Comfort Food · Dinner · Easy recipe · soup

Empty the Freezer Soup

Savory soups that simmer on the stove create two things –

  1. An aroma that’s irresistible
  2. A meal that satisfies both appetites and hearts

Last week I had the blessing of spending time with my parents and helping out during a time of hardship. Fixing meals each day was one responsibility I took on with great delight. A sampling of my menu included things like, Pinto Beans like Cracker Barrel’s, traditional Rump Roast dinner with all the trimmings, Baked Potatoes topped with broccoli cheese sauce – all recipe I’ve made many times.

But then my mom requested I make her recipe for Vegetable Beef Soup. She had this recipe in her head and verbally shared it with me one morning. I realized it would pull together very quickly, and would also use up some of the little bits of this and that in the freezer. Always a good thing, right?

During the fall and winter we eat lots of homemade soups. Some of my favorites are Senate Bean Soup, and Cream of Wild Rice Soup but both of these recipes are a little labor-intensive and take some time to prepare (but so worth it!). I love having a delicious soup recipe that’s a snap to pull together, and my mom’s Vegetable Beef Soup definitely fits the bill! You can use whatever vegetables you like/have on hand. This soup is a great way to use up those little bit of leftovers hiding in the fridge or stored in your freezer!

Here’s her simple recipe…

Vegetable Beef Soup

1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
4 cups chicken broth
1 large can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup frozen corn
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup lima beans
1 potato, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 can Bush’s northern beans
1/3 cup barley
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp Greek seasoning
A couple dashes Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, brown ground beef and onion. Drain any fat. Add the chicken broth and then all the vegetables, spices,seasonings and barley. Simmer over medium-low heat for 30-45 minutes.

I like to serve a soup like this with a crusty bread and a side salad.

Yum! This is a perfect winter meal that will:

  • Wisely use up leftover veggies in your freezer
  • Warm bodies
  • Win the hearts of those that sit at your table!

Open up your freezer, grab those veggies and throw them in a pot for this delicious soup this week!

Refresh your menu with a savory soup!

Christmas · Family life · memories

What Christmas 2020 Looked Like

Happy New Year, friends! I’ll save my New Year’s post for next week, because I can’t wait to share some favorite pics from Christmas! Instagram has a Top Nine Best Photos of the year. I’m going to share nine favorite Christmas photos from this year instead! There were just so many special moments that I don’t want to forget!

On Christmas Eve in 1980, my boyfriend asked me to marry him, and now we’re celebrating 40 Christmas’s together!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we were blessed to have ALL of our immediate family together for the holiday. I think we each tried to squeeze everything we could out every minute of being together…getting caught up on conversations, asking questions of things we’d missed out on, and just loving being in person! I love this picture of Dale and Whitney. This was at Christmas brunch, enjoyed at our younger daughter and son-in-law’s.

Sisters, sisters, there were truly never no more devoted sisters!

When you’re decorating cookies and GREEN SPRINKLES are your favorite, a careful peek into the bottom of the container is necessary to ensure you have enough to finish your special cookie design!

We always have a time of Scripture reading and carols before we open gifts. Whitney was our pianist and Alli accompanied on her violin. I snapped this picture of Paul and Whintey while Dale was reading our Bible passage. If you don’t follow Whitney’s blog, you’re missing out on a ton of helpful organization, practical Dollar Tree tips and deep spiritual encouragement!

Meanwhile in the other part of the room, Alli and Andrew were wrangling little boys who were very anxious to get to the PRESENTS!

I kept things less decorated this year, but I definitely still felt all the “warm-cozy” vibes of this time of the year! We enjoy our fireplaces so very much on these dark, cold days, and so does Liza!

One of the best surprises was the SNOW we got on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Day! How kind of the Lord to give us a white Christmas that just added to the beauty of celebrating our Savior’s birth! This is the front yard…

And here is the backyard…

I look forward to 2021 and all the Lord has in store for me…and you! Thanks for making my blog a part of your day! I truly appreciate those of you who read and refresh me by doing so!

Which of my nine photos is your favorite?

Happiest of New Years!

Christmas · Family life · memories

The Gift of Christmas 2020

The last of the laundry has been folded and put away. Beds are neatly made, bathrooms have been cleaned and the floors are swept and mopped, but still there is much that lingers in the corners of my home from our recent Family Christmas. The traces that are left from the past holiday will remain in the deepest part of my heart, I pray until the day I leave this world and enter the next. I share my memories with you now, more for my own heart to press each detail into my memory for its long-term preservation.

Photo credit goes to Whitney Pendell!

After this long year of severed plans, pandemic panic and so much isolation, I had held very lightly our family’s hopes for gathering together at Christmas. Proverbs reminds us that man’s goings are of the Lord. I know I can trust Him, whether what I plan comes to fruition or not. But we did make plans, and asked the Lord for His will to be done. In His grace and kindness, the Lord allowed our plans to not only come to pass, but also to surpass what we had ever imagined! Here’s how I saw that happen…

Everyone was well and able to come. No one was sick or quarantined! We were all well and able to gather together!

The Lord gave us a white Christmas that began after we were all together under our roof! The snow began to fall on Christmas Eve and left us with a few inches of fluffy snow that covered the hillsides and made the holiday so festive that even a Hallmark movie couldn’t have matched the setting (now that’s saying something!).

We created a new tradition and fun memory. The Lord brought an idea to my mind to have a cookie decorating contest. I wanted something that was easy enough for even my four-year old grandsons to participate in, so I baked snowflake-shaped cookies ahead of time, and then had the counter filled with colored icings, and a plethora of sprinkles. Everyone had been informed before they arrived what they would be given two cookies to decorate so they could gather an idea on Pinterest, or bring any aid with them, if they desired. Then in order to also include other family members in another state, we made a Facetime call to my mom so she could see the cookies on the counter and be our judge for first and second place winners! I had simple treat bags for each of the two winners. My younger daughter came in first place and my husband was second place! Everyone really put their heart into the creations and we had so much fun together!

First and Second place winners!

We shared our traditional foods our family loves. I asked everyone what they felt like was important that we have for our meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I made sure those things were provided. We enjoyed yummy sweets, but also savory soups and sides.

Holiday dinners at our house MUST end with Kentucky Derby Pie!

We had a family sleep-over! Christmas Day continued to bring more snow, so even our local family decided to bring things so they could just pack it in at our house for the night! Pallets were made on the floor for the twins, a couch was utelized, as well as both the day bed and our guest room. The next morning as everyone arose, it was so sweet to sit near the fireplace in the living room, cups of steaming coffee warming our chilled bodies, while our sleepy eyes slowly took in the new day with dimmed lights and hushed voices.
Breakfast of French Toast was made for the whole family by my husband – the King of Breakfast! No one seemed in a hurry for the day to move forward; this was our last morning together and it was another gift from our Father’s kind hand.

Sweet moments of tenderness –
Gifts – Watching four-year old’s at Christmas is a gift in itself. They were so thankful and so excited!
My grandsons gave me an oven mitt with their hand prints on it. A card included the tearful reminder that their prints would last while their hands continued to grow up and one day move away.
I received a beautiful hand-painted picture of our house! This home is a grace gift from the Lord and such a gift, so this painting is a precious reminder of how God answered my ten year prayer!
Music – My daughters are both very musical, so Whitney played the piano and Alli played her violin so we could sing carols and hymns. How wonderful to enjoy this blessing, especially after missing church for so many weeks this year!
Conversations – One of my grandsons was asking about the baby Jesus and the grown up Jesus. I had the blessing of telling him how that Baby Jesus grew up, just like he was growing up. He loved us so much that He took the punishment for our sins on the cross. I could see him processing it all in his mind. Little light bulbs are coming on, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share the Gospel with him again!
One of the boys called, “Gigi, Gigi, come see! The sun is going to bed!” He took me by the hand to show me the sun setting over the hillside. Indeed, the sun was going to bed.
Chats at the table, prayers uttered as a family, Scriptures were read, hearts were shared…all these conversations are such a gift.

I’m reminded of the Scripture that says,

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

This Christmas, our Father gave us so many good gifts, and my heart is so full of thanks. I know many who were alone. Some are suffering. Some are grieving. I don’t deserve all that the Lord did for us this Christmas, that’s why they are grace gifts. I am thankful, and give praise to my loving Father for His lavish kindness that He poured out on us this Christmas of 2020.

Come back on Friday for some photos of these memories.

Thankful and refreshed,

Christmas · leftovers · Meal planning

Dealing With Christmas Leftovers

Wow, Christmas ham or turkey goes a lot farther than that one dinner, doesn’t it? You feed eight people and there’s enough ham left over for a week of meals, but who wants to eat repeats of that dinner over and over?

No one.

What to do? Here are a few suggestions for dealing with that leftover food in your fridge:

  • Ham
  • Place slices in small freezer bags and freeze to use for another supper meal in a couple weeks.
  • Make scalloped potatoes and ham.
  • Chop up ham and use in omelets
  • Mix cubed ham with shredded cheese. Place inside a rolled out canned biscuit. Fold over like a turnover and seal. Bake. Serve with honey for a delicious breakfast.
  • Turkey –
  • Make a cream gravy and add turkey. Serve over warm biscuits for supper
  • Turkey salad – Use this recipe for Chicken salad, substituting turkey. Here’s a version of Hot Chicken Salad that you could also use substitute with turkey.
  • Make a Turkey pot pie.
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If you have leftover Green Bean Casserole or your creamed corn, you can freeze it! Place the vegetable in small Freezer bags, press flat and freeze as a flat package. It is easier to store in the freezer and also thaws quicker.

Leftover rolls – Use for a baked egg casserole, breakfast sandwich, filled with ham and an egg. They can also be frozen for a week or so.

Leftover cookies, cake or pie – Most all of these can be frozen beautifully, if packaged well. I place mine in tins, covering the inside with syran wrap. You could put ice cream between two sugar cookies and make it a specialty ice cream sandwich! Crumble cake layers for a Trifle. You could even mix pie pieces into plain ice cream for an awesome holiday flavor!

Refreshment treat
Use your leftover sprinkles as toppings for the sides of the Ice cream sandwich!

Cranberry – Make a salad dressing with it. This is Cranberry Vinaigrette is my favorite!

Make your own Frozen Dinner! Place the individual servings of the meat, potatoes, and veggies in a small disposable tin. Cover well with foil. Freeze. Pop into the oven for the best kind of “frozen dinner” ever!

You spent lots of time and money on that meal; utilize it; don’t toss it!

How do you make wise use of Christmas leftovers?

Refresh those leftovers by “reinventing them into something delicious!

Comfort · Coronavirus

Suffering At Christmastime?

This is a re-post from 2012 when my mother-in-law was suffering with cancer and under Hospice at Christmastime. I thought it was appropriate for this year of so much difficulty.

The hissing of the oxygen concentrator is steady, and lulls my mother-in-law to sleep.  I slip in and pull the sheet over her shoulders and turn off the light.  Then lying down in my bed, the monitor in both our rooms in the “on” position, I hear the machine’s hissing, and also her breathing and frequent cough.  I whisper a prayer for her comfort and a good night’s rest for her.  These are the sounds of Christmas in the parsonage this year. 

Some say, “What a terrible time to have a loved-one so sick, here at Christmas.”  I’ll admit that Christmas in the parsonage is usually filled with a different kind of activity – the celebratory kind.  It would include parties, a hot oven putting out all kinds of confectioneries, and a calendar crammed more full than a New York subway at rush hour. 

I also admit that this year will be a different sort of Christmas in the parsonage.  Already it hasn’t been the normal routine of Christmas movies, cantatas, drives through the country to see the lights, or even baking sugar cookies with colored sprinkles.  Instead it’s been about giving our time to my mother-in-law, who has little time left. It’s not been about what I want for Christmas, but about what she needs. Instead of harried schedules, we find ourselves taking time to sit and chat, to ask questions of her, for our own memory’s sake.  “Remind me again how you and Dad met.”  “Tell me about the day you trusted Christ as your Savior.”  We talk about heaven, the things we know from Scripture, and the things we imagine will be waiting for us there.  We sing, we read, we laugh, we cry. 

It is for all this and all other kinds of suffering that our Savior came.  He was born a babe in a manger in order to give us hope for eternity – for what lies ahead that we cannot see.  We know that heaven’s shore is just beyond, and for that we rejoice.  This is why we have Christmas.  This is why Jesus died – to redeem us and give us a relationship with God.  He makes sense of all the suffering in our lives. 

So, really, perhaps Christmas is the best time to suffer.  We have all around us the reminder that Christ came to prevent our eternal suffering, and to keep our current suffering in perspective. 

Looking into my mother-in-law’s room and watching her sleep, I remind myself that this (suffering) is why He came.  It will be worth it all when she sees Jesus.  And just think, she could see Him very soon!  Yes, this is why He came.  Merry Christmas, Mom C.

Refresh your heart with this truth if you are suffering this Christmas.