Christmas Cake

This is based on a standard chocolate cake recipe adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor with some Christmas cheer mixed in. You can customize the recipe to your own taste by adding your own favorite mix-ins and flavors. If you don’t care for mint, then leave it out and go all chocolate. Decorate with your own style to match the occasion.

Nutella Banana Bread

When my daughters played on the volleyball team in high school, we would occasionally have all-day tournaments, and the parents would provide food for the players to snack on during the day. I brought this banana bread swirled with rich, chocolatey Nutella and it disappeared in a flash! If you have a favorite banana bread recipe, you can substitute it for the basic recipe here, and use the same technique to incorporate the Nutella swirl.


Chicken Chili

When my daughter was in high school, she embarked on an overnight trip with members of her science class. With her oh-so-helpful nature, she volunteered me to provide a dinner for the trip. Thanks, Mom!  I’m certainly not intimidated by cooking, but I was intimidated by the limitations of providing a dish for this trip. It had to be easily stored and transported in a cooler, be pre-cooked so that it could be reheated with minimal kitchen equipment, and most importantly, appeal to high school students and their teachers, including some picky eaters!

This white chili was my choice, and it remains one of my go-to choices when I need to feed a crowd, with minimal fuss. With mild flavor, everyone likes it, and the dump-and-run cooking style makes good use of a slow cooker. It only gets better leftover, it’s easy to double the recipe for sharing, and it uses ingredients that I almost always have on hand. I’ve made it as an easy meal while on vacation, entered it into a chili cook-off (got 2nd place! I was robbed grrrr!), and served it to everyone from kids to gourmands. It’s great to customize with add-ins; spice it up with jalapeños, sprinkle on extra cheese or scoop it up with tortilla chips.

Chicken Tetrazini

There is nothing like comfort food, especially when it is prepared by someone else. When someone is hurting, or even when they’re happy, it’s a special blessing when a friend offers to bring over dinner. This is my go-to casserole for sharing with friends. It is such tasty comfort food, with ingredients that almost everyone likes. It is easy to double the recipe for sharing — one for me, and one for you. It can be prepared and served right away, or frozen and saved to serve later. This recipe is adapted from one in a cookbook that I received as a bridal shower gift more than twenty years ago. It is a community cookbook published by a church in the town where I attended high school. Seeing the recipes in it is like visiting with old friends.