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Product Talk: Quaker Instant Grits


Quaker Instant GritsI’m enjoying a new phase in life, one where I don’t have to eat breakfast in my car during an hour-long commute.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t want a quick, easy breakfast. Mornings still involve wrangling two boys into school clothes, making sure they’re brushed, washed and fed, packing their lunches and backpacks, and getting out the door in time for morning tutorials and study halls.

Now, I love grits. They’ve been a recently-acquired taste within the past few years or so. I love making them homemade on the weekends for breakfast with a dash of hot sauce and black pepper, or with shrimp and tomatoes for dinner.

I recently saw individual serving sizes of instant Quaker grits at Brookshire’s, and I decided to try them. You can either add boiling water to the handy (ie, no dishes required) to-go container, or add water and microwave. I prefer the first method.

They are so delicious that you’d never be able to tell they are “instant,” but instant, they are. I can have breakfast ready in two minutes. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Product Talk: Smithfield Country Ham Center Slices


Smithfield Country Ham Center SlicesI had no idea what this product was when my boyfriend brought it to my house not too long ago.

However, it’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s slivers of ham cut from the center and end of a larger roast.

These would be perfect to pan-fry for breakfast along with eggs and biscuits, or slice and wrap around asparagus spears and grill. They’d also be good in biscuits or in a hearty sandwich.

We did something a little different with it. Paul cleaned and snapped about a pound of fresh green beans. He sprayed a piece of heavy-duty foil with nonstick cooking spray and put the beans on top. He then sliced a piece of the ham into chunks and mixed that into the beans with a little black pepper, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and a few tablespoons of water. He closed the foil, making a tight packet, and he grilled it on high heat for several minutes until the beans were steamed, tender and perfectly flavored with the ham.

Delicious!



Product Talk: Swanson Chicken Stock


Spanish RiceOf course, you can make soup with chicken stock, but it’s also really good in rice!

I’d always searched for a Spanish rice recipe that was like the kind you get when you eat in a Mexican restaurant, but hadn’t had any luck, until now.

The chicken stock adds a rich flavor to this rice but so does toasting the rice before adding the stock. You start this rice almost like you would a risotto, but the cooking method is different. It still produces a flavorful, rich finished product with a nutty taste and full flavor.

The chicken stock permeates the rice and gives it a great taste.

Spanish Rice

Ingredients:
3 Tbs butter
1 lb long-grain rice
1/3 cup onions, finely chopped
32 oz Swanson Chicken Stock
1/2 cup picante sauce

Directions:
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add raw rice and stir to coat. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice begins to toast. Add onions. Stir frequently until onions become translucent. Add chicken stock and picante sauce. Cover pan and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and leave pan on the burner for 18 minutes. Do not open the lid.

Remove from burner, fluff rice and let rest. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 260, Calories from Fat: 43, Fat: 5 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 11 mg, Sodium: 344 mg, Potassium: 73 mg, Carbohydrates: 47 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 6 g

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



Product Talk: Ultra Thin Crust Pizza


Brookshire's Ultra Thin Crust PizzaIt happens about once a month.

I get an intense craving for Brookshire’s Ultra Thin Crust Pizza. I could eat the whole thing by myself. (I don’t, but I could.)

The ultra thin crust pizzas, found with the frozen pizzas in the store, are my absolute favorite. They cook quickly in about 9 minutes (which is faster than going through the drive-thru at most local eateries), and they are so delicious that you’d think your oven had just transformed into a wood-fired, outdoor hearth in the heart of Rome.

The ultra thin crust is like a crispy cracker, but it’s still firm enough to support a savory tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and lots of pepperoni (both chunks and slices).

I gave into my craving last night, and it was so worth it!

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Product Talk: Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese Singles


Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese SinglesMy 11-year-old is on this mac and cheese kick that can’t be stopped. He wants it for his snack every day after school. Every. Single. Day.

That’s fine. Mac and cheese and a piece of fruit tide him over until dinner.

I was making big batches of mac and cheese on the weekends and letting him heat up a serving in the afternoon, but then I saw individual serving containers at Brookshire’s. They are the perfect amount for a hungry guy in the afternoon, and best of all, he can make them himself in the microwave.

All he does is open the container, fill it with water to the marked line, microwave, and then stir in the pouch of cheese sauce. He loves being able to do it himself, and he loves the creamy, cheesy flavor of Velveeta.

It reminds me of my college days when my best friend, Kathy, and I used to make Velveeta Shells and Cheese in our hot pot in our dorm room every Tuesday because our class schedule kept us from making it to the dining hall for lunch.

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Product Talk: Trail Mix


Brookshire's Trail MixI get the mid-morning tummy grumbles something fierce. Mid-afternoon, too, if we’re being honest.

I don’t want a lot to eat. A piece of fruit is always a good choice but so is Brookshire’s Trail Mix.

The Cajun mix is my favorite, with Sweet Chips and Nuts coming in a close second.

The Cajun mix has nuts, sesame sticks and all kinds of spicy, crunchy goodness. The only problem with that is that I can’t eat just one handful. I have to hide the bag from myself sometimes.

The Sweet Chips and Nuts mix has peanuts, raisins, milk chocolate and peanut butter chips, almonds, cashews and dried cranberries.

There’s Traditional (with M&M’s!!!) and Tropical (I trade my kids the banana chips for the dried mango chunks.), too.

The best thing is that the trail mixes are a healthier snack than eating a cookie or chips. It’s filling, satisfies sweet and salty cravings, and is delicious!

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Product Talk: Red Diamond Tea


Red Diamond TeaWhere’s a girl to get unsweet tea around these parts?

Brookshire’s, of course.

I know I might be the only person in the Lone Star State who doesn’t drink sweet tea, but I like my tea crisp and devoid of any kind of sweetener.

At Brookshire’s, I can get Red Diamond Tea already brewed in a gallon or in a 12-ounce bottle (I pack those in my lunch.) without having to worry about it being sweet.

Of course, if I wanted it sweet, Red Diamond has that, too.

Red Diamond is freshly brewed right before it’s bottled for a clear, distinct flavor. The tea always tastes fresh and is never muddy.

I even love grabbing a bottle on-the-go from the refrigerated section near the juice and drinking it on the way home.

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Product Talk: Talenti Gelato


Talenti GelatoI’ve told you before that I lived overseas for almost four years after I graduated from college.

While I lived in a small hamlet in Germany, I was able to travel extensively.

One of the places I loved the most was Italy. I think it’s genetic; my maiden name is “Brocato,” after all. My dad’s family is from Sicily; my mom’s family is scattered around Northern Italy. I’ve got all kinds of Italian heritage.

My ancestry really is neither here nor there; anyone can enjoy Italy (and should!). In fact, there’s a grotto restaurant on the Mediterranean Sea that I want to bring my boyfriend, Paul, to someday. He’s Irish. Again, that doesn’t matter.

One of the most magnificent things about Italy (aside from the ancient architecture, history, landscapes, art and culture) is the food. I could die happy if I could spend a year in Tuscany learning authentic Italian cooking. I could also probably die happy just eating there.

I will never forget my first visit to Florence. It was there, in the shadows of the Ponte Vecchio on a medieval arch bridge over the Arno River, that I experienced gelato for the first time. Gelato is a combination of ice cream and sherbet in a light, airy, rich and creamy frozen dessert. It was heavenly. I had an espresso flavor and marveled over the dichotomy of light and rich.

Brookshire’s has recaptured that moment for me, in the form of Talenti Gelato. Found in the frozen section (duh), the gelato conjures up that warm spring afternoon on the bridge in Florence. Talenti Gelato is made from scratch with only the finest ingredients imported from around the world, according to the company’s website. They start with fresh milk straight from the farm and fine, pure cane sugar – absolutely never high-fructose corn syrup. They hand-pour the sugar from large sacks, blend in the milk and add the finest ingredients sourced from all around the world to craft their 26 flavors of gelato and sorbetto, their website confirms.

My taste buds confirm this is true.

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Product Talk: Frozen Meatballs


Frozen MeatballsThis year, for the first time in a long time, I was invited to a Super Bowl party. I’m not sure if the invites tapered off because (1.) I’m not a huge football fan, (2.) I’m known to fall asleep before 8pm or (3.) because I’m not a good cook and no one wants my potluck dish.

Okay, we can eliminate No. 3, but No. 1 and 2 are viable reasons.

However, I was invited this year (I didn’t fall asleep and I knew which two teams were playing), and I brought a delicious antipasto platter that was scarfed up immediately.

My friend, Mathilda, made a dish that took the basic cocktail meatball to a whole new level, though. These bite-sized appetizers were delicious.

I can’t wait to try them myself.

Cheesy Meatball Cups

Ingredients:
2 (8 oz) cans crescent rolls
flour, for dusting
5 oz queso fresco, crumbled
16 frozen meatballs
1/2 cup garlic spaghetti sauce
1 Tbs fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Prepare two muffin tins (16 molds total) with nonstick cooking spray.

Extend dough on a lightly floured surface. Pull apart dough triangles and press each inside a muffin mold, covering the bottom of mold and pressing up the sides.

Sprinkle each dough cup with 1 teaspoon shredded cheese. Place a meatball on top of cheese, lightly pressing into the dough.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and top with 1 teaspoon of sauce and 1 teaspoon shredded cheese. Place back in the oven and bake for 10 more minutes, or until dough is golden-brown and the cheese bubbles.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 170, Calories from Fat: 86, Fat: 10 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 13 mg, Sodium: 465 mg, Potassium: 10 mg, Carbohydrates: 14 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 6 g

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



Product Talk: Smart Ones Breakfast Quesadillas


Smart Ones Breakfast QuesadillasI have high standards for my breakfast.

First of all, it has to be delicious.

Second, it has to be portable. I eat in the car. Not ideal, but such is life.

Third, it has to be nutritionally sound. I never know what my day is going to bring, so I have to have the proper fuel for whatever comes my way.

Enter Smart Ones Breakfast Quesadillas.

They are delicious. I love how the egg and the cheese get all warm and melty, and the turkey bacon provides a nice textural contrast. The red and green peppers are pretty, too.

I can eat them in the car without trashing my vehicle. No crumbs, no mess, no spills. They also only take a little over two minutes in the microwave, so I can grab it as I’m walking out the door.

They are nutritionally sound. Each quesadilla contains 230 calories with 7 grams of fat, 7 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein.

Really, what more could you ask for?

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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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