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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.



Product Talk: Hominy


I never had hominy until I made a cooking mistake. In a hurry at the grocery store one night, I grabbed hominy off the shelf instead of the ingredient I needed for a soup. When I got home and realized my mistake, it was too late to run back to the store and get the correct ingredient.

I opened the can of  hominy, drained it, fished out a piece and popped it in my mouth.“This will do,” I thought, and emptied the can into my soup. It was a hit.

Hominy is essentially kernels of corn which are soaked in an alkali solution of either lime or lye.

The corrosive nature of the solution removes the hull and germ of the corn and causes the grain itself to puff up to about twice its normal size. It’s safe to eat, don’t worry!

Hominy can be made with either white or yellow corn, specifically maize, which is the type of corn used in making cornmeal and other grain products. Hominy can be ground into grits or used in soups, stews, casseroles, baking and breakfast dishes.

I love the taste and texture. Softer than corn, but chewier than a potato or pasta, hominy adds a texture to soups and stews that I find very appealing.

Hominy generally comes in a can. This is even better because this is the last week to participate in the Brookshire’s 2012 Spirit of Christmas Food Drive. Customers can help by donating non-perishable food items in the designated bin or by purchasing a scan coupon at checkstands in our stores. All contributions will go to the food drive. Brookshire’s partners with service organizations and volunteers to provide a box of food for local households screened by local agencies. In addition, our company matches each box with a free baking hen. 

So when you’re in Brookshire’s this week, grab a can of hominy for you, and one for the food drive.

Pork and Hominy Chili
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 tsp canola oil
8 oz boneless center-cut pork chops, trimmed and cubed
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tsp bottled minced garlic
1 Tbs chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1/4 cup no-salt-added tomato paste
1 (15.5 oz) can golden hominy, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14 oz) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup light sour cream

Directions:
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pork to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chili powder and next 4 ingredients (through red pepper). Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato paste, hominy, tomatoes and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Serve with sour cream.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 238, Fat: 8 g, Protein: 18 g, Carbohydrate: 25 g, Fiber: 5 g, Cholesterol: 33 mg, Iron: 2 mg, Sodium: 650 mg, Calcium: 61 mg

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Product Talk: Candy Cane Christmas


Candy canes and Christmas go hand in hand. The red and white striped delights are everywhere during the holiday season — in chocolate bark, marshmallows, milkshakes, coffee and most anywhere else you can imagine a sprinkling of crushed Christmas candy canes! 

One of my favorite Christmas cookies has a peppermint flavor, both in the cookie and the delicious icing. I first had this cookie decades ago at a neighborhood Christmas cookie exchange, and it was like no other cookie I had eaten before. I was delighted to get the recipe and to be able to share it with you! 

The addition of oats might sound a bit heavy with peppermint, but it gives the cookie a bit of depth and texture you don’t find in a regular sugar cookie. And the “drizzle” icing is foolproof for people who, like me, always have trouble making decorated Christmas cookies look like you see in all the food magazines. A drizzle works every time! 

Enjoy and Merry Christmas! 

Peppermint Rounds
Makes 36 

Ingredients:

COOKIE:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup regular oats
1/3 cup hard peppermint candy, crushed 

ICING:
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
Dash of salt
1/4-1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tsp peppermint extract
Red food coloring 

Directions:
Beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg and vanilla, beating well. Combine flour and salt; add to butter mixture. Stir in oats and candy. Cover and chill 1 hour. Divide dough in half. Roll each portion to 1/8-inch thick on surface dusted with powdered sugar. Cut with 2-inch cookie cutter; place on greased, foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° F for 8 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool. 

For the icing combine powdered sugar and salt. Add half-and-half to desired consistency. Add extract. Remove 1/4 cup icing and stir in 1 to 2 drops of food coloring for pink color. 

Spread cookies with white icing. Before icing sets, drizzle lines of pink icing across the top of each cookie.   

Nutritional Information:  Calories Per Serving: 165, Total Fat: 6 g, Sodium: 81 mg, Carbohydrates: 27 g, Protein: 2 g



Product Talk: Brookshire’s Bacon


I’ve tried a lot of bacon in my day (Who hasn’t? Just admit it!) and hands down, Brookshire’s brand original sliced,  hickory smoked is my favorite. 

It crisps nicely when cooked, either in the microwave or on the stovetop, it’s not too salty, it’s full of hickory flavor and it doesn’t tend to burn. 

I could probably write 97,351 blog posts using bacon, but this is one I made last week and my family has already asked for it again. 

It combines the flavor of a jalapeño popper with chicken and, of course, bacon. The traditional jalapeño “popper” is a deep-fried, breaded jalapeño stuffed with cream cheese. This take on it makes a mouthwatering meal that would be great for a family dinner or  a special occasion. 

Jalapeño Popper Chicken 
Serves 4 

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/3-inch
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz cheddar cheese
2 jalapeño peppers, diced
1 Tbs hot sauce
12 strips Brookshire’s Original Sliced, Hickory Smoked Bacon
Toothpicks 

Directions:
Pound chicken breasts until they are about 1/3-inch thick.  Soften cream cheese. Add cheddar, jalapeño and hot sauce. Mix well.

Place about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese mixture on one end of chicken. Roll chicken around filling. Wrap chicken with three slices of bacon, secure with a toothpick. 

Bake at 400° F for 25 to 30 minutes (I had to finish mine under the broiler to “crisp” the bacon).

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 614, Calories from Fat: 366 g, Total Fat: 41 g,Saturated Fat: 20 g, Cholesterol: 213 mg, Sodium: 1069 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 2 g, Sugars: 1 g, Protein: 58 g.

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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



Product Talk: Canned pumpkin


I bet canned pumpkin flies off the shelf more in November than in any other month. I have no scientific evidence or statistics to back this up, mind you, but it’s a gut feeling I’d be willing to back up with money that this is correct.

I use pumpkin all year long because I love it. Ironically, I don’t eat pumpkin pie. Ever. But I love pumpkin in just about anything else. Recent favorites are in pancakes, waffles, trifles and hot breakfast oatmeal. Yes, oatmeal. My children cringed when their breakfast cereal came out a happy bright color recently, but with the addition of some cinnamon, cloves and allspice, it was like a pie in a bowl, more or less.

One of my favorite things to do with pumpkin is stump my friends. No, this isn’t a trick or treat, just a great way to make a fun favorite a little healthier – and leave my friends guessing. If I don’t tell them, and even after I do, they never suspect that pumpkin is the secret ingredient in these decadent muffins. 

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

Devil’s Food Pumpkin Muffins
Serves 12

Ingredients:
1 box Food Club Devil’s Food Cake Mix
1 (14.5 oz) can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

Directions:

Empty dry contents of cake mix into large bowl. Add can of pumpkin (nothing else). Mix together until well blended.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Spoon mixture into a well-greased cupcake pan or cupcake liners.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 198, Calories from Fat: 44, Cholesterol: 0 mg,Sodium: 292 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 37 g,Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 25 g,Protein: 3 g.



Product Talk: Sweet Potatoes


It wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered the wonderful flavor of sweet potatoes when NOT prepared in the traditional super-sweet casserole – hidden under marshmallows or corn flakes or tons of brown sugar and pecans. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the buttery brown sugar topping my mom makes every Thanksgiving, but I don’t think I would eat that more than one day each year! 

I was actually eating in an Italian restaurant when I saw sweet potato ravioli on the menu. It was prepared with sage and browned butter, similar to how I have seen butternut squash and pumpkin. It was delicious! 

The ravioli dinner made me curious to research other ways to eat sweet potatoes, and I ran across a version of this sweet potato soup recipe from my friend Courtney. She had given it to me a few years ago, and honestly, I forgot I had it until now. 

The healthiest way to enjoy a sweet potato is plain, of course. And honestly a plain baked sweet potato has tons of flavor without adding any butter or brown sugar. One regular-sized sweet potato will add about 100 calories to your day’s diet – and less than one gram of fat. It’s loaded in Vitamin A and healthy carbs too. 

The soup recipe below also works great if you’ve baked a few extra sweet potatoes. Just skip the boiling part and add the cooked, peeled potatoes when you add the broth. 

Enjoy! 

Texas-Style Sweet Potato Soup 
Serves 6

Ingredients:
5 lb sweet potatoes, cleaned and quartered
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup pickled sliced jalapenos
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup half-and-half (fat free works too)
Salt and pepper to taste 

Directions:
Place sweet potato quarters in large pot. Add water to cover, and boil until potatoes are softened. Drain water, and peel potato skins when cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, melt butter in another large pot. Add bacon, onion and garlic. Sauté on medium-low heat until bacon is cooked through. Add chicken broth, cover and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and puree with a hand blender – or blend in a regular blender in small batches. Stir in jalapenos, cumin, cilantro and half-and-half. Taste for salt and pepper. Heat through and serve warm.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 751, Total Fat: 27.7 g, Sodium 1298 mg, Carbohydrates 111.0 g, Protein: 17.0 g



Product Talk: Miniature Candy Bars


You can’t walk past an end cap in your local Brookshire’s right now without pumping into a boo-tiful display of Halloween candy. Sweet Tarts, lollipops, gummy bears. You name it; you can buy it in bulk right now.

Personally, I go straight for the chocolate and I love the miniature-sized candy bars are the best. Luckily for me, I have one son who loves chocolate, and one who doesn’t, so I have carte blanche to raid his Halloween pumpkin and pillage all the bite-sized Butterfingers and Snickers.

This recipe is a fun way to use leftover Halloween candy. It’s also great for a holiday party or just a wonderful way to use those bulk bags of mini candy bars.

Snickers Puffs (or Milky Way Puffs)

Ingredients:
1 (8 oz) can Pillsbury crescent dinner rolls
2 Tbs butter or margarine, melted
4 (snack size) Milky Way or Snickers candy bars

Glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp cocoa
2 or 3 tsp milk
Colored sprinkles

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F.

Separate dough into 8 triangles. Cut each candy bar in half crosswise. Place one candy piece on shortest side of each triangle. Roll up. Start at shortest side and roll to opposite side. Pinch edges of dough to seal. Dip one side in melted butter. Place rolls point side down in ungreased muffin cups. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan. Cool slightly.

In small bowl, combine all glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over warm rolls. Garnish with sprinkles.

Nutritional Information:  Calories 208; Calories from Fat 78; Total Fat 9 g; Saturated Fat 5 g; Cholesterol 11mg; Sodium 212 mg; Total Carbohydrates 30 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Sugars 14 g; Protein 4 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.



Product Talk: Butter Toffee Popcorn


I was so excited to find out that Brookshire’s now carries a line of Microwave Popcorn. 

Popcorn is a food group, after all. 

Gracing the shelves of a store near you are now boxes of Original Butter, Extra Butter, 98% Fat Free and Kettle Corn. Popcorn is a great snack at any time and sometimes a meal when the kids aren’t home. Did I say that out loud? Yes, yes I did. 

Fall is one of my favorite times to make toffee popcorn, like caramel corn but with more of a candy coating and buttery flavor. Over the years, I’ve found that microwave popcorn works best for this recipe, as popping your kernels in oil sometimes doesn’t produce a good popcorn for the coating to adhere to. Plus using microwave popcorn makes the whole process faster. 

You can be sure I’ll be stocking up. 

Butter Toffee Popcorn
Serves 8-10 

Ingredients:
2 bags Brookshire’s Original Butter Microwave Popcorn
2 sticks butter
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease two large rimmed baking sheets and set aside.

Pop the popcorn according to package directions. Vent bag and let cool.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When melted add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, for 3 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thickened. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. The mixture will bubble so be careful. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix slightly until the popcorn is evenly coated.

Turn the popcorn out onto the baking sheets, spreading into an even layer. Bake the popcorn for one hour, stirring and tossing every 20 minutes. Move the bottom tray to the upper rack and vice versa each time you stir. The popcorn will deepen in color and harden a bit as the caramel bakes and sets. Cool the popcorn to room temperature. Store in an airtight container. I’ve found the popcorn will keep, stored tightly, for 1-2 weeks. 

Nutritional Information: Calories 386; Calories from Fat 181; Total Fat 20 g;  Cholesterol 49 mg; Sodium 444 mg; Total Carbohydrates 53 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Sugars 39 g; Protein 1 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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