Cooking with Kate: 6 Easy Steps for Organizing Your Freezer
I love the start of a new year. It’s a great opportunity to organize and start fresh after the busy holidays, especially when it comes to the kitchen. In particular, cleaning out your freezer and/or deep freeze gives you a chance to free up a too-full freezer and make plans to re-stock for the busy months ahead. Here are some tips and tricks for keeping your freezers organized, plus a recipe for a yummy freezer-ready meal:
 
Opening the Freezer
 

How to Keep Your Freezer Organized in 6 Easy Steps

Label EVERYTHING
Always include what the food is, the date it was prepared, and recommended cooking instructions.
 
Freeze individual servings
No more thawing an entire bag or container of something you just need a little of. Portion out your meals or ingredients ahead of time, freeze them individually, and then just use what you need.
 
Freeze things flat
Using gallon or quart sized freezer storage bags is a GREAT way to store a lot of things. Fill the bag, remove the air, and lay it flat to freeze. Once frozen, you can stand it up on its side where it’s only an inch or two wide—a great space saving technique!
 
Inventory (right on your freezer!)
Keep a regular inventory of what you have in your freezer by keeping a list on the door of your pantry or where you write out your grocery list. BONUS: dry erase markers work on most freezer doors so you can write your inventory right where you need it! If you don’t want to write directly on the surface in your kitchen, purchase a small magnetic dry erase board and attach it to the side. Review and revise your list each time you use up or add something.
 
Keep a list of how long food lasts in the freezer
With a full freezer, it may be hard to decide what you need to eat your way through first. Find a good printable, like the FDA's guide or this easy to read sheet, to keep on hand so you always know which foods should be at the top of your list.
 
Remove or rearrange freezer shelves
Freezer shelves can sometimes get in the way instead of helping to keep things organized. Most shelves and drawers are adjustable and can be rearranged (or removed) to make the most of available space.
 
Keepin it fresh: How to store groceries: Tackle your fridge next with these tips and tricks for organization.
 

Tomato Basil Chicken

Ingredients
8 chicken breasts, boneless with skin
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup dry white wine
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons (heaping) tomato paste
1 package fresh basil, torn into small pieces
8 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
 
DON'T FORGET: Check your weekly ad for special prices on these ingredients!
 
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Salt and pepper chicken breasts.
  • Heat ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and butter. When oil/butter is hot, add chicken to the pan. Using tongs, brown on all sides, about 2 minutes. Remove chicken from pan.
  • Pour in wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any bits. Cook for 1 minute. Pour in tomatoes with their juice and add tomato paste. Add salt and pepper to taste, stirring to combine. Bring sauce to a boil, then turn off heat. Add fresh basil, 8 cloves of peeled (but whole) garlic, and the chicken. Toss to coat the chicken in the sauce. Place the lid on the pot or skillet and cook in the oven for 1 hour.
  • Remove lid and check sauce. If it's overly thin, remove the chicken from the pot and boil the sauce on the stovetop for 5 to 10 minutes. Check seasonings and add salt and pepper, as needed.
  • Serve with buttered noodles, steamed rice or roasted potatoes, fresh grated mozzarella and parmesan, a green salad, and crusty garlic bread.
  • To freeze: Let chicken cool and place in foil pan, baking dish, or gallon freezer storage bag. Cover tightly, label and freeze. Thaw overnight in the fridge before re-heating in the oven or on the stove for 30-45 minutes or until warm.

Find a nearby Brookshire Brothers to get started today!

 


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.

 

 
What's in Season: The Easy Winter Guide
With two-day shipping, online streaming, swipe-right dating, we're living in an instant-click world. However, there are still some things that require extra time and patience—fruits and vegetables included. While you can purchase certain produce all year round, there's often a time and place when you can get them at their best flavor and greatest value. For example, when the temperatures are too cold here in the U.S. to get fresh blueberries—a summer fruit—you'd have to go farther south to get what you wanted, perhaps a two week shipment from Chile—with tax.
 
Our point is, when you shop for produce according to the season, you're guaranteed to pick fruits & vegetables that are not only better tasting, but also the best bang for your buck. Here's a quick list of what you should look for this winter.
 

Winter Fruits and VegetablesFarm Fresh Produce

(According to the USDA)
 
Apples
Avocados
Bananas
Beets
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Celery
Grapefruit*
Kale
Leeks*
Lemons*
Onions
Oranges*
Parsnips
Pears
Pineapple
Potatoes
Pumpkins
Rutabagas
Sweet Potatoes and Yams
Turnips
Winter Squash
 
The produce marked with an asterisk(*) is only in season during the winter. All other produce is in season for more than one season.
 
Next time you visit your local Brookshire Brothers, keep this guide handy! You can always count on Brookshire Brothers to do our best in bringing quality produce to customers.
 

More ideas for tapping into your taste buds with winter produce:

 
A hot pot of chili on a cold winter’s day is one of the most comforting foods in Southern cuisine. This particular recipe is quick and easy, and it features several winter veggies!
 
Butternut squash is a seasonal favorite because of its delicious buttery undertones, plus it’s oh-so-nutritious! Check out this recipe from registered dietitian Angela Larson.
 
Turnips are a delicious low-carb alternative to potatoes with less than half the calories and carbs. Furthermore, they're rich in minerals, B vitamins, vitamin C, and—most importantly—in flavor.
 
Kate features several winter ingredients in her favorite recipes for National Soup Month: White Chicken Chili and Tuscan Bean & Kale Soup.
 
 
Chili: A Cold-Weather Comfort Recipe
A hot pot of chili on a cold winter’s day is one of the most comforting foods in the south—Texas in particular. Chili warms you inside and out, plus it’s filling, easy to make, and nutritious to boot. It really doesn’t get any better than that, does it?
 Hearty and Healthy
 
Everyone has their own homemade version, and mine is a little different from the usual fare of the region with its heavy reliance on bell peppers and tomatoes. I fall on the “no beans” side of the chili aisle, but feel free to change things up and make my recipe your own.
 
Ingredients
 
Even though it’s not vegetarian, my chili recipe definitely has its fair share of vegetables. I like to go heavy on the spices, but the spiciness of the finished dish is easy to adjust. Sour cream is my go-to topping if I’m in the mood for a slightly less spicy dish.
 
After prepping the ingredients, heat up the olive oil to get the party started.
 
Read more: An Ode to Olive Oil (as well as a recipe for an Easy Caprese Salad)
 
Onion and Peppers
When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions, white parts of the scallions, and all the peppers to the pot. Once they are softened, add the garlic and cook for a minute. Remove the mixture from the pot and set aside before cooking the ground beef. 
 
Onions and peppers are rich in immune system boosting antioxidants and vitamin C, so my chili doesn’t just warm you up, it can keep you well too!
 
DON'T FORGET: Check your weekly ad for special savings on these ingredients!
 
Ground Beef
 
After the pot is empty, add the ground beef and two teaspoons of salt to the pot. 
 
I prefer 85/15 ground beef because the finished result tastes beefier and is tender. Beef is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, not the least of which is iron.  If you prefer to go the vegetarian route, just sub in your favorite variety of canned beans.
 
P.S. - You can get $5 OFF on a $50 purchase of meat with this week's Member Monday offer (01/15). Not a member? Sign up TODAY
 
Spices Toasting
Once the beef is cooked through and broken up, add the onions back to the pot. Create a little well in the center of the pot before adding the spices. Toasting the spices briefly in the well helps brighten the flavors. 
 
Spices are one of the richest sources of antioxidants for your diet. I like to add a little chipotle chili powder for a smoky kick. 
 
Spices Stirred In
 
Now it’s starting to look like chili.    
 
Tomatoes Stirred In
 
Stir in the tomatoes. They add a bright punch of sweetness and acidity to balance out the flavors.
 
THIS WEEKEND ONLY: We're sending out a text offer for $5 off on a $75 purchase of groceries! To sign up, text JOIN [insert your store number] to 59652.
Don't know your store number? You can use our store locator or shoot us an email at customerexperience@brookshirebros.com
 
Completed with cilantro
 
Add water until the right consistency is reached and then let it simmer a while for the flavors to meld.  When it’s finished cooking, add the chopped cilantro. 
 
I love the flavor and color cilantro brings to the dish, but if you lean more towards the “cilantro tastes like soap” side, feel free to skip it. 
 
Choose Your Toppings
 
Top with your favorites and enjoy!
 
Read more: Consider turning your chili into a neighborhood supper! 
 
INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, diced medium
4 scallions, white parts minced and green tops sliced thin for toppings
1 large green bell pepper, diced medium
1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, diced medium
2 medium jalapenos, chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 pounds 85/15 ground beef
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup chili powder
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder (optional)
1 can crushed tomatoes (23 oz)
2 cups filtered water
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
 
Find a nearby Brookshire Brothers to pick up any ingredients you don't already have on hand!
 
TOPPINGS
Shredded cheese
Corn chips or tortilla chips
Sour cream
Sliced green onions
 
INSTRUCTIONS
1. After prepping all ingredients, heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. 
2. Add the onions, white part of the scallions, and peppers to the pot with the olive oil and cook for 6-8 minutes until softened.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
3. Remove onions from the pot and set aside.  Add ground beef and salt.  Cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until beef is no longer pink and cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. 
4.  Add the cooked onion mixture back to the pot and stir it in. 
5.  Make a well in the middle of the ground beef mixture and add all the spices and cook for thirty seconds before stirring into the beef mixture (toasting the spices briefly in a dry pan helps to bloom the flavors).
6.  Stir in the entire can of crushed tomatoes.  Add water until the correct consistency is achieved (about two cups) and adjust seasoning. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the chili simmer gently until the meat is tender and flavors have melded (about 20 to 30 minutes). Add additional water as needed to adjust consistency. Turn off heat, stir in chopped cilantro.  
7. Serve with desired toppings.
 

Need some more fast recipes to keep warm with? Check these out:

 
Real Fresh, Real Delicious: Fall in Love with this Winter Squash Recipe
Butternut squash is a seasonal favorite because of its delicious buttery undertones, plus it’s oh-so-nutritious! Check out the recipe from registered dietitian Angela Larson.
 
Turnips are a delicious low-carb alternative to potatoes with less than half the calories and carbs. Furthermore, they're rich in minerals, B vitamins, vitamin C, and—most importantly—in flavor.
 
Cooking with Kate: It's Always Soup Weather
Check out Kate's favorite recipes for #NationalSoupMonth: White Chicken Chili and Tuscan Bean & Kale Soup!
 

 
Angela Larson
Angela Larson is a registered dietitian (RD) who works with Brookshire Brothers promoting real fresh, real delicious foods and nutrition education to the community. She is also a clinical dietitian representing Woodland Heights Medical Center in Lufkin where she does outreach education on food and nutrition. Food is her passion, so Angela loves trying new recipes and exploring the more holistic side of nutrition. Angela loves to cook, garden, and spend time outdoors. In addition to the Brookshire Brothers blog, look for Angela's monthly articles in Charm East Texas. 
 
 
Recommended Winter Remedies

Top 10 Items for Your Medicine Cabinet this Cold & Flu Season

When the common cold and the associated runny nose, congestion, and cough attacks, the best medicine is usually rest, hot chicken noodle soup, and a favorite movie. The last thing anyone wants to do while under the weather is slog up and down aisles of medicines looking for relief.
 
Take the opportunity now to stock your medicine cabinet with some valuable over-the-counter products that will ease your suffering from typical cold and flu symptoms. It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor or pharmacist before treating yourself just to rule out a more serious bacterial infection that may require antibiotics. Most cases of sore throat, cough, and congestion are viral though and can be treated safely over the counter. Here are my Top 10 items for beating the cold this season:
 
Top 10 Items for Your Medicine Cabinet this Cold & Flu Season
 
  1. Antihistamine plus Pseudoephedrine.  There are a multitude of brands—Zyrtec-D, Claritin-D, Allegra-D, and their respective generics—that can help reduce nasal congestion, runny nose, and drainage. If you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking these.  They are kept behind the counter at a pharmacy so be prepared to show a driver’s license or state identification before you purchase.
  2. Nasal steroid spray. When Nasacort and Flonase (both formerly presciption-only) moved to being offered over the counter, the options for people seeking relief from nasal allergies and congestion expanded greatly. Use two sprays in each nostril once per day for at least two weeks. These sprays are a great option for individuals who cannot tolerate or take decongestants due to other health conditions.
  3. Cepacol Sore Throat Lozenges. These cough drops are no ordinary cough drops! They contain benzocaine which actually numbs the throat providing relief from irritation and soreness.
  4. Mucinex. The active ingredient in Mucinex is guaifenesin, an expectorant that helps the body clear mucus trapped in the lungs. Take guaifenesin to help make your cough more productive and rid yourself of stubborn phlegm. 
  5. Children’s Dimetapp. With several different formulations, make sure you at least have the Cold & Allergy product containing an antihistamine and a decongestant. It’s approved for use in kids older than six years and may cause a little drowsiness.
  6. Breathe Right Nasal Strips. For a non-medication option to ease nasal congestion, these nasal strips fit over the bridge of the nose and increase airflow into the nasal passages. They are a great option for folks with chronic nasal congestion, but also work well for congestion related to the cold or flu.
  7. Afrin Nasal Spray. Oxymetazoline, the active ingredient in Afrin, is a powerful nasal decongestant that relieves even the toughest sinus congestion. Its effects are noticeable in a matter of minutes and last for up to 12 hours. The problem with Afrin is that its use is limited to no more than 3 days due to rebound congestion that can occur. Use Afrin sparingly and for severe congestion only.
  8. Saline Nasal Spray. Use to help moisten nasal passages when they become dried out due to decongestant use. Saline spray is non-medicated and can be used as much as needed.
  9. Nyquil Severe Cold & Flu. Use at bedtime when your cold symptoms are preventing you from sleeping well. This product contains a decongestant, a sedating antihistamine, a cough suppressant, and acetaminophen (Tylenol) to cover all the bases for a good night’s sleep.
  10. Plenty of Tissues. You will likely still be blowing and wiping your nose long after the worst of your symptoms are gone. Stock up on tissues now both at home and at work. It’s also not a bad idea to keep a couple of travel tissue packs in your car for yourself or a sniffling friend.

 Find a nearby Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy today to stock up your medicine cabinet and talk to a pharmacist about any other needs.

 

Matt Baker, Pharm.D., RPh

Matt Baker is a pharmacist with Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy in Lufkin.  He received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University in 2005 and his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Houston in 2010.  He writes a monthly pharmacy and wellness article for the Lufkin Daily News and is active in the community.  Matt's passion is serving his patients while ensuring that they are equipped to understand and take their medications properly. 

View more of Matt's articles on the Brookshire Brothers blog.

 

Cooking with Kate: A Little Bit of Luck

Traditional Recipes for New Year's Lunch

 
It’s almost 2018—Happy New Year! Have you ever wondered why we eat black-eyed peas, cornbread, and collard greens or cabbage on New Year’s Day? Here in the South, this traditional New Year’s Day meal is thought to bring good luck, prosperity, and good health in the coming year! Regardless if you hold to this tradition or not, black-eyed peas and cornbread is a hearty and comforting meal after all the rich Christmas food. My family likes to prepare our peas with this delicious and spicy chowchow relish. If you missed any friends or neighbors on your Christmas list or need a quick thank you, a jar of this chowchow makes a fantastic gift!
 
Black Eyed Peas
 

The Rudasills’ Black-Eyed Peas

Ingredients
½ pound uncooked bacon, diced
½ stick salted butter
1 medium-large white onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ - 2 pounds shelled black-eyed peas, fresh or frozen
2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
 
Find a nearby Brookshire Brothers to pick up any ingredients you don't already have on hand!
 
Directions
    • In a large pot with a lid, sauté the bacon pieces over medium heat until the bacon grease begins to render and the bacon is barely cooked. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and reserve for later.
    • Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the butter to the pot. Add the diced onion and garlic to the pot and sauté for 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the peas, cooked bacon, and chicken broth to the pot. Add enough water so that the peas are covered by about one inch of liquid.
    • Bring the peas to a low simmer over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot halfway with the lid, and continue cooking for 1 to 1 ½ hours until the peas are soft, stirring every 10-15 minutes.
    • Taste the peas and season with freshly ground black pepper and salt, if needed. Serve warm with fresh cornbread and spicy chowchow!
 #TBT: Take a look back at Kate's tips and recipes for keeping the winter blues away during this holiday time!
 

Old Fashioned Spicy Chowchow Relish

Ingredients
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon salt
¾ cup white sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
¾ teaspoon dry mustard
1 ½ teaspoon mustard seed
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon celery seed
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups green bell pepper, diced
2 cups sweet red bell pepper, diced
1 ½ cups firm green tomatoes, diced
2 cups sweet onion, diced
1 ½ cups green cabbage, diced
 
Don't forget to check your weekly ad for special savings on all these great ingredients!
 
Directions
    • In a large non-reactive pot, bring water, salt, sugar, garlic, and spices to a low simmer.
    • Add cider vinegar and bring to a gentle boil. Add all the diced vegetables and toss to coat vegetables in the spice liquid.
    • Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 5-10 minutes until the vegetables become tender.
    • Transfer mixture to glass jars with lids and refrigerate. Chowchow will keep chilled for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Happy New Year to you and your family and many wishes for good luck, prosperity, and good health in 2018!

 
Happy New Years 

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.