Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am to 8:30 pm | Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm | Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

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What’s going on with egg prices?- Tuesday, July 26, 2016

About a year ago you would have thought chickens had started laying golden eggs. At least that is what it seemed like when you went to pay for them at the checkout. One year later, however, and we are hitting 10 year lows with respect to egg prices. So what gives?

Eggs are what is known as a commodity food. They are pretty much the same from one part of the world to another and the manufacturing process hasn’t changed much since whichever came first, the chicken or the egg. So what causes commodity prices on items like eggs to fluctuate so much from one year to the next? The simple answer is basic economics, supply and demand.

In less than a year, eggs have gone from being an expensive staple at the height of the bird flu crisis to a complete reversal in pricing now that hatcheries have had time to restock poultry barns.

Not only has the supply increased dramatically from where it was one year ago, the demand for eggs by heavy users like bakeries and food manufacturers is down significantly as these egg users found ways to make do without eggs when they were not available last year, or were simply too expensive. Simply put, some bakeries and most food manufacturers found ways to reduce their egg usage as an ingredient. They’ve found replacers, they’ve found extenders, and they’ve found ways to make certain products with fewer eggs in general. Also, countries that stopped receiving eggs from the U.S. last year due to high prices and extreme shortages, including Canada and Mexico, have been slow to resume imports.

“The lack of exports hurts the most," said Marcus Rust, CEO of Rose Acre Farms, which is the nation’s No. 2 egg producer. Prior to the bird flu outbreak last spring, which led to the deaths of 48 million chickens and turkeys, U.S. egg producers exported as much as 6 percent of their stock. Now, it’s closer to 3 percent, Rust said. “Across the pond, they found other suppliers and have contracts,” he said. “For us to get them back, we’d have to boot somebody else out.”

One more thing adding to the increased supply side of the equation is the fact that, of the 12% of the country’s laying chickens that died, most were more mature hens. Had there not been a bird flu epidemic, those older hens would have still been laying eggs but at a gradually decreasing rate as they aged. Their replacements are much younger hens that are coming into the peak of their reproductive life cycle -- so while there are still fewer chickens than prior to the outbreak, they are laying more eggs.

This is all very similar to what has occurred with the price of gasoline recently, where prices are much lower than in recent years. So, we need to accept the natural laws of economics and enjoy the lower prices for as long as they last. As long as eggs are a relatively bargain staple these days, why not take full advantage and try out some new ways to enjoy fresh eggs with these suggested recipes?

 

Recipe Title Serves Time Cal. Fat (g) Carbs (g)
Alpine Eggs 4 15 380 34 3.9
Baby Mushrooms with Creamy Egg 4 10 89 6.7 2
Bacon and Egg Breakfast Sandwiches 4 25 610 32 31
Bacon Egg and Cheese Sandwich 1 11 510 26 38
Baked Eggs and Prosciutto in Potatoes 8 65 360 24 21
Baked Eggs Florentine 4 20 430 27 20
Baked Eggs Mornay 4 30 590 48 15
Baked Tomatoes with Egg and Bacon 4 35 420 34 8.3
Blushing Eggs 16 25 58 4.2 1.3
Deviled Eggs 4 10 180 13 4.8
Egg Salad Sandwich 4 10 430 24 28
Egg Salad Toasties 4 25 240 8.9 30
Eggs and Ricotta Rustica 12 25 450 22 42
Eggs Benedict 8 15 470 37 15
Eggs Florentine 4 30 410 30 13
Fried Egg Sandwich With Mornay Sauce 6 35 700 39 51
Green Tomato and Egg Bake 4 25 300 23 7.6
Jack, Chorizo and Egg Breakfast Pizza 3 30 1500 100 67
Lemon-Dill Chicken Salad-Stuffed Eggs 12 48 370 20 6.2
Lighter Baked Eggs Florentine 4 25 420 24 23
Lox and Onions and Eggs 1 10 390 29 7.7
Mexican Cancun Egg Bake 8 40 250 16 7.6
Mexican Ham and Egg Bake 8 40 440 30 8.3
Mushroom Baked Eggs 4 45 370 28 16
Pasta Egg Soup 4 25 340 10 44
Salami Scrambled Eggs 1 10 390 32 3.8
Scrambled Eggs with Cream Cheese 4 10 390 34 4.1
Scrambled Eggs with Peppers and Chorizo 4 40 1300 95 54
Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon 4 10 320 23 2.7
Tomato Poached Eggs 4 30 280 22 7.3
Turkey Egg Bake 8 25 270 11 23

 

Enjoy

 

Andy Guzauskas – General Manager

How to roast your own red bell peppers.- Tuesday, July 26, 2016

It's a good time to discuss one of the more popular summertime vegetables, the red bell pepper. Eaten raw, bell peppers are crunchy and refreshing and go great with salads, but sometimes you need to make a bolder statement with your food...

When cooked, red bell peppers grow soft and their flavor sweetens and mellows, complementing other flavorful ingredients such as garlic, robust herbs, tangy cheeses, and onions. Combinations of these flavors likewise lend themselves extremely well to grilled foods such as steaks and burgers, which is why they are so ideal for summer cooking. If you want to give your food a kick, a feta cheese/roasted red pepper spread with garlic oil is absolutely delicious and won't disappoint!

Of all preparation options available, roasting your own red peppers is the best way to get the freshest smoky-sweet pepper flavor possible. You can use your grill, your oven, or – in the event you only have a single pepper to roast -- even a gas burner and a pair of tongs for this process. However, if what you want is a large number of roasted peppers without having to take over the grill, oven roasting is the way to go.

How to Roast Red Peppers

[Instructions courtesy of aspicyperspective.com]

The great thing about the oven roasting method is the fact that you don’t have to turn the peppers in order to get their surfaces to cook evenly, you simply lay them out flat and leave them in the oven until the skins are dark and blistered. It's a very hands-off approach:

  • Move the oven rack to the top position and preheat the oven to broil.

  • Cut all the peppers into quarters, then remove the stems, seeds and membranes.

  • Lay the peppers flat on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, skin side up. Press them flat with your hand. You want as much skin as possible to be directly under the heat source, for even charring. This makes the peels easier to remove later.

  • Broil the red peppers 10-15 minutes, or until the skins are extremely black, but the flesh underneath is still soft and moist.

  • Once the skins have blackened, remove the peppers from the oven and place in a large paper bag, or zip bag. Close the bag and allow the peppers to steam for at least 10 minutes. This loosens the skin from the flesh.

  • After the peppers have had time to steam, dump them out on the baking sheet and gently pull the skins off. If your peppers were evenly charred, the once rubbery skins should slip right off!

  • You can now can, freeze, or refrigerate your oven roasted peppers.

Note: The peppers can be stored with or without being submerged in oil, but if you want to keep them around for more than a week, try bottling them with garlic olive oil, which can be purchased pre-made at the store. You can also create an infusion at home using the following recipe:

[recipe courtesy of Ina Garten & foodnetwork.com]

Garlic Olive Oil

Produces about a cup of oil

Ingredients

6 garlic cloves, peeled

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a small saucepan, bring the garlic and oil to a boil, then turn the heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes, until the garlic is lightly browned. Turn off the heat and set aside. The garlic will continue to cook.

Remove the garlic cloves from the oil and slice them. Place them in a jar or bowl and pour the oil over them.

* Use oil as needed, but keep in mind that homemade infused oils may not last as long as store-bought.

 

We are ready to make this a great summer, food-wise.- Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Over the past two weeks I’ve taken the opportunity to visit both of our local farm partners, and I have gotten a chance to see firsthand the love and work that goes into running these family-owned businesses. I must say that when you actually visit these farms your perspective changes.

In the grocery business we are accustomed to ordering goods on the computer from a warehouse where the products are picked from slotting racks and delivered to the store the following day on a huge semi-trailer. A farm visit, however, puts a completely different spin on things. For example, as Dona Hess (our Produce Department Lead) and I arrived at Bountiful Blessings farm in Hinckley, we headed out into the fields to meet up with our hosts, farmers Jeff & Kim Wielert, only to find them and other farm workers picking the fresh snap peas that would be delivered to our store later that afternoon. From the field to our produce rack after only an eleven-mile trip in Jeff’s pick-up truck...WOW. It just doesn’t get any fresher than that. 

Farm visits also go a long way toward helping us appreciate all that goes into growing the fresh vegetables that we so often take for granted. Being from the Midwest, it seems like there are only a handful of crops that can be grown in our fields: corn, soy beans, wheat, alfalfa or hay. That's all most of us ever see. At Heritage Prairie Farm in Elburn or Bountiful Blessings Farm in Hinckley, however, you won’t see acre upon acre of the same crop but a patchwork of rows of dozens of different plants, all in varying stages of height, color, and presence of vegetables. I’m the first to admit that looking at the crops growing in the fields and knowing that within days some of that produce will be sitting on the racks in our store and going home with our customers gives me a sense of pride and satisfaction. Knowing that all of us as a community are working together to enjoy the bounty of the land and support each other as neighbors is wonderful.

Starting this week, we are all excited to be bring you a summer treat that everyone loves: local sweet corn, fresh from the fields. Jeff and Kim told us that their corn is so tender and delicious that you need not even boil it, just pull back the husks and enjoy. That may well be true, but I’m not giving up my melted butter and salt on an ear of delicious corn pulled from the pot. I usually have no trouble polishing off three or four ears at a meal...how about you?

There are two other food related topics I want to remind you of, as they mean a lot for some folks in our community. You may have noticed that we have invited Jerry Davis of Jerry’s Hot Dog Cart to park his wagon out in front of our store on weekends to sell his lunch offerings. Not only is the food yummy and inexpensive, but every penny of profit and tips that you spend on a hot dog or brat lunch goes to support the Fabela Family Foundation, a children’s ministry for local children in need. Jerry and his family are members of the Family Bible Church on Commonwealth Avenue and it is their church that supports the ministry. The funds raised go towards supporting the children’s summer ministry, which operates Monday through Friday in the summer. The ministry provides low income families with a safe place to take their children for fun, supervised activities and field trips.

Another wonderful cause I want to remind everyone about is our Christmas in July campaign, sponsored by the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry. As you do your grocery shopping over the next two weeks, please consider leaving a donation of cash or food. It would be greatly appreciated as this time of year the Pantry's stock has run down and shelves are close to bare.

 

Enjoy your week, and be certain to stop in often for fresh, local sweet corn while it’s available.

Andy Guzauskas – General manager.

Easy ways to lighten summer BBQ meals- Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Like most things in life, whenever we are having a good time with friends or family you can bet that food is at the center of the event. We all love to savor summertime foods – grilled burgers and hot dogs, cold salads, and delicious desserts. Great tasting? You bet. Always healthy? That depends. The fact is that with very little effort you can accomplish both: Delicious summer barbeque and picnic food that’s healthy as well.

Step 1 - Look for lower calorie alternatives

When shopping for groceries, there are plenty of choices available that offer healthy alternatives. For example: reduced fat and lower calorie potato chips, tortilla chips and crackers. Choose fresh salsa instead of mayonnaise or sour cream-based dips, or substitute fat-free sour cream and light mayonnaise in creamy dip recipes. These alternatives can also be used in cold side dishes like potato salad and cole slaw.

Step 2 – load up on abundantly available fresh fruits and vegetables

Your choices are beyond plentiful in the summer as we hit the peak season for fresh soft fruits like peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots. Every berry imaginable is in good supply, and a natural summer refresher is good old watermelon. Not only that, but delicious berries and melons are an excellent source of vitamins and antioxidants. Don’t forget your vegetables, either; and no, they need not be boring.  Try any of these grilled vegetable recipes and you will find a taste sensation that complements any meat or seafood entrée cooked on the grill. 

Step 3 - Pick healthier meat cuts 

As a rule, choose leaner cuts of meat when preparing your outdoor cookout. For beef burgers, opt for ground sirloin or extra-lean ground beef with six to nine percent fat. If you’re grilling steak, buy cuts such as top sirloin, top round or filet mignon – all of which have less fat. For pork, tenderloin is the leanest, and if you’re grilling pork chops, use center cut and trim any fat. Light beef or turkey franks will satisfy hot dog lovers, and for those who like chicken, choose skinless chicken breasts or thighs.

Step 4 – Your side dishes can be tasty and healthy with planning

Baked beans, three-bean salads, and green salads made with dark greens are great cookout side dishes. Green salads can be spiced up with crunchy vegetables and topped with reduced-fat dressings.

Step 5 - Dessert doesn’t need to be full of sugar and fat

Try making homemade Italian Ice. Here are two simple and delicious recipes: Raspberry Italian Ice and Raspberry Italian Ice with Mango. Another low cost, low calorie crowd pleaser are slices of ice cold watermelon. Angel food cake or light shortcake topped with fresh berries of any kind is another good choice.

Enjoy your summer, and stock up on all your healthy fresh food options at Prisco's Family Market.

 

The convenient and tasty kabob- Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Kabobs are one of those popular grilling items almost everyone will indulge in during the summer months. They are easy to prepare and extraordinarily versatile – far more so than most other meal options. Kabobs allow for a wide range of flavor compositions without the tremendous increase in preparation time you often see with more conventionally prepared meals, so as a cook you are capable of providing a lot of variation without a lot of overhead...

This is fantastic from a hosting perspective, because it means you can cater to wider range of tastes when you have friends and family over for dinner. It’s not necessary to limit yourself to one or two sources of protein (such as burgers and hot dogs) and a couple side dishes; if you want to serve four or more distinct combinations of foods, you have that option.

In addition to their versatility, kabobs are a great choice from a nutritional perspective. Each skewer has the potential to hold an entire balanced, yet compact, meal: You literally have your meat (protein) and your vegetables (fiber, vitamins and minerals) at your fingertips when eating kabobs, whereas if you are grilling steaks, burgers or frankfurters, the odds are pretty good the veggies being served on the side are not going to get the attention they deserve.

A little about (shish) kabobs

Kabob (or kebabs), in their simplest form, have been around for as long as humans themselves, but when people think of kabobs they have a very particular image in mind: that is, bite-sized pieces of seasoned or marinated meat skewered along with chunks of vegetables or fruit, which are then slowly roasted over a fire.

It’s difficult to say where kabobs as such originated. Some historians claim they are entirely Turkish in origin, with others insisting that they are a product of 13th century India. However, the truth is far more complicated. To quote waaahkebabs.com:

“The origin of kebab may lie in the short supply of cooking fuel in the Near East, which made the cooking of large foods difficult while urban economies made it easy to obtain small cuts of meat at a butcher's shop. According to Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan traveler, in India, kebab was served in the royal houses during the Delhi Sultanate period(1206-1526 AD), and even commoners would enjoy it for breakfast with naan. (However) the dish has been native to the Near East and ancient Greece since antiquity.”

 

Some delicious kabob recipes

Jerked Chicken and Plantain Kabobs with Salsa

Ingredients

8 chicken thighs, cut into 2 in.chunks

2 plantains, sliced into 1 in.pieces

1 red onion, cut into 2 in.chunks with 1 chunk minced

2 Tbsp jerk spice blend

1 tsp cumin seed

2 ripe avocados, diced

1 cup papaya, diced

2 Tbsp lime juice

1 tsp orange zest

2 Tbsp orange juice

1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

Prepare charcoal or gas grill, or preheat broiler.

On 8 long skewers, thread chicken, plantains and chunks of red onion. Rub with jerk seasoning and cumin. Place on grill or under broiler and cook, turning once, about 6 minutes per side or until chicken is firm and cooked throughout and plantains and onions are tender.

To make salsa, stir together all salsa ingredients, plus minced red onion. Set aside.

Serve skewers with salsa and rice.

 

Pork-Apple Kabobs

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground allspice

1-1/2 lbs boneless lean pork loin, cut into 1 in. cubes

4 celery stalks, cut into 1 in. pieces

6 skewers, 12 in.

3 cooking apples, cored, quartered and cut in half crosswise

Instructions

Combine first 6 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool. Place pork in a shallow dish and pour marinade over. Cover and marinate in refrigerator several hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.

Place celery in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover pan and steam 5-10 minutes or until just tender. Refrigerate.

Drain pork, reserving marinade. Thread pork cubes and celery on skewers, allowing space between cubes. Grill about 10 minutes over medium coals turning frequently. Push cubes together and thread apple on skewers. Grill another 5 minutes, brushing with marinade.

 

Tangy Grilled Beef Kabobs

Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise type salad dressing

1 packet Italian dressing mix

2 Tbsp vinegar

2 Tbsp water

1-1/2 lbs boneless sirloin steaks, cut into 1.5 in. pieces

2/3 cup cherry tomatoes

2/3 cup zucchini, cut into 1.5 in. pieces

2/3 cup green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1.5 in. pieces

skewers

Instructions

Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Mix thoroughly. Transfer 1/2 cup mixture to a separate bowl, cover and refrigerate. Thread skewers with meat and vegetables. Arrange prepared skewers in a shallow dish. Pour remaining dressing mixture over to coat. Place in refrigerator and marinate 30 minutes. Prepare grill. Arrange skewers on grill and cook 7 minutes, turning once until meat reaches desired doneness. Serve with reserved dressing for dipping.

 

Tuna Kabobs

Ingredients

1 cup plain lowfat yogurt

1 tsp paprika, sweet

1/8 tsp salt (optional)

1/8 tsp cayenne

1-1/2 lbs tuna steak, cut into 1 in. pieces

1-1/3 Tbsp olive oil

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into .75 in. pieces

1/2 lb eggplant, cut into .75 in. pieces

8 skewers, 8 in. each

aluminum foil

2 Tbsp cilantro, or parsley, chopped

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine first 4 ingredients in a non-reactive baking dish. Stir in tuna and marinate 15 minutes. Heat oil in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté bell pepper 3 minutes. Add eggplant and sauté another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are tender. Transfer vegetables to tuna mixture. Thread skewers alternately with tuna, eggplant, and bell pepper. Transfer to a foil lined baking dish and bake 4 minutes. Brush with marinade and bake another 4 minutes, or until tuna is browned on the outside and slightly pink on the inside. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Christmas in July- Tuesday, July 12, 2016

One of the biggest differences between a large chain supermarket and a smaller, family-owned local market is that all of the customers and most of the owners and staff members are neighbors. In some cases, we are even across the street or down the block neighbors. We know each other from school, the playground, church, the Girl Scouts or the swim team. We know a great deal about each other and each other's families.

Being a neighborhood grocer for the past ninety years, Prisco’s Family Market has always had very close ties to our West Aurora neighborhood and it works both ways. You have come to rely upon us to be a convenient source for wholesome, fresh, affordable food and we have relied upon you to help us and our employees (also our family) pay the bills and raise our families through four generations.

Because of our close ties to each member of our neighborhood and the surrounding subdivisions and towns, we have and will always foster an extremely strong sense of community. As many of you know, Prisco’s strives to serve the community through many different initiatives. On a number of occasions throughout the year we do our best to offer our store as a center for major community projects, which we also help support financially and with manpower and other services.

Two of the better known projects are the fall food drives we hold each November and December. In November, we partner with the Interfaith Food Pantry and in December with Jerry Pigatti and Friends. Combined and with your generous support, these two food drives collect tens of thousands of dollars in food donations each season. Our community has been very supportive of these efforts mainly because folks know that every penny collected goes to support local Aurora families in need.

For a number of years now, my aunt, Margaret Prisco, has made it her personal mission to help support another Aurora area food pantry, the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry at 834 North Highland Ave on Aurora’s west side and at 901 E. Galena Blvd on the east side of town. Recently, Aunt Margaret came to us with a need and request for help. You see, around the holidays, people are generally in a very generous mood and it’s easy to get strong support for a food drive. However, by the time mid-summer comes around people are busy, often out of town on vacation, and the food pantries tend to be forgotten. Of course, people need food 365 days a year; the needs doesn’t subside in the summer months, but the shelves at the food pantries are dwindling to near empty.

In a study by performed by Northern Illinois University students, it was learned that

  • 1 out of 7 Aurora residents are food insecure
  • 1 of 5 of those residents are children
  • 38% of Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry members are under the age of 18
  • 36% of member households report at least one family member with diabetes
  • 64% report a member with high blood pressure.

The Pantry provides nurses from Presence Mercy Medical Center who help monitor Pantry members and provide healthy living options.

As a family business, through Aunt Margaret’s leadership we support The Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry on a regular basis, but we believe that you, our customers and our neighbors, would be interested in helping these local families as well, so we have decided to use our store as a center of support for the Marie Wilkinson “Christmas in July” program.

We are asking members of the community to help us put food on the tables of unfortunate families; there are many parents out there who are working but still can’t afford to feed their children or themselves. Donating is easy: Stop by our registers from July 16th to July 30th and donate what you can. Whether it’s your change, $1, $5, $10, or more, any amount is welcome and very much appreciated. Fill out a grocery bag donation slip with your name and donation amount and a cashier will hang it on our wall. Your donations will buy the quantity of items the pantry needs for its members. Those items will be on display by the register and include: spaghetti sauce, rice, peanut butter, jelly, ketchup, mustard, canned beans, pasta, and tortillas.

As always, the Prisco’s family thanks you for support. We know we’ve got the best customers in town!

 

Andy

Guilt-free, homemade popsicle recipes- Tuesday, July 5, 2016

When the temperatures are soaring, the preference for cooling foods skyrockets right along with them. If you think about it, that is quite possibly the greatest luxury of summer: Being able to have fun in the sun while simultaneously enjoying something flavorful, cold and satisfying to keep the heat at bay.

Now, most peoples' thoughts immediately jump to ice cream, frozen yogurt or custard when they think about summertime desserts or treats, but sometimes you just want to keep it simple and inexpensive...and there is something to be said for keeping things a bit healthier, too! Whether you have children or are simply looking to increase your own snacking options this summer without heaping on the fat, here are a few easy-to-make, low cost, and health-conscious popsicle recipes for you, and everyone else, to enjoy...

[Recipes courtesy of todaysparent.com]

Required tools: Store-bought Popsicle Mold(s). For pint-sized/bite-sized versions of these pops, you can also use a standard ice tray.

Strawberry Basil Blast Pops

The benefits:
Just one pop provides half your daily dose of vitamin C.

Recipe:
Simmer 1/3 cup sugar + ¾ cup water in a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Add 4-6 thinly sliced basil leaves, simmer 1 minute and set aside. Blend 4 ½ cups hulled strawberries until smooth. Add the sugar mixture and blend until just combined. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, insert stick and freeze until solid.

Pina Colada Pops

The benefits:
Pineapple delivers bone-building manganese and wrinkle-fighting vitamin C.

Recipe:
Blend together 4 cups pineapple chunks (about 1 pineapple) + 1 cup canned coconut milk + ½ cup sweetened coconut flakes. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, insert stick and freeze until solid.

Raspberry Lemonade Pops

The benefits:
Raspberries are chock full of fiber to keep you from overeating later.

Recipe:
Blend together 1 pint raspberries (about 3 cups) + ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice + ½ cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup water. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, insert stick and freeze until solid.

Orange Creamsicle Pops

The benefits:
Non-fat Greek yogurt gives you 2 grams of protein per pop. (Substitute regular Greek yogurt for a richer flavor).

Recipe:
Blend together 1 cup frozen orange juice concentrate + 2 cups water + 1 cup 0% Greek yogurt + 3 tablespoons honey + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, insert stick and freeze until solid.

Banana Fudgesicles

The benefits:
Delivers potassium and calcium for lower blood pressure and stronger bones.

Recipe:
Blend together 2 bananas + 2 cups skim milk + 1 packet chocolate pudding mix + ¼ cup cocoa powder. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, insert stick and freeze until solid.

 

A few basic grilling tips to help make you the King of the Block when it comes to Outdoor Grilling!- Tuesday, July 5, 2016

This time of year it’s no secret that the outdoor grill gets lots of use as we enjoy nature and try to avoid heating up the house with stove and oven heat. As it often turns out, that means that while mom may be head of our kitchen, dad is looked upon to manage the outdoor cooking.

I’m the first to admit that this can be a bit intimidating; no one wants to burn the burgers or scorch the chicken breasts. People often ask me about the best ways to prepare and cook different meats, but I also know that it’s not part of the male genetic code to seek (grilling) help. That’s OK, I get it. I thought that I’d throw out a few hints and tips and you grill guys and gals can use them or ignore them, however you see fit.

Grilling our Prisco’s Homemade Sausage

  • Bring your sausage to room temperature before cooking. This goes for all meats, but it's even easier for sausage because you only need to let it sit out for thirty minutes or so before you toss it on the grill. Allowing it to come to room temperature means cooking time will be shorter and the results will be more uniform.
  • Don't break or score the casing. The casing serves the very specific purpose of holding all of the good stuff in its place. Scoring the sausage not only allows the fat to escape, but that lost fat can cause flare-ups which will char your sausage on the outside before the inside is completely cooked.
  • Low to medium heat is best. The key to fully cooked sausage is to slowly bring it up to temperature. Unlike grilling a burger or a steak where you want to sear the meat with high heat, for sausage you're not trying to sear the outside.
  • You want to caramelize the sausages. You want the outside of your sausages to turn a beautiful hue of deep brown — not black. Control your fat loss and don't let the flames jump up and turn your brat into meat-coal.
  • All the cooking doesn't have to be on the grill. Perhaps the best tip I can give any griller when it comes to cooking fresh sausage is that it’s quicker and easier to start the process on the kitchen stove or on the side burner on your gas grill by first simmering your sausage in boiling water for about six minutes before putting them directly on the grill. They should be pretty much cooked all the way through. Then just giving them some color on the grill will make them perfect. For bratwurst, I like to add a can or bottle of beer to the water for some authentic Wisconsin bratwurst taste.

Grilling a skinless boneless chicken breast and keeping it moist

I think we can all agree that a dried up chicken breast is a meal we would rather forget. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to find yourself on the wrong end of a dried out chicken breast, but these tips should help eliminate the problem.

The primary problem lies in the natural shape of a chicken breast. Unlike a steak, chop or burger, the breast of a chicken is not in any way uniform in thickness. Its uneven height means the bulky center cannot be cooked through without overcooking the thinner portions of the meat. The solution is actually quite simple, even out the height. You do this by taking out all of your pent up frustrations on the chicken breast by pounding it flat with a food mallet. The pounding can be a bit therapeutic to the cook and it helps tenderize the chicken at the same time. Trust me, the chicken doesn’t feel a thing.

Place the chicken breasts into a thick, resealable plastic bag for the pounding. This ensures that chicken juice doesn't splatter all over the kitchen. Once sealed in the bag, have at it with a wooden rolling pin or meat pounder, bashing the thicker parts of the breast until they match the height of the thinnest part. You don't go too thin. About 3/4-inch thick is ideal.

Next you will want to brine the chicken by soaking it in salty water. This reshapes the proteins in the meat in such a way that they retain moisture better when cooking.  In a baking pan, add 1/4 cup of kosher salt dissolved in 1 quart (4 cups) of warm water. Combine the salt and water and stir it gently until the salt is dissolved before adding the meat. This is enough to brine 4 chicken breasts or pork chops, about 1 1/2 pounds of meat. Allow your chicken breasts to soak in the brine for about 30 minutes.

As the chicken is brining it’s time to prep your grill. You will want to start with a clean and oiled grate. The skinless breasts have no fat to protect them from the heat, which equates to them easily sticking to a grate -- a problem a clean and oiled grill grate alleviates.

With an even thickness, a juicy brine and clean grill, the chicken is just ready to face the hot fire. Not TOO hot, however. A medium-high fire, 375-450°F, is just about perfect, creating a golden crust without overdoing the meat. It only takes chicken breasts a few minutes per side over direct medium-high heat to both brown and be cooked through at the same time.

There you go. I hope you find these simple steps helpful and if you follow them I know you will be the envy of the neighborhood. By all means take all the credit for the great grill work, but when your neighbors ask where you got the delicious brats and chicken breast please be sure to tell them that they came from your favorite local butcher shop, Prisco’s Family Market.

Happy Grilling – Chris Tope, Meat Manager