Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Hot Cranberry Drink

The recipe for today comes from one of Grandma’s sisters by way of her daughter, my godmother. I know Grandma used to make this because when I made it and the aroma started wafting through the house, my kids said, “smells like Grandma and Grandpa’s house!” This Hot Cranberry Drink is a great one to have for any holiday celebration or any gathering in the winter. It would be great to have at a sledding party, ice skating party, or skiing party. This drink would be great at any party. It’s delicious and makes a big electric coffee pot full – about 30 cups. It looks like my mom and my uncle would have liked to have a nice hot drink after their day of skiing in this photo from when they were little. Maybe they were about 3 and 6 years old or so.

mom and paul on skiis

It looks like my mom is being a bit bossy! Ha!

Hot Cranberry Drink

This drink is delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hot Cranberry Drink

Put into large electric coffee pot:

2 quarts cranberry juice

1 46 ounce pineapple juice

1 quart water

2/3 pound sugar (I used 1 1/2 cups and it was “plenty sweet”- next time I might not use quite so much sugar)

Put in basket of coffee pot:

4 sticks cinnamon

1 tablespoon whole allspice berries

1 tablespoon whole cloves

2 lemons, quartered

Perk for 30 minutes.


This recipe is so easy – just put the liquid and sugar into the pot (you might want to stir it up a bit to dissolve the sugar), fill the basket of the electric coffee pot with the spices and lemon, and that’s it.


Plug it in and let it go!


30 minutes later you have a delicious hot beverage.


The spices and lemon add so much flavor and aroma to this drink.


It gets good and hot (you can sort of see the steam) from this coffee pot. Remove the basket with the spices and lemon and the pump stem, plug it in again and it will stay hot for as long as you want it to, or for as long as you’re out playing in the snow – it’ll be hot when you come inside and need something to warm you up! Try this next time you have a crowd coming over for a party or celebration. They’ll love it!








New Year’s Snacks

I thought I’d remind you of some great recipes I have on Plenty Sweet Life that can be used for New Year’s snacks. These were posted last year and they’re all really easy and really good! I know, I know! Can you believe it?!!! Check these out:


Cheese Ball


Caramel Corn


Marinated Chicken Wings


Party Mix



There are also a lot of sweets and treats here, so please, go ahead and look through the archives. There’s something here for everyone!





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Salad #2

This is another of those recipes with an easy name – Salad  – this is Salad #2, actually – and it’s perfect for any holiday celebrations left on your calendar. It’s fun, it’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s tasty. 3 ingredients. That’s it. This salad has to be another one from the 1960’s or 1970’s since there is 7Up in it. I don’t know what was going on back then that it was so fun to use unusual ingredients to make things, but there were some weird ones. This one isn’t too weird, it’s really good, and it’s going under the Retro Oddities category.


This salad does have the “Good” connotation!

Here is the recipe as I made it:


Bring to a boil:

2 cups applesauce


1 3 ounce package of Lime Jell-O

1 regular size bottle of 7Up (I only had cans, so I looked it up online and it looked like the consensus seemed to be 16 ounces so I used 16 ounces, but the salad ended up a bit soft, so I’d just use the 1 12 ounce can next time)

Mix together and put into mold or salad bowl.

Chill until firm.


Mix the Jell-O into the boiling applesauce.


When the 7Up goes in, it gets foamy for a bit.


The foam goes down and then put it into a ring mold. You can also just put it into a bowl.


Put it into some warm water to loosen the salad from the mold, turn it upside down onto a plate and that’s it! Grandma usually put a bowl of whipped cream in the middle of a salad so people could take it or not, depending on what THEY wanted.


I think it got a bit soft because I used 16 ounces instead of 12 ounces of 7Up, but it still worked out! This salad is so fun and so easy, you should really give it a try. It tastes good, too!





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Dry Beef Dip

New Year’s Eve was fun at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. When I was really little, we would go to the celebration held at their church, which was about a mile straight west of their farm. We would play games and have snacks and then at about 10:00, we’d go back to the farm where we would stay up until midnight and ring in the new year. At some point, we started just going to their house for the celebration and we’d play games like Rack-O, Rook, Chinese Checkers, and Rummy all night. I remember making decorations like “Happy New Year” banners and blowing up balloons to decorate the house. I’m sure mom and dad were out at New Year’s parties and we could conveniently stay overnight until they felt like picking us up. Here is a recipe that you can use for your New Year’s Eve celebrations. This recipe for Dry Beef Dip comes from one of Grandma’s sisters and it’s really good.

Dry Beef Dip

It makes a small batch, but it’s so good and so rich that you don’t need a lot of it.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Dry Beef Dip

Mix together:

8 ounce cream cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1/3 cup green pepper, chopped

1 small onion, cut up fine

1 jar dried beef (2 1/2 oz), chopped

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon garlic salt

Put in oven proof bowl and top with:

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (longer doesn’t hurt any).


If you remember to soften the cream cheese, this dip is really quick and easy to make.


I used a flat serving bowl to bake the dip.


It looks festive!


This dip is great with any kind of cracker, maybe even veggies.


Try this dip for your next party or celebration. It’s so easy and it’s really good and it’s just a little bit different!




Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!


I was 1-year-old in this photo and the joy on my face is the joy I wish for you this holiday season!

As you can see, I loved Christmas so much that they had to have the tree up off the floor to keep me away from it!

I still have the dog that I’m holding here (I really wish I still had that cool white santa hanging on the lower left of the tree).

Thank you so much for visiting Plenty Sweet Life!

I appreciate the support and interest from each and every one of you!

I wish you the happiest, healthiest, safest, and merriest of holidays with your family and friends!

Check out last year’s Christmas post for another very easy recipe!


Last Minute Easy Egg Nog Ice Cream


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I’m posting a last-minute recipe today that you can still get done before your holiday gatherings this week. I wrote down this recipe one night about 30 years ago when I was home alone and watching a show on our local tv station. We lived in a small town up north, and the local station was the butt of many a joke back then, especially when they televised the Christmas party given for the children of the tv station employees, and this telecast included the obligatory visit with Santa. Pretty funny stuff. I could hardly see this particular show as we couldn’t afford cable back then, and I was watching it on our old black and white tv. It was an old show about Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, MN which had been owned by the Congdon family.

It was a Christmas tour and at the end of the show, they gave the recipe for this Wassail that was a Congdon family favorite. I was able to see and hear enough on the snowy screen to write down the recipe and we’ve been making it ever since. You can find out more about Glensheen Mansion here.

Congdon Wassail

This is delicious.

Here is the recipe as I made it:


Mix all ingredients in stockpot or large kettle:

1 quart water

1 pound (2 cups) sugar

2 Tablespoons ginger root, chopped

12 whole cloves

4 allspice berries

2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice

2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 quarts apple cider

Simmer at least 1 hour.


Squeezing the oranges and lemons is the most time-consuming part of this recipe.


I added some sliced oranges to the pot, too.


It makes a big batch, so gather some friends and family and enjoy this hot beverage by the fire on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.



Grape Nuts Pudding

Today I’m sharing a Christmas card from sometime in the 1940’s of my Grandma and Grandpa, my uncle, and my mom. It’s such a classic! I love how they’re sitting there listening to my mom read a story. I’m sure it was the Christmas Story. My uncle looks thrilled! Haha! Grandpa looks so slick and dressed up and Grandma looks so lovely with her corsage. The whole set up is just great! Ah – those were the days . . .


Today’s recipe is called Grape Nuts Pudding, but everyone in the family knows it as Figgy Pudding. It’s a mock English Christmas pudding, and just the scent of the ingredients all mixed together smells like Christmas to me. We had this a lot when I was growing up, and it takes me back to family gatherings back then.

Grape Nut Pudding

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Grape Nuts Pudding

Dissolve one package of Orange Jell-O as usual.


3/4 cup Grape Nuts cereal

3/4 cup cooked prunes, cut up (I just used them cut up from the bag)

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup nuts, chopped

Let chill and firm up overnight.

Serve with whipped cream.


This pudding involves a lot of ingredients.


It already smells so good!


I know, I know. Just don’t look. It’s not the most appetizing looking thing while you’re mixing. I put it into a small bowl that I sprayed with cooking spray.


Warming up the outside of the bowl with warm water in the sink helps it come out of the bowl easier, and I also ran a knife around the outside of the bowl. Flip upside down on a plate and hope for the best. You can also just leave it in the serving bowl if it doesn’t come out. This one came out pretty easily. It looks just like a Figgy Pudding!


Topping the pudding with whipped cream helps the look of it and makes it so pretty! Don’t forget to sprinkl it with the obligatory red and green sugar.


This is a strange-looking thing, but it’s so good. So festive, so spicy, so Christmas-y!!





Chocolate Bon-Bons

I loved to go to my other Grandma and Gramp’s house at Christmas time. I’m lucky enough to still have this Santa figurine of theirs. Grandma would make Christmas cookies – mostly gingerbread, but other treats, too – and keep them in a container on the steps going upstairs in their house. She kept the door to the steps closed and the heat register closed in the upstairs bedroom when nobody was staying there and it would stay pretty cool on the steps. It was a great place to store (or hide) all of her Christmas goodies.


My Gramp loved candy!! He would always have candy in a candy dish in the living room. At Christmas time he would have those little filled raspberry hard candies, the rectangular white shiny Black Walnut chips, beautiful ribbon candy, and always the colorful little Christmas candies that were like little straws or pillows: some were striped, some were minty, some were fruity, some were barrel-shaped with pictures on the middle of them of flowers, candy canes, or fruit. He loved candy and Grandma was always on the lookout for different kinds to try to make.

The recipe today comes from this grandma who got it from my aunt. This is another recipe that I remember from the 1970’s. These are such a delicious candy, and are another family staple at Christmas time.

Chocolate Bon Bons

This is another recipe that takes a bit of time, but is sooooooo worth it.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Bon-Bons

Melt together:

3 1/2 tablespoons paraffin

12 ounce package of chocolate chips

You can do this in the microwave, according to your manufacturer’s instructions, when you’re ready to dip your bon-bons.

4 Tablespoons butter, melted

2 cups powdered sugar

2/3 cup peanut butter or 1-8 ounce package cream cheese

1 cup nuts, chopped fine

1 cup coconut, chopped fine

12 maraschino cherries, chopped fine

Put in bowl and mix.

Dough will be very stiff.

Roll into balls and put on waxed paper.

Chill one hour or more.

Dip in chocolate and chill again.

Store in refrigerator.


It takes a bit of chopping to get everything ready.


I drain the cherries on a paper towel first, and they still turn the filling a pretty pink.


I’m sure that the recipe means that you should put coconut, nuts, and cherries in the peanut butter ones, too, but my son doesn’t care for coconut or nuts so we just leave them out of the peanut butter ones and he doesn’t eat the cream cheese ones, he leaves those for his sisters.


Roll the balls about an inch in diameter (even when your family is telling you to make them bigger). I use a bit of water (very little) on my hands when rolling the cream cheese ones if they start to stick.


Chill them as long as you need to, even a day ahead, they can never be too chilled.


Melt your chocolate and paraffin and dip away.


I made them too big, as usual, and when they’re dipped, they get even bigger. The card says that it makes 4 dozen. I’ve never even come close to getting 4 dozen from this recipe.


You can see both kinds of candy here, the peanut butter and the cream cheese.


Family tradition at it’s finest! I wouldn’t use these for gift giving. Just keep them for yourself. (You’ll have to HIDE them until Christmas if you make them too far ahead of time!)


This is another great candy recipe to try. It’s really fun to do. Ending up with these delicious, pretty, shiny little balls of heaven . . . give it a go. You’ll be hooked – just like Gramp!




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Today we’re making Sandbakkels. This is another Norwegian cookie made in special tins that you can get from Nordic Ware here. Grandma loved these cookies and I started making them for her when she couldn’t make them anymore. They are made from a simple recipe and are so delicious.


Here is the recipe as I made it:


1 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg, beaten

2 cups sifted flour

Cream butter and sugar together.

Add extract and egg.

Mix well.

Add flour.

Chill dough 1 hour.

Pinch off small amount of dough and press into tins.

Bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

When done, turn upside down.

Tap tins lightly until cookie falls out!


I mix up the dough and wrap it in plastic wrap to chill.


I used a ball of dough about the size of a walnut to press into the tins. It works better to have too much dough than not enough and have to try to patch it in. I was thinking that I had them pretty thin, but as usual, not as thin as Grandma’s. Put the tins on a baking sheet to bake.


You can see that they still got a bit thick in the middle. Turn them over to cool a few minutes before trying to take off the tins.


Just a tap or two and the cookie really does fall right out!


I have Grandma’s tins in these two shapes plus one smaller one.


Stack them up and enjoy!


These cookies are great with a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate. Santa wouldn’t mind having a few of these!





Hard Candy

The recipe for today is one that comes from my other grandma. I remember that she got this recipe in the 1970’s when her brother and his wife were visiting for Christmas one year. I thought this Hard Candy was the coolest thing ever! I have given this treat out as gifts to countless people over the years and it’s still a favorite with my family. We have made several different flavors and colors, and the possibilities are endless. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but each step takes some time. If you’re not familiar with candy making, I’d leave yourself plenty of time (maybe an afternoon) to try this.

Hard Candy

Hard Candy 2

You can see how well used this recipe card is!!!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hard Candy

Before you start:

Press about a half of a bag of powdered sugar into the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ pan or jelly roll pan and smooth it out.

Boil to about 300 degrees:

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

3/4 cup white corn syrup

Remove from heat and add:

1/2 teaspoon flavoring oil (not extracts)

Food coloring

Pour hot syrup onto powdered sugar in pan.

When cool enough to handle, cut into strips and then pieces with a scissors.


Make sure you have a good candy thermometer. Keep an eye on the syrup – it seems to take forever but then all of a sudden the temp will rise. If it gets above 300, it can burn and turn brown and that is not tasty. I know from experience.


This is what the hot syrup looks like when the oil and food coloring is mixed in. Then pour it into the powdered sugared pan. This green batch is clove flavored.


BE CAREFUL!!!!!!!! I sometimes try to lift the slab of candy with the tip of the clean scissors and see if it’s cool enough to handle. If it’s too runny, it’s not ready. If you lift it and it wrinkles a bit, you might be able to handle it. If it gets too cool and too hard to cut, just wait and break it into pieces when it’s totally cool.


If there’s not room to cut pieces without it sticking together, cut them and put them onto a plate to cool while you cut the rest. Sometimes it can get a bit crowded in that pan!


This red batch is cinnamon flavored. You can make so many different flavors and colors – go nuts.


You can keep the colors separated or mix them all up together. This is a Christmas-y batch!


It’s a bit of work, but so worth it.


I put the candy in jars or bags for gift giving – decorate to your heart’s content.


This candy is such a delicious and unusual gift! Don’t forget to keep some for yourself!






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