Mom’s Favorite Recipes

by Erin

My mother lives on in our memories and her recipes. So for Mother’s Day I am sharing a few of my mom’s favorite recipes for you to enjoy.

My Mom's Favorite Recipes

This Mother’s Day is the first time I am without my mother to celebrate. While I am lucky enough to have other mother-figures in my life, for whom I am grateful, no one can replace my mother. She was incredibly animated, especially when telling stories and jokes (even if you’ve heard it before), loved painting and playing the guitar, had a vibrant unique style, always had gifts for everyone she encountered no matter how small or how little she knew them, and was the most optimistic person I knew – sometimes annoyingly so. Life wasn’t easy on her but she remained incredibly resilient despite everything and I admired that.

To cope with darkness left in her absence, I have compiled a list of all her recipes that I have shared on my blog so far. I say so far because I will be updating this sooner than later as I’ve been inclined to cook more of them as I continue to find ways to grieve but also to feel close to her in some way again. But the ones I have shared thus far were some that she made most often and also some of my favorites as well.

Many of them are retro recipes dating back to the 70s and the ingredients lists are proof. But I am not entirely sure of the origins of many of them. Even though she usually stated her source on the recipe card, it’s usually just something like “from volleyballers in 1983”. Oh well, kind of adds to the charm. But what I am trying to say is I am not claiming that theses are entirely my mother’s own recipes, more so recipes that she made.

My Mom’s Favorite Recipes

Butterscotch Haystack Cookies #easydessert

Butterscotch Haystack Cookies

The first recipe I thought to make after my mother’s passing just 4 weeks ago was her haystack cookies. While originally made with potato sticks, that ingredient is not regularly found at the store so she often made them with pretzels instead (which was perfect for my chubby hubby version). I actually had it in my head that she made them with chow mein noodles and I had shipped her some while she was still in the hospital, but unfortunately she never made it home to see them and we could laugh at my mistake.

Mom's Corn Fritters

Bacon-Corn Fritters

My mom’s corn fritters are one of my strongest childhood memories. Frying up those sweet, crispy fritters in her well-seasoned cast iron skillet, often after making bacon in the same pan (except I put the bacon in the fritters when I made them for my blog). Or if we were visiting family in Maryland where she grew up, it was Scrapple instead of bacon on the side! I have actually used this recipe to also make banana corn fritter, corn fritter breakfast burgers, and even corn fritter shortcakes with maple whipped cream.

Impossible Tamale Pie 2

Impossible Tamale Pie

If you are familiar with “impossible” recipes, it’s not that they are impossible to make, but in fact they are so delicious it’s impossible to imagine them being so easy to make! She also was a huge Tex-Max fan (I can still hear her voice in my head with the very emphatic way she would say it) and has a recipe for taco pie as well, but that one uses a Bisquick batter versus cornmeal.  Have you ever made an impossible pie before? I’ve also made a BBQ version.

Investment Ambrosia Salad 1

Investment Salad (aka Ambrosia Salad)

During a recent discussion about my mom’s investment salad, which is similar to ambrosia salad but still a bit different, I questioned why she called it by that name. There was speculation that it was from her time working at Social Security, but my dad said it was because it was green like money – but I always made it with strawberry gelatin and it was pink! So clearly I need to remake this with lime to get the true embodiment of her recipe.

Mom's Jalapeno Cornbread

Jalapeno Cornbread

When my parents were married and lived in Texas for 17 years (which is where my brother and I were born), my dad was on a chili cooking team, which is why my dad’s chili is not only my favorite in my own opinion, but has actually placed in and/or won cook-offs. But of course no chili is complete without a good cornbread. Funny story about my mom’s recipe, neither she nor my dad like spicy food so even though this recipe calls for jalapenos, they never actually added them. I suppose you could add green bell pepper to still have the look if you too don’t like spice.

Lemon Chess Pie

Another recipe from their time living in Texas was chess pie. Her recipe left it open to flavor additions and over the years I have taken advantage of this feature by not only making lemon, but also peanut butter chocolate chip, pumpkin, coconut, and a lavender lemon chess pie.

Magic Chocolate Walnut Fudge Stack

Magic Chocolate Walnut Fudge

This fudge is magic because all you need is four ingredients and a double boiler to make them (which is as simple as a glass bowl over a simmering pot of water). I’m not normally a big fudge fan, or chocolate in general by itself,  but add a heaping cup of walnuts and I am good to go! I’d love to try it with dark chocolate, pistachio, and sea salt. This recipe was also acquired while living in TX and as such reminds me of Texas Sheet Cake.

Pineapple Stuffed Burgers

Pineapple Burgers

These burgers are notoriously served bunless. As a result they don’t make the most photogenic food subject so I have taken photos of it with the bun on, but I did most recently finally eat it with the bun and it was also delicious. I guess it shouldn’t be of any surprise that adding bread would not diminish its deliciousness. But like many of her recipes, they take simple ingredients and turn them into something even tastier.

Pineapple Cranberry Zucchini Bread

I don’t have any memory of this recipe in my childhood, but the moment I tried this in my adult life I demanded the recipe from my mother. It’s packed with incredible flavor and remains my favorite zucchini bread I’ve ever had. What’s not to love about cranberry, pineapple, and zucchini together?

Mom's Sweet Macaroni Salad #sidedish

Sweet Macaroni Salad

This is another recipe that to my knowledge I never had as a kid. Although, to be fair, I was an incredibly picky eater and would not have eaten this even if it had been presented to me at the time. If you thought mac salad was indulgent to begin with being made with mayo, try added sugar and sweetened condensed milk!

What are your mom’s favorite recipes?

Three years ago: Double Chocolate Chip Soft Pretzels

Six years ago: Gardening with #OXOSpringGardening

Seven years ago: Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies

Eight years ago: Mini Greek-Style Meatloaves

Nine years ago: Homemade Imo’s Pizza

Ten years ago: Avocado Fries


Tailgate Cake January 25, 2023 - 8:14 am

[…] did I not add peanut butter to this cake? Well, mostly because it’s a recipe my mom gave to me a long time ago and I’ve been meaning to make it. I’m not entirely sure where […]

Mom’s Frito Taco Salad with Catalina Dressing January 16, 2023 - 6:00 am

[…] Her recipe originally did not call for taco seasoning (just salt and pepper) or pinto beans but I decided to add them this time. After all, where would the taco flavor come from if I didn’t use the taco seasoning? But she did use spinach (albeit half as much) instead of Romaine and radishes so I kept those. […]

Kathy Mossman April 13, 2022 - 4:53 pm


Jalapeno Cornbread October 30, 2021 - 11:51 am

[…] I shared with yesterday. I thought it was a perfect match-up since this cornbread recipe I got from my mom, who got it from a friend in Texas back in the day. And since it’s from Texas, you know it […]

Dad May 10, 2021 - 8:41 am

All really good.

Erin May 10, 2021 - 8:53 am

Do you have any other hidden gems of hers?

Susan May 9, 2021 - 12:16 pm

I will definitely check out some of those recipes – they sound good. One comment about the jalapeño cornbread: one could use roasted poblano peppers instead, which would give the wonderful roasted chile flavor without the same level of heat. I might just have to add some roasted poblanos to my mesquite cornbread…

Erin May 10, 2021 - 8:52 am

That would also be a great idea! But I know some people still find poblanos too spicy. I am not in that category haha.


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