Question of the Week: Do you have a favorite family recipe?

+18 votes

Do you have a favorite family recipe? Like Grandma's chocolate chip cookies? Perhaps one of your own, that you are passing on to your kids? 

Tell us about it here, or even share the recipe. Maybe we'll have a WikiTree Cookbook.  laugh

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (2.0m points)
reshown by Chris Whitten

Yes, my paternal grandmother's bake lima bean dish; and my cousin's memory shared in our "The Legacy Book" (genealogy log) . . . 

and her version of how our famous Baked Lima Beans became a family tradition, generation after generation, to this day.


"Bessie Marion Walker Cornell acquired her recipe for Baked Lima Beans while attending a Cornell Family Reunion with her husband, Carl Martin Cornell.  The reunion was an annual event for the Cornell family for many years (early photo records a 1926 reunion) until it grew so large that no one wanted to be in charge of organizing it any longer.  The event was always a pot luck affair being held at local parks in New York State cities:  Ithaca, Rochester or Bath, where the gathering families lived.   In attendance was a distant cousin (Harry - last name unknown) of Carl Martin Cornell.  His cousin's wife, Vi, was Pennsylvanian Dutch and had brought her lima bean dish to share at the gathering.  Being a great success and the pan scraped clean the women were clamoring for her recipe.  Among them, Bessie Marion Walker Cornell.  Once Bessie started preparing the dish, family and friends made it a required dish for her to bring to all gatherings.  Finally, being so popular she had to bring two "big" pans so everyone could get their fill.  She never took leftovers home; those pans were always cleaned.  As Bessie and Carl's family grew up and started families of their own, in the 1940's, the recipe began being passed down from generation to generation.  Still being made and enjoyed by their fifth generation (in the 2000’s)."


Two. My mom's goulash (which has nothing to do with Hungarian goulash). It involves macaroni (according to family tradition it has to be Creamettes from Minnesota), ground beef browned with onion and a clove or two of garlic, a chopped green or red pepper, a can of chopped tomatoes and a can of red kidney beans. Combine, heat up, and eat. The other was my dad's soups (various). He grew up in an orphanage and had learned to make a lot from very little. These soups usually involved either a ham bone or a good-sized beef bone (with or without any attached meat), salt, pepper, water, and whatever vegetables might be handy. They could also feature potatoes, pearl barley, beans or whatever else was around. The only problem in my mind was that his soup kettle was very large, and with just four of us we usually had soup for days on end! Each day he would add something new to the mixture to "ring the changes". If there really was too much, any excess got frozen and then used to whip up quick meals when time was short. The soups really were delicious, and I was sooo disappointed the first time I tasted canned soup that I vowed never to have it again. I haven't (and I'm 72 years old).
My grandmother's Ovaltine (Cocomalt) Cake! Passed down from her mother Wolf-4842. I remember that she used to serve this with honey and zwieback slices.
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup chocolate malt Ovaltine
2 T melted shortnening    
1 egg, well beaten
3/4 cup milk   
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine sugar and Ovaltine.  Sift flour, measure, and sift with baking powder and salt.  Add alternately with milk to first mixture.  Pour into well oiled loaf pan.  Bake in moderate oven (375F) for 35 minutes.

The recipe works very well even if you need to switch things up to make it dairy and gluten free. Perfect!

16 Answers

+12 votes
In time for Canada Day, my grandmother's butter tart recipe.

Nettie's Butter Tart Filling:

Mix soft butter the size of an egg with 1 egg, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, grated nutmeg, 1 cup raisins.

Happy Canada Day!
by Laurie Cruthers G2G6 Pilot (150k points)
edited by Laurie Cruthers
+11 votes
Nana's ( Brown-61410) Christmas Trifle

In an ornamental glass bowl, line the bottom with lady-fingers (or pound cake if lady fingers can not be found)

Add strawberries (fresh or frozen) and sliced or slivered almonds, and a glass of sherry. Then add fruit jello (or other fruit gelatin) to cover most of the lady-fingers and fruit, and put it in the fridge.

Once the jello has set, make a (saucepan) custard, (either from Bird's Custard Powder (which is mostly cornstarch), or from eggs, milk and sugar. The Bird's actually works out better), and pour that over the jello layer.

When that is set (in the fridge), use  fresh strawberries, sliced or slivered almonds, and whipped cream to make a decorative  top layer.  Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
by Janet Gunn G2G6 Pilot (124k points)
This is very like my English mother in law's recipe which I always make at Christmas and at other festive occasions. Because we live in a berry growing area and they are in season, I substitute lots of raspberries or boysenberries. My fussy family prefers it without the jello and our traditional topping is the slivered almonds and glace cherries.
+13 votes

I promise to post a great cake recipe soon..... but hope you enjoy this one.


From Great Grandmother Virgie Wood  (1886 - 1976);  found in her grand daughter's file January 2018.  

Granny Virgie's Soap Recipe:

11 cups hog grease, 1 can lye  (unknown size), 5 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 (likely cup) ammonia, 1/2 cup Borax.

Add 4 cups water, add 1 can lye then stir, add 1 cup water and 1/2 cup Borax then stir until it dissolves, then add to grease, add sugar then stir until it begins to thicken, then add ammonia, stir until thick.

Note:  This is a lost family recipe that we're certainly glad we found in 2018.  However,  there are some questions concerning the mixing steps and what size can of lye and amount of ammonia.  Use at your own risk.

(Granny Virg always formed the soap into brick type shapes,   slightly smaller than a standard mason's brick.)

by Peggy McReynolds G2G6 Pilot (450k points)

Misread recipe title as Virgie's Soup Recipe and eyes almost popped out of sockets as jaw dropped on 11 cups of hog grease surprise  The can of lye set me straight on soap not soup 

I certainly have to tell my cousin Iver who found this recipe in family papers a few months ago.....  Enjoy your cooking!

+8 votes
I always use my grandmother's Christmas cake recipe, which looks as if it might back much earlier than the 1920s. It uses curry powder instead of a range of spices like cinnamon. I have often wondered if curry powder was a pantry staple readily on hand rather than individual spices.
by Fiona McMichael G2G6 Pilot (184k points)
+11 votes
My Great Aunt Pauline Grigsby Poteet's Tom Thumb pies.

Pie crust: 1 cup self rising flour, 1 stick butter, 1 (3oz.) package cream cheese

Filling: 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup chopped pecans, 1 egg

Mix crust ingredients and shape into 24 little dough balls. Press into miniature cupcake/tart pan. Beat egg and add sugar and pecans. Mix well. Spoon by teaspoonful into the dough cups. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes.

These things are great when you crave pecan pie, but don't want to overdo it. I'm not sure where Pauline got the recipe, she made it for years. She lived in southern Georgia for a good chunk of her life where pecan trees are plentiful.
by Kellie Rhodes G2G6 Mach 2 (27.4k points)
+7 votes
Eowyn, that's like asking who my favorite nephew is. Let me think of a few.

1. My dad's fried calamari. Just the right amount of batter. Nothing too greasy. Squid is good in sauce, but, I like it fried.

2. My mom's lasagna. My mom learned how to make really good lasagna from my grandparents and my father. She cooks the pasta so it isn't soggy. VERY important. Lasagna gets soggy and gross fast. You need to watch it. The sauce also has to be made using fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic.

3. My grandma Olympia's pasta frijole.  Pasta + Beans= pure genius.

4. My great-aunt Louise's Italian cookies. I wish I knew what she put in them. They were so good. The recipe went with her.

Bonus: The lady who used to take care of my brother and I when we were young made these AMAZING grape leaves. I haven't had anything like it since. The recipe was simple. grape leaves, lamb, some spices and rice. She was Armenian and made some really good food like these butter cookies that were 99% lard.

And now I have successfully made Wikitree hungry. =) Mangia!
by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (591k points)
Chris, Can you please post the recipe for your moms lasagna? I LOVE lasagna but havent been able to find a good recipe for it yet. Thank-you!

Sincerely, Paula Mary
+8 votes
It's from an old notebook of my aunt Ruby's (Ruby Williams Smith). It's mostly full of hand-written recipes. The only date I could find was 1935 and the places, Bonny Blue and Pennington Gap, VA.

I remember Ruby being a terrific cook and there are some fine-sounding recipes in her notebooks, but this is my favorite.

Homemade Chili

40 C(ents?) worth hamburger
1/2 c tomatoes
1 tblsp c pepper
1 tbsp paprika
and a little piece of light bread
by Terri Jerkes G2G6 Mach 1 (17.3k points)
+9 votes
Not a recipe, but an injunction from my great grandmother ( Alsop-613). Always a bit of sweet with your savory and savory with your sweet. So a teaspoon of jelly ( like apple) in gravy and a bit of salt in sweet things.  It really does improve the taste!
by Lindis Elliott G2G5 (5.2k points)
+5 votes

I agree with others ... how do you pick just one?  lol  So, I'll go with beef short ribs ... I actually cook them in a pressure cooker, so they only take an hour ... but yumm.  Here's the recipe, I usually have to double or triple this as we'll have guests:

Bone-In Beef Short Ribs

Serves: 4

  •  6-8 bone in beef short ribs

  •  2+ tablespoons vegetable oil

  •  1-2 slices bacon, finely chopped

  •  1 large onion finely chopped

  •  3-4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

  •  1/2 cup apple juice

  •  1 1/2 - 2 cups beef broth

  •  2 tablespoons tomato paste

  •  1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon water

  1.  Season ribs generously with salt and pepper. Add oil to the pressure cooker. When oil is hot, brown the ribs in small batches, do not crowd. Remove to a plate.

  2.  Add bacon to pressure cooker and cook until brown and crisp. Add onion to pressure cooker and sauté until tender about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute more.

  3.  Add the apple juice and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits stuck on the bottom. Add beef broth, tomato paste, and ribs to pressure cooker cover and lock lid in place. Cook for 60 minutes.

  4. Remove ribs to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

  5. Strain the juices and place in a large fry pan.

  6.  In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water. Add to the pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until juices thickens. Turn the heat off.

  7.  Add ribs and stir to coat with the sauce. Put on a lid and let the ribs absorb some of the sauce for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally if sauce is still bubbling.

  8. Serve over mashed potatoes or noodles or just by themselves.

by Bob Jewett G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+5 votes
Like I said ... how do you pick just one!!  So, this comes from the cafeteria at the place I worked for 30 years!  They called it Pasta Pronto and they had lots more choices and cooked it to your liking right in front of you ... it was great.

The way I do it is just Pasta Prima Vera with shrimp, Penne pasta and alfredo sauce.  Pick your veggies and such ... I use broccoli, carrots and mushrooms cut into bite sized pieces ... par boil the veggies for about five minutes, cook the pasta, saute the mushrooms in butter, add the shrimp and cook until almost done, add the veggies and warm them up, add the pasta and then the alfredo sauce and stir to coat.  Pretty easy and it's yummy too.
by Bob Jewett G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+9 votes
One of my favorites AND absolutely the easiest and quickest is one my mother used to make all through my childhood which i THINK she got from my great Aunt LaVora, she called it jello salad. Here it is, try it. You'll love it! (I always use lime jello 'cause i think it tastes the best + it almost always makes people wrinkle the nose when they see it because its green but you can use any flavor of jello...)



1) two small or one large box of jello, any flavor

2)one 8oz tub of cool whip

3)one 16oz tub of cottage cheese

4)one 15oz can tropical fruit, drained


Just mix all four ingredients in a large bowl and stick in the fridge for about an hour.

Thats it! Easy right? And it tastes soooo yummy.

by Paula Vinson G2G1 (1.3k points)
My mother-in-law used to make this when we would visit her in Rochester. Our kids loved it, especially the orange jello with mandarin oranges! I still make it and I still call it salad, although guests have questioned that!
+9 votes
Two of my favourite local traditional recipes are so easy even I can't screw them up. One is Lunenburg Hot German Cole Slaw. All you need is a cabbage, brown sugar and vinegar. Very simple to prepare but takes three hours to cook (simmer). Another is Turnip Kraut. Again all it takes is a turnip, some vinegar and a little sugar and a bit of pepper. Also simple to prepare but about 2-1/2 hours to cook. Anyone think you want to try them, contact me for the recipes with pictures of all the steps. (I like pictures, you know you're doing it right if it looks like the pictures!)
by Rod Corkum G2G6 Mach 1 (13.8k points)
+3 votes

My mom's yogurt bread.  If you googled, you might find it published in an East Coast cookbook with the label of Joanne Heal’s Yogurt Bread.  Aunt Joanne liked the recipe, but somehow, mom got left out as a source! 

 1 c sugar; 2 c flour; 1 t soda; 2 t baking powder

¼ c butter; 1 egg; 1 c plain yogurt

Cinnamon sugar (2 T cinnamon to 2 T sugar)

Cut in butter to dry stuff with pastry blender or 2 knives.  Add egg and yogurt.  Beat thoroughly.  You may have to add up to 1/4 cup additional yogurt, depending on the local humidity.  This will make a stiff dough.  Spoon ½ of batter into a greased loaf pan and sprinkle on a nice layer of cinnamon sugar.  Add a few more large spoons of batter and more sugar until all the batter is in the pan.  Sprinkle top with more cinnamon sugar.  Bake at 350 F for 40 – 60 min (depending on size of pan and your oven) until done. 

Mom always doubles this recipe to make 2 loaves, since the first loaf lasts somewhere between 27 and 39 seconds after it comes out of the oven. 

And then there is Grandpa Aaron's soup. A tri-tip, cubed (we salt it with kosher salt and let is set awhile, then rinse well), 6 carrots, 2 parsnips, a bunch of garlic and quartered onions, a head of celery, other vegetables like mushrooms or broccoli and a handful of barley. No need to cut anything small. Stick it all in the pot and fill about halfway with water. Lay 3 serrano chilis on the top. Cover and cook on low a couple of hours. If you like spice, stir in the chilis. Otherwise, remove them. I like to grind it coarsely before serving. That is how grandpa ate it. Of course, he had no teeth(!) but when you grind it you get all the flavors in each delicious mouthful. My kids eat this up fast. I've always got some tubs of it in the freezer for quick kid meals.

+4 votes
I was only thinking about this last week. My Grandfather used to fry up leftover mashed potatoes with dry rolled oats and cheese. So yummy either by itself or with sausages/bacon and eggs on a cold morning for breakfast. If we were very lucky we got the brown crusty bit off the bottom.
by Lynlee OKeeffe G2G6 Mach 1 (17.3k points)
Christmas Eve was always at Oma's for a traditional German dinner of Rolladen and Red Cabbage!  I continue preparing this meal as a great way to honor my heritage and my grandmother.

I begin with very thinly sliced lean beef and spread mustard over it. Lay a slice of uncooked on top. This becomes a blanket used to roll a dill pickle in. This is quickly browned and baked on low for hours.
+3 votes
Oh my, yes.

My paternal grandmother's Sweet Potato Pie, and my mom's cream corn, hamhock (or shank ham works well too) and baby lima beans, and ham & cheese noodle casserole recipes. Comfort food to the max. Nummies!!!

The hubby is gluten sensitive. I LOVE his crustless quiches and fritattas. They are my favorite breakfast foods by far. <3
by Yvonne Gammell G2G6 Mach 1 (10.5k points)
+3 votes

Oh, I agree - it's hard to pick just one!! Can I submit one for me and one for mom? smiley I love the WikiTree cookbook idea!

My favorite:

Cheese Enchiladas

1 Lg Onion, chopped, 2 lg cloves garlic, crushed, 1 tbl chili powder, 1 tbl oil, 1 (28 oz) can tomatoes undrained, 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce, 1 ts cumin, 1 ts oregano, 12 (6") corn tortillas, 1/8 ts salt and pepper, 1 1/2 c cheddar, shredded, 1 1/2 c monteray jack, shredded. Serve with: sour cream, shredded lettuce, olives, guacamole.

Saute onions, garlic and chili powder in the oil on medium heat. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, oregano and simmer about 15 minutes. While sauce is simmering, heat oil in a skillet and dip each tortilla in the oil briefly, just to soften. Let tortillas cool! Dip each tortilla in the tomato sauce mixture and put on a plate. Put a little of your enchilada sauce/tomato sauce mixture on the bottom of a baking dish. Fill each with some of the cheese and roll up, put into a 9 x 13 baking dish. After they are all in the pan, add the remaining sauce over them and sprinkle with cheese and sliced olives if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until the sauce is simmering in the baking dish and the cheese looks melted. 

I love hot and spicy food, but this sweeter version of enchiladas is one of my favorites! I cook beef in taco seasoning in the crockpot overnight if I'm making them for dad, so he has beef enchiladas. Both are yummy!

Moms favorite:

With four daughters a chocolate recipe was a must! Her answer was no-bake chocolate cookies. Quick and easy to make:

2 c Sugar, 1/2 c Milk, 1 cube Butter, 3 Tbl Cocoa, 1 ts Salt 

Mix all of those in a pan and bring to a boil. Gather the rest of the ingredients:

3 c Raw Quick Oats, 1 ts Vanilla, 1/2 c Nuts, 1 c Coconut

When the sugar mixture boils remove from heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Drop onto wax paper. Let set up, eat and enjoy!

by Mindy Silva G2G6 Pilot (920k points)

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