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Family Matters: Baby Love


One of my very best friends had a baby this week.

I got to be there with her when that beautiful little girl made her entrance into the world.

I’m not sure my friend realized how much it meant to me to be there.

For me personally, there is no greater validation of the presence of God than watching the birth of a baby. The sheer miracle that is 6 pounds, 11 ounces of perfect person is overwhelming.  The sheer miracle that is the human body, producing another human body, is overpowering. How perfectly everything works in glorious orchestration is awe inspiring.

I got to watch that sweet little girl take her first breath. I heard the mewling kitten-gasps of her first sounds and was there when she pried her eyes open for her first look into her mama’s face.

I’m not that sweet baby’s mother; I’m not even a blood relative, but witnessing and sharing in her birth has given me a bond with this little girl (and her mother). It’s a good reminder that family doesn’t always mean bonded by blood. Family means bonded by love.



Product Talk: Baking Soda


If baking soda isn’t a miracle ingredient, I’m really not sure what is.

Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, is a white solid that is often found in powder form. I was first introduced to baking soda in the form of a leavening agent in my mom’s chocolate chip cookies.

However, in ancient times, it was used more as soap.

It seems the uses for baking soda are endless.

It’s in toothpaste. It’s in homemade laundry detergent. It’s in deodorants, shampoos and can be mixed into a cup of warm water to drink to aid indigestion.

Aside from the bounty of baked goods, I love baking soda as a cleaning agent. I’ve used it to remove buildup from my bathroom vanity that gets a bit crusted with hair product. I’ve used it to soak my showerheads and remove build-up there, too. I make a paste of baking soda and water to clean my porcelain and lined bathtubs.

But, I really love to use it as a drain cleaner, and so do my boys. Anything that gets my kids to help me clean is a positive in my book.

The drain in my bathtub gets clogged easily but not in the boys’ bathroom…gee…I wonder why (as I twirl my very long hair around my finger).

I’ll pull out the drain stopper and remove the wadded up hair. (EEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW…that’s the part the boys won’t help me with). But then I run a little warm water down the drain and turn off the water. I pour about half a cup of baking soda into the drain, then let the boys pour in some white vinegar.

It bubbles and fizzes and is all kinds of fun.

Continue pouring small amounts of vinegar into the drain until it no longer fizzes. Let sit for about 15 minutes, flush with hot water and there you have it  – fast-running drains without chemicals to corrode your pipes.

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Posted in: Product Talk


Product Talk: Going Gluten Free


Gluten-Free Ginger Rice CrunchA lot of people these days are finding they are intolerant to gluten. Others are just avoiding it because they feel better without it.

Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.

People with Celiac’s disease cannot process gluten and it causes all kinds of distress for their systems.

Luckily, the number of gluten-free products available at Brookshire’s these days is phenomenal.

This is a quick and easy snack recipe to make with a gluten-free product you can find on any grocery store shelf.

Gluten-Free Ginger Rice Crunch
Serves: 24

Ingredients:
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger or cardamom
6 cups Rice Chex cereal (gluten-free)
1 cup dried banana chips
1 cup unblanched whole almonds
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries or dried pineapple

Directions:
Heat oven to 250° F. Spray large roasting pan with cooking spray. In 1-quart saucepan, heat brown sugar, butter, honey and ginger to boiling. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Into roasting pan, mix cereal, banana chips, almonds and coconut. Stir in brown sugar mixture until evenly coated.

Bake 50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on waxed paper or foil; cool about 15 minutes. Place in serving bowl; stir in cranberries. Store in airtight container.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 140, Calories from Fat: 70, Total Fat: 7 g, Cholesterol: 5 mg, Sodium: 85 mg, Total Carbohydrate: 18 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 10 g, Protein: 2g

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



Family Matters: Puppy Points


When my older son, Curt, was in first grade, he played soccer for the first time.
Let’s just say it didn’t go so well. He didn’t want to practice; he didn’t want to go to games; it was all very overwhelming for him.

But in our family, when you make a commitment to do something you try your best to stick it out.  We decided to offer Curt the chance to earn something he wanted most of all – a little puppy he could pick up. We had a bigger dog, Jill, but she was rambunctious and high-energy and Curt couldn’t corral her at that stage in life. He wanted a small-breed dog he could carry with him.

So he began to earn “puppy points.” He could earn up to two points per practice and game, not if he played well, but if he tried hard and gave it 100 percent. He had to earn a certain number of points over the course of the season to get his puppy.

Low and behold, Curt earned his puppy points and he picked out Tickles, a Morkie (Maltese-Yorkie mix) from a litter we’d found locally.

Tickles went everywhere with Curt. Curt would just scoop up that fluffy little puppy and tote him around like a toy. Fully grown, Tickles is now only about 12 pounds. But the vet told me recently that you really have to be careful about the weight on small dogs. Dogs can pack on the holiday pounds too, you know.
But here are some tips to keep your pooch fit and trim so they can lead a healthy, happy and long life:

• Don’t feed them table scraps and people food. They don’t need it and it’s not really a treat – it’s just fattening.
• Pay attention to the serving size on your dog’s bag of food. You don’t need to give a small dog an entire big bowl of food every day.
• Keep your pet active – take them on a walk every day or provide a green space for running.
• It’s OK to leave your pet outside during the day in mild weather. They tend to get more exercise outside.
• Give them a chew toy instead of a treat as a reward for good behavior.
• Send your children outside to play with the dog. Both get good exercise that way.
And don’t forget the love – a well-loved and cared for dog is the most happy and healthy.



Shop the Sale: Pizza Chicken


If left to their own devices, my boys would eat pizza for every meal, every day.  I can only imagine when they grow up and go off to college or get a job, or whatever they do that puts them out on their own, they’ll eat pizza every opportunity they can.  I, however, cannot and will not eat pizza that often, but I do try to incorporate the flavors into other dishes.

Thus “Pizza Chicken” was born. I make this in the slow cooker so it’s ready when we get home from school/work/karate on Tuesday nights. You could serve it over pasta if you wanted; I usually let it stand on its own with a side salad.

Chicken is on sale this week at Brookshire’s – making it easy and affordable to get this meal on the table in no time!

My Boys’ Pizza Chicken

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 oz turkey pepperoni, chopped
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except cheese in slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 5 to 6 hours. Right before serving, sprinkle with cheese. Let melt. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 613 Calories from Fat: 175 Total Fat: 19 g Cholesterol: 175 mg Sodium: 1729 mg,Total Carbohydrates: 52 g, Dietary Fiber: 14 g, Protein: 66 g



Healthy Living: Roasted Brussel Sprouts


Although it’s only early December, we probably all have a few more big meals under our belts than we’d want to.

I am also guessing that most of us are already thinking about New Year’s resolutions, and getting healthier, blah, blah, blah. Pass the shortbread.  But in all seriousness, there are so many delicious foods that are good for you, too.  And healthy.

Brussel sprouts are one of them.

NO! COME BACK! DO NOT NAVIGATE AWAY FROM THIS PAGE.

I’m being serious.

Brussel sprouts get a bad rep.

I’m not really sure how, to be honest, although they can be a little chewy if cooked improperly. Never fear, it’s time to make peace with this miniature member of the cabbage family.

Brussel sprouts, as with broccoli, contain sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anticancer properties. Although boiling reduces the level of the anticancer compounds, steaming, microwaving, and stir frying do not result in significant loss.

Brussel sprouts and other brassicas are also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.

They are loaded in vitamin K.

So eat some.

Now.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Dash salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tbs olive oil
2-3 cups brussels sprouts, sliced in half

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 375° F.

Whisk together the vinegar, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Slowly incorporate the olive oil until a dressing is formed.

Place the brussel sprouts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle the oil and vinegar over the sprouts and gently toss to coat.

Bake for 25 minutes, turning once. Sprouts are done when they are lightly browned.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 44, Calories from Fat: 32,Total Fat: 4 g, Cholesterol: l0 mg,Sodium: 6 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 3 g, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 1 g, Protein: 1 g



Dine-In: Steak and Guinness Pie


Steak and Guinness PieIt was a dark and stormy night…

Oh wait, it wasn’t stormy.

Let me try again.

It was a dark and…chilly? Dark and autumnal? Dark and, oh, well never mind.

It was a dark Friday night in the fall (or winter, or spring, or summer).

I was hungry. The leaves were turning colors and the air was crisp. It was the perfect night to snuggle on the couch and watch a movie. It was the perfect night to stay home instead of fighting the crowds at football games or restaurants.

It was the perfect night for Steak and Guinness Pie.

Steak and Guinness Pie
Serves 6

Ingredients:
4 slices bacon
1 lb beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 oz mushrooms, quartered
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can Guinness Beer
1 cup beef stock
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs thyme, chopped
1 Tbs rosemary, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 pie crusts
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg
1 Tbs water

Directions:
Cook the bacon and set aside leaving the grease in the pan. Add the beef and brown on all sides and set aside. Add the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the Guinness and deglaze the pan.

Add the stock, bacon, beef, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the beef is tender, about 2-3 hours. Place the first pie crust into the bottom of a pie plate and pour the beef stew in. Sprinkle the cheese over the beef stew and cover with the top pie crust. Mix the egg and water and brush it onto the top of the pie crust. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven until golden brown on top, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 752, Total Fat: 44 g, Cholesterol: 146 mg, Sodium: 1337 mg, Carbohydrates:  35 g, Dietary Fiber: 2 g, Sugars: 3 g, Protein: 44 g

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



Dine-In: Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers


Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers Sometimes my brain works in strange ways.  Try to follow me (it’s OK if you don’t. I don’t always understand my train of thinking after-the-fact).

I love stuffed peppers; I’ve blogged about them before.  And I love chicken fajitas. (I’ve never blogged about those before).

Somehow, somewhere, I came up with the idea of marrying chicken fajitas and stuffed peppers.

Are you following me? If so, you’re much faster than I am.

I guess the common denominator is the peppers. You use peppers for fajitas and peppers for stuffed peppers. As my 10-year-old would say, “Duh.”

I love this combination because it’s a festive meal for a Friday night with the family and can be prepared in a slow cooker if you choose.

All you need to start with is a base recipe of Salsa Chicken, which is so easy and so delicious and so versatile. Prepare a virtual vat of Salsa Chicken to have handy for recipes like Fajita Chicken Stuffed Peppers, chicken soft tacos, enchiladas and nachos.

Salsa Chicken
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4-6 boneless, skinless, frozen chicken breasts
1 (16 oz) jar medium salsa or picante sauce.

Directions:
Place both ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook, on low, for about 6 hours. Remove the chicken, leaving all the other juices in place. Shred chicken with two forks. Place back in slow cooker on low for two hours.

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers 

Ingredients:
One batch Salsa Chicken (4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts with 1 16-oz jar salsa)
4 large green bell peppers, cored and seeded, with just tops removed
1 large onion, diced
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 small can chopped green chilies, diced
2 corn tortillas, torn into pieces

Directions:
Remove the tops from green peppers. Core and seed, leaving the flesh of the peppers in tact.

Combine chicken, onion, cheese, cream cheese, green chilies and torn tortilla pieces. Stuff mixture into green bell peppers.

Place in slow cooker for 3-4 hours or oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

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

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Shop the Sale: White Beans and Ham


I was cleaning out my freezer recently and I found leftover ham. From Easter.

I promptly defrosted it, diced up the leftovers and served it baked into macaroni and cheese.

I also promised myself I wouldn’t cook ham only at Easter any more. It’s so versatile and there are always great ways to repurpose leftovers.

I was excited this week to see that Double-G Brands Ham Portions are on sale at Brookshire’s. I have just the recipe waiting for the succulent and smoky ham! I also love using my slow cooker during the summer because it doesn’t heat up my entire kitchen.

White Beans and Ham for the Slow Cooker
Serves 8

Ingredients:
1 (10 oz) bag dried Great Northern Beans
1 to 2 lbs Double-G Brands Ham Portions, Bone In
1 white onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbs pepper
1 Tbs dried thyme
1 Tbs rosemary
1 tsp ground cumin
water

Directions:
Wash beans carefully and place in slow cooker.

Remove ham from bone and dice. Place in slow cooker with beans.

Add ham bone, carrots, celery, onion and spices to the slow cooker and cover with water about an inch higher than ingredients.

Cook on high heat 6 to 8 hour or low 8 to 10 hours.

Note: Monitor the water level when cooking as beans will absorb much of the liquid.

Nutritional Information: Calories 195; Calories from Fat 24; Total Fat 3g; Cholesterol 27mg; Sodium 708mg; Total Carbohydrates 26g; Dietary Fiber 8g; Sugars 2g; Protein 18g

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



Product Talk: Turkey Roll Ups


Turkey lunchmeat always reminds me of school lunches.

My mom would make the best turkey sandwiches for my Holly Hobbie metal lunchbox. I don’t really know if putting lunchmeat on white bread with mustard constitutes making a great sandwich, but I do know it was always one of my favorites.

Turkey sandwiches remain my favorite to this day. I’ve discovered the quality of the turkey lunchmeat you buy definitely does make for a better sandwich. I love Brookshire’s Hickory Smoked turkey breast. The flavor of the tender lunch meat is enhanced by the hickory smoke.

I don’t always take a turkey sandwich with me to work (and I don’t carry a Holly Hobbie lunch kit any more either) but I love to use turkey in these delicious roll-ups for dinners. Leftovers ARE great for lunches!

Turkey Roll Ups
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 burrito-sized flour tortillas
1 lb Brookshire’s Hickory Smoked turkey breast
8 Tbs Food Club cream cheese, flavored with onions and chive
8 strips bacon, cooked crisp
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 Tbs olive oil

Directions:
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion. Cook over medium heat until onion begins carmelizes, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spread each tortilla with 2 tablespoons of cream cheese, top with one-fourth of the turkey breast, two strips of bacon and one-fourth of the carmelized onions.

Roll up and enjoy!

Nutritional Information: Calories 614; Calories from Fat 299; Total Fat 33g; Cholesterol 100mg; Sodium 2493mg; Total Carbohydrates ; 39g; Dietary Fiber 2g; Sugars 3g; Protein 35g

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



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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.

Healthy Living

Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.

Shop the Sale

On Wednesdays, get a tip or idea on using an item in the circular.

Family Matters

Ideas for the whole family come to you every Thursday.

Dine In

Stop fighting the crowds, save money and dine in, every Friday.

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