The Joy of Nurturing: Four Simple Soup Recipes to Keep On Hand


Campbell's Soup cans were a staple in my family’s pantry growing up. While my mom usually cooked homemade meals, these soup cans were always there for her when she was in a pinch. If someone in the family didn't feel well or it was too cold to leave the house, those cans in the pantry came alive.  

Soup for me became a creature comfort and, when I started my own family, I decided to carry on the traditionbut with homemade soup instead of canned. I always keep my pantry, refrigerator, or freezer filled with necessary soup ingredients. One of my favorite tricks is to freeze vegetables that have become overripe for future use in a soup. And even after I’ve made a soup, I’ll put it in jars or storage containers in the freezer.

These soups have always come into play at unexpected times. On a boating trip with friends, I brought a container of my frozen chicken soup on a whim. When a friend of ours on the trip became ill with a virus, unable to hold down any food, my soup settled her stomach. By the next morning, she was feeling better and my soup continued to help her for the next few days. 

A few months later, another friend called out of the blue, sick and home alone, wondering if I had any soup. I had just made some split pea soup, so I brought it over to her and she liked it just as much as the chicken!

Here are some of my favorite soup recipes. I hope they bring warmth and nurturing into your lives!

Vegetable Soup 

Yellow and Green Zucchini, sliced

Tomatoes, any kind, cut into one-inch cubes

Carrots, peeled and sliced

Onions, cubed

Potatoes, one inch cube

Celery, sliced

Any other leftover veggies

Fill a large pot with filtered or bottled water. Cover all vegetables with water by one inch. Cover and boil, then simmer. Add salt to taste. Mix occasionally. Take top off pot and simmer to desired doneness and thickness. 

This soup can be used as a base broth for other soups or I personally love to serve it with some cheese or hot sauce sprinkled on top.

Potato Soup

Small Red or White Potatoes (cut larger size potatoes in half to meet size of smallest potatoes)

Russet Potatoes, cut into one-inch pieces

Or any potato of choice

Put in a large pot. Cover with filtered water. Boil over stove top, then simmer. Stir and crush potato as it thickens. Salt and pepper to taste.  

Leave as chunky or mash as much as you like. I add in butter and milk to taste. If the mixture is thick, add more water and continue to simmer. 

Serve or freeze in container. If you reheat, you may want to add more water or milk to thin it. I love to treat the potato soup like a baked potato and top with sour cream, chives, cheese, bacon.

Split Pea Soup

Place bag of frozen peas (about two cups) in a bowl. Pour warm water over peas, swish them around. Water will become murky. Drain peas into strainer and pick out any dark or white peas. 

Pour strained peas into a large pot. Add six to eight cups of filtered water. Heat to boil and then simmer. Add cut-up precooked one-inch cubes of ham (optional, but I use this as my salt flavor). If you do not use ham, salt to taste. You can add in slices of celery, chopped garlic, sliced carrots, and/or potatoes in small cubes for texture. 

Simmer for a few hours, stirring occasionally and tasting occasionally to check for soft texture of peas. When they’re soft, they’re done. I smash half the peas, so the soup mixture is part blended, part whole peas.

Broccoli Soup

Four to five large stalks of broccoli, cut up into pieces, with stems removed.

Place broccoli into large pot, fill with filtered water one inch above top of broccoli. Heat to boil, then simmer. Salt to taste. When broccoli softens, mash or blend. Add cup or so of milk if you would like soup to have a creamier taste or more water depending on the texture you prefer. I love to add a tad of cheese on the top of each bowl when served.

This same recipe technique can be used for cauliflower.

Time and time again, these soups have brought me and my loved ones comfort and are one of my very favorite simple joys!



When my girls were young, we spent many weekends and holidays on my parents' sail boat. While going sailing and spending time with my mom and dad was fun, my main reason for going was more of a safety matter—to make sure they did not hurt themselves or someone else. You see, my dad was a self-taught sailor; he read how-to books and learned by experience. And my mom did not know how to swim! So when I found out they bought a sail boat, my elation was overshadowed by my worry. 

I was all for them having a hobby in their life, but my dad tended to gravitate toward extreme sports. I imagined my parents’  sailboat heeling over, Dad whooping in adrenaline-pumping delight and Mom hanging onto the railing for dear life.

So my family of four trailed along on the days they set sail. My daughters loved these warm days, when they could sit on the edge of the boat and dangle their feet over the water.

Once my dad gained his sea legs and knowledge of sailing, we eventually began to relax and enjoy picnic lunches or BBQ dinners on the boat. We always had some kind of a protein as a main dish and, usually, my mom's coleslaw. It was by far my favorite dish--simple, fresh, and easy to prepare. And it always added a nice crunch to the meal. 

As 4th of July approaches, I find myself craving my mom's dish and am planning to serve it in her honor as we honor the amazing country we live in!


Mom's Coleslaw

1 head of green cabbage, shredded

1 half of head of purple cabbage, shredded

2 carrots, grated

Mix and place in a big bowl or container


1 cup of Mayonnaise

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup white vinegar

Mix together in a bowl or jar

If eating later, keep slaw and dressing separate and mix together right before serving.


I was one of those kids who did not like milk. My mom begged and pleaded with me to drink the three or four recommended glasses of milk a day. Over and over again she told me, “Milk has calcium in it and will make your bones strong.” Like many kids, I didn’t care. Milk made me gag! 

Mom was always into nutrition. She held out on extra sugar, wanting her kids to have as wholesome a diet as possible. One morning, she gave up and offered me her homemade hot chocolate. Well, what can I say—It worked! I drank down that decadent chocolate-flavored milk in just a few minutes.  

From that day on, she started making large batches of the hot chocolate. After an experiment, we discovered I also liked it cold. So she poured the leftovers into a glass container and popped it into the refrigerator. Hence, no more problems getting me to drink milk!

When my girls were little, she did the same for them, with an extra special touch of using her beautiful tea cup collection to hold their delicious chocolatey treat. On special occasions, Mom would add some marshmallows in a variety of sizes. 

Simple Hot Chocolate

5 ounces finely chopped chocolate (pick your favorite dark, milk, or semi sweet variety)
2 cups milk of your choice (whole, almond, coconut, goat, or soy) 

Heat milk in medium sized sauce pan. 

When milk is warm, whisk in chocolate.

Stir until all combined.

You can cool and rewarm it for later enjoyment or drink it chilled.



Sugar cookies are like a blank slate. You can eat them plain and hand-shaped, or use cookie cutters and embellish them with elaborate decorations using frosting, candies, sprinkles or chocolates. If given the chance, sugar cookies can cater to everyone. Even our pugs love these cookies, though we only give them a bite!

The sugar cookie has been a tradition in my family for generations. Probably because, at its heart, it is a comfort cookie. It is simple, sweet—but not too sweet, and feeds the whole family. My mom, the perfectionist that she was, loved this recipe because she could execute it so precisely with careful measuring and cookie cutters, but it was also kid-friendly so she could have fun with me and my sister, and later her grandchildren.  Mom’s memory is a part of both the cookie and the cookie-making process, so it is one we continue to carry on and cherish.

Sugar Cookies

While this recipe is easier with a KitchenAid mixer, you can also mix it by hand.


1 egg
1 Tbsp milk
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder


1. Mix the butter and sugar until blended. 

2. Add in the rest of the wet ingredients. Mix well.

3. Add dry ingredients. 


Once blended, form dough into a ball. If the dough is sticky, let it chill in the refrigerator for an hour—or overnight if you want to prepare them ahead of time.

Preheat the over to 400 degrees F.


Now you have three options:

1. Hand-form it:

Form the dough into smaller balls and flatten them. 

2. Cut it up:

Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 1/2 inch slices.

3. Roll it out:

1. Cover a small portion of your counter with flour (I put down a large non-stick baking liner on the area first for easy clean up). 

2. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a large, flat square. It can technically be as thick as you want, but I’ve found around 1/2 inch is the perfect thickness.

3. Press cookie cutters onto the dough and carefully peel your shapes from them. 

4. Once you’ve made as many shapes as you can, re-roll the remaining dough into a ball and roll it back out to make more. 

5. Repeat until there is almost no dough left. 

5. Hand-form the remaining bit of dough into a circle or fun shape of your liking—this always becomes the sample cookie out of the oven!


1. Using a spatula, carefully place these cookies onto a greased baking sheet or use a non-stick baking liner on top of the sheet. 

2. Bake for 10 minutes maximum. 

3. Remove from oven when the edges start turning a golden brown. 

I watch my cookies continually to make sure they do not burn at the edges, but some family members love them burnt! This recipe makes a few batches, so experiment with how long you keep them in the oven to see which ones you or your family like best.

Let them cool and use a spatula to place cooked cookies on parchment or wax paper, or even just a paper towel on the counter.

Then enjoy plain or decorate! 


Most crab cakes served at restaurants are heavily bread and fried. For me the thick coating takes the flavor away from the best part of the dish—the crab! So I always love it when I find a crab cake with a lighter flare to it. Since they are few and far between  I decided to try and create my own version. I bake it instead of frying it, and leave out the egg yolk from the egg for a healthy, simple twist.

16 ounces of Lump Crab
2 egg whites
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
8 ounces of yellow corn (I use frozen, so of course defrost before adding to mixture.)
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
Baking sheet lined with parchment paper


Heat oven to 350 degrees

Mix all the ingredients together in bowl (except olive oil) until you can form mixture into a ball.  You do not want the ingredients to separate, so you may need to add an extra egg white, or a tad of water depending on how easy it is to handle.

Form the crab mixture into individual balls. If the cake is going to be used as a meal, make the ball about the size of a plum. If it is going to be used as an appetizer, make them the size of an apricot. 

Once the ball is formed, flatten it slightly with your hands. Carefully place onto lined cookie sheet.  Repeat until all crab mixture is used.  

Space each cake one inch apart.  Lightly sprinkle on each cake a little olive oil.  Just enough to help the cake get a crunchy texture.

Place the sheet in the oven and watch them as they cook. You’re looking for brownness (how dark is to your liking.) Take the cakes out of the oven and, using a spatula, carefully flip them over.  Place the sheet back in the oven until the second side is the same color as the first. Using the spatula place the crab cakes on a plate.

Serve with an aioli sauce, cocktail sauce, or Thousand Island dressing. I put a dot of the desired sauce on the top of each cake.  Also, if there are left overs, you can wrap the cakes individually in a plastic bag and place them in the freezer so you can defrost and enjoy them another time.



This easy recipe is a staple in my family. Whether you enjoy them warm out of the oven with butter and your favorite jam, or left over as sandwich bread, these rolls are delicious. They do not take long to make and do not require a lot of ingredients. They are also very budget friendly, using inexpensive ingredients.  The original recipe that my mom used was from her trusty Betty Crocker Cook Book, the one I've mentioned in earlier blog posts. After making these rolls many times, Mom changed the recipe for the better. I am now sharing it with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family has, and also the side effect that comes from making and eating them—wonderful memories!


Refrigerator Rolls

2 cups warm water
2 packages dry yeast
1 glass bowl

Dissolve yeast in warm water
Mix together and let rest for a few minutes

Stir in:
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup butter
1 egg

6 1/2 -7 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Mix until dough is blended and easy to handle, forming into a ball
Grease a large glass bowl and place dough inside
Cover with a damp cloth
Let set for one to two hours in refrigerator
Spray a cookie sheet with a non stick spray or place on a silpat mat

If you are making this dough ahead of time, it can keep in the refrigerator for up to five days

Take out of refrigerator and make individual balls out of the dough about the size of a plum
Place them on the cookie sheet and let them rest on counter for 1 hour

Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes

All ovens heat differently, so watch them after about 10 minutes for desired end result—my girls love them light and doughy, but my husband loves them golden brown and well cooked.



For many years now at the end of January, my husband and I get together with a large group of friends at a local clubhouse and have a chili cook-off. The chef there makes his famous chili and competes against anyone who wants to prepare a chili dish. Of course, not every one has to make chili. Some people come as taste-testers! Others bring a side dish to enjoy with all the different chili recipes there are to try.

Each year we all try to come up with a new chili recipe. So, with this in mind, I created a tomato-less, chicken green chili.  The recipe has turned out to be a favorite of mine and is simple to prepare.

I have two versions of this chili. My goal was for it to be delicious, but also a chili that people with gluten or tomato allergies could still enjoy.  A simple dish to share whether at home or away.


Tomato-less Chicken Green Chili


I first prepare my secret ingredient.

Home made Green Chili Enchiladas.  Yes, enchiladas that will be put right into the chili.


32 oz. bag of shredded mozzarella cheese

2-12 count bags of corn tortillas (I love white corn tortillas if you can find them)

1 large 28-30 oz. can of green chili enchilada sauce (make sure sauce is tomato-less)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-Spray pam cooking spray on bottom of 8”x11” pan

-Spoon onto bottom of the pan some green enchilada sauce, just enough to make a thin cover to help enchiladas not stick

-Take corn tortilla and dip it into can of enchilada sauce.  This helps soften the tortilla.  Lay flat on bottom of the pan, until bottom covered with one layer of tortillas

-Layer these tortillas with one half inch of mozzarella cheese

-Spoon a little green sauce on cheese layer

-Repeat with tortillas, cheese and sauce

-I do mine three layers thick

-Top last layer with cheese


Cover top with foil, do not let foil touch cheese

Bake until cheese is warm and melted in middle layers (test with knife in middle of pan)

When middle is warm, take foil off top and brown the top layer of cheese

After browning, take out of oven and let cool


The Chili


large cooking pot

6-8 boneless skinless chicken breast


2-3 28-30 oz. cans green enchilada sauce

2- jars 16 0z. green chili salsa (made with no tomatoes)

1 can Ortega Green Chili’s diced

cooked enchiladas


-Place chicken in pot

-Fill with water 1 inch above chicken

-Boil water and cook chicken until done (may need to add more water as cooks.  I keep water just above chicken

-Turn stove heat to medium-low

-Once chicken cooked, drain out water, put chicken back in pot

-Shred chicken

-Add in green chili enchilada sauce, green chili salsa, Ortega green chili’s


-Cut enchiladas into 2-3 inch pieces, use a spatula and place enchilada pieces into pot with chili

-Stir around

-Turn heat down to low

-Cover and simmer

-Stir every 10-15 minutes, do not let stick to bottom of pot

-As you stir enchiladas in chili they will fall apart and melt into chili, break apart tortillas with spoon or fork if needed

-At this point the rest is to your taste

-Water can be added to thin the chili or more green enchilada sauce or green salsa can be added

-I always buy extra sauces just in case

-Stir and keep heated

-Chili can cool slowly throughout day and eaten later (or placed in crock pot to keep warm and transferred to another setting, or be eaten immediately


If not all enchiladas are used for chili, you can freeze then to save for a meal another day, or eat them along side the chili.


I hope you enjoy!


Everyone enjoys the delicious smell of popcorn popping, the fun-loving sound of each kernel as it pops and then the taste of it with a little salt and maybe melted butter poured over it. When my girls were growing up, it was so easy to buy the pre-measured bags of unpopped popcorn at the grocery store for a quick and easy preparation. As they got older, they found fresh organic corn kernels and, I have to say, you cannot only taste the difference, but also see it. These organic kernels are thicker in texture and give the feeling of a more substantial popcorn experience. If you have the time and option, try the second type. If not, enjoy the bagged version. Either way, popcorn is a wonderful, simple treat and fun at all times of the year. 

When I was young, there was an indoor shopping mall that had a small caramel corn business in the food court section. As you walked in the mall, the fragrant smell of sugary goodness immediately hit your nose and it was always the first stop for me and my family. What a treat!

It was just as tasty as it smelled. They made it in little batches so that each box filled was still warm. Since then, I have not seen many places that make caramel corn.

Recently, I was looking through Mom's recipe box and came across her caramel corn recipe. So I went to the store and bought the few ingredients I needed to make my favorite childhood treat.

I always assumed making any type of caramel would be hard but this was so simple. I enjoyed this treat with my family then put the extra in an air-tight container so it could last all week--even though it was gone in two days!

I am sharing this recipe with you and hope you enjoy it with your loved ones. Let me know how it turns out!


Baked Caramel Corn

1 cup melted butter

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

6 quarts popped corn



Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place popcorn in pan and put in oven to keep warm while making topping. Melt butter in pot on stove using medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to boil and stir for five minutes. Add baking soda and vanilla to mixture. 

Remove popcorn from oven and pour caramel mixture over popcorn mixing well. Pour the mixture onto two large cookie sheet pans in thin layers. Bake a 250 degrees for one hour, mixing every 15 minutes, making sure all the carmel is covering the popcorn.

Let cool until hard and enjoy!



My daughter recently discovered homemade organic popcorn and I fell in love with the freshness and taste. Now, I make it several times a week to share with my husband while we watch television and movies at home. 

Here is our recipe for you to enjoy!


Homemade Popcorn

1/2 cup corn kernels

1 T oil

1 tsp salt

1 T butter

In a large pot over medium heat, drizzle enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Place three corn kernels in and cover. Once you hear those little kernels pop, it is time to add in the rest of the kernels, covering the bottom of the pan. Close the lid and wait for all the kernels to pop and remove from heat. Pour popcorn into a large bowl and melt butter in the pot that you cooked the popcorn in. Then drizzle the melted butter over the popcorn and sprinkle with salt. (If making carmel corn, do not pour melted butter or salt over popcorn - you can find my carmel corn recipe HERE)