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Blood Oranges for Valentine’s Day

Blood Oranges for Valentine’s DayRed is the color of love. For Valentine’s Day, I like to cook something that captures that beautiful color and represents passion on a plate. I found the perfect ingredient in blood oranges. Its deep-red juice, garnet flesh and red-speckled skin is as vibrant as it is delicious.

This is an easy recipe that uses the cooking technique of braising. It’s one of my favorite ways to cook during the winter months. Braising requires high searing heat at the beginning and low and slow heat to finish. It was created for tough cuts of meat or meat that is still on the bone.

After searing the meat on all sides until browned but not cooked through, liquid is added to the pot. The heat is lowered, and the dish continues to cook slowly at a moderate temperature.

This technique creates tender and juicy meat. You can also add vegetables such as onions, potatoes and carrots to cook alongside the meat. Add some broccoli, asparagus or peas at the end of cooking, and you have a complete meal.

Because most recipes for braising have heavy flavors and cuts of meat that contain more fat, I wanted to create something that is just as warm and comforting as a stew or a roast, but has lighter flavors and a leaner cut of meat.

The blood oranges and chicken are perfect for this dish. It has bright flavors, a beautiful light sauce and juicy meat that is completely satisfying.

Citrus-Braised Chicken & Blood Oranges

Ingredients:
2 large bone-in chicken breasts or 4 skinless thighs
salt and pepper, for seasoning
3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon, for juicing
4 blood oranges, 3 sliced and 1 reserved for juicing
1 Tbs herbs de Provence
2 cups chicken broth (approximate)

Directions:
Rub the chicken with salt and pepper. Add oil to a wide-bottomed stockpot. Heat to high, and sear the chicken until browned on both sides. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon and the blood orange. Add the wine and reduce by half. Add the broth and herbs; bring to a boil. Scatter the sliced blood oranges over the top. Cover and transfer to a 350° F oven for 20 to 40 minutes, or reduce heat to low and finish cooking on the stove. Keep an eye on the level of the liquid, and add more broth or water, if necessary. When the chicken is cooked through, remove to a serving plate. Spoon the sauce and blood orange slices over the top.

Serves 2





WINE CLUB Varietal of the Month: Sparkling Wine

Gloria Ferrer Sonoma BrutSparkling wine, or champagne as it is better known, is a favorite for celebrations and romance.

Sparkling wine is made by taking the simple formula for fermentation (sugar + yeast = alcohol and CO2), and not allowing the resulting gas to escape. When you ferment wine in a closed or sealed environment, the carbon dioxide (CO2) returns into the wine, only to be released in the form of tiny bubbles after opening.

Not all sparkling wines are made using the same method or grape varietals. They also vary in sweetness and carbonation. To better explain, let’s break down some of the most popular varieties of sparkling wine.

Champagne (Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut): True Champagne is only produced in the Champagne region of France. It is usually a blend of grapes – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – and sometimes Pinot Meuner. They use the traditional method of bottling, which means it is bottle-fermented. The wine has gone through one fermentation in the tank and then another in the bottle, which creates the bubbles. The second fermentation can take months to years, and then the wine goes through a riddling process to remove yeast and sugar sediment. It is then given a sugar dosage that classifies the champagne style as Brut, Extra Dry or Sweet.

Brut (Gloria Ferrer): Brut is a classification of sweetness in sparkling wine. The Brut style contains 6 to 15 grams of sugar per liter of wine. The wine is dry, but there is just a hint of sweetness. In this sparkler, the winemaker stopped the fermentation process just before the yeast ate all of the sugar, leaving a tiny amount behind in the wine.

Extra Dry (Mumm Napa Cuvee): Extra Dry is slightly sweeter than Brut and contains a few more grams of sugar. This type of sparkler is dry, but not as dry as Brut or Extra Brut, meaning it retains a slight sweetness. It’s not sugary sweet, although they are noticeably sweeter than Brut wines.

Prosecco (Santa Margherita): Made in Italy in the region of Veneto, it is made from Prosecco grapes, also known as Glera, and is produced using the “tank method,” which means its second fermentation takes place in a tank rather than individual bottles. It is then cooled and clarified, and it receives its sugar dosage in the tank. Prosecco is typically Extra Dry.

Moscato d’ Asti (Castello del Poggio): A sparkling wine produced in the style of the Asti region of Italy. It is typically semisweet, lightly carbonated and low in alcohol.

Rose/Blush (Bottega Sparkling Rose Gold): Also known as pink champagne, the wine is made from a red grape, which can vary by region and country, and it was produced in the rose or blush methods of limiting the grape’s contact with its skin or blending a red wine with a white wine. They can vary from sweet to dry and generally have more fruit and floral flavors.

Blanc de Blancs (Francis Coppola Sofia): Made entirely from white grapes (typically Chardonnay), Blanc de Blancs are very different in flavor and lighter in color. Because champagne is typically made with Pinot Noir grapes that are light in flavor, Blanc de Blancs has a richly complex flavor with citrus notes that bring a lively acidic quality that is crisp and bright, but finishes dry and creamy.

Spumante (Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante): Spumante simply means sparkling wine in Italian. It does not identify sweetness level or type of grapes used. Another Italian sparkling wine that is well-known is Lambrusco, which is a red sparkling wine made from the Lambrusco grape of the Emilia-Romagna region. They are traditionally sweet, but some producers are now creating dry versions.

Wine of the Month: Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut
Aged for a minimum of 18 months, the Sonoma Brut shows delicate pear and floral notes with persistent effervescence and an effortless finish, making it a tremendously versatile sparkling wine.

Carefully crafted from hand-harvested Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. This brut is dominated by Pinot Noir, enabling the complex aromatic and palate profile that this red-skinned grape contributes.

On the nose, pear and floral notes are backed by toasty almond. On the palate, lively citrus, toast and apple flavors are overlaid with persistent effervescence, a creamy mid-palate and toasty finish.

Winemaker: Gloria Ferrer
More than 30 years ago, Jose and Gloria Ferrer created the Gloria Ferrer vineyards and winery in Sonoma County. It was the first to specialize in sparkling wine. Coming to California from Spain, the Ferrers relied on their family’s heritage as Spanish winemakers to develop their dream in America.

They acquired Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clone grapes from the Champagne region to begin creating their sparkling wines using the tedious méthode champenoise.

Gloria Ferrer is also known for her extensive collection of vintage wine and champagne glasses. Each glass was carefully selected from their travels to many countries and regions and is unique in design and craftsmanship.

“I remember very well when I began to collect glasses. It was in Venice in 1956 that my uncle gave me the idea while sitting at the dinner table in the Piazza San Marco. My father quietly got up and went into an antique shop near Saint Marco’s Cathedral and returned with a beautiful red Murano crystal glass with a golden dauphine in the stem. He gave me the glass and a kiss. The collection had begun.

In my collection, numbering around two thousand, there are all types of glasses. They vary in age and color. They are engraved and cut, painted and enameled, simple and ornate, transparent and opaque, molded and blown, antique and modern. Although we are convinced that the ideal glass for drinking cava is transparent crystal and the most suitable shape is the flute or tulip, I believe that in a collection there should be a little bit of everything. I confess that my favorite pieces are those with braided stems or serpentine interiors (perhaps trapped inside for centuries) or those ornate glasses with a white laticinio forming filigree in their stems or in the base. Those that have a teardrop of air on the knot of the base are my weakness, without forgetting those glasses of green, blue or ruby color from the beginnings of the sixteenth century.

For years, I’ve been roaming through antique shops all over the world. My husband has, with loving patience and graceful generosity, accompanied me the majority of the times. We have searched endlessly for the hard-to-find glasses in between knick-knacks and odds and ends, discovering them forgotten and lost in the most unlikely places in the world. It is these glasses, with their unknown history and their romantic toasts, which form my own collection.” – Gloria Ferrer

Food Pairings for Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut:
A tremendously versatile wine that is equally delicious with shellfish, crab, roasted chicken or sushi. Seasoning affinities include lemon grass, fennel and white pepper. Look to hard-aged and triple-cream cheeses with Meyer lemon compote for the cheese course.

Beet Bruschetta with Goat Cheese & Microgreens

Ingredients:
1 bunch baby beets
1/2 cup spreadable goat cheese
1 cup microgreens
1/2 loaf FRESH Ciabatta bread
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, additional oil for grilling bread
2 tsp balsamic glaze
pinch of salt and black pepper

Directions:
Remove the stalks, leaves and root tip of the beets. Place in a saucepan filled with water; bring to a light simmer. Let cook for 30 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove the beets from the water, and use your thumb to rub off the skin from the outside of the beets. Thinly slice the beets on a mandoline.

Brush the slices of the ciabatta bread with olive oil. Grill the bread in a grill pan or place under the broiler for 2 minutes or until golden. When bread is cool, spread the goat cheese over the slices. Top with a handful of microgreens and 4 slices of beets. Drizzle each slice with olive oil, balsamic glaze, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

 

Makes 8 to 10

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Posted in: Beer & Wine, Recipes




BREW CLUB Brew of the Month: Nine Band 28th State Stout

Nine Band 28th State StoutBrewery: Nine Band
Brewed in Allen, Texas, the malt and hop magic happens with every step of the crafting process. The Nine Band brewmaster brings award-winning experience to every carefully crafted style. Each beer is made with high-quality ingredients for the ultimate taste experience.

The Nine Band philosophy says, “Texas brews the legends, and it’s the inspiration for every craft beer created by Nine Band Brewing Company. Every sip serves up a tip of the hat, a nod of the head and a taste infused with the distinctive twang of our distinctive state.”

Brew of the Month: Nine Band 28th State Stout
Nine Bands brewers use oatmeal and flaked barley to give the 28th State Stout smooth creaminess and rich body. Made with specialty hops specifically chosen to represent Texas history, its dark roasted qualities are highlighted by chocolate malt and bring deep layers of flavor.

Food Pairings:
Pair this beer and other oatmeal stouts with fruity/creamy desserts, chocolate, game meats, pork or grilled items.

Classic Cheesecake with Cherry Sauce

For the cheesecake:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbs sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
4 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs

For the sauce:
2 cups whole frozen cherries, thawed
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs granulated sugar
2 Tbs brandy
2 tsp cornstarch

Directions:
Heat oven to 325° F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust. Bake for 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen crust; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate cheesecake for 4 hours.

To make the sauce, place cherries, brown sugar, granulated sugar and brandy in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until cherries begin to break down and juices release, stirring frequently. Cool to room temperature and then serve with cheesecake.

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WINE CLUB Varietal of the Month: Rhone Valley Red Wines

Morgan Cotes du CrowWine has been produced in the Rhone Valley for over 500 years with some of its steeply terraced vineyards among the oldest in France.

The Rhone Valley produces some of the world’s greatest red wines, but the valley is divided into two distinct regions. The Northern Rhone produces powerful, complex and age-worthy red wines, generally in very limited quantities, from the noble Syrah grape.
The Southern Rhone is a nearly bottomless source of more rustic and often richer blends based on the Grenache grape. They offer a richer mouth feel with more roasted and sometimes liqueur-like fruit character, plus notes of wild herbs and spices. More than 90 percent of the Rhone Valley’s production comes from the South, and this area is one of the world’s great sources of red wine value.

French AOC laws (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine) establish the geographic limits of each appellation, permissible grape varieties, methods of production, minimum alcohol level and maximum crop yield per hectare.

Rhone Valley wines are divided into four levels:

  • Cotes du Rhone AOC: Accounting for 50% of the valley’s production, this is the entry-level classification. Most are red blends based on Grenache or Syrah, and the vineyards are planted on a variety of different soils. Production rules are not as strict as other levels, but wines must have a minimum of 11 percent alcohol and be made from the 21 sanctioned grape varieties. These wines are easy drinking, food-loving wines that are perfect for every day.
  • Cotes du Rhone Villages AOC: The next step up are the village wines that are a bit more complex with lower yields and slightly higher alcohol. These wines are great for aging.
  • Cotes du Rhone Named Villages AOC: The next level of exclusivity includes Rhone village wines with labels bearing the name of one of the 18 villages that are allowed to declare their names.
  • The Crus: These 18 distinctive regions – eight on the north side of the valley and 10 on the south – truly express their individual terrain and are responsible for only 20 percent of the Rhone’s production.

Morgan Cotes du Crow
Although this wine is grown and produced in Monterey County, California, Cotes du Crow’s is a unique blend of the two noble, predominant red varietals of France’s southern Rhone Valley: Syrah and Grenache.

The wine was fermented in open top tanks and received manual punch-downs. This enabled good extraction and structure development with pleasant tannins. After fermentation, the wine was transferred to French oak barrels. The 12 percent new oak gives the wine subtle spice and vanilla characters without overpowering the elegant fruit profile.

This Rhone-style blend has a rich ruby-red color highlighted with purple edges. Coffee cake, dates and raspberry aromas jump out of the glass. The wine is medium-bodied with soft tannins; it offers a mouthful of pomegranate, black cherry and cranberry. Its weight and balance make it a perfect pairing with anything off the grill.

Grilled Stuffed Chicken Thighs

Ingredients:
8 boneless chicken thighs
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste
several toothpicks, soaked in water

Directions:
Squeeze excess water out of spinach, and add to a bowl. Add goat cheese, breadcrumbs, parmesan, mushrooms, garlic and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir to combine; season with salt and pepper.

Lay chicken thighs flat on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Add a small amount of stuffing to the middle of a thigh and roll tightly. Do not overfill or the stuffing will fall out during grilling. Season outside of thighs with salt and pepper.

Heat grill to high. In a small bowl, combine remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Place thighs on grill, seam-side down. Turn grill to low; close the lid. Watch for flare-ups. Periodically baste with olive oil and lemon juice. Cook for about 10 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through completely.

Serves 4

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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.

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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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Posted in: Grocery, Recipes




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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