Say Cheese

peppers for chicken chili

I’d forgotten how unbelievably challenging it is to get back on track once you’ve fallen off the proverbial horse. Exercise, smoking, going to bed at a regular time…..or in this case blogging. Obviously I’ve been silent since October so not only did I come crashing down, I stayed firmly glued to the ground.  I’ve missed the writing tremendously. It’s strange, but it’s like having a conversation with myself where I actually connect with “me”. I find it so curious what pours (or sometimes trickles) out of my fingers.  The cooking I’ve continued to do without a break in the action….it’s the photography that keeps me from getting back in the saddle.  In November we moved into a new house, and although there was and continues to be a plethora of “new construction” issues to deal with I could have found time to post had I possessed the required motivation.  I simply found myself leaping at any excuse NOT to pick up the camera.

basil for Chicken ChiliTaking the pictures has got to be THE MOST ANNOYING part of the blogging process for me. Uh. Just the thought of it puts me in a sour mood and fills me with dread. Yes, I’m out of practice, but even when I’m fighting with the camera and chasing down natural light on a more routine basis, I still find this to be an exasperating exercise. I’m pretty good at rationalizing my perspective, but even I cannot devise an argument that supports a picture-free zone on a blog. Relaying my plight to P she offered that I was being too hard on myself and too basically stop stressing, snap a few pictures and be done with it. So, here goes…. Certainly my images were not perfect before, but I’m going to try a new relaxed approach that lets me get back to why I’m doing this in the first place. To enjoy myself. So I give you Chicken Chili with some supporting less-than-perfect photos that will hopefully entice you to make this lovely bean-less chili to ride out the winter chill.

roast chicken for chicken chili

It’s similar to traditional chili in that its flavor is grounded in chili powder and cumin, yet the roast chicken is an enticing alternative to beef and the exchange of basil for cilantro lends a bit of sophistication that is totally not expected when one considers chili. Make it a day ahead if you can so that the flavors have time to get to know each other. Top with lots of cheddar cheese!

Chicken Chili

Chicken Chili

Adapted from Ina Garten's Chicken Chili.

I think this would be divine with the addition of black beans....but due to my husband's lackluster impression of them AND the fact that this was his dinner for 3 evenings in a row....we left them out.


  • 3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing on the chicken
  • 4 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 3 1/2-4 lbs)
  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions (about 2 large)
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 TBSP tomato powder (or paste)
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 red peppers; cored, seeded and medium chopped
  • 2 yellow peppers; cored, seeded and medium chopped
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 28 oz cans of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh basil, minced
  • Toppings
  • Sour cream
  • Freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Chopped fresh basil


  1. Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Roast at 350 for approximately 50 minutes. When cool enough to handle remove the meat from the bone and skin and chop into bite-sized chunks. Reserve for later.
  2. In a large pot (I used a 6.75 Dutch oven) heat the olive oil over medium-low.
  3. Add the onions and sauté for 10-15 minutes until soft and translucent.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  5. Sprinkle in the spices (chili powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne, oregano, allspice and tomato powder), stir and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  6. Add the peppers and cook for 3 minutes.
  7. Pour in the tomatoes and their juices. Use a wooden spoon to break them up into smaller pieces.
  8. Add the salt and basil and bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
  10. Place the chicken in the pot and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
  11. Serve with your favorite toppings!



  1. So glad to see you back!! The pictures are just fine! Stop obsessing. :)
    Love the chili ….just made some myself but always love the chicken over the beef. But gotta ask… Maybe I’m from Mars…. Tomato Powder? How come I’ve never heard of that? Trader Joes?

    • Thanks Renee! You are always so supportive. Anytime you want to hop a flight and cook with me for the day you are sooo welcome! I discovered tomato powder at the Savory Spice Shop in Raleigh. It’s simply tomatoes that have been dried into a fine powder and offers the same intense concentration as tomato paste, but without the waste. I never seem to use an entire can of paste and with the powder you use what you need and store the jar in the fridge for later…..months later even. The other reason I prefer it to paste is that I find I can more easily disperse the ingredient whereas paste can sometimes get clumpy and you must stir and stir to get an even distribution. Amber Anne has given me some delightful sea salt from the Savory Spice Shop so maybe an outing for you two and baby Coop!

      • If you are in or near an Amish store, check their spice section. I found tomato powder in PA and bought every jar they had, except the 2 that Anne got to first!

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