Archive for October, 2011

Monday Menus: Chili

October 31, 2011

Sorry for slacking off for a week. I haven’t made blog assignments, so I’m going to take this week.  Here are a couple of recipes that I haven’t yet tried, but seem perfect for Halloween. In fact, after two days without heat, this is about all I want to eat these days! I hope you’re all safe and warm!

Here is the link for Butternut Squash-Black Bean chili and here is the link for Smoky Chipotle-chocolate chili.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili (serves 6) 


2 pounds pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeño chile, minced
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
One 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1 cup apple juice
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained if canned

  1. Cut the pumpkin or squash into 1/2-inch chunks and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the reserved pumpkin (squash), diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, water, apple juice, chili powder, salt, and cayenne, and stir well. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Add the beans, and more water if the chili is too thick for your taste. Cover, and continue to simmer about 15 minutes to blend flavors. Serve hot.


From Quick-Fix Vegan: Healthy, Homestyle Meals in 30 Minutes or Less by Robin Robertson (Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2011). Copyright © 2011 by Robin Robertson. Used with permission of the publisher.

Serves 4

The addition of unsweetened chocolate gives this chili a rich depth and balances the acidity of the tomatoes. Chipotle chiles in adobo add their special smoky heat. A green salad and cornbread are ideal accompaniments.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated unsweetened chocolate [I wouldn’t grate the chocolate; it’ll melt as is]
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, including juice
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced [Whoa!! Fire alarm! Two canned chipotles would make this inedibly spicy! Taste before you add!]
  • 3 cups home-cooked black beans, or 2 (15-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the chocolate, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and chiles and stir until well blended. Add the beans and broth and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chili thickens and the flavors have developed, 20 to 25 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot.


Friday’s Favorites by Pam

October 21, 2011

Sitting in my bedroom today, thinking about the many favorite things that I could write about , I realized that one of them is simply the task of walking.  We take for granted the basic blessings Heavenly Father gives us with our bodies.   We never think much about walking, kneeling,  or sitting until  we cannot do them anymore or as easily as we used.  Only then do we  realize how blessed we were.

For those of you who don’t know, I had surgery on my left foot a week ago Wednesday.   I have bunions on both of my feet, and hammer toes had developed as a result. My left foot was the worst. Over 20 years ago I had a bunionectomy performed and my foot was fixed.  The surgery was not that invasive, and I was able to walk on a flat shoe during my recovery, but I was told that if I didn’t get special inserts for my shoes, the bunion would grow back.  It did, and this time it grew worse.  So surgery was the route I decided to take to correct this issue, but this time it was much more invasive and required me to be in a non-weight bearing cast for 8 weeks.  So now I am not able to walk as before, and even though I have a special “hands free” crutch which I am not able to use well enough to be “hands free”, I have to think about every move I make and what I need to do to get from one place to another safely.  I miss being able to walk.

I love being able to walk and to get from place to place.   I love taking my dog for a walk down the street while she smells every smell she can smell.   I love looking at the wild flowers growing on the side of the road, or perhaps the occasional flock of wild turkeys that we will scare as we come down the road.  One time about 5 years ago we were surprised  by a mama bear and her two cubs as they climbed over the edge of the bridge on my road and crossed the street. Cleo and I were at the top of the hill, far enough away from them to be safe, and I yelled at them  and waved my arms at them, trying to scare them away.   It was successful, and they ran away.   I can’t experience any of these things up in my room on my bed.  I can only look out the window at the leaves as they change and fall off the trees.

Autumn is a great time to take a walk.   The trees are beautiful at this time of the year, and every day they change, making each day a new eye treat.  And autumn smells good.    My daughter  Emily came home at the end of September to see the leaves change (She came home a week and a half too early.) and she said she had forgotten how autumn in New Hampshire is much more than just a visual treat.  It touches all five senses.   I love to crunch through the leaves on the side of the road.  I like to throw myself into a raked pile of leaves.   These are things that I will have to enjoy next fall.   The experiences will be so much more appreciated than they ever have been in the past.

Experiences like this teach us to stop taking our blessings for granted.   I love walking, and I can’t wait for the day when I can do it again without the aid of a crutch.


Thursday Thoughts by Pam

October 20, 2011

I wasn’t able to be at church this Sunday as you probably know, and so I did not hear the lesson given by my daughter, Kelsie, in RS.  When I asked her for her sources, she told me to look up the last days on LDS,org.  I did, and I have found this quote from Elder Delbert L. Stapeley from a 1975 talk.   He talks about the signs of the times and the scriptural references.  Then he explained our role as Latter Day Saints in these end times.

“Let us be sure we thoroughly understand the most important things we can do to prepare ourselves for our Lord’s second coming to earth and, by our obedience and faithfulness, escape his punishment.

The following are important considerations. We must set our lives and homes in order. This means a searching of our souls, an admittance of wrongdoing, and repentance where needed. It means keeping all of God’s commandments. It means loving our neighbor. It means living an exemplary life. It means being good husbands and wives. It means teaching and training our children in the ways of righteousness. It means being honest in all our doings, in business and at home. It means spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the peoples of the world.

The Lord has said: “I will hasten my work in its time.” (D&C 88:73.)

There is an urgency in his work. Time is getting short. This sense of urgency in promoting the Lord’s kingdom in these last days does not arise out of panic, but out of a desire to move swiftly and surely to establish and strengthen his kingdom among all people who are seeking the light and truth of the gospel, which is God’s plan of life for all his children.

God will hasten his work by opening the heavens and sending heavenly messengers to his prophets to warn his children to prepare themselves to receive their Lord at his second coming.”


This statement shows how important the gospel is to the world in these wicked times.   The world is rampant with evil, but our refuge and the world’s refuge is in Jesus Christ and his gospel.   Let us remember to grow strong in the gospel, share it with others whenever we can, and to serve  our fellow men.  That is our defense and offense against the evil in the world.

Wednesday Words by Pam

October 20, 2011

Visiting teaching is always a concern of the RS president, and its never ending changing assignments can be overwhelming at times, but of greatest concern for me is that each sister knows that she is loved and that we as sisters are able to love and serve one another through the visiting teaching program.  Thomas S. Monson says, “We are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness. . . .We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children.  He is dependent upon each of us”(Daughters in My Kingdom).

From page 105 in Daughters in My Kingdom it reads, “The Savior calls His disciples to work with Him in His ministry, giving them the opportunity to serve others and become more like Him. In Relief Society, each sister has the opportunity to watch over and strengthen sisters one by one through visiting teaching.  Sister Julie B. Beck, the fifteenth Relief Society general president, said,  ‘Because we follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ, we value this sacred assignment to love, know, serve, understand, teach, and minister in His behalf.'”

We tend to think of serving one another in visiting teaching when we each have specific needs, such as having a baby, having surgery, becoming ill, etc., but we must consider strengthening each others spiritual needs also.  We must learn to be each others friends and show our love to each other.  The hardest part of this challenge is to do it for those sisters  we don’t know.   We must be brave and reach out to those sisters, even if it is only in a note or a quick call.  To do nothing is to fail in our service.

Pres. Brigham Young said, “Let us have compassion upon each other, and let the strong tenderly nurse the weak into strength, guide the blind until they can see the way for themselves” (107).   How can we do this if we don’t take the risk to serve that sister we don’t know?

My challenge for this month is that we try a little harder to let our sisters know that we love them and care about  them.   Give them a call. Send them a note.  Talk to them at church, at the grocery store, the library.  Visit them in their homes whenever possible.  Let’s remember that we are doing this in the Savior’s behalf.





Tuesday Tips–Electric pressure cookers by Pam

October 18, 2011

I have been planning on buying an electric pressure cooker for over  a year, but I kept putting it off until I “could afford it”.  Then this summer I realized after spending a ridiculous amount of money at the Chiles Restaurant on a meal that I didn’t like and couldn’t eat, that I could have bought that pressure cooker with that money alone.  Finally, in the month of September, I searched on Amazon for a good electric pressure cooker and chose the Cuisinart 6  quart pressure cooker. It cost just over $80 and the shipping was free because I have a prime account.

Why a pressure cooker you may ask?

Cooking times are reduced by 1/3 to 1/2.

More nutrients are preserved during the cooking process because less liquid is used, so you don’t lose nutrients to evaporation.

Food is flavorful.

Today’s pressure cookers are safe, unlike our grandmother’s old ones.

I wanted a pressure cooker to cook grains and beans much more quickly so that I could use my food storage.

For example:  I cooked spelt in 24 minutes instead of 90 minutes.   I can cook a cup of unsoaked black beans in 28-32 minutes, soaked in 20-25.


So far I have cooked the rice pilaf, potatoes ( which were absolutely delicious), the spelt, and a roast beef dinner and a beef stew. The beef stew was to die for.   I haven’t cooked since my surgery, but I look forward to being able to cook again, and I will certainly  be using my pressure cooker.

To aid in my pressure cooking adventure, I went to Amazon again to buy a couple of cook books.  Now I have many recipes to work with.

So think about purchasing an electric pressure cooker. If you want to can with your cooker, you will need to buy a much  bigger and more expensive pressure cooker canner. They are the stove top kind.


Monday Menus by Pam

October 18, 2011

I know that it is officially Tuesday, but as I was sitting in my bed very bored, I realized that I was supposed to do the blog this week, so this is my attempt at catching up.


The recipe that I am giving you today is one that I use for my new electric pressure cooker that I bought from Cuisinart.  I am sure that it can be adapted to use for non pressure cooking.  Here it is.


1 1/2 T butter

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 medium carrot finely chopped

1 celery stalk finely chopped

3/4 cup of finely chopped broccoli flowerets

2 cups long grain white  rice

3 cups chicken broth

1 sage leaf (optional)

1/4 t salt (optional)

Melt the butter in the pressure cooker at the  saute setting. When butter is melted, saute all of the chopped vegetables, about 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the rice and saute until it turns opaque, about two minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the chicken broth, salt and sage leaf and put on lid and lock in place.  Select high pressure and set the timer for three minutes. When the timer has completed it cooking and the audible sound goes off, wait three minutes and then let the pressure out quickly, be careful that the steam releases away from you.  When the pressure valve drops and the pressure is down, open the cover away from your face.  The steam will be very hot.

This rice dish is similar Rice a Roni chicken and broccoli dish that my kids love, but I make it myself and it costs less and tastes better, and I am sure it is more healthy, too.  Far less salt.



Friday Favorites

October 14, 2011
Since our son (now 3) was six months old, we’ve been applying Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University program in our lives. Dave Ramsey is a well known radio talk show host who teaches about managing money. He aligns the principles he teaches about money with scriptural references. This has given me a sense of real stewardship over my money and assets. We took his course over a 12 week period and learned the 7 baby steps he gives to have financial peace. We’re still on the second baby step which is getting out of debt completely. It has been empowering watching as we have made our debt go down signficantly over the past 2 1/2 years. As we continue this journey we look forward to the next two years when we will be completely debt free!
If you want to listen to Dave Ramsey or take the course with your spouse, visit
-Marie Hammill

Thursday Thoughts

October 13, 2011
I was fortunate to be able to teach the Young Women this past Sunday. The lesson was titled The Word of God as a Standard. It taught that as there are ever so changing standards and worldly philosophies in our society, we can always count on our Heavenly Father’s standards to be unchanging and immovable. I find so much comfort in this as I witness so much confusion in our world. I found a great object lesson to make the message of this lesson clear. I took an orange and dropped it in a bowl of water. After a second or two, it floated up to the top. I explained that the skin of the orange was like a life jacket keeping the orange a float. I likened this to the standards of the church.  Then I peeled the orange and asked the girls what they thought would happen if I put it back in the bowl and it sank of course! It was a reminder to us all that the gospel is our protection that brings happiness and clarity to our lives. We would “sink” if we didn’t have the word of God to be used as a standard in coping with the worldly philosophies and challenges around us.

-Marie Hammill

Wednesday Words

October 12, 2011
Studying The Book of Mormon has been a big focus in our family. A talk from General Conference titled The Book of Mormon-a Book from God greatly strengthened my testimony. I appreciated having some new food for thought from this general authority as I pondered the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
-Marie Hammill
“If the foregoing scriptures from the Book of Mormon teach us to worship and love and serve the Savior (which they do), how can they be from the devil? If so, he would be divided against himself and thus be destroying his own kingdom, the very condition the Savior said could not exist. An honest, unbiased reading of the Book of Mormon will bring someone to the same conclusion as my great-great-grandfather, namely: “The devil could not have written it—it must be from God.”
Of the Presidency of the Seventy

Tuesday Tips: Meal Planning

October 11, 2011

Since I’ve been able to stay at home since my youngest Harper was born, I’ve taken a real interest in menu planning and making quality meals for my family. We’ve made eating together as a family at the same time each night a priority. I ordered a recipe book by an LDS author called The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner by Liz Edmunds. Not only does she give recipes, but she shows you how to plan organize meals throughout your week using themes as follows:

Monday Comfort Food

Tuesday Italian

Wednesday Fish & Meatless

Thursday Mexican

Friday Pizza

Saturday Grill

Sunday Traditions

This gives you a framework for deciding your meals and something for your family something to look forward to at the end of the day. It makes meal planning so much easier for me to simply choose meals based on your theme. I have also appreciated how she has table talk topics to make mealtimes more meaningful and conversational. Coming up with this list could be a great family home evening activity! Another great tool I have used lately is Not only do they have delicious, but simple and everyday recipes. They also have meal planning sheets that you can print for free. The last helpful tool I will give is for you meal planners on a budget. This tried and true website gives you a weekly menu and shopping list based on where you shop for $50 a week. You pay $5 a month for 3 months ($15), but all your meal planning and grocery list is made for you! Visit

-Marie Hammill