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Making Mudbugs for Mardi Gras

Making Mudbugs for Mardi GrasMardi Gras is on the way, and it’s time to let the good times roll. It’s also time to stock up on crawfish. During Mardi Gras season, there’s plenty of red beans and rice, but the versatility of crawfish can make it the main attraction.

Almost any way you use shrimp or crab meat, you can substitute crawfish. Crab salad becomes crawfish salad. Shrimp Alfredo becomes Crawfish Alfredo. Crab cakes become crawfish cakes. The possibilities are endless and very delicious. From soup to etouffee, add some crawfish and put a New Orleans flair on any meal.

Now, I don’t expect anyone to spend hours cleaning and shelling whole crawfish. That’s why I head to the freezer aisle and find the frozen crawfish tails that are already cooked, cleaned and peeled. The only thing left to do is thaw, rinse and mix into whatever recipe I have planned.

Saving time in the kitchen gives me more time to collect my beads, make some hurricane drinks, and get ready to celebrate Mardi Gras with plenty of Louisiana mudbugs!

Creamy Crawfish Tarts

1 box mini fillo shells
1/2 lb cooked crawfish tails, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp hot sauce
1 Tbs fresh parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the shells on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350° F oven for 3 to 5 minutes for added crispness. Allow to cool. In a small bowl, combine crawfish tails, mayonnaise, hot sauce and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into fillo shells. Chill for 30 minutes and serve.

Makes 15

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FRESH Pasta Brings the Taste of Italy

FRESH Pasta Brings the Taste of ItalyIt’s been a year since FRESH received a special delivery from Italy – the FRESH pasta machine! It makes such a difference in recipes when you use fresh pasta instead of dried. The noodles have a rich flavor, and the texture is sublime. It’s almost like you’ve been transported to a trattoria in Italy, enjoying a plate of fettuccine with Italian mandolins playing in the background.

All of the shapes and flavors, available at FRESH, are so good. I can’t pick a favorite. One thing is sure; I can’t get enough of the Texas BBQ Cream Sauce. It’s a delicious Texas-style twist on an Italian classic!

Now, for some really good news. This month, in honor of FRESH’s Taste of Italy festival, 5 new pastas will be introduced. So many great new choices to taste and try. The new flavors include:

  • Garlic Basil Fettuccine
  • Garlic Basil Tagliatelle
  • Spinach Fettuccine
  • Spinach Tagliatelle
  • Ancho Chile Pappardelle

All of these flavors pair well with either FRESH Pomodoro or Alfredo Sauce. Of course, the Texas BBQ Cream Sauce goes perfectly with the Ancho Chile Pappardelle. The wide-cut pasta ribbons of pappardelle have always been my favorite, so I can’t wait to try this spicy combination. Who says Texans can’t cook like an Italian? Buon Appetito! It’s Italian, y’all!

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

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

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

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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Hungry for Lunch? Try the Cuban!

cuban sandwich at fresh by brookshiresI will never forget the first time I had the Cuban sandwich from the 2Go sandwich bar at FRESH. It was a few weeks before the store opened in 2011. The chefs were doing a tasting of the handmade sandwich offerings that would be on the menu.

Normally, I would go for something healthy with whole-grain bread, turkey, lots of vegetables and no mayonnaise. Then, I read the description for the Cuban, and my mouth began to water. House-made pulled pork, thinly sliced ham, Swiss cheese, sweet and sour pickles, spicy mustard and mayo on a Cuban roll.

I was very intrigued and couldn’t wait to take a bite. The bread was warm, grilled lightly and basted with melted butter. Inside, the pulled pork was juicy with a slight hint of smoke, and the ham was sliced thinly and seasoned well. The spicy mustard was spread against the Cuban roll next to the Swiss cheese, so the nutty flavors of the cheese melted into the spicy tang of the mustard. Finally, the thinly sliced pickles balanced out all the flavors and offered the perfect crisp bite. All of this is from the girl who usually says, “hold the pickles!”

This sandwich is a flavor indulgence, and unless you have a big appetite, I suggest sharing with a friend or saving half for tomorrow. (No regrets, you will want to eat it again the next day.) Any way you slice it, this sandwich goes to the top of the list.

A FRESH Take on Full Circle Soup

Creamy Tomato BisqueDuring the cold months of winter, I often want homemade soup but don’t have the ingredients or time to make a batch. That’s why I like to grab the Full Circle Organic soup boxes.

Available in three classic flavors – Chunky Tomato, Lentil and Chicken Noodle – these soups are made with organic vegetables and no preservatives or MSG. The vegetables used are fresh and plump, and in the Chicken Noodle, you will find juicy chunks of chicken and delicious egg noodles.

My favorite is the Chunky Tomato paired with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich. It is so good on a cold, rainy day, but other times, I like to turn the chunky tomato into a delicious, velvety bisque. It is the perfect first course for a dinner party, and no one will ever know that it wasn’t homemade.

Creamy Tomato Bisque

1 large fresh tomato, seeded and diced
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 (17.3 oz) box Full Circle Chunky Tomato Soup
3/4 cup half-and-half
fresh basil, for garnish
Full Circle Soup & Snack Oyster Crackers, for serving

In a saucepan, add the tomatoes and oil. Sauté over medium heat. Add the garlic powder, black pepper and broth. Pour in the box of soup and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the half-and-half. Use an immersion blender or electric blender to liquefy the soup until it is very smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Warm bisque again before serving. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, and serve with Full Circle Soup & Snack Oyster Crackers.

Serves 4

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FRESH Ideas for Weeknight Dinners

FRESH Ideas for Weeknight DinnersI think we can all agree that weeknight dinners are often a challenge. After a long day of work, errands and endless lists of things to do, the last thing on your mind is what to make for dinner. Fast food drive-thru and takeout menus are tempting, but we all know they’re not the best choice. That’s why I head to FRESH for timesaving options that are delicious and healthy. Here are just a few ways that FRESH can help you prepare a quick and easy dinner for everyone to enjoy:

FRESH for 2 meals: Created for those who need a quick and easy meal solution without sacrificing flavor. Chef-prepared, packaged and ready to go – all you need to do is grab and go. Every day, a different entrée is featured, so there is plenty of variety throughout the month. Check the calendar of events to see what’s on the menu.

Kit Kitchen: Let FRESH do the work for you. We cut a variety of fresh veggies in-house, so all you have to do is grab a box and fill it with exactly what you need. It saves time and money because it’s already cleaned and cut, and you only buy exactly what you need – a few asparagus spears, sliced onions, a handful of mushrooms, enough mixed greens for two. Check out our vast selection of organic and locally grown items located in our produce section across from the market case.

Market-Prepared Meats: In the market case, you’ll find meat that is already seasoned, marinated, wrapped and stuffed. Just put in the oven or on the grill, and dinner is ready in no time. Don’t forget the large variety of side dishes that can be purchased from the chef-prepared section.

Screamin’ Sicilian Pizza: On the nights when you just have to have a pizza, don’t get take out; bake at home instead. These frozen pizzas have an artisan crust that has been pre-baked in an Italian hearth oven and then finished with plenty of mouthwatering toppings. Even better, this pizza does not need to be thawed. Simply place in a 425° F oven for 17 to 19 minutes, and you have a great pizza that tastes like Italy in your own kitchen.

Rise & Shine with a FRESH Healthy Breakfast

Maple Hill Creamery Yogurt paired with FRESH Signature Granola Summer has ended and September is almost here. It’s a time to get back into school and work routines. That means early mornings and the daily rush to get out the door.

So, you hit the snooze a few times; that doesn’t mean you can skip breakfast. There are still some great options that are quick, healthy and easy to eat on-the-go when you are short on time.

Maple Hill Creamery Yogurt paired with FRESH Signature Granola is one of my favorite breakfast combinations. Top with a drizzle of honey and some fresh berries, and it’s almost like dessert for breakfast.

Not only is it delicious, but it’s healthy, too. The yogurt is made with milk from 100% grass-fed cows. They are committed to making the highest quality 100% grass-fed, organic, whole-milk dairy products. With a variety of flavors in their cream-line yogurts and handcrafted Greek yogurts, you are sure to find a favorite. They even have drinkables for an on-the-go healthy snack.

The FRESH Signature Granola is made in-house with organic rolled oats, walnuts, organic pumpkin and sunflower seeds, coconut, currants, cranberries, apricots and blueberries. It is lightly sweetened with brown rice syrup and baked in a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, ginger, cardamom, vanilla, orange essence, and canola and sesame oils.

It’s a wonderful mixture of all-natural flavors, and the protein and fiber keep you satisfied and away from unhealthy snacks.

On mornings that are rushed, I pack my yogurt to-go. Simply grab a Mason jar and layer the ingredients – yogurt on the bottom, a drizzle of honey, a layer of fruit and granola on top. It’s easy to eat and will stay fresh in the office refrigerator. You can even make it the night before. With the granola on top, it stays crisp and dry, and whenever you’re ready, there’s a healthy breakfast at your fingertips.

Saucing Up Your Seafood

Pre-mixed marinadesWhen you walk into FRESH, one of the first things you see is the seafood case filled with fresh fillets, whole fish, shrimp, scallops, crab legs and so much more.

You will also find a great selection of prepared items, marinated fillets and delicious sauces. It is truly the best selection of fresh seafood in East Texas.

Recently, it’s the sauces I’ve been giving a try. Each one is made in-house with fresh, unprocessed ingredients. Cocktail sauce, remoulade, tartar and Asian marinade – so many great flavors to choose from.

Fresh cocktail, remoulade and tartar sauce can make a big difference when serving shrimp cocktail or oysters. When you use the Asian marinade on fillets, there’s a great combination of sweet, savory and spicy that makes salmon, tuna, shrimp or scallops taste amazing.

Having these FRESH seafood sauces at your fingertips takes a lot of work out of preparation and has much better flavor when compared to bottled versions.

So, whatever fish you choose, be sure to check out the FRESH seafood sauces before you walk away from the seafood case. Here’s a recipe for salmon that uses the Asian marinade.

Cedar Plank Salmon

1 pkg cedar planks
2 salmon fillets
1/2 cup FRESH Asian marinade, plus more for basting

Soak planks in water for at least 2 hours. Place the fillets in a shallow dish and add the marinade. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Place the planks on one side of the grill and turn the grill to high on the side that does not have the planks. Close lid while preheating.

When the grill and planks are hot, place the fillets on the planks. Close the lid and cook for 10 minutes. Watch for flare-ups and spray with water to eliminate any flames. After 10 minutes, baste the fillets with more of the marinade. Fillets do not need to be turned.

Cook to desired doneness, and remove the planks and fish from the grill. If the planks are not too charred, they can be washed in warm water and used again. Be sure to soak again, as well.

Note: This method can be used for any type of fish and is great for fish that is usually too thin or flakey for grilling.

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Posted in: Meal Ideas, Seafood

Oh JOY-full table

Oh Joyful TableThe holidays are full of JOY.  The joy of gathering with family and friends, the joy of giving, and most importantly, the joy that comes from a delicious meal.  Spread joy around your family table this season with our chef-prepared holiday meals.

We offer three complete dinners, sides packages, family packs and individual items by the pound.  Here are the highlights:

FRESH Turkey Dinner (serves 6-8)
12-14 pound turkey, brined and roasted to perfection with Cornbread dressing, Giblet gravy, Whipped sweet potatoes, Green beans amandine and FRESH cranberry sauce for $99.99.

FRESH Ham Dinner (serves 6-8)
Spiral cut, glazed ham with Cornbread dressing, Giblet gravy, Whipped sweet potatoes, Green beans amandine and FRESH cranberry sauce for $89.99

Beef Tenderloin Dinner (serves 6-8)
Roasted whole thyme scented beef tenderloin with Cabernet demi-glace, Cornbread dressing, Giblet gravy, Whipped sweet potatoes, Green beans amandine and FRESH cranberry sauce for $169.99

Side Dish Package
Side dish package includes Cornbread dressing, Giblet gravy, Whipped sweet potatoes, Green beans amandine and FRESH cranberry sauce for $49.99. For our whipped sweet potatoes, we actually use organic garnet yams!  Each side dish is also available in family packs or by the pound from the chef case.

In addition to full meals, we offer a large selection of small bites, party platters, and desserts.  Whether you are hosting a cocktail party or needing some appetizers to hold over the crowd until dinner, our amazing hors d’oeuvres are perfect for any gathering, whether casual or elegant.  Try some Freshie favorites — our unique potato sliders or assorted petit four platter.

Ordering is easy. All you need to do is pick up our Oh JOY-full table Holiday Guide and select the complete meals, sides or small bites that you desire and call our Catering Department at 903-747-3512. Or, you can stop by the Catering desk at FRESH to place your order.

Family Central: Italian Meal Night

Are you looking for ideas to bring your family together more often?  Maybe we should learn a thing or two from the Italians and their traditions of turning dinnertime into quality family time.  Let us talk about three easy ways to enjoy your time with your family more.

Go Grocery Shopping Together.  Plan your grocery lists with your kids and teach them about different foods and how they are used in your recipes.  Take your kids to the fresh vegetable and market section of your local grocery store and teach them what fresh vegetables look and smell like.  This will be a great opportunity to sneak in a great conversation about where these vegetables come from and how they are grown.  Pick a specific recipe for the week and have your kids pick up all the ingredients for that specific recipe.

Let your Kids Cook!  After you have shopped for all your groceries and your kids are excited about their dish, bring them right into the kitchen for the fun to begin!  Cooking is a life skill and is a great way to connect with your kids.  It is a way to bring food to life and a great conversation starter for kids that are often buried in the vast world of electronics.

Make your Kitchen a Family Hangout.  You have created the excitement of cooking already and you’re right on your way to having that fun family hangout right at home!  Your family will start to love being in the kitchen, and your quality time with them will start to multiply.  This all comes from the love of food and family!

What kid doesn’t love macaroni and cheese?  Try out this recipe with your kids to put a new spin on something that is so great!

Italian Style Macaroni & Cheese

1 lb elbow macaroni
2 Tbs butter
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup fontina, shredded
1/4 cup provolone cheese, shredded
1 pkg sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Boil 6 quarts of salted water and cook the pasta to almost al dente, about 5 minutes.

Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter and sauté the garlic for 1 minute.

Stir in the flour.

Slowly stir in the cream until it begins to thicken.

Stir in the nutmeg and mozzarella.

Add the fontina, provolone and sun-dried tomatoes.

Mix the cheese mixture with the macaroni, season with salt and pepper and place in a large buttered casserole dish.

Mix together the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.

Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top of the macaroni and bake for 10 minutes until golden.

You can have the best of both worlds even if you are short on time. We have great Macaroni & Cheese in the Grab & Go section here at FRESH, alongside our Baked Ziti family casserole. You can also grab our FRESH baguettes and a wonderful salad, and you and your family are set for a wonderful dinner!

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