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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: 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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Shop the Sale: Skillet-Seared Pork Loin Chops


Skillet-Seared Pork Loin ChopsWe’ve been eating decadently for days on end.

Pizza on Friday night. Appetizers and snacks for dinner Saturday. A big pancake breakfast on Sunday and a Sunday supper fit for a king. Not to mention Valentine’s Day, which was a sumptuous dinner and an even more indulgent dessert.

So tonight, I wanted something simple and straightforward!

Brookshire’s to the rescue with their boneless pork chops.

These thick cuts of tender white meat pork are beautiful seared in the cast-iron skillet on the stovetop. The meat is lean, but you can impart a great flavor just by the way you season it and cook it. Serve with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts and a salad for a simple and satisfying meal.

Skillet-Seared Pork Loin Chops

Ingredients:
4 boneless pork loin chops, about 1 1/2 lbs
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs Worcestershire powder

Directions:
Bring pork chops to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Season both sides with salt, pepper and Worcestershire powder. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Drop pork chops into pan, searing on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip and sear other side, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Cook through until meat reaches desired doneness, at least 145° F. Remove from pan; let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 474, Calories from Fat: 276, Fat: 31 g (10 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 136 mg, Sodium: 1269 mg, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 47 g.

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Healthy Living: One-Pan Roasted Sausage and Vegetables


One-Pan Roasted Sausage and VegetablesI was telling my best friend recently that I prefer vegetables to most fruits, and she thought I was crazy.

That’s fine; I’ll take a little crazy.

It’s true, though. I do prefer vegetables to fruits (although I definitely eat fruit, too), and I love roasting veggies for an easy, one-pan, healthy meal.

You can add almost any kind of vegetables to this dish. I often use Brussels sprouts instead of peppers or throw in some cauliflower as well. Make sure to dice the sweet potatoes in small pieces, so they cook as quickly as the rest of the veggies. You could also steam them for a few minutes before you add them to the roasting pan. You could also toss in a few pieces of diced apple for some sweetness.

Chicken sausage doesn’t have much fat, so you do need the olive oil. Although, I don’t usually use all of the six tablespoons.

I love making this one night for dinner then enjoying the leftovers the next day for lunch.

One-Pan Roasted Sausage and Vegetables

Ingredients:
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3/4 lb fresh green beans
1 large head broccoli, chopped
2 large green bell peppers, chopped
9 oz chicken sausage links
6 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs dried parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil (if using foil, spray with nonstick cooking spray).

Chop all veggies, and add to a large bowl. Slice sausage into bite-sized pieces; add to bowl. Add in spices, and drizzle in olive oil. Toss to coat.

Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, and then stir before roasting for 15 more minutes.

Serves 2

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 686, Calories from Fat: 411, Fat: 46 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 15 mg, Sodium: 453 mg, Carbohydrates: 67 g, Fiber: 17 g, Sugar: 8 g, Protein: 12 g.

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Dine In: Sirloin Steak Bites


Sirloin Steak BitesI know that I complain sometimes about the picky eaters in my house. My younger son and my boyfriend, who eats dinner with us every night, are a bit more challenging to cook for than my older son, and goodness knows I’ll eat anything.

Then, I remember that my younger son is the same kid who rushes out to help me unload groceries every week when I’m slogging bags in from the car. He opens doors for me to walk through and refills my coffee cup when it gets low. He checks to see if I want the last cookie before he tears into it, and he is always quick to tell me that he loves me.

The boyfriend, while he might not eat any sauce that is white or any beans that are not, is the one who missed his all-time favorite musician when he came to town to instead go out for a birthday dinner with us. He’s the one who remembered that I mentioned I wanted to read a new magazine that has just come out. No one can put their hands on it because it’s so popular, so he ordered me a subscription instead. He’s the one who gives my dog a bath and fills up the dog food bin without me asking.

Among many, many other things.

So really, the fact that sometimes I have to serve sauce on the side or not at all, or skip eating comfort food casseroles, or have to swap kidney beans for Great Northern really isn’t a big deal. These guys of mine deserve the foods they love (like the sirloin steak bites) because they’re so good at loving me.

Sirloin Steak Bites

Ingredients:
2 lbs sirloin steak, trimmed and cubed
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar or soy sauce
2 Tbs garlic, minced
2 Tbs parsley, dried
2 Tbs basil, dried
lemon zest, grated
olive oil, for cooking

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except sirloin in a large, zip-top bag; mix well. Add sirloin bites and marinate, refrigerated, for several hours or overnight.

Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering and fragrant. Using a slotted spoon, remove steak bites from marinade in batches. Cook for about 3 minutes per batch for medium-rare. Remove steak from pan and set aside, keeping warm. Repeat with remaining steak until it’s all cooked. Don’t overcrowd the pan as that will steam the meat, not sear it. Discard marinade.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 663, Calories from Fat: 354, Fat: 39 g (9 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 203 mg, Sodium: 317 mg, Carbohydrates: 5 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 69 g.

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Shop the Sale: Big Game Ribeyes with Bleu Cheese and Crispy Shallots


Big Game Ribeyes with Bleu Cheese and Crispy ShallotsThe Big Game is this weekend, and it’s the perfect time to wow your family and friends with some outstanding steaks.

Prepare these before kickoff, so you have a long time to savor your steak and so you don’t miss a minute of Lady Gaga at halftime.

Ribeyes are full of flavor from the beautiful marbling in each piece of meat. You can balance that full flavor with the sharp taste of bleu cheese and the crisp crunch of a fried shallot. The combinations of flavors is worthy of a championship ring, for sure.

Big Game Ribeyes with Bleu Cheese and Crispy Shallots

Ingredients:
2 shallots, sliced into rings
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
vegetable oil, for frying
sea salt
2 cups bleu cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs Worcestershire powder
4 ribeye steaks, about 20 oz each

Directions:
For the bleu cheese sauce, whisk together bleu cheese and cream. Season with pepper. Refrigerate until needed (can be done a day ahead of time).

For the crispy shallots, pour milk into a large, shallow bowl. Add shallot slices; soak for about 30 minutes.

In another small dish, stir together flour, cornstarch, red pepper and black pepper. Dredge each shallot ring in flour mixture, coating evenly. Lay out individually on a sheet of waxed paper.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat vegetable oil to 350° F. Working in small batches, fry battered shallots until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels. Season with sea salt, and set aside.

For the steaks, heat grill to medium-high heat. Bring the steaks to room temperature. Season both sides of each steak with salt, pepper and Worcestershire powder.

Grill steaks for 6 minutes on the first side. Then, flip and grill for 6 more minutes on the other side. Remove from grill. Let rest for 8 to 10 minutes before serving. Top with bleu cheese sauce and crispy shallots.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 993, Calories from Fat: 527, Fat: 59 g (30 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 308 mg, Sodium: 1106 mg, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 84 g.

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Dine In: Queso-Smothered Chicken


Queso-Smothered ChickenFrequently on Friday nights, we go out for Mexican food.

There’s just something about warm rice and beans, soft flour tortillas and, of course, chips and salsa that’s a great way to end the week.

Eating out gets expensive, and this family is saving up for some big adventures in 2017. So, we’re eating at home more often on Friday nights.

That doesn’t mean we have to give up Mexican food, though. This chicken dish is smothered in cheese and served over orzo pasta, which you infuse with Mexican flavors. You could swap it out for rice if you wanted, and you can always serve with a side of beans.

Queso-Smothered Chicken

Ingredients:
1 bottle Lawry’s Baja Chipotle 30 Minute Marinade
4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup orzo
2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
8 oz Velveeta, diced
1 can Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies

Directions:
Place chicken in a plastic, zip-top bag, and pour marinade over the chicken, turning to coat. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 30 minutes.

Remove chicken from marinade, and grill over medium-high heat until cooked through. In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil until fragrant and shimmering. Stir in the orzo, cooking and stirring until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, tomato paste, chili powder and paprika; bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

In another large saucepan, combine Ro-Tel and Velveeta over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until melted. To serve, scoop 1/4 of orzo onto a plate. Top with sliced chicken breast and queso. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 821, Calories from Fat: 322, Fat: 36 g (11 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 192 mg, Sodium: 3457 mg, Carbohydrates: 58 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 19 g, Protein: 67 g.

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Dine In: Lemon Pepper Chicken


Lemon Pepper ChickenWe eat a lot of red meat in my house, but today I’m craving chicken. Specifically, a lemony chicken.

I polled my friends on social media to find a great recipe, and many of them suggested chicken piccata, which I love. However, it contains capers, and I know two out of my four boys will not eat capers or any dish capers have touched. They clearly don’t know what they’re missing.

So, chicken piccata was out.

This recipe, which involves lightly breading the chicken breasts, seems like it would be a hit. I’m going to serve it tonight over noodles, and I’ll probably double the amount of sauce and serve with some warmed lemon halves for extra lemon flavor. (If you microwave your lemons for about 30 seconds, you’ll get more juice out of them.)

Steamed carrots with more lemon and sprinkled with some dill would be a delightful side dish.

Lemon Pepper Chicken

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to about 3/4-inch thick
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbs lemon pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
salt, to taste
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs butter
4 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbs parsley, chopped

Directions:
In a shallow bowl or pan, mix together flour, lemon pepper and salt.

Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour mixture, gently pressing mixture on to coat the chicken.

Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, and sauté for 1 minute.

Add the chicken; cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side until done. Remove the chicken to a plate, and tent with foil to keep warm.

Melt the butter in the pan drippings. Whisk in lemon juice; season with more salt, if necessary. Pour over the chicken and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 345, Calories from Fat: 153, Fat: 17 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 111 mg, Sodium: 1000 mg, Potassium: 54 mg, Carbohydrates: 11 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 36 g.

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Shop the Sale: Roasted Chicken


Roasted ChickenWhen you Google “secret to perfectly roasted chicken,” you’ll get 3,100,700 results and just as many different secrets.

Scroll through the pages, and you’ll read about brining, trussing, drying, rubbing, basting, steaming, no steam, butter, olive oil, rosemary, lemons, onions, salt, rock salt, sea salt, kosher salt and wine, just for starters.

Bottom line: there is no one secret to a great roasted chicken.

I try to keep my roasted chicken simple, with a few ingredients to impart great flavor. I fall somewhere in the middle of the steam versus no steam debate, as I don’t add liquid to my roasting pan. I do use lemon, onions and butter. (It’s argued that you shouldn’t add anything that will produce steam, resulting in a less crispy skin when you roast a chicken.)

Whatever you add, even if it’s just salt and pepper, all you really need is a hot oven and to make sure you cook the chicken all the way through (trussing DOES help).

Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:
1 (5 lb) chicken
1 Tbs salt
2 tsp pepper
1 Tbs Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1 lemon, halved
1 bulb garlic, peeled and halved
1 sweet onion, quartered
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 Tbs butter, softened

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425° F.

Rinse chicken and pat dry, removing giblets from cavity.

Place lemon, onion, garlic and rosemary in the cavity of the chicken, then truss. Rub chicken with butter; sprinkle with salt, pepper and Lawry’s.

Roast for 90 minutes or until the juices run clear. Remove from oven and tent with foil; let rest for 10 minutes.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 987, Calories from Fat: 259, Fat: 29 g (12 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 467 mg, Sodium: 3326 mg, Carbohydrates: 7 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 165 g.

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Shop the Sale: New Year’s Brisket


New Year’s BrisketI probably say this every year, but I didn’t really know about New Year’s Day traditions until I was grown and out of the house. All of that to say, my family didn’t have the same traditions as most southerners experience.

In the South, we eat black-eyed peas, greens, cornbread and brisket on New Year’s Day, so today is the perfect day to shop the sale items in preparation of the new year.

Peas represent coins, for prosperity in 2017. Greens also symbolize money; cook them up with pork (ham or bacon) to represent that pigs root forward (meaning that you’ll get ahead in the new year). In days gone by, our ancestors killed a fatted calf for a show of prosperity, thus the brisket.

New Year’s Day Brisket

Ingredients:
2 Tbs chili powder
2 Tbs salt
2 Tbs Worcestershire powder
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs ground black pepper
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
2 tsp dry mustard
1 bay leaf, crushed
4 lbs beef brisket, trimmed
1 1/2 cups beef stock

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Combine chili powder, salt, garlic powder and onion powder, Worcestershire powder, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, black pepper, sugar, dry mustard and bay leaf. Rub brisket with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil, and then massage spice rub into the meat. Place in a roasting pan; roast, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Add beef stock and enough water to yield about 1/2 inch of liquid in the roasting pan. Lower oven to 300° F. Cover pan tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil; continue cooking for 3 hours or until fork-tender.

Trim the fat, and slice meat thinly across the grain.

Serve with black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread.

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 399, Calories from Fat: 119, Fat: 13 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 180 mg, Sodium: 2607 mg, Potassium: 897 mg, Carbohydrates: 4 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 62 g.

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