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21 Delicious Ways to Say Thank You to the Troops

Our readers share the recipes they learned in the military, send to troops overseas and prepare for loved ones coming home.

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Banana Pudding

I didn’t see my son, Lance Corporal Eric Harris, for more than two years after he enlisted in the Marines after high school. And when I first saw him at the airport last fall, I just grabbed hold of him and busted out crying. Back home, the first thing he ate was two bowls of my easy banana pudding recipe. He’s a true Southern boy! It’s a dessert, but you can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. —Stephanie Harris, Montpelier, Virginia

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2 / 21
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Homey Mac & Cheese

I also call this "my grandson's mac and cheese." Zachary has been to Iraq and Afghanistan with both the Marines and Navy, and I've been privileged to make his favorite casserole for him for over 20 years. —Alice Beardsell, Osprey, Florida
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Chocolate Chip Cookie Blondies

This recipe has been used in my family as long as I can remember. My mom would make these for us when we were young and I have continued the tradition to my own family. When my husband and I were engaged, I would send these to him during his deployment overseas. In no time, he and his buddies would have the entire container emptied. These are the best chocolate chip brownies you will ever taste! —Amanda Green, Salisbury, Missouri
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Sweet Chili & Orange Chicken

My husband loves this simple sweet chili chicken dish so much he often requests it when he comes home from deployment. The sweet chili sauce adds just the right amount of heat to the bright, citrusy sauce. —Jessica Eastman, Bremerton, Washington
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Beef Short Ribs in Burgundy Sauce

As an Army general, my stepdad got this beef short ribs recipe from his aide, who said it was his mother's best Sunday meal. It’s a mouthwatering family favorite. —Judy Batson, Tampa, Florida
6 / 21

Dr Pepper BBQ Sauce

My family is stationed in Italy with my husband, Lt. William Robert Blackman. William grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and I’m from Texas, so the dish that spells "home" for us is a good ol' barbecue. I have my own recipe for barbecue sauce that we like to pour all over sliced brisket. Eating it reminds us of weekend barbecues with our families. —Tina Blackman, Naples, Italy
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Coconut Chocolate Slices

These crispy cookies with a chewy coconut center travel really well. When my son was in the Army, I often sent boxes to him, and he told me they always arrived in perfect condition. —Cheri Booth, Gering, Nebraska
8 / 21
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Greek Fish Bake

As a military spouse living overseas, I got the chance to try many styles of cooking. Here's a Mediterranean-inspired recipe that we still love today. —Stacey Boyd, Springfield, Virginia
9 / 21
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Giant Molasses Cookies

My family always requests these soft molasses cookies. These chewy molasses cookies are also great for shipping as holiday gifts or to troops overseas. —Kristine Chayes, Smithtown, New York
10 / 21
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Broccoli Tuna Casserole

When I was in the Navy, a co-worker's wife shared this recipe with me. I’ve tweaked it over the years, but it still brings back memories of my "family" away from home. —Yvonne Cook, Haskins, Ohio
11 / 21
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Apricot Wraps

I accumulated a large recipe collection from around the world while my husband served in the Air Force for 25 years. This mouthwatering appetizer is one of our favorites, and we enjoy sharing it with friends. —Jane Ashworth, Beavercreek, Ohio
12 / 21
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Favorite Banana Chip Muffins

These banana chocolate chip muffins are one of the first things my husband gets hungry for when he’s home from deployment. I make sure to have the overripe bananas ready. They’re a family tradition. —Kimberly Duda, Sanford, North Carolina
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Sand Dollar Cookies

When the military relocated our family, my children had never lived near the beach before. I came up with this special treat with a beach theme—it made our move more fun! —Michelle Duncan, Callaway, Florida
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Cherry Coconut Bars

I came across these easy maraschino cherry bars while stationed at a Michigan Air Force base in 1964 and have been making the recipe ever since. My children don't think an event is special unless they are part of it. —Marguerite Emery, Orland, California
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Refreshing Rhubarb Ice Cream

No matter where my military family is stationed, this ice cream always makes me think of my parents’ backyard rhubarb patch in Rochester, New York. —Rachel Garcia, Honolulu, Hawaii
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Banana Squares

When we were first married, my husband was in the Navy. Stationed in Puerto Rico, we had banana trees growing in our yard, so I found ways to use dozens of ripe bananas at a time. I made these banana squares often. They freeze well and make a great snack to have on hand when friends drop in for coffee. —Susan Miller, Raleigh, North Carolina
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Yummy Chocolate Double-Chip Cookies

The first time I made these cookies, I sent them to my stepson in the Marines. The next time he phoned, guess what he requested? More of these cookies! —Marcella Moore, Washburn, Illinois
18 / 21
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Cardamom Spritz

As far back as I remember, I have loved cardamom. My grandmother often added the spice to her baked goods. I usually make these cookies with a spritz press—and camel disk—that I found at a thrift shop. It reminds me of a time when I rode a camel in the desert while deployed with the Navy. Of course, any design will do! —Crystal Schlueter, Northglenn, Colorado
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Texas Pecan Pie

I won a blue ribbon for this pie at the Texas State Fair. Since I was in the military for more than 20 years, I didn’t really start cooking until after I retired. Now I enjoy spending my time in the kitchen. —Michelle Shockley, Wichita, Kansas
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Easy Chicken Paprikash

When my husband studied Hungarian in the Army, I made him the chicken and onions dish known as paprikash. We serve ours over rice or buttered noodles. —Susan Wildman, Haslett, Michigan
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Mom's White Lasagna

My mom made this lasagna for special occasions, such as birthdays. When she passed, I inherited her cookbooks—tucked inside one of them, I found this recipe folded into a letter she wrote to me while I was stationed overseas. It's a hearty, rich dish that reminds me of home. —Janet Wing, Minot, North Dakota

Katie Bandurski
As Senior Shopping Editor, Katie connects Taste of Home readers with the best gifts, deals and home products on the market. An avid foodie and a holiday enthusiast, Katie is an expert at cultivating meaningful moments. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and watching Christmas movies.