Sunday, November 5, 2017

Chicken Chili

When my aunt and cousin visited me last weekend, aunt brought me a can of diced tomato (no salt added) and a can of red kidney beans (50% less salt, according to the label) from her/cousin's pantry (I don't think cousin even knew about it), saying maybe I could find a use for them.  As soon as I saw them, I thought, "Chili"!  But I didn't have any ground beef, so I kept them until I could buy some ground beef.

Then, this week, when aunt called to say they were planning to visit me again this weekend, but don't make any dinner, I thought I will make the chili, but use ground chicken or ground turkey instead of ground beef (because aunt and cousin don't eat beef and I wasn't sure if they eat pork).  The store I went to, yesterday, didn't have ground chicken, but they did have ground turkey for $3/lb.  Well, the chicken breast strips were $1.99/lb. and I thought that was a better bargain, so I bought the chicken, instead. 

Later in the evening, I made the chili.  I didn't follow a recipe, as such, but this is what I used:

1 stalk celery, finely diced
1/2 large yellow onion (finely chopped)
1/2 large serrano chili (deseeded and minced; aunt can't eat spicy food, anymore)
approx. 1 lb. chicken breast strips, cut into small pieces/cubed and coated with some of the curry powder
1 can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 can red kidney beans (drained) 
1/2 can corn kernels (drained)
1-2 tsp. dark roasted curry powder (in lieu of ground cumin, etc.; put half to coat the cubed chicken, the remainder to the pan of chili as it cooked)
1 tsp (approx.) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. approx. chili powder
1/2 tsp. approx. paprika
oil (a couple of table spoons) for sauteing
1 1/2 cups (approx) water
1-2 tsp. of chicken bouillon powder
salt (to taste)

Diced Celery
I diced the celery fairly finely because, while I like the flavor it adds to a dish, I don't like to eat celery.  One can cut bigger pieces of celery to add to the chili if one prefers.

Diced Onion and Green Chili
Again, I like the flavor onions give to a dish, but I don't like biting into pieces of onion!  So, I cut it fairly small.  I deseeded the green chili and added only half of it, because my aunt can't eat spicy food.  

I didn't add any garlic, because I didn't think of it!  But, I suppose one could add a clove or two of garlic, as well.

What I usually do when I need only about half an onion for a dish is, slice the rest of the onion (after all, the cutting board and knife are already out) and portion it into one or two snack sized baggies and freeze.  Then, later, when I want to cook a meal and I don't have fresh onions, or I am in a bit of a hurry, all I need to do is take out one of the bags of onions and add to whatever dish I am making.  They can be added in the frozen state, as they are; I've even chopped them up while still frozen (or thaw a bit and then chop).

Bags of Sliced Onions for the Freezer

I sauted the cut up chicken, celery, green chili, and onions in a large frying pan in the oil, then, added the diced tomatoes, canned kidney beans, and the spices and cooked it.  Halfway through, I added the water and chicken bouillon, because the chili mixture looked too thick to me.  Then, it looked too thin, so I fished out some of the pieces of tomato (which hadn't broken down as much as I had expected) and mashed them up a bit with the potato masher and added them back (next time, if there is a next time, I'll know to crush half the can of diced tomatoes before I add them - or buy a can of crushed tomatoes; I also took out a fresh whole tomato if the can of tomatoes wasn't enough, but I didn't need the fresh tomato).  Finally, I added half a can of corn, because I thought it would add a little color and I like corn (plus, I didn't have frozen corn and I needed to use up the canned corn).  

Chicken Chili

I didn't add any bell peppers because 1) I didn't have any, 2) I didn't think to buy any 3) they make me burp!  But, I think some bell peppers will be good, too.  

Aunt still found the dish to be a bit too spicy, so if I make this dish again for her, I will not add any green chili or chili powder until the dish is cooked and I take out a portion for her.  Cousin and I didn't think it was too spicy, but I could taste a bit of the heat from the green chili and the chili powder, so I'd say to adjust the spices to your taste or omit it, altogether. 

I don't know if anyone adds carrots to chili, but that might be a possibility and will add a little sweetness to counter the heat.

Initially, I cooked it on high heat (when sauteing) and brought it to a boil after the other ingredients were added; then, I lowered the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.  I think the total cooking time was about 40 minutes.

I didn't know how much this made, but it made a fairly large frying pan full.  I sent some of the leftovers home with aunt and cousin and kept what you see above for myself.  I'd say we were able to get 6 servings from it (small bowls); maybe 4 average servings?  I didn't sprinkle any cheese over the individual servings.  I served it with slices of French bread, but corn bread would have been good, too.

I tried to figure out the costs, but I couldn't do a good job because I used mostly what I had on hand or was given; the only thing I bought especially for the dish was the chicken.

1 lb. chicken breast strips @ $1.99
1 can tomato & 1 can beans (gift from aunt and cousin) but perhaps $1 per can?  So, $2 if I had to buy them.
1/2 can of corn, purchased on sale at $.50/can, so $.25
I'm assuming less than $1 for all the rest of the ingredients - oil, spices, chicken bouillon, etc.
Celery was purchased for $.34 for the entire head, and there are more than 10 stalks in the head, so 1 stalk would be less than $.03.
Onions were purchased at $.20/lb, approx. 3 onions/lb, so each onion was a little more than $.06 each and half an onion would be $.03?
Serrano chilies were purchased at $.79/lb. and I generally buy 4-5 chilies for a few cents and freeze them to use as needed.  

So, approximately $5.25 to make this dish, including the cost of the cans of tomato and beans.  $3.25 if I don't include them, because they were given to me.  I could have used less chicken, if I wanted to cut down the cost even more, but I liked the amount I did use.  So, I'd say this was a fairly frugal dish to make. 

By the way, I do have a slow cooker, and I suppose the chili could have been cooked in it - I did think about it.  But, my slow cooker is an old one (a gift from one of my cousins for Christmas 1978 and avocado green!  ) and doesn't have a liner that can be taken out for easy washing, so I tend not to use it, except to keep something warm during office pot lucks or the almsgiving, etc.  It will get more use if it was easier to wash!  I should probably give it away and get a new one with a removable liner (but the frugalite in me protests against that waste of money!).  Maybe I'll try cooking the pork rib trimming in the slow cooker.

"Vintage" Avocado Green Slow Cooker

Now, I have half a can of corn leftover for something!  Maybe I'll freeze it for later.

How do you make your chili?  Do you make it with ground beef or chicken?

Anybody else remember the avocado green and harvest gold of the 70s?  I hear that they are quite popular with people who like retro designs.  Maybe I have a "heirloom" in my slow cooker? 


  1. My,hubby loves and I mean lives chili. I make from ground beef or ground turkey. Your chicken chili sounds very good and I think I nay give it a try. I think chili us very forgiving so quite o.k to tweak it however you like it.

    I have a similar crockpot that does not have a liner. Washing it up became easy when hubby added a new sprayer in my kitchen sink that you can pull out and squirt directly into the crock pot. Like you as long as it works I'll continue to use. Love making potatoe soup in it.

    You certainly know how to make your aunt and cousin welcome.

    1. Thanks, Sandy. I do have one of those pull out sprayer hose things. I really don't have an excuse for not using my slow cooker, more, do it? :D Hope you make the chicken chili and let me know how you and your husband liked it.


    I find it efficient and convenient to make up my own spice 'mixes' for entrees I make regularly like Chili. Like you, I prefer to fine chop fresh onion, celery and garlic, instead of using powders. I make Chili mix to fill my small, spice container combining 1 T each... chili powder, cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes, pinch sugar adding S & P to taste; Optional cayenne near the end of the process depending on who's eating. 1.5 T spice mix is adequate for 1 lb lean ground beef. Add more if desired

    I've not made Chili with ground chicken but if DH is game without grumbling, I'd surely make it! Poultry combo: 1 t each: rosemary, thyme, sage, savory, marjoram, allspice, ginger.

    'Reynold' make crockpot liners. Also, it's easy to spray Pam or similar product in CP to make cleaning easier, just soak in hottest possible water & few drops of dish detergent to cool.

    I often use 1 C very inexpensive, dried kidney beans, often equal navy beans to cook Low setting overnight in CP . Day II drain beans, saute onion, celery, garlic to translucent, saute ground meat, drain well, combine with spices, meat, 2 cans tomato, 1 T vinegar and liquid as needed. If I have beef broth it adds flavor. Alternatively, I've also dumped 1 - 2 T dry onion soup to give it better color. It's always better day 2 when flavors fully meld.

    If it's too much, it freezes wonderfully in zip bags. It's a wonderful topping on a baked potato tipped with grated yellow cheese, pilled on to a steamed rice mountain [packed into a soup bowl, upturned onto a plate or stuffed into a bread roll. When we had an abundance of green peppers, we stuffed and baked. Mix l kernel corn and leftover rice for Tex Mex. Little kiddos like Chili mixed with wagon wheel shaped pasta.

    1. Hon, thanks for all the helpful tips! I have most of the spices you mentioned for the chili seasoning, so might make some and keep on hand. :)

  3. I have a harvest gold crockpot that's 35 years old, but the center does come out. I haven't replaced it for two reasons. 1) It still works. We use it at least once a week. 2) Everyone I know who's gotten a new slowcooker has found the new ones have more hot spots and don't cook as evenly.

    1. Sounds like you have two good reasons to keep your crockpot! Here's a 3rd reason - vintage seems to be in style!

      I was talking to my neighbor T, this evening, and she mentioned she had a harvest gold crockpot with a removable liner! She said she gave it to a friend's daughter who wanted a crockpot.

  4. I got rid of my harvest gold crock pot because the crock did not come out and someone who shall remain nameless was helping me and submerged it to clean it. Oops!

    1. Oh, no! I hope the nameless someone bought you a new crock pot to replace it! Preferably one with a removable crock!

  5. We do make ground beef, tomato based chili with chili powder. I also occasionally make chicken chili with pieces of chicken, white beans, chicken broth, green chilies, and no tomatoes at all. We like it both ways.

    It seems like you had a great week!

    I've been gifted crock pots from people who didn't want them any more, from garage sales,thrift stores and from the regular store. The ones that are free or cost aroudnd$5 or less, I accept gratefully or buy. Then, I store the extras. Right now, I have 2 that were given to me a while ago. They are often on sale around holidays. When ever mine break, I just get another one from my stash. If I have no stash at the time, I buy a new one. No matter what it costs. I use mine that much. Sometimes I even use both on one day, side by side. It is an invaluable tool to me!

    1. Becky, it sounds like your crock pots are like my rice cookers. I currently have two and, when I have a family gathering or any kind of event at my house, I have both going at the same time. Occasionally, I even borrow a friend's rice cooker! Some people cook more than rice in their rice cookers and others even bake cakes in theirs!

  6. Thank you for sharing your recipe and for the suggestions too.

    1. You are very welcome, Debbie. It was a "create it as you go" kind of recipe, but it turned out quite well. I had a little of the leftovers, tonight, and it tasted even better!

  7. Your chili sounds and looks very good..
    I make a hamburger chili with a tomato base and no beans.. [I like pinto beans in it but hubby doesn't] I also make a chicken chili too. I too use the chicken strips and I use white beans in it.. [hubby likes beans in it.. go figure?? lol]
    Have a great day.

    1. Ha, ha, too funny about your husband liking beans in one type of chili but not the other! I think, if I make chili again (it's not something I make that often), I will go with hamburger meat.


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