Monday, December 4, 2017

The Great Christmas Tree Hunt and Chili Supper 2017

This weekend was the long-awaited Christmas Tree Hunt!

Jan here, sharing one of our favorite Black Hills traditions - our church's annual Tree Hunt and Chili Supper.

We rarely need an excuse to head up into the Hills on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, especially when we get to do it with a few of our closest friends!

I think I've mentioned how our church is growing...sixty-one folks from our church gathered for this year's hunt.

photo by Janet Sartorius :-)

The weather was a lovely 55°, even though it was a bit overcast due to an approaching storm front. This lovely spot in the middle of the Hills is expecting 4"-6" of snow overnight Sunday and into Monday, our first real snow of the season.

But we found our tree, and then we all headed back to the church for the chili supper.

I made one of our favorite chili recipes this year - Chili Verde - which is really more white than green. :-) But it's tasty, not too spicy, and super easy to throw together.

Chili Verde


2 quarts chicken broth
2 cups cooked, diced chicken (I often use canned chicken)
3 cans Great Northern Beans, or another large white bean
2 small cans diced green chilies
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I used chipotle chili powder)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt to taste

Combine the ingredients in your slow cooker, large pot, or pressure cooker.

In the slow cooker, cook on high for 4 - 6 hours.

In a large pot (stove-top), simmer on medium heat for about an hour.

In a counter-top pressure cooker (aka Instant Pot), cook for 10 minutes on high pressure and use the natural pressure release (about 30 minutes total time.)

That's it! Super simple, and delicious on a snowy, stormy day.

And this is a perfect dish to make when you want or need to use your pantry. I always keep a stock of these ingredients on hand, so this is a dish I can make even if we haven't made a trip to the store in a few weeks...or months. 

So, where is your favorite spot to find your Christmas tree?

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan


  1. I've never tried chicken chili, so I must do this... because it sounds wonderful and with fresh bread... or a Sister Shubert's roll??? I'm in heaven!

    We're using our big artificial tree this year. With five extra people living here, there's no room for a second tree and trees here are $50. I figure that $50 can go into the grocery budget for now... and then next year we'll get a live tree again.

    Jan, do you do the state permit thing? Do you know I had to be careful where to set my cowboy books because there aren't a lot of Christmas tree farms in places where you can get a $10 permit tree... and they wanted a Christmas tree farm.

    So it ended up in Washington state.

    Isn't it funny how my normal (here in the Northeast woodlands) is so very different from folks in other regions?

    That's the fun of writing, we learn so many quirky things from place to place!

    1. I have Sister Shubert's rolls in the freezer, and can't wait to try them! I'm planning to fix a couple tonight to go with our beef stew. :-)

      And yes, we get the $10 permit, and you're right. There aren't a lot of tree farms around here. I think it's the combination of the ease of getting trees so cheap in the forest and the semi-arid climate. The white pines and Fraser firs that folks want to purchase don't grow as well here.

      And yes, the chicken chili is fabulous!

  2. Jan, we call this White Bean Chili and it’s one of our favorites. It’s supposed to turn cooler this week and this time it looks like the cool weather is going to stick around for a while, so I may have to whip up a batch of this myself.

    As for Christmas trees, we always go with the artificial versions. And I love not having to string lights anymore. Just set it up, plug it in and we’re ready to decorate. Of course, I plug in a pine-scented thingy behind it so we at least get to enjoy that wonderful aroma of a real tree. We’re still waiting to put ours up. I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone since Thanksgiving without a tree. Got too much other stuff to square away, though.

    1. It's hard when you're in a flux of stuff! One thing at a time... and God willing, there will always be next year!

      Mindy, you guys are rocking this moving/changing/not killing anyone thing.

      Well done.

    2. I just figured that by now Mindy must have a couple bodies stashed somewhere with all the flux her family has been in!

      And I just can't go the artificial route. I love having a real tree, even with the mess and bother. Every year our tree is different from the year before. I love it.

  3. Nice tree picking! I love this tradition and that your church is growing!

    We have a few Christmas tree farms where you can go and cut your own tree down and then you pay by the height. It's very expensive though. Otherwise we have Christmas tree lots which are super expensive too. And I'll admit to being Scroogy the last few years 'cause I haven't had a tree. Not sure what I'll do this year. I've lost all of my ornaments between mice and mold so I'll have to start all over. My daughter gives me part ownership of hers which is kind of sweet since then she gets to do all the clean up after Christmas. lol

    1. Sharing with your daughter gives you the best of both worlds - you get to enjoy the tree, but not the work!

      We've been spoiled when it comes to Christmas trees. When we lived in northern Indiana, we lived close to a "cut your own" tree farm. It was great, and the children were the perfect ages to enjoy it!

      When we lived in Kansas, we had to buy our trees. One year, because of conflicting schedules, sickness, and weather, we didn't get our tree until the last few days before Christmas. We went to Lowes, where the few trees that were left were half price (or less, maybe), and we chose one that was the right height. It was still wrapped from when it was shipped, and it had been languishing in the tree lot for weeks. We didn't have high hopes for it, but we did have a tree.

      When we got home and unwrapped it, we were amazed. It was the most perfect tree we had ever bought! Gorgeous, full, and (I think) thankful to be loved by a family. :-)

      But now the fellowship and the trip to the Hills are the added bonus to the great tree!

  4. Yum!! Sounds so good.

    Jan, I aways love seeing your photos of the tree hunt each year!

  5. I was inspired by you, Jan! I grabbed the ingredients for your chili while I was at Walmart yesterday. Can't wait to try it, especially since it's cold & snowy here now. :)

    We cut our own tree. Only $35, and the kids get to race around playing 'Hide & Seek' amongst the trees. Can't beat that around here!