White Chili (and Christmas Decor!)

We don’t go too crazy with the Christmas decorations, but we do like to make things festive. This year, Dan made white chili for us to eat while we got started with the decorating.  He adapted this recipe from SimplyRecipes.com to make it a little easier to make.  Although Dan has perfected his regular chili recipe over the years, this was his first attempt at white chili.  It turned out great, and we’ll definitely be adding it to our rotation as a lighter alternative to beef chili.


The ingredients are ground turkey, a can of “Great Northern” white beans, chicken stock, green chiles, garlic, onion, jalapeno, ground cloves, ground cumin and dried oregano.


Heat a pan (deep enough to accommodate all the ingredients) over medium-high heat, add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil, then add the ground turkey.  The original recipe called for diced cooked turkey (which would be a good use of leftover turkey), but we didn’t have any.  We liked the ground turkey because it broke up into smaller pieces and had better texture than diced turkey.


Add half a diced onion (save the remaining half to use later) and cook until the turkey is browned and the onions are translucent…


….like this.


Rinse the beans.  The original recipe called for a 1/2 lb of white beans soaked overnight in water, but we skipped that step and used the canned beans instead.  Having never made this recipe before, we’re not sure if using the canned beans and skipping the soak makes any real difference in taste, but we liked the canned beans in our finished chili.


Add the chicken stock and beans to the browned turkey.


Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook over low heat for approximately 30 minutes.


While the beans and turkey simmer, start busting out some Christmas decorations.  We found these ornaments at Target.  Rather than putting them on the tree, we put them in a pretty bowl on our dining room table.  I like how they look kind of retro, which is different than our usual, more traditional, holiday style.


Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, add the remaining diced onion and the minced clove of garlic with a pinch of salt, then cook until tender.


Next add the cloves, cumin and oregano and stir them in with the onions.


Add 1-2 cans of chopped green chiles (we used 2 cans).


And chopped jalapeno if you like it a little bit spicy, and mix it all together.  Cook all of this for a minute or two.


Add the chiles/onions/jalapeno to the bean and turkey mixture.


Simmer the chili over low heat.  The white chili should be ready in about 10-15 minutes, but it can continue to simmer for an hour or so over low heat.  Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper before serving.


While the chili simmers, dispose of your enemies’ remains get out the artificial Christmas tree!  Or set up your fresh tree if you’re a purist.


By far the worst part of setting up the tree is connecting the lights.  On our tree, you have to match up the color coded plugs and outlets, which are located close to the “trunk” of the tree.  So there is much flashlight pointing, pine needle scratching and “I-told-you-that-was-the-wrong-one”-ing until we get it right — almost never on the first try.  (The above picture shows a red plug incorrectly stuck in a purple outlet).


But it’s so pretty when it’s all connected and lit up!


This year, I found a tiny real tree for Dan, who misses not having the pine scent that comes with real Christmas trees.


We assembled some small  silver and white ornaments for the little tree.




Now time for some white chili!  We garnished with monterey jack cheese and cilantro.


It was delicious and really easy to make.  Way easier than connecting the lights on a fake Christmas tree.  Speaking of Christmas, want to see a little more of our decor?  If you’re not related to us or curious to see photos of other people’s stuff, skip to the end for the printable recipe.  Otherwise, here are a few of the ways we make our house festive for the holidays…


Dan likes to joke that during the Christmas season, there are ornaments hanging from every available surface in our home.  He also exaggerates.


But I do find that tiny shiny or colorful things hanging from other hanging things can be a festive (and easy and cheap) way to add some sparkle.


The morning after we had our white chili, Dan made a big fire in our fireplace and we decorated the big tree all morning.


I say “all morning,” because it took us the entire morning.  Lots and lots of ornaments.  This year, we added 2 colors to our usual red and gold scheme — lime green and turquoise.  Sounds weird, but we think it turned out great.




I think adding the green and blue gives our tree an almost “Dr. Seuss” vibe (for lack of a better description) (could there be a worse description?)


So pretty at night.


We had some pre-lit garland that I put around the table that holds our fish tank.  “Luke” the white fish seems to approve.


We don’t have a mantle over our fireplace, but we do have one (of sorts) above the stove.  The red wreath is one of the very first Christmas decorations that Dan and I ever bought together, lo those many years ago when we were dating.  Aw…..


And this is our very first (fake and pre-lit) Christmas tree.  It is still in surprisingly good shape (it really has been many years) and we are surprisingly sentimental, so we put it up every year.


For the last couple of years, I have decorated it with these adorable owl ornaments.


My mom gave me this cool glass box “present” that lights up to add a festive touch to the side table in our dining room (thanks Mom!)


My mom also gave me the idea (and the hats) to put santa hats (or bows, ribbon, or other Christmas touches) on the decorative animal pieces that we have around the house.  (These are hand-carved and painted wooden giraffes from South Africa.  So jaunty with their little hats!)  Dan would likely tell you that pretty much anything in our house that doesn’t have ornaments hanging from it, has a little santa hat or red bow-tie stuck on it.  But as I told you, he exaggerates.


We have a small metal tree that holds special ornaments given to us on our first Christmas as a married couple.  I like putting them together in one place, set aside from the other ornaments.


I also like putting other special ornaments in seemingly random places — like hanging from the door knob of our closet — where we can see them every day and they make ordinary objects Christmas-y.


Some meaningful (and very fragile!) ornaments gifted to us over the years also deserve their own tree (placed on a very tall surface so the cats can’t knock it over and smash everything to bits.  Festive AND practical!)


We usually don’t put up lights or do anything to the front of the house during Christmas (mostly because we decorate the inside of the house first and by the time it is done, I have used up all my energy, Christmas cheer and will to live).  But every year my mom sends us a fresh wreath to hang on the front door so we’ll have the Christmas pine scent, without all the pine needle mess (thanks, as always, Mom!)


Finally (if anyone is even still reading other than our moms), Dan’s mom gave me this beautiful nativity scene that I put out every year (thanks again, Elaine!)

Here is the White Chili recipe:

White Chili


  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1  can ”Great Northern” white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (and divided in half)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1-2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 1-2 4 oz. cans chopped green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • monterey jack cheese, grated

Heat, over medium high heat, a pan or pot large enough to hold all the ingredients, add the vegetable oil and cook the turkey and half of the chopped onions until the turkey is browned and the onions are translucent.

Rinse and drain the beans and add them to the turkey and onions.  Add the chicken stock.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer over low heat for approximately 30 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the remaining onion and minced garlic with a pinch of salt.  Cook over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the cloves, cumin and oregano and stir.  Add the chopped green chiles and jalapeno, mix everything together and heat over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.   Add the chile mixture to the bean and turkey mixture and simmer over low heat for at least 15 minutes (up to 1 hour).

Garnish with grated monterey jack cheese and chopped cilantro.

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8 thoughts on “White Chili (and Christmas Decor!)

  1. OK, that was the best post, everything about it made me want to curl up on your couch & eat your chili. Then sit by the fire & read a really good magazine & fall asleep in a comfy chair for days…thanks for that, it was like a mini-getaway from my kids for 2 minutes 😉
    Love it all, read it all the time, I need to post more comments…thank! Merry Christmas & Hapy New Year guys.
    PS: I am making that chili this week!

    1. Thanks for the nice compliments, Keana, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family as well! Let us know how the white chili turns out!

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