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Dine In: Italian Pasta Salad


Italian Pasta SaladMy favorite thing to do on a Friday afternoon is leave work, collect my boys, grab some groceries, and plop down on the back porch with a beverage and an easy dinner.

By Friday, I’m ready to relax! Sometimes that means going out to dinner, but for me, there really is nothing better than not having to leave the house for the rest of the night, not having to fight traffic and crowds, and not having to wait for my meal.

My back porch is a work in progress. I have a chiminea for fires, my two grills (charcoal and gas), solar lights, my potted herbs, and a semi-comfortable (like I said, “work in progress”) table and chairs set. It’s my favorite place to be in the evenings. When the weather warms up, I add a misting fan to keep the air moving and to keep us cool.

April nights are the best for porch parties, as we call them. You can even prepare this salad in advance, and then the work is complete for the evening. To make it a little hardier, you can add grilled, chopped chicken.

Italian Pasta Salad

Ingredients:
10 oz refrigerated cheese tortellini
5 oz mini pepperoni, or equivalent weight chopped pepperoni or salami
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 (3.8 oz) can black olives, drained
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup jarred mild yellow banana peppers, chopped
1 cup Italian salad dressing
8 oz parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
sea salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water to shock the pasta into stopping the cooking process and to help prevent sticking. Cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, combine pepperoni, tomatoes, olives, red onion and banana peppers; toss with cooled pasta. Add the dressing, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and cheese; toss gently to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving; serve chilled.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 799, Fat: 52 g (16 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 131 mg, Sodium: 1588 mg, Carbohydrates: 51 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 8 g, Protein: 36 g.

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Shop the Sale: Classic Pan-Seared Ribeye Steak


Classic Pan-Seared Ribeye SteakPrep Time: 90 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Serves: 2

When it comes to beef, the ribeye is hard to beat. High marbling makes for a tender, juicy steak that’s perfect on its own or served with a traditional sauce. (Check out our homemade steak sauce recipe). Pair this tender cut with a rich, bold red like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or Malbec or an ale, stout or porter for the beer lover.

Ingredients
2 (8 oz) Boneless Ribeye Steaks, each about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick
Kosher Salt
Brookshire’s Olive Oil
Brookshire’s Ground Black Pepper

Instructions
Bring steaks to room temperature. Season generously with kosher salt; let sit for 1 hour. When ready to cook, heat oven to highest setting. Place large cast-iron skillet on stovetop; heat on highest setting. Turn on hood fan as the cooking process will cause smoke. Brush steaks lightly with oil; sprinkle both sides with pepper.

Immediately place steaks in the middle of the hot, dry skillet and cook for 30 seconds without moving. Turn with tongs; cook 30 more seconds. Put pan straight into the oven for 2 minutes. Flip steak; cook for 2 more minutes. (This timing is for medium-rare steak. If you prefer medium, add 1 minute to both oven turns. You can also use a digital thermometer to check for doneness. Perfect medium-rare is 128 to 130° F.)

Remove steak from skillet. Cover loosely with foil; let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve whole, or thinly sliced and fanned on plate.

Calories Per Serving: 380, Fat: 33 g (14 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 80 mg, Sodium: 60 mg, Carbohydrates: 0 g, Fiber: 0 g, Protein: 15 g.

*Gluten-free

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Chef Tips

How to Choose the Best Ribeye Steak
The main characteristic to look for when selecting a ribeye is ample marbling, with a modest amount of edge fat and preferably no gristle. Prime grade steaks offer the highest marbling of all the beef grades, which is responsible for the tender meat and juicy flavor these steaks are known for. Ribeye steaks are best when cut between 1 ½ – 2 inches thick.

Great Steak Side Dishes
It’s pretty hard to go wrong with sides when they’re paired with the king of steaks. For a meal on the lighter side, try tasty seasonal salads like Arugula, Pear & Blue Cheese Salad or fresh Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Basil and Balsamic Vinegar, or opt for grilled or roasted vegetables like Cilantro-Lime Butter Corn or Garlic-Roasted Broccoli. For a more traditional approach, choose potatoes and serve them mashed, baked or au gratin alongside Buttery Green Beans or Honey-Glazed Carrots.



Healthy Living: Roasted Garlic Green Beans


Roasted Garlic Green BeansGrowing up, my mom cooked green beans frequently. They were flash-frozen, which is the healthiest way to buy them if you can’t get them fresh, and boiled (which kind of defeated some of the health of the flash-frozen status). I can’t say they were my favorite.

When I was old enough to cook green beans, I only bought fresh beans, and I steamed them. They were healthy, but they did not have a lot of flavor.

My boyfriend likes them simmered with bacon. Super tasty, but I’m not sure there’s any health value left whatsoever.

However, these beans are the best of both worlds. They’re fresh and healthy with heart-healthy olive oil as the added fat, and they’re full of great taste and flavor. I also love the texture from roasting the beans instead of cooking them with liquid.

Roasted Garlic Green Beans

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs fresh green beans, rinsed and ends cut off
1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
sea salt and pepper, to taste
5 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Toss green beans with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic. Spread on a baking sheet. Roast for 17 to 20 minutes, stirring once. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 (as a side dish)

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 74, Fat: 2 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 12 mg, Carbohydrates: 14 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 3 g.

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Dine In: Lemon Asparagus Tortellini


Lemon Asparagus TortelliniLast Friday, I spent all day doing yard work. My boys helped, but we had our work cut out for us. The winter grass needed to be mowed. We needed to rake, clean out flower beds, aerate the lawn and put down fertilizer.

It was hard work, but it laid the groundwork for a delicious and filling dinner to be enjoyed that night. While spring comes with lots of outside chores, it also comes with the pleasures of spring produce.

This dish is bright and vibrant with the fresh green vegetables and bursts of garlic and lemon. We served it with a side salad of microgreens tossed in lemon vinaigrette and some fresh bread from the Brookshire’s bakery brushed with olive oil and cracked black pepper.

Lemon Asparagus Tortellini

Ingredients:

ASPARAGUS:
1 1/2 lbs asparagus, stemmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and black pepper, to taste

TORTELLINI:
1 lb frozen cheese tortellini
3 Tbs butter
1 Tbs shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
dash of crushed red pepper
3 cups fresh spinach, packed
zest of 1 large lemon
juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup  parmesan cheese, freshly grated
salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Spread asparagus on a large baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with garlic, and toss until asparagus is well-coated. Season with salt and pepper. Place pan in the oven, and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once. Remove asparagus when it is still crisp and slightly charred. Set aside to cool.

While asparagus is roasting, bring a large stockpot of water to a boil, and cook tortellini according to package instructions. Drain, but reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set aside.

In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic, red pepper and spinach. Sauté until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest, and stir well to combine.

Turn heat to low. Add asparagus and tortellini to the pot, and stir in reserved pasta water and lemon juice. Heat through. Sprinkle with parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 489, Fat: 24 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 75 mg, Sodium: 590 mg, Carbohydrates: 46 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 24 g.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In


Shop the Sale: BLT French Toast


BLT French ToastPrep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 3

The humble BLT gets a makeover with traditional challah bread cooked to French Toast-style perfection topped with crispy bacon, ripe tomatoes and spring mix greens. Chef note: be sure to choose quality bacon that’s thick-cut and naturally smoked like Wright Brand bacon. Perfect for a decadent brunch, your guests will melt with every bite of this gourmet BLT sensation!

Ingredients
12 thick slices smoked bacon
2 cups heavy cream
5 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices challah bread, at least 1-inch thick
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated (or any melty cheese will work)
12 slices ripe tomatoes
Vinaigrette of your choice
6 cups spring mix, cleaned

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place bacon on rimmed baking sheet; bake until crisp about 20 to 25 minutes. While bacon cooks, combine heavy cream and eggs in bowl, whisking to blend well. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Soak bread in mixture for 15 minutes. Turn bread over; soak for 10 to 15 more minutes.

Place large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add canola oil. Once oil is hot (it will shimmer slightly), fry challah slices on each side until golden-brown, working in batches. Transfer challah to baking sheet, and place in oven. Bake until cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes. The bread should soufflé (puff up).

Remove from oven. Cover each slice with cheese and return pan to oven. Once cheese has melted (about 4 minutes) remove from oven. Put 2 bacon slices and 2 tomato slices on each bread slice. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss spring mix with remaining dressing (or enough to coat) and place atop each piece. Serve warm.

Calories per Serving: 1055, Fat: 87 g (42 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 547 mg, Sodium: 1187 mg, Carbohydrates: 16 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 51 g.

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Chef Tips

What Is Challah Bread?
Challah is a traditional braided Jewish bread served on Shabbat and holidays. It’s a simple bread made from flour, eggs, oil, water and yeast with a touch of salt and sugar, but the real joy in making it yourself comes from braiding the dough, which is done by making three or six dough ropes and braiding them together like yarn.

Choose the Right Cheese
We’ve never met a cheese that hasn’t made us melt, but some cheeses are better than others for melting. While Gruyere is out top pick for this dish, there are a handful of other cheeses that make for great melted toasties. Some fantastic mild options include Gouda, Fontina and Mozzarella, while for something more intense, Asiago, Aged Cheddar or Brie are excellent choices.



Healthy Living: Cheesy Spinach-Stuffed Peppers


Cheesy Spinach-Stuffed PeppersAlthough March in the Deep South gets warmer and warmer (as evidenced by the long-sleeved T-shirts I routinely trade for a short-sleeved version all month long), April is really the first month I consider to be true springtime. With the warmer weather comes the inevitable need to shed some hibernation weight from the winter months.

The fresh flavors of springtime just say “healthy” to me. More greens, more colors from the garden, and more fresh fruits and veggies.

While this recipe does have cheese (you need dairy, you know), it’s based on bright, fresh green bell peppers and filled with brown rice and other bright bursts of spring flavor, like garlic and basil.

These would be delicious served with a colorful salad as a side dish.

Cheesy Spinach-Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:
1/2 cup brown rice
1 cup water
1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs garlic, minced
5 oz fresh spinach
3 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, plus extra for topping
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 large bell peppers

Directions:

Prepare rice according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350° F.

Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until oil is fragrant and shimmering. Sauté the spinach and garlic for about 2 minutes.

Season with basil, red pepper, oregano, salt and pepper.

Add cooked rice to the skillet; stir in cheeses.

Remove from heat, and let cool slightly.

Remove tops from peppers, and scoop out seeds and pith. Stuff peppers with spinach/rice filling. Top with extra cheese, and place peppers in a foil-lined baking pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and filling is heated through.

Serves 2

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 357, Fat: 11 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 30 mg, Sodium: 430 mg, Carbohydrates: 52 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 15 g.

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Product Talk: Herdez® Guacamole Salsa


Herdez® Guacamole SalsaThe first time I saw this product on the shelf at Brookshire’s, the bright green color caught my eye. It IS springtime after all, and this is just pretty.

It sounded intriguing, too. I love green salsa and guacamole, so I figured the combination of the two must be pretty spectacular.

I wasn’t wrong.

I first ate it with chips as a dip, but then I decided I needed to make something with it. I made chicken-cheese enchiladas and used this as the sauce. They were amazing.

Herdez® Guacamole Salsa blends avocado with tomatillos, onions, jalapeño peppers and cilantro. It definitely has a spicy kick to it but with a wonderful complex heat that leaves you wanting more.

I’ve since used this as a dressing for salad, as a sauce on soft tacos and as a topping for scrambled eggs in the morning.

There will always be a bottle in my pantry and refrigerator from here out.



Dine In: Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole


Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken CasseroleWe’re right on the cusp of warm, spring and summer weather. With hot days and cooler nights, it’s almost time to shed the heavy comfort foods of winter, and enjoy spring and summer’s bountiful vegetables and lighter meats.

Almost.

Sometimes, it’s just satisfying to work a full week of challenges, take care of your family, take care of yourself and come home to a comfort meal on Fridays.

This dish is warm, creamy, cheesy and filling, all the requirements (at least for me) for comfort food. While the serving size of this recipe is for two, you can easily double or triple (if you have teenagers in the house, I definitely recommend tripling this recipe).

Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole

Ingredients:
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and diced
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 slices Canadian bacon, diced
4 Tbs unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 stalk scallion (green part only), cut into small rounds

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat a 9 x 9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk salt, sugar and black pepper into whipping cream, stirring to combine.

Layer the potatoes and chicken in the baking dish. Sprinkle with bacon and butter pieces. Top with half of the sharp cheddar cheese and scallions.

Pour whipping cream mixture over the casserole.

Cover and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 30 more minutes.

During the last 10 minutes, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake until bubbly.

Serve immediately.

(This recipe can easily be doubled.)

Serves 2

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 898, Fat: 58 g (33 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 256 mg, Sodium: 1324 mg, Carbohydrates: 37 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 57 g.

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Healthy Living: Sweet Potato Power Bowl


Sweet Potato Power BowlBetween two family birthdays and a trip out of town, I feel like I’ve done nothing but eat rich, decadent foods for days on end.

I don’t just feel that way; it’s pretty much reality.

Time to get back on the healthy bandwagon!

I’ve been on a sweet potato kick.

I’ve also been on a “bowl” kick. (you know, when you can fit your meal into one, healthy bowl?)

So, this recipe looked like a perfect way to incorporate both of my current favorite things.

I added some black beans to the original recipe for protein. You’re getting lots of healthy ingredients and a lot of vitamins and nutrients with very little fat or anything else artificial!

Sweet Potato Power Bowl

Ingredients:
1 large sweet potato, diced
4 oz Brussels sprouts, halved
4 oz cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 cup red onion, diced
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp red pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Toss sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and tomatoes with olive oil. Spread onto a baking sheet. Roast for 50 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper. Toss with black beans. Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 670, Calories from Fat: 85, Fat: 9 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 1279 mg, Carbohydrates: 123 g, Fiber: 28 g, Sugar: 25 g, Protein: 30 g.

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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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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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