Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Fast Forward

In the newspaper and magazine world, working on articles and features ahead of the current calendar month just comes with the territory. Due to print and distribution deadlines, I'm currently working on pieces for October and November, and I'm already planning what I'm doing for December.

Pumpkins fill a rustic, handmade wooden box found at The Butter Barn.

Don't misunderstand me, it's always great to be ahead of the game, but sometimes it can get a little confusing in the real world. It is still August, right?

This gorgeous twig and wheat wreath anchoring the other end of my mantel was found at HomeGoods.

With that said, can anyone blame me for the pre Labor Day fall decorating mode that I fell into this past weekend?

A tad early for Jack, but he pulls his weight on the other side of the mantel.

Oftentimes, I feel that my internal clock is set to fast forward. 

For example, it's still 88 degrees and muggy as heck, but  I'm dreaming of pumpkins and cozy sweaters and fireplace evenings and soup.

Fall napkin rings in the works. 

Soup? Well, maybe not soup. But definitely chili.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

It's Chile in the Air

Red, Green, or Christmas? For those not familiar with this question, it’s commonly asked at restaurants throughout New Mexico and refers to your choice of chile. Red chile, green chile or both aka Christmas. Now that we have that straight, you also should know that the chile harvest season is in full swing in New Mexico. But just because we are halfway across the country, doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate these delectable fruits here in the Midwest.

Chiles are available in many varieties and degrees of hotness – mild, medium, hot and hotter. 

Roasting them brings out the depth of their flavor but can also tame some of their heat, resulting in a smoky, bold-flavored food to use in sauces, stews, casseroles, or simply as a topping for cheeseburgers, breakfast burritos, pizza, and so on. 

The sky's the limit.

The below recipe for Green Chile Chicken Casserole was one of my very first blog posts. 

If you look way back, you will see that I was just a beginner in the photo and layout department. So here is an updated post with a few tweaks to my original recipe.

If you have difficulty locating fresh chiles around these parts, you can substitute canned chiles which are available at most grocery stores. 

Or, place an order at www.hatch-green-chile.com and roast your own.

Green Chile Chicken Casserole

The green chiles are the star of this warm and cheesy dish, which can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd. Sprinkle it with diced tomatoes, black olives or cilantro and top with a dollop of sour cream. Serves 4-6.

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
⅓ cup roasted green chiles, seeded and chopped
10 ½ ounce can cream of chicken soup
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon chili powder
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup milk
1 ½ cups shredded Mexican cheeses
Eight 6-inch corn tortillas, torn into 5-6 pieces each

In a medium bowl, combine chicken, chiles, soup, spices, milk and 1 cup of cheese.
Spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. 

Spread ⅓ of the tortillas over the bottom. Top with ⅓ of chicken mixture. Repeat then repeat again. Top with remaining ½ cup of cheese.

Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

An All-American Finale

The school bus will be headed around the corner soon, but don't give up on summer just yet. There's still plenty of August to go, and then there's September. Give summer the end-of-season finale it deserves by celebrating with All-American style.

Show your patriotism this Labor Day with red, white and blue decor. Arrange colorful fresh flowers in a woven basket, and add a bit of bling with sparkly star picks.

Try this easy as pie, or easier than pie, Cherry Balsamic Galette. It will surly bring smiles to those who are lucky enough to get a slice. Don't forget to top it with a scoop of creamy, vanilla ice cream.

Cherry Balsamic Galette
1 refrigerated pie crust, room temperature
1 ½ pounds tart cherries, pitted and halved
3 tablespoons flour
⅓ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
Coarse sugar for sprinkling

Heat oven to 375 F. On a parchment lined baking sheet, unroll pie crust. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add cherries and stir to combine. 
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and vanilla. Pour over cherry mixture and combine.
On a parchment lined baking sheet, unroll pie crust. Add cherry mixture to the center, leaving a two-inch border around the edge. 
Fold edge up and over the filling, creating pleats all around. 
Whisk egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush onto crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until crust is golden brown. (Recipe from Jennifer Ruple)

Decorate some mason jars with pre-printed burlap ribbon, wrap some jute, or garden twine, around the top, and then garnish with little star stickers. 

Use them to hold silverware, straws or sparklers.

Remember to enjoy the sun, warmth and greenery, and hang on to summer as long as you can!