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Bewitched cupcakes

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These adorable chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing are the perfect treat to make for a Halloween party or play date.

Start to finish: 1 hour (40 minutes active)
Servings: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs, room temperature
• 1/2 cup white sugar
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/3 cup vegetable oil
• 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
• 8 ounces cream cheese
• 4 cups icing sugar
• 1 teaspoon orange gel food coloring

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place cupcake liners in each cup of a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Set aside. In a second bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, oil, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
3. Incorporate half of the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and mix well. Add half of the buttermilk and mix well. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and buttermilk, and mix well.
4. Pour the mixture into each muffin tin cup to fill them halfway. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
5. In the meantime, use a beater to mix the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the rest of the salt and vanilla, and mix well. Use the beater at a low speed to slowly incorporate the icing sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the food coloring and mix until the icing is a uniform orange.
6. Let the cupcakes cool completely, then use a piping bag to ice them. Decorate with candies or small Halloween-themed cookies.

To ensure the icing has a vibrant color, use a gel rather than a liquid food dye.

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Food

Sweet corn custard pie: A surprising twist on a traditional food

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Not much is known about the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621, when settlers and indigenous Americans from the Wampanoag tribe gathered to feast for three days after a successful harvest, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Historians believe that flint corn, as a staple crop, would have featured heavily during the celebration. Today, modern varieties of sweet corn show up on many Thanksgiving tables in casseroles, breads, stuffings, and pies.

Adapted from The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Emily Elsen and Melissa Elsen, sweet corn custard pie combines the sunny flavor of sweet corn with the silky texture of egg custard – no stove-top tempering required. Try fresh kernels if you can find them, but if not, frozen sweet corn, thawed and drained, will also work. Use your favorite pie crust recipe for the pie shell or save time and pre-bake a store-bought frozen pie shell. For a gluten-free option, prepare the filling as written with a gluten-free pie shell.

Sweet corn custard pie
1 pre-baked pie shell

Filling:
3 cups sweet corn kernels from 5 to 6 ears of corn (thaw and drain frozen if fresh is unavailable)
2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 ¼ cups whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup light corn syrup
3 large eggs
1 yolk
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Stir vegetable oil into fresh or thawed corn and spread onto the baking sheet in a single layer. Roast the corn until caramelized, about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir periodically and watch carefully to prevent burning. Combine hot caramelized corn with heavy cream and whole milk. Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender and allow the mixture to steep for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the corn mixture steeps, combine the melted butter with the sugar, cornmeal, salt, and corn syrup. Stir in the eggs and yolk one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add lime juice.

Strain corn mixture through a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl. Using a flexible spatula, press the mixture against the sieve to remove as much liquid as possible. Stir and press until all liquid is removed. You will have around one cup of liquid and a few bits of corn. Add the strained liquid to the egg mixture and discard the leftover corn solids.

Pour the liquid into the pre-baked pie shell and set on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Check the pie at 30 to 35 minutes and rotate if the edges have started to set. The pie is done when the edges are slightly puffed and the center is wobbly, but not liquid. Be careful not to overtake the pie will continue to cook and set after coming out of the oven.

Cool the pie completely on a wire rack. Cut in eight to 12 small slices.

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Wines that pair well with turkey

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If you plan to serve turkey with all the trimmings this Thanksgiving, you’ll want to offer your guests a wine that enhances the flavor profile of this traditional holiday meal. Here are a few prime options.

Aromatic whites
Wines characterized by strong floral or herbal notes pair well with meals that have bold and varied flavors. This makes them an ideal match for roasted turkey and savory sides. Consider a sauvignon blanc, viognier, or dry riesling.

Fruity reds

When matched with turkey and gravy, tart and fruit-forward picks like grenache, Rioja and Beaujolais mimic the role of cranberry sauce. However, pinot noir remains a go-to choice for red wine drinkers on Thanksgiving.

Crisp rosés
The fruit and acidity of a dry rosé makes it a wine that pairs well with almost anything. The lightly spiced white zinfandel has long been a staple of the traditional Thanksgiving feast, but you also can’t go wrong with pinot noir or grenache rosés.

Sparkling wines
Light and a fizzy glass of bubbly strikes the perfect balance with a decadent turkey dinner. Prosecco, cava, and Champagne are festive, food-friendly options. However, the low alcohol level and fruity flavors of a moscato d’Asti make it a good choice for light drinkers.

For more recommendations, speak with the knowledgeable staff at a local wine shop.

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Give thanks to the planet with a plant-based meal

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For many families, a traditional meal is at the heart of their Thanksgiving celebrations. Some might argue that the holiday would be incomplete without a lavish turkey served alongside stuffing and gravy. So while a growing number of people are transitioning to a plant-based diet for ethical or environmental reasons, it can be particularly challenging adapting holiday meals to this lifestyle.

And yet, there are many benefits to making plant protein and vegetables the stars of your Thanksgiving dinner. In addition to causing less pollution than meat options, a plant-based holiday meal tends to be healthier, makes use of seasonal ingredients, and allows you to explore new flavors. Here are just a few delectable comfort food dishes to consider for this year’s spread:

• Hearty chickpea “meatloaf” with a maple glaze and thyme mashed potatoes

• Lentil, mushroom, and walnut balls topped with a sweet pear-cranberry sauce

• Sweet potato gnocchi with an apple cider sauce and sautéed rapini

• Butternut squash vegducken, stuffed with eggplant, zucchini, and an onion-lentil stuffing

• Tempeh shepherd’s pie or pot pie with corn, carrots, and peas

• Individual pumpkins stuffed with rice, black beans, corn, cashews, and mushrooms

An additional perk is that most of these dishes can be prepared in more flexible portion sizes than the traditional 15-pound turkey or whole ham. This allows you to waste less food and prepare a hearty meal regardless of how many people will be gathered around the table this season.

If you’re not ready to forgo the turkey, consider opting for an organic or pasture-raised bird from a local farm. This sustainable choice is better for the environment and supports the regional economy.

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Planning for stress-free holidays

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Holiday meals can be more stress-free and fun with a checklist and a plan.

Plan ahead to use a side table for food and set it up early. Get the table linens ready as early as possible — at least a week before.

For pick-up dinners, make sure early you have sufficient trays and seating.

One Week Before

Prepare menu and shopping list. Shop. Allow enough time for thawing if you buy a frozen turkey.

Four Days Before
Clean out the refrigerator leaving plenty of room for your pre-made dishes and for leftovers. Detail the house in other ways, too. Make sure windows and sills are clean. Check the curtains. Clean baseboards.

Three Days Before
General cleaning. Buy flowers. Put up decorations. Clean silver, if you still have those formal family meals.

Two Days Before
Make the pies.
You can even set a table and place centerpieces, candles, and decorations. You can also schedule that for the day before.

One Day Before
Check the menu to make sure nothing is forgotten. Shop for any needed fresh ingredients.
Clean and prepare vegetables, cheese, nuts, mashed potatoes, and other ingredients and dishes that can be made early.

Day Of
Cook main dish. Warm-up your day-before side dishes and pies.
Allow time to relax and dress before guests arrive.

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7 ways to enjoy potatoes

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Whether they’re picked up at a local farmers market or harvested from your own vegetable patch, spuds can be cooked in a variety of ways. Here are seven potato dishes to try this fall, or anytime you have extra spuds on hand.

1. Creamy mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and cheese

2. Old-fashioned potato salad, ideal for a fall picnic

3. Baked or barbecued potatoes with sour cream and green onions

4. Homestyle potato chips seasoned to your liking

5. Hearty potato chowder with corn or seafood

6. Crispy fries or potato wedges with Cajun seasoning

7. Potato cake, candy, or crêpes for dessert

For even more variation in taste and texture, explore different types of potato such as Yukon gold, chieftain, and Adirondack blue. You can even experiment with sweet potatoes and yams.

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Slow-cooked pork with homemade applesauce

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This is a hearty meal for a brisk fall evening. Once you’ve gathered the ingredients in your slow cooker, sit back and let the mouthwatering scent of cooked apples waft through the air.

Start to finish: 8 hours and 30 minutes (30 minutes active)
Servings: 4

Ingredients

· 2 tablespoons butter
· 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
· 1 pork shoulder, about 2 pounds
· 1 onion, minced
· 2 Cortland apples, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
· 1/2 cup white wine
· 1/2 cup chicken broth
· 2 tablespoons maple syrup
· 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
· 1 teaspoon dried thyme
· 1 bay leaf
· Salt and pepper, to taste
· 1/3 cup heavy cream
· 1 green onion, minced

Directions
1. In a large pan, melt the butter. Evenly coat the pork in flour and brown it in the pan on all sides.
2. Place the meat in the slow cooker and surround it with the onion and apples. Add the wine, chicken broth, maple syrup, mustard, thyme, and bay leaf. Salt and pepper generously. Set the slow cooker to low heat for 8 hours.
3. Remove the pork and place it in a large bowl. Pour the remaining contents of the slow cooker into a small pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer until the sauce is reduced by half.
4. Add the cream to the sauce. Use a fork or hand blender to puree the apples until the sauce has the consistency of applesauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Use two forks to shred the pork into bite-size pieces. To serve, pour the sauce over the meat and garnish with green onions.

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Why should Small Business Saturday just be celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving? Buy Local – Shop Local – Eat Local – Support Front Royal’s Small Business Community and stay local! Small Business Saturdays –[...]
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2021 Dare to Dream Enrichment Gr... @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
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Front Royal Women’s Resource Center (FRWRC) Beginning on November 1, 2020, to accept Applications for 2021 DARE TO DREAM GRANTS (Take classes, start a business, purchase a computer, learn a new skill, train for a[...]
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64th Annual Pancake Day @ Warren County High School
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64th Annual Pancake Day @ Warren County High School
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Rotary Club Cash Fair @ Online Event
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2021 Dare to Dream Enrichment Grant Application @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
Front Royal Women’s Resource Center (FRWRC) Beginning on November 1, 2020, to accept Applications for 2021 DARE TO DREAM GRANTS (Take classes, start a business, purchase a computer, learn a new skill, train for a[...]