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Product Talk: Hunt’s Meal Starters


Hunt’s Meal Starters“I have a Product Talk product for you to write about,” Paul told me recently.

Of course, I wanted to know what it was.

Of course, if I was going to write about it, we had to try it.

“It’s kind of tricky to find on the shelves,” he said.

(It was.)

Once we found it, it was definitely worth the search.

Hunt’s Meal Starters are shelved with the canned tomato products. There is Hunt’s Mild Chili Starter, Hunt’s Green Spices for Medium Chili, Hunt’s Chipotle Spices for Hot Chili, and Hunt’s Seasoned Tomato Sauce for Meatloaf.

We picked up the can of the meatloaf starter.

The tomato sauce (Hunt’s premium, of course) is seasoned with all the herbs and spices you’ll need to get a slow-baked meatloaf flavor out of a dish that comes together in 30 minutes. (We made individual loaves and topped them with the sauce.) The sauce gives the meat a slow-cooked flavor, which is a combination of smoky, tangy and savory. It would also be a delicious addition to mix into the meat mixture for your loaf as well as pouring some on top.

I especially loved how it made putting together a meal so quick and simple.

We’ll be trying the other varieties as well.



Product Talk: Green Onions


Green OnionsRaw onions were not my jam.

However, there have been certain events recently that have changed my mind.

I’ve been buying green onions because Paul loves them. Me? Not so much.

Until I got a wild hair and sprinkled them on my baked potato one night.

What had I been missing all my life?

Green onions are long and stalky. You can use the green parts and the white parts. Heck, you can eat them all the way down to the roots if you wish. Green onions are more mild than larger bulb onions. Available year-round, green onions should be chosen for their bright green, firm stalks and fresh scent.

Store them upright in the refrigerator and use them within several days.

I’ve been using them on baked potatoes, in salads, in soups, in my deviled eggs for Easter, in the brine for my Easter ham, sprinkled on tacos and even on my bagel thins on top of a schmear of whipped cream cheese.

The really cool thing about green onions is also a really cool activity to do with your kids. After you’ve chopped off the green parts of the onion, place the white bulbous base, with root pieces still attached, in a glass of shallow water and put it on a windowsill. The green parts will start to rapidly return, and you can get another use or two of the onions without losing flavor. Plus, it’s just fun to watch.



Product Talk: Sirloin Strip Steaks


Sirloin Strip SteaksYesterday afternoon, we went to Brookshire’s to pick out something for dinner.

We didn’t have anything particular in mind (except that I wanted mashed potatoes as a side dish), but we tend to lean toward red meat. Specifically, we tend to be ribeye folks.

Yesterday, salivating over the meat case in Brookshire’s, we saw some lovely sirloin strips.

A sirloin strip, also called the Kansas City Strip steak, is a cut of steak from the short loin around the back midsection of the cow. This particular muscle does little work, producing a tender cut of meat, although not quite as tender as a ribeye or tenderloin.

As far as fat content goes, it’s somewhere in between the aforementioned two cuts.

There is no bone in this cut of steak, just some slight marbling and enough fat to add flavor to the meat. As always, you want to bring it to room temperature before grilling or cooking. Season with salt, pepper and, our favorite, David Wade’s Worcestershire Powder.

For a less expensive price, it was a delicious steak, juicy, tender and full of flavor.



Product Talk: Gevalia Coffee


Gevalia CoffeeI remember when Gevalia coffees were only sold by mail-order. The commercial would come on television with an elegant couple sipping coffee in an elegant location, and you’d have to order from the 1-800 number that flashed across the screen because of course you wanted to be elegant, too.

I love that you can now buy it in Brookshire’s instead. (I feel elegant when I shop at Brookshire’s!)

The distinctive yellow package stands out on the coffee aisle, giving way to rich, smooth blends of coffee inside.

Gevalia, a Swedish brand, has been making coffee for over 150 years. Today, the coffee is available in 30 roast and ground coffees, iced coffees and Keurig® K-Cup® pods.

This morning, I sipped Costa Rica Regular Ground, a medium coffee (the medium varieties supposedly have the most caffeine), and even though I was at my kitchen table in my leggings and T-shirt, I still felt elegant.

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Product Talk: Vanilla Sugar


Vanilla SugarOne of the simplest things to make that will absolutely transform your baking is vanilla sugar.

I use vanilla sugar in place of regular sugar in my pancakes and waffles, in pound cakes and pie fillings, and in a multitude of other ways.

Besides smelling wonderful, vanilla sugar brings that pop into your baking that will leave people wondering, “What is her secret ingredient?”

So, are you ready to make vanilla sugar?

Simply buy a package of vanilla beans from Brookshire’s. They’re usually in the produce section. Vanilla beans look like sticks, as my boys will tell you, and only a few come in a package.

When you take the beans out of the package, use a small, very sharp paring knife to slice partway through the bean, lengthwise. Gently pull the halves apart, and use the side of the knife to scrape the dark “beans” into a Mason jar. Once all of the beans are scraped into the jar, toss the outsides in, too. Fill the jar almost to the top with granulated white sugar. Place the lid tightly on the jar, and give it a good shake. Store the sugar in a cool, dry place and use as needed. It will become more infused with flavor the longer it sits.

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Product Talk: Brookshire’s Pancake Syrup


Brookshire’s Pancake SyrupI tiptoed through the darkened house this morning, dodging pillows, stepping over sleeping boys and crunching rogue Doritos under my feet. It must have been a really good party. Sleepover, that is, as Luke keeps reminding me. “It’s NOT a SLUMBER PARTY, Mom!”

Oops. Note to self: Only girls call a sleepover a slumber party.

I made my way to the kitchen to start breakfast. Luckily, I had read my son and his friends the riot act before retiring to my room last night. They knew it would not be good if I woke up this morning, and they had not gone to bed yet. That’s what happened last time these kids got together, and it made for a really, really long day that day. I hated to return two boys to their parents without any sleep. Truth be told, I think they learned their lesson, as they retired at a reasonable hour last night.

Before I left them alone to play video games, eat Doritos and Hot Tamales, and laugh a lot, one of my son’s friends asked, “Are we having pancakes for breakfast?”

Well, yes! The last time they were here, we went through two pounds of bacon and more pancakes than I could keep up with at the griddle for breakfast.

So, I popped the bacon into the oven (best way ever to cook an entire pound at one time) and heated up the griddle.

Of course, there was Brookshire’s Pancake Syrup to douse over the pancakes.

As the boys were preparing their plates with the usual jocularity and good-natured ribbing, I heard my son ask, “Are you going to drown that pancake in syrup?”

I looked over and his friend had more Brookshire’s Pancake Syrup on his plate than actual food.

“I like it this way!” he said.

Brookshire’s Pancake Syrup has a rich, maple flavor and a thick consistency that clings to your pancakes to enhance them with the perfect flavor.

I’d better buy more for the next SLEEPOVER.



Product Talk: Kraft Oven Fry


Kraft Oven FrySome of my favorite words in the English language are when Paul says, “I’ll cook tonight.”

Not that I don’t love cooking, I do, but I also would climb the highest mountain, swim the longest sea or, you know, walk across the kitchen for one of Paul’s meals.

Not only is Paul a great cook, but it’s SO NICE when someone else plans, shops for and executes dinner. This weekend was extraordinarily busy, so dinner Saturday night had the definite potential to be saltine crackers with the scrapings of the crunchy peanut butter left in my pantry. It feels SO GOOD to hear, “Don’t worry, I’ll handle it.”

Handle it, he did! He always manages to surprise me with what he cooks, using products I’ve never tried before. Kraft’s Oven Fry is one of those products.

Basically, it’s a great way to get a deep-fried taste in your oven without the mess, the fat or the eternal stench of oil that permeates your house with deep-fried foods.

There are many varieties of Oven Fry. We used it for pork, and Paul coated white-meat boneless chops in one beaten egg, then dredged them in Oven Fry. After about 20 minutes in the oven, they were done and came out so crispy that I was in awe. Found near the breadcrumbs, Oven Fry is definitely something I’ll be trying again, maybe on chicken next time for that fried chicken feel.



Product Talk: Fresh Express Sweet Butter Lettuce


Fresh Express Sweet Butter LettuceSalads are a big mealtime staple in my house.

It’s the boys’ favorite way to eat vegetables, and while sometimes we don’t get much variety in our weekly menus, we definitely get variety in our salads, adding different vegetables, fruits and nuts for added nutrients, as well as colors, textures and flavors.

My favorite “base” to the salad is Fresh Express Sweet Butter mix. It’s a blend of green butter lettuce and red leaf lettuce. Green butter lettuce has a sweetness to it that I just love. I also love the crisp, soft texture.

This mix is a great source of vitamins A and K, and also chock full of folate. I’ll often mix this in with Fresh Express Baby Spinach for a punch of iron, too.

Fresh Express bagged salad mixes come in a stay-fresh bag, so your lettuce is crisp and clean when you are ready to eat. There’s no washing, tearing or chopping required, so it really is as simple as just opening the bag and pouring it into a bowl.

I especially like to use mandarin orange sections with sweet butter lettuce; I think the two flavors complement each other well.

You can find Fresh Express Sweet Butter mix and other varieties refrigerated near the produce section of Brookshire’s.



Product Talk: Valencia In-Shell Peanuts


Valencia In-Shell PeanutsLast weekend, Paul and I were puttering around in our usual flurry of Sunday afternoon activity, trying to get our ducks in a row before the beginning of the work week. Generally, we’ll only eat one big meal on Sundays, but we will snack while we’re waiting (and puttering).

Last Sunday, Paul grabbed a bag of Cajun peanuts in the shell when we stopped by Brookshire’s after church to pick up something for dinner.

We tore through those things.

What was especially delicious about the peanuts was that the flavor and the salt weren’t just on the shell, they were infused into the peanuts. We ruminated over the method used to make this happen, and then we just Googled it. I love to Google.

Brookshire’s also sells Valencia In-Shell Peanuts in the produce department. These nuts are raw and just waiting to be infused with flavor and roasted.

We had to try it, and they turned out delicious. Now, take our word for it: roast in small batches. It might take you a lot longer, but you won’t end up with a soggy product. We wanted to do it on the smoker, but we decided we needed the heat from the oven. (It was the right call.)

Valencia Peanuts of Hampton Farms are grown in New Mexico and shipped right after harvest. We brined the nuts in a Cajun brine as well, and I was amazed at how fresh and flavorful they were. We’ll definitely be buying raw peanuts and roasting them ourselves again.

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Product Talk: Hampton Farms Hot Nuts


Hampton Farms Hot NutsWe had an unseasonably warm weekend, so Paul and I planned a porch party (for two). At the end of a long day of errands, we grabbed a comfortable seat in the sunshine and enjoyed the breeze, the melodies of the chimes, the smell of the grill and some Hampton Farms Hot Nuts for an appetizer.

We’d just run into Brookshire’s for some potatoes, you see, but the Cajun Spicy Peanuts were in the produce section and we were, well, hangry. You know, so hungry that it makes you upset? Hangry.

We grabbed the bag, our potatoes and headed home.

Once on the porch with our potatoes baking, we settled in to enjoy the warm weather and the peanuts. Paul tried to carefully contain the shells in a plastic bag, but we were on the porch, so what the heck? I was happy to crack shells and discard them at my feet, like we were eating in a popular chain steakhouse. The wind would take care of them, right?

Hampton Farms Hot Nuts are peanuts sold in the shell. This variety happens to have a Cajun spice. The wonderful part of these nuts is that the flavor is infused in the nut, not just dusted on the shell.

We had to read about how this was accomplished (because we’re going to try it at home with Hampton Farm raw peanuts in the shell, mind you). Basically, they brine the whole nut, in the shell, long enough for the flavor-infused liquid to seep into the nut. Then, they dry them and roast them (that’s a horribly simplified version, but it’s one I can understand!). The Cajun flavoring gets sealed right into the nut, so not only do you get that smoky flavor that you look for in a roasted peanut, but you get a dash of Cajun spice as well.

They are addictive.

So much so that I went back this morning and bought another two bags.

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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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