Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Raisin Spice Cookies

The recipe for today is one comes from one of Grandma’s sisters. These Raisin Spice Cookies are just a good old cookie that’s great for after school snacks, putting in lunches, or having with your afternoon coffee. They’re not too sweet, make your house smell great while baking, and go great with anything!

Raisin Spice Cookies

Raisin Spice Cookies 2

This is a good old-fashioned cookie!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Raisin Spice Cookies

Boil for 5 minutes:

1 cup water

2 cups raisins

Drain and cool.

Cream together:

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup nuts (I didn’t use nuts in this batch)

Cooled raisins

Sift dry ingredients together:

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Mix creamed mixture and dry ingredients.

Chill dough (I chilled it about an hour).

Drop by teaspoon on cookie sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes.


This boiling of the raisins is what makes me think that this seems like an old recipe.


I put the raisins into the refrigerator to cool faster.


After mixing the dough, I just put the whole mixing bowl into the refrigerator to chill.


Instead of a teaspoon to scoop out the cookies, I used my trusty little ice cream scoop. I got 7 1/2 dozen cookies from this batch using the scoop instead of a teaspoon. It makes a large batch.


They got a bit rounded, not flat, and they’re crispy.


These cookies are perfect with a glass of milk. Or coffee. Or tea.


They’re beautiful, crunchy, spicy, and delicious!


These are very versatile cookies! Great anytime, anywhere, and with anything! Get yourself a big glass of cold milk or a hot cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy a few of these spicy old-fashioned cookies.




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Brownie Batter Dip

January was my month to host book club and we read “The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild” by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence. It’s a great book about the author’s life on a wildlife preserve in south Africa.


Since we’re just coming off the holidays, and with all the sweets we’ve been enjoying, I decided that we needed something a little less – um – flour-ish. I mean, you have to have SOMETHING sweet at book club, but I was just a little tired of Christmas cookies. This Brownie Batter Dip that I found at fit the bill. You can find the original recipe here. It’s chocolatey and sweet, but not TOO sweet.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Brownie Batter Dip

Beat together until light and fluffy:

8 ounce block of cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

Slowly add and mix until creamy:

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2-3 Tablespoons milk


5 Tablespoons flour

5 Tablespoons cocoa powder

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat until creamy and smooth.

You can add another tablespoon of milk if you want it creamier.

Serve with strawberries, marshmallows, pretzels, or small cookies – whatever you want to dip in it!


This dip is sweet and chocolatey and “plenty sweet”, but not TOO sweet.


Here are our dippers: strawberries, pretzels, marshmallows, and animal crackers.


The animal crackers included elephants, of course.


I highly recommend this dip – it’s really good. My husband and son usually come in after book club and put a dent in the leftovers and they didn’t have any problem finishing up this dip. Try it at your next book club or gathering!


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Grandma Scully’s Banana Bread

This recipe comes from my mother-in-law, who got it originally from HER mother! It’s written in her old church cookbook that she allowed me to borrow. She was showing me and my husband some of the recipes in it and she happened to casually mention, “oh, this is my mother’s Banana Bread recipe”. WHAT?!!! I love that! You know how I feel about old family recipes!!! Well – I HAD to try this one! I also had to rename it, Grandma Scully’s Banana Bread. Banana Bread just didn’t seem enough in this situation. Again – how awesome is this very old and well used recipe?!!

Banana Bread (Alice's Mother)

It’s so great to have this one.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Grandma Scully’s Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened (I used butter)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup mashed bananas (about 3-4)

1/2 cup nuts (I used walnuts)

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs.

Add flour, baking soda, and salt alternating with bananas.

Add nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.


I used my bread pan that makes 4 small loaves so I could give some to my daughters. How fun to have their great grandmother’s banana bread and recipe!!


These four little loaves look absolutely beautiful!


A little loaf is just right to have with your afternoon coffee or tea.


This is how you eat banana bread, right? Slathered with butter? Yes – I’m pretty sure that’s the right way to do it.


It’s so much fun to have this recipe. I’m glad my mother-in-law happened to mention where this particular recipe came from. Family recipes are so special. They just keep that thread of love going on through the generations. I just love it.



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Bread Pudding

Today I’m sharing a photo of my dad, and it’s a great one! It looks like he’s about 10 or 12 years old here, and does he look like he’s full of the dickens or what?!!!


He looks great because he’s so cleaned up and dressed up, but there’s something about that look in his eye. I don’t know . . . I wouldn’t trust that kid! He looks like trouble with a capital “T”! Ha! Love it! So cute!

The recipe for today was one of my dad’s favorites, and I would make it for him a lot. I think he actually taught me how to make it, but I’m sure it originally came from my other grandma because I do remember her making it also. It probably comes from living through the Great Depression when they didn’t have a lot of money and you just DIDN’T throw anything away. This has to go under Money Saving Meals even though it’s a dessert. Bread Pudding is made from saving the crusts of your loaves of bread. Every time you open a new loaf, just take the end right out, put it into a zip top freezer bag, and pop it back into the freezer until you need it. Keep adding it to it every time you start or end a loaf of bread, or have stale French bread, or whatever. In this batch, I also had some crusts that I cut off of some slices of bread from an appetizer we had at Christmas time. You can also use nice bread and let it sit out to get dry or stale if you want to, but when I make it, I like to use the crusts. It’s more economical that way. Of course, there is no recipe for this, so I’ll just type it out again here.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Bread Pudding

Put into large bowl:

Crusts or slices of dry bread to equal about 4-6 cups, broken up into chunks

1/2 cup raisins

Mix together for custard:

4 eggs

2 cups milk

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all together and put into ungreased casserole.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min or until custard is set.

Top with cream, whipped cream, ice cream, toasted nuts, or chocolate chips.


The ingredients are so simple and inexpensive.


Mix the custard together first and then mix them all up.


The custard makes the bread shrink, so make sure you have enough bread.


It comes out of the oven hot and steamy and crusty on top.


I think you really have to eat this warm. It really is best that way!


This is a very tasty way to use up your bread crusts. I usually keep mine to make dressing to go with our Thanksgiving turkey, but after trying this, my husband says, “not anymore”! Add the things you like to the top of this delicious dessert, and it will be your favorite, too!






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Seckel Pears in Spiced Honey Syrup

I found this recipe last summer when I saw these beautiful little pears at the Farmer’s Market and I HAD to buy them. While searching the internet for what to do with these little beauties, I found this recipe for Seckel Pears in Spiced Honey Syrup at Sweet You can find the original recipe that I used here. I used one jar of them during the holidays and when it was my turn to have book club, I thought I would share the last jar of these sweet and spicy pears.


Seckel pears aren’t really common in these parts, and I love using local produce whenever possible, so that sealed the deal.


They were just so beautiful, I couldn’t resist!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Seckle Pears in Spiced Honey Syrup

(I used half of this recipe)

8 pears (enough for 2 quart jars)

4 cups water

1 1/2 cups honey

2 cinnamon sticks

2 whole star anise

6 cardamom pods

(I didn’t have any star anise, so I just left them out. I also didn’t have cardamom pods so I used 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom and it seemed to work ok. Because I was short of spice, I still used 2 cinnamon sticks even though I made a half batch.)

Scrub pears well in hot water and remove any stickers.

Sterilize jars, rings, and lids.

You can find canning instructions at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

For the honey syrup:

In a saucepan combine honey and water and bring to a boil.

Boil for 5 minutes and then turn off heat.

Fill each jar with pears (I cut the pears in half so they fit better).

Then put half the spices in each jar.

Carefully pour the honey syrup over top of pears leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar.

Put on lids and rings and can according to instructions at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

After canning, let jars sit for about an hour.

If they haven’t sealed, put in refrigerator and use within a month.

If the jars have sealed, put in a cool, dry place and use within one year.


I had enough for two pint jars of pears.


Even after canning, they’re just so beautiful! I’m glad I saved them for a special occasion.


At Christmastime we had these with brie cheese on a baguette and that was delicious. For book club, we had them with a Vermont aged white cheddar, which was also delicious. We came to the conclusion that they are indeed – delicious!


Another benefit of these delicious pears is that you can save the honey syrup and use it on your pancakes. I would suggest that you use them on these Sweet Milk Griddle Cakes. I hope this gives you the confidence to go ahead and try something new. When you see beautiful local produce, go ahead – get it and try it in something new! You won’t be sorry, and you won’t even need to wait to use it for a special occasion!



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Chicken Casserole

The recipe for today comes from my 90-year-old mother-in-law. We went to visit her recently, and she allowed me to take her old church cookbook home to copy down her recipe for Christmas Date Balls. Fortunately for me, it also had this recipe for Chicken Casserole. You know how I feel about church cookbooks – they’re just the BEST. She has made this recipe for many years, and it’s actually taped in the cookbook. This casserole is something that she makes every time the family comes for a visit. It’s delicious and everyone loves it – especially our kids. Apparently (she told me), her daughters and other daughter-in-law have tried to make it themselves but alas, “it doesn’t taste the same as when you make it”. Isn’t that the way it always goes? It’s just never the same as when mom makes it – she just has her own special touch! It must be the added love that goes into it!

93 Alice's Cookbook

This is a very old and very well used cookbook!!! There are pages where her kids (and maybe grandkids and great-grandkids) have used it as a coloring book, written their names in it, and drawn pictures in it. Priceless!!!

Alice's Chicken Casserole

It’s a very simple recipe!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chicken Casserole

(I used a 9″ x 13″ pan for this.)

1 – Layer of boned cup-up chicken (I used about 2-3 cups of cut-up cooked chicken).

2 – Pour a can of cream of mushroom soup over this.

3 – Layer of grated cheese (I used 8 ounces of sharp cheddar).

4 – Layer of Pepperidge Farm dressing (I used a 14 ounce bag of Classic Stuffing), which has been mixed with 2 sticks melted margarine (I used butter).

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


Here are the first two layers, chicken and cream of mushroom soup. I think I could have used a bit more chicken.


Next up, the cheese layer. Then mix the dressing with melted butter and put that on for the last layer.


A subtle difference, but here it is before and after baking.


It comes out hot and delicious and crusty.


I think I used too large of a bag of dressing. Maybe the package size has changed since she started making this casserole.


This a great casserole for busy families. It’s fast and easy and wow – OMG – this is delicious. Period. But the girls are right. It didn’t taste as good as when she makes it!




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Cranberry Pineapple Pie

Today I’m sharing this photo of Grandma and her sisters. These sisters were very close throughout their lives and you can see how much fun they had together. I love this photo so much! This is absolutely my favorite photo of them! First of all, if you knew these sisters, you’d be shocked that they would all sit in a snow bank!! I’m wondering if it was one of their brothers who took this one, since the youngest sister looks like she’s about to throw a snowball at whoever’s taking the picture!


I love their coats and their hats and their boots! So cute! This must have been taken sometime in the early 1930’s.

The recipe for today is one I decided to make because I had a bag of cranberries leftover after Christmas –  it was time to try this Cranberry-Pineapple Pie. I would almost put this one under the Retro Oddity category. Maybe cranberry and pineapple isn’t so weird, but I’ve never heard of this combination before. Speaking of Grandma and her sisters, this pie is one that’s right up their alley – really easy and really good!

Cranberry Pineapple Pie

This is definitely an unusual combination!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cranberry-Pineapple Pie

Bring to a boil:

1 pound cranberries (I used the bag I had and it was a 12 ounce bag)

6 1/2 ounce can pineapple chunks, drained (I used an 8 ounce can of pineapple tidbits)

1 cup pineapple juice (the juice from the pineapple wasn’t enough so I added some pineapple juice from a can)

2 cups sugar (not shown to be added above, but it does have to be added here)

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tablespoons gelatin

Boil 10 minutes.


Pour into:

1-9 inch pie shell, baked (I used a graham cracker crust)


Top with whipped cream.


I used too small of a pie plate and I had enough filling left over to put in a bowl and use it for a small salad for dinner that night.


This pie really couldn’t have been easier to make. It went together really fast. It’s even faster if you use a (ugh!) store-bought crust, but the recipe I used to make this crust is just so good! That little bit of cinnamon in that crust recipe makes it just right.


This would be a very good pie to use for Thanksgiving because it’s very fresh tasting. I’m glad I have this one in my arsenal now.


The comments about this pie: “really good”, “delicious”, and “wow”. My husband even shared some at work and his co-workers really liked it. This recipe is one of my top 5 favorites that I’ve made on this blog, and it is . . . plenty sweet!






Grandma’s Cocoa

We were lucky enough to have a very mild fall here in Minnesota, but the true face of winter here has shown her ugly face. Yesterday the temperature was -13 degrees F when I woke up in the morning with a wind chill of -25 to -35 degrees F. I feel like today is a great time to share the cocoa that my other grandma would make this for me when I stayed at their house. Grandma’s Cocoa is truly the most cocoa-y hot chocolate you will ever try. That’s because it’s made with real cocoa. I do remember Grandma letting me have this for breakfast occasionally, but it was mostly an afternoon treat. She would put the milk in a saucepan on her old gas stove to heat up while I sat at their little kitchen table and busied myself with mixing up the cocoa and sugar, making sure to get EVERY clump and ball of cocoa mixed in. There was nothing better after coming into the house from playing outside in the snow or making a snowman. The smell of that warm milk together with that of the chocolate-y cocoa is one of my favorites from childhood. I made it often for my own kids when they were growing up, but we also have the Hot Chocolate Mix recipe that I got in my 7th grade Home Ec class, so this recipe was only for special occasions. It’s just that good.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Grandma’s Cocoa

1/2 to 1 spoon of cocoa

3 (or more to taste) spoons of sugar

1 cup warm milk

Mix the cocoa and sugar together.

Add the warm milk.


That’s it.

So simple.


I heated the milk in a kettle on the stove.


I used a regular table spoon for this and put the sugar into the cup. Next, in goes the cocoa and then it’s time to mix them up. I think Grandma used more sugar than I did because I remember that it looked more sugary or white. You can add more to taste.


Pour in the warm milk and stir some more. That’s it. Just three simple ingredients. You can add whipped cream or marshmallows on top, but this is the way Grandma made it.


You can see why I needed to make this today – look out the patio door! You can see the cold and snow out there!


It’s time to get out all of my warm and toasty wool blankets, snuggle up with a good book, make some cocoa, and let the winter winds howl. I’ll be just fine right here, thank you, with my cup of cocoa. Just keep ’em comin’ – it could be a long winter.




Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Winter at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm for me as a child was not as fun as being there during the summer, but one thing I remember doing there was looking for the frosty swirls on their dining room windows that told us it was very cold outside. Grandma used to say, “Jack Frost has been here!” I’d sit in front of those frosty glass windows and imagine all kinds of things about those designs on the windows. I would see a blizzard of crystal snowflakes and flowers and stars, there were forests where there had to be fairies and gnomes hiding behind every icy tree, I found little towns and villages where the swirls and twirls of frost made what I was sure were miniature houses lived in by all sorts of elves and little people. It was also fun to experiment with my warm breath and fingers on those windows by blowing on the glass to make even more shapes and designs, and use my fingers to see how big a clear spot I could make (I’m sure Grandma didn’t appreciate my fingers on her windows!!) or if I might be able to make a big enough and clear enough hole in the frost to see outside the window! On sunny days those windows were shining with glitter from the sunbeams coming through the frost and glass. I loved it! Imagination is a beautiful thing. I hope that even as an adult, I never lose it! I’ll keep looking for the signs of Jack Frost!

It’s winter and it’s cold. There are times when the nights are now sometimes below zero, and all we want to do is hunker down in our cozy homes with a nice, steamy bowl of soup and stay warm and toasty. Now is the time to pull out all of our favorite soup recipes, and even try some new ones. This Creamy Cauliflower Soup is just right for a chilly winter night. I know that I sound like a broken record (for those of you who know what a record is), but this is so easy and so inexpensive and so good and so great for a quick lunch or dinner. All you need is to add a salad and some bread and you’re good to go.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

You have to try this one!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

1 medium head cauliflower, cut into flowerets

1/4 cup butter

1 small onion, chopped

2 Tablespoons flour

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups milk

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

1 Tablespoon chopped green onion

Simmer cauliflower covered in small amount of salted water until tender, about 15 minutes.

(I used a bag of frozen cauliflower made according to the package directions.)


Melt butter in saucepan and sauté onion until soft.

Add flour and blend.

Gradually mix in chicken broth and then milk, Worcestershire sauce, and salt.

Add cauliflower.

Bring to a boil.

Stir in cheese.

Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped green onion.


I had a bit of technical difficulty with my camera when taking these photos, so please forgive the kind of washed out photos.


I love adding the color of the chopped green onions – and a bit more shredded cheddar.


This is a very tasty soup!


After you’re done using your imagination to keep cabin fever at bay, and you’ve found the signs that Jack Frost has, indeed, been near your house, that’s when you know it’s time for a nice hot bowl of this soup. Try this recipe one of these very cold winter nights! You’ll love how easy and delicious this is!






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Sweet Milk Griddle Cakes with Homemade Pancake Syrup

I have been the official pancake maker in our family since I was in 7th grade and got this recipe for Sweet Milk Griddle Cakes in my Home Ec class. I have used a lot of those recipes over the years – they were all good ones! I brought home this recipe, made it the first time, and they turned out so good that my dad proclaimed me the one to make the pancakes. We had these a lot back then and over the years, as you can tell from this very well used recipe card. My other Grandma used to make her own pancake syrup and I don’t remember exactly how she did it, but I’m sure that it was one of those recipes leftover from the Depression when there wasn’t a lot of money to buy the store-bought kind. There are a lot of recipes online, so I used this one from WikiHow because it doesn’t have corn syrup in it.

Sweet Milk Griddle Cakes

You can see how much I’ve used this recipe!!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Sweet Milk Griddle Cakes

Sift together in a bowl:

1 1/3 cup sifted flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

4 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat until thick:

1 egg


3/4 cup milk

4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Heat griddle or pan.

Make a “well” in dry mixture.

Add liquid mixture and stir quickly until well moistened.

(Sometimes I add 1/4-1/2 cup water to thin it a bit.)

Pour batter onto griddle.

Cook until bubbles begin to burst on top of pancake.

Turn with flipper and cook another minute or so.


This syrup recipe is so easy and makes a pretty big batch! I couldn’t believe how much it tastes like the real thing!!


You can kind of see the “well” in the dry ingredients here.


Here is the difference between the batter before and after adding a bit of water. It’s a nice thick batter, but I like the pancakes a little thinner. Adding some water makes the batter smoother and also stretches a bit to make a few extra cakes.


My technique for frying is to butter the griddle well, then make one small pancake to waste. It’s wasted because once it’s done on one side, I flip it, let it sit a minute, and run it around the whole griddle to soak up the extra butter, then throw it out. That first wasted pancake never turns out as well as the following ones and doing this butters the griddle perfectly. These photos show how after throwing away the wasted cake and I put the batter on the old cast iron griddle we used to use for camping, it was hard to wait for the bubbles, but it was worth it!!


What a great breakfast on a beautiful, sunny morning! The best part of the homemade syrup (and I do remember this from when Grandma made it) is that it’s warm when you put it on your pancakes!


This is seriously the best recipe for pancakes, and the syrup is just like the real thing, only cheaper! Give these recipes a try, and your weekend breakfasts will never be the same. Who wants to be the official pancake maker in your family? Pick someone!





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