For holidays and special occasions, I plan a dinner that's hearty and comforting, but also a cut above an everyday meal. I've served these favorite foods for New Year's Eve, for my husband, Darrell's, and my anniversary and for birthdays—they never fail to please.
Slices of Chicken Cordon Bleu look so attractive shingled on a platter or individual plates. This traditional but elegant entree picks up such good flavor from the ham and Swiss cheese filling.
Bacon 'n' Cheese Stuffed Potatoes are delicious with the chicken. You can prep them early and just pop them in the oven when it's time.
I'm a dump-and-pour cook a lot of the time. Although I know what the ingredients are, often I'm not sure how much of each goes in. But I do stray off the beaten path on occasion to try a new recipe or do a special dinner like the one I'm sharing here.
A nice addition to any meal, Sweet Milk Dinner Rolls are a variation of a recipe I got from the mother of a childhood friend.
There's a funny story that goes with this recipe: When I was young and first married (the first time around), I didn't realize how much the buns would rise. My then husband said he was embarrassed eating those huge "bunwiches" on his lunch break at the local sawmill. I told him he was likely the envy of the lumber pile!
Mixed Bean Salad—another dish that can be made ahead—is great for anything from a barbecue to a fancy dinner. My friend Jennette used to bring this salad to the company golf tournament and potlucks when we worked together some years ago.
My mom is 87, and when she is invited somewhere for dinner, she brings one of her homemade pies. Her Lemon Meringue Pie has always been my choice.
- Field Editor:
Elkford, British Columbia
- Family: Merle and husband Darrell have two grown sons each and five grandchildren between them.
- Job: Merle works full-time as an insurance broker. Darrell is a heavy-equipment operator at a coal company.
- Activities: Elkford Public Library board. "We do many food-related fund-raisers and thank-you dinners for volunteers."
- Hobbies: Member of a creative writing group.
Deeply Rooted in B.C.
I was born in the West Kootenay Mountains, and in 1967, our home was flooded out when BC Hydro built the High Arrow Dam (sold us down the river, we say). With heavy hearts and in order to make a financial and emotional recovery, a few families moved to the Queen Charlotte Islands, where we made new friends and a new life and stayed for 7 years.
As an adult, I lived in northwestern British Columbia for 25 years. Then, 7 years ago, I moved to Elkford, a picturesque open-pit coal mining community in the southeastern part of the province.
I met Darrell here in Elkford. We enjoy camping. For our first trip—to a remote lake for 2 weeks—he filled his travel trailer's small freezer with meat.
I couldn't figure out how to keep bread and buns fresh for that length of time. So I opted to bring a can of yeast and a bag of flour instead. I'd never baked in a travel trailer— let alone camped in one. But I surprised myself and impressed my husband with my fresh baked goods!
As you can see, I'm just an everyday person who likes to cook…and I'm happy to be a Taste of Home field editor. Hope you'll enjoy my favorite meal!