Friday, January 28, 2011

Crock Pot chicken taco chili

After a bit of a warm spell this week -- temperatures reaching 40! oh my! -- we're back to the cold and snowy weather of winter that I enjoy much too much.  It might be due to the fact that I love curling up under my quillow (quilt that folds into a pillow!) and watching TV.  Or that super hot showers feel incredible just before bed.  Or, it just might be because I've had the quintessential comfort food for at least one meal every day this week since Tuesday.  Chili!

You see, when I was planning meals last week, I aimed for dishes high in protein with lots of vegetables.  Some new gym routines on my radar were bound to kick my butt and I wanted to have the proper fuel for my tired muscles.  When I think of healthy meals, I think of plates with grilled chicken breasts, steamed vegetables, and small portions of whole grain rice.  Bor-ing!  Totally boring.

But because no sane person craves foods like that on a regular basis, I started craving something cozy and delicious and satisfying.  A pile of fresh pasta topped with sauce and grated cheese.  Or something like a super thick and creamy soup.  A carbohydrate-induced coma!  Delicious, yes, but hardly balanced.  What to do, what to do...

And then I spotted it.  The most mouth-watering chili recipe this side of the Mississippi interwebs.  Everyone has a favorite chili recipe or two.  I happen to have quite a few.  To this day, I haven't met a chili recipe that I didn't love.  But this one really takes the cake.  It's unlike anything I've ever had before.  I present to you a chicken chili.

Somehow, chili has managed to fly under the radar when it comes to balanced meals.  It snuck right into the comfort food family without anyone taking notice.  Sneaky, chili, very sneaky!  I'm onto you and your spicy and flavorful sauce, packed with onions and chilies and taco seasoning that has finally found its real purpose in life.  The two kinds of beans mix with the chicken that practically shreds itself it's so tender.  Oh, and did I mention that the prep is so easy I had to work to make the directions below form a respectable paragraph?  A little work in the morning makes for gourmet-smelling kitchen at dinnertime and a no work and all play dinner that will impress even the pickiest of eaters.

Do yourself and your significant other/friend/family/future self a favor and throw this together this weekend.  I'm thankful that there is one remaining serving of this, and I'm having it for lunch later today.  Finally!  I learned my lesson about delayed posting of recipes.  Maybe I really am on the ball this week?  To be determined on Sunday.  Have a fantastic weekend!

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili
(adapted slightly from SkinnyTaste)
-serves 10

A few notes: This chili is spicy without being hot, but feel free to add hot sauce or a diced jalapeno to knock your socks off.  Also, because it's practically a sin to eat chili without it, cornbread is a lovely addition :)

1 onion, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn kernels
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can diced chilies
1 packet taco seasoning
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
Shredded cheddar cheese, for serving

Combine onion, beans, tomato sauce, corn, tomatoes, chilies, seasoning and spices in bowl of a slow cooker.  Place chicken breasts on top in one layer and cover with lid.  Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.  About 30 minutes before serving, remove chicken, shred with forks, return to crock pot, and stir.  Serve and top with shredded cheese, if using.  Enjoy!

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