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Crosse & Blackwell, not just for Holiday Ham

Crosse & Blackwell, not just for Holiday HamBaked ham is a staple at holiday meals, beautifully studded with cloves and glazed with a traditional sauce like the Cross & Blackwell Ham Glaze. I remember my grandmother using it when I was a kid. I can still taste the fruity, spicy combination of pineapple, cherries, cloves and mustard.

The Crosse & Blackwell brand has been a beloved British tradition since 1706. Their sauces bring out the best in ham, beef, lamb or other meats as a bold and flavorful accompaniment. Spicy, sweet and tangy notes are ideal complements to almost any roasted meat.

The sauces also possess a versatility that lends their flavor to so many recipes. Delicious as a sandwich spread or added to stuffing, I like to use the Crosse & Blackwell Ham Glaze to make cocktail meatballs.

It’s a great recipe for holiday parties, and it captures some of that familiar flavor that everyone knows from delicious glazed ham.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups soft breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs soy sauce
1 jar Crosse & Blackwell Premium Ham Glaze
1 cup chili sauce
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp freshly grated ginger (do not substitute dry ginger)

Directions:
Heat oven to 400° F. Combine meat, onions, breadcrumbs, garlic and soy sauce in medium bowl. Mix thoroughly. Roll into 1 1/2-inch meatballs, and place in baking pan.

Bake for 30 minutes. While meatballs are baking, combine ham glaze, chili sauce, red pepper flakes and ginger. Heat until hot and bubbly. Remove meatballs from oven. Toss with sauce and serve hot.

Note: There are a few whole cloves in the jar of ham glaze. You may want to remove the cloves before serving, so your guests don’t bite down on them.





S’mores Bring Smiles

S’mores Bring SmilesSpooky treats, lots of candy, tiny ghosts and pumpkins on every front porch. It must be Halloween and time to throw a party.

Chips, dip, cookies and brownies are your usual party foods, but why not combine all of them and make s’mores dip? It’s a great way to enjoy the melted, chocolatey goodness of a s’more without the campfire and skewers.

Whenever I serve this recipe, it disappears fast. So, having extra ingredients on hand to quickly whip up a new batch is always a good idea.

I like to use Brookshire’s and Full Circle products because I know I will save money without skimping on flavor.

Here’s my checklist:

  • Brookshire’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (or Milk Chocolate, if you prefer)
  • Brookshire’s Marshmallows
  • Full Circle Organic Honey Graham Crackers

All combined, I spend $6.07, and I have enough ingredients to double the recipe. What a simple way to entertain on a budget!

S’mores Dip

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Brookshire’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
17 large marshmallows
graham crackers, for dipping

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425° F. In an 8-inch cast-iron skillet, add the chocolate chips. Cut the large marshmallows in half, and arrange them over the top of the chocolate chips. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the marshmallows turn golden-brown. Serve immediately with graham crackers for scooping.

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Note: FRESH has an assortment of Lodge cast-iron pans, available in several sizes, in the housewares department.





Cento Makes Perfect Marinara

Cento Makes Perfect MarinaraMany years ago, I decided to start making my own marinara. I didn’t really like the flavor of many sauces from a jar, and upon further investigation, I was concerned with all the added sugar and sodium that came along with the convenience of opening a jar.

I knew the best-tasting sauce started with the best tomatoes. As I looked at the various brands, I discovered many were full of sodium, and the true tomato flavor did not shine through.

Then, I discovered Cento Crushed Tomatoes. They use 100% vine-ripened tomatoes not from concentrate, and they are crushed and packed immediately to preserve flavor. The only ingredient listed on the can is vine-ripened tomatoes. Originally, my recipe called for two 28-ounce cans of Cento Crushed Tomatoes, but then I learned more about San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes and realized my marinara could be even better.

Distinct in flavor, Cento San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the Sarnese Nocerino area of Italy, renowned for its especially fruitful soil as a result of its proximity to the volcano Mount Vesuvius. They are handpicked, steam-peeled and packed with San Marzano puree in BPA-free cans. Every can of Cento San Marzano Tomatoes is labeled with a lot code, so Cento can track the exact farm where the tomatoes were picked and ensure each crop is up to their standards. (You can even go to the Cento website, enter the lot code and see on a map exactly where the tomatoes were grown.)

The combination of these two tomato products has helped me create the perfect recipe. It’s delicious every time, and friends and family rave about the flavor. It certainly makes from scratch worth the time and effort.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:
1 (28 oz) can Cento San Marzano Tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can Cento Crushed Tomatoes
2 Tbs Brookshire’s Pure Olive Oil
1 medium sweet onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs Cento Tomato Paste
1/2 cup red wine
4 tsp dried oregano
4 tsp dried basil
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
8 leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced

Directions:
Over medium heat, add oil to a large saucepan. When oil is hot, add onion. Sauté until soft but not brown. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, and stir to coat completely. Let the tomato paste caramelize slightly. Pour in the wine. Let it simmer and reduce by half.

Add the San Marzano tomatoes, and break up the tomatoes with a spatula. Add the crushed tomatoes; stir to completely combine. Reduce heat to low. Add the oregano, dried basil, pepper and salt. Stir to combine, and let simmer for 20 minutes or much longer. Taste with a piece of bread; adjust seasoning, if necessary. If you make adjustments, simmer for another 10 minutes. When desired flavor is achieved, remove from heat and add chopped basil.

Makes 6 cups

Note: If you think the flavor is too acidic, you can add a pat of butter or 1 teaspoon of sugar. If adding sugar, let the sauce simmer for another 10 minutes and test again. Also, the longer the sauce simmers, the better the flavor. I like to double the recipe and let it simmer for 1 to 2 hours.

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BREW CLUB: Saint Arnold Brewing Company

Saint Arnold Brewing Company OktoberfestSaint Arnold Brewing Company, located in Houston, is Texas’ oldest craft brewery. Their goal has been to brew world-class beers that are delivered as fresh as possible to customers in Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

The brewery staff is small, but they are dedicated to making full-flavored beers that are crafted for true beer lovers. It’s a passion not a job, and they believe it comes through in the beers they make.

Saint Arnold brews several different beers; some are year-round. Some are seasonal, and a few are single-batch brews.

Founded by beer-makers, Brock Wagner and Kevin Bartol, their first keg of beer was shipped in June 1994. They chose Houston as their headquarters because it was the largest city in the country that did not have a microbrewery. Brock was a longtime home-brewer and had considered opening a brewery as far back as college. Although, that was quickly dismissed as a silly idea. Seven years after graduating, Brock revisited the idea, enlisting Kevin’s help, and the brewery was off and running.

Featured Beer: St. Arnold Oktoberfest
A full-bodied, malty, slightly sweet beer celebrating the Autumn harvest. This rich beer has a round malt flavor and above-average alcohol content perfect for a cool fall evening. Saint Arnold Oktoberfest is best consumed at 40° F.

ABV: 6.6%, IBU: 14

Recommended Food Pairings:
Crispy potato cakes, roasted turkey and spicy sausage.

Notes from Saint Arnold about their Oktoberfest Brew:
“The Oktoberfest was developed to be a lager recipe as is traditional for this style. Once we had settled on a final recipe made with lager yeast, we decided to make a test batch with our house ale yeast for the fun of it. When it came time to do our blind-tasting to choose our beer, the ale version won by a large margin. The ale took only two weeks to make versus seven weeks for the lager. Tastes better, brews faster, easy decision! The ale won out.

Upon release, we had many knowledgeable people come up and tell us what a great lager we had brewed. When we told them it was an ale, they would suddenly start telling us how it tasted too fruity and was wrong for the style. These are people that you have to resist the urge to slap.”

Beer Brats with Onions and Peppers

Servings: 4

Ingredients:
4 to 6 FRESH Housemade Bratwurst Sausages
4 Tbs butter
3 cups beer
2 cups water
1 large red onion, sliced
2 bell peppers, cored and sliced
3 Tbs olive oil

Directions:
Combine butter, beer, water, onions and peppers in a saucepan large enough to hold the sausages. Stir to combine. Place sausages in the pan. Bring liquid to a simmer, and let sausages gently simmer for 20 minutes. Do not boil. Watch closely so the casing does not break.

Remove the sausages from the pan, and grill until golden-brown. Return the sausages to the pan, and hold in the beer until ready to serve. Serve with buns, other favorite condiments, and the cooked onions and peppers.

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Celebrate Football and Wings with FRESH

Celebrate Football and Wings with FRESHAre you ready for some football? I am so excited to kickoff the season. It’s such a fun time of year with game-watching parties, school spirit and plenty of fun snacks.

Of course, everybody’s favorite is wings, and on September 10th and 11th, FRESH will be having a Wing Fest Weekend. We will have a new wing flavor that we will be creating in the Test Kitchen and many other traditional flavors that everyone enjoys.

When making wings at home, the flavor possibilities are endless. With so many seasonings and sauces, you could serve a smorgasbord of wing selections.

A new line of sauce that I enjoy for flavoring wings is from Ginger People. They have 6 flavors – Sweet Ginger Chili, Ginger Sesame, Spicy Ginger Teriyaki, Hot Ginger Jalapeño, Ginger Lime and Ginger Peanut. They are all great for basting or dipping, and they can be used in the oven, on the grill or straight from the jar.

When I make wings for a party, I like to get the packages of Smart Chicken party wings. Add them to a slow cooker or you can spread them out on a baking sheet. For the slow cooker, simply add some water, salt and pepper. In the oven, toss the wings in some oil, salt and pepper.

After they are cooked through, it is time for saucing. Place the wings, about 12 at a time, in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of Ginger People sauce – any flavor – and stir to coat. Spread the wings out on a greased, rimmed baking sheet. Place them under a broiler for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden and caramelized. You can then put them back in the slow cooker to keep warm. What’s better during game time than a never-ending supply of delicious wings?

Be sure to come out to Wing Fest at FRESH for more great ideas. Check the calendar for additional details.

Asian Wings

Ingredients:
2 lbs Smart Chicken Party Wings (about 24 pieces)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup Ginger People Cooking Sauce
ranch or bleu cheese dressing, for dipping

Directions:
Place the wings in a slow cooker. Add the water, salt and pepper; stir to combine. Cook on low for 2 to 3 hours or until chicken is cooked through. Remove the wings from the slow cooker, and place in a large bowl.  Pour in the sauce. Using a large spoon, stir to coat thoroughly. Spread the wings onto a greased baking sheet. Place under a broiler on high for 3 to 5 minutes to caramelize. Serve with ranch or bleu cheese dressing as a dipping sauce.

If making the wings for a party, you can use the slow cooker to keep the wings warm. After cooking and saucing, place the wings back in the slow cooker on warm or the lowest setting. Leave uncovered to serve. Stir occasionally.

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Go Back to School with Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade Granola BarsIt’s back to school time! That means alarms are set, lunches are packed, and all the school supplies are ready to go. Don’t forget the most important part – breakfast!

Everyone knows that it’s the most important meal of the day, but it’s often the meal where poor choices affect the way we eat and feel for the rest of the day.

Grabbing a granola or nutrition bar is a popular choice, but you need to read the labels and watch out for preservatives, sugars and high-fructose corn syrup.

When it comes to granola bars, it is easy and inexpensive to make your own. Plus, you know exactly what goes into them, and you can customize the ingredients to fit your taste or health needs.

When selecting ingredients, look for the following:

  • Brookshire’s Old-Fashioned Whole-Grain Oats
  • Brookshire’s Fruit & Nut Trail Mix
  • Brookshire’s Sunflower Seeds
  • Full Circle Organic Honey
  • Full Circle Organic Raisins
  • Full Circle Organic Agave Nectar
  • Full Circle Dried Fruit
  • Full Circle Peanut Butter
  • Dried Fruit, Nuts & Coconut Flakes from the Bulk Department

Homemade Granola Bars

Ingredients:
2 cups Brookshire’s Old-Fashioned Whole-Grain Oats
1 cup nuts or trail mix
1/2 cup unsweetened dried fruit
1/2 cup Full Circle Organic Honey
pinch of salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, spread out the oats and nuts. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Coat a pie pan with cooking spray.

In a large saucepan, spray the bottom of the pan with cooking spray. Add the honey. Cook over medium heat without stirring until large bubbles form and the honey begins to darken around the edges. The bubbles will start small and increase to about 3/4 inch in about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Immediately pour the oats, nuts, dried fruit and pinch of salt into the pan. Spray a spatula with cooking spray, and stir the mixture until completely coated with honey.

Quickly press the granola into the pie pan. Place in the refrigerator, and allow to cool for 1 hour. Cut into wedges, and wrap in plastic wrap. The granola bars can remain at room temperature for up to five days, or they can be frozen.

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BREW CLUB: Karbach Brewing Co.

FREW-1604425a FRESH FUS Brew Club eMail - Featured Brewery Blog P1a“Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.”

This quote from well-known columnist Dave Barry is the motto of founders and employees of Karbach Brewing Co. in Houston. A German-style brewery, located northwest of downtown, is on Karbach Street that, ironically, is also the name of a German village in Bavaria.

From the very beginning, it was clear they weren’t messing around. Brewmaster Eric Warner had put in 10 years as brewmaster in Maryland. His partners had founded a successful beer distribution company, which they later sold to finance Karbach. It soon became a sparkling new facility, and the dream became real. Only three years later, it is the second fastest-growing brewery in the U.S.

This brewery may appear cute with their funny names and artistic cans, but they take beer-making seriously. Taste any of their brews, and you will admire the craftsmanship as well as the flavor.

Karbach Brews Available at FRESH:
Hop Delusion Imperial IPA
Love Street Kolsch-Style Blonde
Weisse Versa Wheat
Weekend Warrior Pale Ale
Rodeo Clown Double IPA
Hopadillo IPA
Staycation Session (Seasonal)
Sympathy for the Lager

Featured Beer: Love Street Kolsch-Style Blonde
A clear, all-barley pale ale with a bright, straw-yellow hue similar to a standard German pale lager. Light in color and malt character, the Kolsch-style fermentation process yields a light vinous character, which is accompanied by a slightly dry, crisp finish.

The crew at Karbach has a special description for their Kolsch blonde: In the 1960s on Allen’s Landing sat Love Street, a hot spot of music and social impact. The venue hosted eclectic characters ranging from open micers to the Lizard King himself. Love Street was not only a place but also a state of mind – a place to unwind and let the music refresh your soul. Likewise, Love Street is a state of mind. Brewed in the Kolsch-style and hopped delicately with floral German hops, this beer boasts a clean malt profile that refreshes to the core, without sacrificing character. So, crack one open and find your own Love Street. ABV: 4.9%, IBU: 20

Recommended Food Pairings:
Summer salads, calamari, shrimp, ceviche, grilled white fish or chicken

Spicy Shrimp Ceviche

Ingredients:
2 Tbs salt
3/4 cup lime juice, divided
1 lb medium shrimp
1/2 red onion, small diced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 small habanero pepper, seeded and minced
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and small diced
1/2 avocado, small diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, minced
salt and pepper, to taste (optional)

Directions:
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and 1/4 cup of lime juice. Add shrimp; boil until shrimp are pink and begin to curl. Remove shrimp to a bowl filled with ice water to stop the shrimp from cooking. Let shrimp cool. Discard water and ice. Peel and devein shrimp; remove tails.

In a fine mesh sieve, rinse the onions in cold water. Shake off excess water. In a large bowl, combine shrimp, 1/2 cup lime juice, peppers and onions. Place in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes. Add the cucumber, avocado and cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Stir together all ingredients, and serve in chilled bowls or glasses.

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Beat the Summer Heat with Girard’s Salad Dressing

Girard’s Salad DressingIf I know Texas, we will still have at least another month of high summer temperatures. That also means freshly grown produce will still be available, and we have more time to enjoy light summer meals and whole meal salads.

Browsing the salad dressing aisle, it’s apparent with all the great choices in brands and flavors that one would never get bored with salads. I like to use dressing for more than just salads, though. It’s great for marinating, tossing with vegetables before roasting and stirring into cooked rice.

That’s why I often grab a bottle of Girard’s Salad Dressing. The flavor is great with so many things, and it’s filled with wholesome ingredients. There are many varieties to choose from in light, gluten-free and regular flavors. Plus, you have to trust a brand that’s been around as long as Girard’s.

In 1939, Chef Pierre Girard created a sophisticated line of salad dressings in San Francisco. He started with the Original French Dressing and gradually added varieties. Since then, Girard’s dressings now come in a whole line of flavors as distinctive as its triangular bottles.

With a bottle of Girard’s dressing, you’ll have a delicious, light meal that is full of fresh flavor. I might be able to handle a few more weeks of Texas summer, after all!

Marinated Grilled Tuna Steaks with Couscous

Ingredients:
4 tuna steaks, 1 1/2-inch thick
salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cups couscous, cooked
3/4 cup Girard’s Champagne Salad Dressing, divided
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/3 cup almond slivers, toasted
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
5 oz fresh baby spinach

Directions:
Prepare a grill to medium-high heat. Place tuna on a plate, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle tuna with oil. Grill fish for 3 minutes per side or to desired temperature. Slice into thin strips. To prepare couscous, combine 1/2 cup salad dressing, thyme, almonds, apricots and scallions in a bowl. Add spinach and gently toss. Arrange salad mixture on plates; top with grilled fish. Drizzle remaining salad dressing over the fish and serve.

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Super Summer Dinners with Full Circle Fish

Grilled Ahi Tuna with Avocado-Mango SalsaThe summer heat is here, and that calls for light meals that are easy to prepare. That’s why I keep Full Circle frozen fish in my freezer – easy to thaw, cook and eat at a moment’s notice.

The selection, which includes Sockeye Salmon, Keta Salmon, Mahi-Mahi and Ahi Tuna, is all-natural and wild-caught from fisheries that are Best Aquaculture Practice-Certified.

All of the choices are great for grilling, searing or baking in the oven. A few techniques that I enjoy are cooking salmon on cedar planks, wrapping Mahi-Mahi in a parchment packet with lemon and white wine, or grilling Ahi Tuna with a light citrus sauce.

The fillets are individually vacuum-packed and can be thawed within 30 minutes in room-temperature water. After thawing, simply add you seasoning and get ready to cook. It’s that easy, and the results are delicious!

Grilled Ahi Tuna with Avocado-Mango Salsa

Ingredients:
Salsa:
1 avocado, diced
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 mango, diced
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 small jalapeño, seeds removed and minced
1 Tbs fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Tuna:
2 Full Circle Frozen Ahi Tuna Fillets
coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:
Place all of the salsa ingredients in a bowl; stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat grill to high and clean grates very well with a wire brush. Lightly oil the grates with cooking spray, or dip a paper towel in vegetable oil and use tongs to rub the towel over the grates.

Lightly oil and season the steaks. When the grill is very hot, add the steaks. Reduce heat to medium. Let sear for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and sear for the same amount of time on the other side. If the fish is sticking, give it another 30 seconds before attempting to turn. It may not be ready to release. Grill to desired doneness. Tuna steaks have the best flavor when cooked to medium-rare.

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BREW CLUB Style of the Month: American Pale Wheat Ale

Description:
Lagunitas’ A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ AleA refreshing summer style, this Americanized version of a German Hefeweizen ranges within the pale to golden range in color. It has a long-lasting head with a light to medium body, and higher carbonation is proper. Traditionally more hoppy than a Hefeweizen, American wheat beer differs in that it should not offer flavors of banana or clove. Most use a substantial percentage of wheat malt. It can be made using either ale or lager yeast. Generally brewed with at least 30-percent malted wheat, these beers are typically served with the yeast in the bottle and pour cloudy. There may be some fruitiness from ale fermentation, though most examples use a fairly neutral ale yeast, resulting in a clean fermentation with little to no diacetyl.

Featured Beer:
Lagunitas’ A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale: Very smooth and silky. A truly unique style featuring a strong hop finish on a silky body. A hoppy pale wheat ale that is great for IPA fans but so smooth that the hefeweizen fans like it, too.

The ale smells of grapefruit and orange. When you take a sip, you get that splash of citrusy hops along with some earthy hops before it smooths out to some wheaty goodness, and finishes creamy and a little bitter. Lagunitas beers are known for their distinct flavors. Once the hops fade, the wheat character starts to emerge.

Lagunitas is a very hop-forward brewery, and there is no doubt about it with this beer. If you have friends that don’t like hoppy beers, have them try this. I bet they won’t be able to put it down. ABV: 7.5% IBU: 65

American Pale Wheat Ale Food Pairings
These beers pair well with any light flavors and creamy textures. Try them with grilled chicken or fish with lemon as the seasoning, Caesar salad, fettuccine Alfredo and soft cheeses like Camembert, mozzarella or goat cheese.

Recipe:
Grapefruit-Glazed Shrimp with Grapefruit Salsa

Ingredients:
Grapefruit Salsa:
1 orange, peeled, sectioned and chopped
1 grapefruit, peeled, sectioned and chopped
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
2 Tbs green onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbs cilantro, chopped

Shrimp:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 grapefruit, juiced (approximately 1/2 cup)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

Directions:
Mix orange, grapefruit, pineapple, tomato, jalapeño, green onions, cilantro and a dash of salt in a bowl. Cover and chill about 4 hours.

Light the grill or heat a grill pan to medium-high heat. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, grapefruit juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. Add shrimp to the marinade, stirring well to coat. Let marinate for 20 minutes. Thread shrimp onto wooden skewers. Cook the shrimp until just done, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Brush each side with glaze while grilling. In a small saucepan, bring the remaining glaze to a boil. Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat and pour over shrimp skewers.

Top with grapefruit salsa.

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