My Momma

My momma is one of my biggest mentors when it comes to cooking. Nearly every single thing I know about cooking and baking I have learned from her and I can’t think of a better person to teach me even more. As you can tell, I’m definitely her mini-me.

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GiGi Bradford was born in California but her parents very quickly moved to England when my grandfather was stationed there. After living in England until she was 3, her parents moved to Brandon, Florida to start a family. She comes from a big Mexican-American family; all of whom are very close still today. We always joke that her side of the family is pretty much the family from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, only Mexican instead of Greek, HA!

According to my dad, she was not much of chef when they first got married (he may get in trouble for that…) but she has really become such an amazing cook today. She learned to cook from her own father and from her mother-in-law, Brenda. Her favorite thing to make is her DELICIOUS pot roast (her secret is red wine… shhh!) . However, she is also famous for her chocolate mocha chiffon cake in our house. What makes my mom such a great cook is that she loves taking recipes and then changing and adapting them to what she thinks taste best or will elevate the flavors in the dish. She is not a traditional cook by any means but that’s what makes her meals so tasty.

In addition to being a phenomenal cook, my mother is strong-willed, smart, and loving. When she isn’t cooking, she spends a lot of her time gardening, being involved in our church or escaping to the beach for long weekends.

My mom is Godly, headstrong, and caring. If I am half the cook/mother/wife that she is I will be forever happy. She teaches me in the kitchen as well as in life and I can’t thank her enough.

One of my momma’s best dishes is her homemade meatballs and marinara sauce.

First we’ll make the meatballs. This recipe is a “momma-fied” Pioneer Woman recipe. You will need:

  • 1 lb. ground round
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 3 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 basil, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. salt & pepper

First, combine milk and bread crumbs in a separate bowl to soak, about 3 minutes.

Then, mix all ingredients together including the soaked milk & bread crumbs. Form into golf sized balls.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until there is no pink inside. You can set these aside and serve by themselves or add them to the sauce.


For the marinara sauce, you will need:

  • One 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • One 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes (chop these yourself and save the juice)
    • *DO NOT use diced tomatoes for this recipe*
  • 1/2 finely chopped sweet onion
  • 3 minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup basil
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Start by sauteing the onions and garlic on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add all the other ingredients and let simmer for approximately 45 minutes.

Serve over your pasta of choice, I chose rigatoni because that’s what my mom usually pairs with this dish. Add a little Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Let’s dig in!

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