Good Thing She Doesn’t Eat Hamburger

We were at the dinner table.

“Mom, look at the geese!” Saoirse suddenly exclaimed.  She pointed out the window to a flock flying over our house, causing Quinn to gasp at all the excitement.  “I love the birds.”

She paused, forking another heaping mound of chicken taco chili into her mouth.

“Mom?” Saoirse asked.  “Do people eat birds?”

I watched her, chewing happily, then looked at Quinn, who was shoving forkfuls of the chili and rice into her mouth at an alarming rate.

“Um,” I said, stalling. “Do you mean birds that fly?”

“Yeah!”

“Um.”

I swallowed.

“Some people do,” I said.  “Eat birds that fly.  I don’t, though.  I don’t eat birds that fly.”

“Uck.  That’s GROSS.”

She took another bite of her chili, content with her analysis.

“Well, you know…” I decided to continue, already feeling a little guilty that David wasn’t home from work yet to witness this conversation–or stop me from where I was leading it.  “…chicken’s a bird.”

Saoirse laughed.

“No, it’s not!” she giggled. “You’re silly.  Chicken’s a bird, and chicken is chili!”

“It is?”

“Yeah!” Saoirse said. “Can I have some more?”

So there you have it, folks, straight from the preschooler’s mouth.

Guess I’m still a vegetarian after all.

For some reason–I have no idea, why, because all I do is dump a bunch of cans into a slow cooker and turn it on–this chicken chili is one of the girls’ all-time favorite meals.  It’s requested constantly, to the degree that when I first prepared it, I was making it every single week afterward for over a month.  That’s a lot of chicken chili.  Here’s the recipe:

Taco Chicken Chili (adapted from Backwoods Home Cookin’ and BBQ–and no, I’m not making that up)

Ingredients:

  • 2 16-oz. cans black beans, rinsed
  • 2 16-oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 10-oz. pkg. frozen corn kernels
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 14.5-oz. cans Mexican-style diced tomatoes (i.e., with chili peppers)
  • 1 green pepper, diced (optional–we get these and “Yummy” peppers in abundance from our CSA during the summer months and freeze for winter use)
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped (optional, in season)
  • chili peppers, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 packet low-sodium taco seasoning
  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 lime

For topping (optional but highly recommended): chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, shredded monterey jack cheese, diced avocado, lime wedges

Directions:  Combine beans, corn, onion, tomatoes, tomato sauce, peppers, cumin, chili powder, and taco seasoning in a slow cooker. Place chicken on top and season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.  Cover.  Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half an hour before serving, shred chicken with a fork (you may have to remove the breasts to a plate to do this) and stir. Just before serving, stir in the juice of half a lime.

Serve over brown rice and top with fresh cilantro, cheese, avocado and/or sour cream. Garnish with a lime wedge, which my children eat by themselves, which has us very worried for the college years when salt and tequila will be readily available.

Note:  When serving to our own girls, I leave out the cilantro (“Mom, I don’t like these green fings!”), top with cheese and sour cream, and sort of pile up the avocado beside their plates, because you know how kids like their food in piles (actually, I serve the rice beside the chili in their bowls, and for some reason you’d think I gave them chocolate for dinner).  Also, I’ve started picking up a small block of fresh Monterey jack when I get to the farmer’s market to use with this.  It takes two seconds to grate, and we seem to use less of it than when we use the stuff out of a bag.  I tell you, this chicken chili–it’s full of mysteries.

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