Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Grape-Blueberry Salad

There is no easier salad than this. This one is so simple and so good. Grape-Blueberry Salad is as easy as it gets. Seriously, ANYONE can do this one. Grandma would serve this one at Easter time or in the spring in her prettiest glass bowl. I do remember her serving whipped cream with it, in a separate bowl so everyone could take as much or as little as they wanted. You can also do this with any kind of pie filling and matching Jello. Strawberry, cherry, apricot/orange, the varieties are endless but this was the flavor she made the most often.

Grape-Blueberry Salad

There was no card for this in Grandma’s file – this is the card I made myself years ago so I wouldn’t forget about this recipe!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Grape-Blueberry Salad

(It really is pretty self-explanatory!)

1 small package of grape Jello

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 can blueberry pie filling

Mix Jello in water until dissolved.

Add pie filling and mix.



Not too many ingredients in this one!


Just mix ’em up!


This is just ridiculously easy.


That’s it. It’s almost like a dessert. It’s sweet and creamy and just the right accompaniment for any special occasion. Enjoy!



Leave a comment »

Marinara Sauce

I have not had a lot of tomatoes from my garden this year. We had such a wet spring and first part of the summer, that the tomato plants got planted late. There are also too many tree branches overhanging the back yard now and we have more shade than we used to. I had to make a run to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market to supplement my fall canning and freezing. One bushel of beautiful plum (or Roma) tomatoes later, I’m making Marinara Sauce and salsa.


I found this recipe for Marinara Sauce a couple of years ago and it’s become one of my family’s favorites. It’s from a blog called The Yummy Life and you can find the original recipe here. The best part of this recipe is that you can freeze it, can it, or do as we did when I made it – eat it!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Marinara Sauce

2 28 oz. cans unsalted whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped; OR 8 cups (4 lbs.) coarsely chopped fresh plum tomatoes that have been blanched and peeled (I used about 21 large tomatoes)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon minced garlic, (3 cloves)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2/3 cup dry red wine

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 6 oz. can tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried leaf marjoram

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 Tablespoon dried basil)

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley (or 1 Tablespoon dried parsley)

1/2 teaspoon white sugar

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt (to taste)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large stockpot, warm olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook about 1 minute – don’t let the garlic brown.

Add tomatoes (include liquid in canned tomatoes), wine, vinegar, tomato paste, oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil, parsley, sugar, salt, and pepper.

Bring everything to a boil, lower heat and simmer uncovered for 40-60 minutes, until mixture is desired consistency.

Taste and add salt, if needed.

May be canned or frozen.


I get the first batch going and then just get all the ingredients ready to go for batch number two. I figure I might as well do a couple of batches as long as I’m doing it.


This batch was easier because one of my daughters helped me with the blanching and peeling.


It cooks away in the pot, filling the house with its amazing aroma, while I do something else.


After it cools a bit, I use freezer zip top bags to put 2 cup batches into the freezer.


I ended up making four batches which gave me 10 pints and one meal (with the boys taking leftovers for lunch the next day).


This is such a tasty and easy meal when you freeze the portions. Just thaw, heat, cook your noodles, and dinner’s ready. Get out and support the farmers at your local farmer’s market!


Overnight Rye Bread – Baking Bread – the Odyssey: #1

I know that I’ve mentioned in a past post that Grandma didn’t have a lot of bread recipes left in her recipe box, because they used to have to bake all of the bread for the family every week and I’m sure she was tired of baking bread. My godmother donated a lot of flour to me recently, and I’ll be sharing some new bread recipes (new to me) so I can use this flour in ways that we can all benefit from. She mentioned trying to make the good, whole grain bread we had on our Sweden/Norway trip, so thus, the odyssey.


Here’s a photo from that little trip of a lifetime to Sweden and Norway that I took with my mom, my sister, and my godmother. I may have to take seriously the fact that the only place to find a recipe for that good bread is there. My odyssey may just take me back there. Oh well, you gotta do what you gotta do. (FYI – this trip should be on EVERYONE’S bucket list! It was absolutely amazing!) I’d LOVE to find a recipe for that bread and I’ll also try any other recipes that sound good along the way.

Today we’re going to look back at a couple of bread recipes I’ve posted in the past, in the first installment of “Baking Bread – the Odyssey”.

The first and most important recipe is one of my family’s favorite home-made breads. Overnight Rye Bread is a recipe that Grandma is famous for (in our family, anyway). This bread is best made into cheese sandwiches using Velveeta. Seriously.


Overnight Rye Bread

The second bread that I want to share with you is the recipe that my mom is famous for (also in our family). It’s just called Buns. My sister and I were raised on these buns. There was a time when I think my mom was making a batch of these once a week. This was the time of year when my dad did a lot of hunting and she would send caramel rolls with him, made from this bun recipe. These are best warm with butter, but also with peanut butter, or cheese and bologna! Ha! Ah, childhood.



The final recipe for today is one that I posted recently for Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread. I found this one online a couple of years ago and we really like it. It’s an easy recipe that only makes one loaf. This bread is good any way you eat it, but it’s really good toasted with jam or served with soup for a Sunday supper.


Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread

I hope you’ll join me on my odyssey to find a good bread recipes. I’ll be posting more of the recipes I find during my odyssey from time to time. Who knows when they’ll pop up.


1 Comment »

Brown Sugar Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

The recipe I’m doing for today is another one that I don’t remember Grandma making. I know I’d remember it if she had made it when I was around. This Brown Sugar Cake with Brown Sugar Icing is now one of my favorite recipes that I’ve done since starting this blog. The cake is dense and the dates and nuts, along with the addition of the orange peel, give it almost a fruitcake-like feel. I didn’t think the addition of the orange peel would make such a big difference, in fact I almost left it out, but that’s what takes this cake over the top. The scent of orange when you take a bite – amazing! The icing is really good, too. It’s more like a layer of candy sitting on top of the cake. So I think we can conclude that, yes, this recipe is one you should try. I think you’ll like it as much as I do.

Brown Sugar Cake

Brown Sugar Icing

Caramel Frosting b

These icing recipes were on a card back to back. I used the one on the front and it only made enough for a small cake. I had to make two batches of it and then mix them together so I would have enough for the whole cake. The second recipe seems like it would cover a full cake.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Brown Sugar Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

Cream together:

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix in:

3 eggs

Sift together and add to creamed mixture:

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 package of dates, chopped

1 cup of nuts, chopped (I used pecans)

grated peel of 1 orange mixed in to 2 cups of all-purpose flour

Put batter in 9′ x 13″ pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

(Note that there are no instructions for size of pan, time, or temperature to bake. We should know this stuff, people. I’m getting as bad as Grandma. I almost left it off, too! Ha!)

Brown Sugar Icing

(I’ll give the doubled recipe here.)

12 Tablespoons brown sugar

6 tablespoons cream

2 Tablespoons butter

Bring to a good boil and pour over 2 cups powdered sugar.

Add 2 teaspoons vanilla.



You can see all the goodies hidden in the batter.


The cake bakes up golden brown and fragrant and the icing is so smooth and creamy.


I’m glad I found this recipe. It’s going to get a lot of use from now on!


Try this one! You’ll love it as much as I do!


Leave a comment »

Apple Cake Pie

The recipe for today comes from one of Grandma’s sisters. In this photo, Grandma is the one with the big hair bow, and this sister is the one with the big bonnet. This must have been a special occasion to be able to wear a hair bow and bonnet like that! Even the two brothers look spiffy in what looks like their Sunday best. Except for a couple of little things, this photo could have been taken yesterday. The clothes don’t look that different and the hairstyles aren’t that different, even though this was taken almost a hundred years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Mary Jane, Ardis, Andreen, Roger

I still just love how much these sisters stayed close, exchanged recipes, and lived so close to each other much of their lives. This is one recipe exchange just right for this time of year. Apple Cake Pie is another one that is so easy, so fast, and sooooo good!

Apple Cake Pie

This makes a great week night dessert.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Apple Cake Pie

5 large apples

3/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice (It doesn’t say what to do with this and I didn’t see it until I was finished so I left it out.)

1/4 cup butter

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Slice fruit thin, place in well buttered 10″ pie tin and cover with 1/4 cup sugar.

Cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar and beaten egg.

Sift flour, salt, and baking powder, and add to creamed mixture.

Spread over fruit and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


I think this is the point at which you might want to use the lemon juice – to keep the apples from browning. Next time I’d put on a sprinkle of cinnamon at this point. Fall and apples mean cinnamon to me.


I used two spoons to put on dollops of the batter and spread it over the top of the slices.


It comes out of the oven browned and delicious.


Buttering the pie plate made it come out very easily.


You can see the layers of apples.


Whipped cream is the perfect topper. I’d say this took me about 10 minutes to make, not including the baking. It’s so easy and so good. Try it tonight!



Russian Tea

I seem to be very happy about having a snack in this photo. It says May of 1962, so I must have been about 17 months old. Seriously – what’s with those bangs?!!! I’m pretty sure that I’m looking for something to dip my cracker in. If only I had today’s recipe at the time, I’m sure this Russian Tea would have done the trick.
Russian Tea

This recipe, again, comes courtesy of my 7th Grade Home Economics class. You can tell by my handwriting on the card that I’ve had this recipe for a long time. Fall has always been my favorite time of  year and the aroma of this Russian Tea is just the epitome of fall and the holidays. The spices and the orange in this tea are what bring back memories of fall activities like my dad hunting, harvesting the garden, raking leaves, baling hay at grandma and grandpa’s farm, picking pumpkins, Halloween parties, not to mention all of the holiday fun.

Russian Tea

This is another great recipe from the 1970’s.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Russian Tea

Mix together:

1 jar Tang (1 lb. 2 oz. size)

1/2 cup unsweetened instant tea

1 package of Wyler lemonade mix (I don’t remember if this was originally supposed to be sweetened or just a plain packet of lemonade and I used Kool Aid lemonade because I couldn’t find Wyler’s anywhere. If it was supposed to be sweetened, I don’t miss the extra sugar in it. It’s plenty sweet!)

2 cups white sugar

2 Tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Use 2 heaping teaspoons per cup of boiling water (you can adjust to your own liking).


Just throw everything into a bowl and mix together.


It makes a pretty big batch since you only use 2 teaspoons per cup. There’s enough to share or give as gifts.


Biscotti is great to serve with this for your afternoon coffee break. You can find a post on how to make biscotti here.


Try this Russian Tea during the fall and holiday season. It’s sure to get you in the mood!





Lemon Banana Pie

The recipe for today is another one that is a bit unusual. This Lemon Banana Pie is a different take on the usual Lemon Meringue Pie. The combination of lemon and banana is kind of weird. My theory about why there is banana in it, is that maybe because there is no straining of the lemon custard involved, the lemon peel and banana may have helped cover some lumping of the egg and/or cornstarch. These farm women were in a hurry! I know that Grandma and the rest of her family loved lemon and I’m sure they loved this pie. Lemon must have been one of those things that was more readily available for making sweets in the old days. Citrus and fruit in general was hard to come by until they started shipping it up here to the frozen north, and I’m sure it was expensive. It was a special occasion and you would use something special in your celebration treats.

Lemon Banana Pie

Lemon Banana Pie 2

Note the “V Good” connotation!

Grandma said on the card that she didn’t put in the banana. I did for this first try at it.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lemon Banana Pie

You will need one pre-baked pie crust. I use a Martha Stewart recipe that you can find here.

1 1/2 cup white sugar

6 Tablespoons corn starch (I would add an extra tablespoon or so next time to make the filling a bit thicker)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups boiling water

3 eggs, separated, yolks slightly beaten

grated peel of one lemon

1 1/2 cup lemon juice

2 bananas

Combine sugar, corn starch, and salt.

Add boiling water.

Cook and stir until it thickens and boils for 2 minutes.

Add small amount of hot liquid to egg yolks and bend.

Add egg yolks to rest and cook 2 minutes longer.

Add lemon juice and lemon peel.


Slice one banana into pie crust and add half of lemon filling.

Add another sliced banana and then rest of filling.

For meringue, beat egg whites (I would add an extra white or two to make a higher meringue) with 1/3 cup white sugar, spread on pie, and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.


My grandmas both made treats with the left over pie crust. Sometimes we made little mini pies with it, but sometimes we just put cinnamon and sugar on it and had it with our afternoon coffee. Nothing was ever thrown away. Even if I didn’t have coffee at the time, I had a treat!


I rarely have much leftover, but this time I did and I had to go down memory lane! It was great with my afternoon coffee.


Ok – here we go with the lemon and banana combination.


I would use a deep dish pie pan next time. This pan didn’t have enough depth for two layers of banana.


The more meringue, the merrier, so I’d use an extra white or two next time.


You can just barely see the banana peeking through the lemon filling here.


This was a very tangy, sweet, luscious pie. Even though it was a bit unusual, I’d give it a try. It might be your new favorite!



1 Comment »

Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread

My godmother recently donated a LOT of flour to my cause. She was all set up for doing some bread baking when she and her husband decided to sell their home of 30 plus years and move into a house with one of their daughters – each family having their own end of the house with a kitchen in the middle. They don’t want to move anything extra, so when they were recently in the area, they dropped it all off here for me to use. There’s whole wheat flour, bread flour, flaxseed meal, and rye flour. Needless to say,  I’m on the lookout for more interesting bread recipes. I found this recipe for Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread a while back and we love it. It’s from a blog called Buttered Side Up and you can find the original recipe for it here. It only makes one loaf and it was perfect with the Tomato Jam from my last post. You can look back at that recipe here.

Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread

1/2 cup water

1 cup buttermilk

1 Tablespoon instant yeast (I used one package of rapid rise yeast)

1/4 cup sugar, maple syrup, or honey, divided (I used honey)

1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

2 teaspoons salt

In a small saucepan, gently heat the water and buttermilk to 110 degrees F.

Place the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon honey in a small bowl; pour the heated buttermilk mixture into the bowl and let proof for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, oats, remaining honey and salt.

Add the yeast mixture, remaining buttermilk mixture, and butter and mix with a wooden spoon to combine (I do use my big mixer).

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes (I use the big mixer and use the dough hook for about 5 minutes and it’s perfect).

Add  flour as necessary.

Return to mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours, depending on how warm your house is.

Form risen dough into loaves, buns, or whatever shape you wish.

Let rise until nearly doubled, about 1-2 more hours.

During the last 15 minutes of rising, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake risen bread until nicely browned and loaf sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom.

Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.


This loaf ended up with a bit of a hole in the middle. Oops!


It has a lovely brown crust.


The Tomato Jam goes perfectly with this bread. Well, any jam would go perfectly with this bread.


Using a mixer makes bread baking a whole lot easier, but I do it the hard-core kneading way, too! I’ll have many chances to do that thanks to my godmother and her flour donation! If you haven’t done a lot of bread baking, or even if you bake bread a lot, try this recipe. It’s an easy to start and it’s so good!

1 Comment »

Tomato Jam

The recipe for today is something a little bit unusual. Tomato Jam was something Grandma made every year and I have to admit that it was never my favorite. It was always too tomato-y for me, but she loved it! I seem to remember that she served it with bread or toast, but also with some meats. It’s kind of like a chutney, being a bit on the savory side. This MUST be another good one since she didn’t keep recipes cut out from a newspaper very often. She even taped the cut-out right onto a card!

Tomato Jam

Note that this one also has the “V Good” connotation!!!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Tomato Jam

3 cups ripe tomatoes, chopped (blanched to remove skins)

2 cups sugar

1 package (3 oz.) lemon gelatin dessert

Cook tomatoes and sugar for 12 minutes (this is where I put in the peeled and chopped orange she mentioned).

Remove from heat.

Stir in gelatin dessert (or Jell-O) and stir until the gelatin dissolves.

Pour into sterilized jars.

Keep refrigerated or frozen.


I chopped the peeled orange about the same size as the tomatoes.


The orange melts into the tomato and it all cooks down together to make the sweet tomato-y jam.


It is jam, yet it still really looks like tomatoes. It’s also a great way to use up your over abundance of tomatoes from the garden!


Here’s another very pretty jar that’s great for gift giving.


This jam is also really good with meats. Try it on pork, beef, or even chicken.


Now I love this jam. It’s not nearly as tomato-y as I remember it. It’s just jam.


There’s nothing better than your own home-made jam on your own home-made bread. I’ll share the recipe for this Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread in my Friday post. Try this unusual jam. You will really enjoy it.


1 Comment »

Crumb Cake

Today’s recipe comes from Grandma’s sister. It’s a recipe that intrigued me from the start because of the “mother” note on the bottom. I wonder if this one originally came from their mother, who would be my great-grandmother. This photo is of my great-grandmother and her husband sometime around the late 1920’s. I know Grandma loved her parents dearly, as she spoke of them often. She always called them “mother and dad”. Her mother was quite a seamstress and sewed all of the clothes for the family. She’s the one who sewed the baptismal gown for Grandma worn by dozens of family members. You can see more about the baptismal gown here.

30 Great Grandparents Johnson

I wonder who took this picture. They look like they’re humoring whoever is taking it! Ha! I love the dress she’s wearing here! So stylish!

Crumb Cake

It was exciting to try a recipe possibly handed down from my great-grandmother! I’m going to go ahead and say it IS from my great-grandmother, just because I love that idea!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Crumb Cake

Mix together:

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 cups all-purpose flour

Take out 3/4 cup of mixture to spread on top later.

Mix into remainder:

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking soda mixed into 1 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup raisins or nuts (I added raisins and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans)

Of course, there is not baking temperature, no pan size, and no baking time. We should know this stuff, right?

I put it into a 9″ x 9″ pan and baked it at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes until a toothpick came out clean.

Next time I think I’d put it in a 7″ x 11″ pan and bake it for a shorter time.


I used the mixer for mixing the first ingredients. I’d use my hands next time and make the mixture more crumbly.


Using a smaller pan might help it not get so brown around the edges.


The brown sugar in this cake gives it a caramel flavor.


This cake is just right for breakfast or afternoon coffee. It’s another very easy, very good one to try. This is one of my new favorites, thanks to my great-grandmother!




Leave a comment »

The New Vintage Kitchen

A Vermont innkeeper's collection of seasonal vintage recipes, reimagined for today's cooks.

Bernadine’s Corner

Recipes * Lifestyle

Convivial Supper

Recipes from the Past

Cooking Without Limits

Food Photography & Recipes

Pinch of Yum

A food blog with simple and tasty recipes.

Mrs. Twinkle

My Wonderful Little World


a collection of recipes