Warm, comforting chicken chili

Chicken chili

I’m already reaching the lazy part of my pregnancy.

Everyone says the second trimester is the best! thing! ever! because, for most women, the nausea has abated (true) and you find yourself with a burst of energy (somewhat true). After the exhausted slog that was the first few months, I came into the new year determined to stop putting off necessary chores and focus on helping get the house in order.

But cleaning is just part of it, of course. Though we still have months before the baby comes, I’m already focused on making meal prep easier and less time-consuming. I’m crazy about our slow cooker and have taken advantage of the winter months to try lots of soups, stews and hearty meals . . . some I hope to make again and freeze before Baby J’s arrival.

Based on this recipe, this slow cooker chicken chili has a hint of heat . . . but is mostly a giant bowl o’ comfort. I’m a cheese fanatic, so the addition of shredded cheddar at the end really clinches it. I used chicken breast tenderloins instead of the breast themselves, and they worked beautifully! Even after cooking for eight hours, the meat was tender and the flavors thick and varied.

It has a bit of the feel of a Mexican enchilada — but it’s not spicy (unless you want it to be — add more red pepper flakes), and it’s definitely filling. Like all my favorite slow cooker recipes, we now have a ton for lunches!

Having lunch ready to go is awesome, too. Less effort. More convenient. Grab and go.

Awesome for tired pregnant ladies and hungry adults alike.

Chicken chili

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

1 can of black beans (drained & rinsed)
1 can of corn (drained)
2 cans of Rotel tomatoes with chiles (not drained)
1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning mix (dry)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 8oz package of cream cheese
2 chicken breasts
1 cup of chicken stock
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

In a slow cooker, combine black beans, corn, Rotel tomatoes, ranch mix, cumin, chili powder, paprika, onion powder, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, ground black pepper, garlic powder, chopped onion and chicken stock.

Cut chicken breasts in half and add to the mixture. Spoon cream cheese over the chicken and cover with a lid. Cook on low heat 5-7 hours, or until your chicken breasts shred easily with a fork.

When chicken is done, remove from the slow cooker and shred with 2 forks. Return to the chili mixture and stir well until all cream cheese lumps have dissolved. Top with cheddar cheese, serve and enjoy!

Recipe slightly adapted from The Best Blog Recipes

Classy it up: the Messy Joseph

Messy Joseph

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe, no? It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, exactly . . . it’s just that, well . . . okay, we haven’t really been cooking. Not in a share-this-awesome-recipe-on-my-blog way, anyway. Mostly skillet meals and such.

I’ve been trying to get serious about meal planning, but last week’s dinners looked like this:

Monday: Skillet meal
Tuesday: Slow cooker ham and bean soup
Wednesday: Pizza with friends
Thursday: Dinner out with family
Friday: Pizza with my parents

And yeah.

I did bake banana bread over the weekend to use up a bunch of brown fruit. But that barely counts.

Spence and I were back in action on Tuesday, though! Back, hungry and ready for something new. I discovered this recipe for Messy Josephs — the older, sophisticated brother to the popular Sloppy Joe — a few months back, and I can finally say that I pinned it and made it.

And it was delicious.

I had to modify the original because we were missing a few of the ingredients, including fresh basil, and it was raining and my hair was already poofy and yeah, no grocery run for me. Because we also lacked portobello mushrooms — a hallmark of the recipe! — I had to get even more creative.

It all worked out.

The Messy Joseph is tangy, interesting, a little bit sweet from the addition of balsamic vineger (LOVE) and red wine. It retains the structure and texture of a Sloppy Joe, but the flavors are totally turned up a notch. It just tastes fresh in a way that a prepared-from-a-can-mix Sloppy Joe cannot.

If Sloppy Joe was the affable high school athlete beloved by teachers and classmates alike, Messy Joseph is the Ivy League-bound senior who heads up both the National Honor Society and the drama department. He’s a little bit finicky, maybe, but a total smartypants who can also please a crowd.

The recipe made enough for a hungry couple to devour with leftovers for the next day — a criterion that has become increasingly important as I realize being an adult means preparing meals for yourself every evening. Leftovers for lunch or other dinners are pretty much the best.

Serve it over rice, in a bun or atop a portobello mushroom . . . or just, you know, eat it by itself. I totally just dove in at my desk the next day, though I had the forethought to secure half a bun to create a little open-faced meal as I answered emails.

I was right proud of myself, friends. And it sure as heck beat some lukewarm Progresso soup.

Messy Joseph

Messy Josephs

Recipe adapted from Diving Into Vino Again

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 package (about 2 cups) fresh mushrooms
Sun dried tomatoes, diced
Marinated red peppers, sliced
1 lb ground turkey
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup red wine
1 tbsp dried basil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Saute the onions and mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat until onions turn translucent and mushrooms begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add ground turkey and cook until cooked through. Add the garlic, sun dried tomatoes, marinated peppers, balsamic, red wine, tomato paste, basil and salt and pepper. Continue to let it simmer for 15 minutes over low-medium heat. Serve in a bun or over rice.