Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Mexican Turkey or Chicken Hotdish

It seems appropriate to have a hotdish for the recipe for today – I’m sure that’s what Grandma would do with her leftover turkey.

grandma and grandpa

Doritos probably weren’t invented at the time of this photo of Grandma and Grandpa (taken sometime in the 50s – love her shoes), but if they were around, and she had tried this recipe, I’m sure she would have made it part of her file. This recipe comes from my mom who got it, I’m sure, from someone at work years ago. We all need to use up our leftover turkey and this Mexican Turkey or Chicken Hotdish is a great way to do it. It’s not the healthiest dish, but it sure is good. My kids ALL LOVE this hotdish. You might even say they’re addicted to it. We don’t have it every year, so it’s a real treat when I make it. I’m not too picky about the amounts on some of the ingredients. I’ve just made the meal of the year in our Thanksgiving Dinner and I don’t want to think too much or make too big of a deal of making this. I just make it as easy as possible. There isn’t a card from my mom for this one, so I’ll just type it out.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Mexican Turkey or Chicken Hotdish

Crush lightly:

1-6 1/2 oz. bag Doritos (I used a whole 11 oz. bag)

Mix together in a large bowl:

1 small onion, chopped

2 cans Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup

1 cup sour cream

1-3 oz. can chopped chilis

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

4 cups diced turkey or chicken (fairly large pieces)

3/4 lb. Monterey Jack, shredded

Put 1/2 of the crushed chips in 9″ x 13″ glass pan.

Spread mixture from bowl over the layer of crushed chips.

Top the mixture with the rest of the chips and drizzle 1/4 cup melted butter over top (I didn’t use the butter).

Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Let stand for 10 minutes so it can firm up.

Be sure to use Campbell’s soup, the others are too thin and won’t firm up the hotdish.


It looks like this recipe makes a big pan of hotdish, but funny, in the end, there’s never enough!


The chips get crispy after baking, and the cheese melts and becomes so gooey and cheesy and yummy.


This is a delicious way to use up some of  your leftover turkey. It’s so good and so easy. Your family will be addicted to it, too!



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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I’m so thankful for each and every one of you who check in to see what I’m up to here on Plenty Sweet Life.

Have a happy and safe holiday weekend with family and friends!


Thank you!



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Pies, Pies, Pies

We’re talking Pies, Pies, Pies today! If you’re still looking for some last minutes pies to bring to your Thanksgiving celebration, I’m sharing some pies from past posts. These are all so good and so easy – they’re great when you need something “last minute”. Thinking of all of these pies reminds me of Grandma and all of the baking she used to do. I’ve shared before that she had a actual flour bin in the kitchen on the farm, well, you can see it here in this photo of me from when I was not quite a year old. The horizontal handle behind me is the flour bin! It must have held a 20 pound bag of flour – maybe more! She needed it and she used it well.


Here are the recipes as I made them:

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie


Apple Cake Pie


Butterscotch Pie


Apple Pie with Crumb Topping


Graham Cracker Pie


Apple Pie with Old-Fashioned Pie Crust


Wow – I think I’ve come a long way in my photography! Some of those photos aren’t so great. Ha. At least there are plenty of pies to choose from! Thanks for stopping in and please feel free to use Plenty Sweet Life as a reference for all of your future pie baking!












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Pumpkin Pie – the Chiffon Kind

This recipe is named Pumpkin Pie, but I added the chiffon thing. It’s from this day forward going to be known as Pumpkin Pie – the Chiffon Kind so I know what to do with it. This recipe was a bit of a challenge. It’s a list of ingredients, but not much in the way of instructions. I did see that on the back of the card, there was a recipe for a graham cracker crust, so at least I knew to do that. When it came to the filling, that was a little trickier. I noticed that it asked for gelatin. Hmm. Gelatin isn’t something that usually goes in the oven. So I went online and found this exact recipe on This pie goes in the refrigerator, not the oven. If I would have put it into the oven, I would have had a mess! And so it goes with these recipes! 🙂

Pumpkin Pie and Crust

Pumpkin Pie and Crust 2

This makes a big pie. I had enough filling to put into glasses and use for dessert.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Pie

For crust:

18 (whole big graham crackers are actually counted as 2 crackers) graham crackers

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

Mix together, press into pie pan, and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Cool completely.

For filling:

Mix together:

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar


1 1/4 cups cooked or canned pumpkin

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon each of salt, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Cook in double boiler until thick.

Stir into hot mixture:

1 envelope of unflavored gelatin dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water.


3 egg whites to medium peaks.

Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and beat to stiff peaks.

Fold filling mixture into egg whites.

Pour filling into crust and chill in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Top with whipped cream.


I love graham cracker crusts!


In my makeshift double boiler, the pumpkin part looks just like a regular pumpkin pie.


I whipped the egg whites before heating the pumpkin so they’re ready to go in.


Mix the egg whites into the pumpkin part and that’s it!


It made more than I needed for the pie.


I poured it into glasses and we had them for dessert that night!


Top the whipped cream with a few graham cracker crumbs – just to make it pretty.

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This is a different kind of pumpkin pie, but still sooooo delicious. And did I mention that  you can make this the day before? Love that!




Norwegian Mittens

I’m kind of a big deal . . . when it comes to these Norwegian Mittens, anyway. Ha! I’ve been making these since I was in college and a girl I knew showed me how to make them. I still have some of the originals I made back then. They end up being double thick, so they’re VERY warm and if made with acrylic yarn, they’re VERY durable. Grandma had a couple of pair of these mittens that she liked to show off to anyone who would listen! 🙂 I’ve made hundreds of these over the years. Everyone in our family and extended family has a pair – some have more than one pair. I’ve made them for sports teams, for coaches, for teachers, for my kids’ college roommates, for friends, for fundraisers, for charity, and for gifts.

Both of my grandmas helped me in my quest to learn how to knit. My sister and I would go to the other Grandma and Gramp’s house on Monday nights when the stores in our hometown were open late and both parents had to work. She helped me learn how to knit when I was at her house and it gave me something to do. My first full project was an aqua and black striped scarf that I knit for my Gramp for Christmas. After he passed away, Grandma gave it back to me and I still have it!

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Both grandmas helped teach me to knit, but didn’t do a lot of knitting themselves. They were both more in the crochet camp.

This picture is of Grandma answering a knitting question for me.

What was I wearing ? Oh yeah, it was the 70’s.

What was SHE wearing? Oh yeah, it was the 70’s.

My sister was interested at the moment – and that was about the extent of her interest in knitting.


Here are the mittens as I made them:

Norwegian Mittens

I’m not going to put the whole pattern on here. I just wanted to share the mittens with you. Maybe I’ll try to give a YouTube lesson about making these someday. Go ahead and try knitting. It’s a very relaxing hobby. Sometimes I think it almost feels like meditating. You can find free patterns online and you can get tutoring on any stitch or technique on YouTube. These mittens are knit on 4 needles and it’s a bit complicated until you get the hang of it. It’s really not that hard to do. I don’t do acrylic yarn much anymore because wool and wool blends are much softer and easier to work with, so I use those almost exclusively now. It used to take me a week or so to do a pair, but after so many years of doing this same pattern, I can now do a pair in two days (that’s if I do nothing but knit).


These are some of the 9 pair that I’ve already done this fall (still all available). You can see that there’s an endless variety of color combinations to choose from, and believe me, I’ve done some doozies. I once made some for a Phoenix Suns fan and the colors were bright orange and bright purple. I almost went blind using those colors!


You can see the front and back of the mittens here.


This is a detail of the thumb and palm.


This is a detail of the snowflake or rose on the back of the hand.


They’re even kind of pretty inside out. You can see how the yarn is doubled on the inside. That’s why they’re so warm!


This pair is made from a washable wool blend. I like that you can just throw them into the washer and dryer. When made from wool, you have to be a bit more careful of shrinkage.


I have done some other knitting projects over the years – I’m definitely no expert – but these mittens have kind of become my specialty. They’re fun to do and they really do keep your fingers nice and toasty! We need that here in Minnesota!








Pumpkin Pie Dessert

I came across this photo of Grandma in a costume and I just had to share it!!! How cute is this?

grandma costume

She must have been in a school play. I just love the roses on the garland, and the rolled socks! Those cheeks! Those dimples! That headband! There is another photo of her on the same page of the photo album and it says 1926. I think she looks a little younger in this one, maybe 10-12 years old.

Today’s recipe is so typically a Grandma recipe. It’s so easy and so good! There isn’t have an official name on the card, and at first I couldn’t decide if it was bars, cake, or dessert. I think I’ve decided that it should be a dessert. Pumpkin Pie Dessert is very easy and you can even do the day before you need it.

Pumpkin Pie Dessert

Pumpkin Pie Dessert 2

Again – so easy, so fast, so good.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Pie Dessert

For the crust, mix together:

1 yellow cake mix (reserve 1 cup of mix for the topping)

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 egg

Pat into 9″ x 13″ cake pan.

For the filling, mix together:

3 cups pumpkin

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

2 eggs, beaten

2/3 cup milk

Pour over crust.

For topping, mix together until crumbly:

1 cup reserved cake mix

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup butter

Sprinkle over top of filling.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.


It doesn’t look like a lot of crust, but it does cover the bottom of the pan. I found that using a small metal offset spatula helped spread it better.


The filling looks just like pumpkin pie filling.


It turns golden and delicious after baking.


This really is an easy one.


Here is what it looked like right after baking.


This is what it looked like the next day. The layers of topping, filling, and crust are more pronounced and the whole thing firmed up. I would always make it a day ahead.


This is great for any occasion that calls for pumpkin pie. Anything you can do a day ahead is ok with me! Don’t forget the whipped cream!




Apple Cake with Butter Sauce

This recipe comes from our friend, Sven. He’s the one who has the big, old, beautiful apple tree that only bears fruit every other year. He gave me this recipe the first year he gave us apples. It comes from his mother and man, is it good! For some reason, his apple tree bore fruit this year, even though it was supposed to be the “off” year. He gave us a 5 gallon bucket full of his wonderful apples and I’ve been taking advantage and making lots of treats with them: Apple Crisp, Applesauce, and Apple Pie with Old-Fashioned Pie Crust. You can see his big, beautiful apple tree here. It’s a shame, but this is the last recipe I can make with his apples for this year. Other years, at Sven’s suggestion, I have frozen some slices to make this cake later in the winter. It works very well, and, as a matter of fact, this whole cake freezes well. Grandma would have LOVED this recipe and she would have loved to share it with her friends and family. You will love this one, too!

Apple Cake with Butter Sauce

This cake is so easy and so full of apples!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Apple Cake with Butter Sauce

Cream together:

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter

2 eggs

Mix dry ingredients together:

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix together with the creamed mixture and then add 6 apples (5 cups) peeled and cored (you can either slice or quarter them).

Put batter into a buttered 9″ x 13 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Top with Butter Sauce.

Butter Sauce

8 ounces of butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup half-n-half

Mix together and heat slowly until smooth.

Do not boil.

Pour over cake.


These apples really are beautiful and so tasty!


It takes a little work to peel and core, but it’s so worth it in the end. Gather some help – it doesn’t take long.


The batter is really thick, and I know it doesn’t look like it will, but it does cover the whole pan. I used two 8″ x 8″ pans for this batch. I was going to send half of it with my husband deer hunting. Hunting was cancelled – oh well. What to do with the extra cake? Hmmm.


I love how it comes out so golden and caramel-y and so FULL of apples.


Try to have it warm from the oven – that’s the best!


This makes a HUGE batch of the Butter Sauce. There’s plenty for the cake and there’s enough to pour over other things – other cake, cookies, ice cream. You could even freeze some for another time.


Try this delicious cake and sauce. You’ll love it. I know Grandma would have loved it, but I know what she’d say about it. “Plenty sweet!”



Apple Pie with Old-Fashioned Pie Crust

Today I’m making one of the pies that will be part of our Thanksgiving celebration. I’m trying to get ahead of the game and get as many things done ahead of time as I possibly can. This Apple Pie with Old-Fashioned Pie Crust is one thing I want to get done and put in the freezer, ready for the big day. I only call it old-fashioned pie crust because it calls for, yes, LARD, and I also decided not to use the food processor. I’m actually going to mix it by hand. Usually I’m against lard, or shortening, or margarine – I usually just use butter. I had lard left over from making Hilda’s Donuts (I also still have apples left from our friend, Sven) and I thought – let’s give it a try. I haven’t had pie crust made with lard in about 40 years. I’m not sure why, but at some point we were told that margarine and shortening were better for us than lard or butter. Wrong. How could chemicals possibly be better than something that’s natural. That’s just my opinion.

I have a funny story about apple pie . . . the first time I made it by myself was when I was in 3rd grade. My mom was a working mom so I was home after school by myself and I decided to try to make an apple pie. I’m sure I had seen my mom and both of my grandmas make crust and cut apples for pie. It all went well until it came time to take it out of the oven. I dropped it! Upside down on the CARPET that we had in the kitchen (it was the 70s, remember). Good grief – I probably could hardy lift it – 3rd grade!!!! What is that, 8 years old?!! This photo was taken on my 8th birthday, so I suppose it would have been the next fall that I gave this a try.

Apple Pie with Old-Fashioned Pie Crust

I called my mom at work and actually thought I could still save it. Nope. It was a goner. I remember standing there just looking at it, and I couldn’t even clean it up right away – it was HOT!!!! Oh well, it wouldn’t be the last of my culinary disasters. Ha!

This recipe looks like it originally came from my mom. Must be a good one, note the “Good” connotation!

Pie Crust

I had apples that seemed a bit dry, so I didn’t use the tapioca she has on the bottom left corner of the card. These apples also seemed “plenty sweet” so I only used 1/2 cup of sugar with the cinnamon (and I added just a dash of nutmeg and 3 small pats of butter).

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Apple Pie with Old-Fashioned Pie Crust

Mix together:

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour


2/3 cup lard

Use pastry blender to cut (mix) until lard pieces are about the size of peas.


3-6 Tablespoons cold water (I used 6 T)

Mix with a fork until dough sticks together when you squeeze a handful.

Form into disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in refrigerator while fixing apples.

Peel, core, and slice enough apples to fit into your pie plate. Go ahead and really fill it up – they will shrink a bit when baked.

Take pie crust out of refrigerator, split into two pieces, and roll out the first piece (crust) between sheets of plastic wrap (this is still my favorite way to do it and I wont give that up, even though I did the mixing by hand this time – it’s fast and no sticking to your counter top).

Put the first crust into pie plate.

Fill with apple slices and add the cinnamon/sugar mixture (I added a dash of nutmeg, too, and 3 small pats of butter).

Roll out the second crust – big enough to cover all.

Put top crust on top of apples and crimp edge of crust.

Cut decorative vent holes in the top crust and sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and sugar. (Some people like to use an egg wash on the top crust, but since neither of my grandmas nor my mom did that, I’m not going to do it here.)

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, turn down to 350 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes more.

Cool on a rack. Cool completely if going into freezer.


You can see the pea-sized bits of lard here.


It’s hard to see, but there is a squeezed portion in the middle of the bowl.


Wrap up the dough and chill.


I usually put two overlapping horizontal layers of plastic wrap on the counter, then put the dough, and then two more overlapping horizontal layers of plastic wrap before I roll it out. My plastic wrap isn’t wide enough to be able to roll out a big enough crust by itself, so I use two and then it’s wide enough without coming out of the sides of the plastic wrap.


Put in the bottom crust . . .


then fill with sliced apples, sugar, and cinnamon, and an additional dash of nutmeg and butter pats.


I take off the top layer of plastic wrap, flip it upside down on top of the filling, and use quick little tugs to remove the rest of the plastic wrap.


She’s ready for the oven. Isn’t she beautiful? Ready for the freezer. I wrap it well and thaw overnight before putting the pie back into the oven at 350 degrees for another 30-40 minutes or so to re-crisp it and warm it up.


I can’t wait until we can try this pie crust. I’ll post on Facebook how it goes. Try it yourself – just don’t drop it!





Believe it or not, we had our first snow here in Minnesota this week! Luckily we live where we were on the southern edge of it, so we only had 2-3 inches. Tradition has it, that on the first measurable snowfall of the season, I would make gingerbread for my kids’ after school snack. There were arguments over the years, as to exactly how much snow had to fall to initiate the gingerbread making. Sometimes the kids would come home and expect it because we had a dusting. No. This had to be measurable snowfall. The anticipation of the warm and spicy smell of it when they opened the door, coming in from the white and snowy outside world was what it was all about. Well, we still have one child living at home after college and the tradition still stands. I’ve been making this Gingerbread for 20-25 years and I’m sharing it today! It’s from my big old Betty Crocker Cookbook that I got for Christmas from my mom and dad in 1982.


This cookbook has been a staple for our family. I actually have 2 pieces of dictionary art that I made (on the walls in the kitchen) that used the recipes for Spaghetti and Noodles Alfredo from this book. These recipes were made so much that I decided to immortalize them! Ha!


This is a good one!

Here is the recipe as I made it:


2 1/3 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup molasses

3/4 cup hot water

1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Grease and flour 8″ x 8″  or 9″ x 9″ square pan.

Beat all ingredients in large mixer bowl on low speed, scraping bowl constantly, 30 seconds.

Beat on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, 3 minutes.

Pour into pan.

Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

You can serve it with the toppings shown in the above recipe, or just sift powdered sugar over top (to simulate the afore-mentioned snow outside!),


It makes a nice, thick batter.


You can see the snow outside – waaaaaay too early in the season.


The fragrance of this cake in the oven fills the house. It’s so comfy-cozy.


Give this one a try. It’s a great way to start a tradition your family will love and anticipate every year!





Cherry Bread

This recipe comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, but it has Grandma’s name at the end of the recipe, so it must have originally come from her. Grandma and this sister were close – only two years apart and the same birthday. They lived close to each other (as did a lot of her siblings) and they even had daughters a year apart who would grow up to be very close, too, more like sisters than cousins (she’s my godmother!). They were great friends and they were even dressed alike (my mom is on the left in the first two, the right in the last two – with the light hair) all through their growing up years. Here’s the proof!

Charlene and mom

This is so darn cute!

mom and charlene matching

Love the haircuts!

mom and charlene matching 2

Little old ladies from the old country?!!

mom and charlene matching 3

This was from a wedding – even the same shoes!

Hmmm, I wonder if anyone ever thought they were twins?!! I think the dressing alike thing stopped about the time they became teenagers, but on the famous trip of a lifetime to Sweden and Norway, we have pictures of them in matching t-shirts!

Another thing Grandma and this sister (and all of the sisters) had in common was the fact that they were great cooks and bakers. The Cherry Bread recipe for today is another one of my new favorites. I would say this is on the order of pumpkin bread or banana bread, it’s that kind of bread.

A-Cherry Bread

A-Cherry Bread 2

This is another very easy, very good one!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cherry Bread

Mix together:

1/4 cup melted margarine (I used butter)

1 cup brown sugar

Add to:

1 egg, beaten

Mix dry ingredients together:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix liquid ingredients together:

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice

Mix dry and wet ingredients alternately with original mixture.

Sir in:

1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped, and 1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used walnuts for this), mixed with 2 Tablespoons flour.

Pour batter into bread pan greased and lined with parchment paper (I think this is a good idea since the cherries and juice may make it stick).

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.

Remove from pan and cool.


You can see the one obvious drawback here – the red fingers after chopping the cherries!

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You can see the bits of cherry in the batter.

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This bread is really moist and tasty.

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This would also make a great holiday or hostess gift.

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Yum. Cherries and nuts. This one is in my permanent file!



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