TCP Kitchen
2016 Holiday Recipe Contest
Karen Bergman of Trinity Valley EC captures the top prize

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    Stuffed Chicken With Mushroom Pan Jus
    IMAGE: Melissa Skorpil
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    $500 Sweet Category Winner: New Year’s White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake by Suzanne Caraway of Bandera EC
    IMAGE: Melissa Skorpil
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    $500 Savory Category Winner: Zucchini and Spinach Lasagna by Nicole Chisum of Wise EC
    IMAGE: Melissa Skorpil
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    $500 Sweet Category Winner: Pecan Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie With Snickerdoodle Crust by Marian Evoniuk of Pedernales EC
    IMAGE: Melissa Skorpil
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    $500 Savory Category Winner: Smoky Mac and Cheese by Rebecca Brauchle of Bandera EC
    IMAGE: Melissa Skorpil

To inspire your table, we asked readers for their best holiday recipes. In response, hundreds of cherished dishes and poignant anecdotes flooded our inboxes. Weeks of testing and tasting, and multiple rounds of voting, ensued until—at long last—we agreed on the best of the best, yielding a handful of winners.

The Texas Co-op Power 2016 Holiday Recipe Contest grand prizewinner (and this month’s cover star) is Stuffed Chicken With Mushroom Pan Jus from Karen Bergman of Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative.

Bergman wins $3,000 for her delicious entrée. Four additional winners—for two sweet and two savory dishes—each get $500.


Stuffed Chicken With Mushroom Pan Jus

“This rich and delicious entrée is definitely worthy of a holiday dinner and is a family favorite at the Bergman house. The creamy filling is flavored with luscious red peppers and garlic that roast for an hour and a half to create an incredible flavor. Bonus: The process makes your kitchen smell delicious.”


3 red or orange bell peppers
8 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
8 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence with lavender
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup sliced shallots
8 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
8 ounces grated pepper jack cheese


4 large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
8 slices thick-cut bacon (or more, depending on size of breasts)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mushroom Pan Jus

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
16 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 tablespoons thyme
Cracked black pepper and coarse salt to taste
2 cups dry white wine (such as sauvignon blanc)
2 cups mushroom or chicken stock
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 tablespoons flour

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with olive oil or unflavored nonstick spray.

2. Stuffing: Core peppers, removing seeds and membranes, then slice each half into quarter strips. Peel and thinly slice the garlic cloves. Place peppers in baking dish (insides facing up), sprinkle with garlic, drizzle with olive oil, cover with foil and bake 1 1/2 hours. Remove from heat, uncover and cool.

3. In a food processor, combine cream cheese, herbes de Provence, salt, pepper, basil, Italian parsley and shallots, and pulse until creamy. Add spinach and pulse until incorporated. The mixture can be slightly chunky. Add the cooled peppers and pulse until combined but still chunky. Transfer the stuffing to a bowl, stir in pepper jack cheese, and refrigerate while preparing the chicken.

4. Chicken: Coat a 10-by-16-inch roasting pan and rack with nonstick spray.

5. Spread equal amounts of stuffing on top of each butterflied breast, then roll into a snug cylinder. Starting on one end of the roll, wrap a slice of bacon around the breast, from one end to the other, and then repeat with a second slice (starting where the first slice ended).

6. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully place chicken in skillet and cook 3–4 minutes on each side, just until the bacon begins to brown. Transfer the chicken, seam side down, to the prepared roasting pan. Leave browned bits and juice from the chicken in the skillet to be used for the pan jus. Bake uncovered 35 minutes. While the chicken cooks, make the pan jus.

7. Mushroom Pan Jus: In the skillet used for the chicken, heat olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, thyme, pepper and salt, and sauté until slightly browned. Add white wine and cook, stirring to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan, until reduced by half. Add the stock and again cook, stirring, until reduced by half. Add the softened butter and stir until creamy. If the sauce seems thin, you can thicken it by stirring in flour.

8. Serve the chicken breasts covered with a generous portion of the mushroom pan jus. Top with any remaining chopped parsley, if desired.

Serves 4.

Cook’s Tips

Elevating the chicken on a roasting rack helps the bacon crisp and brown in the oven, but it’s fine to place the chicken directly on the pan. For the best flavor (and easiest serving), allow the chicken breasts to rest about 10 minutes after cooking. To make the dish less rich, cut the sauce recipe in half and top each chicken breast with only a few spoonfuls. Any leftover cheese stuffing is delicious spread on a toasted baguette—a nice appetizer for the cook.

12 Years of Holiday Recipe Contest Winners

2016: Karen Bergman

Trinity Valley EC

Stuffed Chicken With Mushroom Pan Jus


2015: Jamie Parchman

Magic Valley EC

Pecan Pie Cake With Cinnamon Whipped Cream Frosting


2014: Griffin Clarke

Heart of Texas EC

Ultimate Chocolate Pecan Pie


2013: Peggy Dickerson

Farmers EC

Pecan-Studded Crowns of Shrimp Atop Royal Spring Greens


2012: Rita Lutz

Pedernales EC

Texas Pecan Butterscotch Cake


2011: Linda Morten

Bluebonnet EC

Pecan-Cranberry Bread Pudding With Lemon Hard Sauce


2010: Sharon Fabianke

Heart of Texas EC

Better Than a Fruitcake Cheese Ball


2009: Myrna Toote

Grayson-Collin EC

Peanut ‘Meat’ Balls


2008: Donna Deteau

Bluebonnet EC

Kickin’ Christmas Confetti


2007: Susan Riley

Grayson-Collin EC

Holiday Hazelnut Raspberry Chocolate Linzertorte


2006: Jo Ann Kugle

Pedernales EC

Upside-Down Cranberry Puffs


2005: Anna Ginsberg

Pedernales EC

White Chocolate Ribbon Pumpkin Cake With Maple Glaze

TAGS: Food, Holiday Recipe Contest, Recipes

2 Comments Post Your Comment »

I have made 4 of the winning entres. So delicious. Thank you
Dedra Skipworth - Lubbock, TX - (December 20, 2016)
I had the privilege of having this entree prepared for me and I had to find where it came from and who originated it. This is probably the very best dish I’ve had in my 73 years! I don’t get into a bunch of ingredient cooking or a lot of preparation recipes but to taste this again? YES. If you are in doubt about the time or trouble it might take you to make this, I guarantee you that you will NOT be disappointed. It is absolutely exquisite and I will make it just to get to taste it again. Cannot say enough about how good it is. Worth more than $3,000 in my opinion!
Linda Manuel - Leakey, TX - Bandera Electric Cooperative, Inc. (January 2, 2017)

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