‘Tis the season of giving… but that can add up pretty quickly if you’re shopping for friends, family, coworkers, cousins, neighbors, and more! Don’t stress. One gift that’s quick, easy, and cheap while still being thoughtfully creative is FOOD. Here’s a list of fun and simple ideas for edible gifts you can do without breaking the bank:
Fill quart-sized mason jars with different types of nuts and dried fruits as a beautiful and nutritious gift of trail mix. Try alternating layers of shelled pistachios with dried cranberries for a festive red-green treat that is sure to satisfy. Top with a piece of red or green construction paper, a piece of twine, and a gift tag to complete the presentation.
Find a nearby Brookshire Brothers to pick up any ingredients you don't already have on hand!
ALL BARK AND TASTY BITES
Chocolate bark is one of the easiest confections, and you can go as far as the North Pole in terms of flavor combinations! Just melt your favorite baking chocolate according to the package instructions, spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, add mix-ins and toppings, and then refrigerate until hardened. One of my favorite colorful holiday combinations is white chocolate, crushed peppermints, and unsalted pistachios or pumpkin seeds. S’more bark is another fun take: chocolate + marshmallows + pieces of graham crackers + pecans = YUM.
EVERYONE LOVES BANANA BREAD
Banana Nut Bread is always a classic, plus it’s a great source of potassium and B vitamin! Check out my recipe for the best banana nut bread ever, which can easily be made into mini-loaves or muffins for easy distribution. Your friends and family will surely appreciate your loaves of love.
INFUSE OLIVE OIL WITH ROSEMARY
Olive oil is a unique gift with a bright shining halo of health in the world of nutrition. You can personalize the gift buy infusing it with rosemary. If time allows, you can easily personalize the gift by infusing the olive oil with rosemary. Dry whole sprigs of fresh rosemary by placing washed sprigs on a baking sheet. Put it in the oven for 2 - 4 hours on the lowest temperature setting. When the rosemary sprigs are brittle and have cooled, add to a bottle with your favorite extra virgin olive oil and allow it to infuse for a week or up to several months. Gift the oil for dipping with your favorite Brookshire Brothers artisan bakery bread. #BestNeighborEVER
For more on the health benefits of olive oil (as well as a recipe for an Easy Caprese Salad), read my ode here!
WARM UP WITH HOMEMADE SOUP
Share your Christmas spirit by the spoonful when you save your loved ones meal prep time with homemade soup! Fix your favorite wintertime soup, separate it into mason jars to distribute, and add a tag with freezing and re-heating instructions for a personal touch. This gift is delicious and easy to freeze if your friends/family want to save it for later. One of my favorites to share is winter squash soup—get the recipe here!
May your holidays be filled with delicious treats and special memories. Merry Christmas!
Cooking with Kate: Quick and Easy Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes
Quick Turkey Chowder
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, sauté green onion and celery in butter until celery is almost tender.
- Add potato soup, corn, turkey or chicken stock, and nutmeg. Season generously with salt and black pepper.
- Stirring constantly, bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and add turkey and parsley.
- Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until turkey is heated through.
Loaded Mashed Potato Cakes
In a skillet, cook the bacon until crispy and drain on a paper towel until cool. Crumble into small bits. Place the bacon bits into a large bowl. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from the frying pan and cook the garlic and white parts of the green onion over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and onions to the bacon along with mashed potatoes, cheese, flour, green onions, spices, parsley, and eggs. Blend well with a spoon or your hands; the mixture will be thick and sticky.
Wash and dry your frying pan, then melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat.
Scoop up about ¼ cup of the potato mixture and form it into a ball. Place it in the hot pan, flattening it out until it is ½ – ¾″ thick. Fry for about 3 minutes on each side, until they are lightly golden brown.
For best results, serve immediately, while hot and crispy, with sliced green onions, sour cream, or ketchup.
A fall take on a summer favorite.
Rice Krispies Treat Snack Mix
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar until sugar dissolves.
- Add the cereal to a large bowl and toss with the melted butter mixture until all the cereal is coated.
- Add the marshmallow fluff and gently mix into the cereal until most of it is mixed in but you still have small clumps of coated cereal (the rice krispie “treats”).
- Add in ingredients for flavor combinations (see below) or make up your own!
- Chill mix for at least 2 hours before serving (it’s a LOT less messy if you serve it cold) and ENJOY!
Six Dishes, Four Countries, One Kitchen.
Venezuelan Shredded Beef (Pabellón Criollo)
- In saucepan, combine meat, onion, bouillon and water. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer until very tender (about 1½ hours). Add more water as necessary to keep meat covered. Allow meat to cool in broth. When cool enough to handle, shred meat. Reserve 1 cup of broth.
- In meantime, puree onion, red pepper and garlic in food processor.
- In skillet heat oil on medium high. Add shredded meat and lightly brown. Add pureed vegetables, tomato sauce, Sazon, oregano, Adobo and reserved broth. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer until mixture dries about 20 minutes.
- Arrange meat, black beans, rice and plantain on platter and serve.
CONTINUE THE JOURNEY
- Chicken Flautas — "Tacos are an everyday event in Mexico with many different fillings. When tacos are rolled tightly and pan-fried until crisp so they resemble tubes or “flutes,” they become flautas. This delicious, crunchy variation of tacos comes from Jalisco, Mexico, where it is a popular snack food. Here, chicken stewed with tomato sauce and onions is the filling of choice, but can be substituted for steak or pork. Whichever protein you choose, the flautas should be prepared and eaten right away for the best taste." (GOYA)
- Grilled Chicken Fajitas — "For an outdoor meal that’s fun for everyone, serve up a sizzling batch of Grilled Chicken Fajitas! Here, boneless, skinless chicken breasts come alive with flavor and pizzazz when marinated in GOYA® Mojo Criollo. Grill the marinated chicken breasts, peppers and onions and serve with the toppings of your choice for a festive dinner, tonight!" (GOYA)
- Chicken and Avocado Quesadillas — "These chicken and avocado quesadillas are guaranteed to be the life of your summertime fiestas! Here, a tasty combination of GOYA® Fancy Pimientos, GOYA® Diced Green Chiles, scallions, fresh cilantro and GOYA® Salsita are topped with shredded cooked chicken and creamy avocado, coming cozily together in GOYA® Soft Taco Flour Tortillas with melted shredded cheese. This flavor-loaded quesadilla is bound to keep your party guests coming back for more!" (GOYA)
Salvadoran Pupusas with Cabbage Salad — "A staple of Salvadoran cuisine, pupusas are handmade, stuffed corn tortillas. Savory, flavor-packed pupusas Salvadoreñas are traditionally filled with beans, cheese, and pork. This pupusas recipe is especially easy, made with GOYA® Masarica Instant Corn Masa Flour, and stuffed with a choice of GOYA® Refried Red Beans (Volteados Style) and white cheese. Pupusas are served with a tangy pickled cabbage salad." (GOYA)
Colombian Beef and Pork Empanadas — "These typical Colombian-style empanadas are tasty turnovers made with savory yellow corn dough stuffed with seasoned pork and beef mixed with cooked potatoes. The meat filling is typically made with cooked and shredded beef and pork, but here, we use ground meat to cut down in cooking time with similar tasty results. Served at social gatherings, family parties and celebrations throughout the year, these Colombian Beef and Pork Empanadas are the perfect tasty, hand-held party food. Serve with lime wedges and a ají picante." (GOYA)
Cheddar-Bacon-Ranch Layered Dip
- In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese and ranch dressing. Spread in a 9-inch pie plate or other shallow bowl. Sprinkle with bacon, tomato, green onion and cheddar cheese. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours.
- Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.
Don't forget to check out these other game day recipes from Bar-S Foods as well!
What is the pistachio and where did it originate?
When and where do they grow now?
How are they picked?
Are pistachios good for you?
How much should you eat per day?
Raw vs. Roasted Pistachios: Which one is better?
What to do with pistachio nuts?
Apricot-Pistachio Rolled Pork
- To cut pork roast into a large rectangle that can be filled and rolled, cut lengthwise about 1/2 inch from top of pork to within 1/2 inch of opposite edge; open flat. Repeat with other side of pork, cutting from the inside edge to the outer edge; open flat to form rectangle.
- Sprinkle apricots, 1/2 cup nuts, the garlic, salt and pepper over pork to within 1 inch of edge. Tightly roll up pork, beginning with short side. Secure with toothpicks, or tie with string. Pierce pork all over with metal skewer. Brush brandy over entire surface. Let stand 15 minutes. Brush again with remaining brandy. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours but no longer than 24 hours.
- Heat oven to 325°F. Place pork, fat side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer so tip is in thickest part of pork. Roast uncovered 1 hour 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons nuts and garlic salt; cook and stir 1 minute. Cool slightly.
- Brush preserves over pork. Sprinkle with crumb mixture. Roast uncovered 30 to 60 minutes longer or until thermometer reads 160°F. Cover and let stand 15 minutes before serving for easier carving.
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with Reynolds Parchment Paper; set aside. In large bowl, stir together cookie mix, pudding mix and flour. Stir in melted butter and eggs until soft dough forms. Add pistachios and cranberries; mix well.
- Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on lined cookie sheet. Press with fingers to slightly flatten.
- Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered at room temperature.
Gingered Winter Squash and Fennel Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil — Read more: An Ode to Olive Oil
2 celery stalks, diced
1 red onion or shallot, diced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 sprig rosemary
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 winter squash such as butternut (about 3 lbs), peeled, seeded, and diced (to make about 1 ¾ pounds)
1 fennel bulb, diced, reserving fronds for garnish
1 pinch nutmeg
4 ½ cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese (grated)
Reserved fennel fronds
Ultimate Baked Potato Salad
Honey Lime Fruit Salad
View other recipes from Brookshire Brothers Catering Coordinator, Kate Rudasill.
Kate Rudasill, Catering Coordinator for Brookshire Brothers, has been in the food-service industry for the past 14 years. As a graduate of Texas A&M University, a student of The Texas Culinary Academy, and a Nacogdoches, Texas native, Kate grew up with Southern tradition in her blood which caused her to have a deep love for bringing people together with food.
Need to unwind after a full day of summer fun? A movie night is a classic option that won’t break the bank and requires only a few crucial ingredients: the movie, the people, and—of course—the popcorn. We’ve pulled together a few ideas and recipes to make your evening really pop!
Some might say you can’t do better than regular popcorn, but have you considered what happens when you put TWO great things together? Case in point: Nacho Popcorn. It’s the best thing since the donut taco, and it only takes fifteen minutes to prepare. To go along with your salty and spicy popcorn, we recommend watching The LEGO Batman Movie or The Fate of the Furious.
The pairing of caramel and popcorn is as time-honored as Belle and the Beast. Furthermore, this sweet and salty happily-ever-after only gets better when it’s prepared in the oven. Most people agree that oven cooking creates a better texture and taste, plus the clean up is easy if you line your pan in foil. Allow yourself to have a little fun with this recipe and enjoy our recommended tale as old as time, Beauty and the Beast.
The wonderful thing about movies is that they can give you a glimpse of the world without ever leaving your couch potato position. Consider complementing your adventure with a spice that has its own exotic history—cinnamon. In other words, this snack bursts with flavor, and at only 150 calories per serving! Check out the recipe above while you’re movie surfing. We suggest Smurfs: The Lost Village and Kong: Skull Island.
Find a store near you to get started on creating your own popcorn recipes!
Independence Day is right around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited! The 4th of July is a time to gather your friends and family, spend time outdoors, and enjoy the sunshine. For a great way to celebrate America’s Independence, follow these fun steps –
1. Plan Ahead
The questions usually start arising about a week before... “What are your plans for July 4th?” Beat everyone to the question by inviting friends and family to a backyard barbecue! You may not have time for paper invitations, but send a group text, create a Facebook group or send e-vites so everyone can mark it on their calendar.
2. Create the Menu
Don’t stress about preparing each dish. Guests want to help out by bringing dishes. So, when you get RSVPs from friends and family, ask them if they could bring a side dish or dessert. We’ve got a great selection of recipes here. Once everyone contributes a dish or two, you’ll have a 4th of July spread that’s worthy of celebrating!
3. Take Grilling Tips
Our Market Experts are Expert Grillers! Ask them for their best grilling tips when you’re picking out your favorite cuts of meat. Search our wide variety of Market items in our Meat Department.
4. Think Outside the Box
Meat and veggies are NOT the only items that are grill-worthy. Try your hand at grilling some of your favorite fruits, too. Our Catering Coordinator, Kate Rudasill, suggests splurging for a grill basket or grill wok to place your favorite fruit and vegetable slices in. Find other tips from her on our Cooking with Kate blog!
5. Enjoy the Fireworks
Now that all the cooking, socializing, and eating has commenced, you can sit back and relax while watching the firework show!
Have a safe, fun, and tasty 4th of July!