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Product Talk: Grits


GritsGrits are one of those things that I’d heard about growing up but never tasted. My mom didn’t like them, so logically, we never really had grits around the house (although, she also hated lima beans but we still ate those).

So, when I finally did taste them, I had a “where have you been all my life?” moment.

Grits are basically ground corn. Native American in origin, they’re commonly eaten as a “porridge” type of breakfast food. (Is anyone else flashing to Goldilocks?) They’re also popular in Southern cooking. Modern grits are commonly made of alkali-treated corn known as hominy.

All that to say, they’re delicious!

Grits come in different varieties. There are some quick-cooking versions and some that take a tad bit longer to cook. There are even “instant” varieties that cook in a minute or two in the microwave. They also come in flavors, like butter.

I tend to use the quick-cooking type, and I add my own butter, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese for a delicious warm breakfast dish.

I also love grits at other times of the day, like at dinner. I tried this recently and it was a huge hit in my house.

Southern Shrimp and Grits

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 1/2 lbs peeled and deveined large shrimp
2 bacon slices, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped green onions, divided
5 cups water
1 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (3 oz)

Directions:
Combine first 3 ingredients; set aside.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic to drippings in pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in shrimp mixture, broth and 1/4 cup green onions; cook 5 minutes or until shrimp are done, stirring frequently.

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually add grits, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, for 5 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in butter and salt. Serve shrimp mixture over grits; sprinkle with cheese and remaining green onion.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 408, Fat: 13 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Protein: 33 g, Carbohydrates: 40 g, Fiber: 2 g, Cholesterol: 246 mg, Iron: 5.1 mg, Sodium: 890 mg, Calcium: 154 mg

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Product Talk: Far East Couscous


ProductTalk_NearEastCouscous_228x173I just love the word “couscous,” don’t you?

Couscous (pronounced koose-koose) is made from tiny grains of pasta and is a staple of cuisines around the world.

Near East makes couscous that only takes minutes to cook on your stovetop and provides 8 grams of protein per serving.

It comes in so many flavors, too! Of course, there is original. My favorite is Parmesan, but there’s also Broccoli and Cheese, Mediterranean Curry, Herbed Chicken, Toasted Pine Nut, Tomato Lentil, Mushroom and Herb, and more.

Couscous is a great side dish to pork chops, steak, chicken and seafood, or it’s great in cold salads, too. 

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Product Talk: Red Curry Paste


Thai SoupI’ve been at my current job almost three months now, three months of torture several times a week as my co-workers carry brown paper bags into the newsroom at lunchtime.

The aromas drifting from those bags are nothing less than heavenly.

Finally, I just asked and was told that there was a little Thai restaurant about two blocks from our office building that is pretty much frequented by EVERYONE who works downtown, plus more. I was also told to call at least an hour in advance if I wanted food because this tiny restaurant stays so busy.

Once I tried it, I knew why the wait was so long! The owners are from Thailand, so the food is as authentic as it comes.

I’d rather go eat there, but when I’m at home, it’s fun to make my own Thai food, too.

One of the ingredients in a lot of Thai cooking is red curry paste.

Red curry paste is basically a blend of roasted red chilies, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, onion, tomato and some other seasoning to make a very flavorful blend. It’s spicy, so you can adjust the amount you use in recipes as needed. You’ll find it with the other Asian foods on your Brookshire’s grocery shelves!

Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
1/4 cup red curry paste
4 cups chicken broth
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1 cup sweet potato or butternut squash, peeled and diced
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce
2 Tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
6 oz rice noodles
2 cups bean sprouts
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup peanuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 green onions, sliced

Directions:
Heat the thick part from the top of the can of coconut milk in a large saucepan over medium heat; add the curry paste and blend until fragrant, about a minute

Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, chicken, sweet potato, peanut butter, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked and the sweet potato is tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the soup. Shred or slice it and optionally puree the sweet potato with a hand blender before returning the chicken to the soup.

Add the mushrooms, red bell pepper and rice noodles, and cook until the noodles are tender, about 5 minutes.

Mix in the bean sprouts; remove from heat and serve garnished with cilantro, chopped peanuts and green onions.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 513, Fat: 31 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (17 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 37 mg, Sodium: 1622 mg, Carbohydrates: 33 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 11 g, Protein: 31 g

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Product Talk: Cheese Ravioli


Cheese Ravioli

My kids love to eat out. We don’t do it often, but when they do, they like to go whole hog: appetizers, dinner and dessert. Well, I have to draw the line somewhere, and they usually choose appetizers over desserts. They’ve loved mozzarella sticks for as long as I can remember, but the last time we went out they chose something new: fried ravioli.
Oh. My. Gosh. Sooooo good.
On New Year’s Eve, we did an “appetizer” dinner, and I made our own fried ravioli using the Brookshire’s recipe. I was amazed how easy it was using a package of frozen cheese ravioli found in the freezer section of your local Brookshire’s. The boys LOVED it and are already asking for them again.

Fried Ravioli

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Brookshire’s Whole Milk
1 egg
3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 (25 oz) pkg frozen cheese ravioli, thawed
1 (16 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
vegetable oil, for frying
1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
In a small bowl, combine milk and the egg. Place bread crumbs and salt in a shallow bowl. Dip ravioli in milk mixture and coat with bread crumbs. In a large saucepan, heat spaghetti sauce over medium heat until bubbling. Reduce heat to simmer. In a large heavy pan, pour oil to a depth of 2 inches.

Heat oil over medium heat until a small amount of breading sizzles and turns brown. Fry ravioli 1 minute on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve immediately with hot marinara sauce.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 691, Fat: 16 g (8 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 99 mg, Sodium: 7108 mg, Carbohydrates: 113 g, Fiber: 13 g, Protein: 30 g

 

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Product Talk: Arnold Sandwich Thins


Arnold Sandwich ThinsEveryone’s trying to get healthier this time of year, so many of us are searching for products that will assist with that goal.

Arnold Sandwich Thins help me with that! I don’t cut carbohydrates (you need carbs for energy), but I do try to scale back where I can (pun intended).

Arnold Sandwich Thins are cholesterol-free, and they have no trans fats or high fructose corn syrup. They’re thin enough that they don’t overpower your sandwich or burger but sturdy enough to support something delicious.

They are low in fat and contain at least 8 grams of whole grains, which makes them heart healthy, and they are a good source of fiber. They’re also a great source of vitamins A, D, E and calcium.

Arnold Sandwich Thins come in Honey Wheat, Flax & Fiber, Whole Grain White, Multi-Grain, Seedless Rye and 100% Whole Wheat.

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Product Talk: Nutella


NutellaWhen I lived in Germany back in the mid-1990s, a hazelnut spread called Nutella was all the rage. It wasn’t unheard of in the United States, but it certainly wasn’t as mainstream as it is now.

There would be pastries filled with Nutella. You’d eat Nutella on toast or as a sandwich (They would. I never went that far). Nutella was everywhere, which makes sense as it has European origins, Italian to be exact. Nutella hazelnut spread was first imported from Italy to the U.S. over 25 years ago by Ferrero U.S.A., Inc. Think of those decadent gold-wrapped orbs of chocolately goodness. (Ferrero Rocher, anyone?)

Nutella is simply a combination of roasted hazelnuts, skim milk and a tiny bit of cocoa. Many mistake it for a chocolate spread, but the richness of the hazelnuts makes it seem that way.

Try Nutella for your s’mores next time you make them! Substitute Nutella for the chocolate bar and enjoy a rich, gooey treat.

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Product Talk: Zatarain’s Dirty Rice


Dirty RiceEvery afternoon while I’m on my way home from work, and my boys are on their way home from school, they text me to ask what we’re having for dinner.

It’s not lost on me that whenever I respond “dirty rice” the series of  happy emoticons they send back is the vast opposite from the silence I get whenever I mention peas or mashed potatoes (neither of which they like).

Last night was such a night.

I got party hats, fireworks, exclamation points and heart emoji when I said two of their favorite words: dirty rice.

We love the Zatarain’s Original Dirty Rice (yes, I buy the family size for just the three of us). I brown one pound of 93/7 ground beef, drain the fat, add 3 ¾ cups water (I omit the extra oil, I don’t think you need it) and voila! About 25 minutes later dinner is served.

Traditional homemade dirty rice is made with chicken livers and gizzards, which gives the dish it’s name. However, I’m not sure I’d get the same happy emoji if I tried to sneak chicken livers into dinner. We’ll stick with Zatarain’s. My older son loves, loves, loves spicy food (he gets that from me) and he adds extra hot sauce to his portion. My younger son doesn’t like anything that “spices his tongue” but the blend of seasonings in the Zatarain’s Dirty Rice mix is just perfect.

Everyone is happy. 

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Product Talk: Dry Powdered Milk


Dry MilkDo you need a last minute holiday gift that’s sure to be enjoyed by all or a hostess gift for your Christmas Eve gathering?

Why not make some homemade cocoa mix? It’s easy, quick and, of course, delicious.

Homemade cocoa mix is made with dry powdered milk, which is basically a manufactured dairy product made by extracting the liquid from milk until…well, it’s dry. Powdered milk is much more shelf stable than regular liquid milk and lasts longer, so it’s great for a drink mix!

Put this in a canning jar and tie it with a bow or attach some candy canes they can use to “stir” their hot chocolate, and you have an instant gift!

The recipe is easily adaptable for different serving sizes. This one makes about 45 servings.

Hot Cocoa Mix

Ingredients:
10 cups dry milk powder
4 3/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar 1 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups powdered non-dairy creamer

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, combine milk powder, confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder and creamer. Stir until thoroughly combined. Store cocoa mixture in an airtight container. Makes about 15 cups of mix, or enough for about 45 servings.

For 1 serving, place 1/3 cup cocoa mixture in a coffee cup or mug, and add 3/4 cup boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Top with a dollop of whipped cream or a few marshmallows, if desired.

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Product Talk: Lunchables


LunchablesI’m sitting on the couch with my two sons right now. They’re playing a video game on the Xbox, and I’m getting some odds and ends finished on my laptop.

“What are you writing?” Luke asked.

“A blog for Brookshire’s,” I said.

“About what?” he asked.

“It’s called Product Talk,” I explained to him, “where we highlight an item you can find in Brookshire’s or Super One Food Stores.”

“Ooooooo, write about Lunchables,” he said.

So, I am.

I discovered Lunchables were created in 1985 to sell more bologna. After a product development specialist for Oscar Meyer ran focus groups, he learned that a primary concern of working parents (primarily mothers) was not having enough time to make lunches. Couple this with the need to sell more bologna and the Lunchable was born. This was in 1985.

As of the last count, there are 26 varieties of Lunchables ranging from ham and cheese with crackers to pepperoni pizza with a Nestle Crunch mini-bar and a Capri Sun pouch drink.

Lunchables range in price from just under $2 to just over $4. They’re pre-packaged and easy to drop into a backpack or lunch sack.

“Did you write about Lunchables?” Luke asked.

“Yep,” I told him.

“That’s so cool,” he said. 

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Product Talk: Salted Caramel Coffee Creamer


Coffee CreamerWho doesn’t love a great cup of coffee house coffee, especially with all the festive holiday flavors?

Who also doesn’t love a homemade gift, just in time for Christmas?

You can have both with this easy and delicious recipe featuring sweetened condensed milk.

Sweetened condensed milk is milk from which the water has been removed. In this case, sugar has been added so it’s a super sweet, concentrated form of milk. You’ll find it canned, usually on the baking aisle at your local Brookshire’s. It’s great for baking and for this delicious homemade creamer!

Salted Caramel Coffee Creamer 

Save money and make your own coffee creamer at home! Check out this yummy recipe:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
4 Tbsp caramel ice cream topping
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk

Directions:
Add sweetened condensed milk to a Mason jar.
Add in caramel sauce and salt.
Stir or shake to mix well before you add the milk.
Add milk and stir gently.

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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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