(Early) Thanksgiving in a bowl

So, I haven’t done a lot of cooking lately due to this crazy weather we’ve been getting. The oven heats the entire place up and the stove isn’t much better. Even the microwave contributes. And with the air conditioner going pretty full blast 24/7 (due to my asthma and my crazy little need to breathe), I’ve been trying to conserve energy in other areas of our home. But last night, I finally bit the bullet. You can only live on take-out for so long before a) it gets old and boring and b) you start craving a home-cooked meal. Last night wasn’t too bad in the way of temperature in the apartment, so I decided to go spelunking in the kitchen, to see what I could dredge up in the deep, dark depths of the fridge, freezer and cupboards.

I didn’t have much to make what I thought was a coherent meal (protein, starch, two veggies), so I thought, why not do some kind of one-pot meal, which I’m actually quite fond of. Experimenting time! I found a single package of stir fry turkey in my freezer. Surely this wasn’t enough to feed both myself and my husband and still have left overs for lunch the next day. So I dug a little further in the fridge. Look! I thought to myself. I had found some left over sausages, about a third of a large onion, a green bell pepper and some minced garlic. Surely the addition of some cut up sausage would help beef up the meat side of things. The pepper would add some flavour and colour. But what was I going to serve with this? Rice? Potatoes? Should I do up the meat and veggies in teriyaki sauce over some noodles? Or maybe add some pesto sauce?

Decisions, decisions.

Venturing over to the cupboard to grab the pasta, as that seemed to be the direction I was leaning, I stumbled across a box of StoveTop Stuffing… turkey flavour! Hey, now we’re talking! So I pre-cooked the pasta and stuffing in separate pots, then got the turkey strips cooking in some water, olive oil and butter with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper and coarse salt. Then I thought, “What’s turkey without sage?” So I went looking for my powdered sage, but came across the poultry seasoning first. That works! That was sprinkled into the wok too. As the turkey cooked, I split up the strips into smaller chunks to spread them out a little. Once these were pretty much cooked through, I added the onion and let them soften.

From there, it was almost “everyone in the pool”. The garlic and bell pepper went in first. Then the leftover sausage. Why sausage? First, it’s what I had lying about and this was all about using what I had kicking around. Second, this was reminding more and more of Thanksgiving; Mom and Grandma never made stuffing without sausage in it. So, into the wok it went. Then a few moments later, I added the stuffing, pasta, a packet of chicken oxxo powder and half a cup of water, oh, and a bit more butter (just a bit for flavour/moistness). Then I got to stirring all this goop up. I used spiral pasta (whole wheat), so the stuffing actually started to work its way into the grooves. This was great because I was concerned that I hadn’t really flavoured the pasta, but it turns out I didn’t need to.

Then, into individual bowls it went and what a nice little meal we had! I think next time, I’d have a little pot of gravy (Clubhouse works!) on the side to just top the bowl with (not a lot; just for taste) and maybe also toss in a handful or two of frozen cranberries into the mix when the peppers and sausage went in, to really make it taste like Thanksgiving!

Hubby devoured his share and I’m going to have the rest for lunch in about a half hour or so. My only regret: that there isn’t any more! Hehe. Maybe I should pop by the grocery store tonight and pick up all the fixings and make it again, this time with gravy and cranberries. Maybe I’ll get some additional veggies for the pot, too, like frozen peas and even corn (both were often served with turkey dinners when I lived at home).

The bottom line about this one is: have fun with it! While it wasn’t a true one-pot dinner, it was really about using up what you have, including leftovers. If you have left over asparagus or brussel sprouts, pop them in toward the end to warm them through! Don’t have pasta? Add pre-boiled mini potatoes, cut in half or quarters. Heck, I was eying up the frozen hash browns in my freezer as a possibility last night!

Don’t have all of that stuff? Look in your cupboards, fridge and freezer and be prepared to dig deep. Maybe you only have half a bag of egg noodles, a cup of sticky/Japanese rice, two chicken breasts, some frozen veggies and half a bottle of teriyaki sauce or soy sauce.  You have no nori (seaweed) to make sushi rolls (out of chicken? I’ve done it!) and don’t have enough rice or enough noodles for everyone? That’s ok! Figure out a way to combine things so that it stretches out the protein a little and make it into a dinner for two instead of one. You could toss everything into a pot or wok, cook the rice on the side, then serve your soy/teriyaki mixture over the rice. Some of my tastiest meals have been experiments and what I would call a “Heinz 57” meal — a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Experiment, have fun and enjoy. That’s what I do!

(Sorry, no picture this time. Maybe next time I make it!)

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