Category Archives: Recipes

How to Make Healthy, Simple Soup

Our family enjoys soup year round. For most of my married life, I made soup from a recipe. Then my daughter, Anna, introduced me to making soup with a general plan but not specifics. Isn’t it great when our children become our teachers? I’d like to share today how to make healthy, simple soup.

General Soup Plan

bone broth
chopped onion
diced garlic
diced celery
meat (ham, chicken, beef, ground beef)
chopped or frozen veggies
seasonings—salt, garlic salt, pepper, beef or chicken broth base  (those are our basics but we use basil, thyme, marjoram, and other spices)

Make Broth

Any time I have meat bones, I put them in the instant pot with at least 8 to 12 cups of water and make broth, more if it will fit in the Instant Pot. Generally, I am not making the soup right then so I put the broth in containers, label, and freeze them for a soup-making day.

Onion, Garlic, and Celery

On soup making day, I dice an onion or two and several cloves of garlic depending on the size of the soup batch. Usually I make as big a pot of soup as I can so I will have plenty of leftover soup.

Then I sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes in the soup pot, add the broth and chopped celery (usually 1/2 head of celery) bringing it to a simmer for a couple of hours.

Other Soup Vegetables

For the soup vegetables almost anything goes that you like. 

Here are some of our favorites:

green beans
sweet peppers

I try to keep a big bag of frozen mixed vegetables and another one of corn (we get them from Costco) on hand for when I have less time to chop and dice vegetables. Then all I need to do is dump the vegetables into the soup pot from the bag. If I ever have extra time and extra vegetables I put the vegetables through the food processor, flash freeze them, and then bag them for the freezer and future easy use.

Carrots (for our soup this might be 1-2 lbs) and potatoes (4 or 5 or more) go into the soup an hour or two before serving depending on how big the diced chunks are and how long I think it will take them to soften. The green beans usually take longer than I expect, too, so they go in with the carrots and potatoes. 

Store-bought frozen mixed vegetables only take as long as the bag directs, usually 5-10 minutes.


Whatever kind of broth I am using, that is kind of meat I use. When I initially cook the meat, if there is any extra after that meal, I cube the meat and freeze it for the soup. Sometimes, I will have enough meat for two or even three batches of soup, such as from a ham. Other times, it is just a small amount of meat, and I need to cook more meat to put into the soup.

When I make the bone broth, I pick any meat off the bones that were left on it, put it in a ziplock, and label it for soup use. 

If I don’t have any soup meat stored in the freezer, I can always brown a couple of pounds of ground beef as the meat. 

I generally add the meat near the end. 


We put in at least 1/2 tsp of pepper
2 tsp salt
and several shakes of garlic salt

Then we add more of those and other spices based on taste testing. 

Anna is our best taste tester. She seasons the soup at the end by tasting, adding spices, and tasting again.

Sometimes for variety, we add tomato sauce or paste. 


When we serve our soup, we have rice or pasta to go in it. We add those to individual bowls of soup, allowing each person to choose how much he wants in his serving. By doing it this way, the noodles are not soggy when we have leftover soup like they are if we add the pasta to the soup pot. And the rice doesn’t absorb all the soup broth in the leftover soup like it does when we add the rice right into the soup pot.

Maybe I can do another post on the bean soups that Steve and I eat. I don’t do them for the girls because one of them doesn’t do well eating beans. But if no one in your family has that problem, beans are another great soup addition or simply making beans the main part of the soup rather than meat.

Complicated or Simple?

If that sounds complicated, it really isn’t. Once you have done the process just a few times, it becomes automatic and simple. Often I plan soup based on my supply of vegetables. If I bought a big bag of potatoes for a good price, and still have several left as they are getting older, I will probably make some soup to use them up.

What about your soup making? What tips and tricks can you share with me? I would like to learn more about soup making from you!

Trusting in Jesus,

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust,
so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the
flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal, An Autumn Recipe

Y’all this is a happy first day of autumn but about two weeks late post! I love autumn: the colorful leaves, cool temperatures, vivid blue skies, pumpkin treats, cozy evenings, and beautiful walks.

This pumpkin baked oatmeal recipe is easy, inexpensive, and delicious! Following the pictures, you’ll find the recipe.

Mix the dry ingredients first.
Then add the wet.
Whisk eggs.
Add pumpkin.
Chocolate chips are optional but not optional. They add a great touch!
Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

3 cups rolled oats
3/4 c. brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (you can Google pumpkin pie spice recipe and it’s just a combination of some spices: you can also purchase it ready made in the spices section)
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1/2 c. oil or butter (I often use oil)
2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 – 3/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice. Then, add pumpkin, oil (or butter), milk, and vanilla. Whip the eggs just a bit in a small bowl, and then pour into the rest of the mixture. Chocolate chips add the perfect touch, but you don’t have to use them unless you like. If you do want to, add them here. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes. If you’re using a glass pan, bake time will be longer. Enjoy!

“How sweet are thy words unto my taste!
yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)

Welcome Autumn and a Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

Maxwells’ Pumpkin Muffins

There’s something so beautiful about autumn in Kansas, and today, we welcome it officially! God is gracious to allow the sun to rise each day and to set. The seasons are predictable. “… for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

To welcome fall, I want to share a pumpkin muffin recipe from the Maxwells. This muffin is bursting with flavor and so moist, but dense, so it won’t receive any puffy-bakery-top muffin awards. It’s our go-to recipe for family holiday breakfasts in the winter.



Combine the dry ingredients.
Chocolate chips are semi-optional. 🙂
Before baking with streusel topping
Pumpkin Muffins

Maxwells’ Pumpkin Muffins

Yields: 12 muffins
1 cup flour 
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt 
1/2 cup plus 2 TB. brown sugar
2 eggs 
1 cup pumpkin 
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup oil 
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (can be omitted)

Preheat oven to 350º. In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar. Next, add the eggs, pumpkin, milk, oil, and vanilla, and stir until combined. Add chocolate chips.

Line 12 muffin tins with muffin cup liners, although this is not necessary. If you don’t use liners, make sure to grease the pans. Sprinkle topping over muffins if desired. Bake for 16-19 minutes until the desired doneness.

Streusel Topping (optional)

1 TB. melted butter 
2 TB. flour
3 TB. brown sugar 
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon together while melting the butter. Stir in the butter. The mixture will be soft, buttery clumps. Sprinkle on top of each muffin before baking.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to
every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

How to Make Chocolate Mousse

In 1989 when Nathan was 13 years old, our homeschool group hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for the seniors in our church. Served at that meal was chocolate mousse cake, and Nathan thought it was so delicious that he asked me to get the recipe and make it for his birthday dessert the next month. He has requested chocolate mousse cake for his birthday dessert ever since. Nathan had his 42nd birthday in December so that’s been 29 years of chocolate mousse cake. He’s the only one in our family who has been so consistent with his birthday dessert. At this point, we can’t imagine him requesting anything else!

Be warned: there are raw eggs in the recipe. If you don’t want to use uncooked eggs, there are pasteurized egg products such as egg beaters you could use, but the results will probably end up different. Make sure the product you choose doesn’t have any spices included. Onion flavored eggs would make this quite a concoction!

We like the mousse over chocolate cake. We use a traditional Betty Crocker cake mix and then make sure the cake is cool before putting the mousse on.

Below you’ll find step-by-step pictures for Chocolate Mousse with the recipe following.

Start with unsweetened chocolate.
Place chocolate in double broiler and add water.
After chocolate is melted, add sugar and salt.
Cook until completely dissolved.
Beat egg yolks.
Add chocolate mixture slowly to egg yolks.
Stir in vanilla.
After chocolate mixture is thoroughly cooled (we placed ours in the refrigerator), add Cool Whip.
With everything combined, it turns into a creamy mousse.
Spread on chocolate cake.
The finished product.

Chocolate Mousse

  • 3 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3 egg yolks, well beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 cups Cool Whip

Heat chocolate and water over a double broiler until chocolate is melted. Add granulated sugar and salt; cook until completely dissolved (about 3 minutes). Add slowly to egg yolks, blending well. Stir in vanilla; cool thoroughly. Fold Cool Whip into chocolate mixture. Spread on cake.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the
house of the LORD for ever.”
Psalm 23:6

A Week of Maxwell Dinners

We had a request to share some of our main-meal menus. We keep those in a Google Spreadsheet that the cooks can access from their computers or phones. I copied a week from there to post here.

Saturday 2/16 Instant Pot ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans
Sunday 2/17 Burritos, green salad, homemade whole wheat tortillas, chips, salsa
Monday 2/18 Salmon patties, buns, green salad
Tuesday 2/19 Leftover vegetable beef soup with pasta, homemade whole wheat bread
Wednesday 2/20 Leftover enchiladas, green salad, chips, salsa
Thursday 2/21 Vegetable ham soup with pasta, homemade whole wheat bread
Friday 2/22 Ham pot pie, green salad
Saturday 2/23 Ground beef skillet, green salad

About two years ago, we started having our bigger meal at lunch time. After the initial adjustment of more food preparation in the mornings, we have liked the switch. We talked about making this change years ago, but with homeschooling weren’t willing to give up our quality, morning homeschooling time for food preparation.

In winter, we often have homemade soup. Anna discovered cooking the pasta separately and then adding it to the soup portion keeps it from getting mushy as it does if boiled in the soup broth and then reheated for leftovers.

Trusting in Jesus,

“And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee,
if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God”
(Deuteronomy 28:2).

Melanie Maxwell’s Christmas “Pick” Recipe

Now that we’re onto another second sister-in-law recipe, you may have figured out what we’re doing. A blog reader requested the sisters-in-law favorite Christmas recipes! So, we’re working on fulfilling that. 

Melanie’s Christmas pick is actually our favorite cinnamon roll. 

We use a basic roll dough, which is one that has been previously posted on the blog, but I’ll post it again.

Recently I oversaw the making of these cinnamon with Nathan and Melanie’s kids so we could document it for the blog. The kids really did pretty much all of the work. These are awesome cinnamon rolls.

Maxwell’s Favorite Cinnamon Rolls
(if you want to see the step-by-step instructions,
this is the link to our Light and Fluffy Rolls
which is what we used)

1 1/2 Tablespoons (heaping) yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
3/4 cups warm water (100-110º)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
6 TB. honey or granulated sugar
1 egg room temperature (Put egg in bowl with hot water to warm it for a couple minutes.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon dough enhancer (optional)
4 1/3 cups flour – white or wheat or a mixture (This is measured by scooping the flour into the measuring cup and leveling it off with a knife.)

melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Step #1: Heat water to 100-110º. Pour warm water into a mixing bowl. Add yeast and sugar. Gently mix together with a spatula and let proof for 5 minutes.

Step #2: In saucepan, melt better. Then add milk and honey until warm.

Step #3: Pour the milk+honey+butter mixture into the yeast mixture.

Step #4: Turn mixer on, and add egg, salt, dough enhancer, and a cup or two of flour. Finish adding the rest of the flour and knead for 7 minutes.

Step #5: Place dough in oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap, then put in oven at 120º to rise for an hour. I heat the oven up to 180º and then leave the door open until the temperature drops.

Let rise until doubled (about an hour). Lightly flour hands and top of dough as often as needed. The dough might be slightly sticky. 

Step #6: Punch dough down. Divide into thirds. Roll one portion out. A key is not to make it too tall. Otherwise, your rolls will be huge. Brush with melted butter. Then, sprinkle on 1/3 of the brown sugar + cinnamon mixture. Tightly roll up, and then cut (we use floss).  Put in a greased pan. Let rise until doubled (I put ours in a warm oven). Take out of oven, preheat to 375º, and then return rolls to oven and bake until golden brown (around 15 minutes). Do not over bake! Frost with your favorite frosting recipe. Ours is a standard Betty Crocker buttercream icing. 

We use dental floss (not flavored, lol) to cut the cinnamon rolls,
and it works beautifully.
This is about how tall you would want it.
Drew brushed on the butter.
Benji adding his approval.
Before we baked them
The final product
100% kid approved

“Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know
to refuse the evil, and choose the good.”
Isaiah 7:15