This spicy stew was the main dish at our family's Christmas Eve dinner. The guests, including three vegetarians, were thrilled with the abundance of squash, potatoes, tomatoes and onion. —Cindy Beberman, Orland Park, Illinois
Meet the Cook: The basis for this recipe was handed down to me by my aunt, who said she got it from a "grizzled Montana mountain man". I added some zesty ingredients to come up with the final version.
Hot food is something that my husband's family isn't accustomed to. So I adjust the spices for them. In fact, with a few simple alterations to the "heat" index, I can serve this chili to anyone.
Chad and I and our 2-year-old son live 12 miles from town in the country.
-Lisa Humphreys, Wasilla, Alaska
Meet the Cook: Because it is so hearty, no one misses the meat in this chili. Both family - my husband and I have three daughters and one grandchild - and friends ask for it.
-Rene Fry, Hampstead, Maryland
My family enjoys homemade soup, but I don't always have the time to make it from scratch. This simple recipe calls for ingredients I can keep on hand, so I can serve steaming bowls of chowder in a hurry.—Kathryn Awe, International Falls, Minnesota
This actually is a combination of two soup recipes I came across and adapted. I often serve it for Sunday dinner, making enough so there are leftovers for my husband's lunch thermos. He's a bricklayer and regularly works outside during winter. We're the parents of three children—17, 16 and 11.
Meet the Cook: I started making my chili back when we lived near a huge farmers' market that sold all sorts of vegetables. Be as creative as you like with ingredients.
My husband loves chili, and this is a nice change from the traditional type. I've always enjoyed cooking - I grew up in a family with five girls. These days, I can count on our own youngsters (they're 4 and 2) to help me out!
-Judy Sloter, Charles City, Iowa
Entertaining is a big part of a military wife's life—my husband was a career Army man—so my soup got much use! It's a great cool-down after Mexican food, but I've also served it with butter cookies at a baby shower.
We're now retired here in the Utah Rockies. Both of our sons are grown.
Meet the Cook: My husband and I lived for 11 years in the Arctic, where there was very little fresh produce and I had to order non-perishable groceries for a year ahead of time. This hearty soup - a meal in itself served with warm rolls - became a staple in our diet because it requires ingredients I could easily find.
-Lil Morris, Emerald Park, Saskatchewan
Meet the Cook: Especially to guests who enjoy the variety of Chinese cooking, this is a treat. I like serving it with fried noodles or rice as a side dish. I am a widow with two daughters, both grown, and a grandson. Music is a favorite pastime. I've been the founder and director of a seniors band called "The Happy Has Beens", and I perform for clubs, church groups and seniors as the "Hat Lady", singing about my travels through our state.
-Louise Johnson, Harriman, Tennessee