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Ask Leigh


Question:  Do you have any interesting recipes for avocadoes that are not just guacamole?

Answer:  The avocado is power-packed with more than 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E and folic acid. They are also packed with fat, but at least it’s the good kind. A really good, buttery avocado doesn’t need much adornment, but I do like this Blue Cheese Avocado Dip recipe a friend gave to me years ago.  Just combine 2 tablespoons chopped white onion and 2 ripe avocadoes with 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, 1 ½ cups sour cream and ¼ cup blue cheese. Puree it all together and add salt and pepper to taste. Chill for one hour before serving with Fritos or raw vegetables.

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Posted in: Produce


Healthy Living: Orange and Kiwi Ambrosia


Orange you glad you read this blog today?

Bad puns from childhood aside, I’ve been a little obsessed with oranges lately.

Not only are they bursting into season with their juicy deliciousness, but they’re really good for you too. Oranges are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also a good source of thiamin, folate and potassium, and a very good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C. In fact, one orange supplies 160 percent of the US recommended daily allowance for vitamin C.

So maybe it’s not an apple a day that keeps the doctor away!

Orange Kiwi Ambrosia
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 oranges, peeled, cut in cartwheel slices
1 Kiwi (or banana), peeled, thinly sliced
1/2 orange, grated zest
1 orange, juiced
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup whole almonds
2 Tbs shredded coconut, toasted 

Directions:
In bowl, arrange orange and kiwi slices. Combine orange zest, juice and juice. Pour over fruit mixture, chill. Spoon onto individual dessert dishes, sprinkle with almonds and coconut.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 68 g,Calories from Fat: 14 g,Total Fat: 2 g,Cholesterol: 0 mg,Sodium: 1 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 14 g,Dietary Fiber: 2 g,Sugars: 10 g,Protein: 1 g



Product Talk: Cranberries


It’s cranberry season, and it’s time to try something new with these deliciously healthy berries! Most of us stick to our tried-and-true cranberry sauces and relishes for holiday meals, but this delicious Jalapeno Cranberry Salsa combines some of the best flavors I know to make a wonderful chunky salsa. You could easily use it as the relish for your turkey and dressing too!

And if you want to feel even better about adding real cranberries to your diet, scientific research shows that cranberries and cranberry products contain significant amounts of antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may help protect against heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

Enjoy!

Jalapeno Cranberry Salsa
Makes 8 appetizer servings

Ingredients:
3 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 medium red onion, quartered
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and halved (use less for milder flavor)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
Dash kosher salt

Directions:
Place all ingredients in food processor. Pulse 8 times, until coarsely chopped. Scrape sides of bowl midway through pulses. Cover and chill at least 8 hours. Tastes great served with sweet potato chips!

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 86, Total Fat: 0 g, Sodium 114 mg, Carbohydrates 23 g, Protein: 0 g



Ask Leigh


Questions:   Do you have a foolproof method for roasting vegetables?

Answers:   Cool weather is the perfect time to try your hand at roasting vegetables. Winter  produce – such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, onions and carrots – are perfect for roasting in the oven. The high temperature intensifies the flavors  and sweetness.  Roasting is a great seasonal alternative to steaming your side dishes.  First of all, you have to use high, dry heat, so preheat your oven to 450°F. Make sure it is preheated all the way before you put the vegetables in the oven or they won’t turn out the way you expect.

Another key step is to make sure your vegetables are all relatively the same size so they will cook evenly. And I always coat my vegetables lightly with olive oil, but I also have friends that use an olive-oil nonstick cooking spray to save a few calories. This works as well.

Make sure you spread the veggies out on a cookie sheet in one layer. You don’t want to overcrowd them or they won’t caramelize and brown properly.

Roast for 20 minutes and check with a fork for tenderness. Toss veggies carefully and continue roasting up to 45 minutes depending on desired doneness. Sprinkle with kosher salt if you want. Delicious and works with all kinds of vegetables – even broccoli!

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Posted in: Cooking, Produce


Healthy Living: Spinach Parmesan Muffins


If you’re like me, eating healthy gets a little bit harder during the winter months. I’m a summer fruit fanatic, so there’s never a shortage of healthy options in my house during the hot months. Winter is a bit more of a struggle for me. There are still plenty of healthy choices, but I tend to lean more toward comfort food when the days shorten and there’s a chill in the air. 

These ‘muffins’ are the best of both worlds. You get more than a day’s worth of vitamin A in one muffin and quite a bit of folate and vitamin C as well. Not only do they freeze well, but I eat them for breakfast with a scrambled egg white. 

You can use mature or ‘baby’ spinach in this recipe. If you use frozen spinach, make sure to thaw it completely and wring as much moisture out of it as possible before using. The pinch of nutmeg really brightens the greens in this recipe, too, so don’t leave it out. 

Spinach Parmesan Muffins
Makes 12

Ingredients:
12 oz fresh spinach
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, or low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
2 large eggs, beaten
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Pulse spinach in three batches in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add ricotta (or cottage cheese), Parmesan, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper; stir to combine. Coat 8 cups of the muffin pan with cooking spray. Divide the spinach mixture among the 8 cups (they will be very full). Bake the spinach cakes until set, about 20 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto a clean cutting board or large plate. Serve warm, sprinkled with more Parmesan, if desired. 

Nutritional Information:  Calories Per Serving: 141; Fat: 8 g, Cholesterol: 123 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Protein: 13 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sodium: 456 mg, Potassium: 560 mg.



Ask Leigh


Question: I have seen spaghetti squash in the produce section at Brookshire’s, but I have no idea what to do with it. Is it really like pasta? Could you give me a suggestion? 

Answer:  My mother used to cook spaghetti squash for us growing up. She used it in place of pasta during those times she and my father would go on various lower-carb diets.

I think it’s delicious, and really, the hardest part about cooking with spaghetti squash is cutting it in half to cook! 

This recipe is from my mother, and it’s a family favorite of my own now. 

Herbed Spaghetti Squash 

Ingredients:
1 (2 to 2 1/2 lb) spaghetti squash
3 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs chopped basil
1 Tbs chopped chives
1 Tbs chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a paring knife. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender.

Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into a mixing bowl. Heat a skillet. Add the butter, spaghetti squash, herbs, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

NOTE: Also great with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled over. Serves 4.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 161 g, Total Fat:  11.8 g, Sodium  39 mg, Carbohydrates 15.8 g, Protein: 1.5 g

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Posted in: Produce


Ask Leigh


Question: I have seen spaghetti squash in the produce section at Brookshire’s, but I have no idea what to do with it. Is it really like pasta? Could you give me a suggestion? 

Answer:  My mother used to cook spaghetti squash for us growing up. She used it in place of pasta during those times she and my father would go on various lower-carb diets.

I think it’s delicious, and really, the hardest part about cooking with spaghetti squash is cutting it in half to cook! 

This recipe is from my mother, and it’s a family favorite of my own now. 

Herbed Spaghetti Squash 

Ingredients:
1 (2 to 2 1/2 lb) spaghetti squash
3 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs chopped basil
1 Tbs chopped chives
1 Tbs chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a paring knife. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender.

Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into a mixing bowl. Heat a skillet. Add the butter, spaghetti squash, herbs, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

NOTE: Also great with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled over. Serves 4.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 161 g, Total Fat:  11.8 g, Sodium  39 mg, Carbohydrates 15.8 g, Protein: 1.5 g

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Posted in: Produce


Healthy Living: Election Night Butternut Squash Soup


Butternut squash is in season and that makes me happy, very happy. I love butternut squash soup and have even managed to get my kids to eat it and love it, too. 

Butternut squash, besides being delicious, is loaded with vitamin A — 1 cup of cooked squash has 457 percent of the recommended daily allowance. It is also a good source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium. And like most vegetables, it’s fat-, cholesterol-, and sodium-free. Yay squash. 

I plan on making this soup for tonight. It’s election night and I have to work late. But I’ll pop the soup in the crock pot to keep it warm and to keep me, and my co-workers, happy on what’s bound to be a late night. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 6 

Ingredients:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 (2 lb) butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 cup nonfat milk
Nonfat sour cream (optional)
Chopped fresh chives or green onions (optional) 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Place squash cut side down in prepared dish. Pierce each squash half several times with toothpick or skewer. Bake until squash is tender, about 45 minutes.

Using large spoon, scrape squash into processor; discard peel. Add 1 1/2 cups broth and nutmeg and puree until smooth. Transfer puree to heavy large saucepan. Mix in milk and enough broth too thin to desired consistency. Stir soup over medium heat until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with dollop of sour cream and chives, if desired.

Nutritional Information: Calories 84; Calories from Fat 2; Total Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 1 mg; Sodium 173 mg; Total Carbohydrates 20 g; Dietary Fiber 3 g; Sugars 5 g;Protein 3 g



Product Talk: Autumn’s Perfect Apple Salad


My family has certain must-have foods during the fall season. From pumpkin bread to butternut squash soup, we each have our favorites that rise to the top of the menu when cool weather finally hits our part of the country.

One of our relatively new favorites to enjoy each fall is the Honeycrisp apple. Although they are perfectly delicious eaten by themselves, I like to add them to my green salads for a bit of crunchy sweetness. This recipe is a great combination of spicy pecans, apples and just a tangy mustard vinaigrette.

Enjoy while Honeycrisps are in season!

Green Salad with Honeycrisp Apples and Spicy Pecans 
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
3 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 2/3 cups pecan pieces
1 large Honeycrisp apple
2 tsp lemon juice
1 head Boston lettuce, chilled, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 head red leaf lettuce, chilled, torn into bite-sized pieces
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place butter on baking sheet with sides. Heat in oven until melted. Stir in pecans. Toss together the salt, cinnamon and cayenne, and sprinkle evenly over pecans. Stir to coat pecans. Bake for 15 minutes or until pecans are aromatic and golden brown. Cool in baking sheet on wire rack. To make the dressing, whisk together the vinegar and Dijon mustard. Whisk in olive oil, salt and pepper, until slightly thickened. When ready to serve, cut apple into thin slices and sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine lettuces, apples and feta cheese in large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad. Top with spiced pecans.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 400, Total Fat: 39 g, Saturated Fat: 10 g, Sodium 664 mg, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Protein: 7 g.



Shop the Sale: Lasagna


Today is my birthday, so in honor of turning a year older, I’m going to share with you the recipe for my very favorite birthday dinner.

Growing up, it was a special treat to be able to select our favorite meal for our birthdays. Mom would prepare it exactly according to specifications, along with our favorite birthday dessert, and we’d eat dinner in the dining room, reserved for major holidays and family birthdays. We’d gather around the oblong table, set with my mom’s wedding china, elegant with candles in carefully polished silver candlesticks, and laid with a crisp white tablecloth (clearly, with five children, my mom was a glutton for punishment.) What I’m trying to say is, I always felt like a princess on my birthday.

The birthday honoree got to sit at the head of the table and was the center of attention when mom or dad paraded in with the piece de resistance – the birthday cake (or in my brother Andy’s case, birthday pie, his choice).

I think most years I had a double chocolate birthday cake – chocolate cake wedged under a heaping mound of chocolate buttercream (all homemade of course, no box in sight). Also most years, I picked lasagna for my birthday dinner.

I doubt my mother ever wrote down a recipe for lasagna, so I’ve had to adapt it ove the years. I’ve finally come up with a version that I love. The recipe calls for Angus ground chuck, on sale this week at Brookshire’s. What perfect timing!

Lasagna
Serves 12

Ingredients:
1 box (16 oz) lasagna noodles
6 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz sliced Provolone cheese
16 oz mozzarella cheese, divided
1 egg
1 lb Angus ground chuck
1 lb Italian sausage

Sauce:
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (4 oz) can tomato paste
2 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs dried basil

Directions:
For the sauce: (it’s best if you start this several hours or a day ahead, to let simmer). Heat olive oil over medium high heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and saute for about 3 minutes or until it begins to soften. Add garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat. Simmer, stirring frequently, for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.

When it’s time to prepare the lasagna, boil noodles in a large pot of water, adding salt AFTER water begins to boil (if not, it was scar your pot). Cook noodles al dente (firm in the middle). Remove noodles from water, drain, lay on clean towels to cool.

Brown ground Angus and sausage. Drain fat. Set aside. Combine ricotta, Parmesan, egg and half the mozzarella.  When noodles are cool, spread each noodle with about 1 Tbs of cream cheese. In a 9×13 casserole dish, spread one cup of sauce. Layer noodles, cream cheese side up.

Spread with about one and half cups of the ricotta mixture. Top with one-third of the meat mixture. Cover with sauce. Repeat three times. Finish with sauce. Top the remaining half of mozzarella cheese.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake, covered with foil, for 45 minutes. Remove foil. Finish baking for 15 more minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Nutritional Information: Calories 907; Calories from Fat 501;Total Fat 55 g; Cholesterol 192mg; Sodium 1744mg; Total Carbohydrates 43 g;Dietary Fiber 4 g; Sugars 9 g Protein 58 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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