Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Old Black Witch and Her Bewitching Blueberry Pancakes

Happy Halloween, everybody! I’m sharing a favorite children’s book today, in honor of Halloween. It’s not necessarily a Halloween book, but I love it! It’s called “Old Black Witch” by Wende and Harry Devlin. You can order it and read the reviews of the book here. It’s the story of a mom and her son who move to New England and open up a tea room. Once they move in, Old Black Witch turns out to be quite the troublemaker. It’s a great story and the illustrations are adorable. The book even has Old Black Witch’s recipe for Bewitching Blueberry Pancakes on the back cover.

Happy Halloween 2015


It’s a little hard to read the recipe, so I’ll type it out here.

Bewitching Blueberry Pancakes

1 1/4 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3 Tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoons salt

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup milk

3 Tablespoons melted fat or oil

1/2 cup washed blueberries

As you stir in the blueberries (this is the magic part) say three times:


Gobble dee gook

With a wooden spoon

The laugh of a toad

At the height of the moon!


Pour on a hot griddle and watch.

You can make things disappear just like Old Black Witch.

Put three pancakes in front of any boy or girl and watch them go!


Both kids and adults will love this book! I haven’t tried making these pancakes yet, but I will! I hope you will, too!

Enjoy the weekend and stay safe!



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Halloween Treats

All week I have shared treats appropriate for the season and today I’m sharing a selection of Halloween Treats from past posts! They’re quick and easy to make (and delicious!) and I know you’re going to love them!


Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds


Halloween Popcorn Balls


Rollo Pretzel Treats for Halloween


Chocolate Rice Krispie Cookies


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Graham Crackers – Frosted

Halloween is such a fun time of year. It’s always been one of my favorites. I love the smell and sound of the leaves  skipping down the street when they’re blown along with the wind – I loved to rake them into a pile as a child and then jump in them and then do it over and over and over and over again. I love the costumes – I was always a gypsy as a child because it was a ready-made costume – one of my grandma’s old dresses, a scarf around my head, and after raiding my mom’s jewelry drawer, I was all set! I love the trick or treat aspect – I loved doing it when I was little, except for the year my little sister was sick and couldn’t go and I had to give her half of mine. Now I love to give the treats in some kind of a treat bag that because that always made me feel special when I was trick-or-treating. I love the colors of Halloween and the decorations – I usually try to use natural and vintage decorations instead of going for the blood and gore. Today’s recipe is another treat that is perfect for fall – all full of caramel and festive sprinkles. I recently found this recipe for Graham Crackers – Frosted written in Grandma’s handwriting, but in an earlier post, I had done another recipe that came from one of Grandma’s sisters called Graham Cracker Cookies. They are similar, but not exactly the same. So I decided to make this one, using a bit of the Halloween Bark treatment. Just like the Halloween Bark, you can dress this up as much or as little as you’d like, in seasonal or special occasion sprinkles or candies. The possibilities are endless. It’s still hard to determine, as with the other recipe, whether this is a cookie or a candy. It really could be either one, but my vote is for a candy.

Graham Crackers - frosted

Both recipes are highly addictive. Just sayin’.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Graham Cookies – Frosted

Layer a baking sheet with graham crackers (I used about 1 1/2 packages).


1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar


1 cup walnuts, chopped (I’d say about 1 cup)

Pour over the top of the graham crackers, smoothing and spreading if you need to.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or so, watching closely.

After removing from oven, I immediately put on the sprinkles and candy corn.

Break up after it’s cool.


I don’t know why this keeps happening, but I ran out of walnuts again, so I had to use some sunflower seeds to supplement. It wasn’t bad.


When it first comes out of the oven, it’s bubbling away like molten lava. I let it sit for a couple of minutes and then started the sprinkling.


After it’s cooled, you can break it up into pieces or do like I did and cut it on the cracker lines. This candy/cookie is almost like a caramel. It’s coated with the caramel goodness on both sides and is literally surrounded with caramel!


This is so easy and so pretty! Here’s another incredibly delicious candy to try – but be warned – you’ll have to hide it if you want any left by Halloween! These caramel treats are another one that’s highly addictive!!!


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Halloween Bark

You see this Halloween Bark all over the internet and I thought it was so cute and festive, I just had to try it! It’s similar to the Easter Bark I made a year ago last Easter. This isn’t something you’d eat a lot of (it’s plenty sweet!), but it’s very festive and can look as much like Halloween as you want. You could also use this as Thanksgiving Bark because most of the colors in it are fall or harvest colors. You could make Christmas Bark, you could make Valentines Bark, you could make Birthday Bark, the list goes on and on. There really isn’t a recipe for this, you can put anything you want in it, so I’ll just type out what I did.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Halloween Bark

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sprinkle baking sheet with broken up pretzels, peanuts, candy corn, chopped chocolate sandwich cookies, whatever you want in it.

Melt one package of almond bark and pour over top.

Spread the melted almond bark over the chopped goodies.

Top with more peanuts, candy corn, chopped chocolate sandwich cookies, and sprinkles of your choice.

Let cool and harden.

Cut or break into pieces.


You can also use the chocolate sandwich cookies with the orange filling.


There is just enough almond bark to cover one baking sheet.


You can put as many sprinkles and goodies on it as you can! It’s so pretty! It looks like a party! I just love it!


This also makes a great Halloween gift or hostess gift. Just put some in a cellophane bag and tie with a pretty Halloween ribbon.


It cuts or breaks into pieces very easily. I like the look of the cut pieces.


This is really good, but “plenty sweet”! I’m glad I put both pretzels AND peanuts in it. The salty bits make it so good – sweet AND salty! It’s very festive and pretty for the season! Make up a batch and treat your family and friends – they may “trick” you in return!



Hotdish #3

Here is one more in the long line of hotdish recipes in Grandma’s file. They’re numbered because there are so many of these delicious recipes that just say “hotdish”. Hotdish #3 is a very tasty hotdish for this time of year. There’s nothing better than coming indoors after raking your lawn or going for a walk to look at the beautiful colored leaves we’ve had this fall, only to have that warm, cozy smell coming from your oven. I think one reason that Grandma had so many hotdish recipes in her file, is that they’re easy to pull together, and easy to do ahead of time. You can make a hotdish in the morning or even the night before and then just put it in the oven before your family or guests arrive. Hotdishes are absolutely perfect for working families!


You could even use leftover stuffing from your Thanksgiving dinner for this one.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hotdish #3

Brown and drain:

1 pound ground beef

Mix with:

1 can cream of celery soup

Put in casserole dish.


1 1/2 cups cheddar or mozzarella cheese, shredded (you’ll need 3 cups total – I used cheddar)

1 package Stove Top Stuffing

Place on top:

1 cup broccoli, chopped (I used frozen)

Top with:

1 1/2 cup more cheddar cheese, shredded

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


Here are the many layers of this delicious hotdish – the ground beef and cream of celery soup, and the first layer of cheddar cheese.


Here are the stuffing and then the broccoli.


Top with the last layer of cheddar cheese and into the oven it goes.


Does this look good or what?! It is!!!


After the hotdish was in the oven, I wondered how the stuffing would cook – how would it moisten if there are only the broccoli and cheddar on top? It was a bit dry at first, but moistened the longer it sat. You could cook the stuffing before using it in this hotdish if you prefer.


This is another great hotdish – and you really can never have too many hotdish recipes in your arsenal. Make this hotdish ahead of time, go outdoors and do some yard work or something you can only do in the fall, and then come back in and get warm and cozy and enjoy this delicious hotdish. It’s a good one!


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Caramel Bars

This is the time of year when we need recipes that we can pull together quickly. School has started, the hunting season is upon us, and we’re off and running towards the holidays. Speaking of starting school, here is a picture of my mom and my uncle off to their first day of school in September of 1953.


They look pretty excited and ready to go!!! Seriously – they could be in a movie about the 1950’s! So cute!

Here is a recipe that is really easy to do in a hurry. This is another one that uses ready-made, ready-to-go ingredients that makes these bars an easy go-to recipe. It’s just one of those things – you must ALWAYS have a box of yellow cake mix available in your cupboard!! You have to. There are so many things to do with it. Just go ahead and have it always at the ready. This recipe has to go into the “Retro Oddities” category, just because of the cake mix thing. I’m pretty sure Grandma and her friends kept the baking companies in business throughout the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s. It’s amazing what recipes these people came up with – all incredibly easy and all incredibly good!!! Every one of them. It’s just amazing. These Caramel Bars are almost more like a butterscotch or butter pecan or butter brickle flavor, but man, are they delicious!

Caramel Bars

Amazing. Who’d have thought?

I actually found this recipe on the back of another one!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Caramel Bars

Combine until crumbly:

1 box yellow cake mix

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 egg

Press into greased 9″ x 13″ pan.

Beat together:

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir in:

1 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup Heath Brickle Toffee Bits

Pour over the base and spread on.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

Cool and cut.


So funny – the cake mix thing – but it works!


I just used my hand to pat down the bottom crust.


Before and after baking – the pecans get toasted and golden.


These are great for this time of year. Pecans and toffee are so great for the fall.


I have to say – I love these bars. They’re another really great treat to take anywhere and they’re really easy to do when you need something made fast. Try them with your afternoon – or after school – coffee or tea!







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Simmering Potpourri

This time of year, when we Minnesotans are forced inside for the winter, the house seems to smell bad. Not bad, really, but just stale. I’m used to being outside A LOT during the summer, and when I’m stuck inside all winter, I need something to help freshen up the indoor air. I have done a simmering potpourri for years, but when perusing Pinterest, I saw a blog that had such a beautiful photo of a pot of simmering potpourri, that I had to read on and see what else they added. There were a couple of new things that I hadn’t thought of adding, and I like it. You can find that original post here. This is the ultimate scent of fall: spicy and citrusy and wonderful.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Simmering Potpourri

Peel of 1 orange

2 apples, cut in chunks

2 sticks of cinnamon

2 tablespoons whole cloves

2 tablespoons whole allspice

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon almond extract

2 cups water

Simmer over low heat on stove top. I have used a very small crock pot that I have for this.

Keep an eye on it – you’ll have to replenish the water so it doesn’t burn! I also have to occasionally replenish the water in the small crock pot.


I’m putting this into the cast iron pan we bought on our honeymoon to Yellowstone National Park. Believe it or not, we actually bought this pan at Wall Drug on the way there!!


This is just so pretty and smells SOOOOOO good! I really enjoyed making it as much as smelling it later.


You can add any spices and/or fruit you like in this, but I used the most fall-ish scents I could think of. Lemon and rosemary are also a great combination that I like because it reminds me of those Saturday house-cleaning sessions when I was a kid – all that lemon furniture polish.


Full disclosure – it wasn’t a great idea to do this in the cast iron pan. It took the “seasoning” off of the pan and turned the potpourri totally black! It still smelled wonderful, but didn’t look so good! Try this potpourri in a sauce pan or crock pot. It smells like fall and you can use this all the way through to Thanksgiving and beyond! I know I will be using a simmering potpourri to freshen the air in my house – at least until I get used to being indoors again for the winter.




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Round Steak Marinade

The recipe for today comes from a cookbook called “The Outdoor Cookbook”. I got the cookbook sometime in high school, and I’ve been making it ever since. We like to use this Round Steak Marinade when we make kabobs with round steak and assorted vegetables: cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, red and green peppers. Just cube the steak before marinating, skewer them all, and grill. This marinade is also just plain good on steak. Any steak.

Round Steak Marinade

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup cooking oil

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 pounds round steak

Combine the first 5 ingredients and mix well.

Pour over steak (I put it into a zip top bag) and refrigerate for 2-4 hours (I have done it overnight).

Grill steak to desired doneness.

Cut in strips against the grain to serve.


Put all the ingredients into a zip top bag and once the steak is in, put it into the refrigerator. I sometimes do it overnight.


The marinade caramelizes on the steak when it’s grilled.


This skirt steak is so tender and flavorful when marinated in this. You’ll love it! Give it a try!


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Pumpkin Spice Creamer

Recipes for Pumpkin Spice everything are all over the place this time of year, so I’m jumping in! This Pumpkin Spice Creamer is just the ticket. Maybe it’s that the weather gets cooler and we’re looking for a nice, warm, tasty drink to warm us up. Maybe it’s that this time of year when the sun has that golden glow and goes down earlier, we’re looking for ways to be more cozy. Maybe it’s that we just love fall and spice and we’re willing to try to get it into every food or drink we can. I don’t know what it is about the pumpkin pie spice thing, but I’ll take it. It really is the flavor of fall. It’s delicious. I’m sorry that I don’t remember where I found this recipe, but I did find it somewhere on the internet.

Pumpkin Spice Creamer

1 cup instant non-dairy coffee creamer

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup dry powdered milk

3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cardamom

2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix together (I used a food processor to better mix in the vanilla) and store in airtight container.


This recipe really has very few ingredients to make something so tasty.


I don’t drink that much coffee and it makes a kind of big batch so I cut it in half.


The creamer makes your coffee so spicy and creamy.


Your afternoon coffee will make you feel so cozy, you won’t believe it!


It tastes like fall. Spicy, cozy, warm and just a little bit sweet. Just what we need this time of year!



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Salad #4

The recipe for today is named Salad #4. There are several of these recipes (with the name of Salad) in Grandma’s file, so I have to rename them by adding a number! This is another one to be categorized as “Retro Oddities”. There is something about adding cottage cheese to Jello . . . I just don’t know where that came from. My son said, “well, it IS fruit and cheese – dessert, maybe?”. It’s just weird. This seems so strange, but in the spirit of the blog – we’re making EVERY recipe. You just never know how they’ll turn out.

Salad #2

Ok – here goes.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Salad #4

Bring to a boil:

1 can fruit cocktail


1 small package of Jello (I used orange here, but she says that you can also use pineapple)

Bring to a boil again.

Cool some (I waited 15 minutes or so).

Mix in:

1 small cottage cheese

1 medium Cool Whip

Put mixture into a pretty bowl and chill.


I can honestly say that I’ve never boiled fruit cocktail before.


Cool the fruit cocktail/jello mixture and then just mix in the cottage cheese and Cool Whip.


The salad before and after chilling. It’s a subtle difference, but it is there.


It does firm up pretty quickly, and looks pretty!


We really are going with a theme with Grandmas recipes. Easy, quick, and then easy again. This one is SO easy, and it really is good, odd or not. Really.







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