LiveSmart: Cooking with Mom – Making Meals and Memories

[This piece was written by Jamie Epting, MS, RD, CDN, the system director for clinical nutrition with St. Peter’s Health Partners.]

Some of my first memories as a child are being in the kitchen. I remember being at my grandma’s house, standing on the bright yellow step stool and watching her make sauce or some other amazing creation. I can recall all the beautiful Christmas cookies my sister and I would make with my mom, piled up on the dining room table in our first house.

As a mom, that is something I want to pass on to my son, who is about to turn four. I have been involving him in cooking adventures since he was big enough to stand on a chair or a stool. We put Disney radio on Pandora in the kitchen, then we sing, dance, laugh and cook together.

My son loves to add the measured ingredients to a bowl of muffin batter, or pour a box of pasta into the water. Then he waits impatiently until our creation comes off the stove or out of the oven, so he can be the official taste-tester. Just being a part of the cooking process makes him want to eat the meal he helped put together. And let’s face it, it’s not always easy to get a toddler to eat what you put in front of them.

As moms, we are always looking for ways to make memories and spend quality time with our children, and creating a meal or snack together is one of the best. I hope when my son is grown, he remembers all the fun we had and wants to pass those memories and recipes along to his own family.

Last year, my mom gave my sister and me each our own recipe book, full of all our favorite recipes from growing up, written in her own handwriting. What an amazing gift! It is one I will definitely pass on to my child and hopefully to generations after that.

Below are two recipes from my family cookbook that my son and I make together. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms (especially to my mom, Sylvia Ulion)!


Chicken Cacciatore

From the kitchen of Mom (Sylvia Ulion)


Olive oil

Green peppers (one or two)

Onion (one)

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 lbs. – cut up)

4 to 6 cloves minced garlic

1 large can tomatoes

2 cans tomato paste

1 jar garden combo sauce

1/3 cup red wine

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

½ tsp. allspice

½ tsp. thyme

2 bay leaves



Brown chicken pieces in olive oil, remove and set aside. Cook onion, peppers and garlic in pan (approximately five minutes). Return chicken to pan, add remainder of ingredients, cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove bay leaves before serving. Serves four.



Molasses Cookies

From the kitchen of Grandma (Evelyn Ulion)


5 ½ cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter

2 eggs

2 tsp. baking soda

2/3 cup water

1 cup molasses

1 tsp. ginger

2 tsp. cinnamon



Mix sugar, butter and eggs. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Add molasses, then ginger, cinnamon, and flour. Mix all ingredients well and refrigerate overnight.

Roll out dough and cut out cookies, or drop by teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.


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