We went camping in Joshua Tree the weekend before Thanksgiving! It was super cold (for people who are used to 75 + at all times but super fun. Me and Ricky (husband) went with Laura (sister) and Avery (niece). Joshua Tree is a unique place with it’s very own trees named after it. One of the things that stands out to me is the quiet. These trees do not rustle. The landscape seems barren at times, but then there’s these interesting rock formations that are fun to climb and sit on and take pictures.
Pretty much all of our family vacations growing up were hiking/camping trips. Laura and I didn’t always appreciate it but we got to see a lot of beautiful places – Zion, Yellowstone, Glacier, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and many others! There was a lot of hiking going on and a lot of things to go and see. Like giant copper mine pits (butte, montana) and native americans selling jewelry on cliffs overlooking a magnificent valley (canyon de chelly). We complained frequently about all the walking and doing. Don’t get me wrong- we had fun and appreciated the places we saw but there was definitely whining and a lot of why-can’t-we-just-sit-in-this-hotel-room-a-little-longers going on. I remember going on a trip to Palm Springs with Kara’s family (best friend) in high school and we just sat by the pool alllll day. I was amazed. I couldn’t believe there were no excursions, no one telling us what to do, no one hurrying us along. Just wake up, eat some entenmanns and put on your bathing suit. I loved it.
Looking back, I am so grateful for all the trips my parents took us on. They were such special times and I mostly didn’t know it then. Now I have the same notion driving me on trips as my parents had: sitting around = wasting time. To some extent anyways. There is definitely a balance that needs to be had- relaxing is important! I love hiking now and I appreciate camping despite its obvious frustrations. I have a special place in my heart for native american jewlery + art because it reminds me of our family vacations. And most of the trips I want to take in the next few years are ones like we took growing up. Long road trips with lots to see on the way and lots of hikes.
In all honestly, I did however, wake up and tell Richard: “I hate camping, I’m never doing this again.” I’m dramatic like that. But then I went outside felt the fresh morning air and saw this and was like, “Camping is awesome!”
Like I said earlier, our trip was GREAT. We went hiking, made smore’s, watched the Joshua Tree episode of Huell Howser and saw a kangaroo rat. But most importantly we ate GOOD food (i.e. this chicken chili!).
Shredded chicken, zucchini, white beans and sweet corn snuggle up with all the other usual chili suspects: tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, spices, etc. I’m in love with this chili. It’s super easy and somehow manages to be comforting + hearty yet also feel fresh + healthy.
Another thing about our family trips: they often revolved around food. When we went to the Central Coast, it was all about making sure we got to eat at everyone’s favorite restaurants. There is some good eating up there. When we camped, we still ate good. My dad made his homemade spaghetti sauce, we’d have french toast, freshly grated cheese for stuff and roasted breakfast potatoes.
But back to the chili: I prepped all the ingredients at home and cooked the chili at the campsite. Mostly because I wanted to try making a gif of the cooking process and thought it would look cooler outside lol but you can totally make it at home and just put in a ziploc or freezer safe container and throw it in your ice chest. I’ve done that before too and it works just fine.
To me, this is a perfect recipe: It is so easy, most of the ingredients you probably already have and oh yeah its DELICIOUS. Just try it. Okay I talked too much and use too many colons, bye!
- 1, 28 oz can crushed or whole tomatoes
- 1, 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 red onion
- 1 zucchini, grated
- 3/4 cup frozen corn
- 1, 15 oz can white beans
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tbsp garlic powder)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp olive oil or butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat large cast-iron skillet over medium-high, add butter or oil. Once heated, add onion + bell pepper. Cook for 5 min, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini, corn + white beans. Stir to combine. Add both cans of tomatoes, spices + chicken. Stir to combine (break up tomatoes if you used whole).
- Allow to cook over medium heat, uncovered for about 20 minutes before serving. You can let it simmer even longer if you like. It will just taste better and better.
- Serve with sour cream, avocado, cheese + corn bread on the side if you wish.
- I used to use black beans in this but I only had white and loved them so much I am using them in the official recipe. You could use any bean as far as I’m concerned.
- I highly recommend using a rotisserie chicken, because 1. its easier, 2. it just shreds up better than any chicken I ever make myself. But if you don’t want to use one or you can’t, I would say its about 2 cups of cooked chicken.
- Side note, we went out to breakfast one of the mornings and man this place knows what they are doing. It’s called Crossroads Cafe :)))) ps. I really wish I noticed the rogue beans on the edge of the plate before I took this.