Today, as I walked into the local craft store, I was immediately assaulted by the aroma of cinnamon pinecones while I tripped over a display of wreaths set up by the door. This can only mean one thing—the holidays are upon us!

Food, friends, and family abound during the holiday season, which makes it a perfect time to serve others through the gift of hospitality. We’ve collected some recipes that not only taste great, but will also help you serve your community through some of the principles outlined in Trochias Character-Led Leadership Course. Read on to check out some tasty recipes accompanied by ideas about how to serve your community through the ministry of delicious meals!

1. Get Serving: Poppy-Seed Bread Recipe (Source: my mom)

The holidays are a time of great joy, but they can also bring heartache and pain for those who are grieving or dealing with loss and loneliness. Sharing baked goods with others is an amazing way to help them feel seen and cared for.

This poppy-seed bread is my favorite holiday treat, hands down. The best part? The recipe makes two loaves—one for you and one to give to someone else. This can be a fun (and delicious!) way to meet and show love to your neighbors or it can be something thoughtful to drop off with a friend or family member who lives alone. By baking and giving a delicious dessert to someone, you are demonstrating Christs love and obeying his command to love your neighbors as yourself.

Your delivery of desserts (and love!) may open a door to building genuine friendships and relationships, or, at the very least, remind someone that they are not alone.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3 ½ cups milk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract

Glaze

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients (flour, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, salt).
  • Mix in eggs, milk, oil, and extracts.
  • Pour into 2 greased loaf pans, and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
  • Add glaze ingredients to separate pan, heat to boiling, then pour over poppy-seed bread after removing it from oven.

2 & 3. Get Focused: 2 Delicious Slow Cooker Recipes

The holidays bring so much joy—and exhaustion! A way to practice self-care and to preserve your energy is to bust out your slow cooker so you can come home to a delicious meal with minimal effort. As holiday parties and gatherings fill your calendar and your to-do list feels never-ending, it is important to fill your own cup so you can be a servant leader to those around you. It may sound odd, but a slow cooker can be a tool for self-care and sustenance during this time of year. Here are two of my favorite recipes.

Pot Roast Slow Cooker Recipe (Source: Stockpiling Moms)

Ingredients

  • 2–2 ½ lbs. chuck roast
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ bell pepper, any color, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • ½ cup BBQ sauce
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ cup water

 

Instructions

  • Mix together the BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, bouillon cubes, salt, black pepper, thyme, and water. 
  • Put meat in the slow cooker and top with the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. 
  • Top that with BBQ sauce mixture.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8–10 hours.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup (Source: The Recipe Rebel)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts raw, chopped (or 1 lb. boneless, skinless thighs)
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 cups wide egg noodles or other short pasta

Instructions

  • Add broth, chicken, carrots, onion, celery, thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper to the slow cooker. Cook 7–8 hours on low or 3 hours on high, until vegetables are tender.
  • Turn slow cooker to high.
  • Whisk together cream and cornstarch and add to the slow cooker with the egg noodles.
  • Cover and let cook for 10–20 minutes, until noodles are cooked and soup has thickened slightly.

Get Vulnerable: Korean Bibimbap Recipe (Source: Dwell by Michelle)

Sharing your culture through food is a wonderful way to serve others while fostering a diverse community of sharing and vulnerability. Even if you dont enjoy your own cultures food, find some recipes from other ethnic groups and give them a try! Try shopping at a local ethnic market instead of your usual grocery store. This is a fun way to make new connections in your own town, meet people outside your usual sphere of influence, and perhaps find some new favorite dishes along the way.

My Korean husband introduced me to one of my favorite dishes: bibimbap. This meal is delicious and easy to make for a large crowd (the recipe below serves two, but it can be easily multiplied). Bibimbap is a perfect meal to serve when hosting guests because the ingredients can be swapped or adjusted to accommodate dietary restrictions or preferences. Being vulnerable and open to learning about new food, and to sharing it with others, will help you grow as a leader and a follower of Christ.

Ingredients

  • ½ lb. ground beef (omit if vegetarian)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 ½ tablespoons sesame oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic, minced; plus 2 cloves, minced
  • 1 cup carrot, julienned
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2–3 cups white or brown rice, cooked
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Mix the ground beef with ½ tablespoon soy sauce, ½ tablespoon sesame oil, and ⅛ teaspoon garlic. Cover the ground beef and let it marinate while you prepare the mixed veggies.
  2. In a medium pot, boil some water. Blanch the bean sprouts for 4–5 minutes. Drain and set aside in medium bowl. Season with a dash of sesame oil, salt, and garlic (to taste). Set aside.
  3. Over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon sesame oil to a large skillet. Once the oil is hot, add carrots and season with soy sauce, salt, and minced garlic (to taste). Cook until lightly browned (2–3 minutes). Repeat with remaining vegetables. Set aside.
  4. On medium-high heat, add the meat with marinade. Stir to break up into smaller pieces until thoroughly cooked (about 5 minutes). Meanwhile, crack in eggs into a smaller skillet and cook sunny-side up.
  5. To serve, divide cooked rice among 2 bowls. Add ground beef, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, seasoned bean sprouts, and egg. Top with sesame seeds.

 

Get Humble: Hot Cocoa (Source: Taste of Home)

What would the holidays be without the humble cup of hot cocoa? This simple but trusty recipe has served me through years of gatherings—everything from youth group meetings to mom groups. Inviting someone over for a cup of hot chocolate is an easy, low-pressure way to grow relationships and build a sense of community. Heres a simple way to make a great cup of cocoa, sure to bring a smile to everyone who takes a sip.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup baking cocoa
  • Dash salt
  • ⅓ cup hot water
  • 4 cups milk
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: miniature marshmallows, sweetened whipped cream, or cinnamon sticks

Directions

  • In a saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, and salt. Add water; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in milk; heat to serving temperature (do not boil).
  • Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Whisk until frothy. If desired, garnish with marshmallows, cream, or cinnamon sticks.