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Cool summer combo for hot days

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Hanging out by the pool on hot summer days calls for some cool summer recipes.

Here’s just the ticket:

Spicy Perspective has a great recipe for strawberry smoothies that are easy to make poolside with just a few fresh ingredients and an electric blender. Love from the Oven, meanwhile, provides a summer pasta salad recipe that can be made the night before and served quickly so that you won’t miss any time sunbathing or swimming!

Here’s how to make one version of these summer delights.

Simple strawberry smoothies

Ingredients:

3 cups frozen strawberries
1.5 cups milk, any fat content
1/3 cup strawberry jam

Instructions:

1. Place the frozen strawberries, jam, and milk into the blender.
2. Secure the lid.
3. Puree until smooth.
That’s it! Garnish with fresh fruit if desired!

Summer Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups pasta such as rotini, fusilli, penne or farfalle, uncooked
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
6 oz. chopped cooked chicken or turkey breast (approximately two small chicken breasts)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes or 1 large tomato cut into chunks
1 cup chopped or grated carrots
1/2 cup prepared Italian dressing mix – or try sweet Italian from bottle or jar
4 oz. Kraft cheddar cheese cubes
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup kraft shredded Italian five cheese blend
Optional: A few fresh herbs such as basil for garnish

Instructions:

1. Cook pasta as directed on package, adding broccoli to the cooking water for the last 2 min. of the pasta cooking time; drain and rinse with cold water.
2. Toss chicken, tomatoes, carrots, dressing, cheddar cheese and olives in large bowl. Add pasta mixture; mix lightly.
3. Sprinkle with shredded Italian cheese.

If not serving immediately, store in refrigerator. The pasta cools and flavors blend overnight, if you make ahead.

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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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Turkey and three cheese lasagna

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Wondering what to do with your leftover turkey? This lasagna is a nice departure from endless turkey sandwiches.

Start to finish: 2.5 hours (35 minutes active)
Servings: 10 to 12

Ingredients

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 onions, diced
• 2 celery stalks, diced
• 2 carrots, diced
• 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
• 1 pound leftover turkey, finely chopped (you can use ground turkey too)
• 2 (26 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
• 1 cup beef broth
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano
• 2 teaspoons dried basil
• 16 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package instructions
• 1 (16 ounce) container ricotta
• 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
• 1 egg
• 4 cups mozzarella, grated and divided
• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions, celery and carrots until soft. Salt and pepper to taste. Add one can of tomato paste and stir. Add the turkey and cook for about 5 minutes, making sure the meat and vegetables are combined. Add the other can of tomato paste, diced tomatoes, beef broth, sugar, bay leaves, oregano and basil. Bring to a boil.
2. Lower the heat and simmer for about an hour or until the sauce has thickened. Remove the bay leaves.
3. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, egg and parmesan. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Cover the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking sheet with a quarter of the prepared sauce and top with 4 lasagna noodles. Sprinkle one cup of mozzarella over the lasagna noodles. Layer the following ingredients in this order: sauce, 4 lasagna noodles, ricotta mixture, 4 lasagna noodles, sauce, 4 lasagna noodles. Cover with the rest of the sauce and sprinkle on the remaining 3 cups of mozzarella.
5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Food

Hot spiced cider

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This is the perfect hot drink to serve on chilly winter evenings spent at home. Make a batch any time you want to enjoy an intimate gathering with loved ones or a well-deserved treat.

Ingredients
• 2 ounces spiced rum

• 1-1/2 cups flat, hard apple cider
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 2 pods of whole star anise
• Juice of half a lemon

Directions
1. In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring them to a gentle simmer over low heat. Allow to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Pour the beverage into two toddy glasses, making sure to put a cinnamon stick and a star anise pod in each cup.

Start to finish: 10 minutes
Servings: 2

For a non-alcoholic alternative, omit the rum and use non-alcoholic cider.

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Food

Gourmet bruschetta

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Warning: this version of bruschetta is piled so high with toppings you may need a fork and knife to eat it.

Start to finish: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 6 basil leaves, chopped
• 1 pint cherry tomatoes
• 4 slices thick crusty bread
• 1 (18 ounce) package pre-sliced fresh mozzarella
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• Whole basil leaves (to use as garnishes)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, garlic and basil.
3. Place the tomatoes in an oven-safe dish and pour the olive oil mixture on top. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes start to brown and crack.
4. Meanwhile, toast the bread. Make sure not to overcook it. It should still be a little soft.
5. Cover each slice with cheese and top with the tomatoes. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm and garnish with a basil leaf.

To make the bruschetta easier to eat, you can cut the tomatoes in half before roasting them. This will shorten the cooking time, however, so keep an eye on them.

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Food

Coconut-cranberry blondies

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Looking for an alternative to brownies? These festive blondies are the perfect substitute.

Start to finish: 3 hours (25 minutes active)
Servings: 12

Ingredients

Blondie
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
• 3/4 cup dried cranberries
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup white chocolate chips
• 1/3 cup butter
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sauce
• 1 cup white chocolate chips
• 1 or 2 tablespoons milk

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F
2. Cover the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, letting the edges hang over the side.
3. In a bowl, combine the flour, coconut, cranberries, baking powder and salt.
4. In another bowl (this one should be microwave safe) place the white chocolate chips and butter and melt them in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg, brown sugar and vanilla on medium speed until the mixture has doubled in volume (about 3 minutes).
6. Add the white chocolate and butter mixture to the egg mixture and mix on slow speed. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients until just combined.
7. Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry.
8. Let cool for about two hours.
9. To make the sauce, melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave (about 30 seconds) with 1 tablespoon of milk. If it’s too thick, add another tablespoon of milk once the chocolate is melted.
10. Cut the blondies into squares or rectangles and serve with the sauce.

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Food

Beef Wellington with port sauce

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Are you hosting an intimate dinner with family or friends over the holidays? If so, this classic recipe may well be the perfect main course.

Start to finish: 2.5 hours (50 minutes active)
Servings: 6

Ingredients

Beef
• 3 pounds beef tenderloin (filet mignon)
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• Salt and pepper to taste

Mushroom duxelles
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 3 French shallots, finely chopped
• 25 ounces button mushrooms, finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
• 2/3 cup dry, white wine
• Salt and pepper to taste

Assembly
• 8 slices prosciutto
• Prepared mushroom duxelles
• 4.5 ounces foie gras, thinly sliced
• Prepared beef tenderloin
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 (17 ounce) package puff pastry
• 1 egg yolk, beaten

Port sauce
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 French shallot, finely chopped
• 3/4 cup port
• 1 cup beef stock
• 1 tablespoon butter
• Salt and pepper

Directions

Beef
1. Season the tenderloin with salt and pepper.
2. In a pan, heat the olive oil and butter. Once the pan is very hot, sear the beef for about 2 minutes on each side. Place the meat on a plate and dry using a paper towel.
3. Brush beef with the Dijon mustard and refrigerate.

Mushroom duxelles
1. In the pan you used to sear the beef, melt the butter.
2. Sweat the French shallots in the melted butter. Add the mushrooms and sauté them over high heat for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and thyme and continue to cook for about 2 minutes.
4. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and continue to cook the mixture until the moisture has completely evaporated from it. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assembly
1. Cover your work surface with a sheet of plastic wrap. Place the slices of prosciutto on the plastic wrap, overlapping them slightly to make a large square.
2. Using a spatula, spread the mushroom duxelles over the prosciutto, covering it completely.
3. Cover the mushrooms with the slices of foie gras.
4. Take the beef out of the refrigerator and place it in the middle of the square. Using the plastic wrap to help keep the components together, wrap the other ingredients around the beef, making sure it’s covered completely. Wrap the plastic tightly around the beef and accompanying ingredients and refrigerate the whole thing for one hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Dust the work surface lightly with flour and spread out the puff pastry.
6. Remove the beef from the refrigerator, take off the plastic wrap and place the meat on the pastry.
7. Wrap the pastry around the beef, making sure it’s completely covered. It should be spread uniformly and shouldn’t overlap, so be sure to cut any extra bits off. Brush the pastry with the egg yolk and trace a design using a knife, making sure not to pierce a hole through the dough.
8. Place the assembled Beef Wellington on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or until the beef reaches an internal temperature of 132 °F.

Port sauce
Start making the sauce halfway through the meat’s cooking time.

1. In a pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the French shallot. Add the port and simmer for a few minutes.
2. Add the beef stock and simmer until the sauce has reduced about halfway. Add salt and pepper to taste. Strain the sauce using a sieve and rinse the pot.
3. Return the sauce to the rinsed pot and melt the butter in it.

Allow the Beef Wellington to cool for about 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with roasted potatoes and the port sauce. Enjoy!

In order for this recipe to be a success, the mushroom duxelles must be very dry. Even a small amount of moisture will impact how the puff pastry cooks and result in a soggy crust.

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‘Tis the Season

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Front Royal
42°
Cloudy
07:2316:51 EST
Feels like: 40°F
Wind: 4mph SW
Humidity: 98%
Pressure: 29.39"Hg
UV index: 1
SatSunMon
49/40°F
48/31°F
38/37°F

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Upcoming Events

Dec
14
Sat
11:00 am Saturday with Santa @ Warren County Community Center
Saturday with Santa @ Warren County Community Center
Dec 14 @ 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Saturday with Santa @ Warren County Community Center
Bring the kids and your camera for yummy snacks, crafts, and a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus! All are welcome!
1:00 pm “Clara, Little Mouse & the Golde... @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
“Clara, Little Mouse & the Golde... @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Dec 14 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
"Clara, Little Mouse & the Golden Key" @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Join us for this original version of the timeless story ballet The Nutcracker Suite. Follow Clara and Little Mouse on a journey to find what the Golden Key unlocks… Christmas will never be the same[...]
Dec
15
Sun
4:00 pm R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
Dec 15 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas Concert @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
The local community is invited to join the Randolph-Macon Academy family for an afternoon of holiday spirit with the R-MA Band and Chorus! The annual R-MA Christmas Concert will be held on Sunday, December 15th,[...]
Dec
17
Tue
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 17 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, December 3: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! After reading a Christmas story, we’ll discuss giving and how it affects us and the people around us.[...]
7:30 pm Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Dec 17 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert | Presented by the American Legion Community Band Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at 7:30 pm Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus in Front Royal, VA
Dec
18
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 18 @ 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 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]
Dec
19
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 19 @ 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 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]
3:00 pm Annual Holiday Open House @ St. Luke Community Clinic
Annual Holiday Open House @ St. Luke Community Clinic
Dec 19 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Annual Holiday Open House @ St. Luke Community Clinic
Enjoy some Hot Apple Cider and Christmas Cookies and Treats Come tour the clinic, meet the staff, and find out what St. Luke has been doing for the community!
Dec
21
Sat
11:00 am Saturday Morning Movie @ Samuels Public Library
Saturday Morning Movie @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 21 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Saturday Morning Movie @ Samuels Public Library
Toy Story 4 “To infinity, and beyond!” Join us for a screening of Toy Story 4, complete with popcorn. For ages 5 and up. Registration begins November 21.
Dec
27
Fri
7:00 pm Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Dec 27 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Love Revival - FREE Monthly Community Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Free Community Dinner for everyone! Come enjoy a hot meal on the last Friday of every month at Love Revival Ministry Center.