Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

4th of July Soda Cracker Bars

I wanted to try to use a recipe I posted a couple of years ago to make some festive 4th of July Soda Cracker Bars. Grandma’s recipe for Soda Cracker Bars is so incredibly delicious and addictive – I thought, why not try to make them red, white, and blue? Well, this was a mistake. Not a total mistake as much as that I made a mistake. I just assumed I could make the same bars, but use white chocolate chips instead of regular chocolate chips. Nope. I’ll elaborate as we go along.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Soda Cracker Bars

Butter a jelly roll pan and layer on:

soda crackers (about 1 1/2 sleeves of crackers)

Cut or break crackers to fill pan.

Combine in saucepan:

3/4 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

Boil 2 minutes.

Spread hot caramel over soda crackers.

Bake in 325 degree oven for 5 minutes or until bubbly.

Put on top of hot caramel:

2 cup white chocolate chips, melted in microwave according to instructions on package

Carefully spread the white chocolate on top of the caramel.

Top with sprinkles.

Cut while warm.

Put in refrigerator to cool and firm up.

I used a sharp knife to cut through the soda crackers and make them fit the whole pan.

Here is the caramel on top of the crackers, and the white chocolate chips sprinkled on top of that.

So far, so good, right? No. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT do it this way. I guess when there’s a specific way to melt the white chocolate chips on the package, you should take it seriously. You can see that the chips are shiny, which means they’re melting when you use regular chocolate chips. Not so with the white ones. They never did melt enough to spread.

In fact, I could actually scrape them off the caramel. Which I did after trying to put the pan back into the oven in case the pan had cooled off too much for some reason, and wasn’t hot enough to melt the white chocolate chips. That wasn’t it, either.

All that did was ruin the caramel, too. I scraped off the white chocolate chips, but we kept the caramel-coated soda crackers to snack on anyway. They’re still tasty, just not very festive.

Ok – let’s just start over. Here we are at the point where the caramel is on top of the soda crackers. After baking for 5 minutes, it does get bubbly.

Here’s the trick – melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave or double boiler and THEN pour it on top of the bubbly caramel on the soda crackers. I melted them in the microwave while the crackers were in the oven to get the caramel bubbly. Then I let them sit in the warm bowl for a few minutes after the pan came out of the oven. There are people on Pinterest making these bars and not having a problem with the chips melting. I had a problem, so I decided to melt the chips separately. I hope this all makes sense at this point. It really is a very easy recipe!

Spread the melted white chocolate chips over top and then sprinkle with jimmies, sprinkles, or colored sugar. You could also use red, white, and blue M&Ms or other candies – anything that would be yummy and festive.

I did cut some of them while they were still warm, and it was easier to break them apart in squares. I didn’t cut the other half – I just left them as is and broke them apart after cooling. Some of it still broke into squares and some of it broke like almond bark would break.

I think that in the end, after making these twice, they turned out to be VERY festive and colorful. They’re cute – and very addictive. It’s that sweet and salty thing. Just don’t forget that white chocolate chips don’t melt as easily as regular chocolate chips, and you’ll be fine. Make a batch (or two) of these 4th of July Soda Cracker Bars and you’ll have your guests totally addicted!

 

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6 Great Ideas for the 4th of July

I wanted to share 6 Great Ideas for the 4th of July today.  It’s coming up – faster than we want it to! It always seems like summer’s half over once the 4th of July comes. My family has had a busy summer, so far, and I can’t believe that it’s time to be thinking about the 4th already! Enjoy these ideas – I hope you can find something new to try!

4th of July Take Home Favors

Fairy Cookies

Blueberry Pie

Patriotic Snack Mix

Happy 4th of July

Angel Food Cake

 

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Dessert #5

This recipe for Dessert #5 is just another in a long line of incredibly easy and incredibly delicious recipes that I found in Grandma’s file. This is such a classic “Grandma recipe”, that I was remembering her while making this, and had to share an old photo. This is so typical of the kinds of photos Grandma and Grandpa used to take. The photos were always sort of formal, but this particular one is a bit on the casual side – maybe because they’re standing next to the Snowball Bush that was in the middle of the yard. I love that the shed is in the background. That’s where Grandpa kept all of his equipment – tractors, farm vehicles, and his workbench area where you could find anything you needed for fix-it jobs without having to go to town! On the back corner of the shed was where the black raspberry bush was. Wow – were those fresh-picked berries good on a bowl of vanilla ice cream in the summertime!

We always had ice cream in the evenings when we stayed at the farm in the summer. That’s why I felt in the mood to make this dessert. We had such hot weather here in Minnesota, I decided to try this so we could cool off with a tasty treat.

This is just ridiculously easy to make.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Dessert #5

For the crust:

Crush:

2 rolls (about 60 crackers) Ritz Crackers

Add:

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

Blend and pat into 9″ x 13″ cake pan.

Keep out 3/4 cup for topping.

For the filling:

Mix together:

16 ounce Cool Whip

1 can sweetened condensed milk

6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate (I just used a larger can of o.j. concentrate, let it thaw, and measured out 6 ounces)

1 large can pineapple tidbits or crushed pineapple, drained

1 large can mandarin oranges, drained

Spread on top of crust.

Top with the remaining crust crumbs.

Refrigerate (she says on the recipe that this also freezes well).

I didn’t want to crush the crackers in the food processor because I thought it would turn them to mush, so I used the old “rolling-pin and a zip top bag” system to keep the crumbs a bit larger.

This is essentially a graham cracker crust, only you’re using Ritz Crackers instead.

Using sweetened condensed milk in this makes it “plenty sweet”. Next time I think I’ll try tomake without it and see if it makes that much of a difference.

Grandma used to keep the juice when she drained canned fruit. You could drink it (I don’t know if they had fruit in its own juice yet back then, or if it all had the syrup!) or use it in iced tea or find some other use for it (I was thinking of using it for a cocktail). Grandma and her family survived the Great Depression, and you weren’t allowed to waste it.

Yes – this makes a full cake pan. It’s a big batch – enough for a party!

I kept 3/4 of a cup of crumbs to put on top – I think that was about right.

It seems a bit soft when you put this into the refrigerator, but it does set up nice. Leaving it in overnight helps it firm up better. I did put a piece into the freezer to see if would be alright, and it was. It was better just in the refrigerator, in my opinion. This is a delicious dessert that’s nice on a hot summer day. It would be nice on any day – or maybe a party day. You’re family and friends are going to love this Dessert #5!

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Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads and grandpas out there!

I’ve shared these photos before, but I’m thinking of my dad and my grandpas today!

My dad and me in an inner tube on the lake!

Me and my Gramp!

Bugging Grandpa while he was trying to take his noon nap at the farm!

I love them all and miss them so much!

Thanks, guys!

 

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Quiche Lorraine

I made this Quiche Lorraine one night for a dinner with girlfriends, and let me just say – it went over real well. This is another throw-back to the 1970’s, when we used to make Quiche all the time. Why did that go out of style? I’m not sure why or when, but that was dumb. Really dumb. The recipe comes from my old standby Betty Crocker Cookbook, copyright 1982. This Quiche is absolutely delicious and so easy to do. This one can even be in the “Make Ahead” category. I love that!

This recipe gives you a few bonus ideas to try!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Quiche Lorraine

Sprinkle into a pastry-lined pie plate:

12 slices bacon, crisply fried and crumbled

1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded (about 4 ounces)

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

Beat:

4 eggs, slightly beaten

2 cups half-n-half

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne red pepper

Pour egg mixture into pie plate.

Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Cook uncovered until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean, about 30 minutes longer.

Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

The ingredients are so simple, but so very delicious. For the pie crust, I used Grandma’s recipe for Never Fail Pie Crust.

Once you put the egg/half-n-half mixture in, it’s ready for the oven!

Oh wow – it comes out so beautiful and ready to eat – and I topped it with some chopped chives from my garden. I love the tip on the recipe for doing this ahead of time – you can have this ready the night before and bake it when you’re ready for it the next day – just bake it a bit longer. It’s also very easy to transport if you need to take this on the road.

Bacon, cheese, and eggs. It has all the yummiest things!!! Keep a pie crust in your freezer or use a (gasp!) store-bought one, ready to go, and this can be on the table in no time. Add a green salad and it’s dinner! As you can see by the additional ideas on the recipe, you can use whatever you have to make a Quiche – chicken, ham, or even crab. Maybe call some girlfriends and try a Quiche Lorraine this weekend – I highly recommend it!

 

 

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Coconut Cookies

The recipe for Coconut Cookies is from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks. I was perusing those old books one day, and this one struck me. I must have been in the mood for coconut. And cookies. These cookies fit the bill, even if they are a bit decadent. They’re crunchy, they’re crispy, they’re full of coconut, and we know that since the recipe came from an old church cookbook – it’s a GOOD ONE!! Give this recipe a try and just see if I’m wrong. I don’t think so.

For some reason, I felt like sharing a goofy photo today. This one is REALLY goofy. I know that when Gramp got a new camera, he took a lot of practice pics, and this is one of them. Just little ole’ me. Standing on the ottoman. Holding a doll. In front of my face. Ha. He must have been desperate for practice shots.

Again with the bangs cut up to the top of my head! Why?!!! Ha! So funny! Love my shoes, by the way.

Ok – back to the cookies.

I really like these cookies – but then, I really like coconut.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Coconut Cookies

Mix all together:

1 cup butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

4 cups oatmeal

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

Roll in small balls and flatten with hand.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

I’m grateful for my mixer every time I make something, especially when recipes like this just have you mix everything together!

I used my scoop to make the balls, and at first I tried flattening them with my hands like the recipe suggested, but in the end I used a glass to flatten the balls. It was seemed to work better, and then you also get a little sugary crust on top of the cookie.

Oh wow – golden and crispy and delicious!

As my husband is so fond of saying, “a handful of these and a big glass of milk” – heaven!

This cookie is something a little different because it’s full of coconut instead of the usual chocolate chips or raisins. Another recipe that’s very easy and very delicious! They’re another great treat to have for a snack, or your afternoon coffee or tea (they go GREAT with coffee)! I think you’ll like these Coconut Cookies – they’re “plenty sweet”!

 

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Heath Bar Crunch Ice Cream

My family has spent years working our way through the “Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book”. Seriously, the copyright on this particular book is 1987, and we have certainly been taking our time. Last weekend, after driving 21 hours straight through from Massachusetts to get home to Minnesota from vacation, we tackled the Heath Bar Crunch Ice Cream. We were totally exhausted from that drive, but that’s how easy these recipes are. My husband magnanimously offered to go to the store to pick up things for a no-cook dinner, and ice cream was just what we needed to end the vacation on a high note – he also got the ingredients to make this ice cream. Looking through the book, it wasn’t hard to pick which kind to make (even though I was surprised we haven’t made this recipe before now – we date them when we make them). We ALL love Heath English Toffee Bars, so Heath Bar Crunch it was! I thought I’d better share this recipe now – it’s supposed to be in the upper 80’s and 90’s for temperatures through the weekend and into next week here in Minnesota. Summer is coming on strong here in June! We’re all gonna need some ice cream. Lots of ice cream.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Heath Bar Crunch Ice Cream

Unwrap:

4 original Heath Bars (1 1/8 ounce each), or as many Fun Size bars as you want to stuff into the ice cream

Cut the candy bars into 1/2 to 1 inch chunks (about 1 cup).

Put into a bowl and freeze (I didn’t do this).

Whisk until light and fluffy (1 to 2 minutes):

2 large eggs (you can use pasteurized eggs if you’re concerned about using raw, but we used raw eggs and didn’t have a problem)

3/4 cup sugar

Whisk in the sugar a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more.

Pour in:

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Whisk to blend.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions.

After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it’s done), add the candy, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.

Makes a generous 1 quart.

Chop the candy bars as finely as you want. We like the chunks on the bigger side.

Put the ice cream mixture into your ice cream maker. When the ice cream is almost done, add the candy bar chunks. I use a Cuisinart brand ice cream maker with freezable containers. When I was growing up, we had an electric ice cream maker that used an inner container to hold the ice cream mixture and then you’d out that inside a larger one and put ice and salt around the inner container. Turn on the motor and away you go. My mother-in-law still has one that was even older than that – it has a crank. That one takes some work – it’s amazing what people will do for ice cream!

Once the ice cream is done, we put it into a container to put into the freezer. We have found that it’s also a good idea to have your container in the freezer before making the ice cream. You don’t have to do this, but the ice cream tends to melt a bit if you don’t. When the ice cream is done, put it into the container and put it back into the freezer for an hour or so to firm up. You can eat it immediately if you want to, but the ice cream is pretty soft.

After an hour or more, the ice cream firms up enough to make scoops. If you try to eat it right away, it’s is still tasty, just softer.

Oh my – this stuff is ridiculous!

Yes – we’re gonna need a lot of this stuff in the coming days and weeks. A lot. I highly recommend the “Ben And Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book” with its many delicious options, and I highly recommend cooling down with the Heath Bar Crunch Ice Cream – you won’t be sorry!!!

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Dream Bars

This recipe for Chocolate Chip Dream Bars comes from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks,  and I must say that it looks like it was a well used one! This is my mom’s writing that says she first made it in June of 1971, and that made me think of the old days, so I have to share a photo from the old days. This one goes back a bit farther than 1971, but it’s a good one. This is Grandma and Grandpa with my mom and her brother. By the looks of it, they must have just gotten a new car – and they’re darn proud of it!!

This is just so great – I love it! There’s my mom, being all prim and proper, and if you look close, you can see that my uncle is sticking his tongue out! Haha! Love it! This time period, the 1940’s, was the heyday of the church cookbook, and I still say – they’re just the BEST recipes! This one is no exception. You’ve been warned!

Oh wow – these are SO good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Chip Dream Bars

Mix together:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

Pat into 9″ x 9″ square pan (I didn’t have the size loaf pan they suggest here).

Bake in 325 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Combine:

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup coconut

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)

Mix well and spread on top of first mixture.

Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

I just used my hand to pat down the crust.

Then just mix up the next ingredients.

Spread the second mixture on top of the crust, or first mixture, and sprinkle on the chocolate chips.

These bars are so delicious – another perfect treat to have with your afternoon coffee or tea.

I’m just glad this recipe doesn’t make a bigger batch – it’s a nice small batch in a nice small pan. I guess I could double it, if I wanted a whole cake pan full of bars. Then I’d just have to eat all of them, because nobody else can have any. None. Hmmmm. It might not be a bad idea to make a double batch of these Chocolate Chip Dream Bars!

 

 

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All Bran Muffins

These All Bran Muffins have it all – ALL the bran! They are loaded with fiber and goodness! How can they not be with ingredients like All Bran cereal, Shredded Wheat cereal, and Grape Nuts cereal?! There are MANY recipes for bran muffins of all kinds from Grandma and her sisters. They must have needed to keep things moving! Ha! Well, these muffins work well in that regard! I don’t know if I’d have more than one at a time, if you know what I’m sayin’.

These muffins are definitely full of fiber, but they’re also very tasty!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

All Bran Muffins

Pour 2 cups boiling water over:

2 cups Shredded Wheat cereal (I broke it up a bit before doing this)

Let it sit while mixing the rest of the ingredients.

Cream:

3 cups sugar, less 2 Tablespoons

1 cup butter, plus 2 Tablespoons

Add:

4 eggs, beaten

1 quart buttermilk

Add:

3 cups All Bran cereal

2 cup Grape Nuts cereal

Sift together:

5 cups flour

5 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Add to creamed mixture and fold in soaked Shredded Wheat cereal.

Bake in greased tins at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

The recipe says they freeze well, and they do!!

This calls for 2 cups of Shredded Wheat, and that is the amount of the large ones that come in a brown paper package inside the box.

This took the biggest mixing bowl I had! It makes a big batch – I got 4 dozen plus 4 muffins from this.

Because it is such a large amount of batter, it also takes a bit of muscle to mix it all.

The muffins turn out beautifully!

I love these muffins. They’re full of goodness with all of the cereal in them, and they’re delicious! They freeze well, so make up a batch and have them ready for a summer of fun. Breakfast is taken care of with these All Bran Muffins!

 

 

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Sugar Cookies

This recipe for Sugar Cookies comes from another one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks. You remember those old church cookbooks – where all the church ladies send in their very best and favorite recipe?!! Well, this is the kind of recipe that this one is – someone’s very best and favorite! I have made several kinds of sugar cookies here on Plenty Sweet Life: Brown Sugar Cookies, White Cookies, Orange Sugar Cookies, and No Roll Sugar Cookies. They’ve all been just a little bit different, but all have been heavenly. Sugar Cookies appeal to everyone, and this recipe is particularly melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Another perk – this recipe is incredibly easy!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Sugar Cookies

Mix in order given:

1 cup shortening, part butter (I used all butter)

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Roll in balls and press with glass dipped in sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

This batch of cookies was for a friend, so I made them a cheery pink and green.

I rolled the dough into balls and then rolled the balls into the colored sugar. The first sheet of cookies was just baked as is – I forgot to flatten them. The second sheet of cookies were flattened with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar (I used my greasy hand to rub the bottom of the glass so the sugar sticks to it better).

You can see the difference here. The cookies on the left were flattened with the glass, and the cookies on the right were just baked as a ball. You can do it which ever way you want.

I ended up with these beautiful, delicious, and same-sized cookies. These really melt in your mouth – they are absolutely delightful! You have to try this great recipe for Sugar Cookies – maybe even share them with a friend!

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