Comfort, Community, & Sweet Potato Chili

I don't think there is a Sunday that goes by that I don't sit in my little chair at our little church and feel my eyes well up with tears. The trigger can be a line in a favorite hymn, an earnest prayer, a certain revelation from our pastor, or the act of taking communion ... I feel that telling burn at the back of my throat, clench my husband's hand, and blink back the tears lest they begin to free fall and I become that girl at church that cries at everything. (Which technically I am, I guess, but I'm not sure if that helps my street cred at our hipster Nashville church.) We have a sweet community that lives in desperate and humble pursuit of the Gospel, and I couldn't be more overwhelmed at the support and love we feel every time we darken those doors. Today my tears flowed, as we watched some of the most influential people in our lives - from college to current - join together on stage to install our new pastor. I love the formality of it - one of the reasons I love the PCA so much - the covenant blessed by God, and upheld by His people with His grace. We've been on a beautiful journey of Gospel and grace for these last 2 years, and we are finally feeling "home" with our church family.

Some of newest-and-dearest church friends came for dinner the other night, and we busted out the crock pot for a homey, comfortable bowl of chili. We are lucky to break bread with our community group every other week, to bless each other with our food and fellowship. But that's expanded, spilled out into other days and nights and meals to the point where the line between "church friends" and "best friends" has become blurred. And as we grow more and more comfortable, the food becomes less fancy and more homey ... we've moved past the formal, best-dressed dishes and introduced each other to family favorites, comfort foods, and (to be honest) whatever we can throw together last minute. And what better fits that description than a good ol' pot of crock pot chili? Especially when it involves sweet potatoes.

Chicken, Chipotle, & Sweet Potato Chili

Based very loosely on this from Real Simple.

This is one of my favorite-est new dishes ... partially because of the taste, partially because cooking in the crock pot is so wonderfully easy. The sweet potato-and-cinnamon add a lovely sweetness to contrast the adobo. A little spicy, a little sweet ... just delightful! Perfect for sharing with friends.

Ingredients:

1 roasted chicken (roast it yourself, use a rotisserie, or substitute cooked chicken breast) 2 green bell peppers, diced 1 onion, diced 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 cans black beans, rinsed 2 cans kidney beans, rinsed 2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes 2-3 medium sweet potatoes, diced 3 tbsp adobo sauce (from chipotles in adobo) 3 chipotles in adobo, chopped 1-2 cups low sodium chicken broth 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder 2 tsp cinnamon Spices: chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, adobo, pepper, salt

To Do

1. Roast your chicken! (Or shred it, if it's rotisserie.) If you're like me, and have had 5 whole chickens languishing in the freezer, you roast your own. 1 hour at 375, then 15 minutes at 425.

2. (Optional) Cook onions, garlic, and peppers in a skillet for a few minutes, just until they are slightly soft and the flavors have released. Not necessary, but it helps soften the flavors in the final chili. Worth it if you have a few minutes.

3. Put shredded chicken in crock pot set to low. Put spices on chicken to taste, and stir to coat. Here's my "to taste":

4. Add remaining ingredients - onions, peppers, garlic, beans, tomatoes, chipotles, adobo, and sweet potatoes. If you are lucky like me, you'll have the WORLD'S LARGEST SWEET POTATO and only need to peel one.

5. Add chicken broth, cocoa, and cinnamon. Stir. The crock pot should look like this:

6. Simmer 6-8 hours on low, until fragrant and sweet potatoes are mushy. Serve with shredded cheese and enjoy!