Favorite Soups for Cold Winter Days

As a missionary kid in Brazil, we never had winter: it was hot all year around. But that didn’t keep us from having soup! So when I moved to the United States and would hear comments about having to wait for winter to have soup for supper, it never made much sense to me. However, after living through ten winters in the Black Hills of South Dakota, I am beginning to understand that there is definitely something cozy and yummy about having a hot bowl of soup on cold winter days!

Even as I write this, today feels like a “soup day”, for snow is falling outside and the fire in the wood stove is going. And so, because we are still in the clutches of winter and have a few months to go before the birds start singing again and the trees begin to look alive, we have gathered up some of our favorite soups to share with you!


Chicken Tortilla Soup

I grew up having this chicken tortilla soup and it is still one of my favorite soups to make, even now as an adult. The key is all the toppings that you add at the table–make sure you pile them on! ~Angie

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced (or powdered garlic)

1 – 4oz can green chilies

6 cups chicken broth

1 – 10oz can cream of chicken soup

2 ½ cups water

1 ½ tablespoons A-1 steak sauce

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cajun or taco seasoning

¼ teaspoon pepper

3-6 cups chicken, cooked and cubed/shredded

Directions

In a large stockpot, saute onions and garlic in a little oil until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer.

When serving, load each bowl with tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese, and fresh diced tomatoes. Cilantro, green onions, and avocados are also yummy toppings!


Hearty Potato Soup

This is my husband’s all time favorite soup! It is creamy, savory and hearty! Jeremiah is very happy when I make this soup and serve it with a side of warm dinner rolls! ~ Rachel

Ingredients

6 slices of bacon, cooked

1 onion, diced and sauteed

32oz chicken broth

10 potatoes, peeled and cubed

4 teaspoons flour

1 pack Ranch Dressing mix

2 cups half and half

1 cup sour cream

Directions

Boil potatoes in chicken broth until tender. Scoop out ⅓ of potatoes and mash them (by hand or with a mixer). Return to pot.

Add sauteed onion.

In a bowl combine flour, ranch mix, half and half and sour cream. Whisk into soup slowly. Do not boil.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with bacon and cheddar cheese.


Chicken Rice Soup

I just discovered this easy, gluten/dairy free soup and was so happy with the amount of flavor it had. My husband and all three kids loved it! – Chrystal

Ingredients

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, minced

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

1 rib celery, diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried parsley

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

5 cups low sodium chicken broth

2 chicken breasts, raw

1 cup long grain white or brown rice

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and cook and stir for 3-4 minutes, until onion begins to turn golden.

Add garlic, parsley and thyme and cook 1 minute.

Add broth, chicken, rice, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat to medium-low (a simmer), cover, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until vegetables and rice are tender.

Remove chicken from pot and shred. Add back to the pot and stir. Serve.


Chunky Chili

This is so easy to mix up and have ready for a quick meal! I usually make a big batch and then serve leftovers for a loaded potato bar or even for a quick variation of taco salad! ~Angie

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons chili powder (depending on how spicy you want it)

1 pound hamburger

3 – 15.5 oz cans of beans, undrained (any variation of kidney, pinto, black, or chili)

2 – 15.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained

Salt to taste

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Directions

In a large kettle, saute onions, peppers, and garlic in a little oil. Add hamburger and cook until browned.

Add remaining ingredients, except for cilantro. (Taste before adding any salt–I have found that I rarely need to add salt due to the canned ingredients already being seasoned.)

Just before serving, add chopped cilantro.

Serve with cheese, sour cream, Frito chips. We also like to add cooked rice at the bottom of our bowl for an even heartier bowl of soup!

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Resources for Kids

Pointing children to Christ should be part of our normal routines. However, we can easily lose sight of the fact that parenting is so much more than just keeping these kids alive and eventually launching them into adulthood. God wants us to be teaching our children of Him and encouraging them to know Him more deeply on a regular basis. In order to help us in the pursuit of intentional discipleship we’re sharing a list of some kid-friendly resources that we’ve enjoyed and found helpful for starting conversations that ultimately point us all to Christ.

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  • Tiny Theologians 

Young children are able to learn a lot more than we realize and Tiny Theologians capitalizes on this reality. With beautiful flashcards that have brief definitions and a verse or passage on the back, Tiny Theologians provides some excellent tools for teaching theology to children. Their flashcard sets include A-Z Attributes of God, the ABCs of Theology, and the ABCs of the Names of God. 

http://tinytheologians.com/

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  • Getty Kids Hymnal (CDs or Youtube)

Kids engage in song on a whole new level when they hear other children singing! The Gettys have put out a great collection of hymns (new and old) featuring children, for children! You can buy these CDs on Amazon or just listen through YouTube.

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  • Leading Little Ones to God

Leading Little Ones to God is an old one but still a good one as it works through basic Bible Doctrines on a child’s level. Both my husband and I grew up with this book in our homes and are now using it with our girls! 

Find it new or used on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Leading-Little-Ones-God-Teachings/dp/0802851207/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2QPWQ2TUXB6HA&keywords=leading+little+ones+to+god&qid=1579122551&sprefix=leading+little+ones%2Caps%2C479&sr=8-1

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  • Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible 

This story Bible has become a favorite around our house. With bright and bold illustrations and simple narratives, it is geared towards toddlers. We especially appreciate how closely it sticks to the Bible narrative and doesn’t add lots of extra details to make the story more exciting. There is also a brief application section at the end of each chapter that touches on a broad range of topics to help drive home gospel truths in the hearts of our little ones.. 

https://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Gospel-Story-Bible/dp/1945270047/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=MSLPJK3UFFG9&keywords=beginners+gospel+story+bible&qid=1579120965&sprefix=beginners+gospel+st%2Caps%2C509&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExSDU4WVlLRkRLMzUyJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwMzI5NDU2MzVaTThGNU4wTTU5SyZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMDEzOTMwMzhIMlAyUTk5TFRGJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

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  • The New City Catechism Mobile App 

While this app is aimed at adults, this free app also has a children’s mode that provides songs to go with each question and answer. These songs are short and fun and help young children learn important doctrines without even trying! Every night before going to bed, our 2-year-old insists on singing the song for question 3 that asks “How many persons are there in God?” Even though she doesn’t fully understand now the concept of the trinity, the song will undoubtedly stick with her for years to come and remind her heart of the reality of the Triune God!  

http://newcitycatechism.com/mobile-apps/

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  • The Big Picture Story Bible

I’ve really enjoyed sharing this story Bible with young children. The vivid illustrations help to hold their attention as they listen to foundational truths about man and God. And I love that this book shares both the bad and good stories, showing both the depravity of man and in turn, the loving-kindness of our God.

https://www.amazon.com/Big-Picture-Story-Bible-Book/dp/1433523914

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  • The Big Picture Bible Crafts 

This is a new resource for us, but it looks promising! For parents with children always wanting to make crafts, this book has 101 crafts to correspond a wide range of Bible stories (and also correspond with The Big Picture Story Bible.) With reproducible pages and multiple levels of difficulty for each craft, this craft book is ideal for multiple age groups! 

https://www.amazon.com/Picture-Bible-Crafts-Reproducible-pages/dp/1433558696/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3993CV43A5RP0&keywords=big+picture+bible+crafts&qid=1579122675&sprefix=big+picture+craf%2Caps%2C220&sr=8-1

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  • Bible Visuals International Family Format Series

Bible Visuals International has recently taken some of their short missionary visual stories and turned them into a book format for the whole family to enjoy together. They have ones on John Newton, George Mueller, etc. Our family has really enjoyed the one on the life of Martin Luther and have found it to lead to great engagement and conversation. 

https://www.amazon.com/Refuge-Martin-Luther-Family-5760-CS/dp/1933206934/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=bible+visual+martin+luther&qid=1579054470&s=books&sr=1-2

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Holiday Breakfasts

During this Christmas season, it is fun to make special meals for our friends and family. Here are some of our favorite breakfast ideas that help make holiday breakfasts to be just a little bit more special!

Rachel’s Coffee Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 25 Rolls

Dough Ingredients:
5 ½ cups flour, divided
4 teaspoons (2 packages) yeast
½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
1 cup water
¼ cup butter, melted
2 eggs

Filling Ingredients:
¾ cup sugar (brown or white)
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
⅓ cup butter, melted

Glaze Ingredients 
2 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon maple flavor
¼ cup hot coffee

Instructions:
Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt; mix well.

In a saucepan, heat milk, water and butter until 120* – 130* (temperature is very important, please use a thermometer). Add to flour mixture. Add eggs. Blend at low speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed.

Gradually stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 5 – 8 minutes by hand or 3 minutes in mixer.

Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled (about 1 hour).

Prepare filling: Combine sugar and cinnamon.

Prepare glaze: Combine glaze ingredients, blend until smooth.

Punch down dough and divide into 2 parts. On floured surface roll each half to a 9×24” rectangle. Brush each part with melted butter; sprinkle filling and nuts (opt) over dough. Starting with long side, roll up tightly. Pinch edge to seal. Cut into 12 slices. Place in greased pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled (about 30 min.)

Bake at 375* for 20 –25 min. until lightly brown. Drizzle glaze over hot rolls.

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Candied Bacon

If you’ve never tried candied bacon before, now is the time to change that! My mouth is watering just thinking about this sweet and salty breakfast treat. ~Chrystal

I use this recipe from Simply Recipes:  https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_candied_bacon/

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Easy Egg Casserole

This recipe is extremely easy to whip up and makes a great addition to any holiday breakfast table. It’s simple and yet full of flavor. ~Chrystal

Ingredients:
1 pound meat (sausage, bacon or ham)
6 slices hearty bread (or bagel)
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
8 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9 inch dish with cooking spray.

In a large skillet, cook the meat until browned. Drain.

Cube bread into bite size pieces.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper.  Stir in bread cubes and cheese.

Pour into prepared dish and bake until set and golden, about 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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Easy Hot Cider

I was introduced to this delicious hot cider when I was in college and immediately asked for the recipe. It’s been in my brain files ever since and I love pulling it out to serve larger groups.  It’s the perfect warm drink for a cold winter day! ~Chrystal

Ingredients:
1 cup Red Hots cinnamon candy
1 gallon apple juice

 Directions:
Pour ingredients into a 6 quart slow cooker.
Cook on high for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Serve!

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Easy Cream Cheese Danish 

I recently found this recipe in a Taste of Home cookbook. The last time I made it, my husband kept saying, “This is good! This is really good!” These danish are a yummy addition to any breakfast! ~Angie

Makes 4 Danish

Ingredients:
1 8-ounce tube refrigerated crescent rolls
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoon lemon juice
8 teaspoons preserves of any flavor (strawberry, raspberry, peach, etc.)

Glaze Ingredients:
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 teaspoons milk

Directions:
Separate dough into four rectangles; seal perforations. On a lightly floured surface, roll each rectangle into a 7-in. X 3 ½ in. rectangle.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice until smooth. Spread over rectangles. Roll up from the long side; pinch edges to seal. Holding one end, loosely coil each roll.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Top each coil with 2 teaspoons of preserves. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan to a wire rack.

For glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Drizzle over warm rolls.

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DIY Christmas Gifts

Looking for a DIY Christmas gift you can give to friends, family, teachers or co-workers? Check out some of our favorite DIY projects that you can easily whip up in bulk quantities to share with those you love. 

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Chai Tea


Every year my sister-in-law makes me this chai tea recipe for Christmas and I couldn’t be happier! The batches from her have gradually gotten bigger and bigger over the years because apparently all of my friends love drinking it too when they come over and I seem to be running out of it earlier each year. You can package the chai tea in a glass mason jar with a pretty bow if you are wanting to gift a larger amount or you can package them in smaller 2-serving packages (like the ones pictured using a treat bag, etc.) if you just want a little something to hand out at work, etc.

Ingredients:
1 c. nonfat dry milk powder
1 c. powdered non-dairy creamer
1 c. french vanilla powdered creamer
2 ½ c, white sugar
1 ½ c. unsweetened instant tea
2 t. ground ginger
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. ground cardamom
½ t. ground nutmeg

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together. Use a food processor if finer texture is desired. Serve 3 heaping tablespoons with 1 cup of hot water.

Note: If you can’t find the required unsweetened instant tea in your local grocery store you can actually order it on Amazon and have it delivered right to your front door.

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Candy Sleigh

If you need something for kids (but really adults too!) this one is sure to please. Just gather candy canes and an assortment of chocolate bars/candy and start stacking! Use small amounts of hot glue to secure as needed, then tie it all together with a ribbon and top with a bow!

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Christmas Potpourri

If you want your house to smell amazing around the holidays then make sure you double this recipe so you can keep some for yourself! You won’t regret it. Package in a clear treat bag or mason jar. Attach a bow and the recipe/instructions.

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Photo Coasters

I’ve enjoyed making these personalized coasters for family members in the past. You can use personal photos for those you are close to or if you want something for your next door neighbor, teacher or coworker you can just use pretty scrapbook paper.

Either way, these coasters make a beautiful gift, are friendly on the budget and extremely easy to make! What’s not to love? Check out the link below for instructions on how to make some for your own friends/family.

 

http://www.cardstore.com/blog/how-to-make-coasters/

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Almond Biscotti

Giving someone the gift of homemade biscotti is a sure way to make them feel special. Tell them to sit down, prop their feet up and enjoy a hot drink while dipping this yummy biscotti into their cup. 

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Our Blogging Journeys

Can you believe it?! We have been successfully blogging for an entire year! Today, we thought we’d share some of the things God has been doing in our lives over the past 365 days as we’ve continued this journey of blogging. 

 

Angie – 

This time last year we were just getting ready to launch Hearts Refreshed. We had been working on it for several months: brainstorming the name, making a schedule, figuring out sources for pictures, and setting up the website. Once we officially launched, there were even more areas to work on: figuring out a system for editing each other’s posts (and being gracious in doing it); learning what mountains to “die on” (and what mountains are insignificant in light of the Gospel); and even thinking through how to handle specific subjects (at one point, we had an in-depth theological discussion concerning a particular post which then resulted in heavy revision  before it could be posted).

These things all seem rather routine and matter-of-fact–simply a part of the package. No big deal, right? However, it was these things that God used to do a lot of work on my heart: I had specific ideas of how things should be and I wanted to cling oh so tightly to those ideas. After all…they are the best ideas, right? It was one of those “I know what I’m talking about in this area” kind of things. But even as I struggled, God began to chip away at areas of pride in my heart and show me that this isn’t all about me. In fact, it’s not about me at all, but about Him. And so, even while I thought that we were doing this blog for other people, God was doing a work in my own life. Isn’t it interesting how God works in the most unexpected ways? This heart-work hasn’t been easy or fun; however, I am thankful that He has been good and gracious to do the good work in my life that He has promised to do rather than leaving me to my own ways. As I look forward to another year of writing here at Hearts Refreshed, I pray that God will keep me humble and dependent on Him so that He gets the glory for it all.

 

Chrystal-

A year ago I was jumping at the opportunity to be a part of Hearts Refreshed because I loved writing and felt like I could use a creative outlet in the current season of life. We had added our third child only a few months before, and while I was hoping that my writing might encourage other women along the way, I was mainly looking at this as being my hobby: A place where I could think about things outside of just dishes, diapers, and feeding schedules. What I didn’t realize is how God would use writing to really imprint certain lessons on my own heart and mind. As I was taking time to write down some of the things He was teaching me, I found myself mulling over certain truths with a deeper intensity than before. I also would find those same truths resurfacing and convicting me at times when I would have otherwise forgotten them. “You wrote about this, remember?” my brain would say when the child was crying, my husband wasn’t measuring up, or the to-do list screamed louder than my desire for the Word, etc., etc., etc. And then I would be forced to choose my own way or the way God had already previously laid out for me. I still have many days where I do not remember the truths God has been teaching me, but I’m grateful for every little step forward and it’s neat to see how God has used writing as a tool in my journey over the last year. 

Over the past year I’ve also enjoyed the kindness of God through family vacations, evening walks, kid snuggles, park days, church gatherings, volleyball games, neighborhood get-togethers, camping trips, freezer meal parties and, most recently, a move to one town over. 

 

Rachel-

As we launched Hearts Refreshed one year ago, my heart’s desire was to uplift other women in their day-to-day walk with God, as well as share my motherhood journey with other moms with the hope of being an encouragement. Whether or not that mission was accomplished, I have been encouraged, challenged, and uplifted by Chrystal and Angie as we have blogged together these past 12 months. God has also used Hearts Refreshed to build a strong relationship with my sister-in-law (Angie). I am truly thankful for the friendship God has built between us!

Much of this past year drug by for me but in hindsight, it was a whirlwind. God guided me through undiagnosed illness, a difficult pregnancy, the  loss of my dear grandmother, traveling across the country 5 times, adding another precious baby girl to our family, uprooting and moving across the country, and parenting during the toddler years. It has been a lot, but there have been many sweet moments intertwined.

Time with God has been hard but His Spirit continues to prod me and give me a driving desire to know His Word and commune with Him in prayer. God has been faithful to grow me: He has humbled me as He exposed my pride, selfishness, and attempts at self-sufficiency. Yet he has also reminded me of the love He has lavished upon me through His cross and the good gifts He has given me in my husband, children, church family, and many other undeserved pleasures in this life. All glory be to Christ!

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