Southern Baked Mac and Cheese
This southern staple has it all and then some: Cheddar and mozzarella for a deeply cheesy flavor, eggs for a custardy base,” plus I included some Cajun spice and smoked gouda to add that hint of smokiness you never knew your mac and cheese needed, ” says Food Network culinary producer Nikki Scott. Nikki learned the recipe from her mother, who was taught by her own mother after the family moved from South Carolina to New York City.
Get the Recipe: Southern Baked Mac and Cheese
Nikki Scott and Her Mother
“Growing up in a very large family, there was always a guarantee there would be a huge Sunday dinner at my grandmother’s house, which usually included Southern baked macaroni and cheese,” says Nikki, shown here in the 1980s with her mother, Ellen, in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. “Over the years, the richness of the recipe made it an exclusive for special occasions. My version is slightly elevated but equally indulgent, requiring a three-cheese minimum, always in a big batch and loaded with love.”
Grated Pasta Chicken Soup
The homemade noodles in this cozy pantry soup are not only incredibly easy– they are also really, really fun. You just pulse together the ingredients in a food processor, then grate the dough directly into the simmering broth. Chock full of carrots, onions and shredded rotisserie chicken, the soup is inspired by the comforting meals Food Network recipe developer Emily Weinberger ate growing up.
Get the Recipe: Grated Pasta Chicken Soup
Emily Weinberger’s Kids and Her Mother
“We lived right outside the snow belt of Lake Erie,” says Emily. “That meant a quick chicken noodle soup with extra-wide egg noodles was on the menu pretty much every week.” Fast forward 25 years: “It might not be as cold where we live in New York as it was in Ohio,” says Emily, who is mother to Ben and Annie. “But with my mom as their ‘nanny,’ my kids are eating grated pasta chicken soup well into the summer.” Emily’s recipe swaps out the store-bought noodles from her mother Laura’s version. “But I promise you, I channeled her love throughout the whole development process.”
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls
“These are a great cozy family breakfast treat,” says Food Network recipe developer Martha Tinkler. Her mother reserved the rolls for special occasions when she was growing up, topping them with spoonfuls of honey butter when they were still warm. “I love how sweet and nutty whole wheat is,” says Martha. “The texture and the flavor of the bread is more complex.”
Get the Recipe: Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls
Martha Tinkler and Her Mother
“My mother embraced whole health food and slow food movement very early on. So growing up, we had fresh ground whole wheat, carob chips and all the things,” said Martha of her mother, Melinda. “She is a great bread baker. Years later my sister and mom started a bake stand at the Memphis farmer’s market. She would bring these whole wheat cinnamon rolls and they always sold out.”
Za’atar Chicken Thighs with Pearl Couscous
Sweet golden raisins and plump ruby pomegranate seeds make this juicy spiced chicken a feast for the eyes. And though former Food Network stylist Michelle N Warner developed the dish for a weeknight–you need just one skillet and 25 minutes to get it cooking–the combination of the pearled couscous pilaf and za’atar chicken is special enough for an easy dinner with friends.
Get the Recipe: Za’atar Chicken Thighs with Pearl Couscous
Michelle N Warner and Her Mother
When Michelle tasted za’atar in her 20s, “it was like a time machine to a memory I had almost forgotten,” she says. “My mother used za’atar when I was little living in Israel. Since she passed when I was only 6, and we had since moved to the USA, it somehow dropped off the radar,” says Michelle, pictured here with her mother Nechama . When creating za’atar chicken thighs with pearl couscous“I tried to whip up those memories and flavors into a satisfying dinner.”
Vietnamese Chicken Salad (Goi Ga)
The secret to this flavorful chicken salad with cabbage, says Food Network Kitchen recipe developer Susan Vu, is her mother’s nuoc cham (dipping sauce): She would make a thick simple syrup before adding aromatics and fish sauce.
Get the Recipe: Goi Ga
Susan Vu and Her Mother
Never-Fail Cheese Soufflé
Grated extra-sharp cheddar and slices of white Pullman bread are the secret to this no-fail soufflé, a recipe from the mother of former Food Network Kitchen recipe developer Bob Hoebee. “She loves that you set it up the day before and just bake it on serving day,” he says.
Get the Recipe: Never-Fail Cheese Soufflé
Bob Hoebee and His Mother
With the help of his mother Marie, Bob Hoebee cuts into a cake in the late 1950s. His mother’s recipe for Never-Fail Cheese Souffle was originally from a women’s club potluck dinner.
Ham Bone Soup
You’d be surprised how much flavor a left over ham bone (even one without ham on it!) imparts to this pantry-friendly soup. Food Network recipe developer Amy Stevenson says “we weren’t really a turkey family at holidays. We had it on the table, but we were way bigger fans of a glazed baked ham. And after all the leftovers were gone, my mother would use the bone to make a rib-sticking bean soup like this one.”
Get the Recipe: Ham Bone Soup
Amy Stevenson and Her Mother
Amy’s mother made use of every part of a ham roast. Before making ham bone soup, “she would turn the leftover ham into ham sandwiches,” says Amy of her mother, Helen, shown here with a baby Amy. “Then my mom would grind up some of the meat to make ham salad (like tuna salad, but with ham, don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it!). I still make the soup every time I have a leftover hambone.”
Stir-Fried Broccoli in Oyster Sauce
This simple broccoli dish is a 20-minute recipe that incorporates ginger, garlic and chiles. Former Food Network Kitchen recipe tester Vivian Chan says her mother came up with the recipe as a way of offering a better alternative to typical takeout.
Get the Recipe: Stir-Fried Broccoli in Oyster Sauce
Vivian Chan and Her Mother
Oma’s German Potato Salad Recipe
After her grandmother moved to New York City in the 1950s, she stayed true to her German roots in the kitchen, says former Food Network Kitchen purchasing assistant Amanda Catrini. For this salad, the potatoes are tossed with cooked onions in a mustard sauce and sprinkled with chopped herbs and bacon.
Get the Recipe: Oma’s German Potato Salad
Amanda Catrini and Her Grandmother
Spaghettini with Spicy Seafood
Crushed red pepper flakes give this pasta and shrimp dish its enticing kick. Food Network Kitchen recipe developer Stephen Jackson remembers this as one of his mother’s “go-to party dishes,” but says it has “the approachability of a quick weeknight meal” as well.
Get the Recipe: Spaghettini with Spicy Seafood
Stephen Jackson and his mother
The Best Broccoli-Cheddar Soup
This rich, hearty soup gets extra body from a fluffy baked potato, but it’s the double dose of cheese that puts it over the top in our “best ever” category. Food Network lead recipe developer Amanda Neal says her mother, Peggy, would always add extra broccoli and leave some of it chunky “so you get satisfying bits of broccoli in every bite.”
Get the Recipe: The Best Broccoli-Cheddar Soup
Amanda Neal and Her Mother
“On ski trips we would often cook together in the evening and warming soup was a regular on the menu,” says Amanda, shown here with her mother, Peggy, skiing in Colorado in the late 1990s. “My family is in Kentucky, but I live in New York. When I make the best broccoli cheddar soup, each bite feels like a big hug from my mama.”
Pasta e Fagioli
A mix of pasta shapes plus white beans, tomato paste and pecorino cheese make this comforting pasta e fagioli. The recipe also calls for salt pork, which former Food Network Kitchen sous chef Vince Camillo remembers his mother using in place of the traditional Italian pancetta.
Get the Recipe: Pasta e Fagioli
Vince Camillo’s Mother
Sugared Puff-Pastry Tea Cookies
These 20-minute tea cookies are made with just four ingredients: puff pastry, lemon, sugar and an egg white. Former Food Network Kitchen recipe developer Andrea Albin recalls her mother making the original from leftover dough scraps.
Get the Recipe: Sugared Puff-Pastry Tea Cookies
Andrea Albin and Her Mother
The secret to this cheesecake, says former Food Network Kitchen executive chef Robert Bleifer, is his mother’s use of whipped cream cheese in place of the conventional variety, which she used in defiance of the package instructions.
Get the Recipe: Mom’s Cheesecake
Robert Bleifer’s Mother
Pork Belly Adobo
“As simple as this recipe is, it always projects the love she puts into it,” says former Food Network Kitchen food stylist Richmond Flores of his mother’s pork belly adobo. The Filipino dish calls for marinating the pork in a sweetened soy-garlic marinade and cooking it until tender.
Get the Recipe: Pork Belly Adobo