Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

I'm pretty lucky in that cold doesn't bother me all that much. Blame it on living 3/4 of my life in Vermont and Minnesota, where winters are long and harsh and a fact of life. To me, falling temperatures mean getting out the scarves, gloves, boots and coats, putting snow tires on my car, and sharpening my ice skates. It's just something that happens, and to be honest, I kind of like it really cold. (The word is still out whether extreme cold causes brain damage.)

The winters in Utah are fairly mild, so a lot of people don't have the same, "here we go again" attitude about winter that I do. Instead, every time it gets cold it's almost like it's personally offensive. The conversations on the bus revolve around disgust that it's actually snowing and that the temperature dared to drop to 40. Doesn't the snow know that it should stay in the mountains and leave us alone?


Whenever I hear conversations like this, I think of some advice I was given when I first moved to Minnesota. A wise and seasoned graduate student was talking to my group of wide-eyed newbies and warned us about how long the winters are. "You have to have something you love about the winter here." he said, "Find something that you can do in the winter that you will really enjoy or you will go crazy wishing for warmer weather." It was really good advice, because if everything you like to do requires sun and green grass, you're only going to be happy a couple months of the year. Taking up skiing or skating or even going sledding every once in a while really helps make winter something enjoyable rather than dreadful.

Along those lines, there are certain foods that I only make when the weather turns cold. Reserving them as "winter only" meals makes cold, dark nights something to look forward to. Chili is definitely one of those foods for me, and this chicken chili is a new favorite dish this year. I've proclaimed my love for the slow cooker before so I don't need to tell you how amazing it is to come home to a delicious, hot meal on a cold night. Or how wonderfully tender and delicious the chicken in this recipe gets after slow cooking with the rest of the chili and spices. While it isn't a "throw everything in the pot and forget about it" recipe because it requires some cooking of the onions, spices and jalapenos before going into the slow cooker, it is still fast to put together and the taste is definitely worth the few minutes of extra time to brown the veggies. The finished chili is thick and full of chicken, beans and flavor, and perfect to warm you from the inside out, no matter what the weather is doing outside.

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili


  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 oz) white or yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 4 jalapeno chilies, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed and trimmed (chicken leg quarters also work)
  • 1 Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced jarred pickled jalapeno chilies
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 avocados, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch pieces


  1. Puree 2 cups of broth and hominy in blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Heat oil in 12 inch skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add onions, jalapenos, garlic, cumin and coriander and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 cup broth, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Stir beans into slow cooker. Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, about 4-6 hours on low.
  4. Transfer chicken to cutting board. Let cool slightly, then shred into bite-zied pieces, discarding bones. Let chili settle for five minutes, then remove fat from the surface with a large spoon.
  5. Stir in shredded chicken and pickled jalapenos and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with avocado pieces.
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 6 hours Ready in: 6 hours 30 min Yield: Serves 6-8

Recipe Source: Slow Cooker Revolution


Brown Butter Gnocchi with Spinach

Did you know that during the early 30's when Popeye was becoming popular, spinach consumption was up 33%? Just watching Popeye get his superhero strength from canned spinach made kids want to eat spinach themselves. Didn't you? It was pretty amazing what that spinach could do. I remember the first time I watched something with Popeye in it and wondering if I could get my mom to buy that stuff in a can that he's always eating. I'm sure I would have been pretty disappointed the first time I tried to squeeze the can and make the spinach pop out, not to mention that canned spinach is not what I would call spinach's finest form. Still, it's amazing that a TV show could make people eat a food that is so often on the "yuck" list. It makes me think that if Michelle Obama wants American youth to eat better, maybe she should have someone make a cartoon character that fights bad guys with foods high in fiber and antioxidants.

(I'm only partially kidding. E-mail me, Michelle, if you want some story ideas.)

Despite the fact that spinach can't make you dodge bullets and give you superhero strength, it still is pretty amazing stuff, and even though it is on a lot of people's "yuck" list, it really doesn't deserve to be there. There are so many ways to prepare it that I'm sure there has to be some way that is acceptable to pickier eaters. Even if you have to blend it into one of those green monster shakes. My favorite way to eat spinach is tied between eaten fresh in a salad with strawberries and poppyseed dressing and cooked down with butter and garlic. I had a lot of spinach salads this summer, and now that it's fall I'm leaning more toward the cooked option. 

I love this dish because it turns that cooked spinach into a full meal and it takes little to no time to get together. The browned butter, garlic and Parmesan add great flavor and the pine nuts give the dish a nice crunch. If you are feeling ambitious and want to make your own gnocchi, feel free. Since this is usually a quick weeknight meal I tend to buy the packaged stuff that takes all of three minutes to cook. In all, it's a fast, easy, tasty meal that will get you out of the kitchen quickly and on your way to fighting bad guys, saving Olive Oyl, and using your superhero strength to make the world a better place. 

Brown Butter Gnocchi with Spinach


  • 1 (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi (such as Vigo)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach, torn
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
  2. Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts to pan; cook 3 minutes or until butter and nuts are lightly browned, stirring constantly. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute.
  3. Add gnocchi and spinach to pan; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly. Stir in salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Prep Time: 1 min Cook Time: 10 min Ready in: 11 min Yield: 4 servings (one cup each)

Recipe Source: Jackie Mills, MS, RD on myrecipes.com


Mock Sourdough Bread

Have you ever made a sourdough starter? If you have, how long did you keep it going? Is is still alive? Do you feed it regularly?

I'm just judging if you are a better person than me. If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, it's likely that you are.

I love the taste of sourdough. I love making my own bread. I think it's pretty cool that starters can been passed along to different people and develop flavor based on age and origin. I'm just not patient enough to keep one going.

In fact, the only experience I've had with a sourdough starter in my house was when my roommate moved in with one, put it in a tall cupboard we never used, and forgot about it. A few months later as I was fumigating everything in the apartment trying to figure out what that horrendous smell was (apparantly I was the only one who could smell it.) I found the starter again. Let's just say it didn't die a pretty death.

This recipe is for people like me that like the tangy taste of sourdough but don't have a sourdough starter. It uses yogurt as a cheater method to get some of that same great tanginess into a regular yeast bread. It is fast (excluding the rising times) and makes a nice, chewy bread with a light sourdough-like flavor. The recipe suggests spritzing the loaf with water throughout baking to encourage a nice, crispy crust, but if you were lucky enough to have received a large cast iron pan for your wedding from a good friend, feel free to use that to cook your loaf. Directions for both methods are written in the recipe. 

If you like sourdough, I highly encourage you to make this bread. It's one of my favorite things to come out of my kitchen for a long time. My husband ate it for lunch and dinner the first time I gave it a try. (Of course, that also might show you how bread-deprived the poor guy is.) And if you do make it, feel free to lie and tell people that it is real sourdough.

Unless, of course, you are a better person than me.

Mock Sourdough Bread


  • 2 cups plain yogurt (I've never tried Greek yogurt in this recipe. If you do, you will likely have to add more water or reduce the amount of flour you use.)
  • 1 T yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 T oil
  • 4 - 5 cups flour, divided


  1. Heat yogurt just to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in yogurt, honey, salt, oil and 2 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Gradually remaining flour just to make a smooth dough.
  2. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. (If using a heavy duty mixer, let dough knead for 7 minutes.)
  3. Place dough in a greased bowl; turn once and leave greased side up. Cover and let rise until double, about 1.5 hours. Punch down. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions or form one large round loaf on a greased baking sheet. Let rise, covered, for 30 minutes. (If using a cast iron pot to cook your loaf, place dough to rise on a greased sheet of parchment paper set in a pie pan. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 450 with cast iron pan inside.)
  4. For non-cast iron method: Heat oven to 375. Brush loaf (or loaves) with cold water and bake until it sounds hollow when tapped, about 30-35 minutes for small loaves or 45-50 minutes for one large loaf. Brush or mist with water every 10 minutes to get a crisp crust. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. For cast iron method: Once cast iron pot has heated for 40 minutes in the hot oven and the loaf has risen, carefully remove the pot from the oven (using pot holders!) and gently place the dough inside using the parchment paper as a sling. Cover the pot and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and let the loaf cook another 10-15 minutes or until browned. Remove pot from oven, carefully removed bread and allow it to cool on a wire rack.
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 50 min Ready in: 3 hours Yield: 1 large loaf

Recipe Source: 101 Things to Do With Yogurt

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