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Healthy Living: Spicy Basil

I have two herbs that grow in containers on my back porch: rosemary and spicy basil.

I first purchased the spicy basil by accident, grabbing for regular basil and probably distracted by a kid or two. But, I love it and it’s now a favorite I won’t ever give up.

Spicy basil is basil that is…well, spicy. Profound, huh? Spicy basil, or “spicy globe basil,” can also be called “green basil” and is hugely popular in Europe, although it originated in India. It features small leaves, tender stems and huge flavor. You can use spicy basil in anything you’d use regular basil for and as Chef Emeril Lagasse says, it will “kick it up a notch.”

Studies have shown that compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidant, antiviral and antimicrobial properties, as well as a potential use in treating cancer. Basil is also traditionally used for herbal treatment of stress, asthma and diabetes.

Spicy Basil Chicken
Serves 4

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 large shallot, minced
1.25 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp chili paste, like sambal oelek
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp water
1.5 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup spicy basil leaves, sliced

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; swirl to coat. Add shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken and garlic to pan. Cook 8-10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, whisk the fish sauce and the next 6 ingredients (through cornstarch) together in a small bowl. Add fish sauce mixture to cooked chicken, and cook for 1 minute or until mixture thickens, stirring to coat chicken. Remove from heat and stir in basil.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 340, Calories from Fat: 132, Fat: 15 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 127 mg, Sodium: 983 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 43 g

Family Matters: Pets

A few years ago, I got a box in the mail that was labeled “Living Contents. Open Immediately.”

Intrigued (and thankful I was home at the time of delivery), I ripped into the box.

Inside was the most wonderful gift!

My mom had sent my boys a “Grow-A-Frog” kit. Along with a clear plastic aquarium, a lid and special food, there was a baggie of two tiny tadpoles.

The boys wanted to get started immediately, so we carefully rinsed the aquarium and set it up to be the tadpoles’ new home.

Over the next months, we watched the tadpoles develop into frogs. We saw them grow tiny legs, develop a distinct head, lose their “tails” and finally morph into two good-sized frogs!

We eventually found new homes for the frogs in a friend’s pond, but then we ordered new tadpoles and repeated the process.

The joy of the pet tadpoles came in the daily discovery and the renewed wonder in my boys’ eyes each day. It’s definitely one of the best gifts we’ve ever received.

Shop the Sale: Unfried Catfish with Lemon Cream

A few years ago, my son was invited to a friend’s birthday party. They were in preschool at the time, and when the invitation arrived, it was in the shape of a large fish. I thought it was going to be a fishing party.


The party was a catfish fry for a 5-year-old. It turns out that fried catfish was the birthday boy’s very favorite meal, so he patterned his party after his favorite fish.

 In all honesty, my son liked the bounce house and birthday cake better than he did the catfish, but the adults, on the other hand, were gathered around the deep fryer to grab a golden nugget of catfish as soon as it cooled down enough to eat.

This recipe doesn’t require a deep fryer, and catfish fillets are on sale at Brookshire’s this week.


Spicy “Fried” Catfish with Lemon Cream
Serves 6


6 (6 oz) catfish fillets
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
4 egg whites
Vegetable cooking spray

Lemon Cream:
1 (8 oz) ctn light sour cream
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
Stir together all Lemon Cream ingredients until blended. Cover mixture and chill until ready to serve.

Sprinkle catfish evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Set aside.

Combine bread crumbs, parmesan, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper in a shallow bowl.

Whisk egg whites in a shallow bowl until frothy. Dip fillets in egg whites and dredge in bread crumb mixture.

Arrange fillets on a wire rack coated with cooking spray in an aluminum foil-lined 15 x 10 jellyroll pan. (Do not overlap fillets.) Lightly coat fillets evenly on both sides with cooking spray.

Bake at 375° F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until fish is golden brown. Serve with Lemon Cream. Garnish, if desired.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 337, Fat: 10 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Protein: 35 g, Carbohydrates: 25 g, Fiber: 1 g, Cholesterol: 118 mg, Iron: 1 mg, Sodium: 480 mg, Calcium: 93 mg

Dine In: Zucchini Treats

Zucchini ChipsWhenever I get stumped for something new to make on a Friday night, I poll my friends via Facebook. I’m never disappointed with the variety of fun foods they can conjure up for a Friday night staycation.

My Facebook friend Lauren has been on an inspiring weight loss journey. In response to my latest query (which specified that friends could NOT list pizza as a Friday night favorite), she said she loves finger foods on Friday nights (me too!). She used to fry up jalapeno poppers or egg rolls, but now, after losing weight, beginning to exercise and remembering to treat her body as a temple, she prefers healthier fare. She’s discovered that you don’t have to give up fun finger foods for health. She reports that she recently made zucchini chips and was going to try zucchini tots this weekend!

With the abundance of this delicious vegetable this time of year, it’s easy to work these tasty treats into your weekend repertoire.

Zucchini Chips
Serves 2

3 medium zucchinis
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 275°F.
Slice the zucchini into 1/8″ slices.
Coat the slices with olive oil, salt and pepper.
On a parchment-lined baking sheet, lay out the zucchini slices in a single layer.
Bake for 30 minutes, flip the zucchini slices over and bake for 30 more minutes. Keep a close eye on the oven, as cooking time varies depending on slice thickness. The chips should be golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 168, Calories from Fat: 131, Fat: 15 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 1192 mg, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 5 g, Protein: 4 g

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Posted in: Dine In, Produce

Dine In: Garlic Cheese Flat Bread

Garlic Cheese Flat BreadLast Wednesday night, my man and I were sitting around talking about, well, food. We’d just eaten dinner. I’m not sure why we felt the need to talk about food again so soon, but since it’s a favorite topic of mine, we rolled with it. It started with seafood, what kinds we liked the best (scallops were a favorite for us both; lobster and crab also made the cut). He likes escargot. I couldn’t go as far as to say I LIKE it (it’s more of a mental thing for me), but then he mentioned that he pretty much likes anything cooked in garlic and butter.

“Add cheese to that and it would be perfect,” he said. “Cheese, garlic and butter. That’s all I’d need.”

Now, some would say garlic isn’t the best ingredient for a date night dish, but I firmly believe that since the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, that trumps garlic. Besides, if you both eat the same thing, wouldn’t it cancel each other out?

Garlic Cheese Flat Bread
Serves 12

1 (13.8oz) package refridgerated pizza crust
1/4 cup butter, melted
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh basil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Lightly grease a 10×15 baking sheet. Press dough on to prepared baking sheet. Combine butter, garlic and basil in a small bowl; drizzle over dough. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese, Romano cheese and parmesan cheese.

Bake in preheated oven until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Nutriontal information: Calories Per Serving: 186, Fat: 10 g, Cholesterol: 27 mg, Sodium: 388 mg, Carbohydrates: 16 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 8 g

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Posted in: Dine In

Shop the Sale: Peaches and Nectarines

When I lived in Germany, I thought I was SO COOL because I used to be able to say, “Oh, I went to France for lunch today,” with an air of nonchalant insouciance suitable for having motored across the border for a Sunday lunch.

In reality, I only lived 40 minutes from the borders of France or Luxembourg, so going to France for lunch was actually closer than getting to the nearest metroplex from where I currently live.

Don’t get me wrong; going to France for lunch was a treat. We used to drive over to Metz, France, which is known for its amazing antiques. When I moved back stateside from Germany years later, I left with many an antique from the Metz markets.

There was a little bistro we used to visit in Metz (try as I might, I cannot remember the name). The bread was heavenly, the roasted chicken divine and the pastries out of this world, especially the peach galette.

A galette, in my terms, is a messy pie. In official I-went-to-Cordon-Bleu terms, a galette is a  “freeform, crusty cake.”

A galette looks like a cross between a pizza and a pie, to me. It has a bottom crust folded up over a filling, which can be either sweet or savory. I quickly pounced on this idea as I’ve never mastered a pie crust and even if I can make it taste delicious, it still doesn’t look good. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of the galette.

The peach version at the bistro in Metz was perfectly sweet and lustrously glazed. You can easily make your own at home. I’ve adapted this recipe to use purchased refrigerated pie crust, but you can make your own from Grandma’s favorite recipe, too. This week, peaches and nectarines are on sale at Brookshire’s, so you can try your hand at this French favorite.

Peach Galette
Serves 8


1 refridgerated pie crust

2 large, not-overly-ripe yellow peaches (about 3/4 pound total), pitted, sliced into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch slices
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp almond paste (optional)
1 tsp butter
1 egg
A sprinkling of coarse sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven with the rack in the middle position to 425°F (220°C). Place the peach slices in a bowl and sprinkle with the flour and sugar. Toss gently to coat. Sprinkle vanilla extract over the peaches.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg until smooth and set aside.

On a lightly floured, clean, smooth surface, roll out the dough to about a 12-inch diameter. Gently lift up the rolled out dough and place it on a rimmed baking sheet.

If you are using almond paste (not necessary, but a nice addition if you have it), dot the middle 6-inch circle of the dough with the almond paste. (If you can spread it, that’s great. Otherwise, just dot with little bits.) Arrange the peach slices in an overlapping pattern in a single layer in the center of the dough, forming about a 7 or 8-inch circle. Dot with a little butter.

Fold the outer edges of the dough round over the filling, by about 2 inches all the way around, in an accordion fashion. Use a pastry brush to coat the exposed dough with an egg wash (you can cook up the leftover egg as a little scrambled egg, by the way) and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if using.

Place in the oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet, over a rack, for about 15 minutes.

It’s also great served with a little vanilla ice cream.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 72, Calories from Fat: 23, Fat: 3 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 22 mg, Sodium: 29 mg, Carbohydrates: 12 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 9 g, Protein: 1 g

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Posted in: Shop the Sale

Dine In: Grilled Corn, Two Ways

Southwest Grilled Corn with Garlic Lime Butter

I tried to grow corn in my garden this summer. It didn’t work. Part of my garden gets too much shade and that’s where the corn was planted, which I’ve noted for next summer.

In the meantime, Brookshire’s is full of locally grown corn I can grill to my heart’s content. I grill corn year-round; I vastly prefer it to steamed or boiled corn. I have two favorite ways to grill corn: with a Southwest-inspired rub and garlic lime butter and with bacon.

Grilling corn with bacon is delicious and so simple.

Remove the husk and silk, then wrap raw ears of corn with two slices of bacon. Wrap each piece of bacon-wrapped corn with aluminum foil and grill over medium-high heat, turning once, for about 15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before unwrapping.

Southwest Grilled Corn with Garlic Lime Butter

4 ears fresh corn
2 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix spices together and rub all over corn. Grill over low heat, turning four times until corn is lightly charred, about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, make Garlic Lime Butter.

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of two limes

Combine butter, garlic and lime juice; mix well. Serve about 1 tablespoon Garlic Lime Butter over Southwest Grilled Corn.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 169, Calories from Fat: 108, Fat: 12 g, Cholesterol: 31 mg, Sodium: 84 mg, Carbohydrates: 16 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 2 g

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Posted in: Dine In

Healthy Living: Green Peas

“Eat your peas!”

I heard this phrase countless times while growing up, and for me, “peas” generally referred to the pile of green orbs scattered across my plate and hiding under the mashed potatoes on Wednesday nights, when meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas were almost always on the menu.

I never minded peas. In fact, I liked them. My siblings…not so much. I remember my brother Andy having to sit at the dinner table for…well, a really long time. Did it make him eat his peas? Nope. It didn’t.

But this dip might have tempted him to eat the green anomaly on his plate.

What kid, or adult for that matter, doesn’t like a dip – especially one that tastes like springtime? This is the optimal time of year to maximize fresh produce and fresh flavors. Try this one today.

Green Pea and Chickpea Hummus
Serves 4 as an appetizer

1/2 lb frozen or fresh green peas
1 (14.5 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic
1/2 jalapeño pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
Water, as needed
2 scallions, finely chopped, or fresh basil for garnish

Cook the peas according to the directions on the bag, likely boiling them in salted water for 1 to 2 minutes. Rinse the peas under cold water to stop further cooking.

Combine the peas, chickpeas, garlic, jalapeño, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add in the lemon juice, olive oil and yogurt and purée until evenly thick and blended. If the texture seems too thick, drizzle in water 1 teaspoon at a time until a more spreadable texture is achieved. Add more seasoning if required.

Chill and top with chopped scallions before serving, or fresh basil if you prefer a slightly milder spread.

Serve with crackers, pretzels, bread or assorted vegetable slices for a lively snack, or top a salad with a dollop of this hummus for a filling but light meal.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 453, Calories from Fat: 90, Fat: 10 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 28 mg, Carbohydrates: 71 g, Fiber: 21 g, Sugars: 14 g, Protein: 23g

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Posted in: Healthy Living

Product Talk: Wonton Wrappers

Buffalo Chicken CupcakesIt’s all your fault.


You know who you are, Blogger-Who-Loves-Buffalo-Chicken-As-Much-As-I-Do and Employee-Who-Pointed-It-Out.

I’m lookin’ at you.

Wonton wrappers are so much fun to use for everything from egg rolls to apple pies to, yes, Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes.

These approximately 4 x 4-inch squares of thinly pressed dough are delicious and great for a variety of recipes. Stuff them with meat and veggies, wrap, bake or fry and use them as egg rolls. Line with apple pie filling, roll in cinnamon sugar, bake and call it an apple pie.

Or, make Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes.


It’s not a secret I ADORE buffalo chicken, OK?

And I’d taken a hiatus from writing about it…until a few days ago. But here’s one more recipe (for now), using easy, versatile wonton wrappers and my fave, buffalo chicken, for a meal easy to eat and yummy in your tummy.

Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes
Makes 12 regular cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes

1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
24 wonton wrappers
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray muffin tin very lightly with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine softened cream cheese, ranch dressing, wing sauce and 3/4 cheddar cheese (save remaining 1/4 cup for topping). You can soften the mixture slightly in the microwave if needed to make it come together. Stir in shredded chicken.

Start layering your cupcakes. Begin with a wonton wrapper and press it into the bottom of each muffin tin. Spoon about a tablespoon of the chicken mixture into each cup. Top with another wonton wrapper and add another tablespoon of chicken mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and a little blue cheese.

Bake for 18 minutes or until edges are brown. Check cupcakes after 10 minutes into cooking, and if edges are browned, cover the cupcakes with foil for the remaining cooking time. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. To remove, use a knife to loosen the edges then pop each cupcake out.

For mini cupcakes: Cut each wonton wrapper into 4 squares. Layer wonton, about 1 teaspoon of filling, wonton, then another teaspoon of filling. Top with shredded cheese and blue cheese. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly; then remove from pan.

Note: Wonton wrappers can be found in the refrigerated section of your produce section usually on a wall by the mushrooms, broccoli and dressings. Just ask someone if they aren’t there.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 330, Calories from Fat: 108, Fat: 12 g, Cholesterol: 52 mg, Sodium: 603 mg, Carbohydrates: 38 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 16g.

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Dine In: Dolmadakia


The best Greek food I’ve ever eaten was in Germany. Go figure. But of course, that’s probably because I haven’t been to Greece…YET. (Visiting there is first on my to-do list.)

There was a little restaurant called the Poseidon, full of every Greek kitsch you can imagine – statues of Greek gods, faux-crumbling columns, brightly colored frescoes of sea sides, whitewashed houses and blue skies, a model of the Parthenon…you get the picture.

But the food was amazing. Every Friday night, for the better part of two years, my partner in crime, Susan, and I walked from our apartment building, on the grounds of a German military artillery school, to the Poseidon and sat outside on the patio every time weather permitted (which in Germany, doesn’t happen often).

Each meal there started off with an ice-cold shot of ouzo, a Greek liquor with a licorice flavor. They said it opened your digestive tract. Then we’d usually get a slab of goat cheese, milky-white, salty, and dressed with extra virgin olive oil and some capers. I almost always ordered the dolmadakia – as an appetizer they were served cold, or they came baked in a rich tomato sauce as a main course. Dolmadakia are grape leaves stuffed with a combination of meat, often lamb, and rice. We’d sip on a kristallweizen (a light, crisp, German wheat beer) during the meal, and, at the conclusion of the feast, the waiter would bring a snifter of metaxa, another Greek liquor, on fire. You blew out the colored flame and sipped it, closing your digestive tract.

Recreating the ‘dolma’ at home is a little time-consuming, but once you master the art of wrapping the grape leaves, it’s a great date-night, dine in meal.

Serves 8

2/3 cup raw rice
1 (1 lb) jar grape leaves
6 small onions, finely chopped
3/4 lb ground lamb or ground beef, uncooked
1 tsp crushed dried mint
2 tsp finely chopped parsley
1 pinch cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
Chicken broth or water
2 lemons
2 egg yolks

Do not cook the rice, but soak it in boiling water 5 minutes and drain in a sieve. Unfold the grape leaves and rinse under cold running water.

In a bowl, combine the rice, onions, meat, mint, parsley, seasonings and oil; mix together with clean hands.

Form 1 tablespoon of the mixture into an oval shape, place on a grape leaf and roll up, turning the ends in to seal; repeat until all the stuffing is used. Arrange stuffed leaves closely packed in layers in a small flame-proof baking dish.

Pour in the broth or water to cover; sprinkle with the juice of 1 lemon. Place a heat-proof plate on top of the grape leaves to weigh them down. Cover with foil, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour over very low heat. Let the leaves cool slightly in the broth and remove from broth, reserving the broth.

Beat the egg yolks. Add the juice of the other lemon to the yolks. Heat the yolk mixture, slowly adding some of hot broth from the dolmadakia while heating. Remove from heat, stir into rest of broth and let stand 5 minutes to thicken.

Serve immediately while sauce is warm.

Nutritional Information:Calories Per Serving: 286, Calories from Fat: 141, Fat: 16 g, Cholesterol: 78 mg, Sugars: 2 g, Sodium: 1941 mg, Carbohydrate: 28 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugars: 2 g, Protein: 12 g

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Posted in: Dine In

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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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