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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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Vegetarian shepherd’s pie

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Say hello to a new family favorite. This classic dish with a twist is so tasty, you may want a second serving.

Start to finish: 1 hour
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients
• 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes, cut into big chunks
• 1/4 cup milk
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
• 1 carrot, diced
• 1 celery stalk, diced
• 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
• 1 19-ounce can lentils, drained and rinsed
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
2. Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain the water, add the milk and butter and mash until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a large pan, and sauté the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and mushrooms for about five minutes or until soft. Add the lentils and thyme. Mix well and transfer to an 8 x 11 inch baking dish. Cover with the sweet potato puree.
4. Cook for about 30 minutes and serve.

You can make individual portions by building the shepherd’s pie in several ramekins.

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Food

Creamy corn chowder

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This hearty corn chowder is the perfect meal for a cold, wintery night. Indeed, it’s a recipe you’re sure to come back to again and again.

Start to finish: 45 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients
• 6 slices bacon, chopped
• 1 leek (the white part only), finely chopped
• 1 large potato, diced
• 20 ounces corn kernels (fresh, frozen or canned)
• 13.5 ounces creamed corn
• 1-1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
• 1 cup milk
• 1/2 cup (15%) cream
• 1 sprig fresh rosemary
• 1 bay leaf
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 4 chives, chopped

Directions
1. In a large pot, cook the bacon. When it’s almost done, add the leek. Continue to cook until the bacon is crispy and the leek is translucent. Drain the bacon grease.
2. Add the potato, corn, broth, milk, cream, rosemary and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until the potato is soft.
3. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Garnish with the chives, then serve and enjoy.

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Slow-cooked chili con carne

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There’s nothing better than a meal made in the slow cooker, especially when it’s this chili con carne.

Start to finish: 8 hours and 15 minutes (15 minutes active)
Servings: 10

Ingredients
• 1 pound ground beef
• 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 1 large onion, diced
• 1 celery stalk, diced
• 1 carrot, diced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 tablespoons chili seasoning
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/4 cup ketchup
• 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
• 1 18-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 red pepper, diced
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1/4 cup beef broth
• Salt and pepper
• 1 cup sour cream
• 2 green onions, sliced

Directions
1. In a large pan over high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and brown the beef in it. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker.
2. In the same pan, heat the remaining olive oil and cook the onion, celery and carrot. When it’s almost done, add the garlic, chili seasoning, cumin and dried oregano. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes or until fragrant.
3. Add the ketchup, diced tomatoes, beans, red pepper, brown sugar and beef broth and cook until hot. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Pour over the beef in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
5. Taste and adjust the flavor by adding more chili seasoning, salt and pepper, if necessary.
6. Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and some of the sliced green onion.

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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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Upcoming Events

Feb
27
Thu
10:00 am Day of Giving @ Samuels Public Library
Day of Giving @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 27 @ 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Day of Giving @ Samuels Public Library
In conjunction with “Love Your Library Month,” Samuels Public Library will hold its first “Day of Giving” on Thursday, February 27, 2020. Thanks to an anonymous donor, all donations made in-person at the Library or[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 27 @ 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, February 19 and Thursday, February 20: Come in for some great stories, songs, and a craft about our feathered friends, Birds!  Siblings welcome. Wednesday, February[...]
Feb
28
Fri
9:00 am Veterans Benefit @ Able Forces Foundation
Veterans Benefit @ Able Forces Foundation
Feb 28 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veterans Benefit @ Able Forces Foundation
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[...]
7:00 pm Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Feb 28 @ 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.
Feb
29
Sat
10:00 am Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 29 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Loom Knit an adorable kitten. In this beginner’s class for teens and adults, you will work on a 24 peg loom to knit a small stuffed toy. *Instruction will be right handed. No prior knitting[...]
11:00 am Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Nothing is more comforting than warm soup on a chilly day! Learn how to make some yummy soup, and do some taste-testing to choose your favorite. For ages 8 and up. Registration begins January 29.
11:00 am Trauma & Resiliency Training for... @ Samuels Public Library
Trauma & Resiliency Training for... @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Trauma & Resiliency Training for Early Childhood Providers @ Samuels Public Library
Statistics show us that one in four children will experience trauma by the age of four. This trauma could be abuse, hunger, homelessness, witnessing violence, medical trauma, or grief. We know that a child’s greatest[...]
1:00 pm Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
Feb 29 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
 
2:00 pm Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Do appearances, of people or books, influence you?  How much time does it take for you to decide that you are/are not interested? What criteria determines interest? Come spend time in a “speed dating” atmosphere,[...]
Mar
2
Mon
10:00 am Read Across America Day @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke
Read Across America Day @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke
Mar 2 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Read Across America Day @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke
Monday, March 2nd, 2020, is National Read Across America Day. Students of all ages are invited to come to the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke’s pet adoption center, located at 111 Featherbed Lane, to[...]