Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day!! (complete with comfort food!)

My husband and I recently moved to Georgia from Wisconsin.  This move meant a lot of change; the change I was most excited about was warmer weather and potentially a lack of winter altogether.  

Well, little did I realize how much I loved the winter and took it for granted until I experienced the boring "brownness" that accompanies winter in the south.  The seasons still change, the leaves fall, and the grass turns brown-ish... the biggest difference in the weather is that temperatures tend to hover above 40 degrees,  a welcome change from the -20 degree winter temperatures I'd become accustomed to in wintery Wisconsin.  At the same time, however, I found myself getting jealous of the snow that was falling so consistently on my home state early in the winter.  Don't get me wrong, the snow gets old, too... but I was aching for one good snowfall here in the Georgia mountains.  Imagine my glee when I opened the shades yesterday to see over 7 inches of the white stuff, and the snow kept falling all day!

(if you look closely, you can see the mountains in the background of al of these pics - SO PRETTY - I'm sad my camera is not really a high enough quality to get a good picture of any of this stuff!!)

Now, because we live in the mountains and many people live up on top of mountain roads in this area, when it snows like this, EVERYTHING shuts down.  Today is my second day home from work, which is a huge blessing, although we could surely use the money.  But I think that yesterday may have seriously been my first snow day EVER.  I was so excited.  We went for a walk in the snow, I went for a drive in the snow (probably not the smartest thing - I get why they cancel school - they don't plow the roads!) and today, I intend on building a snowman!!

So what's the perfect food for a snowy day?  Chili of course! When it's cold and wintry outside, you want comfort food - something that will warm you up and stay with you.  That's why yesterday I made a big pot of one of our new favorite meals - White chicken chili.  This is another one of those recipes that sounded so intimidating to me at first, but after making it once, I realized how simple a food like chili could be!!  I got the recipe from a coworker and have made a few of my own modifications.  I really recommend it!!   Easy and SOOOOOO yummy!!

White Chicken Chili
4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
chili powder 
1 lg onion, diced (you can use more or less depending on how much you like onion)
1/2 stick butter (unsalted is best)
salt & pepper
1 or 2 cans green chilies (depending on how spicy you like it!)
2 cups half & half (I use fat free)
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chicken broth 
1/2 cup monteray jack or mexican style cheese
2 cans white chili beans
tortilla chips, sour cream, and cheese for toppings

1.  Coat the chicken in chili powder.  Grease a medium sized skillet & cook chicken, making sure to get a good crust on both sides.
2.  Remove chicken from skillet and shred (I use a fork and knife and pull it apart into small pieces.  It's pretty easy once you get the hang of it).
3.  Cook onion in the same skillet you cooked chicken in, until soft.
4.  Melt 6 tsp of butter in a large pot.  add flour and whisk for about 3 minutes.  Add cooked onions.  Whisk in chicken broth and half & half.  Cook about 5 minutes or until thickened.  
5.  Add 1 1/2 tsp of chili powder, 1 tsp of cumin, and salt and pepper (I use more of these spices, but I do it slowly and taste in between until I get just the right flavor.  Don't overdo it right away!  That's harder to fix!!)
6.  Add chilies, shredded chicken, and cheese.  Simmer about 20 minutes.  Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, and cheese.

Oh, yum... I can hardly wait to eat it again at lunch!!!

My one problem yesterday was that when I went to pull out all of the ingredients... I was all out of chili powder!!   How can you make chili without chili powder!?

Well, one of my favorite things about the internet and cooking is that you can search for substitutions!!  Any time I'm missing an ingredient, I'll just type in "______ substitute", and all of the cooking geniouses in the world return with ideas of what to substitute.  In this particular instance, I was advised to use a mixture of cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, and garlic powder.  It worked GREAT!  Who knew, huh?  :)

So the next time you have a snow day (sorry all you up-north folks!) pull out a new recipe and go at it!!

Next time, I'll be writing about my newest housewife adventure - coupon clipping!!  :D