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Lobster mac and cheese

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Take advantage of lobster season with this high-end take on the ultimate comfort food: mac and cheese!

Start to finish: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8

Ingredients

• 16 ounces macaroni
• 2 cups milk
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon mustard powder
• 1-1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese, divided
• 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 17 ounces cooked lobster meat, diced
• 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
• Fresh parsley

Directions
1. Cook the macaroni in salted boiling water for 2 minutes less than indicated on the package. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat the milk in a small pot over low heat. Take care not to let it boil.
3. In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the flour and then cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Add the milk and continue whisking until it reaches a thick and creamy consistency (about 5 minutes).
4. Add the spices, 1 cup of the Gruyère and 1/2 cup of the sharp cheddar to the mixture and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix the remaining cheese together and set aside.
5. Remove the cheese sauce from the heat. Add the lobster meat and macaroni. Stir well to combine. Adjust seasoning as desired.
6. In a small, non-stick pan, toast the breadcrumbs until golden. Watch carefully to prevent burning.
7. Put the macaroni mixture into an oven-safe dish. Spread the remaining grated cheese on top, covering the whole surface. Dust the breadcrumbs on top of the cheese.
8. Set your oven to the lowest broil setting. Place the dish in the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and nicely browned.
9. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and serve.

The macaroni in this recipe can be substituted with any short pasta including fusilli, penne or shells.

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Food

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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Food

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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Upcoming Events

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.
1:00 pm Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Jan 25 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Moving Mindfully: Finding and keeping your footing @ Ruby Yoga
Join Ruby Yoga and Deborah Romero of Optimal Posture LLC for a series of workshops on moving more mindfully through life using the principles of yoga and the Alexander Technique. Slated for Saturday, Jan. 25,[...]
2:00 pm Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Are you aged 7 or older? Do you enjoy art? If so, please join us for our children’s art class. Using the classic scissor cutting art of Scherenschnitte, we will make silhouettes in a nature[...]
Jan
29
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 29 @ 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, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
Jan
30
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 30 @ 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, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
Jan
31
Fri
7:00 pm Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Jan 31 @ 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
1
Sat
10:00 am Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 1 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Come to our extremely popular monthly program that gives developing readers the chance to read and relax with a trained therapy dog.  For beginning readers and up.  Choose a time slot at registration, which begins[...]
11:00 am HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
Feb 1 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
The Humane Society of Warren County will hold their 1st annual Polar Plunge event on February 1st at the Culpeper Lake, located at the Northern Virginia 4-H Center in Harmony Hollow. “Plungers” are asked to[...]
2:00 pm World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 1 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
Children ages 5 and up are invited to explore all the amazing things you can do with Legos.  Registration begins January 1.