 100 percent as nature intended, just as if you’d eaten them off the tree right in the orchard.

Traditional apple orchards, grown for commercial purposes, are often heavily sprayed with pesticides, coating the leaves of the trees and the skins of your fruit. Pesticides aren’t good for you, for the workers in the orchards or for the trees themselves.

Organic apples are high in fiber, low in sugar and ready for you to eat, just like you would in an organic orchard.



Healthy Living: Brussels Sprout Chips


Brussels Sprout ChipsMove over potato and slide over, kale. Brussels sprout chips are the newest fad I’ve seen from Facebook to Instagram and Twitter.

I was as dubious of Brussels sprout chips as I was of kale chips, but I figured that if I didn’t like raw kale but liked the chips, I was already a step ahead of the game since I really like Brussels sprouts.

A member of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts have a ton of vitamin K and vitamin C. They are high in folate, fiber, protein and potassium. They have high detox and antioxidant properties. Turn these into chips, and you can enjoy a crunchy, healthy snack that’s guilt-free!

Brussels Sprout Chips

Ingredients:
15 Brussels sprouts (about 1 lb)
1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, to taste

Directions:
Heat oven to 350° F. With a small sharp knife, trim bottom of each sprout, releasing the outermost layer of leaves. Pluck leaves off individually and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and a smattering of salt.

Place leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until leaves are lightly browned and crisp.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 64, Calories from Fat: 19, Fat: 2 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 28 mg, Potassium: 441 mg, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Healthy Living: Fall Quinoa Salad


Fall Quinoa SaladDo you realize how hard it is to find healthy recipes on your Pinterest feed during the fall season? Everything is baked, buttery and stick-to-your-ribs (and thighs) kind of fare! There are cookies and breads and casseroles galore, but salads? Not so much.

This is always a favorite fall salad of mine. It combines the flavors of fall without all the fat. Quinoa is a super food, providing protein without all the bad fats associated with meats. It also has pumpkin seeds, which are little kernels of power-packed goodness in and of themselves.

Pumpkin seeds are chock full of minerals including phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron and copper, and they are a good source of vitamin K. They have been shown to contain phytosterols, which reduce levels of LDL cholesterol. Pumpkin seeds also contain L-tryptophan, which promotes good sleep and lowers depression (and you thought your slices of turkey at Thanksgiving dinner were the only things making you sleepy). Another benefit of pumpkin seeds is that they are high in zinc, which helps protect against osteoporosis. They are also a good source of vitamins E and B, and contain 30 grams of protein per 100 grams of seeds.

Fall Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:
3 cups butternut squash, chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup rainbow quinoa, uncooked
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup red onions, finely chopped
3 Tbs pumpkin seeds, toasted
3 Tbs pecans, toasted and chopped

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F.

Place diced squash in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil; season with cayenne, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, and roast for 25 minutes or until squash is fork-tender and golden-brown.

While the squash is roasting, rinse quinoa under cold water. Place quinoa in clean water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 22 minutes.

Cool quinoa and squash.

Toss quinoa with roasted squash, cranberries, red onions, pumpkin seeds and pecans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together in a separate bowl. Pour over quinoa mixture. Chill for several hours and serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 284, Calories from Fat: 178, Fat: 20 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 13 mg, Potassium: 393 mg, Carbohydrates: 24 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 5 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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