The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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What Was the First Recipe You Mastered?

Posted by in Kitchen Talk

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Kitchen Talk (First Recipe)

We loved reading the comments in last week’s post about favorite cookbooks. There were so many stories, not just about the cookbooks but where you got them, why they were your favorites and how you so lovingly shared the recipes with others.

Let’s continue the trip down memory lane and, this time, let’s get even more specific. For this week’s Kitchen Talk, we want to know:

What was the first recipe you ever mastered?

Every cooking enthusiast starts somewhere. My start came late, when I was in my twenties, so for me, the first recipe I truly mastered was kalbi, or Korean short ribs. (Apparently, I started late but I didn’t mess around.) It got to the point where my cousins would drop by the house 2 or 3 times a week for a midnight snack dinner of ribs, rice, and Caesar salad. My dad would get out of bed because of the commotion, find us all seated at the dinner table for a full meal at 12:30am, shake his head and go back to bed. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite things to make.

How about you? What was the first recipe you mastered, or the one that truly became your signature dish? Was it your mom’s recipe for pancakes? Cookies that everyone started asking you to make for them? Those ever-so-light biscuits you learned from your grandmother? Come tell us your story! And if you’ve posted the recipe here or elsewhere online, feel free to share the link, too!



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Gigi Cooks on 4.15.2014

I was trying to impress a new boyfriend and decided to make lasagna for his birthday. I made it from my Betty Crocker Recipe Cards! Remember those? I had the harvest gold file box! I made that same recipe for many years. A year or so ago I found a recipe for lasagna on Pinterest and tried it – wow – I’ll never go back to the old recipe. Even my kids, who never, ever want me to change a recipe, loved the new lasagna!

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CodieD on 4.10.2014

Chocolate chip cookies for my dad. My mom always burned them or added too much flour. I found just the right balance of chewy. MMM! Now I’m out of practice on that one.

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Lori @ Closet and Kitchen on 4.9.2014

My mom always made a fabulous turkey chili from a former fellow church member. Her recipe eventually made it from the church cookbook all the way to Southern Living magazine. I posted it on my blog recently – (excuse the pics – not my greatest work!). It’s still my go-to chili recipe!

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kay43026 on 4.6.2014

Since, in my book, eggs don’t count…guess I actually ‘mastered’ 2 things about the same time. I was in high school (a million years ago:-) and decided I wanted to make pizza. You have to realize this was in the late 1960s and there were no pizza places on every street corner…and I lived in rural Ohio where no such thing as ‘delivery’ was even heard of!

My mother only used her few ‘tried and true’ cookbooks, and of course there was no internet. So…the pizza I ‘mastered’ was made from Bisquik where I saw it on the side of the box. Thinking back, it was probably pretty crappy pizza…but everyone LOVED it!! (Thankfully, I have since mastered a wicked yeast pizza dough:-)

I mastered a certain recipe of brownies at the same time. They’re chewy, have a melted marshmallow layer before this ‘to die for’ fudgey frosting. I still make them today. Maybe that’s where I got my passion for baking?!

Of my 3 sisters and 1 brother, I’m the only one that showed any interest in cooking/baking while growing up.

Mary H on 4.3.2014

I think it was a chocolate cream pie with graham cracker crust topped with whipping cream! I remember I was babysitting a lot for family friends & neighbors around the age of 11 — and at one of my favorite places to babysit for — the husband mentioned that he loved chocolate cream pie. I had never had one before so went home, asked my mom about how to go about making one — with her help and directions I did it! I was so proud of myself that I think I made about 4 more pies in the next two weeks!

jp on 4.3.2014

I was about 6. Mom was working. Dad, who worked nights, was supposed to be watching me but was sleeping (I mean, really? just because he worked all night?!). I decided to make the family favorite chocolate cake all by myself after having done it with my mom (and learning that “dump the eggs in the sugar” did NOT mean dump the eggs in the sugar in the canister) – so I did! In later years, it amazed me that the neighbor lady I asked for directions on how to turn the oven on didn’t ask why I needed to know or why one of my parents wasn’t giving me that information. They were all certainly surprised! And I didn’t understand what the big deal was but I was certainly made to understand that turning on the oven by myself wasn’t allowed any more.

Then there was the time (same house, so I couldn’t have been much older than 6 or 7) I wanted soft boiled eggs for breakfast but mom was busy upstairs and couldn’t get to it fast enough for me – so she gave me directions which I very carefully followed, going up and down stairs as necessary for the next step. First I got just the right pan (which required a trip or two up the stairs to confirm), then I filled the pan with water to a particular level and then carefully carried it to the stove without spilling the water and then equally carefully put the egg in the water and turned the burner on to just the right setting. Unfortunately, I was thinking of what my Mom did when she made eggs for my Dad, who liked his eggs fried! So I had very carefully cracked open the egg before putting it in the water – and boiling it for 3 minutes! Although I had to wash that pan at every meal for the next couple of days, it never did come clean and had to be thrown away eventually.

Carol B on 4.3.2014

Pecan pie with lard based pie crust from Betty Crocker cookbook. I baked weekly and sold to my neighbor.

Patricia @ ButterYum on 4.3.2014

Cheesecake. I was in high school and got the recipe from a friend who’s father clipped it from a newspaper article. Turned out perfectly and my parents and siblings were in awe. I’ve been baking ever since (and it’s still my go to cheesecake recipe).

lynette Anderson on 4.3.2014

Angel food cake from scratch

Joy on 4.3.2014

Applesauce Cake with Carmel Frosting. I got the recipe off a can of Orchard Pride Applesauce in KS in 1954. It became my “Please bring your delicious applesauce
cake” every time I went to family gatherings. Still is, after all these years.
I became a good cook- thanks to Betty Crocker Cookbooks.

Sue T on 4.3.2014

Not sure which of these came first, all were around the time of graduate school after I left the dorms: tuna noodle casserole; Cornish Game Hens with cinnamon fried rice & pine nuts; and a recipe for whole wheat bread that included molasses. All yummy and reliable.

KrissyC EsMommy on 4.3.2014

My first actual recipe was Banana Bread from an old cookbook of my mom’s. I think I was around 15 when I first made it and it became a hit. Honestly, it took me about 2 years after I got married to figure out that the reason it tasted so different was because I was using eggs! My bro is allergic to egg, so I always subbed apple sauce in this recipe and it made a nice dense, fruity, moist bread. I’ve since gone back to the apple sauce method.
Growing up, my mom never used recipes, so despite I was cooking by the time I was 12, I didn’t actually follow a written recipe till much later. I’ve taken the time to master my mom’s dishes and write down recipes, but she still won’t follow one. lol. For her its a dash of this and a handful of that until it tastes perfect.

jeni k on 4.3.2014

My mom’s chocolate chip cookies…. I still have them memorized and usually make a variation of them when I go home to visit,

Emily on 4.3.2014

Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies. I still use that recipe most of the time!

AmyCK on 4.3.2014

My mom’s spaghetti sauce was an early success (thanks to my crockpot) but the first recipe from a book was Coq au Vin from Cooking Light. I can’t wait til my daughter is old enough to eat it with us, the chicken turns purple & I think she will love that!

Jan C. on 4.3.2014

We had a family recipe called “Cottage Pudding” that, as the story goes, has been handed down from ancestor’s in England to pioneers who came across the plains. I was so proud when I mastered the recipe, although it is just a yellow cake with a syrup over it. I haven’t made it for years, but every few years my Son asked for it for his birthday.

Hiromi on 4.3.2014

Applesauce cake pg 72 in Betty Crocker Cookbook

Diane on 4.3.2014

I was so fortunate to have grandmothers who loved to cook and loved teaching me to cook and bake. Early on, I remember dashing out the door to hand a bisquit or cookie to my grampa who was on his way to the garden to hoe. He, of course, would always say they were delicious. The recipe I mastered was Red Devil’s Food cake with seven-minute frosting. When my brother and I were in high school, we entered a cake baking contest and were sure we would win. We left the soda out of the first cake and had a flat, fudgy mess. The second cake was perfect, and I talked my brother into making the frosing pink! We then covered the cake in coconut – it was so gorgeous. Well, we didn’t win, and don’t know what happened to the cake, but we sure had fun baking together!

Auntie Chicken on 4.3.2014

Cookies — probably Chocolate Chip from the Tollhouse Cookie recipe on the yellow bag.

joni on 4.3.2014

It was scrambled eggs from the Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook. I must have been about 8, and I’m sure my Mom got so sick of scrambled eggs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

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Shawna C on 4.3.2014

I would have started with omelettes and toast when I was maybe around 8 or 9? Eggs are fantastic for children to start learning to cook. It’s ironic that now that I have kids of my own, one of them has an egg allergy and we don’t even keep them in the house – guess they’ll have to learn something else…

Starlyn on 4.3.2014

Chicken and dumplings – my new husband (43 years ago) always talkeda about how good his mom’s was – it took a bit to get the fluffy cakey dumpling that he loved – but I did it!

Judy Fox on 4.3.2014

My father’s potato salad. It’s all about the perfect amount of pickle juice.

Jackie R on 4.3.2014

The first recipe I mastered was Angel Food Cake. It was good enough to win several blue ribbons at our State Fair.

Beth B on 4.3.2014

It has to be chocolate chip cookies. I wonder how many batches my sisters and I made growing up?

JoAnn P on 4.3.2014

The one I remember best was learning how to make a seven minute boiled icing…and that was when we beat the egg whites with a fork!

Susan Lamb on 4.3.2014

My Aunt Velma gave me a Progressive Farmers Desserts cookbook when I was 16. I loved chocolate so I found a brownie recipe, Fudgy Brownies. I made them a lot and 40+ years later I have resurrected the recipe and make it occasionally. It is just as good now as it was then. I’ve come along way from those early days in the kitchen. I love to cook.

Pam Webster on 4.2.2014

Lasagna. Almost 50 years ago, my cousin (the best cook I’ve ever known) gave me a recipe box full of her favorites at a wedding shower. Lasagna was my first successful attempt at a dinner party. In all these years I still prepare her recipe just as she wrote it. I also know that EVERY lasagna is a good one!

Johnna Quick on 4.2.2014

I was 8, and it was a recipe for chocolate no-bake cookies. I loved that recipe, still make it today for family requests. I loved the fact that you could make so many people happy with something so easy to make.

Sandi W. on 4.2.2014

I think spaghetti sauce from scratch was the first savoury recipe I mastered even though I would change up the herbs and spices a lot (nothing like poaching an egg in leftover tomato sauce that’s had a day or two to infuse in flavour!). Something sweet that I mastered early was taking the basic baking powder biscuit recipe and turning it into baking powder cinnamon roll biscuits and adding a glaze; it was quick and I would often make it late in the evening when everyone was craving a treat! :D

MaryKay on 4.2.2014

My first recipe ever was a pineapple upside down cake. It came out of the pan and everything. I was so proud of that cake!!!

Kathryn on 4.2.2014

As a Texan abroad, it had to be tacos!

Kathryn on 4.2.2014

I had an obsession with cream puffs and eclairs when I was in grade school! Mom was happy to have a baker in the family and let me make anything I wanted! My siblings liked it too

Marci on 4.2.2014

I was 6 and just run out of the easy bake oven pre packaged mixes. Knowing my mom, I ask her “casually” the recipe of the muffins that she was baking and memorized it. A few days later while mom was running some errands, I prepared the mix and started loading my little oven one cake at a time. When my mom got home, she was just very surprised to find me with a couple of little cakes and a big bowl full of muffin dough. Was at that moment that I was allowed to use the big oven. That afternoon we baked a couple of dozen delicious muffins. I have used that recipe many times since then. It is my favorite!

Birgit K on 4.2.2014

The first one that came to mind in terms of an actual “recipe” is “Prasselkuchen.” It was basically rolled out sheets of puff pastry, topped with apricot jam, streusel and chopped almonds, Baked and cut into squares. My first memory is making this for mother’s day.
I think I was pretty young – maybe 12 or so? I wasn’t really allowed to cook or bake earlier than that!

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C. L. ( Cheryl ) "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser on 4.2.2014

Lord knows I can spell? He threw me behind the cash register (anyone catch that mis-spelled one?). Hopefully, I cook better than I spell? CLW

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Killing Thyme on 4.2.2014

What a fun topic! It’s been really cool to read everybody’s little anecdotes.

Mine was really simple – ambitious grilled cheese. The funny thing is that grilled cheese was also the first huge failure I had (imagine?)

The first time I tried to make grilled cheese on my own, I was 10 years old. I’d never watched my Mom make it, so I didn’t know any better. I slapped some cheese between two slices of bread, and squished them into the toaster. Bad idea.

I experimented with appetizers a lot in high school (I thought I was a genius the day I incorporated bacon bits into devilled eggs), but the two kids I used to babysit who lived next to me, still to this day, talk about my grilled cheese sandwiches. I babysat them for years and eventually they moved across the border. When I’d asked how their new babysitter was, the boy responded with a frown, “She doesn’t make grilled cheese like you”. MY HEART, it broke.

It was all about adding things to the sandwich, and in fun combinations. The first one was a pizza grilled cheese with mozzarella, tomato sauce and sliced peperoni. The next was a cheddar grilled cheese with onions, tomatoes and mushrooms. Since then, I’ve been doing crazy things with grilled sandwiches (brie and pear! curried apples!) and it still baffles me that I don’t yet have a panini press.

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C. L. ( Cheryl ) "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser on 4.2.2014

Greetings to All,
At an early age ( toddler photo) I was running around my Dads’ diner. As I grew older I was running around my Dad’s brother (my uncle) Restaurant and working with my Dad at several of his businesses. My first real job was peeling potatoes at his diner ( I was 12 y.o.).Yuck, I did not like that! So, he literally through me behind a cash register-what-count change back!? I started cooking shortly thereafter. On a grill standing next to my Daddy making breakfast fare for cash paying customers! I was a quick study, hard-hard-hard work. Through High School I cooked whatever was needed…College bound, married, still cooking!

Teresa on 4.2.2014

Mine was cookies. I’ve been making cookies ever since I can remember. I love to cook and will try anything but my love is Mexican food like green chili with homemade tortillas and rice. Being from a German family in a small southern Colorado town it was easy to learn to cook authentic Mexican food the traditional way as it was a Hispanic community and I taught my children to cook that way and now they are teaching my grandchildren.

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Cathey on 4.2.2014

I can’t remember that far back, was it a meal, cake, cookies,etc? The one I’m proudest of is my Italian Mother-in-laws Sunday Sauce or is it Gravy? When my husband and I were dating we were getting together on a Saturday and he asked “you want to go to my place and cook”, should of known then it was a test, Anyway, I said sure what do you want, want to make sauce? I made it the way my German, Irish parents made it, now bad! It took me many years and I finally inherited my Grandmothers pot, and it was the exact same pot my M-I-L used. That’s the day I mastered Sunday sauce, the secret wasn’t the tomatoes, pigskin, sausage, meatballs, braciole, etc., it was the pot! To receive complainants from my M-I-L and hear her tell me it was just like hers, meant the world to me. When she passed 4 years ago, yes I inherited her Sunday sauce pot too, now I make 2 pots once a month and freeze one.

DebbieK on 4.2.2014

French Toast – it was the first and only recipe my mom would let me cook by-myself when she worked Monday nights and I was in charge of the evening meal for the rest of the family. To this day, my Dad loves the way I make French toast (he is 82 years old). He requested French Toast A LOT when I stayed with him last year when he was recovering from a hip fracture repair.

JulieW on 4.2.2014

I really don’t remember. I was taught to help prep for my grandma at a very young age. It seemed like we were always in the kitchen.

When I ventured out on my own, it was probably spaghetti sauce that I first “mastered.” Then I went on to try other things I missed my grandma making like rhutka (egg cheese) on Easter and her signature cabbage rolls or pierogie. I really miss her and her cooking!

Helena Mouta on 4.2.2014

I started cooking on my own (literally, I’d cook alone in the house) when I was 10: twice a week I had to leave for school at 1 p.m. and my mother wouldn’t be home from the grocery store she owned at the time until 1:30 p.m., so she’d give me a pork chop, or a steak, or something like that and instruct me to fry it or grill in in a frying pan on the stove and cook come pasta to eat along with it. By the time I was 13 I could make all the normal stews to Portuguese day-to-day cooking (hello from Portugal!): stewed chicken with pasta or mashed potatoes, or rice, a hearty pasta stew which is still one of my favorites, with pork, a Portuguese sausage called chouriço, and red beans, and a lot of things like that. I used to always cook lunch and dinner on Saturdays because my mother could never get off the grocery store until very late both at lunch time and at dinner time. But these things were always made without actual recipes, so the first recipe I read off my mother’s recipe book and actually learned by heart (and did so well these days I can make it better than she can) was her marble cake: a simple pound cake type of recipe, one of those where you put everything together into one bowl and just mix it until combined and then separate 1/3 to add the chocolate, put it in layers into a bundt cake pan and watch the magic in the oven. To this day it is one of my favorite cakes! :-)

mymaize on 4.2.2014

Banana cake when I was 8. The first time I made it I forgot the sour cream and the 2nd time I made it I decided to use only half the baking powder since it was “double acting”. After a few more trys, the cake started turning out perfect. the 2nd thing I made was apple pie and I still make the same award winning recipe.

jenn marie on 4.2.2014

Once I past the Mac and Cheese box test and the can opener for tomato soup at about 6 1/2. I mastered a cheese and spinach omelete flipping and all…. Enough that for my 9th birthday I received an omelete pan that I still have and use!

JoyK on 4.2.2014

My first cooking success was bread. After all of these years, I still love the smell, the taste, and the process.

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mosheep Denise Lamb on 4.2.2014

The first thing that I learned to cook without a recipe was homemade spaghetti sauce. A girl that I worked with came to my house two weeks after my wedding to show me how to make homemade pasta sauce. I have been making it almost weekly for 46 years this May.

tj on 4.2.2014

First thing I learned to cook was oatmeal. Had to stand in a chair to reach the stovetop. I was five years old. Oatmeal was my favorite breakfast to have with the Captain (Captain Kangaroo).

Jill G on 4.2.2014

Biscuits and gravy for my new husband. Oh Lord the first batch was total paste! Now… I could teach Bob Evans a thing or two about theirs.

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AngAk on 4.2.2014

Snickerdoodle cookies. We made them in Jr Hi home ec class. coming from a German family, these were completely new to me and I loved making them for my family. something different and all mine. My Mom didn’t like us underfoot in “her” kitchen, so I hadn’t done much cooking up till that Jr Hi class.