And tonight I'm going back for seconds

Damn this Texas weather. Over the weekend the temperatures dropped enough for jeans and long-sleeved shirts. Yesterday morning you could have stuck your tongue out and frozen it to the bedroom wall. By yesterday evening, it was sweat city. Come on, Texas. Let me know when I can dig out the cold weather clothes from under the bed and swap out the summer stuff from the closet! Because my closet? Not much bigger than my bathroom . And once I spend hours unpacking, hanging, folding, folding again, repacking, and stuffing the Tupperware bins back under the bed, someone’s going to lose their shit if the weather changes AGAIN.

When the sun went down last night, the air cooled down and developed that crispness that makes you yearn for field trips to the pumpkin patch and cozy evenings in front of the fire (for the record, I’ve never had these evenings growing up, but I’ve heard they’re lovely. I may have some this year, except we’re a little scared to use our fireplace. Could have something to do with not knowing which way is “open” for the flu. Whatever the “flu” might be, but I’ve heard it’s important to staying alive during fireplace-cozying-up). So anyhoo. The evening temperatures dropped, and I suddenly wanted my kitchen to include hot stew simmering on the stove, steaming garlic bread fresh from the oven, etc. etc. etc. Never mind that most days I hate the very idea of stew. Sister and Niece were coming over for dinner, so the pressure was on to come up with something edible, and quickly, from our poorly-stocked fridge and pantry. Sister’s pantry is larger than two of our bathrooms, always fully stocked, and probably a big contributor to the Martha Stuart Living going on over at her place, but I’ve long since given up trying to compete; I know when I’m beat. Anyway. In the interest of quick, easy and edible, we somehow ended up with a damn good stew/soup in a half an hour. It was kind of like minestrone, with chicken, but spicy like a jumbalaya. Chicken Minestraya. Chicken Jumbalone?

Recipe for Jumbachickestrone/ Chickeminelaya:

1/2 garlic bulb, chopped
1 shallot, chopped (no idea why we had shallots but no onions, but I’m assuming it could be an either or type of thing here)
2 or 3 zucchinis, chopped (I’m sure any vegetable would work)
1 potato, chopped
2 or 3 cooked chicken breasts, chopped (sensing a theme here, enough with the chopping)

In a big pot, throw in a big can of pureed tomatoes (I still have no idea why we had a big-ass can of tomato puree in our pantry), one can of creamy chicken verde soup (thank you Campbells, for making the kind of soup that sounds good during a hungover shopping session, but then doesn’t, so it sits in the pantry for weeks and weeks, ‘til one evening its dumped into our stew and makes the whole thing an awesome spicy mess), 2-3 soup cans of water (just because it seemed like the right thing to do), the garlic and shallot pieces. Brought it all to a boil, dumped in the zucchini (burned my face from the splatter, reduced the heat, re-thought the whole throwing/dumping theatrics), then added potato and chicken, simmered for 10 minutes, gently deposited some brown rice (for, whatever), simmered for another 10 minutes. I served it with cheese on top (sharp cheddar last night, if you’re curious), and garlic bread on the side.

Damn, looking back it seems like a lot of work, but the prep was maybe 10 minutes (including stepping around and over three dogs and a toddler), so really, you've got a big pot of something edible in 30 minutes. It's like I'm the next Rachael Ray or something. Without the constant “E.V.O.O.”

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