Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Chicken with Rice

Today’s recipe for Chicken with Rice comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, and wow – is it good! I’ve mentioned before how Grandma and her sisters constantly shared recipes, and while I don’t remember Grandma ever making this, I could totally see her doing so. The smell of this in the oven brought back memories of her kitchen and the kind of dinners she would make. My family loves this kind of dish – it’s a soup and rice kind of thing – we all just love it! You can tell because I have also shared Baked Chicken, Baked Chicken #2, Easy Chicken and Rice, and Pork Chops with Rice – all very, very delicious in their own right. It must be because it’s total comfort food for us, plus, it’s so easy to do. The oven is on for 2 hours and it smells good and it’s warm in the house. The dish is absolutely delicious – what more could you want? I can’t wait for you to try this!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chicken with Rice

Sprinkle in the bottom of a greased, oven-proof glass 9″ x 13″ baking dish:

1 envelope dry onion soup mix

Wash and place in layer on top of soup mix:

3/4 cup rice – 1/2 of it wild rice and 1/2 of it long grain white rice

On top of rice in a single layer place:

2 1/2 pounds of chicken parts (I used chicken breasts cut in half because they were so big, and the recipe says to salt the chicken, but the soup mix is so salty, I didn’t do that)

Mix together:

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 soup can milk

1/2 soup can water

Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 2 hours.

Watch carefully towards the end and add water if needed.

If the chicken is getting too brown, cover with foil.

This seemed a little odd, but ok, here we go!

Layering makes it easy.

I have a hard time finding chicken pieces in my grocery store – I usually end up getting chicken breasts. These were so big that I cut them in half.

Adding the liquid over all cooks the rice. I would double the rice and use 2 cans of cream of chicken soup next time – we like a lot of leftovers (and rice).

2 hours later and dinner is done.

The chicken is tender, the rice is creamy and absolutely delicious, and I served this with some Frozen Green Beans from our garden. Perfect. And sooo good!

This was a delicious and very easy to make dinner. It took me about 10 minutes to get the whole thing into the oven! Green beans out of the freezer made it complete! Seriously – it couldn’t have been be easier. Well, maybe it would have been easier if I hadn’t cut the chicken breasts in half. Ha! I think you’re gonna like how fast and easy it is – as long as you have the 2 hour window to have it in the oven. Make this Chicken Bake – I know your family will love it!


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Hot Water Sponge Cake

This recipe for Hot Water Sponge Cake comes from my sister’s tiny book, and that means it’s pretty old – and old-fashioned. I think from sometime around the 1940’s or 1950’s. Of course, there aren’t any instructions as to what kind of pan to use, what temperature to bake it at, or how long to bake it! We’re just supposed to know this stuff! Ha! I’m sure Grandma and her sisters (one was a contributor to said tiny book) always knew what they were doing when it came to baking cakes, or anything for that matter, from scratch. They learned from their mother, and my mom learned from her mother, and I learned from my mother. AND from my 7th grand Home Ec class teacher. There sure weren’t the plethora of cookbooks and cookbook authors then that there are now. I’m sure that’s why those old church cookbooks were so popular back in the day – they were the BEST recipes from your friends and other people you knew. That’s probably why the tiny book was made, and that was even before self-publishing was a thing. I know that happened a lot back then. You were always sure to have really good recipe handy and ready to go with those old cookbooks. This photo shows the family Grandma and her sisters were baking and cooking for. They had a large family, and better yet, they were all at about the age when they’d start marrying and needing those recipes for their own families (Grandma is second from the right).

This photo is so great! I always think it looks like those are palm trees behind them – but it’s their own backyard!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hot Water Sponge Cake

Beat together:

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

Add and beat:

2 cups sugar

Sift together:

2 cups cake flour (I don’t ever use cake flour, so I used all-purpose flour, but whisked it thoroughly to lighten it)

2 teaspoons baking powder

Add dry ingredients to egg and sugar mixture.

Lastly add:

1 cup hot water

lemon or vanilla extract (I used 1 teaspoon of lemon, but would use vanilla next time)

(That’s all it says – we’re on our own to find out what kind of pan, baking temp, and baking time.)

After some internet research, I used a springform pan and baked it at 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes.

You basically mix up the ingredients separately, add them together, and mix in the hot water and extract at the end. You probably have all these ingredients in your pantry or cupboards.

It’s a pretty simple cake, really – easy to mix up. I like that!

If fit perfectly in the springform pan.

It took a little longer than I expected to bake, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

After baking, the top looked a bit weird. If I was going to frost it, it wouldn’t be a problem, but I was serving this with some of our frozen strawberries from last summer, so I went to Plan B – a dusting of powdered sugar!

Look how pretty! I just love an easy dessert!

The strawberries were absolutely perfect with this cake! A bit of summertime sunshine in every bite! I thawed the berries and added a couple of Tablespoons of sugar to make that delicious syrup. Next time I’d try the vanilla extract instead of the lemon – it was not as lemony as I would have liked –  it was kind of a weird lemon taste. I think vanilla will be better.

I totally recommend this cake for your family! My family loved it and yours will, too! It’s easy to make, pretty fast to pull together, and it is soooo good! Whether you top it with frosting or enjoy it with berries and whipped cream like we did, it’s a winner. A hands down winner. Take advantage of this amazing recipe from that tiny book from years ago, and make this old-fashioned Hot Water Sponge Cake today!



10 Comforting Hotdishes

I’m sharing some Minnesota classics today – 10 Comforting Hotdishes! They’re all so good and so warm and so comforting, you’re going to love all 10! Give these a try and your family will be so happy you did! Enjoy these delicious comfort food classics that Grandma was so famous for!



Turkey Hotdish


Hotdish #2


5 Can Hotdish


Gwen’s Good Hotdish


Mexican Turkey or Chicken Hotdish


Hamburger Hotdish


Hotdish #3


Tater Tot Hotdish


Chicken Hotdish



Coconut Cookies #2

Today’s recipe for Coconut Cookies #2 comes from Grandma’s old church cookbook again (and is #2 because it’s the second recipe called Coconut Cookies), and was submitted by one of my mom’s friends from the small town near where she grew up! How fun is that? I love coconut and I love these cookies! They’re delicious and full of coconut flavor, and I know that if you love coconut, you’ll love these cookies, too! They’re another cookie perfect to enjoy with your afternoon coffee or tea, and another cookie perfect to enjoy with some good life-long friends.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Coconut Cookies

Cream together:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup shortening (I used all butter, but they did get a bit hard, so use shortening if you like them softer)

2 cups sugar


2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend in:

3 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt


1 cup coconut

Roll into balls (I used my scoop and then rolled them into balls) and put onto greased and floured baking sheets.

Flatten slightly and bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

The dough seemed a little crumbly, but it rolled into balls just fine.

I used my scoop to make the cookies an even size.

I scooped the balls onto the baking sheet first.

Next, I rolled them into smooth balls.

Finally, I used my palm to flatten the balls a bit.

Oh boy! These babies smell amazing!

See? All the same size and shape! 🙂

Perfect with that cup of coffee!

These cookies are absolutely delicious. I love the extra story, that they come from one of my mom’s childhood friends. That’s what those old church cookbooks are all about – delicious recipes that came from people you know! I love that! Some day soon (I hope) we’ll be able to call up some of our old friends, share a cup of coffee, and some cookies and talk away the afternoon reminiscing about the old days. These Coconut Cookies #2 are just about the perfect treat to enjoy while doing so!


7 Sensational Soups to Warm You Up

Today I’m sharing 7 Sensational Soups to Warm You Up! Brrrr! It’s cooold all over the country – not just here in Minnesota (even though it was -21 degrees F yesterday)! What’s better for a cold, snowy weeknight supper or weekend lunch than a nice comforting bowl of homemade soup? Not much! There’s something here for every taste, and I think you’ll find something that hits the spot!

Cream of Broccoli Soup


Potato Soup


10 Minute Tomato Soup


Creamy Cauliflower Soup


Chicken-Noodle Soup with Vegetables


Creamy Vegetable Soup


Cream of Broccoli Soup #2



Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Let’s celebrate love today, whether it’s love for your friends, love for your family, or love for that special someone!



Pot de Creme

Today’s recipe for Pot de Creme comes from a 1976 cookbook of my mom’s that features recipes from past president’s wives (because it was published during the bi-centennial), along with recipes from all over the county we lived in. Let’s face it, it’s a lot like those old church cookbooks I’m so fond of! You can’t get any better than that, so that’s why I looked for a special dessert in this book. I happened upon this recipe, and it will be the perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day and sharing with your valentine(s). Nothing says Valentine’s Day like chocolate, for me anyway, so this one is it. Perfect for me. Perfect for my valentine.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pot de Creme

Place in blender:

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 Tablespoons sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat just to boiling:

1 cup milk

Pour over ingredients in blender.

Blend 1 minute.

Pour immediately into creme pots or demitasse cups.

Chill and serve.

This is a ridiculously amazing dessert using just a few ingredients that you probably have already in your kitchen or pantry.

Put everything into a blender (I used my food processor).

Heat the milk.

Blend 1 minute. Done. I decided to make this fancy by using some old art deco-ish champagne goblets that just happen to be perfect for a lovely valentine dessert.

The recipe says it serves 6, but even using these small-ish goblets, I only got 4 servings. I’m sure you could get 6 servings by using smaller cups or creme pots, but then you also wouldn’t get as much of this luscious dessert. I’ll just go with the 4.

How pretty is this?!! If you use small dessert spoons, it will take a little longer to eat. A LITTLE longer. But it still goes down waaaaay too fast.

I think this deserves whipped cream. Seriously. This just might be the perfect dessert.

Your search for the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert is over. You have found it. This is it. It’s such a special dessert that’s full of everyone’s (most people’s anyway) favorite chocolate flavor, and your valentine is going to appreciate this – big time. It couldn’t be easier to make, it couldn’t be faster to make, and it couldn’t be any more delicious. I fervently suggest that you make this Pot de Creme for your valentine this year, and make it a very special one!


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Easy Cherry Dessert

Today’s recipe for Easy Cherry Dessert comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, and I have to say, right up front, that this is one of my new favorites. It might even be one of my favorites from Plenty Sweet Life. Period. Oh wow – this dessert is so good. And. AND. It fits all the criteria of REALLY easy, REALLY fast, and REALLY good. Oh, and one more thing – it’s PLENTY SWEET! 🙂 Speaking of plenty sweet – this photo is of my mom and her cousin (who’s mom contributed this recipe) in 1950. Their moms always dressed them as if they were sisters – same dress, same haircut and hairstyle – too cute! They were very good friends, just like sisters, until my mom passed away last February.

I love this picture so much! They had a lot of fun growing up together!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Easy Cherry Dessert

Spread in the bottom of a greased 9″ x 13″ cake pan:

1/2 of a box of yellow cake mix (dry)

Layer on in this order:

1 can of cherry pie filling

the rest of the cake mix

1 cup of shredded coconut

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Drizzle on:

1/2 cup melted butter

Bake at 350 degrees until light brown (30-40 minutes).

It’s ridiculous how delicious this dessert is with the few ingredients used to make it!

So simple – half the cake mix in the pan, then the can of pie filling over that.

Then the other half of cake mix, coconut, nuts, and melted butter. Done.

The smell of this dessert baking – heaven!

This. Is. So. Good.

Yes. This is another of my favorites. I haven’t really said that for awhile, but this is one. It couldn’t be any easier to make. It couldn’t be any faster to make. It couldn’t be any more delicious. Warm out of the oven really is best, but I can’t find any reason not to also enjoy it the next day – if it lasts that long. Top it with a bit of whipped cream or even a scoop of ice cream. Wow. You just have to try this Easy Cherry Dessert.



Totcho Bar with Fresh Pico de Gallo

The only thing better than a big pan of Nachos is a Totcho Bar with Fresh Pico de Gallo! There is that one big football game on Sunday, and we all need lots of snacks to really enjoy the game. I’ve said this before, but my family usually snacks during the game so we can watch the commercials, especially when the Minnesota Vikings don’t make it to the big one very often. IF the Vikings ever did make it to the Super Bowl, we’d totally be watching the game instead of the commercials. Well, most of us would. Anyhoo – here’s one more delicious recipe to make for your game day snacking. If you make the Pico de Gallo ahead of time and use Easy Slow Cooker Taco Meat, you’re waaaay ahead of the game! See? See what I did there? Ha! This really is one of the easiest, tastiest, best snacks ever!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

You can get the Pico de Gallo made early in the day, or even the day before. You COULD use store-bought for this, but making it yourself fresh is easier, tastier, and cheaper. This is how my oldest daughter told me to make it.

Pico de Gallo

Put into a bowl and mix together:

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 large jalapeno, chopped

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup chopped cilantro


juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper to taste

Set aside or chill until ready to layer your Totchos.

Yum! I could just eat that plain!


Totcho Bar

Bake according to package instructions:

1 package of Tater Tots

Leave them on your baking sheet and layer the Totchos right on there!

Next layer on:

Taco meat of your choice (Easy Slow Cooker Taco Meat works great here)

Cheese dip or sauce (I used a store-bought cheese dip – gasp!)

1 package of shredded Mexican blend cheese

Put into 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until shredded cheese is melted.

This is where the Totcho Bar part comes in.

Put into bowls and line up for loading your up Totchos:

Pickled jalapenos or fresh jalapeno slices

Pickled red onion

Avocado, cubed (or guacamole)

Pico de Gallo

Sliced black olives

Sour cream

Any other toppings your family likes: salsa, hot sauce, guacamole, etc.

I just leave the Tater Tots on the baking sheet – it’s less clean-up and the Totchos stay a bit warmer longer, too.

On go the taco meat (I used turkey), cheese dip, and shredded cheese, and into the oven it goes.

It comes out when the meat is warmed through and the cheese is all melty and gooey.

I like to set up the Totcho Bar with all the toppings right there. Everyone can put on exactly what and how much they want. Some people in our family like to really load them up. Not mentioning names (everyone). Just sayin’.

Load up on those toppings and get to work on those Totchos!

Now that’s a plate of Totchos! Come on! Everyone loves Tater Tots to begin with, then when you load on all the delicious fixin’s? This one’s a winner! Your family will love these whether you’re watching the Super Bowl or the Puppy Bowl. Try this Totcho Bar with Fresh Pico de Gallo and let the festivities begin!



Olive Filled Cheese Balls

I started out to make these Olive Filled Cheese Balls with the best of intentions. I wanted to make them as part of our Super Bowl snack extravaganza, and while they are delicious, I found that I won’t be making them for a crowd. I’d say this is one to keep for when you want a little snack for just you and maybe 1 or 2 special people. They’re just a bit too putzy for making for a lot of people. I like snacks that are fast and easy. These took time and took some trial and error, but we very much enjoyed these with a cocktail. Let’s just keep this one for times like that. They’re delicious – just take some time.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Olive Filled Cheese Balls

Cream together:

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (use the store-bought finely shredded cheese for this)

2 Tablespoons butter, softened

Blend in:

6-8 Tablespoons flour

dash of cayenne pepper

Use a teaspoonful of dough to wrap around 25 well drained green pimento-stuffed olives (I drained them on a paper towel), covering them completely.


Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

This recipe could almost be a pantry recipe – if you have green pimento-stuffed olives in your frig!

I always shred blocks of cheese in my food processor, but for this recipe, the shreds were too big and it didn’t work so well.

I even used my pastry blender to try and cut the cheese shreds finer. That didn’t work so well, either. Use the store-bought finely shredded cheese for this – I think that would make it easier to mix in and maybe easier to stick together. I even put it in the microwave for 10 seconds to try and make the cheese easier to mold into a ball. It was a bit of a struggle, but I kept working with it and was able to get the dough to stick in the end.

Here’s the other thing – this recipe was supposed to make 25 balls. Here’s what I got – 12! I didn’t think they were too big, either. It was hard to get the dough to stick to itself.

What I did get out of this recipe was delicious! I’d do it again, but as we did here, just make it for a couple of people to enjoy with a cocktail or as a little snack.

I did have some trouble with these, which I think would be helped by trying the store-bought finely shredded cheese instead, but I wouldn’t make these for a larger group unless it worked better with a more fine shred. It’s just too putzy. They were very tasty little balls of deliciousness, but not worth the trouble to me only because they’re too putzy, but also because they’re too popable. I mean that they’re just too easy to pop into your mouth in one bite. I personally would not take a bite of these – they’re just too good to eat in TWO bites! Let me know if you try these or if you have any suggestions as to why these were so hard to do, but if you want a delicious little nugget that’s great with a cocktail, make a batch of these Olive Filled Cheese Balls!



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