December 2017
Homeplace & Community

The Co-op Pantry

It’s almost Christmas! I am so not ready. No gifts bought or wrapped. No tree, literally – no tree!!! We moved a short while back and our old, ratty, Christmas tree was chunked. It needed to be, but, oh, the memories attached to that chunk of plastic. My husband, Steve, and I had that tree through most of our marriage, both good times and bad.

So, I have to find a new tree and I have decided to do something new for the Christmas Co-op Pantry. We are just going to pick some fun food to add to what you are going to cook anyway. In the past, I have done the column and guests have done the column. We are going to spice things up a bit this year!!! –Mary

 I am going to take over the January Pantry to help start the year with some healthy recipes or healthier versions of recipes we already prepare. – Jena

 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Mary Delph is an associate editor with AFC Cooperative Farming News. You may email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Jena Klein is AFC’s Wellness Program Coordinator. You may email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

BROWNIES

10 Tablespoons (1¼ stick) unsalted butter
1¼ cups sugar
¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons
unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cups coarsely chopped pecan pieces, optional

Heat oven to 325°. Spray an 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper so parchment hangs over sides (this way you can lift the brownies right out). Spray parchment. In a double boiler or medium metal bowl fit on top of a pot of simmering water, combine butter, sugar, cocoa and salt. Stir, watching butter; if it’s not melting quickly enough, turn up heat. Keep stirring until butter is melted and you have a paste. When paste is so hot you can’t touch it, remove top of double boiler or bowl from simmering water. Allow to cool a bit. Stir in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. Add flour. Stir until it disappears. Beat vigorously for 40 strokes with spoon. Gently stir in nuts. Spread evenly in lined pan. Bake until cake tester comes out mostly clean, 20-25 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Lift up parchment onto a cutting board. Cut brownies to desired size.

 

BEER AND CHEESE SOUP

¾ cup minced carrots
¾ cup minced onion
¾ cup minced celery
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 stick (½ cup) butter
¼ cup corn starch
3 cups chicken broth, heated
12 ounces lager beer
1 cup heavy cream
16 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated or cut into small cubes
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, grated or cut into small cubes
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon dry mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce, optional
White pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Other seasonings of choice

In a large pot, sauté all vegetables (except garlic) in butter. In a small bowl, mix corn starch with broth until dissolved. Add along with garlic and beer to vegetables. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes. In a separate saucepan on medium-low (very important), heat cream. Gradually add cheese to cream, stirring constantly. Add cheese mixture gradually to stock. Add mustard, Worcestershire, hot sauce, pepper, salt and other seasonings. Stir.

Serve with hard bread. (An option is to cut French baguette into slices about ½-inch thick. Place a small amount of butter on each slice. Sprinkle with onion powder. Toast.)

 

ASPARAGUS CASSEROLE

1 sleeve crushed Ritz or other buttery crackers (enough to cover bottom of casserole dish)
2 cans asparagus, drained
1 (15-ounce) can very small English peas, drained
1 can mushrooms, drained
1 stick butter
1 cup whole milk
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimento, drained
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

In bottom of 9x13 casserole dish, lace crackers. Layer asparagus, peas and mushrooms on top of crackers. In saucepan, melt butter. Add milk, soup and pimento. Mix. Pour over top of casserole. Cover with cheese. Bake at 350° about 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

 

WHISKY TRUFFLES

Makes: about 36

¼ cup whiskey
4 Tablespoons sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
2 cups powdered chocolate drink, divided
1 Tablespoon butter
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

In a medium saucepan, combine whiskey and sugar. Bring to a boil. Cook until sugar completely dissolves and whiskey is reduced by a third. Add heavy cream. Return to a boil. Immediately remove pan from heat and add 1½ cups chocolate. Stir until chocolate melts and blends with whiskey/cream mixture. Add butter, Continue to stir until blended.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover. Bring to room temperature, about an hour. Chill in refrigerator for at least 5 hours or until ready to use.

Rolling Truffles

On a plate, place remaining chocolate. Set aside. On a plate, combine confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. Roll approximately a teaspoon of chocolate mixture into a round ball. Roll ball in chocolate or sugar/cinnamon until completely covered. Repeat with rest of chocolate mixture.

 

MEATBALLS

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1½ teaspoons salt, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lean ground beef
½ pound lean ground pork
½ cup finely chopped bell pepper
2 large eggs
¾ cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1½ Tablespoons dried parsley
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
¼ cup milk
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

In a large pan, add olive oil. Place over medium-high heat. Add onions, season with about ½ teaspoon salt. Cook for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds.

In a large bowl, add beef, pork, bell pepper, eggs, cheese, herbs and breadcrumbs. Using your hands, combine ingredients. Add onion/garlic mixture. Season with another teaspoon or so of salt. Using your hands, mix again. Add milk and Worcestershire sauce. Mix once more.

Shape meatballs to desired size. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 425°. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Distribute meatballs evenly on baking sheet. Bake, turning after 10 minutes. Meatballs should be browned and cooked through in 15-20 minutes.

Skewer with toothpick. Serve as appetizers, hors d'oeuvres or snacks.

 

CINNAMON DOUGH ORNAMENTS

¾ cup applesauce
2 (2.37-ounce) bottles ground cinnamon
2- to 3-inch cookie cutters
Drinking straw or skewer
Colorful ribbon

Heat oven to 200°. In a small bowl, mix applesauce and cinnamon until a smooth ball of dough is formed. (You may need to use your hands to get everything mixed well.) Using about ¼ of dough at a time, place it between two sheets of plastic wrap. Roll into ¼-inch to 1/3-inch thickness. Peel off top sheet of plastic wrap. Cut dough into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Make a hole at top of ornament with drinking straw or skewer. Place ornaments on baking sheet.

Bake 2½ hours. Cool ornaments on wire rack. Let rest 1-2 days or until thoroughly dry, turning occasionally. Insert ribbon through holes and tie to hang. Decorate with opaque paint markers found in arts and crafts stores, if desired.

Note from Mary: These ARE NOT for consumption by humans or fur babies.

 

EGGNOG

4 eggs, room temperature (important), separated
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bourbon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

In a large bowl beat egg yolks with electric mixer until they lighten in color. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until completely dissolved (not gritty). Add milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg and stir with spoon to combine.

Place egg whites in separate bowl and, after cleaning and drying or replacing blades, beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form. With mixer still running gradually add 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form (meringue).

Whisk the meringue into the mixture. Chill and serve.

 

SUGAR COOKIES

Makes: about 5 dozen

1½ cups butter, room temperature
2 cups white or raw sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and chill dough for at least 1 hour (or overnight).

Heat oven to 400°. On floured surface, roll out dough to¼- to ½-inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. On ungreased cookie sheets, place cookies 1 inch apart. Bake 6-8 minutes. Cool completely.

 

ANGEL BISCUITS

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
2 cups whole buttermilk
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 cup butter at room temperature

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add buttermilk to yeast mixture, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in yeast mixture until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead 4 or 5 times.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out biscuits with a 2 1/2 inch round cutter. Place on lightly greased baking sheets, barely touching each other. Cover, and let rise in a warm place free from drafts for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until browned.

 

APPLE PIE

1 homemade pie crust or prepared from the grocery store. Enough for pie pan lining and upper crust.
7 granny smith or other tart apples
Juice of half a lemon
½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, chopped
½ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cornstarch (enough to thicken syrup mixture)
1 egg white
1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

Press one of the prepared pie crusts evenly into a greased deep dish pie plate. (Place pie crusts back into the fridge until ready to use.)

Peel and slice apples into equal size slices (about ¼ inches thick) . Toss apples with the juice of lemon and set aside.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add in brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Simmer for about 1-2 minutes until mixture is combined (add a bit of water if needed). Turn off heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Add apples into pot and toss to combine. As the apples heat they will release their juices making the liquid become syrupy. Vigorously stir in cornstarch until mixture becomes thickened and syrupy. You may want to put cornstarch in a sieve and sprinkle a small amount at a time between stirrings to avoid clumping. Taste and add seasonings and/or sugars if needed. Let apples sit for about 20-30 minutes, syrup will thicken up a bit more. With a slotted spoon, add apples into prepared, chilled pie plate. Pour on about 1/2 cup leftover syrup mixture.

Roll out the top crust and place on top of apples. Seal the edges of pie crust. Brush top crust with egg white to create a golden color when baked. Brush with a bit of the leftover syrup mixture then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar.

Place pie on baking sheet and bake for 60-65 minutes or until crust is golden (if crust begins to brown too much, cover with foil).

Let pie sit for about 15 minutes before cutting. Serve alone or with vanilla ice-cream.

December Healthy Recipe

BAKED CRANBERRY PEARS

4 pears
½ cup fresh cranberries
2 Tablespoons honey
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3-½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Cinnamon, to taste

Heat oven to 375°. Cut pears in half and scoop core out with a spoon, leaving a little bowl for cranberries. On a baking sheet, arrange pears bowl side up. (You can slice a little of bottom off so they sit flat.) Fill bowl of each pear with cranberries. Drizzle honey over cranberries to fill bowl. In a small bowl, mix butter and nuts. Sprinkle over tops of pears. Finish with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Bake pears for 20-25 minutes, until pears and cranberries are soft and nuts are crispy.

Note: This is a totally vegetarian dish that gives a bright, festive look to any Christmas meal! The cranberries with the pear and honey give it a sweet and tart flavor at the same time.