No. 5 Deadline Meals

Deadline Meal and Turkey Wok Christmas Chili

It’s been a few days. Boss was out for jury duty on deadline day, so I worked late last night and tried to get finished at a decent hour today so I could start my holiday this evening. Have a little more than a week off, so I hope to get a few more frequent posts up with recipes and chat about the season (whatever that means to you), the digital conversion we’re facing here in the U.S. and some thoughts on reading, writing and books. I suspect I’ll have a few new ones under the tree…

Last night was one of those late nights where I could have succumbed to the supreme pizza waiting in the frozen mist at the back of the freezer, or gone for one of my top favorite comfort meals: bacon, eggs, cheese grits and toast.

But even when it’s 10 p.m., the cats are hungry, my brain is mush from staring at the glowing screen all day and all I want to do is get in bed with the heating pad, I still often manage to think for a minute about a better alternative and throw something together for dinner that’s got some redeeming value.

Be warned: This is not a light meal or bedtime snack.

One of the things that really helps in being able to make decent meals on the spur of the moment, is, of course, having stuff on hand. In being single and trying not to waste food one of the things I do is when opening a big jar or can of pasta sauce for dinner I only cook what I’m going to eat and  pour off the rest into one-cup margarine containers and stack them in the freezer.

So, last night I put a small pot on the stove, tossed in the frozen pasta sauce with a little water, tossed a handful of frozen peas on top and turned the heat on low. In a larger pot I heated  some water with a pinch of Celtic sea salt and when it came to a boil, tossed in two handfuls of Pennsylvania Dutch egg noodles. Into the toaster oven went a dozen (generic) Tater Tots for about 13 minutes on 400 degrees. Maybe Tater Tots have no redeeming value, I don’t know. But I love them and I don’t overdo.

When the tots were done crisping I sprinkled them with salt and cracked black pepper. The pasta was also finished cooking, so I drained it, spooned on the sauce and peas and topped it with Parmesan . With a glass of milk, not a bad Deadline Dinner.

Tonight I stopped on the way home from work and last-minute shopping and had dinner with my brother and his wife. I hope she’ll share some of her recipes with us. She’s a fabulous throw-together cook. Tonight she made some awesome chicken-fried brown rice with peas, mushrooms and eggs cooked in. Yum! Great with Ravenswood Red Zinfandel, one of my favorite affordable red wines.

On to Xmas dinner. Over the last few years, our family Christmas gatherings have veered away from a replay of the Massive Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner and on to more fun, portable casual foods for hanging out all day and enjoying each other without the BIG DEAL CHRISTMAS DINNER and clean-up.

I think one year I made spaghetti with turkey meat sauce and one year I made the sauce with tempeh.  The last couple of years I’ve made a big pot of turkey chili and taken it to the designated Christmas House.

I loosely follow a recipe I made up when I was married (gag! was I ever married? sometimes I forget!). It’s called Turkey Wok Chili, because at the time I was having a love affair with a beautiful red enamel electric wok. Don’t ask. I think I gave it away, although I wish I still had it. Feel free to substitute your own kinds of beans. I often mix black, kidney, or baked depending on what I have on hand. This year I’m trying a 22 oz. can of Bush’s Grillin’ Beans, Bourbon and Brown Sugar flavor.

Turkey Wok Chili

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 clove chopped garlic, or more
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz. can baked beans
  • 1 16 oz. can whatever kind of beans
  • 1 16 oz. can of corn (optional)
  • 2 T  soy sauce
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/2 t poultry seasoning

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add turkey and brown. Pour off fat if you want, although there usually isn’t much with turkey and the juice has some flavor worth retaining. Add remaining ingredients. Cook covered on medium for 25 minutes, then uncovered for 5 mins. more. Top with your favorite toppings such as shredded sharp cheese, chopped onion, low-fat sour cream, etc.  Serve with hot cornbread and maybe some cole slaw on the side.

(I’m going to experiment Christmas Eve with how to take slice-and-bake cookies up a couple notches. I’ll report here if my idea works out…)

~ Chow for Now! ~

One thought on “No. 5 Deadline Meals

Add yours

  1. Thank you for continuing what’s become a Christmas tradition… the yummy chili for dinner. Once again, you created a cozy meal to be enjoyed while relaxing in our PJ’s all day. Here’s the receipe for Fried Rice. Enjoy!

    Quick Fried Rice
    2 cups cooked brown rice
    2 diced chicken breasts or 1 cup tofu
    1/2 c. onion
    2 big handfuls of peas & carrots & broccoli
    a little canola oil
    1 crushed clove garlic
    some soy sauce
    few dashes of ground ginger or
    1 tsp of crushed fresh ginger
    1 beaten egg

    Heat up large pan with about 1 Tbsp of oil to saute onion & garlic. Add chicken & cook until no longer pink. Add carrots & broccoli with a couple dashes of soy sauce. Cook 3 mins. Add rice. Toss in the ginger. Add beaten egg. Stir 2 min & add peas. Add soy sauce to taste.


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