Must-Have Mom Recipes: Recipes Passed Down From Generations Past

This post-holiday season has got me like whoa. From my husband’s recent job switch with new schedule to our world’s constant streaming of current events, my brain is in overload right now and I don’t think I’m alone. For us young families, it’s that time of year to buckle down and adult. There are taxes to prepare, budgets to plan for our financial projects this year, the kids’ conferences, a new term of classes to juggle (if you’re a 30-something college-going mom like me), and the cold, gloomy days of February and March to look forward to.


(Insert dramatic eye roll.)

In my first post for the Iowa City Moms Blog, I shared some Must-Have Mom Recipes: iced coffee and edible cookie dough. Those are my fuel for days when my mom hustle is real. For when I’m squeezing in a dentist appointment for the youngest between my oldest soccer practices, and my morning ‘get ready routine’ consists of flip flops and a pair of shades. Now, it’s blustery and I need something to pair with my favorite book I’ve read a thousand times. Something warm on my lap (besides a child or dog) that warms my cold, tired body under my favorite blanket and requires zero hustle.

Let our houses be filled with delicious smells from these recipes that have been passed down through generations of moms–my Must-Have Mom Recipes: Generation Recipes.

Recipes passed down through the generations
My great-grandma with her son, my Papa

Cheese Grits

This is my quick version of grits that remind me of my southern roots. On the outskirts of Popular Bluff, Missouri live some of the most amazing wives, mothers, and grandmothers I know. They snap beans on the porch, fry donuts in cast iron skillets, and tend to their huge gardens and families. It’s Sunday dinner every night of the week, and the food and music is part of the fellowship. I adore those women, I miss the one’s who have already left us, and I really like these cheese grits. 

2 cups milk
2 cups water
1 cup ground cornmeal
2-4 T. butter
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 
Salt and pepper to season

Bring milk and water to a boil. Stir in cornmeal and cover and reduce heat. Stir frequently until it creams together, about 20 minutes. Stir in butter and remove from heat. Stir in cheese and mix until melted and creamy. Serve immediately.

You can also put this in a greased casserole dish, top with cheese, and broil until melted. Favorite add-ins: Pepper jack cheese and hot sauce for a kick!

Marie’s Sweet and Sour BBQ Meatballs 

My ex-husband’s grandmother is one of my most favorite people. Although our family went through some changes, her kind words and recipes are some of my favorite moments from that chapter of my life. My recipe box is full of her recipes she so graciously shared with me, and they very much deserve to continue to be passed down to mamas everywhere. Every time I make these meatballs, they are a hit. Though the smell of them sizzling in the oven will have you waiting at oven door, mitt on hand, they can totally be forgotten and bake another 30-60 minutes in the oven and only get better.

Make them. You’ll want to share them too. 

Meatball Mixture:

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 chopped onion
1 sleeve of saltine crackers, crushed well
½ cup milk (to bring it all together, more may be needed)
Dashes of salt, pepper and garlic powder.


6 T. brown sugar
2 T. white vinegar
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
½ cup ketchup
½ cup BBQ sauce
1 ½ cups of water

Combine all ingredients for meatball mixture. Roll into meatballs and brown them in a skillet–no need to cook through. Place browned meatballs in casserole dish. Mix all sauce ingredients and pour over meatballs. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes covered and an addition 15-30 minutes uncovered.

Tip: Have leftover ham? Ground some up and add it to the ground beef to stretch the recipe and make it extra amazing. 

Recipes passed down through the generations
My Nana with all her sisters

Nana’s Meatloaf 

My Nana passed on in 2013. Her cooking was always simply delicious. Nothing elaborate, just good, hot food that you really couldn’t mess up and made with ingredients that were most always on hand. She taught me the starters, as she liked to call them. Basic dough recipes or this meatloaf recipe. From them, you put your own spin on it for your own family’s tastes. I’m so like her. I’m not a fan of kitchen gadgets or ingredients I can’t pronounce. (I still sometimes call Neopolitan ice cream Napole0n.) Seriously, I can’t do fancy.

I didn’t pick up on her clean-cut look, her big hair, white lace curtains, or housekeeping skills, but I definitely carried on her simplistic cooking style. Thanks to her, I know the basics off-hand and how to make homemade gravy from nearly anything. Her meatloaf is just that–nothing fancy, but great with a baked potato and salad, making it a great dinner to pass on to moms in all stages of life. 

Mix together:

1 lb lean ground beef
1 sleeve crushed saltine crackers
2 eggs
1/2 cup ketchup
2 T mustard
Salt, pepper and garlic salt to liking

Form into loaf in 8×8 dish, cover and bake at 350 for one hour. Remove from oven and spread another 1/2 cup of ketchup on top. Bake uncovered another 15-30 minutes. Add-ins are awesome, but man, you can’t really go wrong with such a basic recipe sometimes. 

And, the most asked for recipe in my arsenal of generational recipes–my mom’s banana bread that was passed down to her from her Grandma Dorothy. The things I have learned from my mom are immeasurable. She is my hero. 

recipes from past generations
3 generations

Banana Bread

1 stick of butter or margarine 
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
2-3 mashed bananas
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream together the butter, sugar, and eggs. Stir in mashed bananas. Add in flour and baking soda until combined. Grease small loaf pans and bake at 375 for about 40-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 

If you have recipes you would like to share, please post them in the comments! Moms sharing with other moms is the best. 



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