When our son went to UC Santa Barbara, he discovered just how bad dorm food can be. Faced with pedestrian choices day after day, he and his friends used to talk about their parents’ cooking, and share what they missed the most on the culinary front. His food memory was my meatloaf, and his friends couldn’t believe that was what he was missing.

Fast forward to his sophomore year, when he and his friends moved into a house in Isla Vista. One night he made this meatloaf. By the time it came out of the oven, all 7 of his housemates were in the kitchen, noses quivering. Our son ate his meal, and put the rest in the refrigerator with stern warnings about pilfering.

The next morning, all his leftovers were gone. Yes, it’s that good.

Winter is best known for it’s delicious comfort food, and I look forward to this time every year. Grilling and light summer fare is fun, and enjoyable, but there is something so satisfying in crafting a warm-in-your-tummy meal in a warm kitchen when it’s blustery outside. Even better when you can toss it together in under 20 minutes of active prep time. This is one of my favorite “Tuesday Night” dinners.

With the holidays coming up, special dinners are looming over us all. Coming up with fun variations to the tired dishes served year after year can be challenging. Few things can be as boring as mashed potatoes. I’ve tried many recipes over the years, and have come up with this recipe as a cure for “Potato Boredom”. If you like truffles, you’ll love this. It’s easy to make, and your family and guests will love it.

One of the things I love best about the Holidays is the excuse to spoil my family and friends with freshly baked goodies. This recipe is one I created when our son was little, wanting to incorporate his two favorite sweet things – marzipan and strawberry jam – into one cookie. He’s 27 now, and these are still his favorite – hands down. I do half the batch with strawberry jam, and half with raspberry, but pretty much any jam that goes with almond flavoring would work well. These cookies are small bites of rich, buttery goodness that have become a main staple of my holiday baking. Friends and family start asking me in November if I’m planning on making those ‘awesome jam cookies’ in the next few weeks. They all love them, and I hope you enjoy as well.

I always thought when I retired, I’d have unlimited well-regulated days, with plenty of time to Create in the Kitchen. I know millions of retired boomers are laughing at me right now. What’s more common these days is spending the entire day running your ageing parent (or in my case, in-law) to various specialists, tests. or pharmacies, and taking care of shopping or other household needs, all the while hoping you’ll hit the road to home before rush hour, and the resulting Death Commute that you retired to avoid.

Who doesn’t like rich, dark chocolate? These incredible brownies are just shy of qualifying for fudge status, and I’ve been able to adapt them to gluten free when necessary. A friend gave me this recipe 20+ ago, and it has been a staple since. I’ve seen variations of this recipe in foodie magazines, but I still like my original best. I vary the flavors for different tastes, and have included our three favorites below. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

This dish I created years ago based solely on what I was growing in my garden. You can switch out any ingredient you don’t like, and add any you do. Make this YOUR recipe. You can play with the herbs for a different taste. I use in the sauce a hearty red wine like a Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Barbera or Nebbiolo. Anything robust and Italian goes great in this dish. We then finish what’s left in the bottle with dinner.