70 Secret Family Recipes That Are Requested Again and Again (2024)

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70 Secret Family Recipes That Are Requested Again and Again (1)Dana MeredithUpdated: Jan. 13, 2023

    From Mom's Italian beef sandwiches to Aunt Marion's fruit salad dessert, you can now make these secret family recipes from home cooks across the country right in your own kitchen. Time-tested and family-approved, these are dishes your loved ones will treasure, too.

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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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    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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    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. You should also get familiar with these essential recipes everyone should know before they turn 35.

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    Grandma’s Poultry Dressing

    Every family seems to have its own favorite dressing recipe which 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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    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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    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

    One bite of this old-fashioned spice cake will start everyone reminiscing. Chock full of raisins and nuts, it tastes extra special drizzled with a 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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    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. Try out these secret pantry ingredients that will make your recipes so much better.

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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 saltwater while she peeled them so that they wouldn’t darken. —Doris Natvig, Jesup, Iowa

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    Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

    My mother insisted that my grandmother write down one recipe for her when she got married in 1942. She needed to know this 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 ’til it feels 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, 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

    Made from our farm-fresh dairy products, this pie was a sensational creamy treat anytime that Mom served it. Her recipe is a real treasure, and I’ve never found one that tastes better! —Bernice Morris, Marshfield, Missouri. Make sure you avoid these cooking mistakes that will ruin your food.

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    Sugar-Glazed Ham

    This old-fashioned sugar glaze gives your ham a pretty, golden brown coating just like Grandma used to make. The mustard and vinegar complement the brown sugar and add tangy flavor to this glazed ham recipe. Be prepared to serve seconds! —Carol Strong Battle, Heathville, Virginia

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    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

    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 celebrate Oktoberfest. We love this tart and sweet dish of red cabbage and apples, also known as rotkohl. —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, Illinois

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    Grandmother’s Orange Salad

    This orange salad dessert is slightly sweet and tangy, too. It adds beautiful color to any meal and appeals to appetites of 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

    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. When whipping up these recipes make sure to use these brilliant kitchen shortcuts.

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    Easy Ice Cream Sundae Dessert

    We kids couldn’t wait to dig into this tempting ice cream 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)

    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 your compote before you chill it. It should be tart, but sometimes 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

    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. Improve your cooking skills with these cooking tricks that are only taught in culinary schools.

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    Grandma’s Collard Greens

    My grandmother made the best collard greens 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, Woodland Hills, California

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    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 Dutch 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

    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, Wilmington, 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

    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, lovingly made on an old woodstove. —Brenda Melancon, McComb, Mississippi

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    Skillet Herb Bread

    This recipe was one of my mother’s favorites. The flavors call to mind the taste of cornbread stuffing! —Shirley Smith, Yorba Linda, California.

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    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

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    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

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    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

    Mom would prepare home-grown 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

    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

    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 apple kuchen is about family, comfort, and simplicity. My mom made this delicious sweet treat many a winters night and served it up 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. Before you start cooking, make sure you don’t make any of these common kitchen mistakes.

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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

    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

    When I was little, I would often ask my mom to make “favorite meat.” She knew what I was really requesting was this homey pork recipe. It’s been in my family for more than 30 years and is still a favorite! —Alexandra Barnett, Forest, Virginia

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    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, hom*osassa, Florida

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    Caramel-Apple Skillet Buckle

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

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    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

    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

    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

    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, Ohio

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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

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    Grandma Brubaker’s Orange Cookies

    At least two generations of my family have enjoyed the recipe for these delicate orange-flavored cookies. —Sheri DeBolt, Huntington, Indiana

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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

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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, Hanco*ck, Maryland.

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    Originally Published: July 23, 2019

    70 Secret Family Recipes That Are Requested Again and Again (72)

    Originally Published on Taste of Home

    70 Secret Family Recipes That Are Requested Again and Again (2024)
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