Signature family dishes

28 September 2016

Joanna Goddard is one of my favorite bloggers (…said every millenial tuned into the online world ever :)). Her posts regularly spark conversation between my friends and I (“Did you see what Jo said about cakes yesterday?”), and one of the highest blogging compliments I’ve ever been paid was a comparison between my Marvelous Mama series and Jo’s My Beauty Uniform.

Anyway, I loved her post earlier this week on signature dishes (inspired by Jenny’s book, which I can’t wait to read!), and thought it would make for fun conversation here, too! Joanna asked, What meals do you remember from growing up? What recipes do you hope your own children remember?


Everyday Occasions

My Mom relied on a relatively small stable of tried and true meals throughout my childhood, and I loved most of them! My favorites included creamy chicken enchiladas (the smell of sauteing green peppers and onions = bliss), macaroni saute (I think a lot of people refer to this as American Chop Suey), and my grandma’s spaghetti sauce. The best of all, though, and my perennial birthday dinner choice, was beef nuggets: an inelegantly named dish from my paternal grandmother that John swears is as bland as a door nail but tastes exquisitely like love to me.

There are meals that go with certain places and events, too. At the Island, we have Mrs. Beisiegel’s Casserole, Southern hash, and shepherd’s pie. At Christmas with my Mom’s side, we eat Aunt Barbara’s potatoes (which I only recently found out are red potatoes mixed with onion soup mix…). With my Dad’s, it’s chocolate cake with seven-minute frosting.

It’s a little different now that I’m the grown-up. John and I cook new recipes all the time, rarely repeating meals more than once a month. There are 120+ pins on my “Recipes we love” board, after all (and 170+ pins on my “Recipes to try” board!). Sometimes I wonder if this is a good thing, whether shopping and cooking would be easier if we relied on just a few tried-and-true options, but for right now, we enjoy the variety.

So what do I think June might associate with home in twenty years? There’s a beef ragu we’ve made for two Christmas dinners in a row, plus my birthday celebration this year, that makes the whole house smell heavenly. The chocolate raspberry pavlova that accompanies almost every summer celebration. The pumpkin chocolate chip muffins that mean fall is here. The chocolate chip pecan cookie dough that’s reliably in our freezer for Bachelor viewing parties. Beef nuggets from her Boo (of course) and potstickers made by Mama Jean. And for all of our exploration, there are a few dinners June will grow up eating regularly, including three pepper pizza; sausage, kale, and chick pea pasta; chana masala; and Kraft macaroni and cheese :)

Friends, I would love to hear: What are your most-loved meals from childhood? Or, if applicable, what meals do you think your children might associate with their childhood? Tell me, tell me!

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September 28, 2016 7:44 am

Childhood to me means Dad’s spaghetti. He slips in a little brown sugar, okay probably a lot, and it makes it so special. I could always be found with sauce all over my face after spaghetti night. And I will always associate my mom with her mashed potatoes, just the best. As for holidays, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins means fall, the recipe is from a second grade kraft sale, ha! And Christmas will always mean veggie bars, all these great little veggies chopped up and put on a crescent roll thats been covered in a cream cheese ranch spread, its my moms go to party food.

Love this post!

September 28, 2016 9:25 am

I love this Emily! I love the idea of making certain dishes a tradition for times of year or special days. Currently we cook a large variety of things and I am having fun trying new recipes, but even just cooking certain meals every season. I love new traditions!

September 28, 2016 10:19 am

Kelly! I’m pretty sure my Mom makes the exact same veggie bars – they are delicious!!

Victoria B
September 28, 2016 10:46 am

I love this topic! :) My mom is a wonderful cook, but my sister and I were terribly picky eaters, so we really did rotate dishes almost every week. Our favorites were, and still are, kung pao chicken, chicken curry with french fries, beef stroganoff, shepherd’s pie, chicken fajitas, and chicken in mushroom sauce. Our holidays always consisted of turkey, brussel sprouts (my dad’s favorite vegetable, hands down), and yorkshire puddings. My parents were both born and raised in England, hence the curry and yorkshire puddings, haha. The only thing my dad made that was amazing was his scrambled eggs. They were so soft and creamy. My mom’s breakfasts were always really great too and I always loved my over easy egg and toast soldiers for dipping.

September 28, 2016 11:37 am

My mom hates this topic because all of the meals my siblings and I identify with home most are the ones my dad makes…and he only makes two things! Homemade spaghetti sauce (my great grandma got the recipe from an Italian lady while in line at the grocery store, I think in the 40s!) and crepes are his signature dishes that always make me feel like a kid. A runner up favorite is Christmas gumbo, which you know all about :)

September 28, 2016 12:41 pm

Victoria! My Dad makes the best scrambled eggs, too, and has passed down that skill to me! Almost mentioned it in the post :) And Lisa, that spaghetti sauce recipe sounds legit.

September 28, 2016 3:19 pm

I love this! I have so many food-related memories and thinking about starting them for my son gets me so excited. Especially since I love to feed people :) Memories that I have from my childhood include Kielbasa with onions and peppers (which I make for my family now), Lasagna (which I also make), and fried squash and onions. Now I’ve tried making the squash and onions dish many times and each time it just doesn’t taste right. I’ve watched my Mom make it and done it the exact same way, I just can’t get it! But it’s ok, Mom makes it for me every time I go home.

One of the traditions I’ve started with our family is that I always make the same apple cake on our anniversary that I made for our wedding day. It’s the only time of the year that I make it, so we always look forward to it.

September 28, 2016 8:25 pm

Ah! Love Jo’s blog. My favorite! I didn’t have the foodiest childhood, so sometimes I still crave sloppy joes (ha!), even though it’s been literally 20 + years since I had it last! For my daughter I hope she remembers one dish. It’s one my husband has made for me for every special occasion and Christmas for the last 5+ years. And he also makes it for our friends when they have babies and for potlucks. It’s a saffron basmati rice recipe that has everything from whole cinnamon sticks, cardamon pods, golden raisons and almonds in it. This Indian dish somehow tastes like Christmas to me. And it makes our house smell the best. It really does delight all five senses and I hope it always reminds my daughter of home.

September 28, 2016 8:58 pm

I LOVE your apple cake tradition, Laura!! So sweet! And I totally get you with the Mom magic – I can’t make beef nuggets like my Mom, so I don’t try anymore :)

Molly, the saffron rice recipe sounds absolutely delicious!

September 29, 2016 10:17 am

Goodness, I need to step up my cooking game! :) I love all the Korean food my mom used to make for me as a child but I sadly can’t make it myself! I’m going to have to try out some of your delicious pinned recipes though!!

September 30, 2016 9:48 am

Gathering around the table for a family meal is one of the most precious memories from my childhood! I was particularly excited when I would hear the sizzle of my mom’s homemade meatballs on a weeknight or smell my dad’s tomato sauce simmering on a Sunday afternoon. I have been trying out new meals lately (muchly inspired by your Pinterest board!) to add to my repertoire for when I am a new bride establishing my home next year!

September 30, 2016 1:14 pm

When I smell beef and garlic baking it takes me right back to my grandmother’s house. I love it! My mom has several dishes that I think of Beef Tomato, Goulash, Slum Gullion and MANY more!

A few years ago we made a family cookbook and put 4 generations of recipes in it with photos and some photos of the original recipe written by my grandmother. I use that cookbook more than any others!

October 6, 2016 10:13 pm

Mrs. Beisiegel’s, that is an Island memory for sure!

October 7, 2016 9:00 am

So what if some people don’t “get” beef nuggets (John, Bingie). WE do!