Ever since I started getting interested in healthy eating and learning to cook in my late teens, most of my learnings have been through experimentation. Back when my family lived in the Middle East, I had no idea what food blogs were and most of the dishes I made were either from cookbooks or recipes that were given to me by friends. I was the queen of stir fried veggies and had yet to discover the wonderful world of Vitamixes or spiralizers. (You wont need either of these gadgets for this recipe, which we’ll get to talking about in minute.)
Back in the day when I was growing up, my dad was always the one that preferred cooking. However, my mum was the one who did most of it due to work schedules and my dad’s decision to go back to school when my sister and I were really little. My mum was working full time as well, and I have to hand it to her – she did a pretty darn good job for someone who really does NOT enjoy cooking. We might not have eaten in the healthiest way, but when I think about how tired I personally feel some nights after work, she made it work for our family. I credit her for teaching me how to bake the Christmas cookies that have become an annual tradition in our family, as well as oh-so-gourmet Betty Crocker baked goods (and letting me lick the beaters from our hand mixer every time.)
My mum was also the one who taught me how to make my first box of Kraft Dinner, which turned out just the way she would make it, and exactly how I liked it. The next time was a different story. Yes, the directions are on the box, but evidently they’re easy enough to mess up.
On attempt 2, I had a friend over and we were making a good old box of KD for lunch in the absence of my mum’s watchful eye. Into the pot went the water and noodles, and as any KD eater knows, next comes the cheese. But first, you need to drain the water.
I managed to forget this step, proceeded to pour in the “cheese” from the packet, the milk and the butter, and stirred it for a while because I knew we needed to wait until the butter melted. But where WAS the butter? It seemed to be drowning in the murky waters of milky cheese, somewhere between the soggy macaroni bits. We ended up with a pot of what looked more like neon orange soup with a few noodley lumps, rather than Kraft Dinner. I suppose you could call it my first kitchen fail, years before this blog began.
My mum is the kind of person who loves kitchen shortcuts. She’ll poach eggs in the microwave, buy the occasional boxed meal, and.. wait – do you smell that? The lovely aroma of fresh gingersnaps coming out of the oven? Oh… nope. It’s the put-a-cookie-in-the-microwave-for-10-seconds-to-make-it-smell-like-you’ve-been-cooking-all-day trick. These aren’t habits I inherited, but hands-down, one of the best kitchen shortcuts I did pick up from my mum has to do with this little beauty:
That’s right – rotisserie chickens. With the cost of high-quality, free-range organic chicken breasts (the cut a lot of people tend to prefer over other parts of the chicken) being as high as it is, it’s no mystery why there are very few chicken-based recipes on this blog. Over the weekend I saw that the price for about 400g of high-quality skinless chicken breasts was $14 (?). Then, I went to Whole Foods and bought an entire responsibly raised, vegetarian fed, antibiotic and hormone free cooked rotisserie chicken for $12. I know they call it Whole Paycheck, but this was a purchase I was more than willing to make – and a pretty economical one too.
The great thing about rotisserie chickens is that you can bring them home, strip the meat off the bones, toss together some veggies and have a meal on the table in less than 15 minutes. Of course, there are also a ton of other things you can do with the meat, but the trick is to take it off the bones while the chicken is still warm. It pulls away almost effortlessly, but if you let the chicken cool or put it in the fridge, you’re asking for a messy, lengthy battle.
After having volunteered at a cold and rainy race this past Saturday, I was in the mood for some warm comfort food when I got home. This White Chicken Chili recipe had been floating around in my mind for days, and I brought it to life that afternoon. If the name sounds like you might be in for a lengthy cooking session, don’t be fooled – using a rotisserie chicken and canned beans, this one can come together in less than 30 minutes.
A quick note about the consistency: Some chili recipes, while seemingly gluten-free are not because flour is used to thicken the broth. Rather than messing around with a gluten free flour to try to achieve the same thing, I simply blended some of my beans in the Vitamix and added them to the pot. Voila – less soupy, more chili-like!
White Chicken Chili
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Ingredients (11 cups)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 large white or yellow onion, diced
- 2 cups celery, diced
- 1/2 tsp each ground cumin and coriander
- 1 tsp salt-free seasoning
- 5 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 2.5 cups cooked great northern beans (or just use your favourite white bean)
- 2 x 127mL cans diced green chili peppers
- cilantro and avocado, to garnish
In a large pot, heat the minced garlic for 1 minute. Dice the onions and celery, and add them to the pot with the coriander, cumin, salt-free seasoning, and 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes, allowing the vegetables to soften.
Meanwhile, puree 1/2 cup of the beans and 1/2 cup stock in a blender.
Once the onions have softened, pour the pureed beans, all remaining beans and stock, shredded cooked chicken and chili peppers into the pot. Give it a stir, then cover it with a lid and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and serve topped with cilantro and diced avocado.
So tell me…
- Are there any kitchen tips or tricks that you learned from your parents and use today?
- What’s your favourite way to use rotisserie chicken?