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Product Talk: Holiday Deli Dinners


Thanksgiving can be an intimidating holiday.

Holiday Deli DinnersJust ask my friend Megan. She’s not a cook. She’s a brilliant attorney and a tri-athlete. She also has three kids under the age of 5. She doesn’t enjoy cooking, though. She’s not very adept at cooking, and she’d rather just skip it all together.

Thank goodness there’s Brookshire’s because, otherwise, Megan’s Thanksgiving holiday would be spent in abject misery, trying to put a meal on the table of which Martha Stewart would approve.

Instead, she can buy a Holiday Deli Dinner from Brookshire’s. For just $49.99 (and you just go ahead and calculate how much money that saves you), you can get a 10 to 12-pound smoked turkey with 2 pounds of cornbread dressing, 2 1/2 pounds of mashed potatoes, 1 pound of giblet gravy and 1 pound of cranberry relish. That will easily feed a family of 8.

If you want to do something different or in addition to turkey (or if you’re looking ahead to Christmas), you can also get a 7 to 9-pound spiral cut ham, 2 1/2 pounds of green bean supreme casserole, 2 pounds of broccoli rice casserole and 2 1/2 pounds of seasoned mashed potatoes for the same price.

All you do is thaw, heat and serve.

This frees up your time to enjoy your holiday, visit with family and friends, (or in Megan’s case, probably run a Turkey Trot race) and relax. These are great for family get-togethers, Friendsgiving, work affairs, potlucks and any other holiday occasion you can think of.



Family Matters: Choosing Your Dog’s Food


Choosing Your Dog's FoodWhen Astro first bounded out of his foster mom’s car onto my driveway, I had two immediate thoughts.

The first was, “Oh my gosh, he’s huge.” The second was, “Oh my gosh, he’s so cute.”

I picked Astro off the SPCA Facebook page. My boys and I were ready to get another dog, and we (I) fell in love with Astro’s soulful eyes and his hound face. We adopted him sight unseen.

We found out later that the SPCA was overjoyed because dogs his size are difficult to adopt out. People tend to be frightened of them, but little do they know that our gentle giant is the kindest, most docile, most loving, most friendly dog in the history of dogs.

Back to the issue at hand though… When we got Astro, he was still a puppy, and he needed puppy food.

You wouldn’t feed your baby a steak, right? So, you don’t want to feed your puppy any food that’s formulated for an adult or senior dog.

Now, I’ll be honest. It probably won’t hurt a dog like a steak would hurt a baby. However, take care of your puppy like you would your baby, and you and your four-legged family member will have lots of good years together.

Puppy formulations are designed to give your dog the best nutrients for growth; to develop the building blocks he needs for a long, healthy life; and to sustain his playful energy.

Brookshire’s Paws Happy Life™ foods have Puppy Formula that will do exactly this for your growing pup.

As your dog grows, he needs more protein, more balance or other formulations to serve him well through his life. Paws Happy Life™ helps with that, offering Butcher’s Choice, Kibbles, Complete, Lamb Meal & Rice, and Nutritionally Complete formulas. Paws Happy Life™ also offers formulations in cans and pouches that your dog will love, including beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, filet mignon and more.

Now that Astro is a 4-year-old, 100 lb. adult, we give him a variety designed to meet his large-breed, adult needs. I can personally attest that he is healthy, happy, and loves his morning and evening meals.



Family Matters: Choosing Your Cat’s Litter


Choosing Your Cat's LitterDuring the years that my boys begged to get a cat and I denied them time and time again, the reason was always that I did not want to mess with a litter box.

Clearly, cat litter technology has changed since the last time I had a cat.

With Brookshire’s Paws Happy Life™ Cat Litter, it’s almost like not even having a cat litter box in the house. Now granted, we have one that is hooded, vented and sealed from almost every angle, but I also use Paws Happy Life™ Lightweight Clumping, Fragrance-Free Cat Litter. I also have a great textured mat by the exit of the box that catches any stray spills.

This cat litter traps all the odors of a cat box and holds them together, making it easy to scoop on a regular basis and keep the cat box clean for Carl, our cat, and also for me (not sure who is more important here).

It’s not messy for either of us. It’s easy to scoop, and it’s virtually odor-free. Lightweight technology means it doesn’t make a mess either in or out of the cat box. Whether you have one cat or more than one, Paws Happy Life™ offers a kind of cat litter that will work best in your home.



Product Talk: National Nachos Day


Today is National Nachos Day, and I hope you’re celebrating.

We are celebrating it.

My kids think the “National Food Holidays” are the funniest things, but go ahead, look it up for yourself.  You’ll see that I’m right.

What better way to celebrate than with a heaping pile of Brookshire’s Tortilla Chips with your favorite toppings?

Brookshire’s is full of products designed to make your nachos as unique as you are.

Start with the chips, of course.

Then, you could add browned ground beef, simmered with taco seasoning. You could add shredded brisket, smoked over the barbecue pit yesterday for Sunday supper. Chorizo is always a good choice! Maybe your protein of choice is diced rotisserie chicken from Brookshire’s deli, or even drained Brookshire’s black beans for a meat-free option. My kids will choose the ground beef every time. I opt for the black beans or a can of fat-free refried beans, myself.

One of my sons likes things spicy; the other does not. For the spice lover, slice up a few jalapeños from the produce section. Just be careful to remove the seeds and pith, and don’t wipe your eyes after you cut them. (I’ve made that mistake too many times.) Or, you could add a can of Old El Paso Diced Green Chiles. They give good flavor, some tang and nice heat without overwhelming spice.

The great thing about nachos is that everyone can have them their own way. If you’re serving them for dinner, you just put out assorted toppings, and everyone creates their own.

My older son loves diced black olives. Younger son? Not so much.

I love mine piled with diced avocado, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato and Brookshire’s Chunky Tomato Salsa. Oh, don’t forget the cheese! I put it on top of the chips, put it under the broiler, and get that all melty before adding the other toppings. I like Brookshire’s Mexican Cheese Blend in the refrigerated section. You can also opt for queso fresco crumbled on top, or melted queso using Velveeta® cheese product and a can of Ro-Tel®.

Finish your nachos off with sour cream, hot sauce and cilantro. Happy National Nachos Day!

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Terrible Twos


Last weekend, I watched my friend’s toddler have a meltdown at a birthday party.

No. No. No. He did NOT want to play the game. He did NOT want the green cupcake; he wanted the BLUE cupcake. He did NOT want to sing the appropriate song to the birthday boy.

It was terribly frustrating, and I’d dare say embarrassing for his parents, yet, at the same time, entirely developmentally appropriate. They certainly weren’t the only ones in that same position. (Sophie had to be taken to the car when there weren’t any PINK cupcakes.)

About the time your little wonder wall hits age 2, they begin to develop defiance, and that’s okay. He’s learning to test his limits, and he’s learning what he likes and does not like. He’s also learning how it’s appropriate to vocalize those likes and dislikes, and it’s up to you to teach him how to set those boundaries.

When your toddler screams with rage when it’s time to leave the playground because he doesn’t want to, it’s not your place to give in. It’s time to leave the playground. You might want to manage his expectations by giving him a countdown. “Joshua, we’re going to leave in 2 minutes.” (Toddlers don’t have a great concept of time, but a countdown can help prepare them). “Joshua, we’re going to leave in 1 minute.” Then, you leave. Don’t backtrack on what you say you’re going to do; be consistent.

If there’s not a pink cupcake, give Sophie options. “You can have the green cupcake, or you don’t get a cupcake. What do you choose?” Chances are, Sophie will pick the green cupcake. Remind Sophie that it’s Bryce’s special day, not hers. When it’s HER special day, SHE can pick the pink cupcake.

Also, keep in mind that your toddler needs to go into situations well-rested and well-fed. Keep him on his schedule. If you’re going to a birthday party, make sure he’s had his nap first and eaten his lunch. If you’re going to an unfamiliar house, pack his favorite foods just in case he needs a backup. (See Gerber’s Lil Entrees, below.)

TIP: Gerber’s Lil Entrees are great meals for your toddler to not only feed himself but also get great nutrition. Gerber’s recipes, with entrees like Chicken and Brown Rice with Peas and Corn, are designed specifically for toddlers, with a taste your little one will love, an easy-to-eat texture and the perfect size for easy self-feeding. If your little one doesn’t like his food touching, like my older son didn’t, Gerber made these entrees with two compartments that keep food separate.



The pincer grasp


The pincer grasp is a big deal for your baby to develop during the latter half of their first year.

The pincer grasp, or using their thumb and pointer finger to pick up objects, is a handy movement used for feeding and grabbing objects when playing.

To encourage use of the pincer grasp, give baby small bites of food, like Cheerios if your baby is ready for that kind of food or soft bits of fruits or veggies otherwise, and let him pick them up off of his high chair tray or plate and eat them. Food is always a good incentive!

Board books with peekaboo flaps are also good for using the pincer grasp as baby has to open the flaps to see what’s inside. Activity boards with slider windows, buttons or other knobs also help develop this skill.

TIP: Organics Happy Baby Clearly Crafted Stage 2 pouches are perfect foods for your little one to enjoy. Thick and smooth, these are specially formulated for the child aged 6 months and up exploring the world of solid foods. These foods are all certified USDA organic, non-GMO project verified, gluten-free and kosher without artificial flavors. They do have delicious flavors like Bananas, Sweet Potato and Papaya; Pears, Squash and Blackberries; Apples, Kale and Avocados; Apples, Guava and Beets; Pears, Pumpkin and Passion Fruit; and Pears, Zucchini and Peas.



Product Talk: Louisburg Apple Cider


Louisburg Apple CiderThis morning, I was sitting out on the patio with my son, watching the sunrise and enjoying the chill in the early-morning October air.

Being that we’re in the South, I know that the cool October mornings bring warm October afternoons. By this time of the month as we head into November, we do get cooler days and definitely cooler nights and mornings. In other words, it’s perfect cider weather!

Louisburg Apple Cider is sold in the produce section at Brookshire’s because it’s just that fresh. Made from apples that come from the Missouri River Valley for the perfect blend of sweetness and tartness, the cider is milled right after the apples are harvested. They are shipped right to the store during peak season (now), so you can enjoy fresh cider during the best part of fall.

Enjoy your cider warm, cool or at room temperature. Stir it with a cinnamon stick, or enjoy with a wedge of lemon.

No matter how you like your cider, you’ll love the flavor of fall in your cup when you enjoy Louisburg Apple Cider available at Brookshire’s.

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Family Matters: Caramel Popcorn


When I was growing up, my mom would make popcorn every night after we went to bed. I suppose it was her treat after surviving the day with five kids.

When I was old enough to be aware of the popping sound coming from the stove downstairs, the sound of the Revere™ Ware pan shaking across the electric elements and, of course, the delicious aroma wafting up the staircase, I vowed that as soon as I was old enough, I’d make popcorn every night, too.

It turns out that I don’t, but that’s okay because my mom will still make it for me every time I go home. I’m pretty sure she even still uses the same pan.

When I was a teenager, I’d stay up with her, and she’d make us each a bowl. We’d talk every evening over our bowl of popcorn. I think some evenings, it was the only time I’d emerge from my room after a busy day of school, field hockey practice and homework. I think some days, it probably served as my main meal of the day, if whatever she left me on a plate under a piece of waxed paper got carefully packaged back up and put in the refrigerator for leftovers if I got home way too tired to heat it up.

It’s funny how I was never too tired for popcorn, though, and for stories about how mean the coach was at practice that day, or how Tina J. had said something rude about Kimberly D’s double-layered socks in the hallway at school, or how frustrating it was to have a bottom locker, or how difficult it was to make it all the way to the math hallway in only 3 minutes after fourth period English class. Mom listened, and munched.

In the fall, she’d make double batches of popcorn at night. The next day, we’d use the cool bowls to make caramel corn. Then, we’d have huge batches of sweet stuff that she’d store in a big, white Tupperware® container that also doubled as a cake plate if you flipped it over and used the lid as the base of the cake plate. This was my brother, Jim’s, favorite way to eat popcorn and what he most often requested for his birthday treat to bring to school for his class, which happened to fall the day after Halloween. We’d package up baggies full of caramel popcorn to send in instead of cupcakes. If my memory serves me correctly, we also packaged up bags of caramel popcorn to send home with guests after his wedding 15 years ago, too.

Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients:
10 cups popped popcorn
salt
1 cup salted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions:
Pop popcorn on stove according to package directions. If using microwave popcorn (use plain, not buttered), pop in package. Salt and let cool.

Melt 1 cup of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, and stir until thoroughly combined. Stirring continuously, bring the butter and sugar mixture to a boil.

Boil for 4 minutes without stirring. Add the vanilla; stir to mix. Boil for 1 more minute, and add the baking soda.

Remove from heat. Spread the popcorn on a baking sheet covered with waxed paper, parchment paper or aluminum foil. Drizzle the caramel over the popcorn. Stir, coating all the kernels. Let cool.

Chef Tip: Store this in an airtight container, or it will get sticky and messy.

If you’d like to make this into popcorn balls, form them into a ball shape right after pouring the caramel over the popcorn. You might want to wear food-grade gloves to protect your hands.

Add Ins: Mix in nuts, marshmallows, chocolate candies or other treats to make a fun, festive snack mix.

Serves 10

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 251, Fat: 19 g (12 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 49 mg, Sodium: 664 mg, Carbohydrates: 21 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 14 g, Protein: 1 g.



Shop the Sale: Homemade Tater Tots


Homemade Tater Tots width=Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Serves: 4

Who doesn’t love tater tots? Seriously. Everyone loves tater tots, and now you can make them yourself with our homemade tater tot recipe! We’re not going to lie and say they’re completely healthy, but with no saturated fat and sans the artificial flavors and preservatives that often come with the store bought kind, these tater tots give you the flavor you crave without the guilt. And with Russet Potatoes on sale, you can feel good about making more than one batch.

Ingredients
Canola oil, for frying
4 russet potatoes, peeled
1 1/2 Tbs salt, plus more for seasoning
1 tsp cracked black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Instructions
In a deep fryer or heavy-bottomed pot, pour enough oil to come halfway up sides of pot. Heat to 375° F. Finely shred potatoes on fine box grater. Season potatoes with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Wait for 5 minutes. Put potatoes in kitchen towel, and squeeze out excess liquid.

Put potatoes in medium-sized bowl along with egg; mix well. Add flour; stir to combine. Stir in cayenne, paprika and garlic powder. Add salt and pepper to taste. (The mixture should be workable but dry.)

Form potatoes into balls or tots. Fry in batches until golden-brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from fryer; drain on paper towel-lined tray. Immediately season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving platter or bowl to serve.

Calories Per Serving: 224, Fat: 2 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 41 mg, Sodium: 2645 mg, Carbohydrates: 47 g, Fiber: 6 g, Protein: 7 g.

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

Chef Tips

The Humble Potato Is Healthier Than You Think
Potatoes – especially white potatoes – get a bad rap. Yes, they’re a high-glycemic carb. Yes, the way most people eat them smothered in butter and sour cream or fried makes them bad for you, but on their own, they’re actually pretty healthy. First they’re high in fiber, fat free and cholesterol free. They’re also low in sodium and high in vitamin C and potassium, and a good source of many other vitamins and minerals. Plus, if you eat enough of them, they can provide all of the amino acids and protein you need in a day.

Healthy Potato Options
While tater tots are a delicious treat to be enjoyed occasionally, there are many other ways to enjoy potatoes without the added fat. A simple, quick way is to microwave or bake potatoes in the oven and top with salsa or other low calorie toppings. You can also bake them (with or without other veggies) for a healthy side, or try them mashed or boiled. Potato salad made with oil and vinegar can also be a healthier alternative to the mayo version.



Product Talk: Stonefire® Tandoor Baked Naan


Stonefire Tandoor Baked NaanThis morning, I was in Brookshire’s picking up breakfast from the deli (scrambled eggs and bacon because I was running too late to cook at home and didn’t want fast food). I noticed the rack of Stonefire® Tandoor Baked Naan hanging right near the deli counter, so I grabbed some for lunch, along with a container of hummus.

The first time I had naan was actually in Luxembourg in Europe at a Indian restaurant. Naan is an unleavened bread, originally from Central and South Asia with a Middle Eastern influence. It’s cooked in a tandoor (a hot, earthen oven), and usually stretched by hand and basted with a ghee, or clarified butter. You use it to scoop up other foods, stuff it or fill it with something else. I think that day in the Indian restaurant, we all piled our naan high with spicy eggplant curries and tandoori chicken.

Today, I just ate it at my desk, breaking off small pieces while I worked and scooping up mounds of savory hummus. It was a delicious snack that sustained me throughout the day.

Stonefire® nann is made in a traditional way with an authentic look and taste. It’s hand-stretched and made in small batches. It’s baked in high heat in a tandoor oven so it has the large bubbles, smoky flavor and airy texture of traditional naan. While it’s made with authentic ingredients such as buttermilk and ghee, it can be frozen and comes two to a package.

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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.

Product Talk

Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.

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Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.

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