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So Long Summer

Sometimes I think that Labor Day is my favorite holiday of the year. I am usually thinking that in July and August when it is 100 degrees outside, and I am growing weary of long, hot summer days.

Then, I see that it’s almost Labor Day, and that means fall is on the way. So long summer, it’s time for a cool down! Even though it’s still a bit warm, I start getting excited about eating outside and grilling – all things I avoid during the dog days of summer because who wants to stand over a hot grill when it’s just as hot outside.

That means the last long weekend of summer deserves a proper celebration. Now I know it will still be hot, but this recipe has two big advantages: quick cooking and closing the lid of the grill.

When I was a kid, we used to visit my cousins in New York for Labor Day. They lived on Long Island, and they’d always throw a clambake party. That’s not exactly possible here, but this recipe for Scampi-Style Grilled Shellfish comes close.

What goes in it really depends on what’s available in the FRESH seafood market, and typically everything in this recipe should be there. Shrimp, scallops, crab legs, claws, mussels and clams are all great choices. You can also get a few fish fillets and cut them into cubes to add to the mixture. The key is that all of your fish and shellfish cook at the same rate. You don’t want overcooked shrimp or undercooked fish. Consider the size of things and their typical cooking times.

Also, remember to discard any clams or mussels that are already open prior to cooking and any that did not open during cooking. Those little guys are not edible. If you’re feeling indulgent, you can also grab a couple of lobster tails to cook directly on the grill grate. All you need on the side is lots of melted butter and some crusty baguettes to soak up all the sauce.

Scampi-Style Grilled Shellfish

4 dozen assorted shellfish (large shrimp, sea scallops, crab claws/legs, mussels or clams)
1/2 cup butter
2 cups white wine
1 cup water
juice from 3 lemons
1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
disposable aluminum roasting pan

If using mussels or clams, clean and scrub outside of shells. Rinse off grit and sand. Discard any that are not completely closed or have a cracked shell. Do not debeard mussels until right before cooking. Peel and devein shrimp.

Heat grill to high heat. Place roasting pan on grill. Add butter and let melt. Add wine, water, lemon juice, lemon rounds, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and salt. Close grill and allow liquid to heat until steaming.

Place all shellfish in pan. Stir everything together with a large spoon. Close the lid; turn grill heat down to medium. Let steam for about 2 minutes, and then stir again. As shellfish open or finish cooking, remove from the pan to a large serving bowl. The shrimp will cook fastest, and the clams will take the longest to open. Shrimp should be pink and curled, scallops opaque, and clams and mussels opened. Discard any clams or mussels that do not open. Do not try to pry open.

Pour the liquid from the pan over the cooked shellfish. Add parsley. Serve with rice or toasted baguette slices.

Serves 4

Note: Purchase clams and mussels no more than 24 hours in advance of cooking. Fill a colander with ice, and place the mussels and clams on top of the ice. Place the colander in a larger bowl, discarding melted water periodically. You want your shells to stay on top of the ice and not be floating in water.

Calories per Serving : 360, Fat: 24 g (15 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 90 mg, Sodium: 771 mg, Carbohydrates: 7 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 9 g

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Easter Fun in the Kitchen

Easter Fun in the KitchenGrowing up, I have fond memories of coloring eggs every year for Easter. Mom boiled all the eggs. There were several bowls of colored water lining the counter, and we were ready to create beautiful eggs the Easter Bunny would add to our baskets.

That wasn’t all the fun we had in the kitchen, though. We also liked to make brightly colored Easter candy. White chocolate bark was melted, dyed with food coloring and poured into candy molds that my grandmother used to make lollipops and chocolates.

As the years went passed, the tradition was simplified, and now we like to make round cake bites drenched with melted chocolate then decorated with glazes and colored sprinkles. It’s a big colorful mess, but everyone has a great time. Plus, they are the perfect bite of sweetly delicious cake and candy.

It’s a fun tradition to start with your family. All you need is pound cake, a small round biscuit cutter, white bark candy coating, food coloring and sugar. The recipe is easy to follow, but you can get creative with other ingredients, shapes and decorations.


Easter Pound Cake Bites

2 FRESH Bakery Pound Cakes (or 1 box pound cake mix, prepared)
1 pkg Brookshire’s White Bark Coating
powdered sugar glaze (1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1 to 2 Tbs water)
Over The Top Decorating Sprinkles

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice the pound cake into 1-inch slices. Use a small round biscuit cutter to cut rounds from each slice of pound cake. Place on the cookie sheet. Melt the bark according to package directions. Divide the bark; dye different colors, if desired. Spoon 1 tablespoon of melted bark over each round. Smooth it over the top and down the sides of cake bites. Add more if necessary to coat all sides. Add glaze and sprinkles to the top of each cake bite.

Leave cake bites at room temperature for at least 20 minutes to allow coating to harden. Once set, use a sharp knife to cut away excess bark around the cake bites. Bites can be placed in mini-muffin wrappers for serving.

To color your bark: Melt the bark, and separate into 1/2-cup bowls. Add 2 drops of food coloring to each bowl.

To make a glaze: In a small bowl, measure out 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or lemon juice. Stir until liquid is a pourable consistency. Add 1 drop of food coloring.

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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

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)

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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Holiday Cheese Platter Made Easy

Holiday Cheese Platter Made EasyThe holidays are a time for entertaining, parties and last minute guests. But there’s not a lot of time for planning, shopping or cooking. That’s why I like to keep my refrigerator stocked with an assortment of items from FRESH’s Cheese & Charcuterie department.

It’s easy to build a quick cheese platter that includes sliced meat, various cheeses, artisanal crackers, olives, dried fruit and spreads. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, and there are so many great options.

I generally start with three cheeses. The first one being a hard cheese – something like Gruyere, Grana Padano, manchego or a sharp English cheddar. The next cheese will be something soft – brie, goat, Camembert or a marinated mozzarella. The last cheese I choose is blue. There are many varieties of blue cheese that are very nice with rich flavors that are sweet and nutty. Some great examples are Gorgonzola, Roquefort or some of the American artisanal blues like Point Reyes.

For the charcuterie, some good choices are Prosciutto di Parma, speck, Italian salami, mortadella or, from Spain, serrano or chorizo. Pâté can also be served in cubes or as a spread.

Finish it off with a fruit spread, artisanal honey, dried fruit or Marcona almonds. Be sure to grab some of the artisanal crackers or flatbread located by the Olive Bar, and then, head over to the Bakery for a sliced baguette, Italian loaf or hard rolls.

Here are a few items to try when building your cheese platter.

Leoncini Mortadella: Known as the original bologna, this typical charcuterie product from Italy is characterized by an exclusive and delicate flavor that is hearty, yet delicate and mild.

Alexian Chicken & Veal Pâté: Traditional, country-style pâté to be served by the slice or cubed and placed on toothpicks. Can also be used as a spread on artisan bread. Made with veal, chicken breast, chicken liver and cognac.

Kerrygold Blarney Castle: 100 percent natural, grass-fed cheese that is mild and creamy with rich and velvety undertones. Taste and texture is similar to a young Dutch Gouda.

Cana de Cabra Goat Log: Cana de Cabra is a soft-ripened cheese made from pasteurized goat’s milk, in Murcia, Spain. This creamy, buttery, mild and delicious cheese has a bloomy rind with semi-soft texture. Aged for 21 days, as it ages, the flavor intensifies.

Point Reyes Original Blue: Artisanal, American Farmstead cheese from California. This blue is creamy with layers of full flavor. It is sweet and milky with a medium-to-strong punch of blue flavor.

Sahale Snacks Bring Flavor to Sweet Potatoes

Sahale Snacks Bring Flavor to Sweet PotatoesSometimes change is good, and putting a twist on Thanksgiving recipes can usher in a new tradition of flavor. For years, my family always had sweet potato casserole topped with melted marshmallows. Once you graduate from the kids’ table to the adult table, marshmallows may not be so cool.

My new favorite way to make sweet potatoes is to add a crumble to the top. I recently discovered Sahale Snacks, and they are one of my favorites for snacking and a quick boost of protein.

For Sahale Snacks, it all started with a climb up Mount Rainier in Washington State in August 2003. They had a beautiful trip but nothing delicious to eat. The trail mix and stale nuts helped replenish lost energy, but they did nothing to satisfy their desire for something great tasting, nutritious and as adventurous as their travels. That experience inspired them to create Sahale Snacks. They began experimenting with unique combinations of premium nuts, dried fruits and exotic spices, each reflecting a beautiful location, culture or culinary tradition somewhere in the world.

They use whole ingredients in their natural form, such as cashews, almonds, pecans, and pistachios, and combine them with naturally dried and preservative-free fruits. Then, they add fabulous ingredients like honey, lemongrass, balsamic vinegar or pure ground Madagascar vanilla beans. They are delicious snacks that go beyond ordinary.

They carefully select nuts from the best growers, and then they dry roast them to bring out the natural flavors. Some snack companies use sulfites to boost color or extend shelf life. They always use unsulfured fruit, which has been naturally preserved with sugar or a combination of sugar and fruit juice concentrate. Their secret glazing process uses tapioca syrup and cane sugar as a base; they then add fruit juices and spices.

Available in a variety of flavors, for the sweet potato recipe I used the Sahale Valdosta Pecans. It’s the perfect combination of black-peppered pecans, sweet cranberries and a pinch of orange zest. Just do a quick grind in the food processor and stir together with some melted butter. Use what you need, and save the rest for snacking. Be sure to try some of the other Sahale flavors. I know you will find a favorite.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Pecan-Cranberry Crumble

4 medium sweet potatoes
2/3 cup milk
4 Tbs butter, room temperature
2 Tbs honey
1/2 tsp salt
2 bags Sahale Valdosta Pecans
2 Tbs butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375° F. Pierce sweet potatoes, and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour or until soft. Let cool to room temperature. Peel skin from potatoes, and scoop flesh into a large microwave-safe bowl. Add milk, butter, honey and salt. Use a potato masher to completely combine. Spoon into a baking dish, and place in preheated oven for 20 minutes.

For the topping, place Sahale Snacks in a food processor, and pulse for a few seconds to roughly chop. Stir in the melted butter. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, and scatter the chopped pecans over the top. Spray the top with nonstick cooking spray. Place under the broiler for 2 minutes or until top begins to brown. Watch closely to prevent burning.

Serves 6

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Stock Up on Full Circle Spices

Stock Up on Full Circle SpicesIt’s almost time for Thanksgiving, and that means stocking the pantry with necessary ingredients. I also like to use this time to clean out my spice cabinet. It’s time to check for outdated spices and get rid of anything that has lost its flavor.

Replenishing the cupboard with quality spices can sometimes be expensive. That’s why I look to Full Circle for organic spices. They believe in purity over preservatives and truly good taste.

Full Circle is Brookshire’s wellness and USDA-certified organic brand that provides a healthy, environmentally conscious eating and living experience for the entire family at an affordable price. From farm-fresh produce to responsibly caught fish, all-natural snacks to gluten-free frozen dinners, and environmentally safe detergents to 100% recyclable paper towels, Full Circle provides a wide variety of items the way Mother Nature intended. Hundreds of Full Circle choices are currently available throughout the store, making it easy to shop for organic and wellness products.

For my Thanksgiving pantry, a few spices are essential. I must have ground ginger and fresh cinnamon for baking, pies and sweet potato recipes. For the savory, a new bottle of bay leaves is needed for cooking the turkey, and making broth and the leftover turkey soup.

Full Circle – it’s a brand I can trust for affordability, quality and flavor.

After-Thanksgiving Turkey Stock

5 lbs leftover turkey bones (with some meat still attached), broken into large sections if necessary
1 lb yellow onions, halved or quartered depending on size (skins on)
1/2 lb carrots, cut into 4-inch lengths
1/2 lb celery stalks, cut into 4-inch lengths
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
8 sprigs parsley
3 bay leaves

In a 3-gallon stockpot, combine all ingredients, and fill with enough cold water to cover everything by 3 inches when submerged (about 6 quarts). If you don’t have a large stockpot, use two smaller pots.

Bring to a rapid simmer over high heat. Reduce heat until bubbles barely break the surface. Simmer until flavorful (about 2 hours), skimming stock with a ladle every 30 minutes. Keep the stock at a light simmer; do not boil. Any remaining fat can be easily removed once the stock is chilled. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard all vegetables, herbs and bones. Let stock cool completely before refrigerating. To store, refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 6 months.

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Innovative Marinade with an Old-Fashioned Story

Daddy Hinkle's Instant Meat MarinadeDaddy Hinkle’s Instant Meat Marinade is dedicated to the story of J. Frank Hinkle. Created by his grandchildren, the product line features wet and dry marinades that bring award-winning-steakhouse flavor to your table.

Daddy Hinkle’s father was born in 1860 in Missouri at the beginning of the Civil War. By the time his son, J. Frank, was born in 1886, the family had moved to Arkansas. Later, they would travel through Paris, Texas, and finally reach the Oklahoma Territory around the turn of the century.

He received a spotty education at best after moving from town to town following his father’s water-well drilling wagon. The young man was very much on his own at the age of 14 when his life of work and adventure began.

In search of his destiny, he traveled all over and worked at any job he could find. He finally found his calling in Texas. Oil was the new gold at the turn of the century, and he began in the oil fields as a roughneck. He worked his way up to driller then tool pusher. With parts from junkyards and by using his own hands, he built his first steam-driven oil rig.

As an oilman, Daddy Hinkle entertained a lot of people in restaurants and at home. He loved a good T-bone steak. His wife “doctored up” the steaks with a combination of garlic salt, tenderizer, celery salt, paprika, seasoned salt, pepper and everything else she could find in the kitchen cabinet.

Whatever the combination of seasonings, the steaks proved to be irresistible to everyone who dined with Daddy Hinkle. Since 1994, the marinades, seasonings and rubs have carried on the legacy of Daddy Hinkle.

The marinades and seasonings are sold at FRESH in a combination pack, dry seasoning on one side and wet seasoning on another. Daddy Hinkle’s is a two-part marinade that is easy to use and delivers superb flavor to all your favorite meats: steak, chops, grilled chicken, wild game, ribs, roast, brisket and more. Simply wet the meat with the liquid seasoning, and then sprinkle the dry seasoning on all sides. Puncture the meat with a fork in several places, and let stand for a few minutes at room temperature. Cook as desired and enjoy.

In addition to the original flavor, the dry seasoning also comes in a Southwest flavor that adds cumin and oregano to the mix. The dry seasoning is also great to sprinkle on grilled veggies or toss with roasted potatoes. It’s also delicious mixed into fry batters and anywhere you need a boost of flavor.

Asian Dipping Sauces for Any Occasion

Full Circle Asian Dipping SaucesSummer entertaining means outdoor cooking and long afternoons enjoying the sun and fun with family and friends. Of course burgers and hot dogs are a great choice, but chicken satay is a fun and versatile way to change up your grilling menu.

Satay is simply marinated and grilled chicken skewers. They are traditionally part of Thai cuisine, but I love serving them with a variety of Full Circle Asian Sauces. My favorite is the Peanut Satay, but I am also torn between Hoisin and Sweet Thai Chili.

Each of the Full Circle Asian Sauces are USDA organic with no preservatives or artificial ingredients. Sweet Thai Chili is exactly that – sweet and spicy with ginger, garlic, lemongrass, red jalapeños, and a touch of pineapple and orange juice.

Hoisin is a sweet and sour soy-based sauce flavored with molasses, miso paste, complex spices with a hint of vinegar, and finished with orange and toasted sesame.

Peanut Satay is rich with creamy peanut butter, coconut crème and red curry sauce.

This meal couldn’t be any easier. Simply marinate your chicken, grill it and serve with a variety of the sauces. Quick, simple and a great way to enjoy more sun and fun outside the kitchen.

Chicken Satay with Assorted Dipping Sauces

1 lb chicken tenders, trimmed
2 shallots, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 Tbs Sriracha sauce, to taste
3 Tbs soy sauce
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbs vegetable oil
Full Circle Organic Sweet Thai Chili Sauce, Hoisin Sauce and Peanut Satay

If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes. Place shallots, garlic, Sriracha sauce, soy sauce, orange juice and vegetable oil in a blender. Blend well. Taste the marinade to see if you like the balance between salty, sweet and spicy.

Pour marinade over the meat; stir well to combine. Marinate for 30 minutes to 3 hours. Thread the chicken onto the skewers and discard the marinade.

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Be sure the grates are clean and well-oiled. Place the skewers on the grill. Depending on thickness, grill about 5 minutes on each side until chicken is cooked through. Serve with dipping bowls filled with each of the Full Circle Asian Sauces.

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Shop FRESH for Stanley’s Seasoning

Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q SeasoningsTyler’s own Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q is known throughout the state and frequently garners national attention. Hailing from our own backyard, we are lucky to have the smokin’ and stylin’ talents of owners Nick and Jennifer Pencis, their pit master Jonathan Shaw and the hard-working efforts of all the Stanley’s staff.

At FRESH, you can find their full line of products that include their famous BBQ Sauce (hot and regular), Rib Rub, Chicken Spike and Sweet Hot Pickles.

The BBQ sauce is a staple in my refrigerator. Along with mustard, ketchup, butter, eggs and milk, there must be a bottle of Stanley’s BBQ Sauce. Made from J.D. Stanley’s original handwritten recipe, it’s the perfect blend of sweet and tangy. It’s great for dipping, drenching or basting while grilling.

My latest discovery is the Chicken Spike. Created by Stanley’s pit master, Jonathan Shaw, it is the perfect spice for chicken. The ingredients list spices, garlic and paprika. How’s that for a secret ingredient list? I’m not sure what spices are included, how much garlic they use, or if the paprika is smoked or sweet. Honestly, I do not care. As long as I have this seasoning, I will never buy or concoct another chicken seasoning again.

It is now my “go-to” seasoning for roasted whole chicken and chicken breasts on the grill. The spices, salt and garlic are perfectly balanced. When I roast a whole chicken, I combine 3 tablespoons of the Chicken Spike with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and I rub it all over the skin and inside the cavity. Roast at 375° F to an internal temperature of 165° F, and this chicken is simple perfection.

You can also slather the skin with Stanley’s BBQ Sauce within the last 15 minutes of cooking and again when the chicken comes out of the oven. There’s nothing wrong with more great Stanley’s flavor!

Great Gifts for Dad: Nordic Ware Grilling

Nordic Ware Grill AccessoriesIn the housewares department at FRESH, you will find a whole section of quality grill products. My favorites are the grilling accessories by Nordic Ware. I always have great success baking with Nordic Ware products in the kitchen, so when I saw they had pans and toppers for the grill, I was very excited.

Nordic Ware has been an American tradition since 1946. It’s most famous product, the Bundt pan, paved the way for a complete line of quality cookware and bakeware.

Most of the products in the Nordic Ware 365 Indoor/Outdoor Grill line are made from heavy cast-aluminum and have an eco-friendly, nonstick coating. A few of the pieces are also available in stainless steel. All products are designed to be used on the grill, but they can also be used indoors on the stove or in the oven.

The Nordic Ware products available* at FRESH include :

  • Grill Topper
  • Fish Griller
  • Texas Searing Griddle
  • Grill ‘n Shake Bake
  • Beer Can Roaster
  • Chicken Leg Griller

*while supplies last

Pair a Nordic Ware grilling product with a new set of tongs, Dad’s favorite grill sauce or seasoning, or a gift card for his favorite cut from the meat counter. You’ll have the perfect gift for Father’s Day – one-stop shopping for a great day for Dad!

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