The Land Connection staff shares some of their favorite winter recipes to inspire you during the colder months and bring you some warmth and joy this holiday season.
Crystal Siltman, Farmer Training Coordinator
Crystal Siltman, The Land Connection’s Farmer Training Coordinator, shares a recipe for a Winter Blend Simple Syrup.
Winter Blend Simple Syrup
- 1 Cup Water
- 3 Tbsp Juniper Berries If you forage your juniper like I do, make sure you are foraging responsibly and from a tree that has not been sprayed or is on private property
- 1 Orange
- 1 Handful Juniper Greens
- 1 Cup Sugar
- Use a mortar and pestle to lightly crush the juniper berries.
- Toss in the juniper greens, berries, and orange into a medium saucepan.
- Add the water and heat just until the mixture begins to boil.
- Reduce heat and stir in sugar.
- Simmer on low for up to an hour. Remove from heat, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Strain and refrigerate the syrup. Use within 2 weeks.
- Can be added to cocktails, mocktails, tea, coffee, baked goods and more!
Jason Greenly, Finance & Operations Director
Jason’s Potato Soup is the “next best thing to a weighted blanket in the winter”. This recipe makes a lot of soup, so be sure you have your big soup pot. I mean, you could halve this recipe, but why?
Jason’s Comfort Potato Soup
- 9 small red potatoes
- 1 onion
- 6 tbsp Flour
- 6 cups milk
- 8 cups cheese shredded, your favorite kind
- 1 tbsp oil or butter for cooking
- pepper flakes
- black pepper
- 1 lb ham
- 1 loaf bread
- Wash and slice unpeeled potatoes into 1” pieces. No need to get fancy; boil the potatoes until they are soft enough that a fork won’t pick them up. Drain, reserving two cups of liquid.
- While that’s happening, cut up the onion and the ham into what you consider bite-sized pieces. (Me, I go far large pieces, but you do you.)
- Place the onion in a frying pan with oil and cook until the onion is translucent. (You can do butter instead of oil if you’re feeling you want extra-extra hardy soup. I will say there’s not an appreciable taste difference in this recipe.) Add the flour. Add the pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. I recommend erring on the side of “too much”, but you know how much you like hot stuff.
- Now, in that big pot, put in the onion mix, the potatoes, the reserved liquid, and six cups of milk. Start heating and stir constantly.
- While that’s going on, add the cheese and the ham. Keep stirring.
- Cook that stuff for a half-hour. Stir stir stir.
- Once done, you can place half in containers to be frozen for later, or you can invite everybody over. Maybe have them bring the bread!
- The next time you cook it, adjust items to your liking. More/less pepper, a different cheese, lamb instead of ham. It’s soup; make it yours!
Kelly Lay, Local Foods Program Manager
Peanut Butter Cookies are a beloved holiday cookie my Aunt Jeanette perfected (my middle name is Jeanette in honor of her!). Growing up my mom always made cookies in a big blue ceramic bowl. My sisters and I would heroically attempt to stir the sugar, eggs, and thick butter (in this recipe crisco or as my grandmother used in many of her recipes, oleo) before running carefully with the big bowl to my dad. He made the bowl seem so much smaller and even the coldest butter was quickly and perfectly mixed. My mom would let us “clean” the big blue bowl while we waited for the cookies to bake. Fresh out of the oven, they’re warm and just perfect. My mom still loves this recipe for holiday cookie gifting because, unlike a lot of other peanut butter cookie recipes, my aunt’s recipe stays soft and crumbly even after a few days. Definitely a treasured family recipe that I asked for permission before sharing here (to a resounding, happy yes)!
Peanut Butter Cookies
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup butter crisco shortening
- 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3 tbsp milk
- 1 egg
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine the peanut butter, crisco, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl.
- Beat the ingredients at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended.
- Add egg. Beat just until bended.
- Combine flour, salt, and baking soda.
- Add creamed mixture at low speed.
- Mix just until blended.
- Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto an un-greased baking sheet.
- Flatted slightly in criss-cross pattern with tines of fork.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes or until set and just beginning to brown.
- Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet.
- Remove cookies from foil to cool completely.
Dana Vollmer, Development Director
This focaccia recipe has been in heavy rotation for my partner and I during the cooler months. It is truly *the* easiest homemade bread to make (i.e. no kneading), but you wouldn’t know it by how stunning the finished product is. It’s also a crowd pleaser—the perfect side dish to bring to holiday parties.
- 400 g Bread flour (About 2 1/2 cups), plus more for dusting
- 10 g Kosher salt (About 2 teaspoons), plus more for sprinkling
- 4 g Instant yeast (About 1 teaspoon)
- 275 g Water (About 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons)
- 8 g Extra-virgin olive oil (About 2 teaspoons), plus more for coating pans and for drizzling
- Combine flour, salt, yeast, water, and oil in a large bowl. Mix with hands or a wooden spoon until no dry flour remains.
- Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, making sure that the edges are well sealed, then let rest at cool room temperature overnight. Dough should rise dramatically and fill bowl.
- Coat a cast iron skillet with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Transfer the dough into the cast iron. Using a flat palm, press dough around the pan, flattening it slightly and spreading oil around the entire bottom and edges of the pan.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let dough sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 550°F (or as hot as your oven will go). Adjust rack to the middle.
- Once dough has gone through the second rise, use your fingers to dimple the focaccia, creating very deep depressions in the dough. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Add any additional toppings you would like (herbs, garlic, etc.) Your dough should look like the photo below before baking.
- Bake until top is golden brown and bubbly and bottom is golden brown and crisp when you lift it with a thin spatula, about 12 to 15 minutes.
- Serve with more olive oil for drizzling. If you manage to not eat all in one sitting, store in a paper bag on the countertop and enjoy within 1-2 days, reheating on the stovetop before eating.
Jacquelyn Evers, Executive Director
At our house, we love a super thin, crispy St. Louis pizza. The pizza in the picture is our favorite mix of toppings: homemade pesto, sausage, artichoke hearts, and mozzarella. We love a Piemonte breakfast sausage and would even do some Prairie Fruits goat cheese on top instead of mozzarella. You do you on those toppings! Pepperoni and Imo’s provel cheese, vegetable, trash pizza (cheese pizza + refrigerator leftovers), or whatever. The sky’s the limit!
- 1 cup water lukewarm
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 2.5 cup all purpose flour The incomparable Janie's Mill All Purpose Flour is number one in this house!
- In a mixing cup, combine 1 cup lukewarm water, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast.
- Add 2.5 cups of all purpose flour to a large bowl or your stand mixer. Give that flour a sprinkle of salt and possibly add some dried basil if you're into that kind of thing.
- Add the water, oil, and yeast mixture to the flour. Knead this together with your hands until just combined or take the easy way out and use the "stir" setting of your stand mixer. Knead for 2-3 minutes. If your dough is VERY sticky, add a few more tablespoons of flour and keep kneading until it feels tacky, but not sticky.
- Let sit for 15 minutes.
- Knead again for 2-3 minutes until the dough is smooth.
- Cover with a towel and put in a warm place to rest for 3-4 hours.
- When your dough is ready, you can use your fingers or a rolling pin to stretch the dough into rounds or squares. We like a very thin crust pizza and this recipe will make 2 rounds that fit a standard pizza pan.
- Set your oven to 450-500 degrees, whatever feels best to you.
- If you're like us and love a super thin, crispy St. Louis pizza, then put your crust in your preheated oven for 4-5 minutes before the toppings.
- When it comes to toppings, you do you! Pepperoni and Imo's provel cheese, vegetable, trash pizza (cheese pizza + refrigerator leftovers), or whatever. The sky's the limit!