share. The Brookshire's Blog

Product Talk: The Year of the Baguette


If you are like me and enjoy reading food and cooking magazines, then you have to have noticed that this month’s covers are covered in baguettes. I’ve seen these crusty French bread loaves on at least three major magazines, and being that the baguette is probably my favorite way to enjoy bread, I’m thrilled.

Of course, you can always make your own baguettes at home, but to be honest, I don’t see the point unless you are a well-trained baker and you have all the right ingredients and pans. It used to be that only the best boutique bakeries in our towns offered authentic baguettes, but these days it’s easy to find a notable selection at your local Brookshire’s.

I love to bake my French bread to a hard crusty crunch, breaking off bites and dipping them in cold butter sprinkled with sea salt. If I’m not careful, I can eat the entire loaf before realizing what I’ve done. There are many nights I am content to enjoy French bread and some good cheese and want nothing more for dinner.

Baguettes are also my go-to ingredient for appetizers. It’s so easy to slice the loaf in thin slices, toast for about 10 minutes at 350°F and then top with all kinds of delicious spreads and salsas.

Here are a few of my favorites: Honey Goat Cheese with Strawberries:

Baguette Topping: Honey Goat Cheese with Strawberries

Ingredients:
6 oz soft goat cheese
2 Tbs honey
3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly but leaving tops intact
16 to 20 toasted baguette slices

Directions:
Stir goat cheese and honey together in a small bowl; spread about 1 tablespoon onto each bread slice.

Place strawberries on bread fanning strawberry over cheese. Repeat with remaining bread slices.

Baguette Topping: “Smashed” Tomato and Olive Bruschetta

Ingredients:
1 cup cherry tomatoes (I love using multi-colored tomatoes)
1/2 cup black olives
4 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
1 Tbs dried oregano
8 fresh basil leaves, torn
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
1/2 loaf French baguette, cut into slices and toasted with 1 clove garlic rubbed into one side of each slice Fresh Parmesan cheese, for shaving.

Using your hand, carefully smash the tomatoes in a medium-sized bowl.  On a cutting board, gently smash the olives as well, removing any stones. Add olives to tomatoes and toss.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add oregano and basil leaves and mix gently.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  To serve, top each baguette slice with tomato topping and finish with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.



Dine-In: Southern Comfort


I just hung up the phone with my mother, who lives too far away for me to see very often. We make up for this geographical distance by talking and texting as many times a day as possible, which is roughly somewhere between 10-10,000.

These are the times I am grateful for technological advances that allow me to keep in touch with those I love when a phone call or visit just isn’t possible.

Besides my mom being my best friend, she is also the one who let me tag along beside her in the kitchen day after day when I was a child, never complaining that I was in her way or slowing her down. She had six people to feed each day, but she always took the time to teach me – or simply allow me the freedom to explore in the kitchen while she worked.

Mama is coming to visit me next week, and she will be helping me with a Brookshire’s cooking video for our July issue of Celebrate Cooking. Even though I am 43 years old, when I hear that my mother is coming to visit I feel my shoulders relax just a little. I don’t think any of us ever grow out of needing a mother’s comforting touch and reminder that we are deeply loved.

This Spicy Shrimp and Grits recipe is one of my favorite childhood comfort foods from my mother’s table. In the South, grits are one of our staples at any meal, not just breakfast! They are the perfect creamy side dish to our spicy, tomato-based sautéed shrimp. All you need is some crusty French bread to “sop” the juices, and you’ll have the perfect Friday night menu to ease you into the weekend.

Enjoy! 

Mama’s Shrimp and Cheese Grits

Ingredients:
6 cups water
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking grits
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (I use white cheddar)
Salt and black pepper to taste
5 bacon slices, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped yellow onion
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 1/4 cups chopped plum tomatoes, divided
1 lb raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbs Tabasco or Sriracha hot sauce

Directions:
Bring water and milk to boil in large saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits and reduce heat to allow grits to simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Make sure you stir often. Remove from heat and mix in cheese; season with salt and pepper.  

While grits are cooking, sauté bacon in a large skillet until crisp, and remove bacon to paper towels to drain, reserving drippings. Add mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, and 1 1/2 cups tomatoes to the bacon drippings. Sauté until vegetables are tender and sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.  Add shrimp, hot sauce, and remaining tomatoes to skillet. Sauté until shrimp are opaque, about 4 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp or they will become tough. Taste for any additional needed salt and pepper. 

Spoon grits onto plates; top with shrimp and sauce. Serve immediately.



Family Matters: Will Eat For A Snow Cone


Meat, corn, carrots and fruit are all the foods my daughter will eat. That’s it! She will not eat bread, sandwiches, peanut butter, cheese, pasta, nuts—nothing else! Oh, do we have a challenge packing her lunch everyday for school.  On the other hand, my teenager son will eat everything on his plate and in the house!

Like other Moms, I come home from work and head straight to the kitchen to prepare dinner for that night. After slaving in the kitchen, I proudly sit dinner on the table thinking I have accomplished this grand task and that I’m truly an amazing Mom! Then out of her mouth comes the dreaded words, “I don’t like this, do I have to eat this, what is this stuff?” My self-accomplishment just went into the trash along with her dinner.

I knew I had to devise a plan to get my picky eater to start trying new foods or she would be eating meat, fruit and those two vegetables for the rest of her life.  So she and I sat down and developed the “Will Eat For A Snow Cone” picky eater plan.

Here’s how it works. For every new food she tries, she gets to put a sticker on a chart, when she earns 10 stickers, she get a reward. When earning 10 stickers becomes to easy for her, then we’ll raise the bar to 20 stickers for a reward. Right now her reward is walking the dog 2.5 miles round trip to the snow cone stand. She looks forward to this every weekend and is working hard to earn her 10 stickers so she doesn’t miss out on her snow cone treat and walking the dog adventure.

So in the future, I’ll keep preparing new foods for her to try. Hopefully she will find a few that she really likes. If not, I pray that when she becomes a teenager she’ll be somewhat like her older brother and eat everything on her plate too!



Shop the Sale: Mango Buttercream


One of the reasons I enjoy being on Facebook is the many wonderful people in the world I would have never known otherwise. I think we are created to enjoy making connections with each other, and although there are legitimate negative aspects of social networking, Facebook has been a fun, informative way for me to connect with others around the world.

William Watson is one of these people. He lives in Florida, but is from Tyler, Texas, where I live now. I didn’t know him when he lived here, but a mutual friend put us in contact with each other because I like to eat and write about all things food, and William is deeply involved with the International Mango Board.

The International Mango Board has become a good source for me when looking for mango-related information, and not only that, it’s been great fun becoming friends with William and realizing we do share many common interests – not just a love of mangoes!

William was in town recently and kindly brought me an entire case of mangoes. We still didn’t get to meet in “real life,” but I did get to stop by our mutual friend’s office to pick up the fruit and enjoy a wonderful Friday afternoon conversation.

Friends are a rare treat in this life, and I’ll take them wherever I can find them – whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or the porch next door. I’m grateful for all the good connections I am given.

Enjoy this delicious recipe for Mini Vanilla Cupcakes with a Mango Buttercream from the International Mango Board website, www.mango.org. The website has tons of recipes, tips and ideas for those of us who like to eat mangoes. And now is the perfect time, as they are on sale at your local Brookshire’s.

Mini Vanilla Cupcakes with Mango Buttercream

Ingredients:
1 (15.25-oz) box vanilla cake mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 large mangoes (about 2 lbs), pitted, peeled and diced
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line miniature muffin tins with cupcake liners. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed about 30 seconds, increase speed to medium and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool in pans for 5 minutes then cool completely on wire rack.

Mango Buttercream

Puree one and a half diced mango in food processor or blender until smooth, set aside (will yield about 3/4 cup). Reserve remaining diced mango for garnish.

In a large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed, until smooth; slowly add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing between each addition.

Add 3/4 cup mango puree. Increase speed to high and beat until incorporated, about 2 minutes.

Transfer buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a pastry tip or a large zip top bag and top cooled cupcakes with buttercream. Top with 1 piece diced mango and sparkling sugar if desired.

Nutritional Information: Each serving (1 mini cupcake) contains 163 calories, 22 g carbohydrate (7% Daily Value), 0.1 g fiber (1% Daily Value), 1 g protein (2% Daily Value), 8 g fat (13% daily value), 4 g saturated fat (18% Daily Value), 24 mg cholesterol (8% Daily Value), 78 mg sodium (3% Daily Value), and 27 mg potassium (1% Daily Value).

Source: International Mango Board



Healthy Living: Feeding the day


Mornings at my house are painful. I’d like to pretend that we all wake upon time and with smiles on our faces, but nothing could be further from the truth. I have to have three cups of coffee before I can even focus, much less carry on a conversation of with anyone. And with two teenage sons, I’m lucky if I can even get them out of their beds before noon!

I imagine your weekday mornings are like ours. But you know as well as I do that we need the right kind of fuel in our bodies each morning to get the day started right. It’s just good common sense to eat a healthy breakfast, and scientific studies show again and again that our brains function much better when we remember to eat before we head out to face the day.

One of my family’s morning favorites is making fruit smoothies.

We actually make these most any time of the day, but a smoothie is something I can have ready to put in the boys’ hands if we need to be on the road before they have had time to eat.

This Ultimate Berry-Banana Smoothie features Brookshire’s new flavor of frozen yogurt from our Goldenbrook ice cream plant in Tyler, Texas. And feel free to change up your favorite berries or fruit to make it just the way your family enjoys. I will tell you that frozen fruit works better, giving the smoothie a wonderful “milkshake” consistency. If you prefer fresh fruit, try freezing it in chunks the night before so you’ll make your morning that much easier!

Enjoy!

Ultimate Berry-Banana Smoothie 

Ingredients:
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup Goldenbrook Strawberry Banana Frozen Yogurt
1 cup Food Club milk

Directions:
Add ingredients to a blender and blend on high for 40 seconds, or until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Easy and delicious! Serves 2 (or one big teenage boy).

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Product Talk: HOLY MOLY GUACAMOLE


Guacamole was probably the first dish I ever taught myself to make. I was about 14, and had recently moved to East Texas with my family from Corpus Christi. I really missed the authentic Mexican food I grew up on in South Texas, and one day, when I was craving guacamole, I figured I could just make it myself. Avocados, lime juice, a little pico de gallo–how hard could it be?

I wish I could say that’s the day I knew I would become a chef, but that’s not exactly true. Eventually, I did graduate from the Culinary Institute of America, and set out to cook my way across North America. I worked in restaurants, hotels, and gourmet markets in New York, San Francisco, Dallas, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Cozumel and Fort Worth before joining Brookshire’s in 2008.

But, that first guacamole turned out pretty good, and that small success did jumpstart my interest in the kitchen, encouraging me to try to cook more. Lucky for me, I picked a first dish that’s pretty forgiving, and can be as simple as you want it to be.

Good guacamole depends on just one main thing– avocados that are perfectly ripe. Too hard, and they won’t mash up smooth and creamy. Too ripe, and the guac may taste bitter or “off.”  From there, the only must-haves in my book are fresh lime juice and salt. Everything else is up to you–tomatoes, fresh cilantro, jalapeños, onions, garlic, or your own secret ingredient.

Now, as Brookshire’s corporate chef, I develop recipes for a living–I create most of the recipes you see in Celebrate Cooking every month, as well as work to bring you new, interesting, and delicious foods in all our Brookshire’s stores.

But the simple recipe I’ve created here for guacamole isn’t all that far off from the one I remember making in my parents’ kitchen in East Texas so many years ago. It’s creamy, bright and fresh, and when I eat it, it makes me think of home.

Holy Moly Guacamole

Ingredients:
2 perfectly ripe avocados
1 Tbs red onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small jalapeño, minced
2 Tbs fresh cilantro leaves,chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
1 Tbs lime juice

Directions:
Halve avocados, remove pit, and scoop flesh into medium bowl. Using fork or potato masher mash lightly with onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, and kosher salt until just combined, but still chunky.

Sprinkle lime juice over and mix lightly with fork until combined. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and serve. Can be covered with plastic wrap, pressed directly onto surface of mixture, and refrigerated up to one day. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Nutritional Information: Calories per Serving: 109, Fat: 10 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 199 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Fiber: 5 g, Protein: 1 g



Dine-In: Crispy Fish Tacos


Cinco de Mayo wasn’t a holiday I knew much about until I moved to Texas. And even though I moved here 26 years ago, it seems that the celebration hasn’t garnered much attention in my world until the past few years.

One of the most wonderful benefits of our Hispanic population growing in the United States is the wonderful culture and cuisine that has found its way into our homes and on our tables. Tacos and margaritas may have originated from Mexico, but they seem to have become as American as apple pie!

We’re starting our Cinco celebration tonight, simply because I am always looking for another excuse to enjoy Mexican food. The upcoming May issue of Celebrate Cooking (the Brookshire’s food magazine available for free in all of our Brookshire’s stores) is full of fantastic Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes, such as these recipes for Crispy Fish Tacos and Classic Margaritas.

View a video of the Crispy Fish Tacos preparation or view the recipe to print or add items to your Shopping List.

It’s easy to think of America’s favorite food holidays as Thanksgiving and Fourth of July, but Cinco de Mayo is one of the most delicious food celebrations we can adopt from our Hispanic neighbors!



Family Matters: “The Suzanne”


The months before my first son, Will, was born were some of the most stressful in my life. He wasn’t easy to get here, and I was worried sick for months that something bad was going to happen.

On top of that, I have a tendency to obsess when I am passionate about something, whether it’s working on a project, training for a race or becoming a mother. I am either all in or all out…nothing in between.

I read every baby book I could find, researching cribs, car seats, food, diapers and anything else I thought a mom needed to know to ensure success from day one.  But there is one thing I forgot to factor into my equation: Will was a real live baby – not what I came to call Handbook Baby.

Handbook Baby is the baby in all the parenting books who apparently follows a schedule, eats and burps on command and sleeps through the night from the time you bring him or her home from the hospital.

Handbook Baby does not exist, and all I could think was someone without children had to have written these books.

Little by little, I learned to recognize Will’s cues and figure out what he and I both needed to survive our first year together. For me, part of that meant he slept on my chest for the first three months, and right by me for the next nine.

I could not bear to hear his cry, and if it weren’t for the wisdom and experience of my dear friend, Suzanne, Will and I would have had many difficult late nights of tears…both of us.

Suzanne came over just after Will was born, bringing us a homemade apple pie and some advice that I use to this day when holding restless babies. In fact, among my friends, we came to call this calming move, “The Suzanne.” It isn’t a complicated move, but it works to quiet crying babies almost every single time.

Holding your baby, simply stand with your feet together. Take a step to the right with your right foot. Bring your left foot over to your right foot. Then bend at the knees, like you would to sit in a chair but not quite that far. Stand back up and repeat moves to the left. Back and forth.

There’s something about the rhythm of “The Suzanne” that is almost magical. I’ve seen babies quit crying in under a minute. It worked for Will – and his younger brother – again and again.

My sons are now teenagers and twice my size. It was a sad day for me when I realized I could no longer hold them. These days, I like to find a crying baby in a restaurant and ask the parent if I can hold the little one for a minute. Most of the time people will let me, and “The Suzanne” gets passed to another grateful family.



Shop the Sale: Chicken Parmesan


Does your family have a few tried-and-true favorite weeknight dinners that you find yourself going back to again and again…because you know everyone likes it and no one will complain?

I do try to introduce new flavors and recipes to our family table as much as I can, but when time is short and I’m racing through the grocery aisles for something to cook that night for dinner, I automatically return to our list of Taco Soup, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry, and Parmesan Chicken. They may not be the most exciting meals you can imagine, but they are family-pleasing main dishes that help ensure a successful weeknight dinner.

My family likes spicy food, so I add a bit of red pepper flakes to our marinara sauce when heating. All you need to add is a green salad and some hot, crusty French bread. The best part of this meal is that the chicken, spaghetti, Parmesan cheese and marinara sauce are all on sale this week at your local Brookshire’s!

Chicken Parmesan with Spicy Spaghetti Marinara

Ingredients:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup dried bread crumbs
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbs dried Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 lb skinless, boneless, chicken breasts, patted dry with paper towels and cut into 2 x 2 –inch chunks
1 lb spaghetti, cooked al dente
1 (24 oz) jar Classico Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium-sized bowl, combine garlic with melted butter. In another medium-sized bowl mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, Italian seasoning and pepper. Dip chicken breasts first into garlic butter, then into crumb mixture to coat well, pressing with fingers as needed.

Place coated chicken pieces into baking dish. Drizzle with any leftover garlic butter. Bake uncovered 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.

While chicken is cooking, heat the pasta sauce along with the red pepper flakes if desired.

To serve, divide cooked spaghetti over 4-6 plates (depending on your family’s appetites!) and top with chicken pieces and a ladle of warm pasta sauce.



Healthy Living: Vacations and Vaccinations


It’s that time of year again! School is almost finished, and a much-needed summer vacation is calling your name.

You’ve already started planning for that fantastic getaway, and it seems like you’ve got everything set. You’ve booked your hotel and made all of your travel reservations. You’re so ready to escape your routine that you are already starting to relax. But wait. Are you really ready?

Each year, thousands of Americans travel abroad for their summer vacations, but by traveling to different countries, vacationers are exposed to many risks not present in the United States.  Being prepared to handle those risks is very crucial, and Brookshire’s offers a helping hand.

The pharmacy at FRESH by Brookshire’s and the Brookshire’s Pharmacy on Roseland Blvd. in Tyler, Texas, offer travel immunizations to help protect our customers from diseases or infections they could contract on their journey abroad.

It is important to be prepared and plan ahead. Ask your pharmacist or physician for any preparations that need to be done, and get your vaccinations done at least eight weeks before your departure. Remember, vacations should be a time of fun and adventure so let the pharmacy at FRESH by Brookshire’s or the Brookshire’s Pharmacy on Roseland Blvd. help protect you and your loved ones from any threat of sickness this vacation season.

Your friendly neighborhood pharmacist,

Dr. Charlotte Weller

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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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