Prost to Oktoberfest!
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Raise your stein, it’s time to celebrate Oktoberfest at FRESH! From September 20th to October 3rd enjoy a smorgasbord of German specialties. Throughout the store and on the patio, you’ll discover some new and familiar dishes as we enjoy the food, brews and traditional flavors of this Bavarian celebration.
Taste Oktoberfest: German items featured daily in chef-prepared and throughout the store. Plus try German cheese and meats in charcuterie and the market with housemade bratwurst, imported German salami, mustards, sauerkraut and sausage.
Oktoberfest Menu: On the patio, enjoy an assortment of German fare –pretzels served with mustard and beer cheese, bratwurst, black forest ham, leberkase, sausages, potato salad, FRESH made sauerkraut and apple strudel for dessert.
Raise Your Stein: Discover an assortment of German & Oktoberfest beer. On tap on the FRESH Patio and throughout the beer aisle.
September 17th: From 11am to 2 pm, Oktoberfest Brunch featuring apple pancakes, Bavarian skillet, cold German breakfast plate, warm pretzels and apple strudel.
September 29th: Brews and Brats night on the patio.
Sweet as Honey all September
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Since the beginning of time, honey has been revered as one of nature’s most valuable foods. Considered as the nectar of the gods and fruit of the flowers, honey’s nutritional and medicinal qualities make it a food to be celebrated. September is National Honey Month and an important time to bring awareness to the importance of bees in food production and our ecosystem.
As a medicinal product, honey’s been known to treat ailments like acne, anxiety, burns, bone loss, headaches and hot flashes. Most frequently, honey is a well-known aid in allergy relief. Consuming local honey can help relieve allergy symptoms and help your immune system adjust to the local pollen.
As a food product and sweetener, it is rich in antioxidants, minerals, flavonoids and amino acids that make it incomparable to other sweeteners. It contains the same ratio of fructose to glucose as table sugar, but the presence of other substances make it a more complicated compound that is more comparable to fruit than sugar. This makes honey a functional food that also doubles as a sweetener.
The healing powers of honey come from its antioxidants, low-moisture content, pH level and antiseptic properties.
From the National Honey Board, here are some beneficial ways to incorporate honey into your daily routine:
Sweetener: Honey is slightly sweeter than sugar, so less can be used to achieve the same sweetness intensity.
Emulsifier: Honey acts as a binder and thickener for sauces, dressings, marinades and dips.
During Exercise: Consuming carbohydrates, such as honey, during a workout helps your muscles stay nourished longer and delays fatigue, versus not using any aid or supplement. Next time you reach for a simple bottle of water, add some honey to it.
Healthy Snacking: Snacks are a great way to add extra fruits and vegetables to your diet. Try mixing peanut butter and honey, or honey and light cream cheese, as a dip for fresh fruits or vegetables.
Storage: Store honey at room temperature. Placing it in the refrigerator accelerates the honey’s crystallization. Crystallization is the natural process in which liquid in honey becomes solid. If your honey crystallizes, simply place the jar in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve. Or, place the honey in a microwave-safe container with the lid off and microwave it, stirring every 30 seconds, until the crystals dissolve. Be careful not to boil or scorch the honey. Pure honey does not expire.
Cooking Tips: When substituting honey for granulated sugar in recipes, begin by substituting honey for up to half of the sugar called for in the recipe.
For Baking Substitutions: Reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used. Add about 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used. Reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent over-browning.
Measuring: For easy measuring and clean-up, coat measuring cup or spoon with cooking spray before adding honey. A 12-ounce jar of honey equals a standard measuring cup.
Quick & Easy Weeknight Comfort Food
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Summer is winding down and it’s time to start thinking about back to school. Even if you don’t have kiddos in the house, fall kicks of busier weeks, longer work days and hopefully some cool weather.
This is why I love my Instant Pot. Just when the comfort food mood starts to hit, there’s a list of easy weeknight meals that I can quickly throw together. Within an hour it’s time to relax with a satisfying dinner after a long day.
No matter the brand you have, electric pressure cookers are definitely at time saver. Did you know that 30 minutes in a pressure cooker is the same as 8 hours in a slow cooker? And there are all types of timesaving hacks all over social media.
Generally, you need about 5 to 10 minutes for prep, 10 minutes for the pressure to build and another 10 for the release. Here are a few of my favorite ways to have a delicious dinner in less than 1 hour. Take advantage of the delay start function and you’ll be ready even faster. Complete the meal with a quick salad while the cooker is doing its work or steam some vegetables on the stove. Skip the takeout, home cooking just got easier.
Coconut Curry Chicken Stew: Add 1 pound chicken thighs or halved breasts, 2 cups chopped vegetables (carrots, snow peas, onions), 1 cup broth and 1 tablespoon of curry powder. Cook for 5 minutes on high. Quick release pressure. Add 1 cup fresh spinach and a 6 ounce can of coconut cream. Stir and serve.
Lean Pulled Pork: Cut a pork tenderloin into 8 pieces. Rub with 1 tablespoon each of brown sugar and barbecue seasoning. Add to instant pot with 1/2 cup water and 1 cup barbecue sauce. Cook for 20 minutes on high. Slow release for 10 minutes. Use two forks to shred the pork. Serve with buns and coleslaw.
Broccoli Mac & Cheese: Add 2 tablespoon melted butter, 1 pound penne pasta, 4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes on high. Quick release and turn off. Stir in 3 cups shredded white cheddar, 1/2 cup half & half and 1 pound of broccoli florets. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
Baked Potatoes: Russett potatoes and sweet potatoes usually take hours, but in the Instant Pot it’s so quick. Add 1 cup water to the bottom. Pierce the potatoes. Place the potatoes on the rack above the water. Cook on high for 20 minutes for extra large potatoes (10 to 14 oz), 16 minutes for large (8 oz), 14 for medium (6 to 7 oz) and 12 minutes for small (5 oz). Natural release.
Butternut Squash Soup: Peel and cut into 1 inch pieces, 2 pounds of butternut squash. Turn on Instant Pot to sauté. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 diced shallot, 2 minced garlic cloves, 4 stems of fresh thyme and 2 tablespoons fresh parsley. Sauté until soft. Add the butternut squash and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add 2 cups broth, seal the lid and cook on high for 8 minutes. Slow release for 10 minutes. Open and remove thyme stems. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream. Puree with an immersion blender. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper. Add more broth to thin. (Use this same recipe for other soups. Instead of butternut squash, try pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot or red potatoes.)
Hatch Season at FRESH
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Get fired up for Hatch chile season at FRESH! Straight from New Mexico, it’s everyone’s favorite chile pepper. Stock up on this seasonal favorite so you can enjoy it’s smoky, fiery flavor all year round.
Roast your own or buy them already roasted. You can smell the roaster throughout the store! We’ve also created many Hatch-added products throughout the store. Look for items throughout the bakery, chef-prepared, market and more.
In produce, the fresh peppers are available in mild and hot and you can do easily roast them at home on the grill or under the broiler. Follow these simple instructions and you will be ready to add Hatch to whatever you’re making.
• Rub whole chiles lightly with oil, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a hot broiler or on the grill for 5 to 10 minutes until skins are blistered and charred.
• Turn the chiles, and broil on the other side.
• Remove and place chiles in a large plastic bag. Seal the bag and let steam for 20 minutes.
• Remove chiles from the bag and pull off the skins.
• Leave whole, chop or puree — depending on the recipe.
• Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze.
• One chile equals approximately 1/4 cup chopped.
Salsa So Easy
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Summer means fresh from the garden flavor and enjoying all the homegrown goodness found right here in Texas. Tomatoes, melons, peaches, peppers, onions and herbs are at their peak of flavor and we need to take every opportunity to enjoy the seasonal fare for as long as possible.
Making homemade salsa is a great way to add fresh flavor to your appetizers or add a light sauce to grilled chicken, fish or whatever you’ve thrown on the grill. Here are some tips on creating a simple salsa that you can make throughout the summer.
Tomatoes: Choose the most flavorful you can find. Cut off the top and loosen the seed pockets with a pairing knife. Remove the seeds and excess liquid from the tomato. Chop fine or pulse in a food processor a few times to roughly chop. Three tomatoes will make a good size batch of salsa that will serve 4 people.
Onions: Choose sweet onions or if you want more color, red onions. Use half an onion for every three tomatoes.
Peppers: Hot peppers are the best way to add heat and flavor. One or two small jalapenos or one large, depending on the level of heat you’d like. You can also try habanero, serrano or other fresh hot peppers, but remember these are much hotter than jalapeno.
Cilantro: Pull the leaves from half a bunch of cilantro and chop fine. If you don’t love cilantro, cut back on the amount or use fresh parsley or basil.
Lime Juice: Juice from one large or two small limes, to taste. Also, adding some grated zest gives a punch of flavor.
If you’re in a hurry: The five ingredients listed above are your base. If you don’t have the time to chop everything you can also get prepared pico de gallo from the produce department and use that instead. But making your own will always be more fresh and flavorful.
Flavor Variations: Now you have your base, and this is great to serve on its own. Or change the flavor profile to by adding any of these fruits or vegetables. Keep the same proportions, just cut your tomatoes back to two instead of three. Then add 1 cup of any of the following. The fruit salsas are good served on chicken, fish or just eaten alone with chips. These are also a fun twist for shrimp or fish tacos. Some ideas include – pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, mashed blueberries, kiwi, chopped strawberries, cherries and peaches. Also add a tablespoon of honey to blend with the lime juice. This will really enhances the flavor of the fruit. Or you can make a salsa with other vegetables as the focus – avocado, yellow squash, zucchini, tomatillos, roasted poblano or corn.
The tomatillos and poblanos have an extra step – poaching the tomatillos or roasting the poblano – but they’re definitely worth the effort. Just be sure to chop everything in similar size pieces.
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FRESH has a great selection of items for the grill. Whatever protein you prefer – beef, chicken, pork or fish – there’s something in the market that will satisfy any craving.
Because the quality is so high, you don’t need much to create something great. Just a little seasoning to enhance the natural flavors of the meat and you’re ready to get started.
So speaking of seasoning, if you’re anything like me, there’s a cabinet full of spices in your kitchen that need to be used. More than likely you have everything on hand to create your own grill seasoning. Why buy more rubs and mixes when you can make your own? Here are four of my favorites that I keep handy in pre-mixed jars. They’re also interchangeable and great on a variety of proteins and vegetables.
Blackened Seasoning Makes: 1 cup
1/3 cup paprika 2 Tbs salt 2 Tbs garlic powder 2 Tbs onion powder 1 Tbs cayenne pepper 1 Tbs ground black pepper 1 Tbs dried thyme 1 Tbs dried oregano
Stir together all ingredients. Use 1 tablespoon per pound of shrimp, fish or chicken. Rub seasoning into protein to coat well. Let sit for 30 minutes before cooking.
Rib Rub Makes: 1 cup
1/3 cup brown sugar 2 Tbs salt 2 Tbs coarse ground black pepper 2 Tbs garlic powder 2 Tbs onion powder 2 Tbs smoked paprika
Stir together all ingredients. Generously rub onto both sides of the ribs. Let sit for 30 minutes before cooking.
Steak Seasoning Makes: 1 cup
1/4 cup Whole peppercorns, crushed 1/4 cup coarse Kosher salt 2 Tbs dried minced onion 2 Tbs dried minced garlic 1 Tbs red pepper flakes, crushed 2 tsp mustard powder
Stir together all ingredients. Rub onto steaks 30 minutes before grilling.
Chicken Seasoning Makes: 1 cup
1/4 cup mustard powder 1/4 cup herbs de Provence 1 Tbs onion powder 1 Tbs garlic powder 1 Tbs black pepper 1 Tbs salt 2 tsp dried dill 2 tsp dried parsley
Stir together all ingredients. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons per chicken breast. Can be added to a marinade or used as a dry rub.
Slice Up Summer
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On a hot summer day, nothing is more refreshing than a slice of watermelon. But don’t just buy the usual variety, check out some of the other melons available at FRESH. There are more types than I’ve ever seen with a vast array of flavors that range from sweet to tart, floral and creamy. You have all summer to try them and eat your way through the different varieties.
When choosing a melon look for one with a dull appearance. A shiny exterior is often a sign of underripe flesh. Also, tap the melon and listen for a hollow sound. Most importantly, smell the stem end of the melon to see if it smells sweet. Once you get it home, the melon can sit on the counter for a few days to ripen. When it becomes more fragrant, it’s time to cut or store in the fridge. After cutting, melons can keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Here's a list of all the varieties. Check them off as you try one and find your new favorite!
Orange-Fleshed Honeydew Melon: Salmon-orange, semi-firm flesh with succulent consistency and sweet, subtle floral flavor. Pairs well with goat and feta cheeses. Can be lightly grilled or made into dessert fillings.
Dino Melon: Resembling a dinosaur egg, this speckled melon has a very sweet, subtle honey flavor with a hint of tartness. Contains high amounts of water for extra hydration. Pairs well with mozzarella cheese and meats such as seafood and poultry.
Sunny Gold Yellow Mini Seedless Melon: A mini seedless melon with yellow, sweet flesh with notes of honey and apricot flavors. Can be grilled or seared for a caramelized taste. Once yellow spots appear on the rind, the melon is ripe.
Tuscan Sweet Melon: The color of the distinctive grooves will help determine the level of ripeness. Golden grooves provide a rich aroma and vibrant orange, full- flavor flesh. Great source of vitamin C and antioxidants. The sweetness complements savory and sweet dishes.
Sugar Kiss Melon: Incredibly sweet, melt-in-your-mouth flavor. The sweetest of the Kiss melon family. Harvested when ripe, so don’t wait to cut into and enjoy. Squeeze lime juice over melon chunks, and drizzle with hot honey for a spicy-sweet snack.
Summer Kiss Melon: Mellow and creamy sweetness within the green flesh. Add to a refreshing smoothie, or toss over a bed of greens.
Honey Kiss Melon: Golden rind and peach-colored flesh with a sweet honey aroma. Crispy and juicy, extremely sweet tasting melon. Pairs well with prosciutto and other cured meats. Puree for a sweet addition to your champagne or white wine.
Kiss Limon Melon: Green rind with white flesh. The perfect balance of sweet and tart with citrus flavor. Add to a refreshing smoothie, or blend into a margarita for a melon twist.
Golden Kiss Melon: Somewhat tender flesh with mild melon flavor and hints of pear. Fragrant melons are a guide to the perfect ripeness. Pairs well with prosciutto and other cured meats.
Honey Dew Melon: Pale-green flesh with a firm, crisp succulent taste. Great source of fiber and vitamin C. Tastes refreshing when sliced and eaten fresh, or sprinkle chile powder for a flavorful twist. Honeydew pairs well with berries, herbs, and cheeses such as ricotta and feta.
Casba Melon: Subtly sweet and musky flesh with cucumber and Asian pear nuances. Most common among the later summer months and into early winter. Great for sweet and savory pairings.
Crenshaw Melon: Sweet, floral aroma followed by a sweet and juicy, floral flavor. High in water content for extra hydration. Crenshaw melons are sturdy enough to keep their shape and flavor when lightly cooked. Grill for a sweet and savory taste or caramelize in a hot pan. Pairs well with meats such as seafood and poultry.
Canary Melon: Juicy, tender flesh inside the bright yellow rind. Subtle tropical aroma when ripe, with a mild and tangy flavor. Excellent source of fiber. Eat freshly sliced or dice up and add to homemade salsa. Pairs well with honey.
Santa Claus Melon: Soft and tender succulent flesh. High in sugar content, making for a sugary-sweet and refreshing treat. Great source of vitamin C. Enjoy freshly sliced by itself or add to fruit salad. Wrap in cured meats, and add to a charcuterie board for a salty, sweet combination.
Galia Melon: Resembles a cantaloupe rind but has a light-green honeydew flesh. The Galia melon offers smooth, sweet flavor. Primarily a dessert melon but complements fruit salad. Ripen at room temperature. Refrigerate cut melon for up to 3 days.
Grilling & Chilling with Dad
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Grab the charcoal, cold drinks and Dad’s favorite cut of meat and get ready to hang out by the grill. It’s a safe guess that most dads would love to celebrate Father’s Day by flipping burgers, basting steaks or watching the smoker cook low and slow.
Grilling offers a lot of versatility and a recipe like this one can be adapted to other meat like chicken or pork chops. Also, different fruit like sliced apples, halved plums, pineapple or mango. Or, if you prefer, substitute honey for brown sugar. You can also adjust the flavor profile by adding a tablespoon balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire or soy sauce. Just choose whatever your dad prefers and I know he’ll be thrilled to have you on his grilling team.
FRESH for Dinner: The Convenient Choice
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The average wait time for a fast food drive through seems to get longer and longer. Especially at peak mealtime during the evenings or around lunch. That’s one reason I prefer to shop FRESH’s chef-prepared department. In the time it takes me to sit in a fast food line I could’ve gone in and out of FRESH and chosen from endless grab and go dinner options.
It also makes sense for families because there’s something for everyone to satisfy any craving. Pizza, sushi, Chinese, Mexican, salads, casseroles, tacos, sandwiches and healthy meals – the whole family can choose their favorite and mom doesn’t have to cook. It’s like several different restaurants with higher quality choices and better flavor than fast food – all in one stop.
You’ll also have more healthy choices that are cooked by FRESH’s trained staff. Grilled chicken, shrimp, numerous salads, perfectly-cooked vegetables, side dishes – even steak and salmon – are all available every day.
Check out our menus on the freshbybrookshires.com website. YOU can also order all your favorites on DoorDash, FRESH Curbside and Instacart.
A FRESH Take on Mom’s Love
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Our earliest memories of food are probably not far from what was most recently on our plate. What we are fed as a child lays a foundation for a lifetime of eating. Mothers, and grandmothers, influence the way we eat more than anyone else.
It's funny how nostalgic we become about food. The mention of a dish or the smell of something cooking can take us right back to childhood memories of eating with family or baking with mom. We all have those recipes our mother made and that is forever how we like that food to be.
Whatever you grew up eating the memories are usually wrapped in whatever mom decided to put on the table. That’s why it’s so easy to decide how mom should be celebrated on Mother’s Day. The perfect gift could be a meal that is reminiscent of childhood or all the ingredients to cook together a family favorite, like pecan pie, chocolate cookies or homemade rolls.
Or, if your mom prefers the eating experience more than the cooking, pick some of her favorites from chef-prepared and the bakery, to create a meal that is worthy of celebration. Even a gift basket filled with her favorite snacks, candy, wine, tea or coffee – would make any mom happy. Don’t forget to stop by floral for a bouquet of flowers, favorite plant, something for the garden or centerpiece for the table.
Thanks to mom, warm memories of family meals always make me hungry for some of my favorite foods. The gratitude for all the ways mom would nourish us through food and love, makes my heart as full as my plate. When making plans for this Mother’s day, I hope FRESH can help create a delicious and beautiful way to honor your mother and the special women in your life.
Pack Your Picnic with FRESH
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National Picnic Day is April 23rd and at FRESH we like to celebrate all month long. April is one of the best months to dine outside with mild temperatures and spring flowers. Take full advantage of the al fresco season before summer heat arrives in May. Whether it be for 2 people or a crowd, the ideas for picnic fare are endless.
Pack your picnic basket with items from FRESH. Throughout the store, you’ll find tasty ways to entertain outdoors and offer your guests an array of flavors and portable cuisine. Here are some essential items to make your picnic a well-packed success!
Produce: Precut fruit, vegetables, shredded cabbage and guacamole
Bulk: Snack items, nuts, trail mix, dried fruit, dipped pretzels
Charcuterie: Sliced meats, cheeses, salami, crackers, spreads
Grab & Go: Salads, charcuterie boards, olive salad, paté, cheese balls, dips, salsa and pimento cheese
Chef-Prepared: Grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken, potato salad, pasta salad, cucumber salad, tuna salad, slaw, sushi and Texas caviar
Bakery Desserts: Banana pudding, slices of pie, whole pies, assorted cakes, cannolis, cupcakes, fruit tarts, cheesecake slices, crème puffs, eclairs, brownie bites, cookies, sweet breads
Bakery Breads: artisanal loaves – whole or sliced, baguettes, buns, rolls, tortillas
Drinks: Assorted sodas, sparkling water, flavored water, bottled juice, beer, small bottles of wine and sparkling wine
Aisles: Chips, cookies, yogurt, individually-packed snacks, dips, condiments, paper products, food storage
Catering: Sandwich trays, appetizers, fruit platters, vegetable platters, desserts and more
Sweet Berries of Spring
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Bright, colorful and full of flavor. Spring berries are in season and ripe for the picking. Kicking off in April, it starts with strawberries – so juicy and sweet – and carries on through early summer with blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.
Eating them by the handful or baked into a pie are probably the most popular ways to enjoy fresh berries. You can also put them in so many things, like salads, oatmeal, yogurt, cakes or ice cream.
Nature’s most delicious powerhouse, fresh berries are full of vitamins and antioxidants that help our bodies fight disease and prevent cell damage. They are probably one of the healthiest foods we can eat.
I like to make their peak flavor last as long as possible. Here are some tips for storage and usage:
• Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread berries in a single layer. Freeze over night and then add to a large zip top bag. Thaw to use or blend frozen for smoothies. • Puree berries and strain through a fine mess sieve. Freeze juice in ice trays and use to make cocktails, flavored sodas or add to sauces. • Make a dessert sauce by adding 3 cups of berries to a saucepan with 1/2 cup of sugar. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium and cook for 10 minutes until fruit breaks down and sauce begins to thicken. Stir 2 teaspoons of cornstarch into 1/4 cup of water. Stir into the berry mixture and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. • Make a quick jam by adding 2 pints of berries to a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large skillet. Add 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Cook over medium-high, stirring frequently, until thick and bubbles completely cover surface, 9 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a jar and let cool to room temperature. Seal and refrigerate for up to 10 days.
Celebrate with Chips & Dip
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Did you know there is such a thing as National Chip & Dip Day? March 23rd is the official day, but isn’t anytime you have chips and dip a time to celebrate? A welcome sight at any party, chips and dip are iconic American fare and come in so many delicious combinations. At FRESH, we have the Dip Bar near chef-prepared with a variety of salsas, hummus, ranch dip and more. There’s also several other dips in dairy and cheese that are easy to grab along with a bag of chips. My all-time favorite in the category of ready-made would be French Onion Dip. Something about a bag of potato chips and a container of creamy French Onion, just takes me back to childhood parties or cookouts at the lake. Homemade hot dips can’t be beat. One of the all-time classics is Spinach Artichoke. I remember when you would be the hit of the party if you walked in with your Corningware filled with Spinach Artichoke dip. At home, during the holidays, we always had a big batch in the fridge that could be quickly warmed in the microwave and enjoyed with tortilla chips or crackers. Chips and salsa are probably what we all consume the most. How often have we been out for Mexican food and said, I’m not going to eat too many chips. Then two baskets later, our food arrives and we realize we really just came for the camaraderie and fun of eating all the chips and the gooey enchiladas aren’t so special, after all. Not to mention the runner-up favorites – queso and guacamole. Whatever the occasion, chips and dip are something we can all smile about. So pick your favorite and I will meet you in the chip aisle to celebrate National Chip & Dip Day!
Nonno Nanni Cheese, An Italian Tradition
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It all started in 1947 with Giovanni Lazzarin – Nonno Nanni – the Italian grandfather who had a passion for cheesemaking. Day after day, for over 70 years, the family tradition has continued with the same commitment and respect for the ancient dairy art. Now, three generations later, Nonno’s grandchildren carefully follows each step of production from the milk delivered fresh every day to their dairy to the meticulous choice of milk cultures selected over years of cheese-making experience. FRESH is excited to share these amazing cheeses with everyone. Along with fresh, hand-stretched mozzarella, look for these delicious varieties in the cheese and charcuterie department. Enjoy that fresh from Italy flavor that comes only from creamy, delicious handmade cheese. Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese D.O.P.: (Mozzarella di Bufala Campana D.O.P.) is an Italian excellence entirely made with buffalo milk. Buffalo milk comes from farms located in the areas of Campania, Lazio, Puglia and Molise. The manufacturing process is strictly controlled to guarantee a fresh and high quality product. The authentic taste of the buffalo milk, the soft but compact texture and the white porcelain color are a guarantee of absolute freshness and quality. Burrata: Fresh Mozzarella with a soft, creamy center. An encounter between a long tradition of cheese-making and a prime quality raw ingredient can only produce an exquisite new product. Made with 100% Italian milk and free from preservatives. It is a unique product, carefully produced for a sweet and intense flavor sensation. Robiola: A fresh cheese that is extremely easy to spread and has an intense, pleasant taste. With its soft, creamy consistency, Robiola is a fresh cheese that is extremely easy to spread and has an intense, pleasant taste. Use as a spread on charcuterie boards. Drizzle over olive oil or a spicy jam. Mix with sugar or honey to serve as a dessert cheese. Caprino: A smooth, creamy cheese in a soft texture. With its embracing consistency, Caprino is the perfect cheese for those who love an intense, characteristic flavor. It is excellent for bringing out the flavor in salads or use in appetizers. Has a similar consistency to goat cheese. Formaggini: Enjoyed by adults and children alike, Nonno Nanni bites are soft and creamy with a delicate flavor. Great for snacking – pack in a lunch box, spread on bread or crackers or melt into soup.
Shop FRESH for Valentine’s Day
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Celebrating Valentine’s Day with a loved one, family or friends is always fun. We enjoy feeling special and even if it’s just a construction paper card in the shape of a heart – it’s nice to join in on the festivities. I like to celebrate with a special dinner, but restaurants are crowded, and a cooking a nice meal can be a lot of work in the kitchen. That’s why I rely on FRESH for either dinner options from the Chef-Prepared case or artisanal desserts from the FRESH bakery. There are special menu items added for Valentine’s Day and a variety of FRESH for 2 options – perfect for a special occasion. If I’m not making my own dessert, I always go to the FRESH bakery for an assortment of individual desserts, macarons or cannoli. Spread out on a platter they look beautiful, and everyone can pick their favorite. They also have gourmet cakes made especially for Valentine’s Day and mini heart-shaped items that are fun for a group. Whatever you choose, just know that FRESH is here to help. Whether it’s chef-prepared, bakery desserts, flowers, wine, candy or gifts – FRESH is sharing the love for Valentine’s and offers an array of choice that will impress your loved ones and friends. Want to create your own heart-shaped sweet treat. These strawberry curd tarts are fun, easy and perfect for sharing.
Low and Slow Comfort Foods
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Roast, brisket and short ribs – all cuts of meat that are best cooked at a low temperature for several hours. The technique helps break down the fibers in the meat, builds flavor and gives you that melt in your mouth, fall off the bone texture we all crave. Even though you’re starting with a large, intimidating cut of meat, this way of cooking is easy and very hands-off. Set it and forget is really the way to go. Just follow a few simple steps and you can successfully prepare some of these classic cuts of beef and pork. Pick the Meat: The cuts of meat that require low and slow cooking come from the leg and shoulder area of the cow or pig. These are the areas that have the most movement on the animal so all the muscles and fibers need to break down during cooking. Look for any type of cut labeled roast, short rib or brisket. For pork, the cuts are called a shoulder, butt or roast. You can also find stew beef already cut into cubes. Equipment: Each of these cuts are perfect for oven cooking, slow cooker or instant pot. In the oven, braising is the best technique. When braising, first you sear all sides of the meat in a pan large enough for the cut or use a large skillet and then transfer to a baking dish. After searing, add liquid – enough to cover halfway up the side of the meat – then cover and place in the oven to finish cooking. For slow cooker you can just add the meat and liquid to the vessel, set on low and walk away. Or you can also sear first in a skillet and then move it to the slow cooker. For instant pot, most have a sear function so you can do both – sear and cook – just follow the manufacturer’s directions for timing. I’m a big fan of searing any cut of meat first so it has that nice crust and color on the outside. What to Add: You can add vegetables to cook with the meat, but also consider the timing. If it’s a large cut of meat cooking for several hours, then add large chunks of carrot, onion or halved/whole potatoes. Or add the vegetables halfway through. Also consider cooking them in a different baking dish. This might be a good idea considering what type of sauce or flavoring you’ve added for seasoning. Broccoli spears, turnips, radishes, bell pepper, fennel and sweet potatoes are also a good addition. Seasoning & Sauces: Rub the meat with salt, pepper and other spices before searing or cooking. If braising, add broth, wine or both as your liquid. If you are using barbecue sauce or any sauce that is sticky, sweet or strong flavor – wait until meat is almost finished to add the liquid. Time & Temperature: For the oven, temperature should be between 250 and 325 degrees. Any hotter and the meat will cook faster than the amount of time it takes for the fibers in the meat to tenderize. Timing will vary depending on the size of the cut. A large, whole roast can be 4 to 5 hours in the oven or longer. In the slow cooker, possibly 8 hours. Pressure cooker or instant pot will be the fastest. If you’re not presenting the cut as a whole roast then cutting the meat into 3 or 4 sections can speed up cooking time. How to Serve: Serve a whole roast surrounded by other vegetables, whole leaf herbs and garnish. Also, meat can be shredded for sandwiches or cut into smaller pieces to serve over rice, mashed potatoes, pasta or polenta. Another technique that is popular for carnitas or barbecue is to shred or cube the meat and then spread onto a baking sheet in an even layer. Place under a broiler or cook at a high temperature until the meat is crispy and a little burnt. Add sauce, toss the meat and broil again until caramelized.
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I sometimes think healthy resolutions would be easier to keep if we started them in summer rather than winter. Cold weather makes you crave comfort food which is usually not considered healthy. Salad, vegetables, smoothies or anything served cold isn’t very satisfying this time of year. But there are ways to boost your salads with layers of flavor and texture that will allow you to feel full, satisfied and successful at staying on track with your healthy goals. When I make salads, I like to add a lot of different layers. There’s lettuce as a base, then other veggies, some type of fruit – dried and fresh, nuts for crunch and finally cheese. If making the salad a whole meal, then also a protein. Mix of Greens: Winter greens like kale, chard, escarole and arugula are a good base that offers bold flavor and a thicker leafy texture. Mix these heavy greens with lighter greens like bibb lettuce, romaine, shredded iceberg and red leaf. This will balance the stronger lettuce with some neutral flavors and crunchy texture. Massaging your kale also helps make it more palatable. Fold the kale leaves over and cut down the back to remove the stem. Place the leafy portion in a large bowl and discard stems. Tear the leaves into bite size pieces. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the bowl. Massage the kale for 2 to 3 minutes until tender. Other Veggies: I can’t have a salad without tomatoes, but this time of year the grape tomatoes are the only tasty addition. Other options include carrots, radishes, sliced mushrooms, broccoli, beets, artichoke hearts and avocado. Citrus: Adding orange segments, grapefruit or other seasonal citrus brightens the salad and gives it a tart punch. Also, use fresh lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit juice in the dressing. It can replace the vinegar in a recipe or split the acidic amount in half to be vinegar and juice. Dried Fruit: Cranberries, sliced dried apricots, cherries, blueberries, pineapple and more. Dried fruit adds a punch of flavor along with the antioxidants found in fruit and berries. Nuts & Seeds: Walnuts, pecans, cashews and almonds can be raw, chopped or sautéed in honey. Also, add a boost of fiber by topping the salad a sprinkle of flax, hemp, sunflower or chia seeds. Cheese: In winter I like to add strong, flavorful cheeses like Parmesan, blue cheese or feta. Other good choices include goat crumbles, Pecorino Romano, aged cheddar or gruyere. Protein: Make it a meal by adding hard-boiled eggs, grilled shrimp, shredded chicken, salmon, tuna or steak. Some vegetarian proteins include chickpeas, tofu, black beans or tempeh.
SWEET CHARCUTERIE SPREAD
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We all love our charcuterie boards, but this Christmas I can’t wait to surprise guests with sweet versions of everyone’s favorite cheeses served alongside holiday candy, fruit and chocolates. Sweet and salty is such a satisfying combination and it’s easy to do with all the specialty cheeses available at FRESH. During the holidays, FRESH has several cheeses infused fruit, spices, alcohol and chocolate. The Clawson English cheese has White Stilton with mango or cranberries and Wensleydale with blueberries or cranberries. Also look for goat cheese logs flavored with cinnamon, honey, vanilla, blueberries or cranberries. Brie is another good choice because you can top it with pepper jelly, fig jam or another fruit sauce. Another favorite of mine is blue cheese topped with honey and candied pecans or walnuts. Aged cheeses include hard cheddars with rinds washed in red wine, raspberry ale or whiskey. Available with Italian cheese is a chocolate mascarpone that would be delicious with strawberries or banana chips. To go with the cheese, look for crackers that are sweet and savory. A plain cracker is also nice to have when a cheese is pungent or topped with a sauce. Or use wafer cookies to dip into the chocolate mascarpone or a sweetened cream cheese. Garnish the platter with fruits like strawberries, pineapple, grapes, apple slices, dried apricots and figs. And then fill in the gaps with dipped pretzels, chocolate covered strawberries, macarons, peppermint bark, fudge bites, chocolate truffles, and Christmas candy. It’s the perfect way to add color, sparkle and a bit of edible décor to your sweet charcuterie spread.
HOLIDAY SWEET & TREATS FROM THE BAKERY
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During the month of December, it seems like my holiday to do list always gets longer before it gets shorter. Events to plan, meals to cook, presents to buy, family to see and impromptu get-togethers to see old, new and favorite friends. That’s why there’s no shame in letting the FRESH bakery take some of the load when it comes to baking and, especially, desserts. Yes, Christmas is also baking season and a lot of people enjoy making cookies, pies, cakes and candy, but to ease some stress I will leave it up to the experts in the bakery. It’s so much easier to pick up a showstopping cake from FRESH or an assortment of mini desserts with more wow factor than any batch of cookies I’ve ever made. Plus, if you transfer the pie, muffins or rolls to your own serving dish you might just fool a few folks into believing you made it yourself. Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me. Here are a few ways the FRESH Bakery can help with your holiday plans: Coffee cakes, muffins, Danishes, scones and bagels for brunch or breakfast gatherings. Specialty cakes decorated for the season or sheet cakes for personalization while you wait. Seasonal desserts for a holiday gathering. Check the catering/bakery menu for an assortment of handcrafted items. Can’t decide on a dessert? Half pies, single cake slices, and individual servings of tiramisu and other favorites are available to satisfy every craving. Lemon bars, cheesecake bites, mini fruit tarts or macarons are the perfect light dessert for luncheons. Soft and delicious honey butter rolls or traditional brioche rolls are a must-have for holiday dinners. Artisan ciabatta bread, challah or French batard are just a few of the loaves available for dinners, sandwiches or specialty toast. Assortment of cookies for Santa and his reindeer!
FRESH IDEAS FOR CHRISTMAS ENTERTAINING
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You’ve probably seen it on social media. The latest trend in food is butter boards. So easy to do and the perfect opportunity to get creative with your favorite flavors and topping. Simply made with dollops of room temperature butter spread onto a board then topped with different seasonings, sauces or condiments to make it sweet or savory. Serve with toasted baguette slices, crackers or flatbread so that everyone can dig into the spread. Something like this can be done so many ways and with the Christmas season upon us, we are all looking for fun ways to entertain. I decided to take the butter board idea one step further. Instead of just butter, why not use cream cheese, hummus, Nutella, frosting or peanut butter. Here are a few tips if you decide to indulge the trend and make your own board creation: Clean Board: This goes without saying, but sometimes our boards can harbor smells and/or bacteria. If you’ve been using your board for chopping it very likely smells like garlic or onions and that flavor wouldn’t blend well with a sweet-flavored butter board. Wash the board with soap and water and let it dry. Then if you still detect an odor, sprinkle the board with coarse salt, cut a lemon in half and use 1/2 a lemon, cut side down, to scrub the board and deodorize. Let the mixture sit on the board for 5 minutes and then wash the board again with soap and water. Even if you’re using a new board, be sure to wash it well. Also, ensure the board is food-safe and the wood is untreated. Flavorful Base: Whatever you’re using as the base is the star of the board. Generic unsalted butter doesn’t have much flavor. Buy salted butter or splurge on a European or grass-fed butter. You can also bring your butter to room temperature and stir in flavorings like salt, pepper, herbs or roasted garlic. How to Spread: If using cream cheese or butter, let it come to room temperature. It is easier to spread and blend with other flavors you might stir into your base. Spread multiple layers for thickness and use a spoon or butter knife to make swirls. Sweet Toppings: Honey, fresh fruit, jam, sprinkles, crushed candy, dried fruit or white/dark chocolate. Savory Toppings: Fresh/dried herbs, edible flowers, chopped chiles, chile flakes, roasted red peppers, pesto sauce, sauteed sliced garlic, slivered onions, chopped nuts, sea salt, citrus zest, crushed peppercorns, Sriracha, chili paste, jalapeno jelly, chopped olives, grated or crumbled cheese, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic glaze. Dippers: Depending on the base and topping you choose the dipping options are endless. There are many sweet and savory breads in the bakery at FRESH that would be perfect for a butter board. Also, any loaf can be sliced for you by the bakery staff. If you’re doing cream cheese, hummus or another savory option then crackers, bagel chips, flatbread or vegetables could be served. For a sweet board, shortbread or wafer cookies, strawberries or ladyfingers are a fun idea for dipping. Shapes: Spread the butter in the shape of a heart, wreath, tree or a number or letter would be fun for a birthday party. My Christmas cream cheese board in the shape of a tree was topped with a cranberry relish, lemon zest, pink peppercorns and fresh rosemary.
NEW SIDE DISHES FOR THANKSGIVING
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I always enjoy Thanksgiving planning. Flipping through cooking magazines, various cookbooks and watching Food Network always give me new ideas for recipes and entertaining. I’ve also started an album on my phone for screenshots of recipes, Instagram videos or posts that feature something I might like to cook. Another source of inspiration is the produce department at FRESH. The large variety of vegetables that are available for side dishes definitely get the wheels turning. Often, we’re expected to be traditional for Thanksgiving and cook the same thing every year, but I do like to change some of the side dishes, just for fun, and the opportunity to try something new. This year, I am trying something new with sweet potatoes. While some might be disappointed, we won’t have mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows, I think my sweet potato stacks my win over a few guests. Also, my green beans with bacon should also be a hit. After all, who can say no to bacon? Sweet Potato Stack Recipe
TASTE OF ITALIAN WINE
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When you think of Italian food images of pasta, cheese, tomatoes and pizza come to mind. But what do you need to pair with all this great Italian food, of course, a great Italian wine! Italian wines can be difficult to pick and understand, but once you begin trying some different varieties you will soon find a favorite. The difference is that most Italian wine is named for where it is made, not the type of grape. Especially when it comes to red wines. The quality is also monitored by the DOC or DOCG seal that you find on many of the bottles. DOC or DOCG is a designation by the Italian government that the winemaker has followed certain growing and production methods that ensure the quality and tradition associated with that specific variety of wine. There are 77 DOCG Italian wines, the difference being these are the names that will be most recognizable because of large production, popular growing region and most stringent government control on winemaking techniques. Wines like Chianti Classico, Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino – to name a few. The DOC wines are more numerous – exceeding 330 varieties – but don’t necessarily represent a lower quality wine. Sometimes these wines follow even more strict production techniques and simply represent grapes, growing regions and wine characteristics that are grown and produced on a smaller scale. During Taste of Italy, you’ll have the opportunity to sample some great Italian wines in store and enjoy 20% off 6 bottles or more of Italian wine. Take home some different varieties and learn the nuances and flavors associated with some of Italy’s greatest wine growing regions. And don’t forget to grab some delicious Italian cheeses, meats, olives and other accompaniments to enjoy with your wine. Italians put a lot of thought into wine and cheese pairing and making sure each one complements the other in the perfect way. It’s all part of the Dolce Vita lifestyle that Italians do so well! Here’s a list of the more popular Italian wine categories that are available on the FRESH wine aisle. Red Wine Brunello di Montalcino: Made near the small Tuscan town of Montalcino, Brunello is one of Italy’s most exclusive wines due to its low production. Made from Sangiovese grapes, Brunello wine has high acidity, high tannins and flavors of dark cherry, figs and red plum. Amarone: Made primarily from the Corvina grape which is partially dried before fermentation. The result is a rich, deep, concentrated flavor in the wine. Made in the Valpolicella area near Verona. Valpolicella: From the Valpolicella wine growing region near Verona. These wines are typically light bodied and have been made from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes. These wines are DOC labeled and can be traditionally made or include the Amarone winemaking method or Ripasso – a second fermentation, initiated by pouring Valpolicella wine over the Amarone pressed skins. Barolo: Made from Nebbiolo grapes from the Barolo wine growing appellation of the Piedmont region. Barolo is often compared to French Burgundy Pinot Noir and is a softer, lighter colored Italian red. Barbera: A rare exception, Barbera is a grape variety from the Piedmont region, and not a place. It is labeled Barbera or can be a grape used in Barolo or Barbaresco. It has high acidity and lively fruit flavors that make it a classic pairing for pizza. Nebbiolo: The grape predominately used in making Barolo wine, although it is sometimes labeled as Nebbiolo if not made in the specific technique as Barolo. Although lighter in color, this grape produces big bold reds that have high tannins and flavors of cherry, coffee, soil and warm spice. This ancient grape variety pairs well with heavy, rich foods. Chianti Classico: Everyone knows Chianti, but it is not enough to be a wine produced within the Chianti region to be authentic Chianti Classico. Winemakers must respect specific rules. Its a blend of 80% of Sangiovese, the red grape typical of this area, 20% of other grapes which include native grapes such as Canaiolo and Colorino, as well as other international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Characteristics include ruby red color, floral notes, dry flavor and good level of tannin. Montepulciano: As if Italian wines weren’t confusing enough – Montepulciano can be two different wines. Vino Noble of Montepulciano is a Tuscan red wine made from Sangiovese grapes grown near the hilltop town of Montepulciano and aged in the ancient cellars under the city. But, also, Montepulciano is a grape that is grown in the Abruzzo region in East-Central Italy and used to make Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a rich, robust wine with high tannins and acidity and flavors of cherry, dark berries, herbs and tobacco. Sangiovese: The most popular grape grown in Italy and the primary grape used in some of Italy’s most notable wines like Chianti Classico, Vino Noble Montepulciano, and Brunello. Referred to as a chameleon grape because of its ability to take on a myriad of flavors depending on the soil, climate and winemaking technique. There are wines available that are labeled Sangiovese that are just Sangiovese wine. They don’t follow the techniques or production guidelines of DOC or DOCG categories, but they are still good wines. White Wine Pinot Grigio: A white wine grape that produces light, crisp and refreshing flavors. The characteristics of Pinot Grigio are reminiscent of green apple, lemon, lime and other tropical fruits. Grown mostly in Northern Italy. Vermentino: Light-bodied white wine grape grown mainly on the island of Sardinia. Flavors of citrus and stone fruit are predominant and make this a perfect light summer wine. Soave: A white wine produced in the appellation of Soave near the city of Verona. Made from Garganega grapes the wine is often reminiscent of melons of orange zest. Soave is also known as a white wine that improves with age. Gavi: From the small town of Gavi in the Piedmont region, Gavi wine is made from Cortese grapes. The wine is crisp and acidic with lots of minerality, floral notes and flavors of herbs and melon. Prosecco: The most well-known white sparkling wine of Italy, Prosecco, is made from Glera grapes grown in the Prosecco growing region near Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. To be called Prosecco, the grapes must come from this area and follow a specific technique used to produce the bubbles. Other Italian sparkling wines go by the name Spumante, Franciacorta, Lambrusco (red) or just sparkling (frizzante.)
APPLE SEASON AT FRESH
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If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, after celebrating apple season at FRESH I should experience a very healthy winter. When they taste as good as they do – juicy, crispy, sweet and tart – it’s easy to find endless ways to use them in recipes. Don’t just throw them in the lunch box, there’s many ways to enjoy fall’s perfect fruit in sweet & savory methods. Slice thin and place on top of salads. Add a tart crunch to your favorite salad recipe – either raw or sear the slices in a small amount of olive oil and lemon juice. Next time you make cole slaw, shred an apple on a large box grater and add to the slaw mixture. Cut an apple into cubes and sauté until soft in a small amount of oil. Add to rice pilaf, stuffing or puree apples to make a sauce for pork or chicken. Grill slices of apples and put on a ham & cheese sandwich. Cut apples in half, hollow out core and toss with a light coating of cinnamon, honey and soft butter. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve with ice cream. Make a large batch of apple pie filling. Don’t just use in a pie. Serve over pancakes, waffles, pound cake or ice cream. Make your own apple juice. It’s so good! Cut 4 large apples into eight pieces and add to a saucepan. No need to peel or core the apples. Add just enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until apples are soft. Mash with a potato masher and cool the mixture to room temperature. When cool, line a colander with a large piece of doubled cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Spoon the apple mixture and all liquid into the colander. Leave to strain for several hours or overnight. Discard the pulp and refrigerate the juice. Use within 1 week or freeze. Makes 2 to 3 cups. Apple butter is a great way to preserve the delicious flavors of seasonal apples. Spread on toast, use in marinades, add a spoonful to salad dressings for a sweet, tart twist. It’s also delicious as a glaze on ham, stirred into yogurt and as a spread on charcuterie boards.
SUPER SLIDERS FOR TAILGATING
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When we plan our menu for tailgating or game watching parties, we want the food to be just as good as the game. The same old chips and dip aren’t very exciting. Neither are sliders made with just burger patties and the usual toppings. Take your sliders to the next level by using other ingredients to fill the buns. There are so many ways to make tasty sliders and it would even be fun to offer a few different options so your guests can choose their favorite. These are some of our favorite ways to build sliders or you can try our new recipe for Hot Italian Sliders, piled high with specialty meats from the Charcuterie case. When it comes to bread, you can use slider buns from the bread aisle and from the bakery look for brioche rolls, dinner rolls, or FRESH hot dog buns cut in half. Creative Ways Fill Sliders: Meatballs with sauce, pulled pork, brisket, shredded buffalo chicken, meatloaf, sloppy Joe, chicken salad, taco meat, carnitas, chicken parmesan, French dip, caprese, barbecue chicken, shrimp cocktail, chili-cheese, mini fried chicken and waffles, fried fish and cole slaw, sweet & sour pulled pork with pineapple.
HATCH SEASON AT FRESH
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Hatch is here & it’s time to stock up on everyone’s favorite chile pepper! It’s one of the most versatile ingredients and can be used in so many recipes. At FRESH we celebrate Hatch season by adding them to several of our chef-prepared dishes and fresh meat and fish products. We also provide in-house roasted chiles and as many fresh chiles from produce as you need for a year’s worth of recipes. I like to stock up and roast several at a time. Then, remove the skins, cut a slit in the side and remove the seeds. You can freeze them whole or roughly chop. It really depends on how you want to use them. Here are some tips for your pepper prep and storage. Roast whole at 450 for 20 minutes. Turn over after 10 minutes. For an added smoky flavor you can roast them on the grill or in the smoker. After roasting, immediately place in a large plastic bag. Seal the bag and keep closed for 20 minutes. Remove each pepper and peel off the skin. After removing the skins, freeze whole or cut off the tops and clean out the seeds. Freeze the whole peppers individually on a tray and then transfer to a plastic bag for storage. Alternately, roughly chop the peppers and fill sandwich bags with 1 cup each of chopped peppers. Push air out of bag, seal and freeze flat. Once frozen, place all the small bags into one large bag. A general rule is that 1 average size pepper will equal 1/4 cup chopped or pureed. This will help you plan how many peppers to purchase and freeze. Once the summer heat is over and cooler temperatures are here, this new recipe for a Hatch soup is something you will really enjoy. You can also add rice and chicken to this for Hatch Chile Stew. There you go, a reason to stock up and enjoy Hatch all year long!
MOZZAPALOOZA WITH BELGIOIOSO & FRESH
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Recently I had the chance to visit Italy, and I did my best to eat as much fresh mozzarella as possible. You see it served at every meal. In Southern Italy, near the island of Capri, you’ll even see Caprese salad for breakfast. Beautiful, sweet summer tomatoes paired with rich, creamy fresh mozzarella and a few sprigs of basil – it truly is flavor perfection. Back home, whenever I want to recreate that amazing Italian memory, all I need to do is go to FRESH and grab BelGioioso mozzarella cheese. Created by Errico Auricchio in 1979, he moved his family from Italy to the Wisconsin – America’s dairyland – where he had dreams of creating the best Italian cheeses in the U.S. He brought with him two master cheesemakers to help carry out the legacy that began with his great-grandfather in Italy. He started with Provolone, Parmesan and Romano and once the market began to grow, they introduced Mascarpone, Mozzarella, Gorgonzola and more. This month at FRESH we’ve teamed up with BelGioioso for MozzaPalooza – a summer celebration of Mozzarella cheese. It really is the perfect summer ingredient. It’s cool, creamy and delicious to eat on its own or easy to melt with very little heat. BelGioioso mozzarella is available in the charcuterie cheese case in several shapes and sizes, look for logs that are presliced, large traditional balls, small pearls and burrata. I must admit, I grew up eating grated mozzarella from the bag in all the Italian dishes my mom used to make. Then I learned about fresh mozzarella and I never looked back. It melts perfectly on pizza, is so creamy in lasagna and has the perfect texture and mild flavor to go in salads and sandwiches. It’s also a great blending cheese. When making a cheese sauce, often sharp cheeses like aged cheddar and Parmesan do not melt well because their moisture content is low. The result will be goopy and grainy with a sharp flavor. When you add in a cheese like mozzarella, with a high moisture content and mild flavor, it brings a creamy texture and balances the flavor. Mozzarella also serves as a blank slate for many flavors. Its spongey texture absorbs flavor so well that it takes on a whole new identity when marinated in oil, herbs, vinegar or even honey. In this recipe for Caprese Panzanella Salad, I added the mozzarella pearls so they would be a contrasting texture to the crunchy bread, but also soak in the vinegar, olive oil and juices from the tomatoes. Panzanella is an Italian salad created to use up stale bread. It was a peasant dish and designed to use whatever was on hand. The bread would soften after tossing it with oil and vinegar and other vegetables would also be added. It almost always contains tomatoes, but other popular ingredients include olives, chopped salami, sliced onions and capers.
COOL DOWN WITH SUMMER DRINKS
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Summer is heating up and cooling down is easy to do when you have a drink in hand. The idea of a cold beverage is always a welcome thought at the end of a long, hot day. There’s a lot to choose from when you browse the drink aisles at FRESH. Sparkling water in refreshing fruit flavors, seltzers spiked with wine, ranch water, hard cider and a variety of cold beers and wines – there are endless options for every day of the summer. Of course, you can enjoy any of these items on their own, but we want to tempt you with some new ideas. Here are some fun ways to enjoy some old favorites and give you a frosty feeling on even the hottest days. Blood Orange Shandy: A shandy is a beer cocktail that combines equal parts wheat beer with lemonade or another citrus fruit juice. For a colorful twist, we’ve mixed it with blood orange juice. It’s so yummy and gives the beer a fruity, fresh flavor. Watermelon Frosé: You may love your rosé all day, but have you had it frozen? Even better, how about freezing the rosé and adding frozen watermelon? Simply add 1 cup rosé to a bowl and 1 cup of roughly chopped watermelon to another bowl. Freeze for 1 hour and scrape with a fork. Continue the process every hour until completely frozen, but still flaky. Stir the two together and serve in a wine glass. You may want to grab a spoon to scoop up all the delicious and flaky pink snow! Spiked Mimosa: Elevate your brunch mimosa with Simply Spiked. Instead of orange juice, add Simply Spiked lemonade to your sparkling wine. Available in blueberry, strawberry, watermelon and lemon flavors, it’s a fun new beverage that’s great on its own or used as a mixer. Sparkling Water: Who says water is boring? With so many different flavors and varieties, sparkling water is more refreshing than soda and very versatile. Dress it up for a party with ice cubes made with edible flowers, fruit or citrus. Add some cucumber slices, muddle with herbs or garnish with a lemon or lime twist. It’s a chic and thirst-quenching way to keep cool without the buzz.
CELEBRATE MAC & CHEESE
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It’s everyone’s favorite comfort food and something we all grew up enjoying, so why not dedicate a whole day to celebrate macaroni and cheese? Get ready to boil the noodles and grate the cheese because July 14th is national Mac & Cheese Day. In the store, we’ll have a variety of specialty mac & cheese flavors available in chef-prepared. Pick your favorite or try them all. The gooey, cheesy goodness makes this ordinary summer day a special occasion. You can also find several varieties in the pasta and freezer aisle with different noodles, sauces and flavor combinations. Or try our recipe to make the ultimate homemade macaroni and cheese that is sure to please everyone at your table. Get creative with different cheeses from the Cheese & Charcuterie case. Top your dish with bacon or stir in shredded chicken, browned sausage or green peas to make it a complete meal. You can even choose different pasta shapes like cavatappi, penne, farfalle or rotini. The skies the limit when it comes to combinations and there are hundreds of ways to celebrate National Mac & Cheese Day! Pasta: Since 1937 when Kraft first put elbow macaroni in a blue box, we’ve equated this shape with traditional mac & cheese. It’s perfect because the tubular center helps hold the sauce and keep the gooey cheese wrapped around the curves and crannies. Check the pasta aisle for gluten free options and other pastas that contain added fiber, protein and/or vegetables. Also, some of the Italian brands have other small -haped pastas that would be perfect for holding onto a rich, creamy cheese sauce. Although mac & cheese seems very American, there is proof that the original recipe did come from Italy. Cheese: When picking cheese for your sauce, it’s best to combine a couple of different varieties. Pick one that has a strong flavor like aged cheddar, Gruyere or Manchego. Then pick a softer, mild cheese like gouda, provolone or mozzarella because they’re very creamy with a mild flavor. They also help to balance the sharp, grassy flavors that develop in aged cheese. Hard cheeses like Parmesan, Grana Padano and Pecorino have low moisture content and do not melt well. Use these in small amounts to sprinkle over the top or stir into a cheese that is creamier with less flavor. Charcuterie: It may have started with hot dogs cut up in our mac & cheese, but I think our tastebuds have refined with age. Try browning some pancetta, bacon, Italian sausage or ham to stir into the noodles. Or cut into small pieces salami, prosciutto, speck or pepperoni and scatter over the top. Also, don’t forget the fresh breadcrumbs. Toss them in olive oil or brush with melted butter for extra browning.
TASTES LIKE SUMMER
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Don’t have time to make it to the famers market? A walk through the produce department at FRESH is just as good. With a vast selection of local produce, there are so many choices like East Texas peaches and onions, peas from a local farm and nearby blueberries that you didn’t have to pick! When I think of summer, I imagine the first bite of a homegrown tomato or sweet and juicy watermelon just picked from the patch. It’s definitely easy to find all of that great summer flavor at FRESH by Brookshire’s. Just look around the store at all the signs pointing out what was grown by Texas farmers or produced by local food artisans. Homemade salsas are one of my favorite things to make in the summer. Tasting all the ingredients when they are at their peak of flavor is so delicious and healthy, too. They’re also good to put on grilled chicken, fish, tacos or salads. Super easy to make, all you need to do is chop up your favorite ingredients. This recipe for Melon Salsa is great on its own or with fish or chicken tacos. Each ingredient is so fresh and, besides the lime, grown in Texas. It doesn’t get any fresher than FRESH by Brookshire’s in the summer!
GREAT GRILLING WITH FRESH
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Summers at the lake or by the pool wouldn’t be complete without dinner on the grill. Burgers, steaks and chicken are the most popular choices, but what about the side? If I’m grilling, I don’t want to go back and forth to the kitchen to also watch something on the stove. There are so many vegetables that are great on the grill. Either directly on the grates or wrapped in foil, here are some delicious ways to cook sensational side dishes on the grill. Potatoes: Parboil until for tender. For cut potatoes, place on a large piece of foil and top with butter, salt, pepper and your favorite cheese. Wrap tightly and cook on the grill for 15 minutes. Mixed Vegetables: Cut bell peppers, onions, yellow squash and zucchini into thick wedges. Place in a bowl and toss with vegetable oil, salt, pepper and juice from a lemon. Let marinate for 1 hour and grill until soft and charred. A grill tray is also great for this. Mushrooms: Clean mushrooms and toss in oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook directly on the grate or wrap in foil. Corn: Parboil for 5 minutes. Wrap in foil with butter, salt and pepper. Grill for 5 to 10 minutes. Or, soak corn for 1 hour and grill directly on the grates. Also, see below for a recipe for Mexican Street Corn.
GRILLING WITH STONE FRUIT
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When you think of peaches, plums and all your favorite stone fruits of summer, you tastebuds probably start preparing for pie, cobbler and other desserts. But one of my favorite ways to enjoy the fruit is on the grill. They soften, get juicy and the sugars caramelize as they take on a smoky, deep flavor. You can cut them in half and remove the seed then brush with a little honey, oil and a pinch of salt. After a few minutes on the grill serve the halves topped with ice cream or sweetened mascarpone mixed with ricotta cheese. Drizzle with honey and enjoy. If you’d rather slice the fruit before grilling, then the slices can be served with grilled chicken, pork or on a salad. It’s so easy and adds great flavor.
CELEBRATE MAY WITH FLOWERS BY FRESH
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Leading into summer, the month of May means end of school year, Mother’s Day and so many other reasons to celebrate. FRESH makes shopping for that special occasion easy and beautiful with a quick stop in the floral department. FRESH has made to order arrangements, plants, bouquets, assorted fresh flowers, balloons, succulents and more. Whatever you think is needed to make it a special occasion. Here are some of the celebrations in May and ways we can help you honor the important people in your life. Teacher Appreciation Week (5/2 – 5/6): Small plants and succulents that are the perfect size for teacher’s desk. Nurses Week (5/6 – 5/12): Nurses and caregivers are there when our loved ones need it the most. Helping others is a hard job and the patients are usually on the receiving end of flowers. Surprise a nurse with an arrangement from FRESH and brighten their day. Mother’s Day (5/8) & Dia De Las Madres (5/10): Whatever it is that mom loves, FRESH has something she will enjoy. Houseplants, potted plants for the garden, flower arrangements or a bouquet of roses. Shower mom with love and flowers by FRESH. Memorial Day (5/30): Create a patriotic centerpiece or small table arrangements for you holiday gathering. Red, white and blue balloons mixed with flowers and greenery will get everyone ready to celebrate America and remember those who sacrificed for our country. High School & College Graduations: Honor your graduate with their favorite flowers or a plant complimented with balloons, bows, ribbons or a vase in school colors.
GREEN MEANS CLEAN
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When you hear about Earth Day you think about picking up trash, planting a tree or spending time outside. But one of the easiest ways to make a difference is to reach for eco-friendly cleaning products. Surface cleaners, wipes, bleach, bathroom cleaners, hand, dish and laundry soap are all the things that make our homes, hands and clothes safe from dirt, grime, germs and disease. As these cleaners are washed down the drain, they pollute rivers, lakes and streams and leach into soil and groundwater. Also, wasted product and packaging is often disposed of improperly or made with non-biodegradable materials. Harsh chemicals can also be an air pollutant and lower the air quality in your home. Some of the advantages of green cleaning products include: Plant-based ingredients Low toxicity Biodegradable No artificial fragrances or dyes Packaging that is minimal, recyclable and/or reusable Products produced with less energy Gentle ingredients safer for skin, eyes, respiratory organs, drains and septic systems Not tested on animals or produced with animal-derived ingredients While the benefits are numerous, you may be wondering if they clean as well as traditional cleaning products? Studies have shown that if a product foams, it cleans. Sprays, wipes and cleaners that froth or foam – even in small amounts – have the power to eliminate dirt, grime, grease, leftover food and some germs. The bubbles trap particles and are rinsed away. Natural cleaners can be just as good as traditional cleaners and use little or no volatile organic compounds and harsh chemicals. When it comes to sanitizing and disinfecting, that means something different when it comes to cleaning. Cleaners can remove germs, but that doesn’t mean they kill germs – regardless of whether you’re using a natural or traditional cleaning product. The USDA regulates the term “disinfect” so if a product is labeled as a disinfectant, that means it kills 99.99 percent of bacteria or viruses within 5 to 10 minutes of application. The EPA has a list of registered disinfectants on its website. Also, consult individual product labels to understand how that product cleans and if it is also capable of disinfecting and sanitizing. At FRESH, look for some of the following eco-friendly brands on the household cleaners aisle: ECOS: In 1953, ECOS founder Van Vlahakis arrived in NYC from Greece. His homeland and its pure, non-toxic approach to cleaning provided future inspiration for ECOS products. He began working as a chemist in the cleaning products industry and recognized the negative health effects of the harsh chemical ingredients. He started his own safer, greener cleaning products in his garage. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day: Made with plant-derived ingredients, essential oils and other thoughtfully formulated ingredients. Inspired by Mrs. Thelma Meyer, an Iowa homemaker and mother of nine. One of her daughters was walking down a cleaning aisle, eyeing all the products and couldn’t help but notice the abundance of conventional ingredients and sterile smells. Right then and there, she had a brilliant idea: “Let’s make cleaners that smell nice, like a garden, but still work like the dickens on daily dirt and grime.” It’s no surprise that she named the product line after her very practical mom and rooted it in the values she passed along to her kids. Rebel Green: Rebel Green offers a full line of natural cleaning products that are designed to create cleaner, healthier living spaces at better value, while using only the highest quality natural ingredients. Ali Florsheim and Melina Marcus created Rebel Green because they know that style has the power to change consumer habits and help ignite a change in thinking about products we buy every day. Rebel Green was born out of that determination to make highly effective, natural cleaners at a better value with the chic and rebellious flair that defines their products. Charlie’s Soap: It all started in 1976 when founder, Charlie Sutherland Sr. made his living selling yarn lubricant to textile mills in North Carolina. When Charlie’s customers began asking about a cleaner for their machines, he could think of only one solution – his son, Charlie Jr. With a background in chemistry, Charlie Jr. invented a cleaner so good that the textile employees started sneaking it home for personal use. Soon enough, people began asking for the cleaner by name – Charlie’s Soap. Grab Green: Represents cleaning products that are convenient, non-toxic and sustainable. They work closely with a team of organic chemists to innovate their products and formulas. They responsibly source the highest quality ingredients and practice advanced green chemistry to achieve the right balance of plant and mineral-based formulas. We adhere to standards developed by consumer-focused governing bodies such as EWG.org and EPA’s Safer Choice Certification in order to deliver products that are safer, without sacrificing efficacy.
TROPICAL FRUIT MIMOSAS
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Why should orange juice have all the fun? This spring, at your next brunch, garden party or Easter lunch, stock up on tropical fruit to make your mimosas. You can create a colorful display by choosing an assortment of fruits like papayas, passion fruit, dragon fruit, coconut and kiwano melon. Each of these fruits, plus several other tropical selections will produce a different color and flavor of juice to be added to the mimosa. If you don’t own a juicer, the most effective way to make the juice is to puree with a blender or food processor and then press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. You can also create different types of garnish using the exotic choices. Pour the juices into individual carafes and fill small bowls with cut fruit to garnish. Let your guests choose from the assortment of juices and enjoy the different flavors they can mix with their champagne. Here are just a few of the exotic fruits available at FRESH. The selection varies depending on availability. Also, don’t forget some familiar tropical favorites like kiwis, pineapples, mangos and coconuts. Ugli Fruit: Grown exclusively in Jamaica, don’t let the bumpy, rotten looking exterior fool you. Ugli Fruit is a hybrid between the Sevilla orange, grapefruit and tangerine families. Despite its appearance, this fruit is both tangy and sweet. Simply peel like an orange to enjoy the burst of citrus flavor. Passion Fruit: Native to southern Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, passion fruit has a tropical sweet tart flavor with nuances of pineapple, papaya, mango and citrus. Passion fruit are prized for their jelly like pulp which can be used raw or cooked in a number of dessert or beverage preparations. Simply cut in half and scoop flesh out with a spoon. Quince: The interior and exterior of a quince is like an apple or a roundish pear, and they taste a little like both. Quince is rarely used in its raw form, and when cooked, the flesh turns from light pink to almost purple. The flavor is very astringent when raw but becomes softer and sweeter when cooked. A favorite for baking and preserving because of its sweet-sour flavor and high levels of pectin. Blood Oranges: With varying degrees of orange to red exterior, the peel of the blood orange becomes redder as it ripens. When cut open, the juice and flesh of the orange is dark red and has a sweet flavor, similar to strawberries, that is less tart and acidic than typical oranges. Papaya: Available in several varieties, such as golden, maradol and strawberry, papayas are from Mexico or Hawaii. The skin is green to yellow and the flesh ranges from golden yellow to orange and red. They vary in size from small, like a pear, to almost 10 pounds. Choose papayas that are soft like a peach with skin that is more yellow than green. Horned/Kiwano Melon: Native to New Zealand, this melon has a spiky golden-orange shell that encases a soft, seed-filled emerald green interior. It has a sweet and tart banana-lime flavor that is enhanced when chilled. Cut in half and scoop out the jelly-like flesh or add the seeds to salads, salsas or smoothies. Dragon Fruit: Available in pink, purple or yellow, dragon fruit is a cactus fruit with a delicate, sweet flavor with the aroma of jasmine. Its white flesh has a melon-like texture with tiny edible seeds, similar to a kiwi. Can be eaten by cutting in half and scooping the flesh out with a spoon. Cherimoya: With a lizard-green pinecone exterior and a custard white flesh, when opening a Cherimoya, you’ll notice a very floral sent of vanilla and banana. The flavor is reminiscent to pineapple, pear and strawberry. Be sure to remove the seeds before eating. They are poisonous. Feijoa: Also known as pineapple guava, these egg-shaped fruits have a soft succulent flesh that is similar to a pear with jelly-like edible seeds. This lime green fruit is native to South America, but primarily grown in New Zealand. Its flavor is reminiscent to a pineapple, quince and lemon. Featured in photo: Papaya & Blood Orange, Pineapple, Coconut & Dragon Fruit, Kiwano Melon with Lime.
BUILDING THE PERFECT SANDWICH
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Lunch meat and bacon are a staple in almost every refrigerator and usually each member of the family has their own personal favorite. That’s why Brookshire’s is excited to announce new extra thin sliced ham and turkey available in a variety of flavors. These meats, in 1 pound or 9 ounce packages, are available with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives and no nitrates or hormones. It’s a healthier choice for your family and the wide selection brings so many delicious flavors and options. We’ve also improved our bacon and made this breakfast pairing or popular ingredient more affordable and delicious. When it comes to sandwiches, my favorite is a BLT, but with the availability of these new lunch meats, I couldn’t resist making the Ultimate Club Sandwich. Stacked high with plenty of meat, bacon, lettuce, tomato and a generous layer of FRESH guacamole. Sandwich satisfaction doesn’t get much better! Available Flavors: Oven Roasted Turkey Breast basted with Caramelized Apple Juice, Mesquite Smoked Turkey Breast, Uncured Mesquite Smoked Ham, Uncured Honey Ham, Uncured Smoked Ham, Hardwood Smoked Turkey Breast, Uncured Black Forest Ham
CELEBRATE CRAWFISH SEASON
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In the movie Forest Gump, Bubba lets everyone know that shrimp is the fruit of the sea, but if he’d been from Louisiana his shellfish of choice would have been crawfish – the fruit of the bayou! Any way you count it, there are endless ways to cook with crawfish. Boil it, grill it, sauté it, also crawfish gumbo, etouffee, bisque or po’ boy – we could go on and on. As you enjoy this year’s crawfish season get creative and try some new ways to prepare crawfish. At FRESH we celebrate with crawfish boils and also have live crawfish (check the seafood department for delivery schedule), frozen whole crawfish and frozen crawfish tails. You can also find some great crawfish recipes at freshbybrookshires.com/recipes. Just type crawfish into the search box.
CONQUER YOUR FEAR OF COOKING FISH
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During Lent, eliminating red meat and overly processed foods from your diet is a popular choice. Sometimes 40 days of abstaining from rich foods and cooking more fish or chicken is a great way to reset your system and get on the right track with healthy eating. However, the problem that many of us have is a trepidation to cooking fish at home. For me, it’s mainly about the smell, but also when you don’t cook something often, you worry about the recipe not working and wasting money on a fish dish that fell flat. If you’re feeling brave and want to learn some easy techniques for successful fish recipes at home, here are some tips that will help conquer those fears. Seasoning: Keep it simple. Fresh fish, even frozen filets, don’t need a lot of seasoning. Salt, pepper, other favorite seasoning blend, lemon or lime juice is really all you need. Oven-Baked: Many filets like cod, salmon, mahi, tilapia and flounder cook very well in the oven. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper and you won’t need to worry about the fish sticking to the pan. Drizzle with melted butter and/or olive oil. Add some citrus juice and cook for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Most average size filets will be ready in that time period. Thicker filets may take longer. Add a crust to the top by turning on the broiler for the last few minutes of cooking. Grill or Pan-Sear: Firm filets like salmon, mahi and tuna will hold up to the grill or pan searing. Make sure the surface is very clean and hot before adding the fish. Also, brush the fish and the cooking surface with oil. This will increase your chances of nonstick cooking. If you try to turn the fish and it feels stuck, give it a minute and try again. It may not be cooked enough to release from the surface and turn. Also, adding some lemon juice, wine or other liquid to the pan, can help with turning. Oven-Fried: Get that crispy crust without the deep fry. Simply dredge filets in flour, egg whites and breadcrumbs and place on a rack on a baking sheet. An oven proof cooling rack works just fine. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden and crispy. Wrapped in Paper: This technique is easy and foolproof. Simply place a filet on a 12 x 12 piece of parchment paper. Place 2 or 3 slices of lemon in the middle of the paper. Place the filet on top of the lemon slices and season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of white wine and a sprinkle of fresh herbs or parsley. Fold the paper up around the fish to seal. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. This is an impressive presentation for a dinner party to unwrap at the table. Poached: Poaching allows the fish to take on the flavor of a rich sauce or a way to add fish to soup. Salmon poached in wine, butter and lemon is delicious served over rice or on a salad. Also, cod poached in a coconut milk-chili broth is popular in Thai cuisine.
YOU HAD ME AT. . . .
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Chocolate, steak, shrimp, cheese, wine, flowers – do I really have to choose? At FRESH there are so many ways to show you care on Valentine’s Day. You’re sure to find something for everyone on almost every aisle. Celebrate with friends by creating a Valentine’s evening filled with charcuterie and wine. It’s easy to do and a lot of fun to find an assortment of great items to include in the spread. Here are a few tips on organizing all your favorite accompaniments. Find a large cutting board or platter big enough for your gathering. You can also spread parchment or butcher paper over a table and use that as your surface. Pick 4 to 5 large items – blocks of cheese, circle of brie or bowl of dip, bunch of grapes or plate of cookies – to be the anchors on the board. Randomly place these items on the board as the central focus of the arrangement. Once you’ve decided on placement, remove the blocks of cheese and slice into chunks. Leave the rind intact to keep the shape and place back on the board with the slices. Fill in around the anchor items with other smaller items – a pile of nuts/dried fruit, a row of folded salami, stack of cookies/crackers or squares of chocolate. Make it festive by adding candy or cookies that are red, pink and white. Grab some chocolate-covered strawberries from the bakery or mini desserts to add to a platter or gill in the gaps. Drizzle honey over one of the cheeses. Grab a jar of pepper jelly or fig jam to serve over brie or a wedge of blue cheese. Don’t forget to grab an assortment of red, white and sparkling wines. If you need recommendations, you can look for wines labeled FRESH Finds or consult the Wine Club on freshbybrookshires.com. Another wine aisle idea is to purchase 4 packs of mini sparkling wine, arrange in a large ice bucket and serve with Valentine’s straws. If you’re planning a couple’s dinner, you can never go wrong with steaks or filets from the market. Add some Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Charred Asparagus, Grilled Shrimp and green salad from Chef-Prepared and you’ll have a great meal that’s sure to impress. Complete your décor with fresh flowers and a delicious assortment of mini desserts from the bakery. Create a sample platter of small cheesecakes, cupcakes, eclairs, fruit tarts, macaron cookies, brownie bites and raspberry bars.
CITRUS SEASON IS HERE!
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The forecast for January is bright and sunny. With hues of orange, yellow, green and gold, the produce department at FRESH will be full of colorful, juicy, delicious citrus. When it comes to citrus, my personal favorite is lemons and I find a way to use them almost daily. Squeezing the juice into water, adding the zest to baked goods or layering slices on top of chicken or fish, lemons are so versatile and have great health benefits, as well. Don’t forget a bowl of lemons is also a beautiful addition to your kitchen décor. But don’t limit yourself to just lemons. Right now, there are several varieties of citrus that can be used all the same ways you would use a lemon. Filled with vitamin C, minerals and antioxidants, citrus also acts as a cleansing ingredient in many diets, a burst of acid in recipes and can help with immunity, energy and digestion. An assortment of oranges, limes, grapefruits, tangerines, nectarines, and even kumquats are at their peak of flavor and readily available. Every year, I look forward to the arrival of blood oranges and melogold grapefruit. They are both so unusual and the flavor is unexpected when compared to their everyday counterparts. Citrus can also help with one of my new year’s resolutions for 2022. Every week, I am challenging myself to try a new food or ingredient. With the vast selection at FRESH, citrus season will offer some great choices. Who knows? I might just find a new favorite.
SUPER WAYS TO SUPPLEMENT
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We all try to get as many nutrients as possible from the food we eat and hope we meet the recommended daily intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But sometimes, we fall short and need a way to supplement our healthy efforts. That is where vitamins can play an important role. There’s really no way to know how much of a nutrient we are actually consuming through food. Growing conditions, freshness and cooking time all play a part in nutrition loss in food. In some categories of nutrients, our body can produce what it’s not getting through food, but other times this deficiency can result in loss of energy, digestive issues and disease. Simply taking a multivitamin isn’t so easy. There are so many choices and most are specialized according to sex, age group, pill form and dosage. There are also many herbs, minerals and other nutrients that can be relied upon for common ailments, just the same as over the counter medication. Talking to your doctor is an important part of deciding what vitamins you need, and once you’ve narrowed it down, FRESH’s Health & Wellness department has a variety of choices. Another concern with vitamins is absorption. If you’re taking fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E or K, they should be taken with a food or beverage that contains fat. Or you can take that vitamin in gel cap form because the nutrient pre-dissolved in oil and encased in the gel. Another thing that can increase absorption is peppers. You’ll see some supplements adding an ingredient called BioPerine. This is a compound found in black pepper. The heat from peppers stimulates metabolism and increases absorption. You could also eat something spicy or with hot pepper sauce immediately after taking vitamins for the same effect. Depending on the vitamin, mineral or nutrient and its original state – solid, powder, liquid or oil – there are certain forms that best preserve the contents, increase the shelf life and rate of absorption. Below are some tips and categories to consider when choosing what is right for you: Tablets/Capsules: Tablets are often large and dense and sometimes not likely to absorb well. They also contain fillers or additives to make the vitamins into a concealed tablet. Capsules dissolve more readily and can be more reliable at achieving the desired rate of absorption. Chewable/Gummies: A quick and convenient form for those with concerns about swallowing pills and/or flavor. Because color, flavoring, sugar and other ingredients need to be added to help keep the gummy texture, there is minimal nutrient content. This is why multiple gummies are necessary to consume to achieve higher milligrams of vitamins. Sublingual: These vitamins are quick dissolve tablets that easily dissolve under the tongue. They are highly effective and bypass the digestive system to achieve absorption. Another benefit is less additives or fillers are used as traditional tablets. Dissolvable/Liquid/Gel: Powdered supplements and vitamins meant to dissolve in water and consumed by drinking. Also, liquid vitamins that can be mixed with water or taken straight from the vial or bottle. All forms are highly absorbable, but not always flavorful. Herbs/Nutrients: Some other products to consider are herbs or nutrients that can be used to treat common ailments or health concerns. Things like Melatonin for sleep aid, Turmeric for anti-inflammatory and arthritis pain, Fish Oils for cholesterol control, Elderberry for immunity, Biotin for nails and hair or Collagen for skin. These are supplements that should be researched before taking and also consult your doctor and/or pharmacist for proper dosage and possible interactions with other medication.