Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Fairy Cookies

This is another recipe from Grandma’s file that came from me!! I really don’t remember where this recipe came from, but again, I’m honored that Grandma kept it – that means it’s a good one! Now that I think about it, I may have entered these Fairy Cookies in the county fair once I was in 4-H (of course I did baking/cooking as one of my subjects!). Look how old it is – I wasn’t very good at handwriting yet when I started making these. I bet I was still in grade school. Even back then I was always baking or cooking something. My mom kept her cookbooks in the bottom drawer in the kitchen and I would sit on the floor and look through each and every one. I loved to look at and read cookbooks! My favorite one had a theme of “magic”. All of the recipes were named something having to do with magic and magic tricks. It was a thin one, more like a pamphlet. I wish I had that one now, but at some point I’m sure it had to go. My sister and I both have a little problem with our collections of recipes and cookbooks! The obsession over cookbooks is ridiculous. I need to cut back or I’ll have to build wall to wall bookshelves in the kitchen!

Fairy Cookies

This recipe really couldn’t be any easier!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fairy Cookies

1 cup shortening (I used butter)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all together.

Roll in balls.

Roll in colored sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.


Get your colored sugars ready before you’re ready to roll. You can use these for any holiday – just change the color of the sugar. It would be fun to make these in school colors or favorite team colors, too.


I didn’t use my scoop for these because I thought they’d be too big. I did get them surprisingly even in size.


You can see that they’re a bit of a flat cookie.


They’re crackle-topped and sugary and delicious!


Make a stack of these for your next celebration. Another idea – put a small scoop of ice cream between two of these and refreeze!!


These are great for having with your afternoon coffee, great for picnics, and great anytime. I’ve been making these a VERY long time. You will, too, when you see how easy and how tasty they are!



Chicken Salad

This salad recipe comes from grandma’s church cookbook – the one that is THE place to go for the best recipe for EVERYTHING!! Chicken Salad is a great recipe, but I add a few things to make it one of my son’s favorites. Every time I make a recipe from the Svea Church cookbook (Svea’s Heritage Cookbook – 125 years of Good Cooking, 1870-1995, copyright 1995), I recognize names and am reminded of those women, and it makes me nostalgic for those days when that church was such a big part of the lives of all of the farmers surrounding the small town where the church still stands. Believe it or not, the church even has a website now!!! This time of year really takes me back because my sister and I were able to stay with Grandma and Grandpa more in the summer when school was out. We would play games (like catch or Jarts) after dinner when Grandpa was done with his chores for the day, have an ice cream treat (which was something like Eskimo Pies, ice cream sandwiches, or Drumsticks – they were dairy farmers, after all), and make a big deal out of being outside in the evening to hear the chimes coming from the church at 7 pm (if I remember the time right) because their farm was a mile straight east of the church “as the crow flies”. This is a photo of the front of the church (but the steeple is cut off) and it has Grandma and Grandpa’s name on the back of it, but it’s a bit hard to tell if it’s them or not.

Chicken Salad

The church had a big 4th of July picnic and reunion every year (I don’t think they do it anymore), and church members past and present were invited to come and eat and chat and enjoy the day. It was an old-fashioned celebration with speakers, music in the town park bandstand, and lots of food! The picnic was a potluck, and there was always a lot of great food with different kinds of meat (I remember a lot of fried chicken), what seemed like hundreds of pies of every description, and Ost Kaka (because the church is Swedish in origin).

Chicken Salad

I just love the old church cookbooks and the memories they bring back.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chicken Salad

1 can of chicken or tuna (I sometimes use cubed ham, but for this batch, I used a whole chicken cooked in the crock pot)

1 cup celery, diced

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup cubed cheese (I use Velveeta for this)

1 cup carrots, grated

1/2 cup onions, ground (grated, but for this batch I used green onions)

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I up this to 1-2 cups when using a pound of cooked macaroni)

1 can shoestring potatoes (I could only find the big cans now so I used 1/2 of a can)

I sometimes add 1 pound of cooked macaroni, 1 teaspoon celery seed, salt and pepper, and I usually add as many chopped veggies as I can find.

Mix all together and chill.

Add shoestring potatoes just before serving.


You can see that I added some sliced carrots and diced red pepper for this batch. I also added cooked macaroni.


It’s a pretty and colorful salad.


Using the macaroni and a whole chicken made this a BIG batch, but it didn’t last long.


Who are we kidding? Putting shoestring potatoes on top is just like putting crushed up potato chips on top. You could use those in a pinch. Try this delicious salad this summer. You’ll love it as much as we do!






My peony plant originally came from the house on the lake where I grew up. When we moved here to our first house, my mom still lived at the lake, and she dug up a part of her peony plant for me to plant. Both of my grandmas had peonies in their yards, and I would pick big bouquets of them to bring into their houses. I love Peonies. It’s another spring/early summer time plant that just doesn’t last long enough. The fragrance is so great and just fills the house. When they’re blooming and we’re sitting out on our deck, we can smell them from around the house!


Peonies are even beautiful as buds. They almost look like roses.


This has to be an old-fashioned peony. It’s been around a long time. We moved to the lake in 1969, and maybe mom got the plant then. It might have even been there when we moved to that house, we just don’t know.


I love the big leafy petals, full of ants scurrying around the stickiness on the buds, doing their best to get those blooms open.


These photos were taken a few days later when they were in full bloom.


They’re so delicate, and this particular variety really doesn’t last very long. I’m lucky if I get to enjoy them for a week. If we get rain, they don’t even last that long.


There are so many different varieties of peonies. It’s fun to exchange them with friends. The more, the merrier! My goal is to have an entire hedge of peony somewhere across my entire yard. This has been a spring full of blossoms and the peonies are the last of the spring flowers to bloom. On to the summer flowers! I can’t wait!


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Calico Beans

The recipe for today comes from a cookbook that was made by a company that my sister-in-law worked for years ago. It’s kind of like the old church cookbooks, where everyone sends in their favorite and best recipes. This is one of my favorites from the book. There are a million recipes for Calico Beans, and everyone has their own way of doing it. I follow the basic recipe, but I still add a couple of different things to make it my own. Because this Sunday is Father’s Day, and we’re making something that has bacon in it, and since bacon reminds me of how much my dad loved it (and me!), I’ll share this photo of me and my dad. I don’t know why, but this one just cracks me up!! He was notorious for pretending he was a water monster and holding us under water when swimming with us, and that was NOT pleasant. Here we both seem to be having a lot of fun!


The looks on our faces are just so funny! Me and my sister were “water babies” and we practically grew up UNDER water. It might have something to do with the fact that we grew up on the lake and were in the water EVERY DAY!!!! Dad passed away 26 years ago at the age of 49, and I miss him all the time, but especially in the summer when I miss the lake and those days of playing water monster in the lake.

I’ll just type this one out instead of photo copying the recipe out of the cookbook.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Calico Beans

Mix all together:

1/2 pound bacon, cooked, drained, and chopped

1/2 pound ground beef, cooked and drained

1 small onion, chopped

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup ketchup

1 Tablespoon yellow mustard

2 Tablespoons vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

1/4 cup molasses

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 15-ounce can kidney beans

1 15-ounce can lima beans

1 21-ounce can pork and beans

(I usually use a large can of Bush’s Original Beans and then mix and match 3 or 4 cans of other kinds of beans: Black beans, pinto beans, butter beans, etc. – whatever you have on hand.)

Pour into a 2-quart casserole.

Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, lower heat to 300 degrees and bake for 1 1/2 hours more (I always just put this in a crockpot 8 hours or so).


I like to bake the bacon on a rack in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so. All of the fat drips down onto the baking sheet.


The great thing is that all of the ingredients can just be put into the crockpot.


Mix it all up, turn it on, and leave it to cook away for the day.


I probably make this bean recipe 10 times over the course of the summer. You can use this for Father’s Day, 4th of July, or any other picnics you’re taking a side dish to. It’s easy, it’s tasty, and the whole family loves it!



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Rhubarb Recipes

Rhubarb season is almost gone and so is my rhubarb. I don’t have enough rhubarb to make any more recipes this year. My mom’s rule of thumb for picking rhubarb is to pick it before July or before it gets tough. Before the season is over, here are some rhubarb recipes from past posts for you to try. Hurry and make some Rhubarb Recipes before it’s too late!!


Rhubarb Muffins


Rhubarb Pie


Rhubarb Jam


Rhubarb Torte


Rhubarb Bread




Spicy Ritz Crackers

The recipe for today came from my brother-in-law’s wife. She makes great snacks, and brought these to a family gathering recently. Everyone loved them!!! I have a couple of good snack recipes that she’s given me and I’ve been making for years. Now – I have to warn you – you will become addicted to these Spicy Ritz Crackers. No kidding. I’m totally serious. And it’s best if you don’t make them when you’re alone in the house. I mean, not like that was a problem for me or anything. I mean, well, maybe it was a bit of a problem. Ok! It was a VERY BIG problem. I won’t make these again unless it’s a half hour before I need to take them somewhere. Yes. They’re that good. Seriously. It’s bad. I mean, they’re good. But that’s bad! Ugh! So good.

Spicy Ritz Cracker Snack

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Spicy Ritz Crackers

Put into a large bowl:

1 package of Ritz Crackers

Mix together:

1 stick butter, melted

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 package Hidden Valley Ranch mix

Pour over crackers.


1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Stir gently.

Bake on a baking sheet at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.

Separate when cool.


This has all of the tasty ingredients we love.


It seems weird to mix the crackers, but it went just fine.


They don’t break up like I expected. They all stayed whole.


It says to separate the crackers when they’re cool, but I took two forks and separated them a bit right out of the oven.


You can see all of the “goodies” on the crackers here.


The name of these should be “crack crackers”. Yes – I admit I have a problem. I can’t eat just one of these crackers. Just one batch, I mean.



Lily of the Valley

April, May, and June are the months when all of my favorite flowers bloom around my house. I love the flowering crab, the lilacs, the tulips, and lily of the valley. Lily of the Valley is absolutely one of my favorites. My mother-in-law gave me a box full to plant on the north side of our house when we moved here, and they have supplied me with blooms in the spring ever since. We had them growing on the hill in front of our house at the lake when I was growing up, and I would brave poison ivy and falling down the steep hill to pick them. Both of my grandmas loved lily of the valley. Grandma grew them on the north side of the house on the farm, and my other grandma didn’t grow them, but loved the scent of them. This is the flower that most reminds me of Grandma. She would pick a huge bunch of lily of the valley to bring to church functions or give to family or friends, even keeping them in the refrigerator overnight to try to keep them fresher longer. Grandma planted all kinds of flowers in her gardens and you can see some of them in this photo of her with my mom and my uncle.


Oh my gosh – how cute! She loved flowers of all kinds and she handed down that love of flowers to my mom, and then to me and my sister, and now to our kids.


I love this flower!! I love the little bells, I love the scent, I love everything about them. I don’t love how short a time they are blooming in the garden. I really don’t love that.


The blossoms really do look like little bells! You can imagine the fairies using these for hats or umbrellas or just for decoration!


A bouquet this size will scent the whole house. I even put a couple of stems in a vase next to my bed, but any more than that and the scent won’t let me sleep!


Each stalk has six or so fragrant bells lined up the stem. It makes them look just FULL of bells.


These photos are from last year because, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in the post about lilacs, we had a dry fall and this hasn’t been a great year for the spring flowers. I did have a couple of smaller bouquets of lily of the valley this year, but these are short blooming and are already done for this year. If you don’t have these blooming around your house, you should really plant some. They do spread a bit (I think they’re technically considered ground cover), but when mine grow outside the brick edging, we just mow those down after they bloom. You’ll enjoy the fragrance and their beautiful bloms. I sure do!


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BBQ Sauce

I’m not sure where today’s recipe originally came from, but I know that I’ve been making this sauce since I was in junior high. It might be another recipe that my mom got from one of her co-workers. This is one recipe from the 1970’s that ISN’T in the Retro Oddities category – it’s liquid ambrosia. Mom made this BBQ Sauce when I was growing up and it’s now a family favorite. I’ve used this on everything from grilled chicken to beef and pork. You can put it on any kind of meat, but I use it mostly on chopped pork done in the crock pot. It’s a great and easy way to have something ready to go anywhere – all you have to do is reheat. I’ve had it ready for days when we were moving (the move to our first home was our 10th move!), it’s been used for sports team dinners, college weekends, picnics, weekends with family, and many other occasions and celebrations. I’ll just type out the recipe here.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

BBQ Sauce

1 bottle of ketchup (I know there used to be small glass bottles of ketchup, but since I now have to buy the biggest bottle I can find, I would say 2-3 cups)

1/3 cup vinegar

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 ounce liquid smoke

1 Tablespoon mustard

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste – leave it out if you don’t like spicy)

Mix all together.

Simmer 5 minutes.

If using on meat on the grill, only put on meat for the last half hour of grilling.

When I use this with the chopped pork, I cook pork (shoulder, tenderloin, whatever is on sale!) in the crockpot overnight on low and then remove from crockpot, chop the pork, remove bones (if any) and fat, and put it back into the crockpot with a batch (or more depending on the size of your cut of pork) of the BBQ Sauce. I do the same with a beef roast, if I want bbq beef.


This really is an incredibly easy sauce.


I used a pork tenderloin for this batch. I chop it and/or shred it before putting back into crockpot with the sauce.


Putting anything in the crockpot makes it so tender and delicious.


Yes – this bbq pork is so great. An absolute family favorite. I highly recommend you try this recipe.


I sometimes make a batch of this liquid ambrosia sauce just to keep in the refrigerator. (Some family members may have even made references to drinking this right from the jar.) My family loves this on EVERYTHING!!!





Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

As far as I’m concerned, you can never have too many muffin recipes. Muffins are such a versatile item. They can be breakfast, they can be a snack, they can be part of a nice lunch when served with soup and a salad. This recipe for Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins, that comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, is so good! I was too lazy to run to the store and buy applesauce, so I just used a jar of the applesauce I spent 3 hours canning last fall. You can find the recipe for the applesauce here. Oh well, I’m sure these muffins are WAAAAAYYY better with homemade applesauce instead of store-bought! You know it’s true! These muffins went with my husband on a boys weekend and apparently there was a somewhat picky eater in the bunch that thought they were “awesome”!

Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins 2

These really are SO good.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup sifted flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup applesauce

1 cup quick oats

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup nuts, chopped

Cream butter and sugar.

Add egg and beat well.

Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

Mix flour mixture and applesauce into creamed mixture.

Stir in oats, raisins, and nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.


Yes – homemade applesauce is way better than store-bought.


You can’t really see it here, but I topped the muffin batter with a sprinkling of sanding sugar, just to give them a little sparkle.


These muffins have a lot of fiber with the oats, applesauce, raisins, and nuts. That makes them good for you, right?


I’m sure they’re good for you. That means you can eat more of them. Even picky eaters will want to eat more of them. They’re just that good.



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