Kitty Purgason’s White Chicken Chili

Kitty Purgason's Chili

I met this chili, and Kitty Purgason, at the Pasadena Covenant Church meal contest last fall.  This church provides shelter and meals to homeless folks on cold, wet winter nights..  Roughly 12 members of the congregation volunteered to whip up their favorite home-cooked recipes, provide a “taste off,” and use a vote to choose the upcoming menu.

People, this is my kind of church experience–it’s got “Midwest” written all over it.

My Michigander transplant girlfriend, Lisa, is a Covenant Church member and she lets me tag along when I’m in the mood.  As a native Minnesotan raised in a Methodist home and church, from the first time I popped my eclectically-spiritual face onto the Covenant scene I felt right at home.   Throw in a pot-luck taste test with a recipe made by the you-can’t-get-more-Midwestern-than-this: Kitty Purgason… Girlfriend, that is a taste of Michelle’s heaven.

The Midwestern United States isn’t exactly known for its gourmet approach to food.  Common references to “casseroles” and questions regarding the usage of cream of mushroom soup have arisen.  And while, yes, casseroles (actually, the correct term is “hot-dish,”) and cream of mushroom soup are something with which we Mid-westerners are familiar, we offer much more to the culinary world.

The Midwestern philosophy to cooking is actually quite a hat-tip to the modern mama.  Savory.  Efficient.  Satisfying.  Wholesome.  These are words that, when used to describe dinner, are often met with smiles.  I said SMILES.  Who couldn’t use more of those at the table?

I love Kitty Purgason’s White Chicken Chili for three reasons.  First of all, it’s easy-tasty-healthy. Second, the ingredients can be kept on hand (most in the pantry) for easy whip-up’ed-ness. Also, you can totally fudge the quantities on pretty much everything (just throw in extra this if you are missing a can of that) and still present a delicious meal for your family.  Now you can smile too!

Finally, the name Kitty Purgason makes my heart smile.  Back in Rochester, Minnesota I had a classmate named Kitty who, in the third grade, helped me with fractions and taught me how to draw trees that didn’t resemble lollipops.  My childhood friend, Kitty, was friendly and generous, much like the Covenant-Church-Kitty I recently met.

Besides “Calva,” my elementary classroom rosters had a list of surnames including Torgrimson, Olson and Thompson.  So, when kind hand of someone named Kitty Purgason was extended to me over my chili sample that fall day, I just knew this recipe would join my life and table.

Now it can join yours too.

Kitty Purgason’s White Chicken Chili

Chili Ingredients: 1 chopped onion, 2 crushed garlic cloves, couple three cans chicken broth (0r approximate equivalent), leftover diced cooked chicken, 1 can drained white or pinto beans, 1 can corn (drain but save liquid in case you need it), 1 can chopped tomatoes with liquid, 1 (or 2) small can mild green chilis, optional: chopped fresh tomatillos if available.  See toppings ingredients below…

Definitely serve with: fresh lime, tortilla chip crumbles Optionally serve with (unless you’re at my house, then this is definite too!): sour cream, fresh chopped cilantro, diced green onion, hot sauce

Directions: Saute onion and garlic with a few splashes of olive oil.  Add everything else and bring to a simmer.  Um… you’re done and it likely took all of 12 minutes.

Notes: This is a very mild chili, which works great for my kids.  We all love the lime and chips on top and I put the rest of the accoutrements on the table and we sprinkle as desired.  Mike and I add hot sauce, but of course…  Doctoring your bowl of yum up with all the fixin’s is really half the fun.  Also, even though I live a stone’s throw from a Latino super market and could get tomatillos in a second, I have never gone to the trouble when making this recipe and and it still tastes stellar.

Final Note (still with me?): Feel free to use fresh corn, fresh tomatoes, etc… if you have them on hand, of course.  But isn’t it nice to know you don’t have to?

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Adventures in Chili, Parte Dos!

chili on potato

OK.  So here’s a chili option for all you gluten free guys and gals (or not, whatever): Chili on a baked potato!  Yu-uhm.

I like my tater-chili topped with a dollop of Greek style yogurt and a dash of hot sauce.

Or… my versatile chili is so, uh, versatile that you can even slap it on a tortilla with some taco fixings (Yes!  It’s true!):

chili on tortilla

Here is my chili/bean burrito with some (you guessed it) hot sauce, fresh cabbage, little shredded cheese maybe (I can’t remember and it might be tucked inside.)

One recipe for easy-peasy Chili and look at all the fun you can have!  I know.  You’re welcome.

And, ladies and gentlemen, I’m still not done… but you’ll have to tune in Friday for my final cha-cha-chili post.

On a side note and because I’m not done with my coffee yet so I may as well keep typing… I was once informed by a Texan that real chili doesn’t even have beans in it.  Being of Latino-German heritage and growing up in Minnesota, I was unaware of this.  So, if you’re from Houston and you’re reading this entry, please reserve judgement.

I’m not Tex-Mex, I’m “Min-Mex.”   Forgive me.  I don’t mean to offend… 🙂

Coffee complete.  Have a great day everyone!

Michelle’s Easy-Peasy Chili

Ingredients: 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 med onion (diced), 1 clove crushed garlic, 2 med bell peppers (diced–approximately 1 1/2 cups), Two 15 oz. cans black beans (with liquid–don’t drain’em!), One 15 oz. can diced, stewed or crushed tomatoes, One 6 oz. can tomato paste, 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.

Directions: Simmer onion (any kind will do,) garlic and olive oil for a few minutes.  Add bell pepper and cook until peppers start to soften.  Add everything else, stir and bring to a boil/simmer until peppers are fully cooked.  You.  Are.  Done.

(OK.  Yes you can top off your creation with shredded cheese, diced onions, sour cream, what have you… Then.  You.  Are.  Done.)

Easy-Peasy Chili

easy chili

OK.  So my girlfriend, Jen, requested I deliver on my promise to post my chili scene before the weather turns.  As she is one of my favorite people on the planet (she helped schlep my kids and even brought me a gorgeous plant when I was on my imagined death bed last month,) this is a request I am happy to accommodate.

Michelle’s Easy-Peasy Black Bean Chili

Ingredients: 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 med onion (diced), 1 clove crushed garlic, 2 med bell peppers (diced–approximately 1 1/2 cups), Two 15 oz. cans black beans (with liquid–don’t drain’em!), One 15 oz. can diced, stewed or crushed tomatoes, One 6 oz. can tomato paste, 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.

Directions: Simmer onion (any kind will do,) garlic and olive oil for a few minutes.  Add bell pepper and cook until peppers start to soften.  Add everything else, stir and bring to a boil/simmer until peppers are fully cooked.  You.  Are.  Done.

(OK.  Yes you can top off your creation with shredded cheese, diced onions, sour cream, what have you… Then.  You.  Are.  Done.)

Tips: You can use fresh tomatoes if you have them, but this is the “easy-peasy”  recipe so we’re going with that theme.  Any color bell pepper and any type of onion will do.  This is a mild version so my kids will enjoy it as well.  Often I serve my three little Gringo-mouths first and then add cayenne and chipotle powder or hot sauce to Mike and mine.

You can use other beans besides black (kidney, red, white, pinto) if you like, but I only include the liquid of black beans when I cook.  Any other kind tends to have that viscous water-ish situation that I prefer to drain.   It grosses me out.  What can I say?  So, if you use red or another type of bean, you’ll need to add water.

Meat (chopped leftover cooked chicken or cooked sausage, ground beef) can also be added to this recipe, but even my meat-and-potatoes husband found this version satisfying from the get-go.

Besides the obvious ease with which this meal is created (it literally takes me 10 minutes start to finish), I love how healthy and tasty this chili is.  Legumes baby!!!!

My final fave thing about this recipe is the variety of simple ways I can use it to make different meals.  There are soooo many ways, in fact, that I’m going to don this week “Chili Week!”  Tune in all week to see all the easy-peasy-tasty-healthy ways you can make this meal for your family too!

I usually double or even triple/quadruple this recipe, freeze or share with someone I love.

For today, we’ll go with two chili thingies:

Michelle’s fave: Chili with crushed tortilla chips on top (Hey–how did that beer get in the photo!?)

chili with chips

And we also like our chili with cornbread.

chili with cornbread

I usually use Trader Joe’s cornbread mix, and substitute buttermilk for regular milk.   Super yum.

What else can a mama do with chili?  Baby, just you wait…

SLAW

slaw

I’ve a confession to make.  Lately I’ve been a little OCD about cole slaw.  I know, right?  Of all things…

Since my “mouthy no worky” due to illness early this month, I’ve been slowly regaining my sense of taste.  For a few weeks now, even though my tongue is regaining a purpose in life, I’ve been desperate for foods that tasted like the good ‘ol days.

Enter: vinegar.  So I got a hankerin’ for some slaw one day and this idea turned in a two week long mission to find the perfect cole slaw recipe.  I decided that when I developed the recipe I liked, I’d post about it.

My friends, that day has come.

Michelle’s (and Mike, my girlfriend Lisa and daughter Josie’s) Fave Cole Slaw

Ingredients: 1/2 head cabbage, chopped; 2 carrots, shredded; few slender pieces red onion (don’t need to much); 1/4 cup cider vinegar; 1/4 cup olive oil; 2 tsp sugar; few dashes salt; dash pepper

Directions: While you are prepping the veggies, bring the vinegar, olive oil and seasonings to a boil on the stove top.  With the sugar in there this will happen in about 2 mins, maybe less.  Mix your now kinda-syrupy and warm vinaigrette and pour it over the top of your naked veggies.  Toss all this yummy stuff together and let it sit for a few hours before serving.  That’s it!

Tips: I like unfiltered cider vinegar (but then I’ve been working on jump starting  my taste buds so it could just be me.)  I played around with several cole slaw recipes before I deduced this one.  I don’t mind the mayonnaise type slaws, but they are so darn unhealthy that I figured I’d put my energy into the vinegar based kind.

The real secret with this recipe lies in the heating of the dressing before putting it on the veggies.  It doesn’t blanch the cabbage, per se, but the heat does do a little voo-doo which is nice.  Plus, heating dissolves the sugar and makes for a nice light syrup.

This recipe is pretty mild, actually, but makes for a great side dish for BBQ chicken, tacos, ribs, sandwiches.   I like this slaw because it’s easy-tasty-healthy (my three fave food adjectives!)

There are fancier concoctions that yield some nicely complex slaw situations, but for the effort, cost and taste, this  simple slaw recipe gets my vote.

Finally (seriously, how much can a person say about cabbage!?) I never knew how darn healthy cabbage is for ya!  It’s loaded with fiber, vitamin C, E, calcium, serves as a blood detoxifier… plus it’s cheap as heck and literally lasts for weeks in the fridge.  No wonder it’s such a big staple for so many cultures world wide.

OK.  I’m done.

Punchline Breakfast

(Quick pre-waffle information!  Tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 29th I, Michelle Calva-Despard, will be the featured foodie on Hometown Pasadena’s Mangiamo!  Check me out!!!  And now back to your regularly scheduled recipe.)

Waffles

I can’t recall the joke, but it has something to do with two pancakes and what one says to the other when something unfortunate has occurred.  Punchline = How Waffle!  Picture this being delivered by a perky seven-year-old who just bought her very first joke book and you’ll see why I’m smiling.

I did something this weekend that I’m afraid I can’t recommend you try at home… unless you know a lot of people who like waffles.  Come to think of it, doesn’t everyone like a good waffle?  OK, so go ahead and octuple my recipe.  See how it blesses your life!

I made this silly mountain of waffles in honor of a lazy Sunday morning and for my niece who turned eight.  What do you get the eight-year-old who has everything?  Waffles!  And home made whipped cream on the side…

Best Waffles (this recipe is already doubled for your convenience!)

Ingredients: 2 cups flour (I like whole wheat,) 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp, baking soda, 2 eggs, 2 cups buttermilk, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/3 cup veg. oil.

Directions: mix and pour baby!  I sometimes have to thin the batter a tad with a splash of milk.  Also, even though my fancy waffle iron swears nothing will stick to it… not the case.  I don’t like cooking sprays (have you read those ingredient lists!?) so I quick-wipe my iron with a paper towel dipped in oil between waffles.

 

I LOVE Breakfast!!

Mcmuffin

I Love Breakfast!

This week at our house we’ll be eating delicious, healthy and easy-to-make (always!) breakfast sandwiches.  I call them “Michelle McMuffins” but you can personalize yours if you like.

At my house we take breakfast very seriously.  I always have.  I could never understand the old, “I’m just not hungry in the morning,” answer. 

WHAT!!!??? You haven’t eaten in roughly TWELVE HOURS and you’re not hungry’!!!???  Seriously.  How is this possible?

And then, not only am I hungry, but I’m HUNGRY (I’m going to be using a lot of CAPITALIZED and italicized font today!  Plus a lot of !!! and ???  See how serious I am about breakfast!?)

How can one go out and conquer the world on a small bowl of cereal or a slight piece of toast with butter?  If you can, kudos, but  Michelle no comprende.  I need something substantial, baby!  A typical breakfast for me is something like the following…

First, a cup of good coffee with milk.  Gotta start on the right foot.  Then I like a good grain/protein mix like toasted up pancakes from the other day, good oatmeal with raisins and fresh chopped nuts (that recipe coming soon), or, perhaps Michelle McMuffins!!!

Do you want the recipe now?  OK, OK!

Ingredients: 1 egg, Whole grain English muffin, few pinches of shredded cheddar cheese and a slice nitrate free ham

Directions: While the English muffin is toasting, I cook the egg over-medium (over-hard for the kids) in a fry pan.  I have a toaster oven so when the muffins are close to being done, I put a little cheese on one half and the piece of ham on the other.  Alternatively you could heat the ham and cheese with the egg.  When the egg is done, slide it between the two muffin halves, ham and cheese and wa-lah!  Girlfriend, you’ve got yourself a McMuffin! 

Tips: Sometimes I use whole grain sliced bread instead of an English muffin.  For this I cook up the egg and then layer it with the ham and cheese between two slices of bread.  Then I put the bread back in the pan with a little butter and cook it like a grilled cheese sandwich, flipping onto both sides.  Go easy on the cheese and the butter to keep the fat levels down. 

And just in case you’re interested, I always round out my first meal of the day with some kind of fruit, usually something de-lish from the farmers market.  This week my fruit bowl options are pears, oranges and apples.  Pear is sounding kinda nice…

And just in case you’re even more interested, I’m not kidding one bit about how much I love breakfast.  Like, I am seriously bummed about my upcoming annual physical because not only do I have to fast (fast!?  Yikes!) for the blood test, but I couldn’t get in before 9:00 am!!!  How in the world am I supposed to wait so long to eat!?  I may have to stash a Michelle McMuffin in my purse that day… 

I hope nobody smells it in the waiting room.

What is that scent !!!???