When I was about five years old, my mom gave me my first advent calendar. Each day, I awoke with anticipation. When would Mom say it was okay to pry open the perforated cardboard door to find the candy inside? I lived whole hours within those minutes between waking up and tasting that chocolate. No chocolate since has tasted so good.
I often wish I could revive that childhood sense of anticipation each advent, even though I would not be eagerly awaiting candy but the much sweeter chance to celebrate what the season is all about.
But isn’t it hard to keep a sense of anticipation when we are so busy between Thanksgiving and Christmas? When you’re busy, you never have to wait for anything—in fact, you wish you could delay whatever events are on the horizon so you’ll have more time.
It can help to have a repertoire of easy meals lined up between the big meal at Thanksgiving and the big meal at Christmas. That way, even if everything else is crazy, you don’t have to go crazy in the kitchen too.
Here’s one that came to the rescue for me recently: Mexican Skillet Chili. You brown the meat with some onions in a big skillet, dump all the other ingredients into the skillet, and simmer for about 40 minutes. Really, it’s not much more time-consuming than ordering pizza. It makes a delicious filling for burritos, which has the added perk of making it stretch to feed more people.
- Half an onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. Lone Star Farm ground beef
- Taco seasoning: 1 tablespoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon dried oregano, 1½ teaspoons ground cumin, a pinch of salt.
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 14.5 ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
- ¾ cups brown rice, uncooked
- 1 cup black beans
- 2 cups beef or chicken broth
- 1½ cups shredded cheddar
- Diced avocado
- Cook the onion in oil in a large skillet over medium heat 1-2 minutes. Add ground beef, stirring, until cooked through. Drain fat.
- Add to skillet: taco spices, tomatoes, corn, black beans, rice, and broth. Return heat to medium, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 40 minutes or until rice is fluffy.
- Remove from heat and serve in bowls or in tortillas with the taco toppings of your choice.
Advent calendar photo credit: Onnolo via Flickr.