Sunday, October 18, 2015

White Chicken Chili


I am a chili purist - you know the kind. Ground beef, kidney beans, tomato sauce and a seasoning blend. But my little brother sent me this recipe in a text a few weeks back with a picture that has made my mouth water ever since. And there's no better time than a Colt's versus Patriots NFL match-up to get a big pot of soup on the stove. So I made not one batch - but a double - of this amazing White Chicken Chili, and I am so glad I did. So easy, and so, so full of flavor. Go get your ingredients. Go ahead. Go. I'll wait.

Here's your list: For the record, if you don't want a ginormous batch or don't want leftovers, then cut everything in half. As for me, I have a 4 and 6 year old boys who eat like grown men, so a double batch it is.

Ingredients:

2 pounds (give or take a few ounces) of boneless chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (not pictured below)
2-3 T. olive oil (also not pictured below)
1 onion, diced
 12 (yes 12) cloves of garlic, minced
32 ounce container chicken broth
4 cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
14-16 ounces of chopped green chilies. Just depends on what size can your store offers. A little more or less is not going to throw it off.
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 16 ounce container sour cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream


It looks like a lot, but really, most of it is probably stuff you already have. Totally not that hard.

Let's get started, shall we?

Heat the oil over medium high heat. I used a large dutch oven which worked perfectly. Throw in the chicken once the oil is heated, then stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the pan.
 





Add the garlic and onion to the pan. Yes, it seems like a lot of garlic. No, it is not too much. I promise that the garlic doesn't overwhelm the other flavors. It's perfect. Trust me.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle - about 15 minutes.


Once the chicken is cooked through, stir in the chicken broth.
 

Then add the beans.


And stir in the chilies. Yum!
 

Here's your spice blend: salt and black pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin, and oregano.  I bet white pepper would also be good, but this is plenty good just the way it is.


Throw your spices in with everything else and mix it together.



At this point, you could call it a day, because the spices turn the chicken broth into an incredible chili flavored broth. But we're not done. Bring the soup to a boil, turn down the heat, cover it, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.


And thirty minutes is the perfect amount of time to go outside and enjoy some nice fall weather. Tire swing, anyone?


Eli says, "Push me infinity high, Mommy!"


After 30 minutes, remove the soup from heat, and stir in the cream.


And then the sour cream. Stir until everything is incorporated.



That is one yummy bite.


And that's it! So easy.

Our grocery store bakery sells French Baguettes that you bake at home. They are the perfect texture for soaking up some good soup.

So if you have a football game to watch, or just need a good hearty meal on a chilly day, get out of your comfort zone and make some white chili. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Devil's Backbone

Our commitment to regular family hiking has been sorely neglected these past few months. We have a cue of about 10 new trails we'd like to explore, but between piano, soccer, birthday parties, Jeremy's college classes and my participation in almost every school committee, it just isn't happening. Time to do something about that. We got a tip about this place called the Devil's Backbone. It's less than a 15 minute drive from our house and there is no better time than mid-October to get the best views around. Check this out.


This was the drive to the trail. How beautiful is that?! Maybe a spot for family pictures next year.


My cute family before we start our hike.


So here's the thing about this trail. It's actually more of a road and it's only about 1/2 mile long. The reason you come here is for the expansive views in every direction. The "backbone" is a ridge overlooking a creek bed and valleys. I love a good fall hike, but I bet this place in winter would also be amazing. You could see forever once the leaves are off the trees. There aren't many places to veer off the trail and it's actually pretty dangerous if you do. It is pretty much a straight drop down on one side of the trail. Scary!


Some rocky bluffs out in the distance.


View to the west of the trail.


This is about halfway down the trail, looking back up. I don't particularly like the kind of hikes where you hike downhill for a long time and then the only way to get back to the starting point is to go back up the hill. Unfortunately, since we like hiking to creek beds, this is about the only type of trail we travel. This one wasn't too bad though. It was a gradual incline and didn't take that long.




This is the view through the trees on the east side of the trail.


Happy hikers.


Here's the bottom of the trail. It splits off to private property to the right, so we went the other way.


This was a surprise at the end of the trail. An old iron bridge. It seemed so out of place. I wonder what the story here is.



So interesting.


And of course the boys' favorite activity - throwing rocks  in the water.


Watch out!


I was surprised there was so much water given how little rain we've had recently. I wonder what this looks like in the summer.


A perfect spot for wading next summer.


Probably one of the last weekends that we will get out without jackets.


The boys were fascinated by this bridge.



And boy, were these boys exhausted on the way back up. We had to stop several times for a water break. My kind of hike.

Until next time!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Crockpot Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal


Have I ever mentioned that Lex is an oatmeal junkie? Like seriously, he has to eat it every single day. We buy the plain variety and add in frozen blueberries, yogurt, or drizzle it with honey. Every once in a while, I give him something else for breakfast, like bacon and eggs, or yummy egg casserole, and it never fails that by the time bedtime rolls around later that night, he wants a bowl of oatmeal. Eli is getting hooked  now too, and I just love it when I find some easy out of the box oatmeal recipes like this one.

I adapted the recipe from here. When I say "adapted" what I really mean, is simplified, because I didn't even make the crumb topping found on the original. And the good news is, it's completely mouth watering delicious even with out it. It is perfectly gooey, yet crisp, and completely satisfying for a fall weekend brunch.

Start out with these ingredients:
5 apples of your choice, peeled and thinly sliced (I always use Granny Smith for baking)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
2 cups oatmeal
4 cups water

Are you ready for a super easy way to make your house smell like an apple pie all morning long?



1. Place sliced apples in crock pot.



2. Sprinkle with brown sugar


 3.) And then the cinnamon







 4.) Spread the oatmeal over everything, but don't stir it. You don't need to it.


5.) Pour water over everything.


6.) Put the lid on and walk away while it cooks for 4 1/2 hours on high.

Seriously? Yes, it's that easy. Whoever invented this is a genius.



When the time's up, you are left with the ooey, gooey part of apple crisp. If you're dying for the crispy topping, the original recipe can be found here.  Enjoy!