Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Turtle Clusters

The recipe for today is another one that is easy to do and makes a big batch. These Turtle Clusters are a candy that’s really nice for gift giving. They’re similar to the Nut Goodie Candy I posted last December, but much more fudgy. I love that you can use the microwave to make these. Grandma and Grandpa were great proponents of the microwave, and when they got their first one, they used it a lot. Grandpa was famous in the family for his microwave peanut brittle, and I’m sure Grandma was excited about using something for her cooking that was quick, easy to use, and didn’t use as much electricity or get as hot as the stove. They kept up with technology, were always moving forward, and kept up with all of the new-fangled technology. I loved that about them!

Turtle Clusters

Note that this one also has the “V Good” connotation!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Turtle Clusters

Melt in microwave:

3 cups chocolate chips

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Then add:

1 jar marshmallow cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Fold in:

1 pound chopped pecans, dry roasted peanuts, or nuts

32 large marshmallows, quartered or 32 caramels, quartered (I used caramels)

Put on waxed paper until set.


This looks like a lot of ingredients, but it all does mix in!


When the first mixture is melted and mixed, it looks like fudge!


Yep – it’s pretty much fudge with nuts and caramels mixed in!


I would definitely chop the pecans finer next time – the clusters got a bit big, but then I always have a problem making candies too big. Chopping the pecans into finer pieces might make it easier to make the candies smaller. I used two spoons to scoop them, and smaller pieces would be easier and quicker to get them off of the spoon. Once the pecans and caramel are mixed in, you have to work fast so it doesn’t firm up before you’re done. It’s a big batch so having someone to help would make things easier.


Definitely fudge with goodies mixed in. Definitely.


Once they set, they’re less glossy than when originally put onto the baking sheet. These are so good and chewy and chocolaty and nutty and fudgy. Try out this new-fangled gadget – the microwave. Your friends and family would love to get a box of these. I recommend getting them into a box and wrapped as soon as you possibly can. I think you can guess why!



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Mulling Spices

I love cider. You can have cider all through the fall and into the winter. This recipe for Mulling Spices is great for cider, wine, or even tea. It makes a great hostess gift, or even a potpourri. I could see having this sitting out in the living room throughout the holiday season. The scent of it is amazing, and incredibly fragrant. You can really use any combination of spices and citrus rind to spice up your warm beverages.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Mulling Spices

Dry in the oven at 250 degrees for 20-30 minutes:

Orange peel (white pith scraped off, if possible)

Lemon peel

Thinly sliced ginger

Mix together and pound a bit (I put all of the whole spices into a zip top bag and pounded it with my rolling pin):

Cinnamon sticks

Star anise

Whole nutmeg

Cardamom pods

Whole allspice

Whole cloves

Vanilla Bean

Mix these all together in a bowl, put into cheesecloth or  drawstring bag, and give as a gift or use in your beverage.

To mull cider: Heat 1 quart cider with one packet of spices and sliced oranges or apples.


I love all of these spicy ingredients.


They’re pretty enough to have sitting out in a pretty glass bowl. They smell great, too!


I cut a square of cheesecloth and put about 2 tablespoons of spices into it. I cut pieces of a vanilla bean and put a piece into each cheesecloth bundle.


You can find drawstring tea bags online, but I just used cheesecloth and tied it up with kitchen string. The batch I made was enough for about 4 bags.


Put them in a jar, put a pretty ribbon around it, and you have a very nice hostess gift for all of your holiday gatherings.


I warmed a quart of cider with a sliced orange and one of the bags of spice mix for about 20 minutes.


This mulled cider makes the whole house smell like a holiday!


You can garnish your cider with a cinnamon stick, a slice of orange, and/or a slice of apple. Make sure to slice the apple across the middle so you can see the star! I hope you make this wonderful mulling spice mix. It makes a nice gift  – and make some for yourself, too!




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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!! Today I’m sharing a flower arrangement for your holiday enjoyment!


I made this arrangement with a $5 grocery store mum bunch and some assorted leftover stuff from my front garden that was still useable. There were things left in the garden that weren’t frozen yet: Sedum, purple dragon flower seed pods, and Echinacea seed pods.


It fits perfectly on the front entry table.


The mums are the perfect color for this time of year!


I’m so thankful for each and every one of you, dear readers! I do so much appreciate all of your continued support. Thanks for stopping by to check out Plenty Sweet Life! Enjoy this wonderful day of gratitude and thanksgiving with your family and friends!


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Cranberry Salad

After reading this recipe, I was thinking that this is such a simple holiday recipe, but it really doesn’t have to be a holiday recipe. It would be a great salad to have any time. It’s just so easy. There’s really not much to it. This Cranberry Salad is easy, delicious, and great for dinner. I could see Grandma making this for those family Sunday night suppers that her family was so famous for. My mom still misses having Sunday suppers with her family, and cousins, and the aunts and uncles! I am old enough to have been in on some of those suppers, too, and man, I can still remember the smells that would come from those kitchens back then. There was a lot of love and warmth in those kitchens, too. What a great way for a family to stay in touch and stay together. We try to do a family dinner with our kids at least once every week or two, and it’s not easy, but it’s important and it’s something we try to make happen. We’re going to enjoy it while we can, because as we all know, life has a way of taking us all in different directions.

Cranberry Salad 2

There could hardly be an easier recipe for a salad.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cranberry Salad

Make 3 small boxes of Jell-O according to directions, using only 4 cups of water (I used 2 cups boiling water and 2 cups cold water).

Mix in:

1 can whole cranberries (not jellied cranberries)

1 can crushed pineapple (not drained)

1/2 cup nuts (I didn’t use nuts in this one but I would use walnuts)


We had Jell-O molds like these when I was a little girl, so I decided to try to use them with this salad and see what happens. After mixing up the salad, I poured some of the liquid into the molds and into the frig with them all.


I dipped the mold into hot water and maybe had it in there a bit long. They melted just a bit and I had to wipe up the plate, otherwise they came out ok. They’re pretty for an individual serving, and as I told my son, Grandma would have topped this with a dollop of mayonnaise or Miracle Whip. All he could say was, “why?” I don’t know why she like those kind of things, but there were a lot more of those kind of salads back then. Remember, this salad was supposed to also have nuts in it. Must be one of those retro things.


This salad is perfect for this time of year.


Gather your family for a big family dinner and serve this salad. It doesn’t have to be a holiday, but this one would be great for a holiday dinner, too. Cranberries can be great for Thanksgiving OR Christmas. This salad would be great with dinner for either of those holidays. You could even still pull this together for tomorrow. It’s just so easy. And so delicious!






Pecan Tassies

This recipe comes from a friend of the family and they go way back, however, my mom said that Grandma used to make these, too. The family friend used to make these for my dad – they were one of his favorites. I was sure that they were called Tea Time Tassies, so I could be wrong and maybe these are a recipe of Grandma’s. I remember having these Pecan Tassies when I was really little. I made these once when we were first married. My husband ate the whole batch in about 10 minutes and I never made them again. They take a bit of work so that was the end of that. Seriously – these are such a pretty little tea cookie and he just took them by the handful and kept popping them into his mouth. He has a reputation for the way he eats cookies. Grandma used to say to him, “Paul Knutson, you can NOT do that!” (She used to call him Paul Knutson because I also have an Uncle Paul.) I think Grandma was a bit offended when he would take a handful of cookies and throw them down, when she knew how much work it takes to bake things. She was used to having a baking day where they would make all the bread and treats for the week on one day. With brothers of her own, I’m sure the sisters had their work cut out for them keeping everyone from eating all of their delicious baking as fast as they could. The sisters were all amazing bakers. I have lost the card with the original recipe on it, so I ‘ll just type it here.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pecan Tassies


Soften to room temperature:

3 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup butter

Blend together.

Stir in:

1 cup flour

Chill 1 hour.

Shape in 2 dozen 1 inch balls and place in ungreased mini muffin pan.

Press dough evenly against bottom and sides of each.


Beat together just until smooth:

1 egg

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

Divide half of 3/4 cup chopped pecans among pastry filled pans.

Add egg mixture.

Top with remaining pecan pieces.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until filling is set.


The dough goes into the frig to chill.


You need 24 balls of dough to make 24 little cookies. I cut the dough into 4 pieces and cut those 4 sections into 6 even pieces. Roll them into balls and push them into the mini muffin cups and up the sides.


Once you have all the dough in the muffin pans, chopped pecans go into each cup.


Next comes the filling and on top – more chopped pecans.


This is what they look like coming out of the oven. They’re so cute!


You can see why these are so dangerous to make. They’re just too pop-able! Pop – right into your mouth! I let my husband have ONE and then they went right into the freezer to be saved for Thanksgiving day.


So this is the second time in 30 years that I’ve made these. They’re so unbelievably good. And unfortunately, they’re way too easy to just pop into your mouth. But so worth it. I will be making these a little more often. I think. Maybe. I hope they’re still in the freezer when I go to get them out. Hopefully “you know who” hasn’t found them in there!




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Pumpkin Cheese Ball

Today a northwest wind is howling through our trees, bringing cooler temperatures and a few snow flurries. The time has come for our beloved change of seasons here in Minnesota. I absolutely love the change and I don’t think I could ever live where there would be none. We’ve been spoiled with an amazing fall – beautiful blue skies and warmer than normal temperatures – but I’m pretty sure it’s over. The change from fall to winter is when we get to enjoy the fruits of our summer labor. It’s time to get cozy, sit by the fire, enjoy the upcoming holidays, and be with friends and family. I have made today’s recipe many times over the years. It’s a little bit different from the Cheese Ball that I’ve posted about in the past. This Pumpkin Cheese Ball is really delicious.

Pumpkin Cheese Ball

This is a great appetizer or snack for your thanksgiving gatherings!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Cheese Ball


8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup solid pack pumpkin

Mix until well blended.

Stir in:

1 package (2.5 ounce) smoked, sliced beef, chopped

2 cups (8 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1 Tablespoon onion, chopped

Form into large ball.

Score sides to resemble pumpkin.

Cut a piece of celery for the stem.


Don’t forget to soften the cream cheese when mixing it with the pumpkin or it will get lumpy.


I love these ingredients – just a bit different.


Blend it all together.


It’s got that beautiful pumpkin color, too!


I like to put it onto a piece of plastic wrap, then make it a ball and put it into the frig to chill. It holds its shape better when chilled.


I cut a piece of celery for the stem and used a piece of cilantro for a leaf (parsley would work for a leaf, too). Don’t forget to score the lines to make it look more like a pumpkin.


Serve this with crackers or a sliced baguette. It’s delicious, and great to have made up and ready to have any time over the holiday weekend. Make one, then sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!



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Old-Fashioned Graham Crackers

This recipe was cut out of a magazine about 10 years ago. You know how you rip the recipe out and just never seem to get them made? I came across this recipe again recently when paging through my recipe binder, so it’s time to give them a try. What can I say? Old-Fashioned Graham Crackers are the perfect thing to try when making Grandma’s recipes. I’m sure that’s why I cut out this recipe and kept it. It seems like at least 60% of her recipes involved graham crackers.

I had to share this photo of me eating a graham cracker at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. If Grandma had MADE all of the graham crackers from scratch that I ate, she’d have been making them every day! You can tell by the cheeks that I ate a LOT of graham crackers!

Old-Fashioned Graham Crackers

That cracker sure looks delicious, I must say, and I sure seem to be enjoying it. And the orange juice, of course.

I wouldn’t want to make all of the crackers needed when making of these recipes, but when you want graham crackers for a snack? Absolutely.

Old-fashioned Graham Crackers

These are delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Old-Fashioned Graham Crackers

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup turbinado sugar (this is a coarse sugar, but regular granulated sugar will work just fine)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

With electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add a third of the flour mixture and 1/4 cup of water. Mix for 30 seconds. Repeat this step once, then add the remaining flour mixture and mx just to combine. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface ad knead by hand for about 10 seconds. Divide dough in half, cover one with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on work surface, put the dough on the parchment and top with a second piece of parchment. Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness. Repeat with second half of dough. Chill for about 30 minutes.

At this point, I just peeled off the top layer of parchment and used my pizza cutter to cut the cookies. You can use a cookie cutter and re-roll the dough twice, but I didn’t want to take the time. I just transferred the parchment that the cut dough was on to a baking sheet, sprinkled the tops with the turbinado sugar, and baked them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


The dough was pretty easy to mix up.


Cut it in half and off we go!


Rolling the dough between the pieces of parchment paper worked really well.


It was also pretty easy to cut the cookies out with the cookie cutter.


I cut the cookies before AND after baking. I did leave one uncut to try to just break it apart, but cutting it worked better.


Grandma would have loved these with her 3:00 coffee. You will, too!


You’re gonna want to try these. They’re so snackin’ good and look just like the real thing!


No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie

Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. Pumpkin is synonymous with this time of year. There are just so many great things to do with it. I’ve posted a few recipes over the years. I’ve done Pumpkin Pie – the Chiffon Kind, Pumpkin Pie Dessert, Pumpkin Cake, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie , and Autumn Gold Pumpkin Cake. I’ve done Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds, Freezing Pumpkin, and Knit Pumpkins. I haven’t even done just your basic Pumpkin Pie yet. Here is another great fast and easy recipe for one more kind of pumpkin pie. This No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie is a great pie to do last-minute.

No Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie

No Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie 2

I love how easy this one is!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie

Beat together for 1-2 minutes:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 stick butter, softened

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Blend in:

1 can pumpkin

Pour into 9″ graham cracker crust (I’m not going judge you if you use a store-bought one and not make your own. Not much anyway.)

Chill 6 hours or overnight.


Here is the recipe for a graham cracker crust that I used.


The filling is so smooth and luscious.


I wanted to use my pretty milk glass pie plate, so, as usual, I had some graham crumbs and filling leftover. I put crumbs in the bottom of the glasses and made 3 desserts for dinner that night.


Topped with some whipped cream and more crumbs – delicious dessert!


It’s a soft pie and the cream cheese gives it a bit of a tangy taste.


Any of the pumpkin recipes mentioned at the top of this post would be great additions to your Thanksgiving table, but this is also a great recipe. I love that you can make it VERY easily the night before (you could even stretch it to two days before your gathering). Done. Ready to go. You’re going to love this one and so will your guests!







The recipe for today is one that has gotten such a bad rap. I don’t know if it’s the candied fruit that always turns people off on fruitcake, but this recipe uses something much tastier. Orange candy slices. Yes, you read that right. Grandma’s Fruitcake recipe is just a little bit different. This one doesn’t have the candied fruit, spices, and rum that normal fruitcake has. The fruitcake filled with all of that good stuff are delicious, too, and you’re supposed to make it in October and let them sit and let the flavors blend until Christmas. I made this one in November, even though it doesn’t have to sit, and I put it in the freezer. I’m sharing it now because of that unusual ingredient, the orange slices. They’re ORANGE! Not red and green like the normal fruitcake. So I’m thinking, if you wanted to, you could make it now and serve this for one of your Thanksgiving desserts.


fruitcake 2

Throw a curve ball and see if anyone even realizes that it’s fruitcake! It’s that good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:


1 cup margarine (I used butter)

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk, plus 1 teaspoon baking soda

3 1/2 cups cake flour (I used regular – I don’t usually have cake flour on hand)

1 package dates, chopped

1 cup flaked coconut

2 cups walnuts, chopped

1 pound orange slice candy, cut in small pieces (they don’t have them in 1 lb. bags so I had to get 2 bags and measure out 1 lb. on my scale – you could also probably buy them in bulk at your grocery store)

Bake in tube pan at 250 degrees for 2 hours.

Grandma said she had never used a tube pan, but used 2 loaf pans plus a dozen cupcakes and baked them for 1 hour and 40 minutes. She also said she tried the icing once and it didn’t work so great so she didn’t use it again. The recipe is there if you want to try it, but I did not. I baked this in two larger loaf pans and 3 smaller loaf pans for about 2 hours.


The cut up orange slices sure do look like the other kind of candied fruit!


The batter is very thick. It didn’t look like all of the “goodies” would go in there, but they did!


It is chock full of goodness!


Before and after baking – beautiful!


She says to grease the pans very well and she wasn’t kidding! I did grease them what I thought was very well, and the big pans really stuck on the bottom – so make sure you REALLY grease the pans well. I didn’t get a photo of them, but I tried to put them back together and the candy and the batter was so sticky, it kind of stuck. We’ll see how it goes when I take them out of the freezer.


This is a big batch – enough for sharing!


Here is one of the little beauties all sliced up! See how pretty! The colors of fall – give it a try – right now!




Instant Cappuccino Coffee

I have had this recipe around so long, I can’t remember where it came from. It’s so old, it tells you to mix it in a blender instead of a food processor! This Instant Cappuccino Coffee is a nice warmer-upper to have for the fall and winter. You can snuggle up with it in front of the fire with a good book and let the cold winds howl, or enjoy it for your afternoon coffee.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Instant Cappuccino Coffee

1/3 cup non-dairy coffee creamer

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup dry instant coffee, either decaf or regular

1 or 2 orange flavored hard candies, broken up a bit (I used the kind with the hole in the middle)

Put ingredients into blender (I used a food processor) and process at high-speed until well blended.

Use 1 level tablespoon of mix with 3/4 cup boiling water.

Stir well and dollop with whipped cream and/or slice of orange.


This recipe doesn’t make a very big batch. You may want to double it as long as you’re taking out your food processor.


It’s a bit hard to see, but if you squint, you can kind of see the little bits of orange candy in the mix.


Coffee with orange is a very tasty combination.


I love to use decaf coffee for this so I can have a cup in the evening.


Obviously, you can dress this up or down, depending on how you’re feeling. It’s nice and creamy on its own, but if you want to “gild the lily”, as they say, you can add the whipped cream and/or orange slice. This is a delicious warm drink. You’ll love to cozy up with it at any time! Let the cold winds howl, I say!!




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