Creamed Chicken in Patty Shells Meal

Creative Comfort Meals

A close friend of my mother's once declared, "You don't meet Blanche, she meets you."

And once Blanche Metzgar meets you, you're likely to join the large circle of friends who relish her dinner parties, annual Christmas party and memorable Memorial Day brunch at my parents' home in Mamont, Pennsylvania.

Mom absolutely loves to entertain, trying out new recipes on family and friends. Instead of the usual hot dogs and burgers to celebrate Memorial Day, for instance, she comes up with an innovative brunch menu every year.

She's always been just as creative cooking for my dad, my sister and me. As kids, my sister, Monique, and I were picky eaters…not too fond of ethnic foods or certain vegetables. Mom's mouth-watering meals exposed us to new dishes and foods that helped us develop broader tastes.

And although she worked in the evenings as a nurse, Mom made sure to have a hot, balanced meal ready for us when we came home.

Special Birthday Menu

My sister and I got to choose the entire menu for our summer birthday celebrations. My favorite meal still consists of Mom's Creamed Chicken in Patty Shells, Wild Rice Barley Salad, greens with Home-Style Salad Dressing and Zucchini Chip Snack Cake.

With its pretty presentation, Mom's creamed chicken is the perfect entree for brunch or a special-occasion meal.

Her Wild Rice Barley Salad is a tangy accompaniment. I never thought I'd enjoy cold rice until I tasted this salad…now I serve it often. And people always request Mom's recipe for Home-Style Salad Dressing with blue cheese to top a fresh salad of mixed greens.

Her Zucchini Chip Snack Cake is so moist, you don't even need a glass of milk to wash it down. When my dad, George, harvests the overabundance of zucchini from his garden, this cake is the first thing everyone asks for.

In Her Mother's Footsteps

Mom acquired her kitchen skills from her mother, who made everything from scratch. She, too, was considered an excellent cook, so it was only a matter of time before Mom followed in her footsteps.

Our family has grown with the addition of two sons-in-law and four grandsons, but my mom insists on handling the cooking when we gather for dinner. And she still never takes the easy way out…the grandkids love her applesauce and macaroni and cheese, both made from scratch.

My sister lives in Hawaii and I'm an active-duty Air Force nurse in Alaska, so we only get together once a year.

In the meantime, I try to keep up Mom's tradition of trying something new. It keeps the dinners I prepare for my husband, Dave, and sons, Victor and Douglas, fresh and fun. Of course, I rely on Mom's tried-and-true recipes, too.

Though my duty assignments often take me far from home, it's a comfort to have that little taste of home every time I make one of her recipes. I hope you'll find them deliciously comforting, too.