Buffalo Chicken Chili 

Lately I’ve been dreaming of Paris.

I dream about a lot of things that make my heart ache, in good and bad ways. Don’t you hate that feeling of waking up from a heady dream and you feel so off balance because of what you were just experiencing; vivid memories and unbearable feelings that your unconscious mind travels back to for Mother Nature knows what reason? (I say that instead of God knows what reasons in case some of you didn’t get that).

I dream about truly horrible things: My high school boyfriend. Death. The apartment setting on fire and having to save the cats (my worst fear, besides one of them getting out somehow or leaning against the window screen and falling out and getting hit by a car or never seeing him again). I’ve had many dreams about bridges; long, narrow, winding bridges over gaping ocean vortex’s, breaking from the weight. Falling.

I dream about beautiful things too, sometimes: One time I had a dream that I was Jenny from Forest Gump, but I didn’t die. Another time I had a dream that I was stuck in a video game, but for some reason it was magical, and the stars were in the trees, and I was a llama.

Hiking in Switzerland. Growing up in Iceland. My memories of Florence, reliving nights where I was drunk (on pizza). European men. Marrying one of them and moving there. Looking over a balcony at the Mediterranean. Mostly all things foreign are in my dreams. I literally get dizzy from romanticizing. Literally.

This is where my heart starts to ache, to yearn for the whole world outside my little cubicle and my apartment and the 4 miles I travel everyday between work and the yoga studio and my apartment and back.

Sometimes, I can’t wait to get into bed at night so I can think without interruption, just playing all my dreams in my head.

We often see quotes and pictures all over social media reminding us to chase our dreams, not to hold back. I think I’ve done well so far in following my dreams, the two main things are going to Iceland and pursuing a career in publishing. Sometimes I wonder if I should dream bigger.

But Paris, I’ve never had an interest. When I was living in Italy I didn’t have a care in the world to see any part of France, and lately I’m dreaming of the colorful cobblestone streets of the Latin Quarter or Montmartre, walking over the bridges of the Seine, the Arc de Triomphe, the cafes, snacking on cheese and a baguette on the Champs de Mars, seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, eating steak tartare at a gorgeous bistro, I mean…try and tell me you’re not convinced! I can smell the perfume of  flowers along shop windows now.

In the meantime, Halloween is around the corner in the states, so is the election, and leaves turning crispy and falling to their death, and snow. I’ll be here dreaming, scheming, and eating chili for days.

Recipe

Mind you, I made this recipe with ground chicken. “Big mistake. HUGE!” screams Julia Roberts from the corner. But my idea for this soup was to resemble buffalo chicken dip, but in chili form, because I was craving both, and the ground chicken didn’t do that. What I am suggesting in my recipe below and what I will do in the future, is follow my crockpot buffalo chicken recipe for a perfectly seasoned, shredded chicken component, and then add that to the chili.

For the chicken:

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 2 cups Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce
  • 1/2 package dry ranch seasoning
  • 1 tbsp butter

Place chicken in the crockpot. Mix the hot sauce and dry ranch seasoning. Pour over chicken, drop in butter. Cook on low for 7 hours (or on high for 3-4 hours). Shred chicken. Save crockpot contents for the chili broth.

For the chili:

  • Shredded buffalo chicken and buffalo sauce juice from crockpot
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ a green pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tbsp. smoked sweet paprika
  • ½ tbsp. chili powder
  • A few sprinkles of cayenne pepper
  • A pinch of sea salt, and pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 8 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream

Once the chicken is done and shredded, set aside. Heat olive oil in large pot, add onions and carrots. Let cook for a few minutes until aromatic. Add in chopped peppers, add paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. When peppers have softened a bit, add in the veggie broth, can of tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, and contents of the crockpot. Bring to a boil.

Depending on your desired level of heat, or buffalo flavor, add in more buffalo sauce, chili powder, or even another kind of hot sauce (I sprinkled in a few droplets of Trader Joe’s Jalapeno Pepper Hot Sauce for an additional kick).

Pour chili into a bowl. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese, add a  dollop of sour cream (my hero) and pour over body.

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