Friday, January 31, 2014

Cosmic Snow Rollers | Quick Chicken Chili

When we looked out into the yard last Monday morning, we were astounded by the sight of  "snow rollers," although at the time we didn't know what they were. The entire yard, all our fields, were dotted with balls of snow of all sizes. We theorized as we walked to and from the barn to feed the horses (in the sub-zero temperatures) that "That sure must have been some wind last night" and "Look how this one just rolled down the hill!"

As we learned during the day, this was indeed a rare phenomenon, one that occurs only when all the perfect meteorological conditions exist at the same time. As I drove into town later that morning, it was absolutely breathtaking to see that the entire area had been sprinkled with these ethereal looking snow masses.

Some people likened them to rolls of toilet paper, or bales of hay. I thought they looked like cannoli, ready to be filled with sweetened ricotta and speckled with chocolate.  I read that this has only happened once before in Pennsylvania, and that was 10 years ago. (I must have been sleeping.)

It has been one weird and terribly frigid January -- the coldest in a century, I read -- and I for one will be anxious to hear the groundhog's report this weekend. Spring can't be soon enough.

The good thing about this kind of weather is that it demands comfort food and I had a craving for chicken chili. I've made a version of this several times, but I wanted to hurry things along. So I found a quick version in a back issue of Cooking Light. (I'm in the midst of whittling my "I'm sure I'll use them some day" pile of cooking magazines down. It's a slow but very enjoyable task. This could take a while.)

With a few changes made possible by my pantry contributions, I had this chili ready in less than 20 minutes.
And then I carried my bowl into the living room and sat by the fire. Winter can be good.

Quick Chicken Chili
adapted from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon grape seed oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can creamed corn
1 cup water
2 4-ounce cans chopped green chilies, undrained
1 whole fresh jalapeno, chopped (ribs, seeds, and all!)
1 14-ounce can chicken broth

  • Heat a soup pot over medium high heat. Add oil. 
  • Add chicken and saute about 4 minutes.
  • Add onion, garlic, cumin, oregano and red pepper; saute 3 minutes.
  • Add 1 can of the beans, the can of creamed corn, the water, 1 can of the chilies, the fresh jalapeno and the broth.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Mash the second can of beans with the second can of chilies in a bowl with a fork. (Or puree in a food processor.) Add to the soup and simmer 5 minutes.

Makes about 6 servings


  1. This looks lovely, and easy enough that my boys could make it. The snow rollers are cool- we were noticing just this morning these perfect little conical piles of snow, from the swirling wind I suppose. Stay warm, I think more is headed for us next week (boo hoo).

    1. Wierd, my profile has disappeared. Just to let you know, this is Mary Spilman.

  2. Quick and warming...exactly what I need now!

    1. Indeed it was warming. Quick was what I needed then!

  3. looks tasty and wow those are kind of cool

    1. They were pretty cool, Rebecca. You could put your hand right through them! And the soup -- though easy -- is still tasty.

  4. Wow, I've never heard of anything like your snow rollers! Amazing! Your soup looks wonderful, perfect for such a chilly winter day, for sure!

    1. We'd never seen anything like it before. Even our seasoned neighbors had not witnessed it before. The weather folks could not have predicted it and it was a major local new story for days. Perfect excuse for a warming soup.

  5. Seems like this chilli will make you feel better quickly - great recipe :D

    Choc Chip Uru

    1. Nice and warming it was -- the perfect panacea for the mid-winter blues.

  6. Hi Rosemary, How gorgeous! (and cold brrrrr). I love that your response was almost-instant chicken chili. Perfect central heating in that weather.

    1. I hope I don't have to weather another wave of sub-zero temperatures this year. If I do, I guess I know the cure, Hester.

  7. Oh yum, your chicken chili sounds terrific and wonderful for this cold weather. I've never seen or heard of snow rollers so I'm so glad you shared this post with us.


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