I'm determined to expand our weeknight dinner options at home and to continue to try new things. Towards that end, I made Quick Southwestern Chicken Barley Chili last week. Not only did I make it, I ate it!
I'm not much on Southwestern foods. I don't usually like salsa, not in the least bit, and my stomach and I aren't fans of spicy foods. So when I make tacos and such at my house, I normally pass.
But I had tried this chili last winter, and I really liked it. So did my family. My cousin Betty had brought it to our family after my mother's death. The chili was delivered in a slow cooker and was delicious. Over the course of the next two days, my family enjoyed it so much, especially my daughter, who scooped it up with chips.
Anna has mentioned it from time to time, and when it was cool and rainy last week, I decided it was a good time to try it and surprised her with it when she came home from school.
This is a very simple, very quick recipe -- two factors that make it a great weekday option.
The back-of-the-box recipe from Quaker features quick barley, something I've never cooked with.
I made only a few changes to this recipe. I didn't use no-salt tomatoes because the store was out of them, and I used a small can of corn instead of frozen corn.
I boiled a pound or so of chicken strips on the stove while I did the rest of the prep work for the chili. (A review I read on this recipe suggested using cooked ground chicken, which I'm sure would be a good substitute.)
When the chili is complete, it's not very thick and could easily be considered a soup. But as it sits, the liquid is absorbed by the barley, and it thickens.
I made this at lunchtime and put it in my slow cooker on low to keep it warm. By the time Anna was home from school, the chili had thickened, and she was able to eat it with chips, like a dip. Just the way she likes it.
I used mild salsa in my chili, and even I agreed it was too mild. I went back and added another 1/2 cup of medium salsa to spice it up a bit. So choose your salsa depending on your family's taste for saucy food!
This is definitely a healthy recipe. Cooked as prepared, according to Quaker, it has 210 calories, with a total of 2 fat grams, sodium at 250 and dietary fiber at 6 g and protein at 19.
Quick Southwestern Chicken Barley Chili
- 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, no salt added, undrained
- 1/2 cup salsa
- 1 can (14.5 oz) fat-free chicken broth
- 1 cup quick barley
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn (I used canned corn.)
- 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
- 3 cups cooked chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1 1/2 pounds boneless before cooking)
Yields 10 cups
Quaker Oats Company