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Jul 21, 2013 03:23 AM

100 Recipes Every Mom (or Dad) Should Know, Chowhound edition

So, I've seen a couple of cookbooks out there "100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know" and "100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in her Back Pocket"; I'm wondering if we could come up with a Chowhound version of these lists. I figure that the meals I put on the table for the next decade and a half will end up being the dishes my child looks back at (hopefully) fondly in 30 years, the dishes he remembers from his childhood that remind him of home.

My list from childhood would include my mom's spaghetti with meat sauce, chili, pot roast, her Thanksgiving turkey stuffing, and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup. My grandmother's fudge, brownies, pop corn balls, chili, chicken soup, pancakes all make my list.

But, which essential dishes from my cooking repertoire today will someday make my grown child's list? Or, which would I want, anyway?

Looking at what we cook today I hope it would be my pulled pork, catfish sloppy joes, my husband's spaghetti and chili, chicken quinoa hot dish, my husband's rhubarb pie, dan dan noodles, enchiladas... Hopefully my roast chicken, since I cook it all the time.

Hmmm not sure what else , but I wish I had a good chocolate chip cookie in my repertoire. A pad Thai.

What would be on your essential list of dishes you'd want your kid to remember fondly from his or her childhood? I debated putting this on General Chowhounding Topics, but I wanted people to share their tried and true recipes, if they wanted.

What's on your list (that maybe should be on my list, too?)


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  1. At my house it would be spaghetti carbonara. Our oldest son asks for it every year for his birthday.

    1 Reply
    1. DQ...good to see you here. You covered a few of the items that I believe should be in everyone's "repertoire". Such as chicken soup. I make it three different ways: a creamy vegetable, clear with Matzo balls and noodles, and a Latin inspired, with cumin, oregano and cilantro.

      I want to preface my favorites, as I make with my slant even if they might be suggested again.

      My girls love my chocolate chip cookie cake with a chocolate gouache and chopped pecans sprinkled on top.

      A roux
      Grilled chicken breast
      Bolognese sauce with pasta

      And # 1 on my list....

      Liver ( I know, but I loved it as a kid and still do) breaded, and fried with onions. It is my obligation as a parent to at least provide my offspring with one food nightmare so they can write about it in later life!

      3 Replies
      1. re: PHREDDY

        Would you share your recipe for chocolate chip cookie cake? I love the liver and onions idea! And, of course, "your slant" on these dishes is what will cause your children to long for them, because no one will ever make them quite like you do!


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I will tomorrow,, am flying home today....

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Sorry for the delay...
            Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
            2 1/2 cups of flour
            1/3 tsp baking powder
            1 tsp salt
            2 sticks of butter softened
            3/4 cup of sugar
            3/4 cup of brown sugar packed
            2 tsp vanilla extract
            2 extra large eggs
            2 cups of chocolate chips...I like the mini chips
            1/2 cup of chopped Walnuts

            Mix dry ingredients.
            Cream the butter and sugars and vanilla then add eggs one at a time
            Add dry items slowly and mix thoroughly.
            Mix in by hand the chocolate chips.
            Spread dough onto a 12 inch round pizza sheet/pan
            bake about 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees. The top of the cake should be soft, not hard, let cool to room temperature.
            Coat with a chocolate gouache and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts. (I use semisweet chocolate, with some butter melted in a double boiler and add some warmed up heavy cream to smooth it out, and remove from heat immediately.)

        2. Chicken Soup---made with lots of veggies
          white turnip, parsley root,celeriac, parsnip, celery,carrots
          leek,onion,flat parsley, dill, 2 plum tomatoes

          Chopped Liver-onions-shmaltz

          Roast Turkey

          cranberry sauce-mama sandberg's

          zucchini bread-recipe from James Beard's Beard on Bread

          cucumber salad- kirbycukes-spring onions,dill,white balsamic vinegar,+

          pickles-honest to ha-shem pickles

          3 Replies
          1. re: jpr54_1

            ooh, could you share the chicken soup and cucumber salad recipes? i know the salad seems simple but I've never been able to master that.

            1. re: fara

              cucumber salad
              use kirby cukes-peel, cut thinly-sprinkle salt on slices and onions-let sit overnite-rinse-add remaining ingredients-plus a small amt-1 tsp of sugar

              for the chicken soup I use a whole pullet cut in quarters-
              plus chicken feet, giblets plus unborn chicken eggs if i can find them

              1. re: jpr54_1

                jpr54_1, I can tell you are definitely using home grown chickens, don't get those unborn chicken eggs in store bought chickens!

                Whatever organ those little eggs were in, my granny would clean the eggs out, keep them & wash that tube (sorta looked like tripe) & chop & cook it in some other chicken parts to make such a wonderful broth poured over rice.

                Sorry I got off post, but as soon as you said unborn chicken eggs I had a flashback to many years ago. My granny called them that too.

                Thanks for the memory.

          2. Here's a chocolate chip cookie from Cook's Illustrated that I made for years. In fact, there was an annual party I was told not to bother to attend if I didn't bring a batch of them. There have been a number of discussions about this cookie here on CH over the years and some people say they don't bother with the specific instructions about how to form the cookie, but I find the method of forming them essential to the texture of the end product. Try this one and see if you think it as memorable as many do.


            2 Replies
              1. re: JoanN

                I think forming the cookies on these makes a big difference and use it for other recipes, too. I like the texture of the end product.

              2. "Looking at what we cook today I hope it would be my pulled pork, catfish sloppy joes, my husband's spaghetti and chili,"


                My husband's chili and spaghetti????

                Please tell me more as there are a 1,000 ways to make that. My interest is aroused.

                As for 100 dishes?
                Hell, I keep a good 25 to 30 in std. rotation and sub in whatever is on sale or fresh at the mkt. for the rest.

                100? No way.

                Joy of Cooking for SOP for the art of cooking.
                Barron's The New Food Lovers Companion for what the heck I am cooking by ingredient.

                Choc. chip cookies? Std. tollhouse drop cookie recipe from the Nestle's bag . I;ve never had a bad batch except when I have used low quality butter with a high moisture content.

                For me it's home made meatballs amd spicy sausage with "Sunday Gravy" aka homemade spaghetti sauce, white chicken chili, basil pesto, meatloaf with ketchup/basalmic and brown sugar glaze and garlic mashed potatoes.

                Learn the basics and build on them.

                Reminds me of a carpenter story of the "meaure twice cut once theory." But the young journeyman keeps coming back saying "I cut this 2x4 3 times already and it's STILL too short.


                14 Replies
                1. re: jjjrfoodie

                  Not to disparage my husband's cooking in any way, but there's nothing exceptional about his spaghetti or chili--just a basic recipe with ground beef (though we often use bison) and lots of onion. He uses McCormick spices packets. On, and his meatloaf, too. (We like Gio's Chipotle Bison meatloaf recipe, though we have an oatmeal one we use a lot, too.) I was just thinking that these dishes are ones we have often (especially in winter for the chili and spaghetti) and, therefore, they would be likely to become permanently imbedded in the family culinary memory. And, in a way, it's why I'm asking the question. Some of these dishes may just end up becoming memorable by default and maybe I'd put a little more thought into perfecting a few standards while my toddler is still little.

                  Meatballs with Sunday gravy is a terrific dish to include in a repertoire.

                  And as far as a 100 dishes--it's a stretch for sure, but between all of the family recipes and mine, I've more or less mentioned about 20 dishes in my OP already! If you count breakfast recipes, and seasonal recipes and holiday favorites, I'll bet you could get to 100 faster than you think.

                  I love some of the others folks have already mentioned: zucchini bread, spaghetti carbonara, cranberry sauce, pickles, liver and onions!


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Had to google Gio's Chipotle Bison Meatloaf and came up with We often cook with Bison so I can't wait to try this! Thank you TDQ & Gio (:

                    When we make meatloaf it's a ground chicken version baked in muffin tins to speed up cooking time.

                    1. re: maplesugar

                      Smart on the muffin tins. I've heard you can also bake it flat on a jelly roll pan, meatloaf brownies of sort...but I've yet to try it as it's not really meatloaf season right now.


                  2. re: jjjrfoodie

                    I think you missed the point here. We all hope our kids become good cooks, but we also want them to be able to recreate that favorite dish the way mom/dad always made it.

                    I made a "family cookbook" for my kids, and put in well over 100 recipes. It included, in addition to a selection of family pictures,

                    coconut meringue cookies from a very old big red cookbook, and peanut butter fudge that we make at Christmas

                    the wacky cake recipe that I used for birthday cakes for years and years (just made one for my granddaughter.. the secret ingredient is decaf coffee)

                    our very favorite mac and cheese (we are a roux-based household)

                    chirashi zushi, known as Mom's Sushi Salad

                    the very best potato salad, from a different big red cookbook

                    my mother's sausage casserole with almonds

                    my grandmother's recipes for pie crust and homemade noodles, as I wrote them down when she taught them to me 45 years ago

                    my Aunt Bea's sausage gravy

                    and so on, but you get the drift. There are thousands of recipes for any of these dishes, but having the special recipe that you remember fondly is priceless.

                    1. re: DebinIndiana

                      What a wonderful list! We have a lost peanut butter fudge recipe in our family. Would you mind sharing yours?

                      And, I think a family cookbook is a wonderful idea--I've been thinking about one to capture recipes from my mom's generation. Did you use one of the online cookbook softwares like tastebook?


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Dairy Queen: Go for it! It is a lot of fun to make a cookbook! It will take 'way longer than you think (mine started as a present for a June wedding and ended as a Christmas gift...), but it is worth it.

                        I looked into some of the available internet services and software packages for producing a cookbook, and found them all too expensive. (I do not recall if tastebook was one I looked at, and this was 3-4 years ago.)

                        Also, I am a control freak, and using some of the services meant tying yourself to a specific publishing service, or to continuing to use only that package to maintain the resulting book. I figured, if I was going to spend my time on such a big project, I wanted complete control.

                        The price and quality of laser printers for home use was the deciding factor. The book turned out beautiful.

                        I am an engineer, so I wrote the cookbook in Microsoft Word, like a technical document. It had 15 chapters, so that I could use an Avery tab set and three ring binder to organize it. I used the table of contents and index functions of Word to make master and chapter TOCs and an index to make it easier to look things up.

                        I established a common format for all the recipes using Word tables, and used it throughout. I used a post-it like format to add a lot of comments to the book -- like whose favorite recipe it was or what birthday/holiday we made it for.

                        I put LOTS of family pictures in it -- that was the best part, since we have not shared old photos in any other way in my family. Lots of pictures of my kids, especially with their grandparents. I also asked my new daughter-in-law's mom for some of her pictures and recipes to welcome Anna to our family.

                        Rather than pay what it would cost to publish a 200 page book from a service, I bought a laser printer and scanner (scanner to scan in the photos from the time before digital cameras), and printed it myself on slightly heavier than normal paper.

                        Now, I realize I had an advantage since I am an experienced Word user from my job, but I do recommend this method for a couple of reasons:
                        1.) You maintain control of all the source material and can share the file with anyone (like my daughter-in-law's mom or my daughter's friends who like to eat at our house) by just making a pdf file and mailing it to them.
                        2.) You can add more recipes later (errata or additions) -- I am working on a new set of printouts for this Christmas, including pictures of my new grand-daughter.
                        3.) A three-ring binder seems like the perfect family cookbook to me, since anyone can add their favorites -- I included blank punched paper -- but it would also be easy and cheap to take it to Kinko's and have it spiral-bound.
                        4.) I ended up with a great printer and scanner for the cost of publishing.

                        I will also say that if you have a sister or cousin or someone who might want to be co-author, I think that making it a joint project would make it more fun. It would have been good to have someone to collaborate with and talk about decisions. And to share the work! You could use a file-sharing service like Google drive to collaborate if you are not close geographically.

                        One last thought on cookbooks that will maybe provide more encouragement: if you are lucky enough to still have your mom or aunts with you, they will probably be thrilled to see the book. My mom found "Grandma B.'s Cranberry Relish" with a picture of her and my oldest on the page, gave the page a little pat and grinned big! (Making no assumptions on age here, but my own mom is in her 80s, and maintained her recipes on typed index cards.)

                        Recipe -- since I rarely post to Chowhound, I hesitate to post the peanut butter fudge -- I got it 25 years ago from a church cookbook, and it fits in that category of "are you shy of sharing trashy recipes?" I'll get flamed off before I have de-lurked for even a month.

                        Like so many trashy recipes, though, it has been a big hit with anyone who ever ate it. And, it supports my point. What is special about this recipe is that it was one we made together when the kids were young.

                        Peanut Butter Fudge
                        (kids love to make this -- it changes color and takes NO skill)

                        1 lb. margarine (not the soft kind in a bowl)
                        1 lb. Velveeta
                        Melt together in microwave or double-boiler.
                        Set aside.
                        4 lb. powdered sugar
                        22 oz. jar peanut butter
                        In very large bowl, cut peanut butter into powdered sugar as if for pie crust. The peanut butter will seem to disappear.
                        Add the melted mixture to the powdered sugar mixture and mix well.
                        Pat into two 9x11 inch pans and chill.
                        Cut into very small squares to serve.

                        1. re: DebinIndiana

                          Thank you for this cookbook advice and the recipe. I've already started collecting recipes and photos, but got stalled due to some other life distractions. I do think I'll get back to the cookbook eventually though. Maybe next year. Doing it in word sounds so daunting. Wide-open, intimidating blank page problem... Very interesting that you found it more cost effective to just buy a printer and scanner! Smart. What do you mean by "post-it format"?

                          I don't think your PB fudge recipe is the same as my family's missing recipe, alas, because I don't remember Velveeta being part of it, but it does sound like a lot of fun and, therefore, certainly worth trying. Don't ever let anyone flame you off Chowhound for posting a recipe you enjoy. Everyone's tastes are different and yours is as legitimate as anyone else's. And, as you point out so nicely, sometimes food is about tradition and family as about anything else.

                          Thank you so much!


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            DQ: I'm pretty sure you would remember if your lost fudge recipe had included Velveeta -- it's not the sort of thing one forgets!

                            I know the blank page gumption trap very well, and understand that one of the ways to fight it is to create a structure to work in. You might download a template from the web and use that as your starting point. There are lots of Word templates available, and then you can just start plugging in a recipe or two whenever you feel like it.

                            The "post-it formatting" that I did for my book was nothing special -- it was to highlight personal comments. I formatted all the recipes alike, but I found an assortment of editable clip art that looked like someone had stuck a post-it onto the page. Using the clip art, the final page looked like a recipe page with a note added.

                            If you inherit a cookbook or a recipe collection, the notes scribbled in are usually the best part ("Make this for Deb" "Try less sugar next time" "Would be good with cheese") Adding the post-it notes was how I emulated the cookbook scribbles, although my comments were more about people than about the recipes.

                          2. re: DebinIndiana

                            Wow, Deb, can you come & organize my recipes??

                            And: Velveeta fudge! I remember that from growing up in Kentucky. It may not be gourmet, but I remember it being delicious. I have a recipe (floating around somewhere--see why I need you?) for "Opera Fudge" that also uses Velveeta--had forgotten about that!

                            1. re: pine time

                              I'd probably enjoy organizing your recipes -- taking chaos and turning it into managed information is what I do and enjoy. (Sad, I know, and yep, that control freak thing...)

                              Just think of all the great recipes I'd be able to cadge!

                              1. re: DebinIndiana

                                You're hired! :o) But seriously..if thats true? You could make some serious money. I like to organize too but..factor in the info I have on the computer and I want to flush it all. I seriously doubt I'm the only one.

                                1. re: DebinIndiana

                                  Deb, if you're still out there, I actually thought of this thread yesterday as I began to tackle the archeological dig that is my recipe pile.

                                  I exclusively use cookbooks and paper recipes (don't do any on-line organizing), and I purged at least 200 bits of clippings and print-outs of stuff I'd never made nor probably will live long enough to make.

                                  Actually grabbed manila folders and began organizing--not just "mains," but beef, chx, etc, like 99% of the world does. Whew.

                                  However, then I tried to put the manilas into an accordion file to keep 'em all together, and broke the seams on the file. Still some purging to do.

                                  1. re: pine time

                                    Good for you, pine time. It is so hard to get rid of the bottom half of a large collection. Sounds as if you may have a challenge reducing to one file -- don't get too ambitious!

                                    So tell me -- did this happen to you? You start organizing and purging, with the plan to keep only the "best of the best" --recipes you really love -- and you end up with a new pile of untried recipes that bubbled back up to the top, and not only can you not throw them away, you want to try them out this week!

                                    1. re: DebinIndiana

                                      Of course--I thought that was a given! :)
                                      I need to quit ripping new recipes out of magazines, but that just sounds so sad...