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A few recipes from our moms to you(rs)...

From the Recipe Files of a Few Great Moms
“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
― Laurie Colwin


In this, the week before Mother’s Day (as if moms need one day and one day alone during a calendar year to be recognized!?), we thought it would be fun to share with you a few of our moms’ favorite recipes. Not the recipes that wow’ed company or that could be photographed for a glossy food magazine or famous blog or Instagram, but the kind of recipes that moms actually use, often and always. The “go-to’s.” Because isn’t that really what makes things work… the day to day, the quotidian, the actual routine business of being a mom, of taking care of families, of loving — and, yes, feeding— the troops! 

In future blogs, we promise, we’ll treat and delight you to some fancy, ooh and ahh-inducing recipes. But for today, we give you this: a few recipes to go in your “what can I make for everyone tonight” file. They’ve worked for our moms… and we hope they will work for you!  

Here are a few good and simple recipes. We thought they might just make life (or at least dinner-time) easier, giving you a little bit more time to focus on the bigger parts of life. Let us know if you have any favorites…

To start, here’s one from the founder of Helen Jon’s great (in both the true and descriptive sense of the word!) Aunt Helen… eponymous Helen, a loving and stylish and amazing woman who made one very memorable and delicious (oh yes, and freeze-able!) Spaghetti Sauce.


Aunt Helen’s Spaghetti Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil (not extra virgin)
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped 
1 lb. lean ground beef
¼ lb. ground pork
½ cup medium-bodied red wine
2 28oz cans of tomato puree
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese for serving

Sauté onion in olive oil in a heavy pot over a medium flame for 4 minutes or until soft, but not browned. Add meat and wine together to the pot, and break meat into small pieces with a spoon.  Cook meat until no pink remains. Blend the canned Italian tomatoes in a blender.  No large chunks should remain. Add tomatoes, tomato puree, tomato paste, salt, and pepper to the meat mixture.  Mix well.

Simmer on very low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally so that sauce does not burn on the bottom of the pot.  Serve on spaghetti cooked according to package directions.   Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 10 people.  Freezes well. :)


And a few more easy recipes… from the founder of Helen Jon’s very own mom… an excellent cook (and mom) who knew that food on the table doesn’t just get there with a snap of the fingers. She loved making these because they were not complicated, and always came out perfectly. True family favorites.

Broiled Flank Steak

1 2-lb. Flank steak


3 TB Minced scallions or shallots
1 ½ TB Soy Sauce
2 TB Olive oil
½ tsp. thyme
3 drops Tabasco sauce
¼ tsp. grated lemon rind

Mix marinade ingredients in a bowl.  Put flank steak flat in a pan and pour marinade ingredients over.  Cover and leave for at least 20 minutes. 

Heat broiler to high temperature.  Broil steak for 3 minutes on each side. 

Serves 4

Beef Stew with Red Wine

3 lbs. lean beef for stew, cut into medium pieces
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. dried thyme
½ bay leaf
1 clove garlic
2 cups dry red wine
1 carrot, chopped
¼ tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper
1 onion diced
1 TB vegetable oil
½ cup water
1 TB chopped dried tomatoes in oil

Combine first 9 ingredients and marinate 4 hours or, if possible, overnight.  When ready to cook, brown onion in oil in the stew pot.  Add marinated meat, reserving marinade, and let it brown slowly and thoroughly.  Remove bay leaf from marinade and add marinade to the meat.  Add water and tomatoes, cover and cook for 1 hour or until the meat is fork tender. 

Serves 6

Mrs. Daniel Gribbon’s Meat Loaf

(This recipe comes from Helen Jon’s founder’s mother’s friend’s mother, Deborah Gribbon. Don’t worry, the recipe will be easier to make than following that explanation of who Mrs. Gribbon is!)

1 medium onion, chopped
1 TB butter
½ cup Pepperidge Farm Stuffing or bread cubes with ¼ tsp. dried thyme added
½ cup bouillon or beef broth
¾ tsp. salt
1 lb. lean ground beef
4 sprigs parsley, chopped
3 TB Parmesan cheese
1 egg slightly beaten
¼ tsp. Black pepper
1 tsp. butter 

Sauté onion in butter.  Mix bread and bouillon.  Add onion, ground beef, parsley, Parmesan cheese, egg, salt and pepper.  Blend and then put in a loaf pan.  Dot top with butter.  Bake 30 minutes in a 375-degree oven.  Pour 8 oz.  plain canned or home-made tomato sauce over meat and bake 20 minutes more.

Serves 4

Salad Dressing

1 3/4 teaspoons wine or balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 green onion, minced
1 sprig parsley, minced (optional)

Whisk vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper together. Whisking constantly, add olive oil gradually to form an emulsion. Add green onion and optional parsley. Pour over salad greens and toss.

Serves 4

(Salads were most often served after the main course at their dinner table…. very European, and a perfect way to end a meal, fresh and good…. and cleanses the palate for dessert!)

Bananas Foster

(This recipe originates from the Commander’s Palace in New Orleans.)

6 large ripe yellow bananas
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup butter
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Peel bananas and halve lengthwise, brush with lemon juice.  Melt brown sugar and butter in pan.  Add bananas and cook briefly.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve over vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6


A few more favorites, these from our blogger’s mom, an excellent cook and an even more excellent-mom!

The Perfect Marinade for Lamb Chops (can also be used for Beef Tenderloin, if you’re fancy’ing things up a little…)

1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs dry mustard
2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice 

Blend marinade ingredients with a whisk. Enjoy!


Cold soups are always great… especially as the weather warms up and summer heads our way.

Gazpacho is always a fun and easy favorite. You can add more of one thing, less of another, puree it to make it smooth and drinkable or keep the vegetables more distinguishable. Either way, it’s healthful, delicious, and gets even better the longer it sits. Enjoy!


Mom’s Gazpacho

1/2 small yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 large, firm cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 small red pepper, seeded and cut into quarters
3 carrots, peeled and cut into quarters
6 large tomatoes, cut into eighths
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups or more of tomato juice (Campbell’s) — only add 1 cup to the Cuisinart
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. Kosher salt
Black ground pepper
3 tbsp. tarragon wine vinegar (or more)
1 - 3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
*optional: 1/2 bottle of Clamato (great for Bloody Marys too….!) or to taste

With metal blade in place on food processor, add the onion and process, turning on and off rapidly until finely chopped, about 4-5 seconds. Transfer onion to large bowl. Repeat with cucumber, then pepper and carrots, adding each to the bowl with the onion. Process 5 of the tomatoes until evenly chopped into small pieces. Transfer to the bowl with the other ingredients. Process the garlic and the remaining tomato, tomato juice, olive oil, spices until a smooth liquid is formed. Combine with chopped vegetables and seasonings and chill in a covered container. If too thick before serving, add more tomato juice and/or Clamato. Stir well.


As we said, there will be more recipes shared in later posts… but we hope you enjoy these Mother’s Day favorites. Easy, simple, delicious. The kind that you can make again and again. And the kind, who knows, that the next generation might call upon for their go-to’s also. Bon appetit… and happy Mother’s Day!


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