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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!

Family Central: The End of the Tomato-Peach Season

As the summer produce season wanes, it’s difficult for me to transition to the fall growing season when it’s still shorts and flip-flop weather. And if I have to choose an East Texas garden favorite, the tomato and peach tie for first place easily.

The truth is, my favorite way to enjoy these juicy fruits (yes, they are both fruits) is standing over my sink, eating them both like apples. Neither needs a thing added to them to appreciate their natural, raw deliciousness.

But sometimes I go crazy in FRESH when I see the “locally grown” section, and I end up buying way more tomatoes and peaches I can eat. This week, I decided to try something new – a simple combination of tomatoes and peaches for grilled meat.

“Compote” is just a fancy French word for “mixture,” but it does sound much better than “mixture” when you serve your “Tomato-Peach Compote” at the table.

This compote is a great reminder that the tomato is also a fruit, and it has a natural sweetness that pairs well with that of a ripe, summer peach. Together, these two flavors are hard to beat when paired with your favorite grilled meat. I like to serve it with grilled pork tenderloin that has been rubbed with a paste of olive oil, garlic, ginger and a dash of curry powder.

Tomato-Peach Compote

2 Tbs canola oil
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
3/4 lb summer ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 summer ripe peach, chopped (Don’t have to peel)
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme or rosemary
1 tsp honey

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté over medium heat until softened, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes and peaches and cook four minutes, until softened. Stir in thyme and honey.

Serve warm over your favorite grilled meat. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator up to 24 hours.

View this recipe to print or add items to your Shopping List.

A FRESH Point of View: Zilks – Artisan Food Honesty

At FRESH, we take pride in offering the products of many small, locally owned companies that have a true passion for food.  Zilks, our newest Hummus and Salsa brand, is the epitome of this passion.

The note on the “about” tab of their website says the following:

“We traded Wall Street and high finance insanity for Zilker Park and artisan food honesty.  Now that’s getting ahead!  We hope you enjoy our foods as much as we appreciate making them.”

Long-time friends Jeff Tusa and John Anderson set out to find more meaningful work and found it in a small hummus brand based in Austin, Texas named Out to Lunch.  They changed the name to Zilks, an abbreviation for Zilker Park which represents a place where anyone can gather for a good time and like hummus, you can gorge on it and you still feel good when you’re done.

If you are not familiar with hummus, it is a nutritious dip made from chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.  A popular staple in the Mediterranean, it is amazing served with pita chips or as a sandwich or burger spread as an alternative to mayonnaise.

Zilks offers  13 kinds of hummus, including 4 varieties made from different types of pesto.  At FRESH, we offer 8 of the flavors:

  1. Original: Traditional flavor
  2. Black Bean Hummus with Lime: The gateway from bean dip to hummus
  3. Balsamic Roasted Garlic and Red Onion: Flavors of the Mediterranean
  4. Hatch Green Chile:  Sweet heat from the famous New Mexico chile
  5. Roasted Red Pepper: A mild pepper flavor without the burn
  6. Chipotle Sundried Tomato: Complex and earthy
  7. Spinach and Artichoke: Sounds healthy, huh?
  8. Jalapeño and Cilantro: Featuring salsa’s best ingredients

We also have their all natural medium salsa that is alive with fresh veggies.  It has no preservatives and definitely tastes like homemade.

Pick up a few tubs of your favorite flavors and let us know what you think!

FRESH and Festive: Recipe for a good time!

There is a certain “je ne sais quoi” about the mixture of good music and good food that is magical. (excuse my French.) You know there is something about having your senses transported by a perfectly calibrated pimento cheese slider while being serenaded by heavenly sounds. It makes me smile just thinking about it. I have been known to travel states away to be in the presence of rock-in-roll stars as well as travel great distances to dine on renowned culinary delights. However, I no longer have to roam the world to find the perfect recipe for a good time!

I have it right here at FRESH. And I’m willing to share with you. In fact, I formally invite you and all your friends to FRESH’s Back Patio and 801 Grill. One of the many great pleasures of my job is booking the musicians for our Back Patio. Yes, Freshies I’m living my rock-in-roll fantasy.

You can find some toe-tappin times each Friday and Saturday night from 6-9pm. Most of our musical acts are from right here in our back yard but on occasion we play host to musicians from Dallas, Houston or Austin.  We are smack dab in the middle of our Taste of Texas event. And I hope that you have already come out to hear some of our bands. If not, you’re in luck because we have a great line up this weekend and all summer long. And I have the perfect recipe for a good time.

For a Good Time
1 Friday or Saturday night
1 FRESH Back Patio
1 801 Grill Menu
1 Rockin & Amazing Local Musician(s)
1 Dash of Festive Mood
2 or 3 Kids dancing in the aisle

Mix all with friends & family and enjoy!

Freshie Faves: How black eyed peas and I became friends again

I had an “incident” with black eyed peas as a young child. I cringe just reminiscing about it for you today. I was part of one of those families that insisted you finish everything on your plate.  And on my plate one day was a semi truck load of black eyed peas just taunting me. And I recall being condemned to my chair for days with my only escape being to consuming these lethal legumes. Ok, it may have only been for minutes but it felt like days.  I was whole-heartedly against these mushy barriers to dessert.

It took me many years to overcome my aversion to black eyed peas. I now sadly think about all the good luck I missed out on at New Years. But I’m happy to report that peas and I are on good terms now. And at this time of year I mix my ole buddy up with some of my other Texas seasonal favorites. Here is a great mashup that is pretty tasty. It’s called Texas Caviar. And I’m sure you know that Texas Caviar is that it isn’t actually caviar, any more than Rocky Mountain Oysters are actually oysters. But it is scrumptious no matter what it is called!  

Texas Caviar
3 cups fresh cooked Texas Black-Eyed Peas
1 medium Jacksonville tomato, diced
2 ears of fresh Texas corn, cut from cobs
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 small Noonday onion, diced
6 Tbs fresh lime juice
6 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp fresh minced garlic

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Stir and taste; adjust seasonings to taste by adding more salt, pepper or lime juice as needed.

Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, pita bread or other flatbread/crackers of your choice.

FRESH and Festive: National BBQ Month

Countrymen, dust off your grills for May is National BBQ month!  I can hear the collective sighs of relief from all you Freshies. Finally, a designated time that you can use your sleeves as a napkin and pick your teeth out in the open without remorse and best of all play with fire.

BBQ-ing is usually a long drawn out process that has been finely crafted here in the South.  We all have our own fond BBQ memories that come in many shapes and sizes.  Let me offer FRESH as your new BBQ buddy.  As any good buddy would do, we can offer you some words of advice and bring some good vittles to the table.

Since your grill has been sulking on the back patio for our brief winter season, you might need to interject a little TLC before the neighborhood cook-off begins. If you have a gas grill and a desire to keep your eye brows, be sure to do safety check. Take off the propane tank, clean it, and inspect it for any damage or wear. For you traditionalists with the charcoal grills start by dumping those ashes from last Labor Day’s soiree. Remove the grates and lay them on last Sunday’s sport section. Grab some oven cleaner and spray both sides.  Take a short 20 min break to practice some new yoga moves or watch the pretty NASCARs race in circles then wipe, rinse and replace grates.  After you have cleaned your grill, it’s a good idea to oil the grates, even if you are also brushing your food with oil. Now we are ready for some summertime action.

No matter what you end up subjecting to your fire pit, it’s a good idea to slather it with sauce. Now there are many different types of BBQ sauces.  We have a mere selection of around 500 here at FRESH. BBQ sauce is a cultural revolution tied to the area of origin and regional roots. The line has been draw by the basic elements. There are vinegar based, tomato based, and mustard based.

There just are too many good ones to list them all. So, I will share my own tasty count down. Of course I must have my Tyler’s own Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q fix on a regular basis. Nick & Jen Pencis continue the Stanley’s “Mom & Pop” award winning tradition that has been in full swing for 50 years. You can take a little bit of this tradition home with you as well with their original or spicy sauce and rib rub.

Another much-loved local BBQ concoction is from Cajun Bayou. Proprietor Keith, better known as “Boudin Man” has perfected a sauce that is tangy with a little kick back coming from his Louisiana roots.

Then there is my number one Iron Chef winner, Kent Rathbun who has created a Texas Peach Barbeque Sauce that is refreshing with a bit of orange and peach mixed in. I can testify that it is a perfect match for baby ribs and pork. One more tip for you, many sauces contain sugar and can burn rapidly, so the secret is to hold off on the sauce until the last 10 minutes or so.

Go forth and BBQ my Freshies!

From Our Backyard: Greenberg Turkeys

They’ve been discovered by Oprah and The New York Times, but don’t worry  – Greenberg smoked turkeys are still an East Texas treasure, made right in Tyler in the time-honored way, and just as delicious as you remember.

And, yes, we still have your holiday Greenberg turkeys at FRESH!

If you don’t know the story of Greenberg turkeys, you’re either not from around here, or you’ve never been fortunate enough to enjoy one.

More than 75 years ago, Samuel Isaac Greenberg started smoking turkeys in his barn, using hickory and a secret spice rub handed down from his mother.  Word spread about his delicious smoked birds, and by the ‘40s, Greenberg and his son Zelick were making deliveries as far away as Dallas and then beyond.

Today, the third generation of Greenbergs, Sam Greenberg, runs the company, and the turkeys are smoked with the same level of care as they were in the early days. Workers still hand-trim the birds, and slow-smoke them over a hickory fire in pit houses still located in Tyler.

A Greenberg turkey has a distinctive, deep, smoky flavor, and yet somehow manages to stay moist underneath that smoke-darkened skin. To me, they’re best served at room temperature or slightly chilled. I especially like them as the centerpiece of a sandwich buffet, plopped onto soft bread like brioche or onto a crusty roll. I might add a little cranberry sauce or a raspberry-spiked Dijon mustard, but really, this turkey is flavorful enough to stand on its own.

Is the Greenberg turkey part of your holiday tradition? Come get one while we still have them. Never tried one? Come start a new custom for your family celebrations.

From Our Backyard: Christmas Milk

With its retro-cool logo, a distinctive purple-and-red bottle, and its clever name, Christmas Milk looks like a genius bit of marketing – a way to make eggnog more modern.

But it turns out there’s an even better story behind this eggnog, new this season from a company in Frisco, Texas.

A few years ago, company founders Heidi and Shane Fausel were enjoying their first holiday season with their 9-year-old son, whom they had recently adopted. The little boy kept asking for a drink he’d once tasted; he couldn’t describe it very well, just that it “tasted like Christmas.” The Fausels tried sports drinks, juices, soft drinks, but nothing was what he remembered.

Finally, one day, they happened to give him a taste of eggnog. At the first sip, their son’s face lit up.  That’s it, he shouted: “It’s Christmas milk!”

Flash forward several months. Recently laid off from a corporate job, Heidi Fausel was casting about for a new challenge, one that would let her spend more time with their growing family. She kept coming back to the idea of Christmas milk. What if she and her husband created a super-premium eggnog and sold it to supermarkets as Christmas Milk?

And even better – what if part of the proceeds from the product went to support adoption of foster children, so that more children could find forever families, just like their son?

Christmas Milk was born. The Fausels spent two years on brand development, distribution plans, and product development. They came up with the purple-retro look so it would stand out in a field of red-and-green, traditional competitors, finally getting the product to market just in time for this holiday season.

The Fausels, who now have four children ranging in age from 6-12, have committed to donating part of the proceeds from their new venture to charities that support the adoption of foster children. This year, that will include the Gladney Center in Fort Worth, which runs the New Beginnings program, which specializes in placing foster children over the age of 5 in new, permanent families.  (The Fausels adopted their children through this program.)

Of course this wouldn’t matter if the eggnog wasn’t good. But it is. It’s super-rich and creamy, not very “eggy.” In fact, it tastes pretty much like melted vanilla ice cream, with just a hint of nutmeg. (And it’s ultra-pasteurized, so it stays fresh for up to 120 days.) Taste it, and see if you don’t think it just “tastes like Christmas.”

From Our Backyard: Simply 7 Chips

If you think “healthy” and “delicious” are mutually exclusive terms when it comes to snacks, let me introduce you to Simply 7, a company out of Houston.

Simply 7 makes crispy snack chips out of rather unlikely things like lentils and chickpeas. They’re baked instead of fried, and dusted with either plain sea salt, or simple herb/spice mixes. And, a healthy-sized serving of about 30 chips has only 130 or 140 calories, depending on the variety you select. (Thirty potato chips typically pack about twice as many calories as that.)They have no cholesterol, no trans fat, and no artificial anything. They are even gluten-free.

But – and here’s the really cool part – they taste good. So good that you’d eat them even if they weren’t relatively good for you.

Simply 7 has several flavors and varieties, including a spicy chili hummus chip and a creamy dill lentil chip, but my favorite is the plain lentil chip, flavored with sea salt. Each chip is shaped like a little scoop, making them a good delivery system for hummus, salsa, or the dip of your choice. However, they really don’t need any enhancement; they have a good flavor and addictive crunch all on their own.

The name “Simply 7” comes not from the number of flavors they sell, or even the ingredients in the chips, but from the company’s seven core principles. These all revolve around making wholesome, natural foods, without things you don’t need, like trans fats, gluten, and fake preservatives, but not at the expense of taste. After all, as Simply 7 says, if it doesn’t taste good – why would you bother to eat it?

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From Our Backyard: Fischer & Wieser

Founded more than 40 years ago in the Hill Country of Texas, Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods started as roadside peach stand and grew into a local legend. Still family-owned and operated, it has now grown far beyond Texas peaches, and now makes more than 100 jams, sauces, mustards, salad dressings and other gourmet items.

And I bet you have tried at least one of them – their Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce.

Introduced in the ‘90s, just before chipotle peppers were a big deal, it quickly became the company’s biggest hit. Somewhat sweet, mildly hot, it’s delicious as a marinade or sauce for meat, or used as the basis for a salad dressing or dip. The company claims it is now the No. 1-selling specialty condiment in all of Texas.

One of the most popular ways to serve this sauce is over a block of cream cheese, with crackers, for a simple appetizer. But this recipe takes that a step further. The combination may sound a little odd, but the sweet-spicy flavors of the sauce blend perfectly with the other ingredients for an easy hot appetizer that always gets raves.

Warm Raspberry Chipotle Cheese Dip
8 oz block cream cheese
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bottle Fischer & Wieser Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce
10 oz grated Cheddar cheese
Blue corn tortilla chips, for serving

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Place cream cheese in small baking dish, no larger than 9 x 9. Pour drained black beans over cheese, then pour sauce over this. Sprinkle cheese over all.

Bake until cheese is bubbly, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately, with blue corn tortilla chips.

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