Simple Hamburger Soup

My mom used to make something like this Simple Hamburger Soup every Wednesday night before church. She called it “Beef Garden Casserole” and usually baked biscuits on top and on the side. I remember coming home from sports practices, starving, and so excited to eat this meal along with several biscuits dripping with butter.


Ah, the memories.

I’ve been making this for my own family during the last 22 years, and even though it started out as a simple recipe, I’ve simplified it even more. I now skip the biscuits altogether. I often make it ahead of time so all I have to do is rewarm it and serve.

But then there’s the fact that some people in my family don’t like corn. Of all things not to like, right? So I usually make corn on the side for people to stir in if they like.

Also? I don’t make this as a casserole. It goes into bowls like soup, then we top it with shredded cheese. It’s still one of my favorite meals, and it always reminds me of my mom. You’ll love how easy this is!

Simple Hamburger SoupYum

Simple Hamburger Soup
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 3 Tablespoons minced onion
  • 2-3 cups frozen green beans
  • 2-3 cups frozen corn (optional)
  • 32-ounces tomato soup
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 cup shredded Colby jack or cheddar cheese
  1. Brown hamburger and minced onion until meat is no longer pink.
  2. Meanwhile, steam green beans in a separate pot until they are tender.
  3. Stir together cooked meat mixture, green beans, corn, and tomato soup.
  4. Simmer until bubbly, salting liberally.
  5. Serve in bowls with shredded cheese if desired.


Other Simple Recipes I’ve Shared Recently:

It’s recipes like this that makes Simple Meals such a life saver for families. We’ll provide the plans. We’ll provide the recipes. We’ll provide the grocery list. All you have to do is take a deep breath and enjoy how simple your life in the kitchen has become! Join Simple Meals!


A Personal Question For All the Women

Did I ever tell you about the time I was so busy taking care of everyone in the world, nourishing myself with Pepsi and chocolate chip cookies, and so obviously neglecting my own needs that I landed myself in the hospital for several days, unable to properly care for my husband and little boys for well over a month?

Fun times.

I started learning to take better care of myself after that, but it’s weird. Even though I knew I needed to, I still felt guilty. Guilty any time I laid down for a much needed nap. Guilty any time I spent grocery money on a cart full of produce. Guilty any time it seemed I was putting my needs over those in my care.


Can you relate?

Are you taking good care of yourself?

I mean really taking good care of yourself – being intentional to make yourself a priority? Or are your hormones, emotions, food cravings, and moods running amok?

Yes, it’s hard. I know it’s hard. And very much counter-intuitive. After all, a good Christian woman puts others above herself, right?

Ehhh, I’m not so sure.

Lessons from the airplane and also Mother Teresa

You know how before you take off for a flight, the stewardess instructs that in an emergency, you should always secure your own air mask before assisting someone else? That always sounded so backward to me. How could I possibly consider taking care of my own air mask before helping my children put on theirs?

(Yes, because apparently I think I can help them better if I’m dead.)

I think we get the logic but have a difficult time putting this truth into practice – the truth that in order to take care of others we have to take care of ourselves first.

I was reading a book to my boys recently (ok fine, two years ago) about Mother Teresa. I was so interested to read that even during a major food shortage in India with starving people all around her, Mother Teresa insisted that those serving alongside her eat a large helping of food each day. Why? Because she knew that those caring for others had to stay healthy and strong. That they needed energy to do what they did day after day. That if they didn’t take care of themselves, they could in no way take care of others.

She wasn’t asking the servants to be selfish. She was asking them to be healthy – so that they could serve selflessly.

Taking care of ourselves so that we can serve others is a selfless act.

So how about you?

Are you taking good care of yourself?

Obviously, no matter what we do, we’re going to get sick and run down sometimes. It’s no fun, but it’s life. But I tell you what. If there’s anything I can do to have optimum energy, to keep my moods from swinging from pole to pole, to help myself be fit, to avoid headaches and feeling sluggish – you better believe I’m going to do it. I am so much better as a wife, mom, and friend when I am making my health a priority.

How about you?

I know I frequently harp on getting plenty of water and nourishing food. (You’ve been listening, right?) But there’s more.

As women, we can really be all over the place with hormones and emotions. (Or MaYbE tHaT’s JuSt Me?) This truly isn’t just “our cross to bear.” We can find overall health in this too.

We can find ourselves rested and nourished and well. We can find ourselves at peace and in a place of calm as we enjoy our families, our work, our ministries, and our down time.

We can.

Women, let’s make our health a priority. Then we can selflessly serve those we are called to serve.

Eat well, drink well, rest often. Pray always. Do what you need to do, with God’s strength, so that you can enjoy great health as you serve others.

Last Minute Creamy Bacon Spaghetti

Well, hi! Did you have a nice Christmas?

I’m assuming you’d like to stay in “vacation mode” for just a few more days. Perhaps you’re planning to hit the stores and grab some 75% off sales. (Get me some wrapping paper and multi-colored tree lights while you’re there, will you?)

Today I’ve got a fun new Simple Meal to share with you. This one is a bit different from those I’ve shared recently. You’ll be happy to learn that it includes bacon. And cream cheese. It’s like I’m giving you a late Christmas present. Best of all, this meal can be thrown together at the last minute with no prior planning!

Here’s how this Creamy Bacon Spaghetti can be considered a “last minute meal” even if you didn’t thaw bacon in preparation: Bacon will thaw quickly when placed in a pan of hot water. In just a few minutes, you can cook it and stir it into your pasta.

Easy, peasy, bacon, cheesy.


Here’s another great bacon tip for you: Cut it into pieces with kitchen shears, like this…

bacon bits 1

While your bacon pieces are cooking, you can boil your spaghetti. When both are finished, you stir them together with cream cheese, Italian dressing, and parmesan. A couple minutes later, your meal is served.

Last Minute Creamy Bacon SpaghettiYum

5.0 from 2 reviews
Last Minute Creamy Bacon Spaghetti
Serves: 4-6
  • 16 ounces whole grain spaghetti
  • 1 pound uncooked bacon, but into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • ½ cup Italian dressing*
  • 4 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  2. In the meantime, cook bacon in a skillet.
  3. Drain grease from bacon.
  4. Drain water from spaghetti.
  5. Immediately pour hot spaghetti into the skillet with cooked bacon.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, stirring until cream cheese is melted and dish is well combined.
  7. Serve right away.

*Here’s my Italian Dressing recipe if you like!


Other Simple Recipes I’ve Shared Recently:

It’s recipes like this that makes Simple Meals such a life saver for families. We’ll provide the plans. We’ll provide the recipes. We’ll provide the grocery list. All you have to do is take a deep breath and enjoy how simple your life in the kitchen has become! Join Simple Meals!




Lilla Rose is having a Purple Monday After-Christmas Sale!

50% Off Holiday-Themed Limited-Release Styles

10-15% off Everything Else
Plus Free Shipping for orders over $40!
    *must select free shipping at checkout

Sale starts at 10:00 AM EST on Monday, December 26th, and ends Tuesday, December 27 at 3:00 PM EST.

Check it out here!


Merry Christmas from the Coppinger Family!

Dearest Friends,

Our lives are blessed because of you.



Thank you for being a part of our community here at

You sure are fun to have around.



From our house to yours, Merry Christmas.

How wonderful it is to celebrate Jesus with you.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19

The Boy Who Saved Christmas

This post was originally published on December 20, 2013

After having three baby boys within four years, Matt and I ceased to have the ability to finish sentences or call our children by their given names. Our little fellas became accustomed to answering to “A-Jus-El-um-um-COME-HERE-BUDDY!”  Having more than three children didn’t seem to make sense to us since obviously, we were no longer making sense.

When those three little boys were ages 5, 2, and 6 months – my mom was diagnosed with ALS. Thus began a journey in our lives that was filled with grief, pain, and hardship as we traveled back and forth to Kansas to be with Mom as often as we could during the next 22 months. If I couldn’t get my act together before, I certainly couldn’t even find my act during this time.

I remember crying out to God during one of my lowest points, just a few months before she died. It had been a year and a half since her diagnosis, and she was failing quickly. Knowing that we were soon going to lose her, I fell on my knees and asked God to help me find joy again. He listened. He heard. And He answered. Just a few weeks later, we were shocked to find out that we were expecting baby number four. Now that was a surprise we had not anticipated! Indeed, we were filled with joy.

We were able to share the news with Mom (who was convinced that we would surely have a girl this time). Suddenly all of us – my dad, my brother, all of us – had a reason to smile. We had something to look forward to! God is so much fun. Little did we know how this baby would continue to be the perfect blessing we would all need during the coming months.

When I was about four months into the pregnancy, Mom finished her race. We were relieved, sad, grateful, devastated, and exhausted. We all began a new journey of life without her – enduring that year of “firsts” that families experience when they lose someone. The first birthday without her. The first Mother’s Day. The first Thanksgiving. The first Christmas.

Oh, Christmas. Mom loved Christmas. How would we ever have Christmas without her? Should we try to carry on the same traditions she loved? Should we plan the same menu? Should we have Christmas at Dad’s or would it be too painful and empty without her there?

As it turns out, the new baby we were expecting answered all the questions for us. On December 20 (twelve years ago today), our fourth baby boy was born. It was decided that all of the family would come to Nebraska to meet him and to celebrate Christmas in our home. We would eat whatever we found in my freezer and we would keep the holiday simple. That sweet baby boy was just what we all needed to be able to smile through our tears as we shared our first Christmas without Mom.

Happy 12th Birthday, Malachi Mark! God gifted you to us, bringing us tremendous joy and hope. May you always allow yourself to be used by God to be a blessing to others.


Win 2 Christian DVDs and a $25 Target Gift Card!

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.

This year, our family enjoyed putting together some little goodies for several people in our disabled and low income community who have become our friends. It isn’t much, but hopefully it showed the love of Christ. I hope these dear ones know how special they are and how much they’ve come to mean to me.

Can you tell those candy canes are supposed to form a heart?!


Our prayer as of late is that God will help us to:

  • See people through His eyes
  • Learn how to truly love people

You wouldn’t think either of those would be difficult, but we most definitely need God’s help in these simple areas. He is faithful. It’s been amazing how He’s opened our eyes and hearts and helped us learn to love better. It’s been amazing who we “see” at church and in the community when we ask God to “help us see who you need us to see today.” Truly amazing. I encourage you to try it.

As the countdown to Christmas is winding down, here’s a fun and inspirational giveaway for you! Grace Hill Media has recently released two DVDs, Hillsong: Let Hope Rise and Greater. I love watching films like this with my family!

I haven’t seen these yet, but they are to arrive in my mailbox soon. Guess what else? I’ll be receiving copies for one of you, too!

AND, they are sending a $25 Target Giftcard to share with the winner! What a fun Christmas package that will be!

Enter to win this set of DVDs plus the Target giftcard in the Rafflecopter below. I’ll draw a random winner on Friday, December 23.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S. These movies will be available December 20. Check them out here: Greater and Hillsong: Let Hope Rise.

Simple 5-Minute Italian Chicken Bake

I am so thankful for how this Simple Italian Chicken Bake practically makes itself and feeds my family so easily!


Here’s what was going down in my house: Matt was working across town. Justus had just left for his college class. Elias was upstairs reading his English assignment. Malachi was practicing his piano. I was finally sitting down at my computer to write posts, answer emails, and edit pictures.

This is when my stomach growled. You’d think lunch wouldn’t have slipped my mind, seeing as I’ve been eating this meal every day for the past 43 years. But there it was, 11:30. There was no lunch and there were no leftovers to fall back on.

I got up and put chicken and green beans in a dish, doused it with Italian dressing, and put it in the oven. Five minutes later, I was back at my computer writing. While our meal baked, we all got work done (work that did not involve being in the kitchen). An hour later, we were eating lunch. If this meal doesn’t define “simple” I don’t know what does.

Simple 5-Minute Italian Chicken BakeYum

Simple 5-Minute Italian Chicken Bake
Serves: 4-6
  • 1-2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 2-3 cups frozen green beans
  • 1 cup Italian dressing*
  1. Lay chicken in a 9x13 baking dish.
  2. Pour green beans over the chicken.
  3. Pour Italian dressing over the beans and chicken.
  4. Cover and bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until chicken is no longer pink.

*Here’s my Italian Dressing recipe. I try to always have some on hand for quick meals and salads.

The baking time on this recipe varies depending on your oven and the thickness of your chicken pieces. If you want this meal to be ready to serve in a shorter amount of time, cut your chicken into small, thin pieces.

You will love how easy and flavorful this meal is!


Other Simple Recipes I’ve Shared Recently:

It’s recipes like this that makes Simple Meals such a life saver for families. We’ll provide the plans. We’ll provide the recipes. We’ll provide the grocery list. All you have to do is take a deep breath and enjoy how simple your life in the kitchen has become! Join Simple Meals!


50% off Palm Shortening Plus Free Shipping!!!

I rarely share deals here anymore. (Instead I send out special emails about deals like this to people who’ve joined specific lists like our Heavenly Homemakers Savings Club. It’s free! Join here.)

Today I’m making an exception because this is one deal everyone needs to hear about!

Tropical Traditions is offering free shipping this weekend PLUS 50% off Palm Shortening! This is a rare double deal, and offers incredible savings.


Therefore, I just ordered three gallon-sized buckets of Palm Shortening. Yup. I decided to take advantage because I don’t know when this deal will be offered again.

The Palm Shortening is only on sale through Sunday, December 18. Use the code 191612 at checkout for free shipping to apply.

I use Palm Shortening for pie crusts, to fry chicken or French fries, and to make this super creamy peanut butter. I love Palm Shortening!!! I’m excited to take advantage of this deal that happens about once each year.

Grab your Palm Shortening here!

The links I used above are my referral links. That means if you made a purchase through the links, I will receive a referral certificate as a “thank you.” It also means you’ll receive a free copy of a great Virgin Coconut Oil Cookbook!

Easy Candied Walnuts ~ 4-Ingredients!

Here’s to everyone who needs a holiday munchie that is in the “healthier” and “easier” category. These salty/sweet Easy Candied Walnuts can be made in five minutes. (Kinda makes up for rolling, and cutting, and baking, and frosting of cookies, eh?)


The best thing about this recipe is that it’s made quickly on the stove-top and ready to eat immediately. I’ve kept some in a bowl in our living room since Thanksgiving, and it’s been a great hit with guests!

Easy Candied WalnutsYum

Easy Candied Walnuts ~ 4-Ingredients!
  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • ⅓ cup sucanat, brown sugar, or white sugar
  • 2 shakes of sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  1. Place all ingredients in a large skillet.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter is melted and sugar has been distributed over walnuts.
  3. Remove from heat and immediately spread the walnut out on parchment paper so that can cool and "candy."


Want some other fun nutty-type munchies for Christmas season? Here are a couple I’ve shared in the past:

Both are easy, and naturally gluten and dairy free if that is a need for you or for someone you love.

And for those who are interested in the rolling, cutting, baking, and frosting of cookies, here are some recipes for you:

As for me, I’m going to do everything I can to avoid rolling, cutting, baking, and frosting cookies this year. There simply isn’t time since we’re planning to travel so much over Christmas. I will instead stick with making easy treats like these Candied Walnuts.

How about you? Making lots of treats this year?

Simple Pizza Chicken Bake

Once again, a Simple Recipe saves the day. Three cheers for Simple Pizza Chicken Bake! (Hip, hip…okay, let’s just get to the recipe.)


Truth: I have been too busy to cook lately. Why? Well, for one thing, I’ve been quite occupied by writing about how to put simple meals on the table.

Do not miss the irony of this.

Oh my dears. We hosted people for Thanksgiving, then turned right around and traveled to Kansas. We arrived home a few days later happy and tired, and very behind on all of our work. We began to play catch up while getting ready for Christmas and finishing up our kids’ semester of school work. Our youngest has been in our big downtown Christmas play, so we’ve been running to practices and performances and hosting family who came into town to watch. We hosted Christmas parties for two groups of college students, and enjoyed a big basketball triangular in town with the team our two middle boys are involved with.

Did I mention we’re getting ready to drive to California to see family at Christmastime?

All this fun in the midst of trying to keep up with everyday life has threatened to push me into the next level of crazy-head. (No one wants to see what that looks like.) So when Matt got home from his current job site one day last week and asked how he could help with dinner, I looked up from my computer (where I was editing a post about keeping dinner simple) and said, “I’ve been too busy writing about how to put food on the table easily to actually get food on the table. I love you. I’m hungry. Malachi needs to leave for practice in 15 minutes.”

Fun times. I have no recollection of what we actually ate that night. But no one starved, and I think I’m back on track this week to at least have the brain power to throw something in the crock pot or oven at a reasonable time.

Keep this new Simple Recipe in your back pocket. It truly is a no-brainer, and maybe it’s just me, but I think we can all use no-brainer recipes this time of year and always.

Simple Pizza Chicken BakeYum

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Pizza Chicken Bake
Serves: 4-6
  • 3 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 14 ounces pizza sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 ounces sliced pepperoni
  1. Cut chicken into thin strips and spread them into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Spread pizza sauce over the chicken.
  3. Sprinkle with cheese.
  4. Top with pepperoni.
  5. Bake, uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.


I’m happy to report that the work I was behind on is almost caught up, and the work I’m trying to get ahead on is coming along at a nice pace. I got to a good enough point a few days ago that I told Matt, “Hey, I think I’ll be able to go to California with you for Christmas after all.” Now here’s hoping he gets all his work done so he can go too.

Other Simple Recipes I’ve Shared Recently:

If you haven’t joined Simple Meals, we invite you to come aboard! We’ll provide the plans. We’ll provide the recipes. We’ll provide the grocery list. All you have to do is take a deep breath and enjoy how simple your life in the kitchen has become! Join Simple Meals!