Meatless Recipe #3 – Chili

chiliChili is one of those dishes that we consume in our house at least once a month, even in the summer. Nothing beats a pot of homemade chili. In the winter, I like to let it simmer in the crock pot all day on a lazy Sunday. Previously, I kept it pretty simple and made it with just chili beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, onions, chili sauce, hamburger meat, and seasoning.

Once we decided to go meatless, I started searching for vegetarian chili recipes online. Most of these recipes incorporate more vegetables like peppers, corn, or even celery into the recipe. To me, that’s not chili. That’s soup! So I wanted to stick to my original recipe and just eliminate the hamburger meat.

00011110849403_fullI started with a chopped onion which I sauteed for a few minutes on high heat in a large pot. Then I added a large 40 oz. can of chili beans as my base. Then I added two 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes. I like Hunt’s diced tomatoes with sweet onions but any kind will do. Then, I added a 15 oz. can of Simple Truth Organic Tri-Blend Beans. I was tempted to had two cans but with the chili beans and one can of the Tri-Blend, I thought it had plenty of beans.

Next I added 1 packed of chili seasoning. Again, any kind will do. I always add a bit more chili 4293407348_c0865a8dd6_bpowder for taste anyway. Then I poured in half a bottle of chili sauce. I like Heinz Chili Sauce but will actually buy the generic brand most of the time because it’s cheaper and tastes the same.

Add salt and pepper for taste, and most of the time I add about a teaspoon of sugar. We have used a dash of cinnamon before instead of sugar. Yep, you read that right! Cinnamon!  I’ve also heard of people adding some dark chocolate to their chili. Give it a try sometime. But for this pot of chili, I used plain old sugar.

Product-Smart-Ground-Original_0At this point, I thought the chili tasted great but I had recently bought a new meatless ingredient that I was eager to try. I’d been saving it for tacos, but thought what the heck! It’s called Lightlife Smart Ground Original Meatless Crumbles. So, we added the entire box to the chili. It’s basically made from beans and only has 70 calories per 1/3 cup. And each serving has 11 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of sugar. And it was awesome!  Had I not told you what it was before tasting the chili, you probably would have never guessed that it wasn’t meat. It really helped “beef” up the recipe.

We eat our chili topped with a bit of sour cream, shredded cheese, and some corn chips. And it was amazing!  We’ve definitely perfected the recipe for meatless chili. Look out, winter, here we come!

Here’s your grocery list:

1 40 oz. can of chili beans (any kind)
1 large yellow onion – chopped
1 15 oz can of kidney beans or black beans or tri-bean blend
2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1/2 bottle of chili sauce
1 pack of chili seasoning
1 box of Lightlife Meatless Crumbles
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of sugar or cinammon

– Sautee the onion on medium heat for 5 minutes in a large pot
– Add all canned ingredients to the pot and stir
– Add chili sauce and seasonings and continue to stir
– Add the meatless crumbles and stir
-Bring just to a low boil and serve
– Top with cheese, sour cream, and corn ships

This recipe made about 6 large bowls (2 cups per bowl). That’s about 308 calories per serving, 23 grams of protein, and 15 grams of fiber. And if you watch what type of beans you use, it will have zero grams of fat!

How do you make chili?  What are some of your favorite staple ingredients for a pot of chili?

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Christians, Be Careful What You Say On Facebook

Shannon Yarbrough:

My thoughts exactly…

Originally posted on :

While the Bruce Jenner* controversy is at its peak, be very careful about what you are tempted to say about it on social media. Though your gut reaction might be to post a comment/article that articulates your disgust, I beg you to reconsider. Here’s a couple of reasons why.

  1. Many of you are either looking at porn, or something close to it. I know this because some of the pages and videos that you “like” on Facebook show up on my news feed. You probably don’t realize this, because you keep doing it, and I keep seeing it. Unfortunately, all sexual perversion is a result of human corruption. You have it, I have it too. But you might want to reconsider publicly shaming one perversion when you have another.
  2. Related to reason #1, you don’t understand the gospel. There is nothing wrong about outwardly expressing your disgust at sin. The…

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Notes on Consumption

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No, this isn’t a post about old world tuberculosis.  It’s about “consuming” or even “consumerism,” the concept that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the economy.  Or in my case, how that said consumerism caused my food pantry to get out of control.  Which in a way is like tuberculosis in that it makes me sick just thinking about it.

I’ve blogged about this before, and here we are again.  I’ve been dreading it for some time, but thanks to the rain keeping us indoors on Saturday I finally broke down and decided to just do it. I cleaned out the food pantry.

Now, guessing from the photo you probably don’t believe me.  But believe me!  Just come over and inspect the two bags of trash in our dumpster or the numerous cardboard boxes and plastic bottles that filled up our recycle bin when I was done.

I started by removing all of the bottles of alcohol and all of the boxes of tea, and there was a lot!  We have a small kitchen cabinet on the wall that contained mixing bowls, shot glasses, tooth picks, lunch bags, cloth napkins, coffee filters, and other various things that don’t get used often. Earlier last week I decided I wanted to relocate all of that and so I did.  Now I had a new space for alcohol and tea!  Never mind the amount of old tea bags and old alcohol that I pitched.  Or the amount that’s still in the pantry because my cabinet filled up quick (alcohol in the back of the bottom left shelf, and tea on the bottom right). But suddenly, an entire space in the pantry was empty! I hear angels singing!

After some quick decisions on what to put where…baked goods, seasonings, canned goods, breakfast things, chips, snacks, pasta, and so on, the fun part came from deciding what to keep and what else to pitch. This pantry is both tall and deep which has both its positive and negative connotations. Positive:  there’s lots of space. Negative: there’s too much space and things get lost in the back, bottom, and very top. We have a few organization caddies in there as you can see, but I was almost tempted to jump in the car and go to the local organization store for more!

Instead, I combined things…like the 3 containers of cocoa powder we had, or the 3 half used bags of powdered sugar and the 2 bottles of cooking oil.  How does this happen you ask?  Like I said, things get lost and forgotten back there so we just end up buying more.

Then came throwing stuff out!  Oh what fun this was! We had so much freaking candy just buried in there – including Valentine’s candy from 2013!!  Christmas candy. Halloween candy. You name it. And there’s more. Half eaten bags of chips. Old cereal. Half used bags of beans. Old flavored coffees from holidays gone by, also half used. I already mentioned old tea – I threw out about six or seven half used boxes!  There were also about 3 half eaten boxes of Wheat Thins. I thought about processing these to use for breadcrumbs but we already had two cans of crumbs in there that I also combined into one.

Now, I know what you are thinking. How wasteful!  Yep, I agree. I was ashamed not only that my pantry had gotten so out of control but by how much junk food and half-used things we had that we didn’t finish and were no longer good. Or I knew we wouldn’t finish them if we hadn’t already, so I threw them out anyway. And like I said, two bags of trash and half a recycling bin later, my pantry was somewhat clean again. Or at least now I had a mental inventory of what we had.

I’m sure some of you out there suffer from sad pantry syndrome too but I’m not pointing any fingers. I’m also not going to wrap up this post with tips on how to keep your pantry clean when that’s advice I haven’t even been following. I’d like to think I’m a smart shopper.  I don’t stock up on things greedily if I don’t have the room. I like to save money. I like to talk about good deals and saving money with my friends.

But maybe what I really suck at is keeping an organized kitchen, or just like I said before…consumption. And isn’t everyone like that to some point?  We want to try new things so we buy new things and we get them home and don’t really like the new things so if we don’t have children (Hey Mikey! He likes it!) or can’t feed it to the dog, then we put said new things in the cabinet for some reason when what we should really do is cut our losses and throw it out or give it away. But then we think we are being wasteful. We paid good money for those new things.  Yep, and we also made poor decisions by even doing that but how will you know unless you try.  Yep, and how will you keep your pantry clean unless you admit to your mistakes and throw that shitty new thing in the trash.

So, there’s a life hack for all of us….don’t keep it. Give it away. Donate it. Or throw it away. I would have gladly donated some of my stuff to a local pantry but who wants half eaten boxes of Wheat Thins and old bags of Cherry Sours?  So I threw it all out. No regrets. This. Pantry. Is. Clean!

Stuck between a book and a hard title…

Two interesting things have happened to me this week.

First, I canceled my contract with the publisher of my upcoming book. There were no differences between us. No hardships. They are a micro publisher who only publish in Ebook format. My contract was signed over a year ago and due to delays often brought on by real life circumstances, they just haven’t gotten around to publishing my book. 48550518I’d been waiting patiently. I finally sought advice from a writer friend who told me what I wanted to hear. So, I sent an email asking if we could cancel the contract.

I got a quick reply that they were happy I sent the email they’d been unfortunately avoiding to send me. Like I said, no hard feelings between us. And so now, a book that I wrote in 2012 is finally free. I can do what I want with it. I can find another publisher. I can forget about it and sit on it a few more years if I want. Or I can get to work, reading it over again, giving it to my editor, polishing it, and ultimately publishing it myself.

And that’s what I’m going to do.

I think the last time I touched the manuscript was in 2013.  I’d forgotten most of it by now.  I wasn’t even sure if my heart was still in this book. Sure, deep down, I knew it was. It had to be in there if I wrote it. But sometimes when there is so much distance and time between us, the heart goes quiet.

I found the manuscript and read the last chapter a few nights ago and all the emotion kicked in and came flooding back. Yeah, there it is. I’m in this. My heart is in it. I knew it always was. So… let’s do this.

And so now I’ll proofread and polish it and turn it over to my editor in May. And while she weaves her magic, I’ll think about and work on a book cover (honestly, I’ve already started thinking about the cover). And when she’s done I’ll make the corrections she suggests. I’ll format it. I’ll send it to some beta readers. And then…I’ll release it out on its own.  And then I’ll celebrate. After three years of waiting, another one of my babies is all grown up and going out into the world to find its place in it.

Another good thing about doing it myself is that I can do a paperback version as well. The micro publisher only did E-Books.  There’s no money to be made in paperback books (but since when have I ever done this for money?) but it’s still nice to hold your physical book in your hand.  I also have family that don’t read E-books and prefer hard copies, so it’s nice to be able to do this for them too.

The second interesting thing that happened to me this week involves my work in progress that I started this year.  If you read my blog posts, then you saw me mention it in some of my Write or Wrong posts. I thought I was off to a good start but quickly lost steam and didn’t know what to do with it or where to go.  My editor suggested that maybe my thoughts were tied up with this finished book and what was going on with the publisher and all.  And I can see that. I definitely feel different about all of this today than I did yesterday.  So maybe that was affecting me creatively.

My biggest conflict this week, now that I am back on track with the work in progress, is what to call it.  I’m stuck between two titles and not even sure about either one of them at this point.  What do you think?  The first working title is “Late for His Funeral.”  It has a double meaning which would be revealed in the story.  The second is “If You Need Me” which is not as mysterious but also has meaning.  Any thoughts on which you like best?

I’m kind of hoping that as I continue to write it a brand new title will reveal itself to me and I can stop tormenting myself over choosing between these two.  But for now the working title is still Late for His Funeral.

So, I’ll have a new book out this year and I’m working on another one! Yay me!  Oh!  And I almost forgot to mention that this new book is the sequel to my second book, Stealing Wishes.  It tells the story of Auden and how he returns to Memphis to try to reconnect with Blaine.  It’s called Feeling Himself Forgotten. You can learn about it here! More news about it to follow as it develops!

Lone Writer’s Log Book: One Meal at a Time

Today’s trip to the grocery store, the first after reading Eat Nourish Glow by Amelia Freer.

  1. Tried out The Fresh Market, a new grocery/eatery that just opened here in St. Louis.  A bit pricey on some items. Couldn’t do all of my shopping here. But lots of good, new, and organic stuff that I want to try so I’ll definitely return.
  2. Bought strawberries, blue berries, black berries, and opal apples for breakfasts and fresh desserts. Had a bowl of fruit tonight after dinner with chia seeds, lemon juice, and some whipped cream. It was wonderful! Chia seeds don’t really have any flavor but they are a good healthy fat.
  3. Bought avocados, a healthy fat that I like but usually only buy to make guacamole. Will try it on salads and eggs soon.
  4. Bought Amish organic butter for cooking!
  5. Bought organic milk (also Amish) and unsweetened almond milk.
  6. Bought cage free, hormone eggs.
  7. Fresh Market stocks my new favorite tea – Revolution Tea – bought Earl Grey with Lavender
  8. I love Fresh Market’s deli counter. Picked out two pecan crusted chicken breasts for dinner.
  9. Went to my regular grocery store for other things including organic salad mix and other veggies. Found coconut oil for cooking, also organic!
  10. Cooked my pecan chicken breasts with coconut oil.
  11. Made pasta from zucchini, squash, and carrots using my new Veggetti Spiraler that I picked up at BB&B yesterday! Using a tool like this to make vegetable pastas was another suggestion from Freer’s books. It’s a healthy alternative to boxed pastas which are loaded with sugar and starch.
  12. Topped my veggie pasta with a Basil Pesto. Was going to make my own but found a nice one in a jar at Fresh Market.
  13. Dinner was awesome!
  14. Need to work on my breakfast meals now…incorporating a protein and green vegetable.

The Pages Hold My Secrets

Shannon Yarbrough:

I couldn’t have said it better. Words from a writer friend for your Friday.

Originally posted on It all started with Heathcliff:

To write fiction is to live in another realm wherein the author’s fantasies, wishes, dreams, daydreams, voices in the mind all roam free – experiencing adventure, romance, triumphant endings, and tis’ a win for the author as much as the reader once the words reach them. 

I know this, because it is my story – my books drip with the essence of my soul, my heart, my mind.

The pages hold my secrets … and my tears.

Where they are hidden, I will not tell (at least not now), but know I am in all of the pages. Every character in some way bears the visage of me or someone in my life or someone I want to know – someone I imagine as a part of my world.

Without time to write, I am not complete because I cannot live well without my dreams.

This is the crux…

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2014 In Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

365 of Me: 357/9 through 360/6

Wow! And with this post I’ve made it down to the single digits with how many days are left in the year!  Here are 4 more pics from my trip home last weekend.

Mom’s tree is up first. Always a pleasure to see it and it brings back memories. For years, it was one of those trees that rotated and had the color wheel shining on it. Then I think there were a few years without the wheel and no lights. When I was in college, I finally convinced Mom to put lights on the tree. And guess what?  The lights you see on the tree here are the same ones I bought for her that first year!

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This is a pic of me and my 93 year old Grandma! Granny is going to outlive us all!

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Grandma and her kids! That’s my Mom in the middle!

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My sister and Grandma!

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925 North Parkway #1

4312_81986683755_2568738_nIt was the summer of 1997. I was living in Memphis, attending college, and working full time as an assistant manager at Party City.  And I was ready for a change. I loved Pier 1 Imports, and a new store was opening across the street from a new mall called Wolfchase Galleria which had just opened in February. I decided to apply, was interviewed by the store manager on the spot, and started there two weeks later. After a few months, I was promoted to an early hours assistant manager position that would be in charge of unloading the freight, receiving it, and stocking it.  I was trained by the 1st assistant manager, a man named George Ettinger. George was nine years older than me, and like me, he was gay. We got along great. We liked the same music. We often saw each other out. George was an all-around nice guy with lots of friends. Like many, I loved having him as a coworker and friend.

Less than a year later, I found myself having to look for a new place to live. There was an ad in the Memphis Flyer for someone looking to share a rental house on North Parkway, close to downtown. I immediately called the number to see if it was still available. It was, so I went to look at the place that night. I accepted it and began moving in the next day. My roommate was a young man named Spencer. The house was a tall two story rectangular old brick house with a flat roof. It had a large front porch and balcony, a small front yard. For the neighborhood, it was a bit creepy but it had such charm on the inside. The entire bottom floor was Spencer’s apartment: a three bedroom unit with a large kitchen and hardwood floors in the front room. It was mostly empty because Spencer didn’t have a lot of things.  The rest of the house was divided into two apartments upstairs and two one room apartments on the back of the house. The landlord was an old man named Bill who had grown up in the house.  And the rent for mine and Spencer’s apartment, the largest in the house, was only $500 a month and that included utilities!

In December, Spencer got into some trouble and vacated the apartment. It was an uneasy situation, but I was happy to take over the apartment and try to find a new roommate. At the time, George was wanting to move back to Midtown so I mentioned the place to him.  He followed me home that night to take a look at it and immediately agreed to move in.  He loved the placed and had enough stuff to help finish decorating it. We set up the third bedroom as a TV room. We painted the entire place. George loved tinkering with things and fixing up the place. I remember coming home and finding he’d removed all the hardware from the kitchen cabinets to clean them. George was also a good cook.  And he liked to work outside so he set out improving the front yard and making our quaint little porch a nice retreat for us and the neighbors. We threw wonderful parties…Christmas, Birthdays, whatever.  With his friends and my friends, the house was always filled with laughter and smiles.  George and I became close friends, and he was the best roommate I ever had.

As time passed, George and I both left Pier 1.  He became a full time bartender at the Pipeline, which eventually became the Pumping Station when the owner died and one of George’s friends took it over. I went to work as an assistant manager at Bookstar, a position I’d only keep a year before going back to Pier 1 to be a manager-in-training. I was tired of Memphis and ready for a change. And I wanted to find love. So, in the Fall of 2001 I interviewed for a position as store manager in St. Louis, Missouri. I was offered the position and accepted it, and soon found myself surrounded by movers packing up my things in the house at 925 North Parkway. In September, 4 days after 9/11, the house was half empty, my cats were crated in the backseat of my car, and George and I stood on the porch saying our good-byes. He was the last person I saw in Memphis before driving away to my new life in St. Louis. Before I left, George slipped a gift into my backseat.  When I arrived in St. Louis, I discovered it was one of his jewelry boxes shaped like a dragon, and inside was a post-it note on which he’d written, “It will all be okay.”

I saw George and his new husband, Greg, again in 2003 when I returned to Memphis for a visit.  They’d made even more changes to the house, opening a doorway through my old bedroom that led into the front room. It really looked nice. They would eventually buy the house when Bill passed on. From then on, we lost touch. Miles and distance and time were all that kept us apart. We found each other on Facebook ten years ago, and though we didn’t speak much on there, it was still like I was part of his life. I could see photos of the house. He and Greg grew vegetables in the back yard. That’s the magic of the internet I suppose, a super power that we take for granted because it’s such an everyday part of our lives.

And it was on Facebook last night where I learned that George had passed away quietly in his sleep the night before at age 47. I immediately messaged a friend in Oklahoma who had been our neighbor back then. George and Greg were the God parents of her child, so she’d kept in closer contact with them than I had. She told me George had had a heart attack a few years ago. He was diabetic and had neuropathy in both feet. Despite his health setbacks, he was in good spirits so the cause of death right now was unknown.  I messaged Greg who told me that George had spoke of me often. I had spoken of him too and thought of him often over the years, and now regretted that I had not spoken to him or visited. I was just speechless, recalling all the good times we’d had at 925 North Parkway #1.

Despite our lack of contact, I still thought of George as a friend. A close friend. I had a lot of friends in Memphis and I was selfish for leaving them. I haven’t stayed in contact with any of them, and though they are guilty of the same I don’t fault them for that. And yeah, we are all friends on Facebook, keeping up with each other’s lives through witty posts and pics but we rarely speak to one another. But if we gathered in a room, there would be no anger. We’d pick right up where we left off, where time left us all those years ago. And we’d say a toast to George…Bubba, as his good friends and family called him.

I still can’t believe he’s gone.  I learned so much from him now that I look back. He taught me how to stack fancy wicker chairs at Pier 1 without damaging them, a savvy skill I haven’t had to use in years but I was damn good at it. He taught me to have fun, and not be so serious about life at times. And now, he’s taught me how important friendship is and how though we have Facebook, we still need each other in our lives. Sure, George got along just fine without me. But if we never forget someone, and have never forgotten them or the impact they had on our lives, then just being friends on Facebook can’t be the excuse we have for not reaching out to one another. If it is, then one day it might be too late, like it is now for me.

I know George wouldn’t want me to beat myself up about this. Sure, he’d razz me a bit and give me a hard time for not visiting, but I could do the same to him. But then he’d probably remind me that he never forgot about me and probably thought of me often, as I have with him. And that’s good enough for me, and makes me feel a bit better to know that no matter what, no matter where I find myself, I still had a friend.

It will all be okay.