Sunday, November 1, 2009

A chicken chili feast!

We are deep into fall now, and as I mentioned, I am really into “fall” foods. Over the past few years, I have been getting more and more into the cold-weather classic, chili. I'm not the hugest fan of beans so when I was recommended a beanless chicken chili recipe by my colleague, Becky, I was game to try it!

When looking at a recipe, I try to look at them as a guideline or suggestion for the meal. I think one of the major things that people need to realize when they are starting out with cooking, is that you have the freedom to experiment and alternate the recipe to your tastes.

So with this dish, I used less onion and more red peppers than recipe called for. Based on my tastes, I figured I would like it more if I switched those things around. I also put a little more garlic in than the recipe suggested, because I just loooove garlic. When you are cooking (baking is another story), look at a recipe as a guideline and not a rule.

The recipe actually was from Ina Garten on the Food Network and has pretty simple ingredients and is low maintenance. I planned ahead and wrote out the ingredients before I headed to the grocery store, but wouldn't you know it, I left the list at home so I shopped off of memory. Luckily, the recipe is really simple, and after visiting the grocery store, I realized it is really cheap also!

Visit the link and read the full recipe for yourself, but what I purchased and the prices are below. I couldn't remember what kind of canned tomatoes to buy so I just guessed at what I thought would be best and ended up using them all.

- Small can of diced tomatoes .79
- Large can of smashed tomatoes .99
- Package of 4 chicken breasts 6.98
- 3 Red peppers 2.99
- Large red onion 1.29
- McCormick white chicken chili seasoning mix 1.49
- Skim milk .89
- 6pack of eggs .89
- Corn bread mix .47

The total for this complete meal is around $17 and it feeds a lot. I served 4, including myself, we all had seconds, and there was still some leftovers to put in the fridge. Definitely beats a restaurant price any day! Ingredients that I already had on hand were the very basics. I had garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Also, the milk and eggs were for the cornbread mix, which is totally optional. The ingredients for it all were really cheap, so why the heck not though?

You'll also notice that instead of all of the different seasonings, I bought a McCormick mix. Well, some may call that cheating, but I call it practical. I don't keep a lot of spices and seasonings in the house. I have a small kitchen I share with 3 other people, it is hard to keep things around unless they are used on a regular basis... which I wouldn't with my seasonings. The McCormick mix was a great way for me to still complete this recipe but not have to buy a bunch of seasonings I probably wouldn't use for a long time again. It was cheap, it tasted great, and nobody knew my secret when I served the meal :)

My dinner guests and critics on this day were my roommate Jackie and our two friends Ernest and Alex. We had a lot of fun hanging out, cooking, carving pumpkins, watching scary movies, and drinking pumpkin beers. It was a great weekend recipe and I highly recommend it for anybody. I think it would be good for large groups, movie nights or game days, etc. and it is also easily adaptable. Chili is a pretty common thing, but a chicken chili is a little unique and it offers a lot of possibility for you to make it your own. I so loved this recipe and so did everybody else, Jackie's exact words were, "This is the best thing I have ever eaten in my life." ... not too bad, eh?

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