Growing up, dinnertime was always the best time of day. In our house, a day didn't pass without all three of us sitting down to dinner together. And it wasn't a box of Hamburger Helper either. I'm not claiming that my mom was a master chef, but she's a damn good cook. I could rattle off dozens - maybe even hundreds - of meals my mom made that give me warm fuzzies now. But instead of doing that I'm going to try to pick my top 5 foods that bring back amazing memories.
My mom's lasagna isn't anything fancy - she doesn't even use ricotta cheese. It's nothing more than layers of her homemade meat sauce, noodles, mozzarella and parmesan. Kraft parmesan, at that. But there's something about this super simple recipe that is oh-so-good. I'm sure the magic is in the sauce. Or perhaps it's the way my dad always served it. If one of my friends was over for dinner, the 9x13-inch pan yieled an exact 4 servings. Very large servings.
I've had a really intense craving for meatloaf lately, as you can probably tell from my multiple mentions of it. Part of this probably stems from my raging desire to prove to Bill that not all meatloaves (or is it meatloafs??) are created equal. He has this crazy notion that everyone bakes their meatloaf with ketchup on top, which is absolutely absurd to me. In fact, I didn't even know people did that until after I moved out of my parents' house. It's simply not a part of my mom's recipe. Her meatloaf is like a giant, plain meatball. Delicious.
3. Raisin Muffins
Admittedly, my mom's raisin muffins start with a base of Bisquick. As a rule, I limit my use of Bisquick because my baking skills are beyond that. But there is something so incredibly delicious about hot, flaky, raisin packed muffins (topped with melted margarine!) for breakfast. My mom made these on the weekends and I could have downed a whole pan. These are going on my to-do list on Saturday morning.
2. Italian Sausage and Fried Potatoes
You can probably see a trend developing - my mom's recipes are simple. So, no, she did not make her own Italian sausages. But this meal was one of my very favorites. She'd fry Italian sausages and serve them alongside VERY thinly sliced, pan-fried potatoes. They were just soft enough not to be chips, and just crispy enough to be chip-like. Hard to describe, but worth being recreated. Another memory that stands out about this meal: Italian sausage night equaled filet of sole night for my dad. I'm not sure what he had against sausage, but my mom and I definitely had something against fish.
I already waxed poetic about my mom's meatballs in Monday's post. But that's exactly what makes them my number one food memory. I can taste them just thinking about them. It's a recipe that came from my grandmother that everyone in my family has tried desperately to recreate. But my mom has been the only one successful. And I'm getting pretty close!
I'd include all of the recipes for the things listed above, but they don't actually exist in writing (well, maybe the raisin muffins do, but we'd have to check the back of a box of Bisquick!). That's the beauty of most of these dishes - they're the meals my mom made so often there was no recipe required!
As many of my friends can attest to, my mom always put on quite a spread ... and that wasn't just for company, it was an everyday occurrence! If you've ever wondered why I cook for an army when I host a dinner party for four, there's your answer.
One of the reasons making delicious, home-cooked meals is so important to me now is because Bill doesn't have these same kind of family food memories. I tease him that he had Cheez Whiz and Ritz Crackers for dinner as a kid, but he claims it was more like Hungry Man and Stouffer's :) I'm trying to make up for all of those frozen lasagnas now, so that dinner is more than just another meal.
I have so many more food memories to share. In fact, I should probably dedicate a post to my grandmother's recipes, as well! But in the meantime, I want to hear your food stories!