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Product Talk: Zesty Bacon Ranch and Cheese Breakfast Muffins


I’m a little obsessed with breakfast foods.

To think, almost a dozen years went by with me foregoing what is now my favorite meal of the day. I stopped eating breakfast in high school. When you had to be out the door at 6:20 a.m. to catch your ride, every extra minute of sleep counted; there was no time for silly things like breakfast.

It was pretty much the same story in college. Get up 20 extra minutes before my 8 a.m. class to walk over to the dining hall? Nah! Sleep the extra 20 minutes, throw on some jeans and a college sweatshirt and hit the academic building.

Thinking back to when I started eating breakfast regularly, I can’t really pinpoint a time until I was pregnant with my first son. I developed gestational diabetes, a condition that went away as soon as my baby was delivered, but it became imperative to eat “the most important meal of the day” to stabilize my blood sugar.

I’ve been eating breakfast – and loving it – ever since. Over the past few years, portable breakfast has become a necessity because, once again, those precious minutes are often absorbed by packing school lunches for my kids or getting dinner in the slow-cooker for later. I still eat breakfast but often eat as I’m on my morning commute.

I LOVE these breakfast muffins. I can eat them in the car, and they are totally, as Emeril would say, “kicked up a notch” with Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning. If I’m making these for only me, I double the amount the recipe calls for. It adds the right amount of spice to these savory muffins. You can freeze these and reheat them in the microwave on the way out the door.  You can cut fat by using egg whites (2 Tbs), turkey bacon and reduced fat cheddar cheese. Adding a 4-ounce can of green chilies, drained, is yummy too.

Zesty Bacon and Cheese Breakfast Muffins

Ingredients:

1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning

Directions:

In a large bowl, beat the egg, milk and oil together. Stir in the bacon crumbles and shredded cheddar cheese.

Add the dry ingredients, stirring as you go, incorporating just until blended.

Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400° F for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked all the way through. Cool for 5 minutes and remove from the muffin pan, placing on a wire rack to cool. Best when served warm.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 368, Calories from Fat: 198, Fat: 22 g, Cholesterol: 38 mg, Sodium: 484 mg, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 5 g, Protein 13: g
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Product Talk: Baking Soda


If baking soda isn’t a miracle ingredient, I’m really not sure what is.  

Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, is a white solid that is often found in powder form. I was first introduced to baking soda in the form of a leavening agent in my mom’s chocolate chip cookies.

However, in ancient times, it was used more as soap.

It seems the uses for baking soda are endless.

It’s in toothpaste. It’s in homemade laundry detergent. It’s in deodorants, shampoos and can be mixed into a cup of warm water to drink to aid indigestion.

Aside from the bounty of baked goods, I love baking soda as a cleaning agent. I’ve used it to remove buildup from my bathroom vanity that gets a bit crusted with hair product. I’ve used it to soak my showerheads and remove build-up there, too. I make a paste of baking soda and water to clean my porcelain and lined bathtubs.

But, I really love to use it as a drain cleaner, and so do my boys. Anything that gets my kids to help me clean is a positive in my book.

The drain in my bathtub gets clogged easily but not in the boys’ bathroom…gee…I wonder why (as I twirl my very long hair around my finger).

I’ll pull out the drain stopper and remove the wadded up hair. (EEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW…that’s the part the boys won’t help me with). But then I run a little warm water down the drain and turn off the water. I pour about half a cup of baking soda into the drain, then let the boys pour in some white vinegar.

It bubbles and fizzes and is all kinds of fun.

Continue pouring small amounts of vinegar into the drain until it no longer fizzes. Let sit for about 15 minutes, flush with hot water and there you have it  – fast-running drains without chemicals to corrode your pipes.

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Product Talk: Brookshire’s Flowers


Just because it’s four days after Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean that you should think “too late” on this post. Yes, flowers for your sweetheart on Feb. 14 are nice, but flowers on a RANDOM day the rest of the year are even better; at least to me.

Brookshire’s floral department never ceases to amaze me. I stopped in on the last day of school last year for gigantic bouquets of brilliant sunflowers for my boys’ teachers. I had a horrible migraine last week and I was the lucky recipient of a mixed bouquet of magenta blooms that are still fresh and vibrant over a week later. I’ve purchased green plants for offices and cheery arrangements of daisies, tulips, lilies and roses. I even gave someone a pepper plant as a gift once from the Brookshire’s floral department.

So just remember, it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day to give the gift of flowers. Just saying! 

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Product Talk: Lemongrass


Lemongrass is a sublime, delicious ingredient that I just started using regularly in my cooking.

It’s a bit more subtle than grating lemon zest, with an earthier flavor. I like to use the leaves to infuse flavor into a broth, much as you would a bay leaf. 

 You can also crush the stalk and steep into a pot of tea (heavenly!) or mince the leaves and toss it into the water to steam shrimp or shellfish. 
 
It’s so versatile it can be used in almost any cuisine. I can’t believe I didn’t use it much before!

Look for lemongrass that feels firm at the bulb end because that’s where the flavor is. Store it in the refrigerator, loosely wrapped in plastic. It will keep for a week or more.

Lemon Chicken Broth 

(Sip on its own or use as a base for other soups – like chicken noodle)
Serves 6

Ingredients:

8 cups water 
2 lbs skin-on, bone-in chicken leg quarters 
3 stalks fresh lemongrass 
4 (1/4-inch) slices peeled fresh ginger 
1 Tbs chopped garlic 
1 tsp black peppercorns 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Directions:

Combine 8 cups water and chicken leg quarters in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, skimming and discarding foam as needed. Reduce heat to low.

Trim and discard root end of lemongrass stalks; discard toughest outer leaves. Smash stalks with the flat side of a knife. Add lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and peppercorns to pan. Partially cover, and simmer 50 minutes, skimming and discarding foam as needed. Remove chicken from pan using a slotted spoon; reserve for another use.

Strain broth through a cheesecloth-lined colander; discard solids. Cool to room temperature. Cover and chill for 8 hours or overnight. Skim solid fat from surface; discard.

Heat the broth in Dutch oven over medium heat, and stir in salt. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves.

Nutritional Information
: Calories: 19, Fat: 1 g, Protein: 3 g, Carbohydrates: 0 g, Fiber: 0 g, Cholesterol: 12 mg, Iron: 0 mg, Sodium: 210 mg, Calcium: 2 mg 

 

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Product Talk: Going Gluten Free


A lot of people these days are finding they are intolerant to gluten. Others are just avoiding it because they feel better without it.

Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.

People with Celiac’s disease cannot process gluten and it causes all kinds of distress for their systems.

Luckily, the number of gluten-free products available at Brookshire’s these days is phenomenal.

This is a quick and easy snack recipe to make with a gluten-free product you can find on any grocery store shelf.

Gluten-Free Ginger Rice Crunch
Serves: 24

Ingredients:
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger or cardamom
6 cups Rice Chex cereal (gluten-free)
1 cup dried banana chips
1 cup unblanched whole almonds
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries or dried pineapple

Directions:
Heat oven to 250° F. Spray large roasting pan with cooking spray. In 1-quart saucepan, heat brown sugar, butter, honey and ginger to boiling. Remove from heat; cool slightly.
Into roasting pan, mix cereal, banana chips, almonds and coconut. Stir in brown sugar mixture until evenly coated.

Bake 50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on waxed paper or foil; cool about 15 minutes. Place in serving bowl; stir in cranberries. Store in airtight container.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 140, Calories from Fat: 70, Total Fat: 7 g, Cholesterol: 5 mg, Sodium: 85 mg, Total Carbohydrate: 18 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 10 g, Protein: 2g

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PRODUCT TALK: ASIAN PEARS


Walking through Brookshire’s last weekend, I spotted something I’d never seen, or heard of, before. And for me, that’s saying a lot. After all, I do eat voraciously. Wait! Did I say “eat?” I meant READ. I READ voraciously.

Ahem.

That little slip aside, the Asian pear is a sight to behold. Rounder than a traditional green pear, with a nutty-colored skin, the Asian pear has a texture more like an apple but a mild, subtle flavor.

The Asian pear is native to northern China but also grown in Japan.

A good-quality Asian pear is selected by smell rather than variations in firmness. Unlike other pears that yield to gentle pressure when ripe, Asian pears are ripe even when they are extremely firm. Select by their strong and sweet aroma. Asian pears, like green pears, are delicate and bruise easily. Ripen in a cool, dark place or refrigerate for a few days. They are meant to be eaten crunchy, not soft.

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Product Talk: Bacon


Bacon has reached cult status these days. It seems everywhere I look someone else is pledging their love to the salty strips of pork – even in chocolate!

You can find bacon salt at the grocery store, and I’ve seen some funny bacon bandages at a novelty gift shop in the mall. Nothing like covering your child’s cut with a “strip of bacon” to help wipe away the tears. 

I recently enjoyed this Pecan Sugared Bacon at a baby shower. I’ve had it before with brown sugar, but not with the wonderful addition of pecans. It is deliciously addictive, so consider yourself warned! 

Pecan Sugared Bacon 

Ingredients:
2 Tbs finely chopped pecans
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
10-12 thick-cut bacon slices  

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Mix pecans, brown sugar and pepper.  Lay bacon slice on mixture and press into one side only. Lay in a single layer on a lightly greased wire rack in an aluminum foil-lined baking pan (sugar side up). Press pecan mixture as needed on bacon slices. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned and crisp. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut slices into desired lengths.



Product Talk: Parsnips


Parsnips might be one of those vegetables you overlook in the store or you’re not quite sure how to prepare it. So you slide by it in the produce section, trying not to make eye contact. 

But parsnips, a root vegetable, shouldn’t be passed over. They’re related to the carrot, but much paler in color and have a sweeter taste, especially when you cook them (I’m not a fan of the raw parsnip myself).

They can be boiled, roasted or used in stews, soups and casseroles.

In some cases, the parsnip is boiled and the solid portions are removed from the soup or stew, leaving behind a more subtle flavor than the whole root, and starch to thicken the dish. 


Find these in season in your local Brookshire’s right now!
 

Parsnip Fries with Rosemary
Serves 6 

Ingredients:
2 1/2 lbs parsnips or carrots, peeled, cut into about three 1/2 inch strips
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus 5 sprigs rosemary
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 Tbs olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp (or more) ground cumin 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450° F. Mix parsnips, chopped rosemary, garlic, and oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer. Scatter rosemary sprigs over.

Roast for 10 minutes; turn parsnips and roast until parsnips are tender and browned in spots, 10-15 minutes longer. Crumble leaves from rosemary sprigs over; discard stems and toss to coat. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more cumin, if desired.

Nutritional information: Calories: 180, Calories from Fat: 55, Fat: 11 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg,Carbohydrates: 20 g,Dietary Fiber: 6 g, Sugars: 10 g, Protein:  2 g, Sodium: 140 mg



Product Talk: Eggnog


My favorite night of the entire year is Christmas Eve.

To me, it’s better than Christmas morning – the anticipation of the birth of Christ and the festivities of the next day practically charge the air with electricity. I love leaving evening church services and coming home to a big meal – it’s traditionally lasagna in my house – and wrangling the kids to sleep at a reasonable hour.

Then, of course, it’s time to wait for Jolly Old St. Nick to bound down the chimney.

While you’re waiting, you can indulge in a treat we really only see once a year — eggnog.

Eggnog is a sweetened dairy-based beverage traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, and whipped eggs (which gives it a frothy texture). Brandy, rum, whisky, bourbon, Kahlúa, vodka, or a combination of liquors are often added. The finished serving is often garnished with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or nutmeg.

Here’s one eggnog recipe my family has enjoyed at Christmas Eve gatherings. Purchase pre-made eggnog from the dairy case at Brookshire’s to get you started.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Golden Blizzard Eggnog

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups eggnog
2 shots Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps
2 shots Arrow peppermint schnapps

Directions:
Add the shots of Goldschlager and Arrow to a mason jar, then fill with eggnog. Shake and pour into 2 cups.

Serves 2

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 505,Calories from Fat: 128, Cholesterol: 112 mg, Sodium: 103 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 42 g, Sugars: 33 g, Protein: 7 g.

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

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Product Talk: Passion for Pomegranates


Pomegranates are considered one of nature’s “super foods,” thanks to the cancer- and disease-fighting properties of their juicy seeds. And this time of year, pomegranates make a powerful, delicious addition to your wintertime diet – whether you drink the juice or enjoy a snack of pomegranate seeds (which are completely edible).

A ripe pomegranate feels fairly heavy when you pick it up. You want to choose one that is not pale in color; Look for dark or bright red firm skin. And be sure to eat it as soon as you open the pomegranate. It’s easy for this super fruit to dry out, which won’t taste the way it’s meant to be enjoyed.

One of my favorite pomegranate recipes pairs the taste (and nutrition) of the fruit with toasted walnuts in a wonderful winter salad. It’s colorful and beautiful on your plate, not to mention great tasting and great for you!

Enjoy!

Winter Salad with Walnuts and Pomegranates

For the vinaigrette

Ingredients:
2 tsp shallots, chopped
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp thyme, chopped
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste 

For the salad
Ingredients:
2 lbs mixed salad greens
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and julienned
1/4 lb blue cheese
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Directions:
To prepare the vinaigrette, place the shallot, vinegar, mustard and thyme in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Place salad greens, apples and blue cheese in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Add half the pomegranate seeds and walnuts, then toss again. Sprinkle the remaining seeds and walnuts over the salad. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 529, Fat: 40 g, Sodium: 347 mg, Carbohydrates: 35 g, Protein: 0 g, Fiber: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 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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