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Dine In: Parmesan Rosemary Potato Chips


Parmesan Rosemary Potato ChipsOver the weekend, I took a trip to a small, historic city about 90 minutes away from where I live.

I stayed in a beautiful bed and breakfast there, with the most delightful owners. When I checked in on Friday night, the lady of the house assured me that breakfast would be bountiful and would start with dessert.

She wasn’t kidding.

She brought out a deep-dish French toast topped with a peach compote, a dollop of homemade whipped cream and a sprinkle of freshly grated cinnamon.
The next course was an Italian quiche served with a grilled melon salad and parmesan rosemary potatoes.

It was delicious.

When I got home, I searched for recipes similar to what she’d served at that first breakfast, and I found a recipe for Parmesan Rosemary Potato Chips and knew I had to try them.

While I didn’t eat these for breakfast at that charming little inn, these chips were definitely inspired by the lady with the huge smile and miles of hospitality.

Parmesan Rosemary Potato Chips

Ingredients:
1 large russet potato
1 1/2 Tbs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 cup parmesan, finely granted
sea salt, to taste
canola oil, for frying

Directions:

Slice potatoes thinly using a mandolin. Submerge potatoes in an ice water bath while you work, to keep them from browning. Heat about 3 inches of oil in a large stockpot, fryer or wok to 350° F. Dry potatoes with a clean towel.

Drop about 8 to 10 slices into the oil, and fry until golden-brown, about 2 minutes. Drain well with a slotted spoon, and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt, rosemary and parmesan. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Serve immediately.

Serves 3 to 4 (as a side dish)

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 165, Calories from Fat: 76, Fat: 8 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 27 mg, Sodium: 355 mg, Carbohydrates: 11 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 0 g, Protein: 13 g.

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Shop the Sale: Asparagus and Shrimp Stir-Fry


Asparagus and Shrimp Stir-FryYou know it’s spring when fresh, bright, firm stalks of asparagus are on the shelves at Brookshire’s.

These green stalks, standing tall, are a delicious and nutritious way to welcome warmer weather.

Asparagus is full of vitamin K, more than 100 percent of the daily recommended allowance for vitamin K as a matter of fact. It’s also very high in folate, copper and vitamin B1.

Asparagus has significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, too.

Asparagus stalks should be rounded and not twisted. The buds on top can have purple striations, but they should be closed and tightly firm. To serve asparagus, break the stalk from the woody stem – you’ll feel where the natural give is – and remove the tough part. If the stalks are ripened, the stems may be firm and you will choose to peel it. It’s not necessary, though.

Asparagus and Shrimp Stir-Fry

Ingredients:
4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails removed
1 lb asparagus
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 Tbs low sodium soy sauce

Directions:
In a wok or other large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until oil is fragrant and shimmering. Add the shrimp; season with salt and red pepper. Sauté until the shrimp is pink, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan; set aside.

Heat 2 more tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add asparagus, ginger, garlic and the other half of the salt. Sauté until asparagus is crisp tender, about 4 minutes. Add the shrimp back to the asparagus. Pour in soy sauce. Stir until well-combined and heat through. Add lemon juice, and serve immediately with rice.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 287, Calories from Fat: 145, Fat: 16 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 239 mg, Sodium: 1086 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 29 g.

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Product Talk: Fresh Crawfish


Fresh CrawfishEach spring, crawfish come into season in the South, and there’s only one place to get the freshest crawfish without having to catch it yourself: Brookshire’s.

The friendly fish monger behind the seafood counter will take your order. I recommend ordering your crawfish at least three days in advance of when you need it (preferably about a week), so Brookshire’s can make sure to have your order in the store when you need it.

You probably want to order 3 to 4 pounds of crawfish per person, maybe a little less for a child and maybe a bit more for your crawfish-loving friends.

Bring a cooler large enough to carry the crawfish when you pick it up from the store. It’ll likely come in a netted bag, and you want to keep it on ice until you’re ready to clean it and cook it. You should plan to cook it on the same day you pick it up from the store.
Be sure to clean your crawfish first by submerging them in a large, clean sink. Any crawfish whose tails are straight should be discarded (they are dead). Any crawfish that are obviously dead also need to be discarded. You might need to change the water in the sink more than once, until the water stays clear. Cook the crawfish immediately.



Dine In: Corned Beef


Corned BeefWe didn’t eat much corned beef growing up.

I am Italian, after all.

As an adult, it seems like a lot of the people I really enjoy in life have Irish heritage, so I’ve been forced to learn a little bit about Irish cuisine. Happily forced, that is.

Now, it turns out that corned beef is not a traditional Irish dish, but it was introduced into the cuisine by a melding of Irish and American culture, where the cured beef was substituted for bacon by Irish-American immigrants in the late 19th century.

It then became a quasi-traditional dish to eat on St. Patrick’s Day (today, that is). Corned beef is usually eaten with potatoes and cabbage.

Corned beef is basically pickled brisket. Not THOSE kind of pickles, but cured brisket, simply stated.

You can purchase it pre-cured and reheat for tonight’s homage to all things Irish, or you can make it yourself!

Corned Beef

Ingredients:
1 (4 to 5 lb) beef brisket
2 quarts water
1 cup sea salt
1/2 cup raw cane sugar or organic brown sugar
1 stick cinnamon or about 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 Tbs mustard seeds
1 to 2 Tbs black peppercorns
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp allspice berries (optional)
1 Tbs coriander seeds
1 tsp juniper berries (optional)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaf
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 to 3 bay leaves, crushed

Directions:
In a large, heavy stockpot, combine water, salt, sugar and spices; stir until dissolved.

Heat to a simmer; remove from heat and let cool by using two cups of ice if needed.

Refrigerate until very cold. Brine must be chilled through before it is used for the meat.

Trim the brisket, and place inside a 2-gallon, zip-top bag. Add brine. Make sure brisket is covered completely and totally surrounded by liquid. Place bag inside a smaller bowl if needed to help conform to a shape that keeps the meat fully submerged in liquid.

Place bag in the refrigerator, and let sit for 3 to 5 days. Every day, flip bag and move brine around.

After the brisket has finished brining, remove from bag; rinse well in warm water.

Place in a slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 to 12 hours.

Slice and serve with cabbage and potatoes.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 576, Calories from Fat: 164, Fat: 18 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 253 mg, Sodium: 11774 mg, Carbohydrates: 11 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 87 g.

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Dine In: Rosemary Olive Oil Bread


Rosemary Olive Oil BreadOn Fridays, my office closes early.

I get to leave two heavenly hours early, every single week. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my job, and I can’t wait to get into the office each day. In fact, sometimes I pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming about working for such a great organization.

I do love the job perk of early Fridays because those extra two hours mean I can do something like bake homemade bread that I might not get the chance to do on a weeknight.

This bread makes Friday nights special, especially if you’re staying home and gathering around the dinner table with your family.

It’s wonderful for sopping up a hearty marinara sauce or the juices for a pork tenderloin roast.

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

Ingredients:
1 cup warm water (100° F to 110° F)
1 Tbs cane sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup bread flour, plus extra for kneading
1 egg, whisked plus 1 Tbs water, for egg wash
dried rosemary, for sprinkling

Directions:
In a large bowl, stir together warm water and sugar. Sprinkle with the yeast, and let sit for 10 minutes.
Gently stir in the salt, rosemary, seasonings, olive oil and whole-wheat flour. Add the bread flour, and stir until the dough forms a ball.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to keep dough smooth and supple.

Place the dough in a large, lightly greased bowl, and cover it with a clean towel. Let rise in a place free of drafts (a room temperature oven is good) until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Punch the dough down, and form it into a round loaf.

Place the loaf on a baking stone/ sheet or pizza peel dusted with cornmeal or covered in parchment paper. Let rise until it’s doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven (after you take the rising dough out) to 400° F. Brush the dough with an egg wash, and sprinkle with dried rosemary and some sea salt.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 148, Calories from Fat: 43, Fat: 5 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 21 mg, Sodium: 300 mg, Carbohydrates: 23 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 5 g.

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Dine In: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Almonds and Panela


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Almonds and PanelaWarning: Wine Country recipes ahead.

I spent last weekend visiting my sister in California, in the heart of wine country. Apparently, there are 43 wineries in the immediate vicinity of her house. Alas, it was only a weekend trip, so we only hit three of them. Luckily, there are more visits to be planned.

Aside from enjoying some seriously valuable sister time, I ate and drank my way through Wine Country, and it was well worth every single calorie.

Our first stop on Saturday was at Oak Mountain Winery, where we had lunch reservations to eat in the Cave Café. The cave clings to the side of the steep hill where the grapes are grown, and it is quite an extensive storage area for casks of wine. It also has an amazing atmosphere for a fine meal.

There were seven of us, so we opted for a bottle of sangiovese and a bottle of zinfandel. We shared a charcuterie board and the most amazing Brussels sprouts that I’ve ever eaten. Their recipe includes a roasted guajillo sauce, but I didn’t recreate that part at home.

If you can’t find panela cheese, use Mexican queso fresco instead.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Almonds and Panela

Ingredients:
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt and pepper
1/4 cup shallots, minced
3 Tbs garlic, minced
1/4 cup almonds
8 oz panela or queso fresco

Directions:
In a large cast-iron (or other ovenproof skillet) over medium-high heat, warm olive oil until fragrant and shimmering.

Preheat oven to 400° F.

When the oil is ready, sauté shallots and garlic until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Toss in almonds and stir.

Remove from heat; stir in Brussels sprouts and Balsamic vinegar.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place in the oven. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until leaves are browned and Brussels sprouts are crisp outside and tender inside.

Toss with cheese and serve immediately.

Serves 4 (as a side dish)

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 236, Calories from Fat: 136, Fat: 15 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 19 mg, Sodium: 258 mg, Carbohydrates: 15 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 13 g.

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Healthy Living: Mardi Gras Salsa


Mardi Gras SalsaToday is Fat Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean you have to give in to the excess and temptation that is synonymous with Mardi Gras.

You can eat healthy and still celebrate with family, friends, and a lot of beads and trinkets (necklaces are zero calories, after all).

I love this salsa because it’s the colors of Mardi Gras: gold, purple and green. It combines fresh flavors with a lot of healthy ingredients.

The pineapple is great for vitamin C, potassium, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, thiamin, B6 and folate, as well as soluble and insoluble fiber.

Black beans provide protein.

Garlic, limes and onions provide antioxidants.

Serve this with whole-grain pita wedges or other veggies like cucumber rounds or celery.

Mardi Gras Salsa

Ingredients:
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 pineapple, cored, peeled and diced
1 large bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped (to taste)
1 small red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 limes, juiced
1 jalapeño, minced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; toss gently to mix. Refrigerate for several hours while flavors meld. Serve with pita wedges or veggies.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 377, Calories from Fat: 14, Fat: 2 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 7 mg, Carbohydrates: 72 g, Fiber: 16 g, Sugar: 9 g, Protein: 22 g.

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Dine In: Cajun Dirty Rice


Cajun Dirty RiceIt’s the Friday night before Mardi Gras, so it’s time to indulge. Come Ash Wednesday, Christians all over the world go into a period of fasting until Easter.

Some people fast by not eating meat on Fridays. Some give up something valuable to them, like coffee, social media, chocolate or soda. Some people observe the time by doing acts of service for others.

Whatever you choose to do, tonight is the last Friday before Lent begins, so southerners all over the country are letting the proverbial good times roll.

This rich dish is an amalgamation of a few other Cajun dishes and uses prized ingredients like rice and andouille sausage. Andouille is a spicy Cajun sausage, but feel free to substitute another spicy sausage of your choosing.

My older son will dump extra hot sauce on this dish, and my younger son will add some cheese on top.

You could also add diced chicken thighs in with the sausage when you cook it, making sure the chicken is cooked through.

So, stay home tonight, and celebrate the last of the decadent before the time of preparation for Easter.

Cajun Dirty Rice

Ingredients:
4 cups chicken stock
2 Tbs hot sauce
2 cups long-grain rice
12 oz andouille sausage (or other spicy sausage), sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup fresh scallions, chopped

Directions:
In a large saucepan, combine the chicken stock, hot sauce and rice. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 18 minutes without lifting the lid. After 18 minutes, do not remove pan from burner or lift lid, but turn off heat and let stand for 10 more minutes.

While the rice is standing, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, and cook until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Add onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic to the drippings from the sausage. Sauté for 10 minutes or until soft, stirring frequently.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pan, and return sausage to the cast-iron skillet. Stir to combine and cook through. Add the rice; stir until all ingredients are well-incorporated.

Garnish with scallions and serve.

Serves 4.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 668, Calories from Fat: 230, Fat: 26 g (8 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 71 mg, Sodium: 1904 mg, Carbohydrates: 82 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 25 g.

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Shop the Sale: Cheesy Beef and Polenta Skillet


Cheesy Beef and Polenta SkilletDid you know that you could cook without a grill?

Me either until mine met its demise last weekend when the bottom rusted out, literally.

Maybe not being able to cook without a grill is an exaggeration, but it did make me realize how much I depend on my grill, especially when it comes to cooking up some of the fabulous Angus ground chuck that Brookshire’s has on sale this week. I love a good burger.

Luckily, there are so many more things to do with Angus ground chuck than shape it into patties and slap it on the grill. One of those other ways involves my other favorite cooking implement: the cast-iron skillet.

If there’s something I love as much as the grill, it’s a one-pot meal, and this almost qualifies (two is fine, too). I love having all the food groups in one cheesy, melty, delicious pan, hot and bubbling out of the oven. Serve this with a side salad (because you can never have too many veggies), and you have a complete meal.

Cheesy Beef and Polenta Skillet

Ingredients:
1 cup plain yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 lb ground chuck
1 medium onion, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 Tbs fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Pour three cups of cold water into a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Whisk in salt and cornmeal. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in steak seasoning and 1/4 cup cheddar cheese. Stir to combine. Pour polenta into a greased cast-iron skillet and spread evenly. Set aside. Brown the Angus ground chuck in another skillet until cooked through. Drain most of the grease, and set meat aside in a bowl.

Add onion and bell pepper to the skillet. Sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened but still have some crispness to them. Stir the ground beef back into the vegetable mixture. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste; stir to combine. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Pour the meat over the polenta crust and spread evenly. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 336, Calories from Fat: 168, Fat: 19 g (9 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 55 mg, Sodium: 664 mg, Carbohydrates: 27 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 18 g.

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Dine In: Million-Dollar Spaghetti


Million-Dollar SpaghettiFor many years, I worked in the church nursery taking care of babies and toddlers while their parents attended church services, Sunday school or other activities for which the church provided child care.

I loved it so much. Sunday mornings gave me the chance to snuggle MY babies (they were only mine for about 3 hours, but that was fine) or play with the little ones, my toddler included. Wednesday nights were a little wilder, as we provided child care for mid-week services and classes. Our nursery kids were usually wound up from a day at school or other childcare and came to the church nursery quite spirited.

On Wednesday nights, there was always also dinner. The kitchen was right near the nursery, and although the church encouraged families to eat together before dropping their kids off at the nursery, there were always a few kids who were finishing their meals or eating in the nursery with us.

Their favorite Wednesday night dish was Million-Dollar Spaghetti. We DREADED spaghetti night because it’s messy, but the kids loved it. We soon learned to suit them up in oversized bibs the minute they came through the door, and we kept plenty of wipes on hand at all times.

Messy as it might have been, pretty much every kid devoured their dinner when Million-Dollar Spaghetti was on the menu!

This is a hearty and satisfying dish to cap off a busy week that your whole family is sure to love.

Million-Dollar Spaghetti

Ingredients:
1 (16 oz) pkg spaghetti noodles
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 (16 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup butter, sliced (divided)
1 cup ricotta cheese or cottage cheese, drained
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 (8 oz) pkg shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and a pinch of salt. Cook until noodles are al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown ground beef and onions until cooked through and crumbled. Drain. Mix the spaghetti sauce into the ground beef.
In another bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sour cream and ricotta cheese/cottage cheese until well=blended. Place half the slices of butter into the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

Layer half the spaghetti on top of the butter. Top with creamy mixture, and then layer with remaining noodles. Top with remaining pats of butter. Pour the meat sauce over the entire dish; spread to cover. Bake for 30 minutes. Spread the cheese over the casserole, and continue baking until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 15 more minutes.

Serves 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 539, Calories from Fat: 241, Fat: 27 g (16 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 131 mg, Sodium: 3497 mg, Carbohydrates: 48 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 27 g.

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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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