Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Caprese Salad

I don’t have a recipe for this particular Caprese Salad, but I think it’s the time of year to share how I do it.

We had this salad for dinner recently and I just love it!

We have been having the most beautiful tomatoes from our garden and I grow basil in a pot on our deck.

I just slice some tomatoes, slice a ball of fresh mozzarella, and stack them with a basil leaf between each set.

Drizzle some balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil over the top.

Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.



It’s a very impressive looking dish!


So tasty . . .


and very pretty!

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Jenny’s Cake with Chocolate Frosting

My hubby’s birthday was this week so I made his favorite birthday cake – Jenny’s Cake. It’s a very old and old fashioned chocolate cake recipe. This is a recipe that came from my other grandma and I’ve been making it since I was in Junior High so I know it’s VERY old. When I started to make this cake, grandma told me that she had been making it since the days when her kids were in 4-H. That was probably sometime in the late 1940s and early 1950s and I bet it was around even before that.

dad and cow

This is my dad with one of his prized 4-H cows. So cute – both of them!

I don’t have the original recipe card for it but I know that all it had on it were the ingredients, no instructions, and that the recipe was named for the woman she got the recipe from.

Jenny's Cake

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Jenny’s Cake

1 1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)

Dash of salt

2 eggs

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 cup of sour milk (to make sour milk, I used 1 cup of milk and added about 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar)

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 Tablespoons cocoa mixed with a little cold water

Mix all ingredients in bowl of a mixer. Beat 3 minutes on medium speed. Pour batter into greased 9 x 13″ cake pan.

Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

I used a very simple and fudgey Chocolate Frosting recipe that we’ve always used for this cake.

Chocolate Frosting

6 Tablespoons butter

6 Tablespoons milk

1 1/2 cups white sugar

Bring to a boil and boil for 30 seconds.

Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Beat like crazy until chips are melted and incorporated. This does take awhile.

The frosting thickens as it cools. Sometimes I’ll put some cold water in the kitchen sink, set the saucepan with the frosting in it, and beat it until it thickens enough to spread.


The cake batter turns a lighter color once it’s beaten for 3 minutes.


Looks good right out of the oven.


Keep stirring the frosting – it WILL incorporate!


The frosting gets nice and smooth.

004 (2)

It is so fudgey!

013 (2)

Gotta have ice cream on birthday cake!


Apple Pie Bars

Grandma and Grandpa had an apple tree in their yard – when they moved from the farm to town – that had one branch grafted on to it that bore fruit every other year. So one year the whole tree had apples and the branch didn’t and the next year, the branch had apples and the whole tree didn’t. So smart on the part of whoever originally planted that tree. At least they weren’t inundated with huge amounts of fruit EVERY year. I remember when it was “all hands on deck” to help get the apples ready to freeze.  Everyone had to help with the peeling, slicing, and bagging of the apples. Grandma would make applesauce, apple crisp, and apple pie all winter with those apples.

Apple Pie Bars is one of those recipes that sounded great but looks a bit tricky to do.

It wasn’t.

I’ll explain as we go along.

Apple Pie Bars

Apple Pie Bars 2

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Apple Pie Bars

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup shortening (I don’t usually like to use it, but I did for this one)

1 egg yolk

2/3 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

Mix as for pie crust.

Roll half of dough out to fit jelly roll pan. (Grandma has a note on the recipe that she used a 9 x 13″ cake pan and that it was ok. I would use that size pan next time.)

Sprinkle a couple of handfuls of corn flakes over bottom layer of dough.


1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

8-10 apples, sliced

Put on bottom layer of dough.

Put other half of dough (rolled out) on top of apples.

Pinch sides together.

Beat 1 egg white until stiff and spread over top crust. (I used just the plain egg white and that worked fine.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

Drizzle powdered sugar frosting over top while warm.

For frosting I used about 2 cups of powdered sugar and 1/4 cup of milk.


These are the corn flakes (which I crushed a bit).


It looks like more apples than you need but they do cook down.


The tricky part is that you need to use half of the dough for the bottom crust and half for the top crust. I didn’t have enough to do the bottom crust so I had to patch a bit. Then when it came to doing the top crust, I ran short but just put the top on and hoped for the best (there wasn’t enough dough to pinch together). This is why Grandma’s note to use a 9 x 13″ cake pan is helpful – the dough would fit better in that size of pan. Here you can see how the dough for the top crust didn’t quite reach the edge. It worked out just fine.


The bars are like apple pie that you can eat with your hand.

This is my favorite recipe so far!


Overnight Rye Bread

Today I’m sharing one of my personal favorites, Overnight Rye Bread. This bread is total comfort food in our family! It’s nice to break up the bread making into two days instead of doing it all in one day and anything that saves time is ok with me.

Overnight Rye Bread

Overnight Rye Bread 2

You can see that this is another very well used recipe card!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Overnight Rye Bread

Mix well after each addition:

1 quart cold milk or water (I used milk)

1/2 cup molasses

1 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 to 2 cups rye flour (I used 2 cups)

1 cup melted shortening (I used oil)

1 package of dry yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

About 7 cups all purpose flour (I used more than that – 9 cups)

Knead until smooth and elastic but not sticky. It took awhile and it is sticky in the beginning but keep going, it’s a lot of dough.

Let rise overnight on counter.

In the morning, put in pans and let rise again for about an hour.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake another 15 min.

Makes 5 loaves.


This is how it looked when I first put it in the bowl in the evening – about 9:45 pm.


This is what it looked like the next morning – about 7:30 am. Blowout!!


I punched the dough down and let it sit for 10 minutes before putting it into the pans to rise a second time.


These are the loaves I ended up with.

3 regular loaves, 2 round loaves (good for donating to daughters), and 4 small loaves (good for mothers and mother-in-laws).


Ready for the oven!


Hot out of the oven!


They looked great all done!


This bread is soooo good!


This bread is great any way you want to eat it, but it’s traditional in our family to make Velveeta sandwiches.

I remember Grandma making them with Cheese Whiz, also great for Sunday night suppers!!!


Sweden and Norway

I’m back from the trip of a lifetime!!


Sweden and Norway were amazing – we had soooooo much fun!

I’m fighting jet lag and the physical and emotional exhaustion of the trip so I’m giving myself the weekend to recover and rest up.

I’ll be back next week with more of Grandma’s recipes, ready to roll into the holiday season!


Swedish Cookies


I’m going on a two week trip to Sweden and Norway with my mom, my sister and my godmother!! We are starting in Sweden where my Grandma’s family is from. While in Norway, we’ll be very near the town that my paternal great grandmother came from! She came to the U.S. all alone in 1870 when she was 18, left her family and never went back to Norway. This recipe today is in honor of the trip – and Grandma’s ancestry – Swedish Cookies. I was in 4-H in junior high and did International Cooking as one of my topics to work on, entered these Swedish Cookies in the county fair and won a blue ribbon!

Swedish Cookies

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Swedish Cookies


2 cups sugar

2 cups butter

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup of coconut

1 cup of walnuts, chopped

Drop from spoon and bake in a slow oven (300 degrees) for 30 minutes.

Usually make half this recipe (I did only make half).


I used my little ice cream scoop again to get uniform size.


These cookies are very delicate so it helps to let them sit on the cookie sheet a few minutes before moving to the cooling rack.



Off to Scandinavia!!

See you in two weeks!!!

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