Nothing bonds families like food — there’s something uniquely special about sharing homemade meals with those you love. Family favorite recipes passed down through generations often resurface on holidays, as traditions center around large spreads of food. Mother’s Day is no exception: the springtime holiday is virtually synonymous with brunch. In preparation for Mother’s Day — coming up on Sunday, May 12 — On the Menu writers came together to compile a list of our favorite family recipes. No matter if your family celebrates with breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or any meal in between, the following recipes are sure to add a touch of tradition and love to your Mother’s Day festivities.

Grandma’s biscotti 

By Abigail Monti

In my family (I’m not sure if this is an Italian thing or if we’re just sugar-obsessed), we’ll find any excuse to sneak dessert into our meals. Biscotti, twice-baked almond-flavored biscuits, are the perfect example: they’re the perfect addition to breakfast spreads, afternoon snacks or post-dinner aperitifs. This is my grandmother’s go-to recipe. Try adding dark chocolate chips and dried cranberries for my favorite cookie combination!

Yield:  2-3 dozen cookies

Duration: 1 hour


  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mix-ins (chocolate chips, dried fruits or chopped nuts)


  1. Preheat your oven to 375 F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, eggs and extracts until combined. Pour in the flour and baking powder and mix with a large spoon until the mixture forms a heavy dough. Mix in the mix-in toppings. 
  3. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a log as long as your cookie sheet, then press down to 1/2-inch thickness. 
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. When the logs are cool enough to touch, slice each one on a slant into 1/2-inch slices. 
  5. Spread the individual cookies, cut side up, on the pans. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes. Serve with warm beverages or enjoy on their own!

Juicy chicken biryani

By Urmi Mandal

Chicken biryani has it all: savory rice and succulent chicken. This is my mother’s most common recipe for a relatively quick weekend-night home dinner. While exact measurements are written below, true delicious biryani is made with measurements and timings of the heart.

Yield: 8 servings

Duration: 3 hours


  • 2 pounds chicken 
  • 2 cups basmati rice 
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste 
  • 2 onions 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder 
  • 1 teaspoon coriander 
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tomatoes 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala 
  • 4 green chillies 
  • 1 pinch of saffron 
  • 10 drops of kewra water 
  • 10 drops of rose water 
  • 2 potatoes 
  • 1 lime or lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of oil 


  1. Marinate the chicken with ginger-garlic paste, lemon juice, cumin and coriander powder, and let it marinate for 2 hours. 
  2. Dice the onions and tomatoes semi-finely.
  3. In a Dutch oven, pour the oil. Cook the diced onions until translucent. Then add tomatoes and the marinated chicken with turmeric and salt after 2 minutes. Cook it all until the chicken is about 60% cooked through, then add garam masala.
  4. In a separate pot, boil enough water to cover the rice. Add salt as necessary, wash the rice and put it in the pot. Cook the rice until it is 75% soft.
  5. Drain the rice and put the rice over the chicken. Add saffron, kewra water and rose water.
  6. Cover the pot and lower the heat to the lowest point. Let it cook for 45 minutes. Then enjoy!

Borscht: the famous beet soup

By Nina Timofeyeva

Soup is known to be a heartwarming meal and to me, this recipe is especially comforting because of its connection to my grandmother and mom. Borscht is a soup that’s very common in Russian culture and is cooked for any and all occasions. Its bright colors and somewhat sweet flavor are sure to cheer up anyone who gives it a try. Opening a thermos of the bright red soup for lunch at school, I felt my mom’s affection follow me into the school cafeteria. Some of my happiest memories with extended family were made over bowls of borscht at the house my grandfather built in the Russian countryside. For such an unpretentious dish, borscht certainly surprises with the joy it brings to children, adults and elders alike. 

Yield: 8 servings

Duration: 2.5 hours


For the stock

  • 12 cups cold water 
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork ribs or beef attached to a bone
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the borscht

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium beets, peeled and grated
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 medium carrots grated
  • 1 (about 1/2 cup) medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons tomato purée or paste
  • 1/2 small white cabbage, cored and sliced
  • 1 lemon, juiced (or 1 teaspoon white vinegar)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste


For the stock

  1. In a large stock pot combine the water, pork ribs cut into smaller chunks to fit the pot, quartered half onion, celery sticks and carrot cut in half, bay leaves and peppercorns and a pinch of salt. 
  2. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for 1-1.5 hours until the meat is nearly falling off the bones. 
  3. When the stock is done, let it cool slightly, then remove the ribs to a separate plate and strain the stock by pouring it over a sieve. 
  4. When the meat is cool enough to handle, take it off the bones and shred it with two forks or by hand. Set aside until needed. Discard the bones.

For the borscht

  1. Prepare all the vegetables by peeling and grating the beets and carrots, chopping the onions, peeling and cutting the potatoes and slicing the cabbage. Have all vegetables ready before starting the soup. 
  2. Add the stock to the large soup pot, then add shredded meat, grated beets, potato chunks, tomato purée, a pinch of salt and one bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer. 
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan, then add the grated carrots and chopped onions and sauté over low heat for 7-10 minutes until caramelized, then add minced garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds. 
  4. When the onions and carrots are done, add them to the soup pot together with sliced cabbage and cook for 15 minutes or until the cabbage leaves are tender but not mushy. Then add the lemon juice (or white vinegar) and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve borscht with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche and sprinkled with fresh dill or parsley!

Paneer tikka pizza

By Pihu Jain

Paneer tikka pizza is a delightful Indian-American fusion dish that represents my heritage and my upbringing. This recipe is made in our house at least once a week, if not more. It’s crazy to think that this recipe is older than me, something born of my mother’s mind in India long before she ever stepped foot into the role of motherhood or even into America. But it will always remind me of her, of evenings in the warm glow of my childhood kitchen with my little sister, just a toddler, my dad with flour dusting his nose and my mom instructing me carefully on how to shred cheese without hurting myself. I have modified the recipe to make it more accessible but certainly retain the original flavor and feeling of the dish.

Yield: 4 servings

Duration: 1.5 hours


  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • 400 grams paneer
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree 
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste (can be store bought or home made)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or melted butter)
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • Salt and red chili powder to taste
  • 1 large pizza base
  • Mozzarella cheese (as much as desired)
  • Pizza sauce/tomato purée (as much as is desired)


  1. Cut the onion and bell pepper into bite-size pieces.
  2. Cut paneer into cubes (or bite-size pieces).
  3. Mix cut pieces of vegetable and paneer in a large bowl with olive oil, ginger-garlic paste, tomato purée, garam masala, black pepper and a pinch of salt and red chili powder.
  4. Allow the mixture to marinate for 45 minutes to an hour for the best flavor.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F.
  6. Take your pizza base and cover it evenly with a layer of tomato sauce followed by your desired quantity of cheese.
  7. Once the paneer tikka mixture is done marinating, add it to the pizza, distributing evenly (any leftover mixture can be placed in the fridge for later use).
  8. Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges are crisp.
  9. Season as you like and enjoy!

For ingredients like paneer and garam masala, you should be able to find those at one of the local international markets. I myself have found garam masala even in the Isla Vista Food Co-op. Enjoy!

A version of this article appeared on p. 11 of the May 9, 2024 version of the Daily Nexus.