Many years ago, we lived farther from town than we do now, so we tried to be smart and make each trip to the store count. I was baking a cake for some special occasion, and when it had been in the oven for 20 minutes or so, I realized I hadn't put in the eggs.

My husband, Chris, went to town and brought home another mix. I don't remember now what happened, but that cake mix, too, was unusable. Chris went to town once again and this time came home with three mixes. At the time I was not happy with his thought process that assumed I was still not capable of properly completing a cake, but at that point, I was really in no position to argue.

When I joined Carol Parker last week on KSN, I made a slow cooker chocolate lava cake. I thought I needed two packages of instant pudding mix, which was the number I put on the list. Chris bought three, and I ended up using one. Instead of pointing out I had two extra packages of pudding mix, I simply looked for uses for them. I wanted one to be pudding and one to be used dry.

I remember as a child we always had cook-and-serve pudding that got that thick skin on top. But, it was and still is my favorite simply because I like warm chocolate pudding and the instant mix is never warm. The major difference in the two puddings is the preparation as is obvious in the names. Cook and serve will take about 20 minutes for prep and cooling while the instant comes together with two minutes of whisking and about five minutes of setting.

Another difference in the two is taste. The cooked pudding is richer and has a more complex flavor while the instant end product will be smoother. Put the two side by side and both are winners. The cook and serve wins for taste and the instant wins for convenience.

I have found lots of recipes where pudding mix is added to cookies and cakes. For cakes, choosing one pudding mix over the other can make a difference. Instant pudding mix added to a cake will add moistness. Its thickening agent is a chemical that thickens without heat and allows the eggs in the batter to incorporate more air so the cake will rise. Cook-and-serve pudding mix thickens with cornstarch which absorbs water as it's heated. Most say either one added to your cake batter will improve the final product.

Adding a package of pudding mix to your chocolate chip cookies makes them plump, soft and delicious. Use the recipe from allrecipes.com to become known for you chocolate chip cookies. This recipe makes a big batch. The name of the chocolate cake is funny. "Too much chocolate cake." Are they kidding? The finished cake can be sprinkled with powdered sugar or drizzled with frosting. This recipe is also from allrecipes.com. The frosting recipe is almost as easy as opening a can of frosting. Chocolate, vanilla, lemon, lime, strawberry. There are lots of flavors from which to choose. This recipe is from thisweekfordinner.com. Keep the next recipe for St. Patrick's Day. The green cheese ball is sure to be a hit. This recipe is from shugarysweets.com.

Have a wonderful week, and happy eating.

Chocolate chip cookies

4 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups butter, softened

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

2 small packages vanilla instant pudding

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Sift together flour and baking soda; set aside. Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in pudding mix until well blended. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Blend in flour mixture and stir in chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Yields 72 cookies.

Too much chocolate cake

1 devil's food cake mix

1 (5.9-ounce) package chocolate instant pudding mix

1 cup sour cream

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup warm water

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Mix together all but the chocolate chips. Stir in chips and pour into greased bundt pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool completely then invert onto serving platter. Yields 12 servings.

Quick and easy pudding frosting

1 small box instant pudding mix

1/2 pint cream (8 ounces)

Whisk until desired consistency. Will frost 9-by-13-inch cake.

Pistachio cheeseball

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 small package pistachio instant pudding mix

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 up sweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

In large mixing bowl, beat first five ingredients on high for 4 to 5 minutes. Line a 4-cup bowl with plastic wrap and place half of the coconut and pecans in bottom; stir to mix. Add cheese mixture and roll in nut mixture. Top with remaining coconut and nuts until well covered. Fold wrap around cheeseball and refrigerate until serving. Serve with graham crackers. Serves 6 to 8.

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.