Last summer, during our Big Bog camping trip, my mom made campfire packets filled with french fries, canned chili (sans beef for me), and highly processed liquid cheese. They were amazing for several reasons:
1. My husband ate them, despite the fact the fries had been sitting in a cooler for well over 40 hours and were no longer frozen. If you know him, I'm sure you'll understand why this is a big deal.
2. I ate them, despite the fact they were covered in canned meatless chili, which just sounds revolting.
The fact of the matter is that they tasted awesome. The husband has occasionally requested them over the past few months, but I just couldn't bring myself to buy canned meat. (You can love canned meat all you want, I just can't do it. Sorry.) At the grocery store on Sunday, it occurred to me that I could improvise and make homemade TVP chili, pile it on some baked french fries and cover it with shredded cheese. I knew it was risky for several reasons, but mostly because G claims to be repulsed by TVP.
Tonight I made it. I lied to my husband (we can't lie to each other, so this was really tough, but I knew I would reveal the truth after he finished, so that helped me make it through dinner - well, almost through dinner, I ended up telling him before he finished because I felt badly) and told him I used canned Hormel chili for his and TVP for mine. He ate his in record time. The entire time he made comments about how good it tasted. "This is so good." " This is awesome." When I couldn't hold it in any longer, I told him it was TVP chili and his eyes grew really big. He then claimed that it "tasted a little goofy," but was still edible.
I should have taped him talking about how good it was while he was eating it. I will never get him to admit that he liked TVP.
Here's the recipe (using the ingredients I used):
1 Bag of Alexia crinkle cut fries (I think crinkle cut holds toppings better)
1 package of McCormick chili seasoning (reduced sodium)*
1 bag (14 ouces) Morningstar TVP crumbles
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 can mixed chili beans (or just kidney beans), rinsed and drained
A couple of handfuls of shredded cheese
Heat the oven to 350. Bake fries for 15 minutes, turn bake 10 additional minutes. Meanwhile, coat a frying pan with olive oil and heat the TVP crumbles. Add seasoning (*I used 3/4 of the pouch), tomatoes w/ juice and beans. Cook for 10 minutes. Take fries out. I divided the fries into two parts and put each pile on a piece of tinfoil to make transferring them to plates easier. Cover with chili and generously top with cheese. Put back into the oven for 4 - 5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.
Trust me, they are good - and pretty healthy (all things considered).