Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Fruit Cookies

This recipe for Fruit Cookies was one of Grandma’s favorite Christmas cookies. She loved fruitcake, and while she did make some tasty Fruitcake, I think these cookies were easier than making the cake. The recipe takes a lot of chopping, which takes awhile, but it’s worth it. They’re so sweet and chewy and full of fruit and nuts – oh my. The smell of these cookies baking brought me right back to Grandma’s kitchen. Her little kitchen on the farm was never so busy as this time of year. There were always lots of different Christmas cookies, cakes, candies, and treats of all kinds. She’d get on her apron, open up the big drawer/bin that held a 20 pound bag of flour (I kid you not – the bin was right in the kitchen as part of the kitchen cupboards), and get to work. I love how her recipes handed down can bring us back together even though she’s gone. I can almost hear her funny little laugh, and it’s like having her right back here in my kitchen with me making Christmas goodies, snitching a taste here and there, and telling stories of growing up in her big family!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fruit Cookies

Cream together:

1 cup butter (Grandma used margarine – I do not)

1 1/4 cup brown sugar


2 eggs, beaten

Sift together:

2 1/4 cups flour (save some for mixing in with fruit – I used 1/4 cup for that)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix with the creamed mixture.

Cut in small pieces, mix with the saved 1/4 cup flour, and fold in:

1 1/2 pound dates

4 slices candied pineapple

1/2 pound candied cherries

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup pecans, chopped

Bake at 375 degrees (Grandma said to judge for yourself how long to bake them) for 12-15 minutes (in my oven) or until cookies are golden brown.

There are a lot of fruit and nuts in these cookies! Get your chopping skills ready!

Once again I used my trusty scoop to make the cookies all a similar size.

You can see how full of fruit and nuts they are here.

They come out of the oven all caramel-y and brown sugar-y!

These are a very chewy, very fruity, very tasty cookie. They do kind of taste like fruitcake, only BETTER! I know that these were Grandma’s favorite, and while they were baking, it smelled just like Grandma’s kitchen in my kitchen. Even if you don’t like Fruitcake, you’ll love these delicious Fruit Cookies.

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Hot Cider or Wassail

This recipe for Hot Cider or Wassail comes from my mom, and it’s one we’ve been making in our family since the 1970’s (you can tell because it has Tang in it – you know, the drink of the astronauts). It’s a very simple, but very delicious recipe for everybody’s favorite holiday hot beverage. I made another type of Wassail a few years ago, but the recipe is a bit more involved. This one is easy. Very easy. You can go outside and play in the snow and have this ready to heat up once you get back indoors and need some warming up. This smells so good while it’s heating up – you really should make this just for the potpourri factor, but you’re really going to love how tasty this is.

While this photo of me when I was 4 years old isn’t from the 1970’s when we started making this cider recipe, it was taken in the 1960’s. It is a fun Christmas photo – I LOVE the tree. They obviously didn’t prune the Christmas trees then the way they do now to make the perfect shape, and it was hardly taller than me!

My mom really liked the trees with the long needles. I did not, and we had them every year. It made ornament hanging very difficult and the needles always poked you! I would end up with red dots (that almost looked like hives) all over my hands – and they itched! That may be why you don’t see them around any more. It was seriously painful to decorate the tree! At any rate, I look very happy holding that beautifully wrapped package. I wonder what was inside . . .

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hot Cider or Wassail

Combine all in a large saucepan:

1 1/2 quarts apple cider

1 1/2 quarts water

1 cup Tang

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat for about 15 minutes.

Seriously, this could not be an easier recipe. This is it.

The ground spices look funny at first, but they assimilate pretty easily into the cider once it gets warm.

You can add some sliced oranges or lemons if you want to. Maybe stud them with a few whole cloves? That just might make it smell even better!

This is such a ridiculously easy and delicious recipe, I can’t even tell you. You may want this for the holidays, or for any day during the winter, say one in which you’re sledding or skating or skiing or walking in the snow or making snow angels or snowmobiling or  . . . you get the picture. It’s worth it to have a jar of Tang on hand for just such an occasion. Any occasion on which you want a nice, easy, delicious warm-up that tastes great and smells even better! Try this Hot Cider or Wassail and your friends and family will love you for it!


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12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – All in One Place

Today we’re going enjoy the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – All in One Place. I wanted to have these Scandinavian ideas and family traditions all in one place – then you don’t have to go all over the blog to find all of these great Scandinavian holiday ideas. So let’s revisit 2016, shall we? This is so much fun all packed into one post, and no lutefisk in sight! I hope you find something new to try that will become part of your Christmas celebrations, too!

Day 1

Swedish Cardamom Bread


Day 2

Spritz Cookies


Day 3

Norwegian Mittens and Mitten Ornaments


Day 4



Day 5



Day 6

Cinnamon Ornaments


Day 7

Lefse #3


Day 8

Stamped Giftwrap


Day 9



Day 10

Swedish Sausage


Day 11

Ice Lantern


Day 12





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Scandinavian Almond Cake

We’re making a Scandinavian Almond Cake today! My mom gave me this cake pan last year for Christmas, and I didn’t know what to do with it. I had never seen this kind of pan before, so I had to do a bit of internet research to see what this cake was all about. I have to say – Grandma would have loved this cake. She loved all things almond – this is what most of her Swedish recipes seemed to be – and she would have loved the almond flavor of this cake. Since I mentioned the Swedish side of the family, I thought I’d share this photo from Grandma’s youngest aunt’s trip to Sweden in 1922 (she’s the one on the far left). I don’t know if you can see it, but there’s an “X” over the middle part of the building in this photo. This was what was left of where my great-great-grandmother was born in Sweden – just that tiny part there in the middle.

I’m sure glad they took pictures way back then! It’s so interesting! We do know the name of the town and area where this photo was taken. Love that family history!

Back to the cake! This is the recipe that was included with the pan, and I’m glad they included it. It’s so delicious and full of almond flavor – and we know how Grandma and all the Scandinavians we know LOVE almond.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Scandinavian Almond Cake

Beat well:

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2/3 cup milk


1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder


1 stick butter or margarine, melted (I used butter)

Spray pan generously with non-stick spray with flour or other spray immediately before pouring batter into pan (I didn’t see that it said to do it immediately before pouring batter into pan, so I did it before I started making the batter – it worked out ok. I also didn’t see that it said non-stick spray with flour – I used regular spray and then coated it with flour – that worked out ok, too.).

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let it cool totally in the pan.

Turn cake out onto platter.

This is the weird-looking pan. I had never seen this kind of pan before.

I sprayed the pan with non-stick spray and then floured it – even though it says to use non-stick spray with flour in it.

There it is – all done and sitting to cool totally before turning it out.

I sprinkled powdered sugar over the top and then gilded the lily with a few toasted sliced almonds. It’s so pretty!

The cake was a lot easier to make than I thought it would be. Easy and delicious – check!

Oh boy – I think I have a new favorite cake. The almond flavor of this is just mouth-watering. It’s so good and so easy to do, especially at holiday time. Some lingonberries over the top of a slice of this cake might be nice, too. I think whether you are Scandinavian or not, you’re going to want to try this  amazingly delicious Scandinavian Almond Cake.



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Gingerbread #2 – a 160 Year Old Recipe

Today we’re trying Gingerbread #2 – a 160 Year Old Recipe. This recipe is in an old book of Grandma’s called Scandinavian Recipes. I can’t find a date on this little cookbook, but I’m sure she got it in the 1940’s.

Maybe it was the 1950’s, but even if it was in 1950, the recipe says it was 100 years old then and that would make it now 160 years old. At least! Let me just say that no matter how old this recipe is – it’s amazing! Not many gingerbread recipes call for 5 different spices – this is spicy and absolutely delicious. I had a tradition with my kids of making Gingerbread to celebrate the first measurable snowfall of the season (seriously, my son tried to talk me into making gingerbread when we only had a dusting a few weeks ago – that’s how much he waits for the first measurable snowfall so I’ll make gingerbread), and now this is another great recipe that will be part of our family traditions. There is nothing like the smell of gingerbread, with all the warm and cozy scents of spices and molasses, wafting throughout the whole house, bringing back memories of snow and tinsel and warm Christmas lights.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Gingerbread #2 – a 160 Year Old Recipe


1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)

1 cup sugar

Add sugar gradually and mix thoroughly.


1 cup molasses

2 eggs, well beaten

Sift together twice:

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoons allspice

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Add sifted dry ingredients to the fist mixture alternately with:

1 cup buttermilk

Beat hard so butter is thoroughly blended.

There is no pan size on this recipe so I used a 9″ x 9″ square pan.

It didn’t say to grease the pan, but I sprayed it lightly with non-stick spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes.

The batter really filled my square pan, but I decided to go with it anyway.

The cake definitely rose up above the pan, but it didn’t overflow. It just didn’t seem like enough batter for a 9″ x 13″ pan.

I wanted to go all “fancy pants” on the cake, so I used one of Grandma’s doilies like a stencil and made a pretty design by sprinkling powdered sugar over the top. Make sure your doily is clean – don’t use one that’s been sitting on your dresser for who knows how long! Doilies are flexible so even though there was a little cave-in in the middle of the cake, it still covered just fine. You could also use a store-bought paper doily for this.

I put the powdered sugar into a strainer and knocked on the side of it to make the powdered sugar sprinkle nice and even. You never know how this is going to turn out. It’s so exciting!

Lift it off carefully so you keep the design intact (make sure to wash the doily when you’re done so next time you want to use it you don’t get powdered sugar all over your nice clean dresser or table). This one turned out so pretty! You will SO impress your friends and family. Even though there was a crack around the side of the cake, once the design was on there, you could hardly see it.

The recipe says that it’s really good warm, and I have to agree. I mean, I’m sure it would be good warm, not that I know anything about that. Sort of.

This gingerbread is delicious. It. Is. So. Good. I’m not even kidding. It’s easy to make. It’s delicious. It’s pretty. It fits all of our criteria for a wonderful recipe. Make this Gingerbread #2 – a 160 Year Old Recipe at some point during the holiday season – or at some point this winter – and start your own family tradition!

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10 of My Family’s Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes!

I’m sharing 10 of My Family’s Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes! Today is Black Friday, and it’s “go time”! While I’m not a big one for Black Friday shopping, I AM one for getting onto the Christmas baking ASAP! There’s not a minute to waste, so I’m helping you out today with some great recipes that my family loves. This is not a complete list of what we make each year (not by any stretch of the imagination), but it is a partial list of our favorites. There’s a little something for everyone on the list! Enjoy!

Peanut Blossoms


Christmas Wreath Cookies


Mosaic Fruit Slices


Scalloped Cookies


Oatmeal Trilbys


Date Balls


Christmas Cookies


Peanut Butter Snowballs


Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies


Ritz Cracker Cookies


German Lebkuchen


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I hope you get to enjoy and celebrate this day with your friends and family!

I have SO MUCH to be thankful this year, but I’m especially thankful for all of you dear readers out there!

Thank you so much for your support!



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Pumpkin Pecan Pie

I first made this Pumpkin Pecan Pie when I was in high school. I can NOT remember where this recipe came from. Even though I thought it came from a specific cookbook of mine, the recipe isn’t in there, and I can’t find it anywhere other than written out here. The recipe was lost for years, but somehow I found it! Yay! That’s why, even though I posted on Friday about My 7 Favorite Thanksgiving Pies, I’m posting the recipe for this pie today.

Because it’s thanksgiving on Thursday, and thanksgiving is all about family, I wanted to share a little bit of family history. On my dad’s side of the family, we can trace ancestors back to a small town in Massachusetts, coming here from England in 1638. That’s less than 20 years after the Pilgrims! I love this photo of my great, great grandparents on my dad’s side, who were alive and living in Wisconsin during the last half of the 1800’s, or about halfway back to those original ancestors. Great, great grandpa has a bit of a twinkle in his eye, but great, great grandma looks a no-nonsense kind of gal.

I’m so grateful to have this photo and all the photos of family members going back so far. I wonder what thanksgiving dinner would be like with these relatives? I would have a million questions!

So anyway, about this pie. It’s absolutely delicious, and it has always been one of my favorites. I highly recommend trying this ridiculously easy recipe. Before I start the recipe, I want to say in advance – don’t use the temperature written on the recipe. See below for new baking instructions.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Have a pie crust ready to go. You can find recipes for pie crust here on the blog by using the recipe menu.

Mix all together:

1 cup pumpkin (I used frozen pumpkin instead of pumpkin from a can)

3 eggs

1 cup sweetened condensed milk (1-14 ounce can)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Fill pie crust.

Sprinkle on top of filling:

1 cup chopped pecans (plus extra if you want to make a fancy design)

New baking instructions – Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.*

(*I had a problem with the temperature for baking. In the recipe I had written down 300 degrees for 45 minutes, but after 45 minutes, the pie was still totally liquid. I raised the temp to 400 degrees and gave it another 20 minutes. That seemed to do the trick – that was enough to solidify it. I’m wondering if I didn’t write it down wrong and it was supposed to be 400 degrees. Start there and maybe just watch it after 30 minutes or so.)

This is it – just mix it all up together in a bowl.

I had my pie crust and chopped pecans ready to go before starting the filling.

I decided to do a fancy pants line of whole pecans around the outside edge of the filling. So pretty.

The pecans got a bit dark because of the temperature issue, but I don’t know, I kinda like the pecans nice and toasted.

Add a dollop of whipped cream and you’re in heaven. This pie is so amazingly delicious for such a simple recipe. I just love it. It’s sweet and pumpkin-y with the amazing flavor of all those spices. This is my favorite pumpkin pie recipe. Ever. Period. It’s an easy one to do last-minute because it’s just so easy to make. I think you’re going to want to make this recipe for Pumpkin Pecan Pie for your family this thanksgiving.


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My 7 Favorite Thanksgiving Pie Recipes

Since we’re only days away from Thanksgiving, I’m sharing My 7 Favorite Thanksgiving Pie Recipes. Can we ever really have enough pies? I think not. Thanksgiving is about gratitude and abundance – so “make more pie”! That’s my motto! Enjoy these pie recipes – maybe you’ll pick a new one to make for your celebration!

No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie


Cranberry Pineapple Pie


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie


Apple Pie with Crumb Topping


Pumpkin Pie – the Chiffon Kind


Apple Pie with Old-Fashioned Pie Crust


Butterscotch Pie




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It’s a Blog Party!

Let’s Party! Blog Party, that is!

Bernadine over at Bernadine’s Bakery is hosting a Blog Party and she invited me to join. I was able to share my posts for Harvest Loaf Cake, Caramel Candy, and Spice Cake. You might want to visit Bernadine’s Bakery – there are a lot of fun blogs, bloggers, and other fun things to explore at this Blog Party!

If you have a blog you want to promote, you might want to check out the rules and join!

It’s a lot of fun, so hop on over to Bernadine’s Bakery and check it out!



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