Growing up in Colorado, I never had a single snow day. Sure, there were days when we woke up to 4 feet of snow and icy roads, fallen tree branches and skating-rink puddles, but school was never called off. Snow plows and road salt were always at the ready, and most Coloradans are pretty darn good at driving in treacherous conditions. I was a child of the rockies, and winter just entailed snow. Then I moved to the Pacific Northwest.
I still remember my very first snow day. I was in third grade, and it was my first winter in Washington. When snow showed up on the weather report, the entire school was buzzing with excitement. Snow was (and is) a pretty rare occurrence on our little island, even in the depths of winter. When I woke up to a measly 2 inches of snow and found out that school was cancelled, I was excited yet confused. Why didn’t anyone have snow tires? Where were all of the snow plows? Not to mention that snow was the only thing anyone seemed able to talk about. Still, I was a 9-year-old with a day off from school and a backyard full of snow. I happily went along with it!
Here in my little corner of Oregon, it’s pretty much the same thing. The slightest bit of ice on the roads often results in schools being called off, although with last year’s crazy 18-inch-accumulation snow storm I could understand why we got three snow days in a row. Still, last week’s cold front brought us a whopping .2 centimeters of frosty snow…and a widespread shut-down of numerous local schools. Say what?!
My university was one of the few schools in the Portland area that managed to stay open, and I was shocked that we were in the minority! My friend from Idaho and I spent the day snickering at all the weaklings who couldn’t handle a little frost. Granted I’ve probably become one of those weaklings during my eleven years in Washington, but the Coloradan in me still thinks it’s pretty funny. All jokes aside, I’m glad everyone (to my knowledge) stayed safe!
All this cold weather makes me crave hot meals more than ever. Over the weekend I busted out my beloved Crock Pot and made one of my favorites. I discovered this Slow-Cooker Southwest Chicken a few years back and continue to be in awe of its quickness, cheapness, deliciousness, and versatility! It only requires FOUR ingredients (although I’ve added a few extra spices down below) and is as easy as dumping everything into your slow cooker and flipping on the switch. I’ve made it with both black beans and white beans, red salsa and salsa verde, and even crushed pineapple subbed for the corn (sounds weird but it’s awesome)! You can eat it over brown rice, rolled up in tortillas, on top of mixed greens, or chili-style with tortilla chips for dipping. It’s the perfect weeknight dinner, and leftovers store great!
Stay warm and make this Southwest Chicken for a hot lunch or dinner. It has such simple, standard ingredients that you might not even need to make a trip to the store! Which would be a good thing, considering all the legitimately icy roads around the country right now. It’s always good to be on the safe side, whether we’re talking about an inch of black ice or a teeny tiny patch of snow crystals. Haha.
Slow-Cooker Southwest Chicken
Makes about 4 servings
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup prepared salsa
1 15-oz can black or white beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can sweet corn, drained
2 teaspoons ground cumin (optional)
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed (optional)
For topping: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped olives, sliced avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.
Spray the bottom of a slow-cooker with cooking spray. Place all the ingredients in the slow-cooker and stir to combine. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours, until the chicken pulls apart easily. Use two forks to shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Serve with tortillas, corn chips, rice, quinoa, etc.
(Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)