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Add FRESH Flavor to your Cinco de Mayo

Add FRESH Flavor to your Cinco de MayoWhat would Cinco de Mayo be without guacamole and margaritas? Well, you’re in luck because FRESH makes both every day, and there are plenty of ways to spice up your fiesta throughout the store.

The first stop should be in produce, where you can stock up on an assortment of peppers. Add them to a large bowl with lemons and limes for quick and easy table décor. Then, stop by the juice counter for freshly squeezed lime juice and margarita mix. The margarita mix is available in 16-ounce and 64-ounce sizes, and it is made with freshly squeezed lime and lemon juice, sugar and water. There is also a jalapeño margarita mix if you want to spice up your cocktail. While you’re there, don’t forget to grab some of the FRESH guacamole located right around the corner in the Kit Kitchen.

Next, there are so many great things to try at the dip bar: green chile salsa, fire-roasted salsa, chili con queso, jalapeño ranch and corn salsa. I honestly can’t pick a favorite.

Moving on to Chef-Prepared, you can get your beans and rice, plus an assortment of quesadillas. The flavors include chicken, spinach and mushroom, black bean and barbecue brisket. If fajitas are on your menu, there’s also grilled chicken and roasted vegetables, as well as FRESH-made tortillas in the bakery.

For dessert, FRESH makes a delicious Tres Leches cake that would be a great finale to any party. On your way to the register, remember to grab plenty of tortilla chips. Yes, you can take credit for all of it when your guests rave about how good it all tastes. Muy delicioso!

WINE CLUB Varietal of the Month: Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Cyrus, Alexander Valley VineyardsCabernet Sauvignon is the most produced red wine in all of the major wine regions. DNA testing of the grape shows that it originated in the 1600s as a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

In France where the Cabernet Sauvignon grape originated, they are sometimes call Bordeaux wine. The most Cabernet grapes per acre are grown in France, then Chile, the United States, Australia, Italy, South Africa and Argentina – totaling over 650,000 acres worldwide.

Cabernet is a full-bodied wine with a flavor profile of cherries, vanilla, licorice and tobacco. Old-World Cabernet from the Bordeaux region is more subtle and light with strong tannins and acidity, while New-World Cabernet wines have more prominent fruit flavors and a higher alcohol content. It is aged from 9 months to 2 years or more in French or American oak.

Cabernet Sauvignon is also used quite often in red blends and mixed with other grape varieties. In fact, many Cabernet Sauvignon wines that are made in America contain up to 25% of another grape. The other grapes are chosen by the winemaker to add flavor or to give the wine better value. Typically, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes cost more to produce than Merlot and other red varieties.

Featured Wine: 2012 Cyrus, Alexander Valley Vineyards
This wine is a tribute to Cyrus Alexander, who in 1840 settled the 600-acre property where the Alexander Valley Vineyards are now planted. Produced since 1995, the Cyrus Cabernet Sauvignon is made to represent this great man, the region and the vineyard’s best grapes.

The 2012 vintage is the 17th release of Cyrus. Made from seven lots of estate Bordeaux grapes, three lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, two lots of Merlot and one lot each of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes have exceptional dark fruit flavors with complex aromas and structured tannins. The Merlot grapes are filled with juicy fruit and floral aromatics, and the Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec bring finesse, inky color, bright acidity and depth.

2012 was a growing season with ideal weather: brisk foggy mornings, sunny and warm afternoons and cool evenings. After each variety of grapes was harvested, they were aged separately for 12 months, and then blended and aged again for another 12 months in French oak. Additional bottle-aging was also required.

“This vintage has a dark purple color and intense earthy aromas of cassis, black cherry, chocolate and cherry, along with toasty oak and vanilla. This is a silky wine with flavors of cassis, dark chocolate, dark fruits and chocolate-covered cherries. The 2012 CYRUS boasts smooth texture, excellent balance and a long structured finish.”
From Alexander Valley Vineyards

Food Pairings: steak, lamb, prime rib, strong cheeses like Stilton, aged sharp cheddar.

Tenderloin Steaks with Cabernet MushroomsTenderloin Steaks with Cabernet Mushrooms

2 Certified Angus® Beef tenderloin steaks
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 Tbs butter, divided
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Cabernet wine
1/4 cup beef broth
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Grill steaks to desired doneness. To make the sauce, add 2 tablespoons butter and the olive oil to a sauté pan over high heat. When pan is hot, add mushrooms in a single layer. Lower heat; let mushrooms cook without stirring for 1 minute. Stir mushrooms with a wooden spoon, and continue to sauté until golden and cooked through. Time will vary depending on the thickness of the slices, approximately 2 more minutes. Add the wine to deglaze, and then add the broth and thyme leaves. Bring liquid to a simmer; let it reduce by half. Turn off heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and stir to combine. Add the salt and pepper. Serve the mushrooms over the steaks or on the side.

View this recipe to print or add items to your shopping list.

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Posted in: Beer & Wine, Recipes

Kick it up with Cajun Week at FRESH

Cajun Crab BisqueWhat’s the next best thing to being a Texan? Celebrating all things Cajun with our neighbors to the east. The flavor and traditions from Louisiana make Cajun food some of the best in the nation.

During the week of April 24-30, FRESH will be celebrating all things Cajun. Many of our favorite Cajun products will be on display and available for tasting.

From Frog Bone sauces to Slap Ya Mama seasonings, this is a great time to peruse the aisles and check out all the Cajun FRESH Finds. The week caps off with a crawfish boil on Saturday, April 29. Come join us for a day of delicious mudbugs on the patio. Check the calendar for details.

Cajun Crab Bisque

3 Tbs butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 Tbs sherry
3 Tbs all purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 lb lump crabmeat
1 cup corn kernels
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning
1/2 tsp paprika

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onions until golden. Deglaze with sherry and reduce. Add the flour; stir until smooth and it turns a pale golden color.

Whisk in the chicken broth, stirring constantly 
to avoid lumps. Mix in the milk, half-and-half, salt, crabmeat, corn, Worcestershire sauce, Cajun seasoning and paprika.

Reduce heat to medium-low, and continue whisking as soup comes to a simmer. Allow the bisque to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly thickened. Do not boil.

Serves 4

View this recipe to print or add items to your shopping list.

BREW CLUB Brew of the Month: Great Raft Brewing

Great Raft BrewingGreat Raft Brewing, a craft brewery in Shreveport since 2013, creates beers that represent the rich culture and traditions of Louisiana. The cuisine is bold and spicy, so the beer must complement the food and stand up next to big flavor.

Their motto is “Drink Real Beer™. You deserve it.” That motto displays their commitment to quality ingredients (the finest grains and hops) and the authenticity that goes into the beer-making process.

Creamy Crawfish Salad

8 oz frozen crawfish tails, thawed
1/2 cup seedless green grapes, quartered
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
2 Tbs sliced almonds
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Italian dressing
2 green onions, ends removed and sliced
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning (to taste)
1/4 tsp each salt and black pepper

After the crawfish tails are thawed, rinse in a colander and shake off excess moisture. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently stir to combine. Chill for 30 minutes before serving. Can be made into a sandwich or served in lettuce cups.

Serves 4 to 6.

View this recipe to print or add items to your shopping list.

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Posted in: Beer & Wine

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.

View this recipe to print or add items to your shopping list.


WINE CLUB Varietal of the Month: Rosé

Rosé WineWhen it comes to Rosé wine, many confuse it with some sweet counterparts – white zinfandel and blush – but a true Rosé is entirely different.

In technical terms, Rosé is a dry wine made from red wine grapes that received limited contact with the grape skins. In winemaking, the grape skins are what give red wine its color.

Rosé can vary in color from very light coral to almost red, depending on the exposure to the skin. Some refer to Rosé as blush because they’ve received a blush of color, but the correct term would be Rosé. The term blush actually refers to sweeter pink wines like white zinfandel or white merlot.

Rosé is released in spring and available in limited quantities. Produced from the previous year’s vintage, they are aged for only six months. They are young wines designed to drink within a year of purchase.

The limited release is because the grapes used are primarily grown to make red wine. Many are blends of multiple grape varietals that the winery has left on the vine after picking what they need for red wine.

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Posted in: Beer & Wine

BREW CLUB Beer of the Month: Maredsous Tripel

Featured Brewery: Maredsous Brewery
Since 1872, the monks from the Maredsous Abbey, near Denée, Belgium, have been known for their commitment to patience, prayer, devotion and hospitality. As a Benedictine abbey, the community of 35 monks live, pray and work according to the traditions of St. Benedict.

Known especially for their hospitality, this is one of the reasons they began brewing the Maredsous Abbey beers. Their three brews include a blonde, brune and triple. According to the abbey, these three ales stand out because of their refined, flowery, fruity aroma and delicate sparkle. Each ale goes through a natural refermentation in the bottle, which means the beer continues to mature in the bottle.

The recipe for the beer is one of the Abbey’s best-kept secrets. However, the production of the beer was beginning to interfere with the monks’ strict interpretation of the Benedictine way of life. Since 1963, the abbey beer production has been licensed under Duvel Moortgat, a Belgian brewing company. However, Bernard Lorent, the current Abbott, or head of the monastery, is still involved in managing the brewing process, and making sure a significant share of the profits go to charitable projects.

Featured Beer: Maredsous Tripel
“Maredsous Tripel (10% alcohol) is a golden-bodied Belgian Triple, redolent with festive sparkle, creamy body and a luscious head. Its elegant smoothness belies the strong alcohol content. With a balanced, long and warming finish, it is only drunk in the monastery on special occasions. Full and robust in character with an elegant smoothness and rich aftertaste, it’s known as an abbey beer for a true connoisseur.” – From

“The complex bouquet immediately grabs you thanks to its fruity aromas, with touches of banana and zesty orange, alcohol, touches of raisins and other dried fruit. All of this is enriched with a hint of caramel from the caramel malt, which gives a taste not unlike that of sweet syrup.”
– From Belgian Beer Tourism’s website

Food Pairings:
Maredsous Tripel pairs well with the earthy flavors found in mushrooms, potatoes, pork and fennel. Fruit and sweet flavors are also a good pairing, especially apples, caramel, cinnamon or bananas.

Apple-Cranberry Maple Glazed Ham

1 bone-in ham, fully cooked
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup apple jelly
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Allow ham to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place ham in a large roasting pan. Place the cranberry juice, maple syrup, jelly and vinegar in a 2-cup measuring cup. Microwave for 30 to 45 seconds, or until jelly is melted and all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of the mixture over the ham. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes per pound, or until a meat thermometer registers 135° F. Spoon juices over the top of the ham about every 20 minutes. Remove ham from oven. Spoon remaining apple juice mixture over the surface, and return to the oven for 15 minutes.

Allow ham to stand for 20 minutes before serving. Pour remaining juices from the bottom of the pan into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and let the mixture reduce to half its volume. Serve as a sauce that accompanies the ham, or brush over the ham before serving.

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Posted in: Beer & Wine, Recipes

Spring Cleaning with Full Circle Cleaners

Spring Cleaning with Full Circle CleanersGreen grass, blue skies and sunny days mean that spring is here, and it’s time to open the windows to let in the fresh air.

That’s when it happens; you begin to notice the layer of dust, the smudgy windows and grimy surfaces. It’s time for a day of spring cleaning, and Full Circle household cleaners are the perfect choice.

These all-natural cleaning products are non-toxic, safe for septic systems, contain biodegradable cleaning agents and are not tested on animals. They contain no animal ingredients, no petroleum-based cleaners and no dye.

Enhanced with essential oils like lemon, orange, eucalyptus, lavender and chamomile, these cleaners will get the job done on dishes, surfaces, windows and all around the house.

My cleaning arsenal wouldn’t be complete without the Full Circle Glass & Surface Cleaner, Dish Detergent and Toilet Bowl Cleaner. They have a lovely clean scent, and I don’t have to worry about harsh chemicals or ingredients that might damage my septic system. Before I know it, my house is as bright and beautiful as spring blooms on a sunny day.

Full Circle Glass & Surface Cleaner: Contains biodegradable cleaning agents and a naturally derived surfactant system. Get a streak-free shine on glass, and clean all of your countertops and appliances.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Lemon scent, non-toxic, no harsh fumes. Powerful nature-derived cleaning agents with ultra cleansing power. Quickly cleans, freshens and deodorizes without harsh chemicals and will not harm bacteria action of septic tanks.

Full Circle Dish Detergent: Gives you enough cleaning power to cut through grease and soil, getting your dishes, glassware, fine china and stemware sparkling clean

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Posted in: Natural, Organic

Celebrate with Potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day

Pot of Gold Potato BallsSt. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of food, fun and Irish tradition. It began as a religious feast for the patron saint of Ireland and has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture. Corned beef, cabbage and Irish soda bread are popular dishes, but the party wouldn’t be complete without Ireland’s favorite food, the potato.

In Ireland, the potato is the number one food crop and can be found at every meal. It plays a significant role in the Irish diet and has been a household staple since the tuberous vegetable was introduced to the country in the late 1500s. On average, the Irish eat about 250 pounds of potatoes a year, compared to Americans who eat just 140 pounds per person.

In 1845, the Irish famine began when a fungus carried on ships from North America to England its way to Dublin. The fungus caused potato leaves to turn black on the vines and rotted the potatoes. When the potatoes were pulled from the ground, they appeared normal, but they rotted after only a few days. Until 1852, there was mass starvation, disease and emigration from Ireland partly due to the potato famine. It took many years for the country and its economy to recover and for potato crops to be re-established.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations became more prevalent as increasing numbers of Irish immigrants came to America. After Ireland recovered from the famine and potato crops began to flourish, the spring planting time of the country’s favorite vegetable became another reason to celebrate.

Colcannon, potato cakes and meat/potato casseroles are some of the most popular Irish potato dishes. I love to make these potato balls for St. Patrick’s Day parties. Fried or baked, they are always a hit with my guests.

Pot of Gold Potato Balls

1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs fresh Italian parsley, minced
1 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1 egg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup flour
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 1/4 cups Harp Irish Beer
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
4 cups cornflakes, crushed in food processor
2 Tbs olive oil
nonstick cooking spray

Cook the potatoes and garlic cloves in boiling salted water for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain; add the butter and mash.

Let cool. Stir in the parsley, bleu cheese and egg; add salt and pepper to taste. Using floured hands, shape the potatoes into 1 to 2-inch balls or patties. Place on a baking sheet.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, beer, garlic powder and chili powder. In another bowl, add the crushed corn flakes and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Dip the potato balls into the liquid mixture and then the corn flakes. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spray the tops with cooking spray.

Preheat oven to 400° F. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden, longer if your potato balls have been in the refrigerator. Serve with ranch or bleu cheese dressing. (The balls can also be cooked in the deep-fryer.)

View this recipe to print or add items to your shopping list.

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Posted in: Holidays, Produce, Recipes

WINE CLUB Belle Glos: The finest varieties of California Pinot Noir

Belle Glos: The finest varieties of California Pinot NoirBelle Glos showcases distinctive Pinot Noirs produced from California’s most noteworthy coastal wine-growing regions. They offer four single-vineyard Pinot Noirs. Owner/winemaker Joe Wagner chose the name Belle Glos to honor his grandmother, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner. Lorna was a co-founder of Caymus Vineyards, an inspirational figure to Joseph and an avid lover of Pinot Noir.

As a fifth-generation Napa Valley winemaker, Joe learned his way around a vineyard long before he was able to drink wine. By the time he was 19, he knew that he would continue his family’s winemaking legacy, working alongside his father at Caymus Vineyards. In 2001, he created Belle Glos with a focus on vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs from throughout California’s best coastal regions.

Belle Glos consists of four vineyards near the Pacific Ocean, with significant climate differences, that vary with the amount of fog, wind, sunlight and soil type. Each vineyard wine is crafted to distill the purest essence of the locale into elegant expressions of California Pinot Noir.

Once an old dairy farm, the Dairyman vineyard is located in the southern alluvial plains of the Russian River Valley. Dairyman’s closeness to the Pacific Ocean results in a cool morning fog and afternoon coastal breezes that lengthen the growing season. This gives concentrated and flavorful berries, producing cherry characteristics, brown spices and a keen minerality overlaid with a rich, velvety mouth feel.

The Clark & Telephone Vineyard is located near the corner of Clark Avenue and Telephone Road in the Santa Maria Valley. It is cooled by wind and fog that meander  in from the Pacific Ocean along a Santa Maria River channel.

The Clark & Telephone Vineyard, established in 1972, was planted “own root” to the Martini clone. This heirloom replica of Pinot Noir was one of the first to grace the California coastlands, and it has become something of a lost treasure, according to the vineyard website.

The Las Alturas Vineyard is located in one of the highest plantable sites in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County. This pristine location offers the Las Alturas Vineyard cool, coastal days with bountiful sunshine and a foundation of Gloria sandy loam soil. When planting this 15-acre vineyard, they matched various Pinot Noir clones to individual slopes and soil attributes of the land. Crop yields are kept low in order to preserve the fruit’s intensity.

The Taylor Lane vineyard is located less than six miles from the Pacific Ocean. This location often deals with harsh fog and winds, making the grape-growing process difficult. The early-ripening clones at this vineyard have been adapted with a traditional Italian trellis system that carries the vines across a horizontal canopy in order to achieve full maturity. This trellis system acts as a solar panel for full ripening potential and allows great air circulation to surround the fruit.

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Posted in: Beer & Wine

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