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Volunteer Field Editor Cyndy Gerken’s Best Recipes

Florida native Cyndy Gerken's love of comfort food shines through her tasty, family-friendly recipes. Many of them are freezer-friendly, too!

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As an elementary school teacher, Volunteer Field Editor Cyndy Gerken understands what it’s like to try and get something healthy on the table that kids will actually eat. She even incorporates food into her lesson plans, making special treats with her class for the holidays. Check out her best recipes. 

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Chipotle Mac & CheeseTaste of Home

Chipotle Mac & Cheese

Beefy and bubbly, this Southwestern pasta bake heats up the dinner hour with a peppery bite. —Cyndy Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Philly Cheesesteak Won Ton CupsTaste of Home

Philly Cheesesteak Won Ton Cups

I love the versatility of wonton wrappers. You can fill them with any mix of flavors or ingredients to suit your tastes. The first batch I tried used a Mexican-inspired filling, which was delicious. These wonton cups are a spinoff on Philly cheesesteak, one of my favorite sandwiches. —Cyndy Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Shepherd’s Pie Twice-Baked PotatoesTaste of Home

Shepherd’s Pie Twice-Baked Potatoes

This recipe features the best of two classics—baked potatoes and shepherd’s pie. Serve with a green salad, and satisfaction is guaranteed even for those with the heartiest appetites. —Cyndy Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Pepper Jack Hash Brown CasseroleTaste of Home

Pepper Jack Hash Brown Casserole

I found myself in need of an impromptu potato dish, but I had no potatoes. Frozen hash browns and the plethora of cheeses I kept in the freezer offered me the solution to my side-dish dilemma. —Cynthia Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Chicken & Broccoli Rabe Soup with TortelliniTaste of Home

Chicken & Broccoli Rabe Soup with Tortellini

With chicken, pasta and a bold tomato broth, this hearty and inviting soup is like a big, comforting hug in a bowl! —Cynthia Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Sue’s Spicy Tomato Basil TortelliniTaste of Home

Sue’s Spicy Tomato Basil Tortellini

A friend remarked about a similar baked tortellini dish at a restaurant, so I wanted to try re-creating it for her at home. My stovetop version makes it weeknight easy. —Cynthia Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Tropical Sweet and Spicy Pork TenderloinTaste of Home

Tropical Sweet and Spicy Pork Tenderloin

When we crave something sweet and spicy, pork tenderloin cooked with chipotle, barbecue sauce and pineapple really delivers. —Cynthia Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Everything Bagel Chicken StripsTaste of Home

Everything Bagel Chicken Strips

I love the flavor profile of everything bagels, so I re-created it with traditional breaded chicken fingers. Serve them with your favorite chicken finger dip. —Cynthia Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Chicken Parmesan Stuffed ShellsTaste of Home

Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Shells

When chicken Parmesan meets stuffed shells, it's love at first bite. The texture of the chicken holds up in the deliciously creamy and cheesy mixture. —Cynthia Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Slow-Cooker Turkey Breast with Cranberry GravyTaste of Home

Slow-Cooker Turkey Breast with Cranberry Gravy

I created this dish when I was craving Thanksgiving dinner, and it was still over a month away. You get all the bells and whistles of Thanksgiving dinner in no time, Add a vegetable, some mashed potatoes and you’re ready to eat. —Cynthia Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Loaded Twice-Baked Potato CasseroleTaste of Home

Loaded Twice-Baked Potato Casserole

My husband is a meat and potatoes guy, so I try new combinations for variety. In this dish, twice-baked potatoes and potato skins make a scrumptious casserole. —Cyndy Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Chicken Cordon Bleu StromboliTaste of Home

Chicken Cordon Bleu Stromboli

If chicken cordon bleu and Stromboli had a baby, this would be it. Serve with jarred Alfredo sauce, homemade Alfredo sauce or classic Mornay sauce on the side if desired. —Cynthia Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Creamy Chicken Lasagna Roll-UpsTaste of Home

Creamy Chicken Lasagna Roll-Ups

I love to experiment with new pasta dishes, and these chicken lasagna roll-ups are my favorite. Ingredients I had on hand and frozen sauce led to these tasty lasagna-flavored chicken roll-ups. —Cyndy Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Cheddar and Chive Mashed PotatoesTaste of Home

Cheddar and Chive Mashed Potatoes

My husband swears my cheddar mashed potatoes are the world's best. We always have some in the freezer. Sometimes I dollop individual servings in muffin cups and reheat them that way instead. —Cynthia Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Tex-Mex Chicken StripsTaste of Home

Tex-Mex Chicken Strips

I was looking for a way to amp up the flavor of regular chicken strips so I crushed up some leftover corn chips to create a crispy, flavorful coating. —Cynthia Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Big-Batch Marinara SauceTaste of Home

Big-Batch Marinara Sauce

I typically freeze part of this marinara sauce to have on hand for guests or when I’m craving a comforting pasta dish. It adds a fresh, herby layer of flavor.—Cyndy Gerken, Naples, Florida

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Cheese-Stuffed Twice-Baked PotatoesTaste of Home

Cheese-Stuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes

This is the first recipe I made when I initially became interested in cooking. No one can resist the creamy filling inside the crispy potato skins.—Cyndy Gerken, Naples, Florida

Sue Stetzel
Sue has been part of the Taste of Home family for over 16 years. Her collection of magazines dates back to the premier issue in 1993. When she isn’t writing, she’s answer your burning cooking questions and working with our team of Volunteer Field Editors.

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