Monday, March 21, 2011

Welcome Spring!

The first day of Spring has brought rain, rain, and just a little more rain. We have a loose tradition of inviting friends and family over and welcoming Spring with a vernal bar-b-que, but there was no way I was going to suggest Michael go stand in the pouring rain and thunder just so we could eat some grilled chicken. So this year, I used the Duchess and put together spicy White Lightning Chicken Chili. Because when it's chilly and miserable outside, it's nice to have something hot and spicy inside!

I have to admit that when I woke up this morning to dark clouds, pouring rain, thunder and lightning, and even a quick blackout, I felt a bit grumbly. We live in Los Angeles! We're supposed to have beautiful weather, year round! That's why we pay so much in rent, right? And this afternoon I had to drive up the 405 freeway in such intense rain that no one could go over 10 mph because the visibility was so poor. The sound of the rain was so loud! Again, I felt grumbly. While sitting in traffic my mind wandered to what I saw on the front page of the Sunday paper this morning. The headlines were screaming with terrible news about Libya and Japan and the many, many people who have lost everything in the last week, who have no shelter from the weather, and face very uncertain futures. Suddenly my van felt cozy instead of claustrophobic as the rain pounded the roof, and I was so grateful that we had a warm, safe house to go home to. In fact, I was so grateful, when we got home I baked a cake.

Dark chocolate cake, cream cheese frosting. Hooray for Spring!

Now if you have known me for more than a day, you know I don't need a special occasion to consume cake. But I tried to make a special occasion out of thin air (my specialty). Michael, Nathan, Benjamin and I sat at the table, eating cake, celebrating all we have to be grateful for, and sharing our hopes for the new season.

Speaking of sharing... I'll share something with you. My recipe for White Lightning Chicken Chili. Quite appropriate with all the thunder and lightning we're having!

White Lightning Chicken Chili

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped (feel free to use less, we're not big fans of onions)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 four ounce cans chopped green chile peppers
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
28 ounces chicken broth (2 cans or make your own)
3 chopped, cooked, chicken breasts
3 fifteen ounce cans of white beans drained, rinsed

Heat oil in Dutch oven (or large saucepan). Slowly cook and stir the onion until tender. Add garlic, green chile peppers, cumin, oregano, and cayenne. Continue to cook and stir the mixture for another three minutes. Mix in chicken broth, chicken, and beans. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with toppings such as: cheese, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, avocado, etc.

Makes enough to fill eight bowls, easy to double for a crowd. You can reduce the spice by omitting the cayenne pepper and using mild chiles, but what fun would that be? Enjoy!

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