World’s Easiest Chicken Chili

chiliHow  easy is this chicken chili?

It’s so easy, you’ll be eating chicken chili faster than you’d be eating if you picked up dinner at a fast food drive-thru. Don’t believe me? Set your stopwatch, and let’s get started!

Ingredients (Serves 4 – 6)

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (you can buy this frozen or even canned if you’d like) Continue reading

Six Ingredient Chili

WIN_20151030_191018Too often, chili is a food of unfortunate extremes. At one end are recipes which profess that only expensive cuts of meat and rare chili peppers grown in obscure South American locations can be used – at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we think that’s silly. At the other end, there’s ready-to-eat chili in a can. Unless you are hiking through the Alaskan wilderness, have gotten lost, and are using canned chili to stay alive, please put the can down.  😉

Today’s chili recipe is perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon or a quick weeknight dinner. I like to double this recipe and freeze individual portions for fast lunches. A word to the wise: we’re cheating a bit on the six ingredients. Don’t worry – you only need six items from the market. One of those items, salsa, actually contains a whole list of typical chili ingredients including tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and salt. By using salsa, we save ourselves the time of slicing and dicing several other ingredients, but we still capture all of the chili flavor! Let’s get started.

WIN_20151030_164633Ingredients (Makes 8 cups)

1 pound lean ground meat (turkey or beef will work equally well)

4 cups of salsa (any variety and spice level you prefer)

2 cups of corn kernels (fresh, frozen, or canned)

1 small can tomato paste

2 tablespoons ground chili powder (mild, medium, or hot)

2 cans (15 oz each) kidney beans


Step 1) Brown meat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until meat is fully cooked.

Step 2) Drain meat. If you want your chili to be as low-fat as possible, add some water to the meat and drain it a second time.

WIN_20151030_170628Step 3) Add salsa, corn kernels, tomato paste, and chili powder to the meat. If chili mixture is too thick, add water (1 cup at a time) until desired consistency is reached.

Step 4) Simmer chili for 30 minutes, covered. Add kidney beans and heat through. Serve hot.

Step 5) Want fancy chili? Feel free to offer sides of cheddar cheese, sour cream, macaroni noodles, and/or oyster crackers alongside bowls of Six Ingredient Chili. Enjoy!

Nam Prik Pao (or, “There are Thai chilies in my German American kitchen!”)

I can explain how it happened.  I was meandering through my local Asian food market, a gastronomic playground, and there they were… bright red, glossy little Thai chili peppers.  Yes, I knew they were hotter than the surface of the sun, but they looked so happy, they just had to come home with me.  See how they just POP! among the food jewels I procured…

picture976Two things occurred to me as I pondered the Thai chilies waiting expectantly in my German American kitchen.  First, I realized I may have gotten a teeny bit carried away purchasing a half pound of the fiery little peppers.  Second, I realized that the peppers on my countertop represented precisely a half pound more than the sum total of all of the hot peppers in all of the recipes handed down by my European and Scandinavian elders.  [I’m a little bit Norwegian, too… you know how us Norwegians love to slather hot peppers all over our potato lefse…]

Enter the internet.  After brainstorming online, I settled on Nam Prik Pao – Thai Chili Paste – as my chosen way of honoring these peppers.  I found approximately one million and four different recipes, featuring about that same number of different ingredients and preparation techniques.  “Inquiring Chef” and “She Simmers” offered particularly comprehensive descriptions (thank you!).  Every recipe, I noticed, offered some combination of sweet, sour, umami, and salt… all seemingly to balance the HOT of the peppers.  I used that combination as a template, played around with ratios through a few dozen samples, and here is what I came up with.  I think it’s delightful, and fancy using it in many of the Asian and Oceanic Global Recipe Project recipes which call for chili paste.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Nam Prik Pao (Makes 4 small jars, 4 ounces each)



picture9831 1/2 cups red Thai chilies, stems removed

1 1/2 cups whole, peeled garlic cloves

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white vinegar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons tamarind paste

2 tablespoons water


Step 1) Toast peppers in a dry frying pan over high heat, shaking the pan often, until the peppers have a few blackened char marks and smell very fragrant.  This will only take a few minutes.

picture984Step 2) Add garlic and onion to peppers.  Continue shaking the pan over high heat until the garlic and onion begins to brown slightly.  Don’t let the garlic or onion burn!  Remove from heat and immediately cover with a tight fitting lid.  Let the pan sit and “sweat” for 10 minutes.

Step 3) Very, very carefully, puree the pepper mixture in a blender or food processor.  If you get any of this in your eyes or under your fingernails, you will probably wish for a quick death, so seriously, be careful.

picture985Step 4) Add all remaining ingredients except for water to the blender.  Process until desired consistency is reached (I made mine pretty smooth, like mustard).

Step 5) Add water until desired thickness is obtained.  If you want a true “paste,” don’t add any water at all.  If you want a pourable sauce, add up to 1/2 cup of water.  I used 2 tablespoons for a thick sauce that sticks to a spoon like molasses.

Step 6) Spoon into small jars, seal, and refrigerate.  This recipe will fit in a single pint jar, but I recommend using several very small jars and giving a few of them away to food-adventurous friends.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll show you a few fabulous recipes which use small quantities of this sauce!