Thursday, January 24, 2013

Almost "No Cook" Chicken Chili!!

Everyone has a white chili recipe. This is the one to make!
In keeping with the "Baby It's Cold Outside" theme. And keeping in mind that there is snow in the forecast. I am bringing out one of my family's favorite, one of my office's favorite, one of my go to recipes when I need to bring something awesome to a gathering. White Chicken Chili!

Now, I first tasted this at an open house where the person who brought it also placed copies of the printed recipe next to her bowl. I initially thought, "how presumptuous!". Then I tasted it. "I get so tired of people asking me to email them the recipe, that I just bring it with me," she explained. I can understand why! Everyone took a copy home with them. It is a different spin on traditional chili with a spicy cheesy sauce that is almost addictive. Again, this couldn't be easier to make, so no excuses.

You may notice that it is the second chili  recipe this week that features salsa as an ingredient. That is not accidental. It is an tasteful element that eliminates a lot of prep work.  Also, you might want to make extra copies of this recipe if you decide to take it to a Super Bowl Party! That way, you won't have to send a bunch of emails. Enjoy!!

White Chicken Chili
  • 1 32-ounce box chicken stock
  • 3 cans white beans, left undrained
  • 5 cups cooked chicken (rotisserie or boiled)
  • 1 16-ounce jar salsa
  • 1 8-ounce block pepper jack cheese, grated
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Black or white pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed corn chips (optional, if you like your chili thicker)
  • Sour cream, for garnish


Place all ingredients except the corn chips in a crockpot. Cook on high until the cheese is melted. 
Chili may also be cooked on the stovetop over medium-high heat until cheese is melted. 
When the chili is ready, add the crushed corn chips, if using, and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken. Garnish with more chips, cheese and/or sour cream and serve. 

Now, for this recipe, I buy boneless skinless breast, put them in a shallow pan, cover them with water and add spices like, garlic powder, pepper, red pepper flakes, whatever you like, then cook them about 15-20 mins. Then I cool them down and shred them with a fork.
I have never used the rotisserie chicken so I don’t know how that is.
I also use a bigger jar of salsa because we really like the flavor.
The block of pepper jack cheese, grated and added at the end of the recipe is what puts this chili over the top! Great make ahead dish so you can enjoy the game too!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Smack Your Mamma" Salsa Chili!

We need to cook today!!!
It’s cold today. The wind is howling and the temperatures are heading into the single digits. Those of us in the northeast have been spoiled by mild winters the last two seasons, but this week will remind us of where we live. Don’t kill the messenger because I actually like this kind of weather…for a while, anyway.

 When I see this type of  forecast, I immediately start to think of what could be simmering on the stove. What inviting scent will warm the kitchen and give off the aroma that, as my old friend Louise used to say “smells like somebody's home”!

So today, I am breaking out the crock pot and am making my “Quickfix Salsa Chili”. The recipe is so easy that it requires very little effort or time, and so delicious that I usually make a large batch because family members tend to take it for lunch the next day. This chili requires no dicing of onions, peppers or garlic, and all the mess that comes with it. No, all that is needed here is:

  • 2 lbs ground meat (I use ground chicken, but do your own thing here)
  • 1 tbls pre-chopped garlic in a jar (this type of garlic tends to be strong but it is absolutely perfect for this chili)
  • 2 pks of favorite chili seasoning (I use McCormick’s. 1 pk of mild, 1 pk of hot – great compromise)
  • 1 lg jar of your favorite salsa (here are all your onions, peppers and garlic! And don’t be afraid to get a little wild with your choice of salsa!)
  • 2 tbls of Barbeque sauce
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of dark kidney beans (optional)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese for topping, if desired.

That’s it! Saute the garlic in a little oil, add and brown the meat then mix in the chili seasoning. Drain the meat mixture and put in the crock pot with all the other ingredients and let simmer for at least an hour, or four or five, if time allows. To quote my friend Louise again (I tend to think of her on cold winter days because it is when we once spent so much time in my kitchen) this chili is “smack your mamma good! It is also a great stove top chili recipe as well. Assemble the same way and let is simmer for at least an hour.

The salsa really does all the work in the flavoring department here. I usually serve it with a loaf of crusty bread, but for parties (Super Bowl?), it is great to put out with scoopable  (spellcheck is having a fit with that word, but you know what I mean) Tostito chips with a side of sour cream!

By the end of the week, we will experience the coldest temperatures in years. So, if you have a favorite “warm the house up” recipe, please share it!! Together, we can cozy our way to Spring!

Some photos by ImageGoogle

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Thoughts...

I have just returned from the sunny state of Florida where the temperatures were in the 80’s (unusually warm for even that state this time of year) and where Florida people in their shorts and sandals like to tell northern visitors that “this is life in Florida”…and it is, for three months of the year anyway. Even I, who am a confirmed lover of four seasons, enjoyed the sun’s warm rays, the Gulf’s soft breeze and seeing colorful purple, pink and white impatient’s in full bloom.  I thought Florida was a great place to spend part of January…until I picked up the local newspaper.

Now, my home state of New Jersey, as well as the neighboring state of Pennsylvania, often  host deer hunts to control the population of this otherwise adorable but amorous creature, especially this time of year, when they are often dangerously seen chasing potential mates across major highways in pursuit of…well, we’ll just call it love. So I get the premise of controlling certain animal populations at gun point. Trust me, I know many women who in hindsight…well, never mind, you understand.

But last Saturday, the sunny, citrus-rich state of Florida, had to host a python hunt. That’s right, in an effort to control an exploding population of these 7’ to 15’, several hundred pound stranglers, Florida held a hunt down in the Everglades. Apparently, residents who foolishly bought the snakes when they were small, only to find them a little hard to feed and control has they got bigger, released them into the swamps where they have over populated and, have now, nearly wiped out all small prey for meals. One hunter said, “You can ride for miles and not see any small life form.” It is illegal to release them now, but the damage is done and they have a slithering mess on their hands.

And be it a garter or anaconda variety, I don’t want anything to do with them. So this story was of great interest to me because I read that these large snakes have migrated has far north as Fort Myers. Since I was staying in Naples, about 30 miles south of Fort Myers, I was very careful where I walked.  Not fond of extreme heat and humidity, January was my “safe” time to visit family in Florida, now, as someone well known for her aversion to this form of reptile, I’m not so sure.

Not that coming back to New Jersey has brightened my January outlook. First, a fogged-in Philadelphia airport kept me in Florida five hours longer than I wanted to be. I sat In the Fort Myers airport keeping an eye on the runways to make sure there was no migrating monster coiling itself around the wheels of my plane.

Then, on my second night home, I woke up around three o’clock in the morning with what felt like a Brillo pad stuck in my throat. I couldn't even swallow my own spit! By morning, fever and chills followed and I officially was down for the count. Like most real women, I still found the strength to rummage through the freezer for some chicken parts, chop up some celery and onions, and make some homemade soup. It's what we do when someone is really ill...even if it's us.

So I lay curled up on the couch with a box of tissues, a cup of tea and an unpacked suitcase still upstairs. As social media friends shout out home remedies to fight this thing, I remember my Dad's classic hot lemonade, with lots of honey and a shot of whisky. He would give it to us at night and in the morning we would wake up soaked with sweat and feeling better. Really just a primitive form of NyQuil, but still, very effective. my plan to rock 2013 is getting off to a somewhat shaky start. But there are still almost two weeks left in this first month of the year and I have many promises to keep. So Dad, here is to getting me off this couch and back on my feet. Down the hatch!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Groom's Side...Part V

I am thinking that when you are the mother of the bride, it has to be easier. Girls, by nature are more talkative, and that is a huge plus side on the communication issue. I was fortunate enough to have my future daughter in-law ask both her mother and me to accompany her on the much anticipated quest for the dress. It was an exciting venture that I never thought I’d have since the fertility gods gave me two boys…in one year. Two and through!

Anyway, we shopped, and laughed and applauded most of her choices! We then went to get a bite to eat which included more wedding conversation and laughter. I bring this to light, so you can get an understanding of the polarized opposite side of communicating with the groom on his wedding day apparel.

Me – “Her dress is beautiful. Do you have in mind what you and the groomsmen are wearing?”
Him – “Yes, I do”
Me – “Well, what does it look like?”
Him – “What does her dress look like?”
Me – “I can’t tell you that!”
Him – “Then I don’t have to talk about what the men are wearing do I?”

Okay. We’re going there. Added to the apparel issues is the fact that this is going to be a beach wedding, which sometimes denotes more casual apparel with almost everyone wearing flip flops for the ceremony.  Then, the reception is being held in an upscale country club where ties and heels will be the order of the evening.  So what is going on inside my son’s head when it comes to wedding fashion is a concern for me.

More to the point, a few years ago, my niece had a beach wedding in Florida with a very similar venue of having the reception held inside a posh hotel. My son, the bride’s cousin, was the only person wearing shorts…to both. Yes, to him a beach wedding is a game changer. Sand, sun, shorts and sandals equals beach time…anytime. He was disappointed that when they broke down the alter, they didn't put up a volleyball net. Hence the apprehension he is causing me now.

But he is also a college graduate whose job requires on occasion that he wear suits. And he buys very nice ones, so I know he knows what is expected. But it is the playful side, the “I have to be me” side that has me questioning his decision here.

 And…throw this into the equation! Recently his fiance whose out-of-state sisters came home for Christmas, used the opportunity to gather up all of the girls and dress shop for the bridesmaids. A successful outing prompted her to post on my son’s Facebook page “Your turn…girls are done”.

He then replied “what are you talking about, we’re done!” And here is where it gets scary; he posted a link to a website featuring a blue Hawaiian shirt that has actual pieces of coconut shells for buttons!!! Lord help me! I thought about including a picture of the shirt here, but this site is a legitimate web page where people actually go to buy these types of shirts, so I don’t want to offend anyone…but trust me. It’s ugly.

I know he is playing with us. Right? He always is dressed nicely when I see him. I thought my finding a dress for this wedding was going to be the big challenge for the groom’s side of things. I fear I'm wrong. Was my own challenge with fashion passed on to my son?

I recently learned from his brother, the best man, that at the bachelor party weekend in New Orleans, the groom wants the activities to include him wrestling an alligator. The one getting married is the one I always count on to keep an eye on his slightly younger brother who views life as a party waiting to happen. So the fact that the roles are reversed here has thrown me way off balance. The only response I had to this declaration was, "if he brings that blue Hawaiian shirt make sure he is wearing it as he is being thrashed around in a swamp."

And then there is this; on New Year's night, at a family gathering the subject of wedding apparel came up. The soon-to-be bride, going along with her groom's (hopefully) whimsical apparel choice, asked, "well, you can't all wear the same color Hawaiian shirt. How will people know you're the groom?"
"Oh, don't worry,", he smiled, "I'll be the one wearing the headdress."
God helps us!

Photos by ImageGoggle