Wednesday, October 21, 2015

2 Cowgirls Cook Cherry Chicken Enchiladas

It’s not every day that you get an offer from a friend who has a great enchilada recipe and wants to come over and make it for you. No argument here – sounded like a great way to spice up a ho-hum Monday evening to me.

Indeed it was! Gail brought over homemade Cowboy Caviar, which was chock full of fresh veggies, beans and black-eyed peas, plus all of the ingredients for Cherry Chicken Enchiladas. My only contribution was a hunk of my 30-pound stash of Hatch green chiles and a little vino.

The recipe she brought over is from Cherry Republic, a company that creates wonderful salsas, preserves and sauces from Michigan cherries.

Alas I couldn’t possibly have let Gail do all of the work in my kitchen, so I made sure that I chopped a few things and did my best to drive her crazy by taking step-by-step pictures. All worth it – here is the recipe we used. We Cowgirls highly recommend it.

Cherry Chicken Enchiladas
16 ounces light sour cream
7 ounces diced, green chiles
1 green onion, chopped
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8, 8-inch flour tortillas
8 ounces cream cheese, sliced into 8 pieces
24 ounces of Cherry Salsa (Cherry Republic Original, if possible)

Heat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish. In a large bowl, mix sour cream, chiles, onion, cilantro and cumin.

Mix in chicken and 1 cup of cheddar cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon about ½ cup of filling in the center of each tortilla.

Top with a slice of cream cheese. Roll up and place in pan.

Pour cherry salsa over enchiladas. Cover with foil and bake approximately 45 minutes. 

Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until cheese melts.
(Recipe adapted from

Here’s to cooking with friends!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Día de los Muertos - a celebration of life

Often referred to as the Mexican version of Halloween, Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is anything but scary or morose. It is instead a lively and festive occasion, one in which families and friends celebrate the lives of their loved ones who have passed and help support their spiritual journey.

While researching for an article that I wrote about the holiday for a local community newspaper, I learned about the many traditions of Día de los Muertos and some of the wonderful foods which are sometimes prepared for the celebration.

Tres Leches Cake

Pan de Muerto is a slightly sweet loaf bread shaped into a round usually decorated with more dough in the shape of bones.

Sugar Skull Cookies are simple cut-out cookies often decorated with colorful frosting by children.

Tres Leches Cake is an incredibly moist and delicious cake made with three milks for many celebrations, including birthdays.

Here is a simple Tres Leches Cake recipe that I used for the photos.


Fanciful Sugar Skull Cookies

Those who celebrate Día de los Muertos believe that death is not the end but a beginning of a journey to a final resting place. 

The holiday is sacred and very personal, but it’s kept light and jovial with images of happy and fanciful skulls (calaveras) and skeletons (calacas) as if to tell death, I'm not afraid of you.

Buenos Días!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Season of Change

Well, giddy up! 

The sun is shining, the leaves are turning, and I've had one of the most amazing weeks of my life due to a decision I made to follow a new career path. 

In celebration that I actually made it through the whirlwind of the last few weeks, and that I am feeling a bit crazy, I combined a few of my favorite things to make this centerpiece - pumpkins, fall and cowhide - yes, cowhide. 

Crazy, right?

Here's to craziness and switching it all up!

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Season for Gathering

As the leaves transition to shades of crimson, amber and maize, it’s time to prepare your home for the holidays. Although it may be tempting to fast forward straight to Christmas décor, a holiday in which we give thanks and celebrate the season’s bounty deserves its own day in the spotlight.

Here are some ways to make your Thanksgiving dining table a showstopper:

Start with a neutral or solid color runner or table cover, then pile on the pumpkins, plates and glassware. The neutral background will help to avoid a busy look. 

Use white plates and serving pieces to allow your beloved family recipes to take center stage.

Play with color. Reds, golds and browns are fall’s quintessential colors – give them an update by mixing in a complementary hue such as turquoise, green or purple. 

Using colored goblets, chargers or napkins is a good way to incorporate the additional color.

Get personal. Pull those heirloom pieces out of storage and put them on display. Nothing evokes family memories like grandma’s china, vintage linens or wedding-gift crystal.

Look to nature for inspiration. Include a little of the outdoors into your centerpiece. Branches, bittersweet, berries, pine cones and leaves will bring an earthiness to your table. 

Faux versions are just as beautiful and will last throughout the whole season, not to mention can be stored for years to come.

Generate movement by varying the heights of objects in your display. Stay away from any items that block guests from seeing each other across the table.

Get creative. A myriad of tags and cards are available at craft stores and are ready to personalize. 

Dress up your linens with extra silk flowers or branches by wrapping the stems around napkins.

And finally, set the mood – dim the chandelier and light some candles. The soft glow will create a warm and calming atmosphere for a relaxing meal, one where your guests will want to linger a little longer and savor the occasion.

Have a great day!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Autumn Apple Bars

We Midwesterners love our apples. Apple cider, apple fritters, apple pie, caramel apples – anything apple will do. With apple season in full swing in our region, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of the harvest and early fall weather with apple picking, apple festivals, apple baking, and just plain old apple eating.

Apple pie may be the most quintessential apple dessert out there, but why not use that just-picked bushel for apple tarts, apple bars, apple bread or apple anything.   

Like fine wine, these apple bars get better with age - becoming moister each day.  Don’t leave off the frosting - its sweetness balances the flavors in the cake beautifully. 
Servings: 25
3 large eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups chopped, unpeeled Braeburn or Gala apples
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk
Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with nonstick baking spray with flour.

In a large bowl, combine eggs and salt. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until frothy, about 1 minute. Add sugar and oil; beat until blended. 

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Add to egg mixture; beat just until blended. Fold in apples, nuts, and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan; spread evenly.
Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned and set.

In a medium bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, butter, and enough milk to achieve a spreadable consistency. Spread over cake. When frosting has set, cut cake into bars. (Adapted from fall 2010 issue of Phyllis Hoffman Celebrate) 

Happy Apple Weekend!