Easy White Chicken Chili with Pumpkin

Pumpkin White Chicken Chili

This crockpot easy white chicken chili is what I need right now.

Things have been pretty crazy on the domestic front lately.  The husband has been in a crazy period of working until 2 or 3 in the morning every night. I am also still working my normal, mostly 9-5 job, and I’m doing 100% of the  evening fetching, lunch packing, permission slip signing, homework checking, laundry folding, bedtime reading, nightmare soothing, out-of-bed dragging, and meal planning (though Mr. TDF would want me to acknowledge that he is still taking Thing 1 to school because I cannot do that and still make it to work by 9.)

The end result of all this is that everyone in our household seems to be exhausted.  I can usually get going in the morning (with the help of copious amounts of caffeine) but by the time I get home at night, kids in tow, having done two childcare pickups (and driven for an hour and a half, each way), I’m practically catatonic.  If dinner isn’t simple – not only easy, but stupid easy – it’s not going to happen, and I will be reduced to the sad, sad state of eating pretzels dipped in cream cheese for dinner (it’s happened.  Fortunately, my kids often get fed by the kindness of others, including Thing 1’s after school program, my mom, and Trader Joe).

Slow cookers are a lifesaver in this kind of situation. Nothing is more soothing when you’re frazzled and exhausted than sitting at your desk, contemplating the hot meal, cooked from scratch, that will be waiting for you when you finally crawl home.  (Of course, nothing kills that buzz more than sitting at your desk at about 2 pm and realizing that you forgot to turn on said crockpot, and that a pot full of partially cooked chicken and beans is sitting and festering on your kitchen counter.  Don’t do that!  Learn from my mistakes and turn ON your crockpot. This has been a public service announcement.)

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Crispy Chinese Garlic Chicken Wings

Chinese Garlic Chicken Wings

I mentioned recently that I’ve been trying to cut out starches and sugars, and it has made a huge and positive impact on my energy levels. It’s pretty easy to eat regularly – lots of salads with homemade dressing (which I make anyway), lots of tasty meats, and cheese. But what is missing when you’re trying to clean up your eating is junk food.

I think junk food is an important part of every healthy diet. Eating should be enjoyable, and you should feel like you can cut loose from time to time or you’ll pick back up on your unhealthy habits. The key for me is to find food that feels indulgent or fun without including a lot of starches and sugars and kicking my cravings back into high gear.

Chicken wings are a great alternative – they’re food you eat with your fingers, with friends, while watching football. They feel like an indulgence, like fun food, but most recipes you see are battered and deep fried, or covered with sweet and gloppy sauces. I wanted to create a recipe for wings that still seemed like fun food – something you would eat while watching the Super Bowl – but still remained fairly healthy. These soy garlic chicken wings, inspired by one of my favorite dishes at a local Chinese takeout restaurant – do the trick.

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Split Chicken Breasts with Goat Cheese and Pepper Jelly

Chicken Breasts with Goat Cheese and Pepper Jelly

Not every recipe comes with a cute story, a long origin tale, a photo-worthy finish. Sometimes we are just trying to get dinner on the table. Sometimes we’re dealing with real life here — that life where we have to get dinner on the table EVERY NIGHT, where lamb is expensive and beef unhealthy and your kid won’t touch lentils with a ten foot pole so you’re making chicken again, where if you see another boneless skinless “cutlet” you might have to throw something. That life.

In that life you might have optimistically bought two jars of pepper jelly at Christmas time – it’s so nice on cream cheese For all those parties you ended up not going to, since one kid had the stomach flu and the other had an ear infection. In that life, you buy too much cheese and have odds and ends of it overflowing the cheese drawer in your refrigerator.

Or maybe that’s just me.
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Chicken Cobbler Pot Pie

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There are things I love, but I’m too lazy to make them often. Chicken and dumplings – a relatively simple dish — just seems exhausting to me. Cooking all that chicken! Making that soup! (Fortunately, my mom makes it relatively often, and usually invites me to share.) Then there are dishes that could be fairly straightforward to make, but that just don’t appeal to me. In this corner is chicken pot pie. I always want to like it — what’s not to like? Chicken, vegetables, gravy … but I always imagine it sitting like a lead weight in my stomach. (I think it’s the combination of pie crust and gravy. There’s a reason fruit pies are classic). During our recent spate of cold(ish) weather, I was mooning about what comfort food I’d like to make, and it hit me. A cross between Chicken and Dumplings and Chicken Pot Pie — chicken, vegetables, gravy, all topped with a savory parmesan biscuit cobbler topping. And this is the real genius part — it’s made with rotisserie chicken, so it’s EASY. I had to pat myself on the back.
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