It’s been one of those months. Lots to do, not enough hours in the day, yadda yadda. Several weeks ago on my way home from a long day of errands and meetings and plate spinning, I ran through all of the options in my fridge for a fast dinner. Short of setting a plate full of random fruits and vegetables on the table, I was coming up with zero. I’d had it, I was spent, I gave up.
I stopped at the local grocery store intending to grab something, anything that could hit the table in a hurry. I scanned the shelves and the frozen food section for something that would pass for real food, ready to go. If you’re a label reader or at all concerned about excessive packaging—as I am—you know the impossibility of this task.
I came home with canned white beans. Using canned beans instead of dry beans was my foray into “fast food.” We had a good laugh about that. We also had an excellent dinner. It hit the table a little bit later than I’d intended, but it was worth the wait. The family, they raved. (Note to self: Cook up a batch of dry beans and keep them in the freezer to make this again and again.)
6-Ingredient White Chicken Chili
Makes six hearty servings
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 mildly spicy peppers, sliced*
- 6 chicken thighs or legs, preferably organic
- 5-15 oz. cans great northern beans (OR 8 cups cooked small white beans plus 2 cups chicken broth)
- 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
In a stock pot, saute onions and peppers on medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Add chicken parts and cover the pot. Cook for about 20-30 minutes, turning chicken occasionally. Remove chicken from pot and shred with two forks. Return shredded chicken to pot along with beans (undrained), salt, and pepper. Continue to cook over low heat for another 10 minutes (or an hour, if you’ve got time or you’re trying to squeeze in chores).
*My peppers were from the garden, a plant given to me by a friend; I don’t know the variety. We call them Jeannie peppers. Because they’re pretty mild, I put seeds and all in the pot. Hotter peppers? Remove the seeds and use fewer or go for broke. Your call.
Hot tip: Double the amount of chicken, holding the extra out once it’s shredded. Voila! Chicken for lunches.
More family meal ideas from an expert
My white chicken chili recipe has become a go-to around here. But this dinner scramble is not something I deal with alone. We’re all busy, but none so much as new parents.
One thing I hear – a lot – when I talk about living a more conscious lifestyle is that, yes, that’s all fine and good. Until you have kids. Babies have a way of interrupting things, don’t they? Less time for yourself, less time for tackling things like recycling or gardening or even cooking.
Well, take heart. Debbie Koenig may not be able to help with your recycling or gardening or any of the myriad other chores that often go by the wayside when you are raising kids. But meal ideas and recipes? She’s got you covered. Her book, Parents Need To Eat Too is filled with healthy, easy to make meal ideas and recipes that just might prevent you from falling into the fast food trap.
My kids are teens now and do much of their own cooking. I’m beyond the oh-my-gosh-when-will-I-ever-sleep stage. And yet, thumbing through the review copy that the publisher sent, I found a ton of recipes that I’d actually make. Zucchini and Spinach Risotto? Why, yes please! And the fact that the meals are so easy to pull together means I’ll have time to spend in the garden growing some of the ingredients.
I’ve got my eye on a few of the slow cooker recipes in the book, but the first thing I had to try? Curry Roasted Chickpeas. We are snackers around here, but we try to avoid pre-packaged snacks as much as possible. The idea of a salty snack that also packs a protein punch was really desirable to me. Instead of the canned* chickpeas that Debbie suggests, I used some chickpeas that I’d cooked up from dry beans (I try to always keep some in the freezer for making hummus). Score! The only change I’d make to the recipe would be to double it. Or triple it.
Curious? Debbie has been kind enough to share a few recipes from Parents Need To Eat Too.
Debbie also has an impressive collection of recipes on her site. If you’ve got chores to do but still want to feed your family a great tasting meal, check out her quick suppers.
*If you use canned chickpeas, look for the Eden Organic brand. Their cans are BPA free.