Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Raspberry Whipped Cream Cake

Today’s recipe is not one of Grandma’s recipes, but I know she would have LOVED it!! Plus, she LOVED to celebrate birthdays. This Raspberry Whipped Cream Cake is a favorite birthday cake for the two in our family who have Spring birthdays, and this was my son’s birthday cake this year. It’s very easy and very good, and it’s one that I’ve been making for years. I might have heard about it somewhere, but I think I just made it up. It’s so easy that this is a fairly boring post today. There just isn’t a lot to say about it! I don’t have a recipe card for this, and it’s so ridiculously easy, that I’ll just type it out.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Raspberry Whipped Cream Cake

Bake one white cake mix according to directions on the box.

Let cool.

Top with one 12-ounce jar of seedless raspberry jam (you can certainly use the regular kind if you want to).

Whip one pint of heavy whipping cream with a couple of tablespoons of sugar (or to taste) and spread that over top of cake and jam.

Garnish with fresh raspberries.


That’s it.


You could try other kinds of cake, maybe chocolate or yellow, but I think white cake is perfect for this recipe. You could also try different kinds of jam or fruit on white cake, like blueberry or strawberry or blackberry or orange marmalade or rhubarb (homemade rhubarb jam, of course – you can find a recipe for that here).


Either kind of jam (seedless or with seeds) will work just fine. It just depends on whether you want the seeds in your teeth or not.


It can be tricky to spread the whipped cream on top, but if you do end up with some swirls of jam on top of the whipped cream, consider it art.


Keep it in the refrigerator, because it is whipped cream. This cake is a snap to pull together, and it’s so rich and delicious, your family will love it, whether it’s their birthday or not!


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Rhubarb Sauce

The recipe for today is something very old-fashioned. I was not a big fan of this when I was younger (I definitely am now), but I know that my grandpas were BIG fans of Rhubarb Sauce. This is another one of those things that I imagine my grandmas made back during the Great Depression when you could grow plenty of rhubarb in the garden. It was a very inexpensive treat for entertaining. They didn’t always need to make dessert a big deal. This is just a simple, special treat that you only get in the spring when your rhubarb is fresh and plentiful. There are a million and one uses for this tart and delicious sauce. Here is a partial list.

You can put Rhubarb Sauce on:

vanilla pudding

vanilla ice cream

pound cake

angel food cake

shortcake (like strawberry, only rhubarb)



iced tea

adult drinks

rice (ooooh – it would be so good on the creamy rice that Grandma used to make with milk – more on that at another time)

or even plain.

There was never a recipe for this. I remember Grandma and my mom just making it. No need for a recipe card. So again – I’ll just type it out here.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rhubarb Sauce

2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)

Cook in saucepan for about 10 minutes, until rhubarb is soft and “saucy”.

I have seen some recipes where they put in spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, but I really just like the pure taste of the rhubarb. You can also add more water if you don’t like it this thick. This can also be doubled.


There it is, just 3 simple ingredients.


This batch got a little thicker than I remember. Like my son said, “it really doesn’t look like it would be that delicious!”


Put your base (vanilla pudding in this case) in a fancy bowl and top with the sauce.


Easiest dessert ever. I really can’t believe how simple this is.


This dessert is pretty inexpensive if you have the rhubarb – under $2.00 for 6 servings (I used a large box of vanilla pudding).


Very pretty. Very easy. Very cheap. Very good.





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Black Bottom Cupcakes

The recipe for today is one that we took camping when I was growing up, and we went camping A LOT. If you knew my dad at all, you knew him to be somewhat obsessed with the outdoors. Well, not just somewhat obsessed, he was just plain obsessed. He was MR. outdoors. I think he would have just stayed outside all the time if he could. I remember him telling about how when he was pretty young, he would go out hunting and just not come back home for a few days. He looks somewhat independent in this photo, you know, like he’d go out and stay outdoors for days at a time. I bet he wasn’t much older than in this photo when he did that.


You can already see his outdoorsy-ness by his wearing the little flannel shirt! So cute! He loved to go camping, therefore, he took us camping when we were growing up. We camped a lot and EVERYWHERE: we camped close to home at county parks, we camped at many Minnesota State Parks, we camped while canoeing up north, we camped along the North Shore, we camped the Black Hills of South Dakota on the way to camping in Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park, we camped during trips to Colorado, we camped anywhere he could get us to camp. Most of our family summer vacations were camping trips. Number one, that was a cheap way to go. Number two, it made me and my sister also obsessed with and love the outdoors. Number three, it was really a lot of fun! Boy oh boy, do we have stories of those family camping trips! Ha! Maybe I’ll share some of them someday. Black Bottom Cupcakes are easy to bring along for any occasion. I don’t have the original recipe card for this anymore, so I’ll just type it out.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Combine and set aside:

8 ounces cream cheese

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup chocolate chips (I used mini chips for this batch)

Sift into mixing bowl:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda


1 cup water

1/3 cup oil (I used canola oil)

1 Tablespoon vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat until thoroughly blended.

Fill paper muffin cups 1/3 full with chocolate batter.

Top each with a heaping teaspoon of cream cheese mixture.

Sprinkle with a little sugar and chopped almonds, if desired.

Bake at 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.


This makes a lot of filling. I ended up making two batches of the chocolate batter just to use it up, and believe me, you won’t end up with too many cupcakes because these vaporize pretty quickly.


The chocolate really will rise up and almost cover the cream cheese filling.


Its kind of hard to see, but I used sanding sugar to make the topping more crystalized and sugary.


I made some with chopped, slivered almonds and some without. I think my mom used to make these with sliced almonds.


These are the perfect camping cupcake.


The cream cheese filling makes these so tasty and delicious that they really don’t need frosting. Make a batch when you head out on your next family camping trip. Get out there and enjoy the outdoors, and make some memories while you’re at it!






It’s the time of year when the spring flowers are so abundant! So abundant that I sometimes have more than one kind blooming at once. That’s what happened last year. We had such a rainy spring that it was a banner year for all of the flowers. They all bloomed at once, and I’m so glad I took photos of them so I could share them this year. You might remember how gorgeous our flowering crab was last year (you can read about it here). Unfortunately this year was not a banner year for the flowering crab tree or the lilacs. We didn’t have a lot of moisture from last July until now (we’ve finally gotten some rain recently), and the lilacs have suffered this year and are already done blooming. Since they suffered so this year, I’m sharing some photos that I took of the lilacs last year.


They were just gorgeous and very abundant!


I found this footed milk glass compote in my favorite antique store a couple of years ago for $8. It’s just perfect for this arrangement, so I filled it as full as I possibly could!


Lilacs bring back such wonderful memories of both of my grandmas. They both had lilacs growing in their yards (my grandma who lived in town had lilacs in a row behind her garden and my grandma who lived on the farm had a huge hedge of lilacs on the north side of the house), and let me just say, I took advantage!!! I couldn’t wait for spring when they would bloom. I remember going out to pick lilacs when the spring air was still cool and crisp. One grandma had lilacs in a row behind their garden and the other grandma had a huge hedge of lilac bushes on the north side of the house. I would pick lilacs for them to have in their houses and I would bring home HUGE armfuls of lilacs to have in every room of our house – even right next to my bed so I could fall asleep smelling that heavenly scent.


I love that they’re full of individual tiny flowers in every hue of purple.


It’s too bad that they can’t bloom all summer long. They just don’t last long enough. They’re gone too soon and then we have to wait until the next year to enjoy them again.


The lilac bushes in our yard came from a friend of my husband who lives in St. Paul in an old, old house, so I don’t know exactly what variety they are, but it’s got to be a very old one. He had a lot of shoots coming up around his bushes and he dug some up and brought them for us when we first moved into our house. Those bushes have been making me happy every spring for 25 years.


I love lilacs. I wish they were this prolific every year. I’ll just have to enjoy these photos and hope for more rain next spring!


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Rhubarb Cinnamon Coffee Cake

It’s rhubarb time! I just can’t believe that it’s finally spring, and that it’s TIME for rhubarb! Today I’m sharing this photo of Grandma that looks like it was taken in the spring (or summer). It must have been a special occasion because she’s so dressed up! What a pretty dress and shoes, and I LOVE that smile!


It was taken at their family farm so I think it might have been before she and Grandpa were married. That family farm was where she honed her skills for baking. I was there a couple of times, and I remember that it was such a pretty house. It was full of built-ins and beautiful woodwork, and had French doors going to the dining room (I think it was the dining room). I’m sure they grew rhubarb on that farm.

There are a LOT of rhubarb recipes in Grandma’s file, so without further ado, here is the first rhubarb recipe of the season. This Rhubarb Cinnamon Coffee Cake was one cut out of the newspaper, and as I’ve said before, Grandma didn’t keep recipes cut out of the paper very often. This one is a good one.

Rhubarb Cinnamon Coffee Cake

This is such a good coffee cake!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rhubarb Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Mix together in a large bowl:

4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup cooking oil

1 cup nuts, chopped (I used pecans)


2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

Add to rhubarb mixture all at once and stir only until dampened.

Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan.

Combine and sprinkle on top:

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.


Is there anything prettier than rhubarb?


This is the first mixture.


Once you add the flour, there seems to be hardly any batter, but when it comes out of the oven, it’s cake!


It really makes a great coffee cake, and it’s best warm out of the oven.


You don’t have to add the whipped cream, but why not? It’s great for brunch, and it’s great with your afternoon coffee or tea. Stay tuned for more rhubarb recipes coming soon!


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Red Hot Applesauce Salad

The Mother’s Day fun continues!  This is Katie writing, one of Carla’s daughters.  As a Mother’s Day gift, I thought I’d give her a day off from blogging and do a guest post.  The recipe I tackled?  Red Hot Applesauce Salad.

photo (7)

Because who ever saw these ingredients and DIDN’T want to combine them…?

Here’s the recipe card.

Red  Hot Applesauce Salad

You should know that over the years, I’ve called my mom during any food preparation panic.  Anytime a direction is unclear, call Mom.  Anytime it doesn’t look like it’s supposed to, call Mom.  So this card, with its typical vagueness (as Mom puts it: we’re just supposed to know this stuff) made me nervous.  But I was determined to bring something edible to Mother’s Day, so I persevered.  Here’s the recipe as I made it.


First, I dumped the two packets of jello into a pot.  Mmm, lemony goodness.  Then I put water in the tea kettle to boil.  Once it boiled, I measured out 2 ½ cups and poured it over the jello.  I mixed until it was dissolved, and then it was RED HOT TIME.

photo 2

That’s the glamour shot.

In went the Red Hots.  At this point, I did not believe I was creating something edible.  Check out this pic.

photo 4

Although under normal circumstances, I’d have called Mom for reassurance that indeed, it would turn into food, I resisted.  I turned on the burner to continue dissolving the Red Hots.  Again, I was concerned about the congealed mass of Red Hots forming on my whisk, but carried on and it eventually turned into a smooth, hot pink liquid.

photo 7

At this point I let it cool a bit, then added the applesauce and lemon juice.  The recipe called for a “dab” of salt, but I went with the more traditional “pinch” of salt instead.

photo 3

Once combined, I poured it into a lovely Pyrex vessel (a Christmas gift from Mom, no less) and put it in the fridge to set.

photo 8

Once it was set, it was time for the topping.  It called for 2 tablespoons of cream, which didn’t seem like enough to me, so I doubled the topping.  (Sacrilege, I know!) I whipped the cream until it formed soft peaks, then added the cream cheese and mayo.  Here’s the finished product.  (I probably could have left the topping proportions as they were – I should’ve trusted the master.)

photo 10

Now comes the real test of the recipe – I’m bringing it to Mother’s Day to have as a part of an afternoon tea.  We’ll see if Mom thinks it’s a winner.

Six hours later…


The verdict?  Surprisingly delicious!  (And better than it looks in that photo above…)  It was unanimously enjoyed.  Who knew that Red Hots’ true calling wasn’t gingerbread man-related?

Without getting too mushy, I’ll finish this post by saying that I could not have asked for a better mom.  She’s amazingly cool and smart and hilarious and while it pains me to say this, she’s also pretty much right about everything. 🙂  Love you, Mom!  Happy Mother’s Day!

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Pizza Dough

This recipe for Pizza Dough is a staple for our family. This is not Grandma’s recipe, although both she and Grandpa did like pizza now and then. My mom gave us a pizza stone several years ago and it came with a little recipe book that included this recipe. I have even made a batch of this dough, put it in freezer bags, and put it in the freezer for future use. I just take it out of the freezer, defrost in the microwave for a minute or so, preheat the oven with the dough sitting on top of the stove, and the dough is usually thawed and ready to go by the time the oven is preheated. Freezing it isn’t the best way to go (making it fresh is always better), but a fast way to get dinner pulled together, and better than waiting for the dough to rise an hour when you’re really hungry. I don’t usually have room to do this because my freezer is usually full, but you could also freeze the dough par-baked and ready to go. That would be even faster.

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough 2

This makes a tasty crust.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pizza Dough

Combine in mixer (I use my big mixer, but you can certainly do this by hand):

1 1/2 cups flour

1 package of dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt


1 cup warm water (I just use hot water right from the tap)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Beat 3 minutes.

Stir in additional 1 1/2 cups flour.

You can turn it out on counter and knead it for 10 minutes, but I keep it in mixer and use the dough hook for 5 minutes or so.

Use remaining 1/2 cup flour as needed to keep it from sticking.

Dough should be smooth and elastic, but not sticky.

Shape in a ball and put in a greased bowl, turning over so the greased part of dough is on top.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 45-60 minutes.

This makes 2 large crusts (when my kids were growing up, this got us through many birthday parties and sleepovers making individual mini pizzas) and you can freeze it at this point, if desired.

You can bake the pizza at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or so to par-bake, then add toppings and bake another 10 minutes or until pizza is done to your liking.

This time of year, I do our pizza on the grill:


I grill the dough on one side first.


Then I take it off the grill, flip it over, put toppings on the grilled side, and then put back on grill to cook the bottom side while melting the cheese on the top. I use a tray or baking sheet to flip it over and carry back it and forth into the kitchen to add the toppings.


This is my own version of a Margherita pizza: olive oil on crust, minced garlic, thinly sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves. Here is the before and after cooking the bottom and melting the cheese.


This is the pepperoni pizza my husband made and you can see how the cheese melted when put back on the grill to cook the bottom (he did not use fresh mozzarella).


Doing pizza on the grill is another way to cook dinner and not heat up the house in the summer. Plus, it’s just good and tasty and makes a nice, crispy crust.


Try making your pizza on the grill. You’ll be hooked!


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Lemon Nut Bread

Between Grandma and her sisters, we have a lot of recipes using lemon. They’re all delicious, so it’s no wonder everyone in the family enjoys lemon desserts. There’s something about the aroma of a lemon dessert baking in the oven. . . it brings back such good, warm, loving feelings and memories. (My mom would argue that chocolate is better.) This recipe for Lemon Nut Bread comes from my godmother. I love this photo of she and my mom when they were about 3 and 4 years old, sitting in their little chairs, and having a reading session with their story books (my mom is on the left). They both still love to read and exchange books often! They must have passed on the “book” gene to me and my sister and my godmother’s kids. We are ALL book lovers!

Charlene and mom

They were such cute bookworms with their little curls and pigtails!

Lemon Nut Bread #2

This is a delicious bread that has a fantastic taste of REAL lemon!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lemon Nut Bread

Mix all together:

6 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

Grated rind of one lemon

1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used pecans for this)

Makes one loaf.

Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.

Remove from pan while hot.

Spoon over a mixture of 1/3 cup powdered sugar and the juice of 1 lemon to glaze.


This batter is so easy to do, and so tangy with the grated lemon rind in it.


It comes out of the oven golden and delicious.


Before I spooned on the glaze, I poked the top of the loaf with a toothpick so more of the glaze would get down in the bread. I don’t know if it worked or not, but I hope more got in there. The glaze makes the loaf so shiny and beautiful.


The real lemon juice in the glaze is so fragrant and delicious and tangy.


This is another very easy, very good recipe for a very delicious bread. It’s perfect with coffee or tea after an afternoon of reading all of your favorite story books.


Happy May Day!

Happy May Day, everyone! It was one year ago that I started doing my “Bouquet of the Month” posts, and even though I said I wasn’t going to do them anymore (that’s what I said on the first of last month anyway), because I’m posting today – and it’s MAY DAY – I’m sharing the tulips growing in my front garden. They just bloomed this week, which is just a little bit late because of the cool spring we’ve had here in Minnesota.


Aren’t they bright and cheery?!!! They’re right out our front door! It’s so fun to go in and out of the house and be able to see these.


We’re supposed to have some rain showers this morning, so they weren’t open, but they’re still beautiful.


You can BARELY see the tiniest edging of red along the edge of the tulip petals on this shot.


Funny story about these yellow and red/orange tulips – years ago the company my husband worked for had these in their front garden in the spring. After they bloomed and their landscape company ripped them out to put in the summer plants, they were all going to be put into the trash. All of them! In the trash! What a waste!! My husband asked them if he could take some, they said “go for it” and he took them all!!! I had them lining the south side of our garage for years, and even though they were beautiful and full there, we never saw them from our house. I moved them to the front of our house so we can see them when we drive up or are in our office (which is on ground level facing the front garden). Over the years they’ve thinned quite a bit, but it’s still fun to have a few of them. They’re a gorgeous color!


Fall is the best time to plant spring blooming bulbs, and this fall I think I need to add to the tulips with some daffodils and hyacinth. Did you know that there are tulips that bloom at different times of the spring. If you work it right, you can have tulips blooming for several months!


It really does seem like spring is here now. This is the sign! I hope you’ve enjoyed these tulips as much as I have. They sure are a day brightener!!!



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