Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

10 Icy Cold Treats for a Hot Summer Weekend!

Today I’m sharing 10 Icy Cold Treats for a Hot Summer Weekend! It’s hot, folks, and we need some icy cold treats to keep us cool. I hope you can find one or two or ten that appeal to your tastes! Enjoy and stay cool!

Creamy Lemon Popsicles with Blueberries

 

10 Minute German Sweet Chocolate Cream Pie

 

Dessert #2

 

Dessert #4

 

3 Ingredient Watermelon Lime Popsicles

 

Dessert #6

 

Peach Smoothie

 

Homemade Ice Cream and Root Beer Floats

 

Pineapple Lemonade

 

Dessert #5

 

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Fruit Kabobs and Fruit Dip

When did I start making these Fruit Kabobs and Fruit Dip? I don’t even know. It’s been so long that I can’t even remember. Actually, the kabobs were a staple at a lot of graduations, confirmations, and our wedding, but the dip came a few years later. Kabobs are an easy, easy thing to do (in keeping with my “Nothing But Easy Summer”), but they’re so ridiculously impressive. Kids love to help make these, and they also love to eat them. Oh come on, who are we kidding – everyone loves to make them, and everyone loves to eat them. They’re easy to do, and they’re a lot of fun to make, PLUS they’re delicious! I use the regular wooden skewers that you can buy at any grocery store, but if you’re going to serve them to kids, cut off the sharp end after you get the fruit on there so. We don’t want anyone getting poked by that sharp end.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fruit Kabobs

I used strawberries, green grapes, pineapple, and blackberries for these kabobs, but you can use any combination you want, as long as the fruit is firm enough to stay on the skewer. Just wash the fruit, cut it into cubes (if necessary, as with melon), and push them onto the skewers. You can lay them on a platter, like I did here when I served them for book club, or you could try a fun way to serve them that I’ve done in the past. I cut a whole pineapple or watermelon in half, lay it flat side down on a platter, and poke the skewers into it. Then each person can pull out and take the skewer they want. It looks like so pretty it’s very festive, and it’s a lot of fun!

Fruit Dip

1 large Cool Whip

12 ounces cream cheese

1 medium jar strawberry jam

Mix all together.

This is best if it sits overnight.

The recipe for this dip makes a BIG batch. It will last you awhile.

The possibilities are endless for the different fruit combinations you can make on the kabobs.

Fruit is always good. Kabobs are a pretty and more fun way to eat fruit. I love this idea! The dip adds a sweet treat component, which you can either use with the kabobs or just leave off. You can also dip the fruit without putting it on a skewer – it’s up to you how you like to do it. Trust me – these Fruit Kabobs and Fruit Dip are easy and impressive to bring to any gathering!

 

 

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Herbed Cheese Spread

Today I’m sharing a recipe I’m calling Herbed Cheese Spread. I have a lot of herbs growing just outside my kitchen door on our deck, and I like to try and come up with new ways to use them. We’ve had so much rain here in Minnesota this spring and now into summer, that I’ve hardly even had to water them, and now it’s hot! They’re growing like crazy! I think both of my grandmas would approve of the fact that I’m growing my own herbs and using them, preserving them (hopefully I can show how I do that later this fall – if there are any herbs left in my pots), and saving money while doing it!

This is my little lemon tree that I have struggled to get to this point. We don’t have any south facing windows in our house, so it’s hard to “baby” this little tree through the long, cold Minnesota winters, but I am DETERMINED to get lemons from this tree! It likes the sun and heat on the deck better than having to be in the house during our winters.

It gets lemons on it but they don’t last long before they fall off. I know I should look into fertilizing more, but it’s just one of those things. It actually looks pretty good right now – it must like the rain water! It’s blooming right now, and has some little lemons on it so . . . here’s hoping!

I decided to try and make this cheese to serve with crackers or slices of baguette. It’s another ridiculously easy to do and ridiculously delicious snack or appetizer that would be perfect with a nice glass of rose or white wine out on the deck. It’s easy to do as long as you have herbs around, whether you’re growing them yourself or have them leftover from a dish you’ve made. I’m really starting to enjoy this “Nothing But Easy Summer”!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Herbed Cheese Spread

Mix together:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon chives, chopped

2 chive blossoms, pulled apart (obviously, if you have them, but not necessary)

1 teaspoon basil, chopped

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

1 teaspoon oregano, chopped

1/2 teaspoon rosemary, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1-2 Tablespoons lemon zest

salt and pepper, to taste

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

Add:

1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice or more, enough to make it spreadable

These really are simple ingredients: Cream cheese, herbs, and lemon.

How pretty is this?!! I love that I have also found something else to do with my beautiful chive blossoms!

Mix it all together and that’s it! Done!

There is no easier appetizer or snack for guests or just for yourself!

I love this cheese spread! It uses the herbs from my pots and makes the most delicious appetizer EVER! It’s easy to do and amazingly delicious. You’re gonna love this and so will your friends! Open up a nice bottle of rose or white wine, call up some friends, and make up a batch of this Herbed Cheese Spread!

 

 

 

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Rhubarb Chutney

Today I’m sharing what is probably the last of my rhubarb recipes for the year – Rhubarb Chutney. This recipe came from a good friend of ours, and it looks like she got it from the April 2003 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine. It’s wonderful to have great friends to help see you through life’s ups and downs. You can never have enough support and help when you need it to see you through. Life has a way of making this so obvious – as my family learned all too well when I was sick. We can’t get through this life and it’s tough situations alone, and why would you want to? As John Donne wrote in his beautiful and appropriate poem, “No Man is an Island”, we all need friends (or at the very least, other people). I’m sure glad I have great ones! In additions to all that mushy stuff – sometimes they even send you wonderful recipes like this one! đŸ™‚

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rhubarb Chutney

Stir together in a large, heavy saucepan:

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 1/2 cinnamon sticks

1 1/2 Tablespoons minced, fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1/2 teaspoon (scant) ground cardamom

Heat until mixture boils and sugar dissolves.

Add:

4 1/2 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb

3/4 cup dried currants (I used raisins because I couldn’t find currants at my store)

4 green onions, chopped

Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer until rhubarb is tender but not falling apart, about 4 minutes.

Cool to room temperature.

Discard cinnamon.

Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least an hour.

Bring to room temperature before serving.

Into the pot go the first 6 ingredients.

Next, in go the fruit and veggies.

After cooking, cool and then this pretty mixture goes into the frig.

I served this chutney over a pork roast with a potato salad and fruit. Yum!

This chutney is so easy to make and is so delicious . . . omg! It would also be good over ham or chicken breast. I even tried it on top of cream cheese for an appetizer. It was SO good! I spread it on crackers, and it was perfect with a glass of wine. What a great way to end my rhubarb recipes for this year. Life’s so much better with good friends. Why not call up those friends and have a dinner party using this delicious chutney with your favorite main dish, or have them come over for a glass of wine and serve this delicious chutney with cream cheese as an appetizer? You’ll get to enjoy this wonderful Rhubarb Chutney AND your wonderful friends at the same time!

 

 

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Blueberry Banana Popsicles

These Blueberry Banana Popsicles are a delicious frozen treat that I made one of our first hot days here in Minnesota. I still had a lot of frozen fruit in my freezer and I needed to use it up. Popsicles! It’s the first thing I thought of! I’m trying to make healthier treats and snacks for me and my husband, and these popsicles are a great alternative to ice cream. I mean, we LOVE ice cream – who doesn’t? I have made 2 Ingredient Strawberry-Banana Ice Cream with frozen bananas and strawberries, and the possibilities are endless for making that kind of treat. I used bananas with the blueberries for this particular recipe, but I’ve also just pureed real fruit like mango and pineapple, and frozen those in the popsicle molds. I’ve used fat-free Greek yogurt mixed with fruit, also, but I love how these turned out using the bananas. There was also a nice surprise with these popsicles, which I’ll talk about later in this post.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Blueberry Banana Popsicles

Put into food processor:

2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks

1 cup frozen blueberries (or other frozen berries, or 2 Tablespoons coco powder)

2 Tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup, if desired (you don’t have to add any if you don’t want to)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process until smooth.

Add:

1/4-1/2 cup of skim milk or almond milk, if needed to make the mixture smooth

I got 6 popsicles from this, but how many you get from the mixture will depend on how much (if any) milk you add to make the mixture smooth.

I used frozen fruit for this because I already had it in my freezer. I use a lot of frozen bananas for smoothies, ice cream, etc., and sometimes I’ll just buy a lot of bananas if they’re on sale just to put them into the freezer. I peel them, cut them in half, and put them into zip top freezer bags in the freezer. Make sure you label the bags so you know what they are if they get buried in the back of your freezer! If you use frozen fruit, you can decide whether you want to just eat it immediately like ice cream, or spoon it into popsicle molds (or use the old paper cup method).

At first the fruit looks like this after a few pulses in the food processor.

Because blueberries aren’t the juiciest fruit, I added the almond milk (to keep it fat free – or you could use skim milk), and that helped the mixture smooth out.

At this point, you could just eat it as ice cream. I wanted to put it into my popsicle mold, so I spooned it in and added the popsicle sticks (found as craft sticks at any craft store). The sticks stood up on their own because the mixture is so thick. I never put the lid on top (that comes with the mold) because I’ve found it nearly impossible to get the sticks out of it first so you can then pull the popsicles out of the mold. Next, into the freezer it went. You can also use paper cups for making the popsicles if you don’t have molds or don’t want to invest in them.

OMG. These are so good and good for you! I mean they were seriously tasty! It works well to take them out of the molds and wrap them individually for future snacking – then they’re ready to go when you need one. The one nice surprise I mentioned at the top of the post – they stayed soft and didn’t get icy – even after several days! Sometimes that can happen when making homemade popsicles or ice cream, but these didn’t. I don’t know if it was because the fruit was frozen first or because I added the honey or what, but I’m gonna try that again. These Blueberry Banana Popsicles are a healthy, delicious, good for you treat you’re gonna want to make over and over again!

 

 

 

 

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Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday celebrating with family and friends! When me and my sister were growing up, we spent every 4th of July in the boat. We had so much fun skiing, swimming, canoeing, eating, blowing up firecrackers (which were NOT legal), and spending time with a lot of the people who meant the most to us. I have such amazing memories of those days.

Enjoy the day and make it a memory-making one!

 

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10 Easy Treats for 4th of July!

Today I’m sharing some past posts for 10 Easy Treats for 4th of July! These recipes are all easy to do, they’re very festive, and they’re all amazingly delicious! Enjoy!

4th of July Soda Cracker Bars

 

Angel Food Cake

 

Patriotic Snack Mix

 

Independence Day Bundt Cake

 

Sugar Cookies #4 and Patriotic Ice Cream Sandwiches

 

Popcorn Cake

 

Homemade Ice Cream and Root Beer Floats

 

Fairy Cookies

 

Blueberry Pie

 

Ost Kaka – the Easy Kind

 

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Chive Blossom Vinegar and French Potato Salad

Today I’m sharing recipes for Chive Blossom Vinegar and French Potato Salad. I made this Chive Blossom Vinegar with the TON of chive blossoms that grew this spring on the HUGE chive plant in my garden. I’ve always known that you can use the blossoms for salads, but I knew there had to be something else I could do with them. They’re just so pretty! Funny story about chive blossoms – I put this tiny chive plant in my garden one year, and was so excited to be able to use both the chives and the chive blossoms, that I could hardly wait. My husband was going to be helpful one spring day, and weed the garden for me. I had been keeping an eye on the first of our chive blossoms, waiting with baited breath for them to finally open and we’d finally be able to use them as a pretty addition to our dinner salad, when Mr. Helpful Weeder picked them all off and threw them into the compost bag! He thought they were something that shouldn’t be on there, since they kind of look like a weird formation on the top of the chives (before they bloom they’re just a little ball on top of the chive green), and had decided (without asking me first) to just get rid of them! Believe me, he has NOT lived that one down, and never will. Every spring he asks everyone he knows if they know that you can use those blossoms on a salad. Ha. Lesson learned. If you don’t know – ask!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chive Blossom Vinegar

Since there really isn’t a recipe, so I’m just going to show you the photos and explain them as we go.

I planted a chive plant in my garden several years ago, and it has turned into a chive shrub. The plant is HUGE, but oh so pretty! I had to find something (besides putting them on a salad) to do with those beautiful blossoms. An online search turned up something easy to do (it is the Nothing But Easy Summer, after all) that is also absolutely delicious – Chive Blossom Vinegar!

Chive blossoms are so pretty, I may just show a bunch of photos of them – just because. Ok – better not. On to the how-to:

First I picked enough chive blossoms to fill a quart canning jar 2/3 of the way to the top. I gave them a rinse in a bowl of water to get rid of any little beasties that might be hiding in those glorious purple blossoms, and then I dried them on a towel.

Next I put the blossoms into a clean, dry jar with a lid. Some instructions I saw said to use a piece of parchment paper between the glass and the lid so the metal doesn’t touch the vinegar. I used a canning jar so the lid didn’t have metal on the top, and it seemed ok with no funny taste.

I used white vinegar to make this first batch, but I supposed any clear vinegar would work like champagne or white wine vinegar. Fill the jar almost to the top. Then let it sit in a cool, dark place anywhere from a few days to a week – it’s done when it tastes good to you. I had mine steeping for 2 weeks because we went on vacation.

The blossoms aren’t so pretty after they’ve been steeping in the vinegar for awhile. I used a spoon to remove the blossoms from the jar.

Next I put a coffee filter into a strainer and strained the vinegar into a large measuring cup (for easier pouring back into the jar later).

Look at how pretty pink the vinegar is after straining it! I washed out my original canning jar and poured the strained vinegar right back into it for storage.

What a perfect hostess gift! Put it into a pretty bottle and this beautiful pink chivy (and somewhat oniony) flavored vinegar is perfect to share. It would be great on a French Potato Salad, a vinaigrette, or over roasted vegetables.

I decided to try it on a French Potato Salad and see just how delicious this beautiful pink vinegar is.

For the French Potato Salad I boiled 6 small potatoes (cut in quarters), added about 1/4 cup of the vinegar, 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and some of the chopped chives from my garden.

Um – yes. It made a simple, yet delicious potato salad that was absolutely amazing. Now I know what to do with the chive blossoms every spring (as long as I get to them before Mr. Helpful Weeder):

  1. Put them on salads.
  2. Make them into a delicious Herbed Cheese (recipe to come soon).
  3. Make Chive Blossom Vinegar – every year!
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Bev’s Cream Cheese Pie

We’re sticking with our “Nothing But Easy Summer” theme again today with Bev’s Cream Cheese Pie. On top of that  – we’re giving it a patriotic twist by topping this delicious pie with berries. This pie is SO easy and SO good! It fits right in with what we’re trying to do this summer – take it EASY! You could top this pie with berries, as I did here, or try some Chocolate Sauce! This photo is of a little girl who loves chocolate. Who knew she would grow up to love chocolate SO much?!!! This is my mom being held by her grandmother, and it looks like she’s a pretty new baby. Maybe just a couple of weeks old.

So precious – I love the way her grandmother is looking at her with that mixture of love and pride that all grandmothers have for all of their grandchildren. She was the first grandchild in this particular family. Who knows – maybe this grandmother is who she got her love of chocolate from!

Well, for this particular pie, I used berries to top it. We’re getting pretty close to 4th of July, and the more we can use those patriotic colors, the better! You can’t get much easier than berries on top!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Bev’s Cream Cheese Pie

Microwave until soft (15-20 seconds):

8 ounces cream cheese

Mix with electric mixer until real smooth:

Softened cream cheese

1/3 cup sugar

Stir in with a spoon:

8 ounces Cool Whip

Pour into:

Keebler Shortbread Cookie Pie Crust (yes – store-bought)

Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.

Top with berries or chocolate sauce.

It’s reidiculous how good this pie is with basically 3 ingredients (not counting the berries).

Mixing the cream cheese and sugar together makes it easier to stir in the Cool Whip.

Mix it all thoroughly and then spread the mixture into the pie crust. Yes – it’s store-bought (gasp!), but you can go ahead and make your own graham cracker crust if you want to. I’m just keeping this as easy as possible.

Next, the pie goes into the refrigerator – the card says 3 hours or overnight, so I left it in overnight.

There is nothing easier and more delicious than sweet, seasonal berries, and they just happen to be perfect for the 4th of July. But you know what’s also easy and delicious? Chocolate Sauce. Either way is gonna be great!

This pie will be a regular in my arsenal. So easy, so good, so pretty. Who knew that keeping things easy could be so delicious?!! I’m really starting to enjoy this “Nothing But Easy Summer” thing. It’s just so good, in so many ways! It’s good because it’s easy to do. It’s good because these recipes have all been delicious. It’s good because it gets you outside enjoying the summer before it’s over and gone. It’s all good! Try Bev’s Cream Cheese Pie and get out and enjoy your summer!

 

 

 

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S’mores Bars

Everybody loves s’mores, and while I have made The Easiest S’mores Pie Ever and S’mores Snack Mix, the recipe for S’mores Bars today is a ridiculously easy one that I came up with one Sunday for a family lunch. As I’ve said almost every post so far this summer, this is the “Nothing But Easy Summer”, and I refuse to be in the house any longer than absolutely necessary. You’re going to love this recipe, too, for how easy and how yummy these bars are. I recommend you bake them just before you serve them for maximum melty gooeyness.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

S’mores Bars

Mix up:

1 recipe of cookie dough (pan bar version) from the back of a bag of your favorite chocolate chips – just don’t add the chocolate chips yet! I would think you could also use any of your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough recipes.

Spread cookie dough in 9″ x 13″ jelly roll pan.

Instead of mixing the chocolate chips into the dough (I used about half of a bag of chocolate chips), I sprinkled them on top of the dough.

Next I sprinkled on about half of a bag of mini marshmallows.

Bake according to the directions for the recipe on the bag of chocolate chips.

The chocolate chips get melty and the marshmallows turn crusty brown on top and gooey on the inside.

I only suggested baking these right before serving because of the deliciousness of the warm cookie, melty chocolate, and gooey marshmallow. However, I brought these to a Sunday lunch at my daughter’s place, and we had a picnic outside. After the bars sat in the sun while we ate lunch, they were just as warm, melty, and gooey as they were right out of the oven! I just covered them with a piece of foil to transport, left it on while the bars sat in the sun, and enjoyed them after lunch. These S’mores Bars are so easy and so delicious – you’ll want to keep them in mind for your next picnic!

 

 

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