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A beautiful baked ham can be a hit at holiday dinners

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151526-400x265-honey-bakedWhile turkey is the traditional centerpiece of a Thanksgiving dinner, the work of preparing it has resulted in some hostesses offering a turkey breast roast instead. Most people like the white meat, but some adults and children do not. What’s more, when guests attend more than one Thanksgiving dinner, they appreciate being offered something else.

A colorful ham can be the hit of any holiday dinner, either as the main course or in addition to turkey.

For more than 7,000 years, people have enjoyed fresh and smoked pork. It was first used extensively in China about 4,900 B.C. Later its popularity spread throughout Europe.

Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto is credited with founding the pork industry in America. His 13 porkers became the breeding stock for the American industry.

The long shelf life of salt pork and smoked bacon made them staples in early American kitchens.

Protein and fat levels in ham compare favorably with other types of lean meat. As with other meats, most of the fat should be trimmed before baking.

You’ll like the convenience of this ham recipe, and your guests will rave about its flavor.

Baked ham with bourbon brown-sugar glaze

Preheat the oven to 325. Trim fat and skin from a fully-cooked shank-portion of an 8 to 12 pound smoked ham. Score the remaining fat and stud with about 40 whole cloves.

Place the ham cut-side-down in a pan and cover with several layers of aluminum foil. Insert a meat thermometer in the center. Bake two hours or until it reaches 135 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup light brown sugar with 1/4 cup bourbon or stock, and 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh pepper. Remove ham. Brush on one-third of the mixture. Set the oven at 375.

Return ham to the oven. Apply one-third of glaze every 10 minutes until used. Heat to 140 degrees. Serves 16.

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Food

Homemade fried chicken

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If you want fried chicken that’s crispy on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside, then try this recipe. You won’t regret it!

Start to finish: 5 hours (1 hour active)
Servings: 6

Ingredients
• 1 whole chicken
• 2 quarts 2% milk
• Juice of half a lemon
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
• 2 teaspoons dried basil, divided
• 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, divided
• 2 teaspoons paprika, divided
• 2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
• 2 teaspoons white pepper, divided
• 2 teaspoons salt, divided
• 2 teaspoons garlic salt, divided
• 2 teaspoons celery salt, divided
• 2 teaspoons dried thyme, divided
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1-1/2 quarts vegetable oil

Directions
1. Cut the chicken into 8 pieces (2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks and 2 wings).
2. In a large bowl, combine the milk and lemon juice to make buttermilk. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
3. Add a teaspoon of each herb and spice to the buttermilk mixture and stir to combine. Put the chicken into the milk to marinate and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.
4. After marinating, put the flour into a bowl and add one teaspoon of each herb and spice. Mix well to combine.
5. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade and coat it completely in the flour mixture. Let rest for a few minutes.
6. Heat the oil in a large, deep pot until it reaches 400 °F.
7. Carefully put 2 pieces of chicken in the oil, and fry until they reach an interior temperature of 165 °F. Repeat until the entire chicken in cooked.
8. Drain on a piece of paper towel and serve with your choice of sauce.

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Food

Baked brie with pear jam

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This decadent dish is easy to prepare. Serve it as an appetizer or as a crowd-pleasing dessert. Either way, it’s sure to be a winner.

Start to finish: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients
• 1 10-ounce wheel of brie
• 1/4 cup pear jam
• 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
• 3 tablespoons honey
• 1 sprig rosemary
• 1 baguette, sliced

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
2. Cut the brie in half horizontally, thereby creating 2 round slices.
3. Spread the pear jam on the inside of one section of the wheel and cover with the other half, thereby reassembling the entire wheel of cheese with the pear jam in the middle.
4. Place the wheel on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
5. Using a knife, score the top of the cheese to create a checkered pattern.
6. Top with walnuts, honey and rosemary and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is just starting to melt.
7. Serve with slices of baguette.

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Spicy chicken and sweet potato stew warms up everyone

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Ahhh, stew. It’s a comfort food in the harsh winter, not only in its makeup but in its usefulness: we can stand over a steaming bowl and feel warmth on our face. Plus, it’s a great way to use up that stray potato left over from the holidays.

Stews start with a base of liquid, meat cut into cubes, and typically some type of root vegetables. Categories typically include brown stews, in which the meat is browned in fat before the liquid is added, and white stews, in which it is not.

Although stews are generally considered a pedestrian dish, there are some, like beef burgundy, that are fine dining-approved. And every culture seems to have its twist, according to Encyclopedia.com: from Argentinians who add fruit and bake them in a pumpkin or squash shell, to bigos, also known as hunter’s stew, considered Poland’s national dish.

Here is a recipe for spicy chicken and sweet potato stew from the website Allrecipes. It’s easy, hearty, and, like the appeal of most stews, it’s a one-pot meal.

Ingredients:
6 servings
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound sweet potato,
peeled and cubed
1 orange bell pepper,
seeded and cubed
1 pound cooked chicken
breast, cubed
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
11/2 tablespoons all-purpose
flour
2 tablespoons water
1 cup frozen corn
1 (16 ounce) can kidney
beans rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in sweet potato, bell pepper, chicken, tomatoes, and 2 cups of water. Season with salt, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.

Dissolve flour in 2 tablespoons water, and stir in to boiling stew. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender but not mushy, 10 to 20 minutes. Stir the stew occasionally to keep it from sticking.

Once the potatoes are done, stir in corn and kidney beans. Cook a few minutes until hot, then stir in cilantro before serving.

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Beef Stroganoff

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This classic Russian dish is hearty and easy to make — and perfect when paired with a glass of red wine. It’s best enjoyed on a cold and frosty evening but can be made anytime you need to whip together a quick meal.

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients
• 25 ounces beef sirloin, cut into strips
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped finely
• 16 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 cup beef broth
• 1/2 cup red wine
• 1 sprig fresh thyme
• 1 tablespoon old-fashioned mustard
• 3/4 cup sour cream
• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Coat the beef strips with a thin layer of flour. Shake to remove any excess.
2. In a deep pan, heat the butter and olive oil over high heat. Sear the beef on all sides. Remove and set aside on a paper towel.
3. Lower the heat to medium and sauté the onions in the same pan. Cook for 5 minutes or until golden. Add the mushrooms and garlic and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Add the beef and stir to combine.
4. Add the red wine, beef broth, thyme and mustard and stir well. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and add the sour cream to the sauce, stir well to incorporate. Salt and pepper to taste.
6. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve over egg noodles.

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Cranberry, mascarpone and white chocolate verrines

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This dessert is equal parts sweet and tart, making it a perfect way to end a hearty holiday meal.

Start to finish: 25 minutes (not including cooling time)
Servings: 10

Ingredients

Ganache
• 1-1/2 cups whipping cream, divided
• 1 vanilla bean or 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 7 ounces white chocolate, melted
• 9 ounces mascarpone cheese

Cranberry gelatin
• 3 cups frozen cranberries, divided
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 cup cranberry juice
• 1 package cherry gelatin powder
• 1 cup cold water

Directions
1. In a small pot, heat 1/2 cup of the cream with the vanilla. Pour 1/3 of the heated mixture over the melted chocolate, mixing well with a spatula. Repeat twice more until combined completely.
2. Add the rest of the cold cream to the mixture, stir to combine thoroughly. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top and refrigerate overnight.
3. The next morning, lightly beat the mascarpone using an electric mixer. Add the cream mixture very slowly, beating constantly until the mixture is firm. Refrigerate.
4. In a large pot, heat 2-1/2 cups of the cranberries. Add the sugar and cranberry juice, stirring well and taking care not to crush the fruit. Add the gelatin powder and stir until it’s completely dissolved. Add the cold water and mix well.
5. Pour equal amounts of the gelatin mixture into 10 small glasses and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
6. Take the gelatin out of the refrigerator and carefully top with the ganache. Garnish with the remaining cranberries and serve with a small Christmas cookie or shortbread.

Here’s how to use whole vanilla bean. First, split the pod by slicing it vertically with a paring knife. Then, scrape the seeds out with a spoon or the dull side of the knife. For best results, use the seeds immediately. Also, remember that one full pod equals about three teaspoons of vanilla extract.

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Food

Mozzarella sticks with tomato dipping sauce

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Looking for an appetizer to serve at your next holiday party? These mozzarella sticks and tomato dipping sauce are sure to be a hit.

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Servings: 18

Ingredients

Mozzarella sticks
• 1/4 cup flour
• 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
• 1 egg
• 16 ounces mozzarella, cut into sticks about half an inch thick
• 2 tablespoons canola oil

Dipping sauce
• 1 teaspoon olive oil
• 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
• 1 French shallot, finely chopped
• 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1/2 cup maple syrup
• 1 teaspoon parsley, fresh or dry
• 1 teaspoon basil, fresh or dry
• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Spread the flour on one plate and the breadcrumbs on another.
2. In a shallow bowl, beat the egg with a fork.
3. Completely coat each cheese stick in the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs to create a crust. (This step can be repeated a second time for a crunchier result, but you’ll have to double the breading ingredients.)
4. Place the mozzarella sticks on a baking sheet and freeze them for about 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, in a pot, heat the olive oil over low to medium heat. Add the French shallot and garlic and cook them until they start to turn golden.
6. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and maple syrup to the pot and let simmer for about 30 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Add the herbs and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. In a large pan, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Fry the mozzarella sticks in batches until they’re golden on both sides.
8. Serve while still warm with the dipping sauce on the side.

———-

You can also cook the mozzarella sticks in the oven. To do so, heat it to 375 °F and place the cheese sticks on a baking sheet that’s been covered with aluminum foil and lightly oiled. Spray a fine mist of olive oil over the breaded cheese and bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.

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Upcoming Events

Jan
18
Sat
11:00 am Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 18 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Alaska. What do people eat in the snowy, frozen state of Alaska? Come to Kooky Chefs to find out and help prepare some Alaskan dishes. For ages 8 and up. Registration begins December 18.
12:00 pm Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Jan 18 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Program Moderator: The Rt. Rev. Larry W. Johnson Call to Order: Larry Johnson Posting of the Colors: James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard Pledge of Alliance: Dale Carpenter,[...]
3:00 pm Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 18 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
The award-winning team at Rainbow Puppets has created a new musical review that shares the joy of reading through music, dance, puppetry, and story-telling. It’s a travelling early reading program designed around our new children’s book. And thanks[...]
Jan
20
Mon
9:00 am Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Jan 20 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Monday, January 20, 2020, starting at 9:00am, Esbie Baptist Church will be having their annual MLK Prayer Breakfast. The speaker of the hour will be Rev. Dr. Donald Reid, Pastor of Mt. Parah Baptist Church[...]
Jan
21
Tue
2:30 pm Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith t... @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith t... @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
Jan 21 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith to visit R-MA @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
On Tuesday, January 21st, at 2:30 pm, in Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA), the public is invited to be inspired by Rodney Smith, a man who has chosen to make a difference in the[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 21 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, January 7 – Based on books about Balto, we will learn more about service dogs this week. For ages[...]
Jan
22
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 22 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
Jan
23
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 23 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
Jan
24
Fri
9:00 am Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Jan 24 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veterans Services Meeting at Able Forces @ Able Forces
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America[...]
Jan
25
Sat
11:00 am Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
A Story Ballet. Join us in a celebration of classic literature through dance! The whole family will enjoy this ballet performance, presented by the Northern Virginia Academy of Ballet.