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80 Secret Family Recipes

From Mom's Italian beef sandwiches to Aunt Marion's fruit dessert, you can now make these secret family recipes from home cooks across the country right in your own kitchen.

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Grandma’s Rice Pudding

My sisters and I always loved the recipe for rice pudding our grandma made. After she passed away, I took it upon myself to try and find the secret to her rice pudding. It took quite a bit of experimentation, but I finally got it right! And I’m glad to share this easy recipe here. —Margaret DeChant, Newberry, Michigan

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Cocoa Crusted Beef Tenderloin Exps Thca18 113666 C11 03 4b

Cocoa-Crusted Beef Tenderloin

My family and I have cooking competitions with secret ingredients and a 30-minute time limit. This tenderloin recipe earned me a sweet victory. — Gina Myers, Spokane, Washington
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Grandma's English Trifle

This scrumptious trifle recipe is a family heirloom. My grandmother would make an enormous dish of it for Saturday night dinners when they often had guests. If there were leftovers, they'd eat that English trifle dessert every night that week until it was gone! —Ruth Verratti, Gasport, New York
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Focaccia Barese

This focaccia recipe has been in my mom's family for several generations. It's one of my most requested dishes. In fact, some hosts tell me I can't attend their parties unless I bring this with me! —Dora Travaglio, Mount Prospect, Illinois
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Green Tomato Pie Exps Jmz18 3499 B03 06 5b

Green Tomato Pie

When frost nips our garden, I quickly gather all the green tomatoes still on the vine and make this old family favorite. It's been handed down from my grandmother, and now my granddaughters are asking for the recipe.—Violet Thompson, Port Ludlow, Washington
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Italian Pork and Potato Casserole

This recipe has been enjoyed by three generations of my family. My mother concocted it years ago using a few ingredients she said were handy at the time. The aroma from these ingredients brings back fond memories of home.
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Steamed Carrot Pudding Exps Hbmz19 38946 E06 26 2b 6

Steamed Carrot Pudding

This recipe, passed down from my Canadian grandmother, has been in my family for at least three generations. It's been a favorite wintertime dessert for us and is always served for Easter and other holiday meals. —Ann Searcey, Kettering, Ohio
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Sauteed Garlic Mushrooms Exps Sdfm19 33520 C10 10 10b 3

Sauteed Garlic Mushrooms

These tasty garlic butter mushrooms are so delicious served with steak, chicken or pork. The sauteed garlic is the secret! —Joan Schroeder, Mesquite, Nevada
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Grandma S Poultry Dressing Exps Sddj19 4215 C07 24 7b 4

Grandma's Poultry Dressing

Every family seems to have their own favorite dressing recipe that becomes a tradition, and this is ours. It came from Grandma, who passed it down to my mother. Now our children have carried it into their kitchens. This is truly a good old-fashioned recipe. —Norma Howland, Joliet, Illinois
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Martha Washington Candy

Passed down by my grandmother and mother, this Martha Washington candy recipe is a cherished family tradition. We've even had each grandchild and great-grandchild take a turn stirring the candy mixture! —Cindi Boger, Ardmore, Alabama
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Slow Cooked Boston Beans Exps173531 Sd143203b10 25 2bc Rms 2

Slow-Cooked Boston Beans

These slow-cooked beans have a little more zip than usual Boston baked beans, and the rum helps lighten the flavor. —Anne Sheehy, Lawrence, Massachusetts
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Danish Meatballs with Pan Gravy

My great-grandmother made these meatballs, and I'm sure her mother must have taught her. Six generations have enjoyed them, and one of my daughters even served them at her wedding. —Kallee Krong-McCreery, Escondido, California
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Cranberry Amaretto Bread Pudding Exps Tcbbz18 188544 B05 04 4b 7

Cranberry Amaretto Bread Pudding

This is an update to a recipe that's been in our family for three generations. The combination of white chocolate and amaretto mingled with seasonal cranberry is my favorite way to end any celebration's meal. —Jennifer Evans DaCastello, Virginia Beach, Virginia
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Turkey Sloppy Joes For A Crowd Exps134017 Thhc2377563c05 09 2bc Rms 2

Turkey Sloppy Joes for a Crowd

I found this recipe in my mother's recipe box. Sometimes I serve it over vegetables such as corn or green beans, but it's equally delicious on a bun. —Julie Clemes, Adrian Michigan
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Grandma Pruit's Vinegar Pie

This historic pie has been in our family for many generations and is always served at our get-togethers.—Suzette Pruit, Houston, Texas
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Grandma S Sweet Potato Biscuits Exps Sddj19 16409 C07 24 2b 5

Grandma's Sweet Potato Biscuits

The recipe for these mild-tasting biscuits was my grandmother's. They're a family favorite that we always serve at holidays. —Nancy Daugherty, Cortland, Ohio
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Chicken-Fried Steak & Gravy

As a child, my grandmother taught me how to make this chicken-fried steak. I taught my daughters, and when my granddaughters are bigger, I’ll show them, too. —Donna Cater, Fort Ann, New York
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Grandma S Christmas Cake Exps Sddj19 41719 C07 24 3b 6

Grandma's Christmas Cake

One bite of this old-fashioned spice cake will bring back memories. Loaded with raisins and nuts, it tastes extra special drizzled with the rich buttery sauce. —Linda Stemen, Monroeville, Indiana
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Turkey Dumpling Stew

My mom made this stew when I was young, and it was always a hit. Since it's not time-consuming to make I can fix it on a weekend for our children, who love the tender dumplings. —Becky Mohr, Appleton, Wisconsin
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Coconut Almond Candy

The secret ingredient in this homemade candy is a true surprise—no one tasting these delicious morsels will guess what’s in the sweet, creamy filling! —Katrina Smith, Lawrence, Kansas
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Apple Dumpling Bake

I received this recipe for baked apple dumplings with Mountain Dew from a friend of mine, then tweaked it to suit my family's tastes. The soda is definitely the secret ingredient in this rich apple dessert. —Chris Shields, Monrovia, Indiana
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Raisin Bread & Sausage Morning Casserole

When we used to have Sunday breakfasts with my grandparents, my mom often made this for grandpa because he enjoyed it so much. Pork sausage and cinnamon bread taste surprisingly good together. —Carolyn Levan, Dixon, Illinois
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Mom's Italian Beef Sandwiches

My mom made the best Italian beef. I’ve added to it over the years, but it’s still her recipe. She made these sandwiches for family reunions, and there were never leftovers. —Mary McVey, Colfax, North Carolina
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Old-Fashioned Applesauce

We had all kinds of apple trees in the yard when I was growing up, so I don't know for sure which ones Mother liked best for applesauce. (Today I use Cortlands.) I do know that her applesauce was very white. The secret, she said, was to keep the apples in salt water while she peeled them so that they wouldn't darken. —Doris Natvig, Jesup, Iowa
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Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies Exps7873 Thcb1914178b12 10 4b Rms 13

Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

My mother insisted that my grandmother write down one recipe for her when Mom got married in 1942: the how to make peanut butter cookies from scratch recipe. That was a real effort because Grandma was a traditional pioneer-type cook who used a little of this or that until it felt right. This treasured recipe is the only one she ever wrote down! —Janet Hall, Clinton, Wisconsin
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Aunt Marion's Fruit Salad Dessert

Aunt Marion's Fruit Salad Dessert

Aunt Marion, my namesake, is like a grandma to me. She gave me this luscious salad recipe, which goes to all our family reunions, hunt club suppers and snowmobile club picnics...and I go home with no leftovers! —Marion LaTourette, Honesdale, Pennsylvania
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Mom's Potato Pancakes

These old-fashioned pancakes are fluffy inside and crispy outside. Onion adds nice flavor. Mom got this recipe from Grandma, so we've enjoyed it for years. —Dianne Esposite, New Middletown, Ohio
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Banana Cream Pie Exps Fbmz16 1151 B05 18 7b 5

Banana Cream Pie

Made from our farm-fresh dairy products, this pie was a sensational creamy treat any time Mom served it. Her recipe is a real treasure, and I've never found one that tastes better! —Bernice Morris, Marshfield, Missouri
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Sugar-Glazed Ham

This old-fashioned ham glaze gives a pretty, golden brown coating—just like Grandma used to make. The mustard and vinegar complement the brown sugar which adds a tangy flavor to this glazed ham recipe. Be prepared to serve seconds! —Carol Strong Battle, Heathville, Virginia
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Delicious Apple Salad Exps Sdon17 33852 B07 07 5b 4

Delicious Apple Salad

This yummy fruit salad was a favorite of my great-grandmother’s. My family always enjoys it, and I’m happy knowing it’s good for them, too. —Sue Gronholz, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
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Winnie S Mini Rhubarb Strawberry Pies Exps Bmz20 195198 B10 23 8b 4

Winnie's Mini Rhubarb & Strawberry Pies

Every spring, we had strawberries and rhubarb on our farm outside Seattle. These fruity hand pies remind me of those times and of Grandma Winnie’s baking. —Shawn Carleton, San Diego, California
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Oktoberfest Red Cabbage

Four generations of our family have made this dish of red cabbage and apples, known as rotkohl ("red cabbage"). We love the tart and sweet flavors. —Diana Likes, Chandler, Arizona
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No-Knead Knot Rolls

My mom, Velma Perkins, loved to serve these light, golden rolls when I was growing up on our Iowa farm. They're extra nice since they require no kneading. The dough rises in the refrigerator overnight, so there's little last-minute fuss to serve fresh hot rolls with any meal. —Toni Hilscher, Omaha, Nebraska
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Cold-Day Chicken Noodle Soup

When I was sick, my mom would make me this heartwarming chicken noodle soup. It was soothing when I had a cold, but this soup is a bowlful of comfort on any chilly day. —Anthony Graham, Ottawa, lllinois
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Grandmother S Orange Salad Exps Sddj19 335 C07 24 1b 2

Grandmother's Orange Salad

This orange salad dessert is slightly sweet and tangy, too. It adds beautiful color to any meal and appeals to all ages! —Ann Eastman, Santa Monica, California
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Deep-Dish Sausage Pizza

My grandma made the tastiest snacks for us when we stayed the night at her farm. Her wonderful pizza, hot from the oven, was covered with cheese and had fragrant herbs in the crust. Now this pizza is frequently a meal for my husband and me and our family. —Michele Madden, Washington Court House, Ohio
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Daughter's Apple Crisp

My mom’s apple crisp is the best in all of Texas, honest! I tweaked it slightly, though, and now I spend less time in the kitchen and more time catching up with my spry 92-year-young mother. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas
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Apricot Amaretto Jam Exps Thca18 176341 B01 05 7b 3

Apricot Amaretto Jam

This thick, chunky apricot jam was my grandma's recipe; it's lovely to make something for my family and friends that she made for hers! —Linda Wegner, Robinson, Illinois
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Easy Ice Cream Sundae Dessert

In summer, nothing's better than ice cream sundaes. We kids couldn't wait to dig into this tempting dessert. It's cool and smooth with a ribbon of fudge inside. Whenever I make it for my family, I think of Mom. —Anne Heinonen, Howell, Michigan
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Corn Stuffing Balls

My mom had many "winning" recipes, and this was one of our family's favorites. I can still picture these Corn Stuffing Balls encircling the large meat platter piled high with one of her delicious entrees. —Audrey Groe, Lake Mills, Iowa
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Lemon Tea Cookies

These sandwich cookies taste rich and buttery and have a lovely lemon filling. The recipe has been in our family since the 1950s, when my mother got it from a French friend in her club. —Phyllis Dietz, Westland, Michigan
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Lahmajoon Armenian Pizza  Exps138033 Th2236620a05 31 1bc Rms 2

Lahmajoon (Armenian Pizza)

With my family's Armenian background, I grew up surrounded by great cooks. Since Armenian food is time-consuming and labor-intensive, cooking for any party started weeks in advance. I learned to cook from my mom but have revamped many of her dishes to make them healthier, simpler and quicker, like this version of Armenian Pizza. —Jean L. Ecos, Hartland, Wisconsin
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Rhubarb Compote with Yogurt & Almonds

My Grandma Dot used to make rhubarb compote and always had some in the freezer when I came to visit. This breakfast is a tribute to her. No two stalks of rhubarb are exactly alike, so make sure to taste the compote before you chill it. It should be tart, but sometimes it needs a little extra sugar. —Michael Hoffman, Brooklyn, New York
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Bourbon Ham Balls

Grandma Nette was the queen of ham ball recipes. I make them salty-sweet with a bourbon and vinegar kick. Serve them alone, in a sandwich or over pasta or rice. —Kimla Carsten, Grand Junction, Colorado
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Secret Ingredient Stuffed Eggs Exps47710 Cw1794336d39a Rms 3

Secret-Ingredient Stuffed Eggs

My take on deviled eggs is full of surprises. The down-home appetizer Mom used to make gets an upscale touch from mango, goat cheese and pecans. People love these tempting treats. —Beth Satterfield, Dover, Delaware
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Grandma's Collard Greens

My grandmother made the best collard greens recipe in the world. Eating them with a slice of buttermilk cornbread is pure bliss. —Sherri Williams, Crestview, Florida
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Aunt Nancy's Cream of Crab Soup

My sister Nancy is one of the best cooks I know. When my daughter was getting married, I put together a cookbook of her favorite family recipes—Nancy's soup was a must-have. Our family often had this with a salad before Christmas Eve services. —Lynne German, Buford, Georgia
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Pennsylvania Dutch Cucumbers Exps Wrsm17 4509 B03 30 1b 6

Pennsylvania Dutch Cucumbers

My mom's side of the family was German and Irish. Settling in Pennsylvania, they adopted some of the cooking and customs of the Pennsylvania Dutch. This is a dish Mom loved, and today it's my favorite garden salad. It tastes delicious alongside a plate of homegrown tomatoes. —Shirley Joan Helfenbein, Lapeer, Michigan
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Caesar Orange Roughy Exps35136 Sd132779a06 11 6bc Rms 4

Caesar Orange Roughy

I'm so thankful that my mother taught me to cook at a young age. She won several cooking contests over the years and this is one of my favorite recipes of hers. —Mary Lou Boyce, Wilmingon, Delaware
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Winning Rhubarb-Strawberry Pie

While being raised on a farm I often ate rhubarb, so it's natural for me to use it in a pie. I prefer to use lard for the flaky pie crust and thin, red rhubarb stalks for the filling. These two little secrets helped this recipe win top honors at the 2013 Iowa State Fair. —Marianne Carlson, Jefferson, Iowa
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Icebox Rolls Exps Thca18 4356 C05 18 6b 6

Icebox Rolls

I remember my mom making these rolls almost every Saturday so they'd be ready to bake on Sunday for company or someone just dropping by. Although they take a little time to prepare, they're really not all that difficult to make. And there's nothing in the stores that can compare to them! —Jean Fox, Welch, Minnesota
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Sweet & Savory Pineapple Cheese Ball

One of my favorite dishes in childhood was my mom's pineapple and green pepper cheese ball. Now I make it, and it’s always a hit. —Susan Harrison, Laurel, Maryland
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Thyme & Basil Roast Pork

Dad’s favorite roast pork was rubbed with cinnamon, thyme, basil and lemon. He loved thick slices and wanted only a salad to finish off the meal. —Lorraine Caland, Shuniah, Ontario
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Apricot Gelatin Mold

My mother always made this apricot Jell-O salad for celebrations. When my husband and I were dating, he fell in love with this dish and, as soon as we were married, asked me to get the recipe. You can substitute peach or orange gelatin for a fresh summer treat. —Suzanne Holcomb, St. Johnsville, New York
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Grandma's Cajun Chicken & Spaghetti

I’m originally from Louisiana, where my grandma spoke Cajun French as she taught me her spicy chicken spaghetti. —Brenda Melancon, McComb, Mississippi
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Skillet Herb Bread Exps Ff20 4005 B02 25 6b 1

Skillet Herb Bread

We had a lot of family get-togethers while I was growing up. My grandmother, aunts and mom were all good cooks, and each had her own specialty when it came to bread. Mom's was my favorite—she created this recipe more than 40 years ago. The flavors call to mind the taste of cornbread stuffing! —Shirley Smith, Yorba Linda, California
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Three Layered Carrot Cake Exps155208 Hc143213d09 05 4b Rms 2

Three-Layered Carrot Cake

My mom loved carrots so much she put them in various dishes at least five times a week when I was growing up. Her specialty was a homemade carrot cake that was requested for every special occasion. When I made this for her 70th birthday, she cried with each bite. —Paula Marchesi, Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania
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Sausage-Vegetable Egg Bake

When we were kids, our mom tucked homegrown Swiss chard inside this comfy casserole. Now I grow the chard, make the dish and savor the memories. —Cathy Banks, Encinitas, California
59 / 80

Mom's Sweet Potato Bake

Mom loves sweet potatoes and fixed them often in this creamy, comforting baked sweet potato casserole. With its nutty topping, this side dish could almost serve as a dessert. It's a yummy treat! —Sandi Pichon, Memphis, Tennessee
60 / 80
Lemony Turkey Rice Soup Exps Sdon17 20682 C06 23 4b 1

Lemony Turkey Rice Soup

While growing up in Texas, I spent a lot of time helping my grandma cook. Lemon and cilantro add a deliciously different twist to turkey soup. —Margarita Cuellar, East Chicago, Indiana
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Cookie Jar Gingersnaps

My grandma kept two cookie jars in her pantry. One of the jars, which I now have, always had these crisp and chewy gingersnaps in it. They're still my favorite cookie recipe. My daughter, Becky, used this recipe for a 4-H fair and won a blue ribbon. —Deb Handy, Pomona, Kansas
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Old Fashioned Green Beans Exps Srbz16 496 C09 14 5b

Old-Fashioned Green Beans

Mom would prepare homegrown green beans using this recipe and, boy, did they ever taste good! The bacon provides rich flavor and the brown sugar a touch of sweetness. This is one irresistible side dish. —Willa Govoro, St. Clair, Missouri
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12 Hour Salad Exps Sdam17 4447 D12 06 5b 1

12-Hour Salad

This recipe was Mom's scrumptious scheme to get her kids to eat vegetables. She never had any trouble when she served this colorful crunchy salad. Mom thought this salad was a real bonus for the cook since it must be made the night before. —Dorothy Bowen, Thomasville, North Carolina
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Great Grandma S Oatmeal Cookies Exps Thn17 6169 D06 20 2b 3

Great-Grandma's Oatmeal Cookies

Not only is this recipe a favorite of my husband's, it's extra special to me because it goes back to my great-grandmother. For holidays, we like to sprinkle on colored sugar for a festive touch. —Mary Ann Konechne, Kimball, South Dakota
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Apple Kuchen Bars

This recipe is about family, comfort and simplicity. My mom made this delicious sweet treat many a winter night and served it warm with some of her famous homemade ice cream. I like to make a double batch and pass on the love! —Elizabeth Monfort, Celina, Ohio
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Grandma's Pea Soup

My grandma's pea soup recipe was a family favorite. What makes it different from any other pea soups I have tried is the addition of whole peas, spaetzle-like "dumplings" and sausage. Try it once and you'll be hooked. —Carole Talcott, Dahinda, Illinois
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Rhubarb Cherry Pie Exps Ppp18 2570 D05 08 1b 5

Rhubarb Cherry Pie

As a young girl, I dreamed of being able to make pies like my mother. (Her rolling pin, which I inherited, was 2 ft. long and 8 in. wide!) In fact, this is Mom's rhubarb strawberry pie recipe with cherries instead. I first made this pie for a church gathering 20 years ago—ever since, everyone's looked for it at every potluck! —Eunice Hurt, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
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Creamy Paprika Pork  Exps Sdon17 195096 D06 30 5b 27

Creamy Paprika Pork

When I was little, I would often ask my mom to make "favorite meat." She knew I was requesting this homey pork recipe. It's been in my family for more than 30 years and it's still a favorite! —Alexandra Barnett, Forest, Virginia
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Dilly Potato Egg Salad Exps Sdam17 37208 D12 07 3b 3

Dilly Potato & Egg Salad

Everyone has a favorite potato salad, and this is mine. As a young bride, I was eager to learn how to cook and make things that my husband would love. I combined my mom's and his mom's recipes, and this is the delicious result. —Angela Leinenbach, Mechanicsville, Virginia
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Grandma Krause's Coconut Cookies

When my two daughters were young, their great-grandma made them coconut cookies with oats. Thankfully, she shared the recipe. —Debra Dorn, Dunnellon, Florida
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Caramel Apple Skillet Buckle Exps Cimz19 129520 E08 31 7b 3

Caramel-Apple Skillet Buckle

My grandma used to bake a version of this for me when I was a little girl. She would make it using fresh apples from her tree in the backyard. I've adapted her recipe because I love the combination of apples, pecans and caramel. —Emily Hobbs, Springfield, Missouri
72 / 80

Herbed Garlic Potatoes

My mom cooks from scratch and rarely uses a recipe. That's how I learned—a pinch of this, a dash of that. But it was actually my dad who invented the basis for this recipe. The potatoes fit any kind of meal from fancy to burgers—and everyone asks me for the recipe. —Sherry DesJardin, Fairbanks, Alaska
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P.S. I Love You Cake

P.S. I Love You Cake

Growing up, there was always some scrumptious treat to eat at our house. The name my mom chose for this cake has a double meaning: P.S. for the type of cake (poppy seed) and for the love note to her family. —Sue Groetsch, La Crosse, Wisconsin
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Grandma S Sour Cream Raisin Pie Exps Ppp18 6171 C04 25 6b 7

Grandma's Sour Cream Raisin Pie

The aroma of this pie baking in my farm kitchen oven reminds me of my dear grandma who made this pretty pie for special occasions. —Beverly Medalen, Willow City, North Dakota
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Roast Spiced Chicken Exps Thca21 186780 C01 28 1b

Roast Spiced Chicken

Ever have a worn index card recipe from your mother with food stains covering the words? Spiced chicken has been in our family more than 50 years. —Cindy Kanwar, Blacklick, OH
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Grandma Schwartz's Rouladen

This was one of my Grandma Schwartz's recipes. Grandpa Schwartz was a German butcher and this was one of his (and our) favorite meals. It's an extra-special beef entree when served with mashed potatoes made with butter and sour cream. —Lynda Sharai, Summer Lake, Oregon
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Mom's Meat Loaf

Mom made the best meatloaf, and now I do, too. When I first met my husband, he didn't care for homemade meatloaf, but this won him over. —Michelle Beran, Claflin, Kansas
78 / 80
Grandma Brubaker S Orange Cookies Exps Ghbz18 6165 E08 09 3b 9

Grandma Brubaker's Orange Cookies

At least two generations of my family have enjoyed the recipe for these delicate, orange-flavored, cakelike cookies. —Sheri DeBolt, Huntington, Indiana
79 / 80
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Mom's Roast Beef

This well-seasoned roast is Mom’s specialty. Everyone loves slices of the fork-tender roast beef and its savory gravy, and people always ask what her secret ingredients are. Now you have the delicious recipe for our favorite dish! —Linda Gaido, New Brighton, Pennsylvania
80 / 80
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Crisp Sugar Cookies

My grandmother always had sugar cookies in her pantry, and we grandchildren would empty that big jar quickly because they were the best! I now regularly bake these wonderful cookies to share with friends. —Evelyn Poteet, Hancock, Maryland

Dana Meredith
Dana is an editor and writer who shares her passion for travel, food and the beauty of American landscapes. When she's not wielding her red pen, she can be found tending her flower gardens, remodeling her house, creating one-of-a-kind jewelry or dancing to "Uptown Funk."
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