Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Glass Cleaner and Spring Cleaning

It’s spring, and that means it’s time for Spring Cleaning. When I was growing up, both Grandma and my mom would really make spring cleaning a big deal. It was a thorough top to bottom cleaning, and it was always REALLY cold. For some reason (fresh air being good for you, I suppose) the windows were open and being April-ish in Minnesota, it was probably only 40-50 degrees outside!! We also lived on a lake and this time of year (or when there’s still ice on it) the wind blowing off of the lake is COLD!! Most years this was probably the first fresh air let into the house since October, and even though it was cold, I loved the smell of that first blast of cold, fresh air let in. I also remember the smell of lemon – as in lemon furniture polish. Everything just seems more clean if you smell lemon.

When we went on our trip to Sweden and Norway, we found out in Sweden that the cleaning bug is not a family thing, it’s a cultural thing. When we were driving in the country in Sweden, you would see a little cottage in the woods and there someone would be sweeping off their porch or shaking a rug. People seemed to be cleaning everywhere. Yep – that’s where we get it from!

I’ve decided to include a recipe that someone gave my mom for Glass Cleaner years ago. I’ve used this ever since – just put it in a spray bottle and get to it. It’s cheap, it’s easy, you know what’s in it, it works very well, and it makes a big enough batch to keep some in a jar on top of my pantry for later use. I have seen some recipes with vinegar and/or lemon juice in it, but this one has rubbing alcohol and that helps dry the glass fast.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Glass Cleaner

1 pint rubbing alcohol

2 Tablespoons dish soap

Add water to make 1 gallon.

Pour into a squirt bottle and use a paper towel, newspaper, or microfiber cloth to dry.

You can find Spring Cleaning checklists all over the internet if you need a guideline. I try to do a room or two at a time so this chore doesn’t get too overwhelming. This is what I like to keep in mind, and do in the order given:

  1.  Declutter – I like to go through, room by room, and reorganize and reassess. We live in a fairly small house, and things can really start to accumulate if we don’t stay on top of it. Sometimes we don’t even know what we have anymore, which is dumb and expensive when you end up with 3 bottles of bathroom cleaner because you bought another one when you couldn’t see that you already had 2 under the kitchen sink. That means it’s time to declutter. It also looks good and takes up less space when you reorganize after decluttering, and there’s nothing wrong with things just looking tidy.
  2. Clean – This is the time to really clean. I mean REALLY clean EVERYTHING. Do all of those out-of-the-way places that get overlooked the rest of the year. You have to do this with an objective eye and try to see things that just seem to fade out or don’t seem that important when doing your weekly cleaning. For me it’s things like: the top of ceiling fan blades, the top of the trim around doorways, scrubbing the outside and top of the kitchen cabinets to get off accumulated dust and grease, cleaning the glass on our front door (now that it’s warm enough to do it and the glass cleaner won’t freeze because the ice and snow are melted and gone for the year – we hope), washing all of my glass vases, containers, and picture frame glass set around the house so they look nice, etc. Use this recipe for glass cleaner, use the lemon furniture polish, and make sure that everything is sparkling and ready for summer.
  3. Freshen up – Like I said above, my mom and grandma always opened the windows and let in the cold, fresh air in the spring and so do I. There’s nothing like the smell of that fresh spring air after being closed up all winter, especially if we’re lucky (like we are this year) to have had a fairly mild winter and there is grass growing already when doing the spring cleaning. The lemon furniture polish will only get you so far in the freshening department. Fresh air is where it’s at.


Get those windows open and let the fresh spring air in!


This is seriously the most difficult part of my spring cleaning – the mirror that lives on the wall above our entry/stairway. Don’t ask me how it happened or what it is, but this year something was sprayed up there and made spots on the mirror!! My husband cleans this by climbing up on our big ladder propped up on the second step so he can reach! My part in this particular cleaning project is to get him to do it!!!! I’m not gonna lie – sometimes my part in it is harder! You can see that my hydrangea wreath is still “hanging” in there! Ha!


It feels so good to have everything clean and sparkling!


A bouquet of fresh flowers can’t hurt!

Spring cleaning really is a chore, but it feels so good when you’re done. I love how the house looks all tidied up and reorganized, and I love how it smells clean and of lemon and fresh air. It feels like it has good energy. This is a good thing to get done early, so you can go outside and start some other chores, like gardening, and landscaping, and lawn mowing, and house painting. Oh yeah – and those other chores like boating, and fishing, and grilling, and picnicking. Those are really important to get done, too. Happy spring, everyone!


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Toffee Crunch Cookies

Grandma and Grandpa always had Heath Bars around the house and now I know why. It has to be because of these Toffee Crunch Cookies. I would highly suggest that you only make these cookies for a very special occasion. Something VERY special like the Queen of England is stopping by to celebrate her 90th birthday with you or the Pope is coming for afternoon coffee. These are so very decadent and so very delicious, that you will want to save them for very special occasions – oh who are we kidding – make them anytime you’re in the mood for something very decadent and celebratory. That could be today!

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We haven’t had one of these for a while, but note the “Very Good” connotation on this one!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Toffee Crunch Cookies

Cream together:

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup brown sugar


1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Then add the dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Next add:

6 Heath candy bars, chopped

1 cup pecans, chopped

Drop 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Cool and frost.


Bring to a boil:

1 cup brown sugar

3 Tablespoons milk

5 Tablespoons butter


3/4 cup chocolate chips

Beat well.


I’m not kidding – seriously – these are a very special occasion cookie. Look how much candy this is!!!


I used my trusty scoop for these, and it wasn’t easy. They are so full of chopped candy bars and nuts, that there seemed like there was hardly enough dough to hold the goodies together.


Now, this is just my opinion, but these cookies are just great without the frosting. Apparently that’s not enough.


This frosting is actually just like the frosting for Jenny’s Cake, but with brown sugar instead of white sugar.


And yes, it is exactly what it looks like. This is a cookie with a wad of fudge on top. I’m talking decadent here, people.


They are beautiful, but so rich and crunchy from the candy and nuts, and oh so special. You can certainly keep these cookies plain, but if it is a VERY SPECIAL occasion, you can gild the lily and frost them with the fudgy and amazingly delicious frosting. If the queen or the pope can’t make it for a celebration, you can find SOMETHING to celebrate. Maybe today?!!






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Tater Tot Hotdish

The recipe for today is an old stand-by in our family. Believe it or not, it’s another one that came from my 7th grade Home Ec class!! It’s such an easy thing to start with when you’re first learning to cook. Maybe that has something to do with it being everyone’s favorite. Tater Tot Hotdish is a recipe that everyone HAS to have, and I’m sure most people do, but I just had to share this one for this oh so important comfort food. I don’t know how people can get by without it. It’s tasty, it’s comforting, it’s easy to do, it’s just the BEST!!!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Tater Tot Hotdish

Brown in skillet:

1 pound ground beef or turkey

1 small onion, chopped


1 can of cream soup (mushroom or celery)

Place in bottom of casserole dish:

1 can vegetables (corn, beans, mixed – I sometimes like to add a 1/2 cup of frozen peas)

Place on top of that:

ground beef mixture

Top with:

2-3 cups Tater Tots

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.


This recipe is all about layering starting with the ground beef, onion, and soup mixture. Oops! I put the meat in first on this one! Any way you layer it, it will still be delicious!


Next is the can of vegetables. I just HAVE to add frozen peas – it’s all about the color for me.


Last, but definitely not least, the tots – baked until they’re golden brown and crispy.


OMG. Now that’s a thing of beauty.


Everybody just HAS to have this recipe, so I just HAD to have it on the blog. You just can’t beat those old Home Ec recipes – they’re just so good. This is one of my all time favorites and I just love it, whether I need comforting or not. What’s your favorite comfort food?






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Curried Fruit Compote

Today I just have to share a really funny story that my husband tells about Grandma and her sisters. We were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in town for a family gathering when my husband happened to find himself, for some strange reason, alone in the kitchen with Grandma and her sisters. They were cleaning up after dinner and doing the dishes, and they started talking about an incident where the youngest sister threw a tantrum somewhere in public, possibly at church when she was about 4 years old. These sisters were all 70 years old and up at the time they were in the kitchen talking about this incident, and they still made the youngest sister cry. Grandma said, “I was never so embarrassed!” They were all giving the youngest a hard time about it, and this incident happened 60-some years earlier! My husband says he would swear that if he didn’t know better, he could have looked up and there would have been 4 little girls standing there bickering as if it had happened last week. Some things never change. I might have shared this one before, but in this photo, that little doll sitting on the table is that youngest sister! What a sweetie pie! Grandma is the one on the left with a big bow.


I’m sure she’s making sure little sister’s doing just exactly what she’s supposed to be doing, like sitting still! I love this photo of these four siblings so much – it’s just beautiful!

This recipe comes from that youngest sister. I absolutely love the complexity and simplicity of this Curried Fruit Compote. My first thought – this will be great for entertaining. It’s so simple and so quick to put together and yet so elegant. You really can have the ingredients on hand for last-minute guests.

Curried Fruit Compote

Curried Fruit Compote 2

There are bonus recipes on the back!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Curried Fruit Compote

Arrange in 1 to 1 1/2 quart microwave safe dish:

16 ounce can sliced peaches, drained

13 ounce can pineapple chunks, drained

16 ounce can sliced pears, drained

11 ounce mandarin oranges, drained

Melt in microwave safe measuring cup:

1/4 cup margarine (I used butter)

Stir in:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Spoon over fruit.

Cover and chill overnight (I let it sit for about 3 hours and it was great).

Dot with maraschino cherries.

Microwave on high 6-8 minutes.


The cans are different sizes now, but you can get close. I also like to use the fruit in its own juice, not with the sugar syrup. Grandma also never would have thrown away the juice. She’d save it and use it for something. I’d use it for cocktails, but that’s just me.


It’s a pretty combination.


It works well to melt the butter in a measuring cup – it’s easy to spoon and pour over the fruit.

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The cherries add the perfect touch!

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I decided to spoon this over ice cream, but it would be good over pudding or pound cake or even plain. It should be eaten warm – the butter tends to solidify again when it cools down.

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See how pretty and elegant?!! It’s so fast and so good, and the curry powder along with the fruit is such an interesting and warming flavor. Make this for your siblings and talk about old times. Maybe they’ll bring up that time when you embarrassed them to no end. Some things never change!



Chicken-Noodle Soup with Vegetables

The recipe for today is from my old Betty Crocker Cookbook, copyright 1978, and is one of the stand-by recipes that I have used many times over the years. It’s amazing that something with such simple ingredients can be so darn tasty. My husband was recently sick with what sure sounded like pneumonia to me (although the Dr. didn’t say so), and it was time to try out the scientifically proven fact that chicken soup can, indeed, help you feel better when you’re sick.

Before I finish my story, I have to share this adorable photo of my adorable husband who is already running to get his golf ball after whacking it with that club! He looks like he’s about 2 years old here – what a cutie!

Paul running with golf club

Love the fuzzy hair and the baby buggy in the background! It looks like whoever took the photo was interrupting his game, and that’s a no-no (as we all we all well know from playing games with him now)! Ok – back to the chicken soup story . . .

While sitting across the room from my husband when he was sick, I was able to hear what sounded like a very loud crackle coming from him when he breathed. He was miserable and had already been on 3 medications for a couple of days, but this didn’t sound good to me and it was time to take action. Off to the kitchen to make a pot of this Chicken-Noodle Soup with Vegetables. He needed all the help he could get!

Here is recipe as I made it:

Chicken-Noodle  Soup with Vegetables

2 1/2 pound broiler-fryer chicken, cut up (for this batch I used 3 chicken breasts)

1 quart water

4 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 inch slices (about 2 cups)

4 medium stalks celery, cut into 1/2 inch slices (about 2 cups)

1 small onion, sliced (this isn’t in the original recipe, but I always put it in, along with, sometimes, 1/2 cup of frozen peas)

1 Tablespoon salt

1 Tablespoon monosodium glutamate, optional (I never use this)

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 chicken bouillon cubes (if using these, omit the above mentioned 1 Tablespoon of salt – it is plenty salty)

2 cups uncooked thin egg noodles (I couldn’t find thin noodles, so I used medium)

Heat all ingredients except noodles to boiling in a 4 quart Dutch oven; reduce heat.

Cover and simmer until chicken is done about 45 minutes.

Skim fat if necessary.

Cook noodles as directed (I don’t cook the noodles first – I just put them into the broth when the chicken is removed).

Remove chicken from broth and cool slightly.

Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces.

Add chicken and noodles to broth; heat until hot, about 5 minutes.


Here are the very simple ingredients.


Here’s the chicken – into the pot – and out of the pot and cut up.


This soup is incredibly easy and incredibly good!


It worked! It helped! My husband is finally on the mend and I’m going to take credit for it. Never mind that he had to take those 3 medications. My prescription for colds, flu, pneumonia, and any other ailments (physical or mental) – a big pot of this soup. It will make you feel so much better, in so many ways.




Morning Glory Muffins

This recipe was another one that I wrote down 30 years ago when we were first married and living in Alexandria, Minnesota. I was an at home mom with our first daughter, our rental home was on a lake a few miles out of town, and we had no cable and a black and white TV, so I listened to WCCO radio a lot. I loved it when Joyce Lamont was on and I could listen to someone I had something in common with – baking, cooking, and food. She talked a lot about food and recipes and occasionally I would try to scratch down the recipes as she gave them. This was one of them, and it’s a good one. There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but it is so worth the time it takes. These Morning Glory Muffins are healthy and hearty and perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Morning Glory Muffins

Soak 1/2 cup raisins in hot water for 15 minutes.

Drain well.


2 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup peeled, diced apple

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

1/2 cup grated coconut

the raisins

Set aside.

Beat in a large bowl:

3 eggs, beaten until thick

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup melted margarine (I used butter)

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

Mix well and set aside.


1 cup flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup All Bran cereal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix with the carrots, apple, raisins, nuts, and coconut.

Combine this mixture with the egg-sugar mixture, stirring lightly, just until flour is moistened.

Spoon into greased muffin tins or use papers (the recipe says it makes 12 muffins, but I got 16 out of this recipe).

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until done.


There are a lot of ingredients, but if you just gather them together first, it goes pretty fast.


You would think that mixing the goodies into the dry ingredients would help them not sink to the bottom of the batter –


but there are so many goodies in this batter, there’s no chance of anything sinking – these are absolutely loaded with good things.


I really should double this recipe every time I make it – these muffins go way too fast.


You can see how full of good things these are!


Make a batch of these delicious muffins today! They’re so good and good for you! Maybe try a double batch – or at least 2 batches – they go very fast!! Sneak some into the freezer if you can! Your family will search the house for them!




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Marinated Carrots

I remember Grandma making these Marinated Carrots for holiday dinners. They are a bit on the sweet n sour side, and that’s being a bit adventurous for her. They’re a little different, but are amazingly delicious, and I’d say almost more of a relish than a side dish. This recipe makes a pretty large batch, but it’s nice that the card says they keep up to 6 weeks.

Marinated Carrots

I think I remember Grandma making these at Easter time.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Marinated Carrots

Cook about 10 minutes:

2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced


1 teaspoon salt


Mix together:

1 can condensed tomato soup or tomato bisque (I used tomato soup)

1 cup sugar (gasp!)

1/4 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce (it said on the card that she once used 1 Tablespoon, so that’s what I used)

3 small onions, chopped

1/4 cup vinegar (she said she used 1/2 cup, so that’s what I used – apple cider vinegar)

1 teaspoon salt

dash of pepper

1/2 cup salad oil (I used canola)

1 green pepper, chopped

Heat, but do not boil.

Pour over carrots.


What is with the teenie, tiny carrots they have right now? I hope this trend doesn’t continue. It’s ridiculous to try and peel these skinny things – it takes forever. What ever happened to the regular sized carrots they used to have in the stores? I don’t get it. I don’t like it. Just sayin’.


This is another incredibly quick and easy recipe – the ingredients are pretty fast to pull together, but I did gasp – out loud – when it said to put in a cup of sugar. I think I’d try it with only 1/2 cup next time because it is – plenty sweet!


It end up so pretty in the end. As pretty as a side dish can be.


This is great with any main dish.


Try this unusual side dish. It’s so good and is very tasty. Easy to make and colorful with that sweet n sour flavor – you’ll love it!

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Butterscotch Squares

These bars are, again, from the tiny book we found at my sister’s house last January. It’s amazing that all of the recipes I’ve made from that cute little book have been just great. All of the recipes in that book came from ladies who probably needed a lot of recipes for church functions, family gatherings, and afternoon coffee. These recipes have all been perfect for making when you’re having people over. This one has turned out to be one of my husband’s favorites, and he likes them best with afternoon coffee. I don’t blame him. These Butterscotch Squares are easy to make, and they’re very good.


These bars are absolutely delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Butterscotch Squares

Bring to a boil:

1/2 cup butter

2 cups brown sugar

Mix in:

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup nuts, chopped or 1 cup dates, chopped (I happened to have 1/2 cup of dates left from something else, so I added them plus 1/2 cup of walnuts)

I put the batter in a 9″ x 12″ pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes.


Again, these bars are so simple to make.


Before and after baking – yum.


Another treat just right with afternoon coffee.


These bars are chewy and delicious – butterscotch, but with a bit of a caramel flavor.


Bake a batch of these bars and call your friends or family to come on over for the afternoon. Then brew up a big pot of coffee to have with the bars, and make sure to keep at least one for yourself. I had to hide mine in the freezer – I wasn’t kidding when I said that these are my husband’s favorite! That might be difficult. Your guests will love this treat and they’ll love you for inviting them!




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Layered Pudding Delight

The recipe for today is from my other grandma. My grandpa was a bowler, and he was on a bowling team for years that would get together every Thursday night. I really wish I had a photo of the bowling team in their shirts, but I don’t. So in honor of the start of baseball season, this photo of Gramp when he played baseball for his town team will have to do. He played on the team for the town of Verndale. How cool is this? I absolutely love it! It looks so official, and I’m thinking this was sometime around the 1920’s or 1930’s.


This pic is just so great. It really doesn’t look much different than the uniforms of today. Well, maybe a little different. They do wear throw back uniforms occasionally for MLB games now. Ok – so we know he liked to play sports. Back to the bowling story . . .

The men on the bowling team would bowl (this included the obligatory bowling shirts with their names on them) and the women would take turns gathering at one of their houses for chatting and crafts like knitting and crocheting. After the men were done bowling, they would all end up back at the house of whoever was hosting that week, and they would all have a dessert and coffee before heading home. It was a great social event, and because they took turns at each couple’s house, the women would have to come up with new and interesting recipes when their turn to host came around. Because of this, there was a lot of recipe swapping going on.

My grandpa would also occasionally take all of his grandkids bowling, and this was a source of never-ending frustration for me. I was not the best bowler. He’d try to tell me what I was doing wrong, and while I understood what he was saying, I never seemed able to fix it and do it the right way. He was incredibly frustrated by that because he was an amazing bowler and it seemed so simple to him. I was never in it for the high scores – I was having too much fun, right or wrong.

Gramp was a great bowler and I know he LOVED to bowl and get together with his friends, and Grandma loved getting together with those girlfriends for an evening of chatting and crafting, too. This Layered Pudding Delight has to be from those bowling team nights and that recipe swapping.


This one is so good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Layered Pudding Delight

Graham Crackers

Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding

2 cups milk

1 cup Cool Whip

Cherry Pie Filling

Line a 9″ square pan with whole graham crackers, breaking crackers if necessary.

Prepare vanilla pudding with milk as directed on package.

Let stand 5 minutes and then blend in Cool Whip.

Spread 1/2 of pudding mixture over crackers.

(Here’s where the recipe was missing a bit – it seemed like there should be another layer – and I had to look online to find another recipe. Luckily I looked before starting to make this, so I also knew to only put in 1 cup of Cool Whip or I would have added the whole container.)

Add another cracker layer and top it with the remaining pudding mixture.

Spoon and spread the cherry pie filling over the top of the pudding mixture.

Chill at least 3 hours (overnight would be better).


The graham crackers line up pretty well. I’m sure glad I checked for another recipe and found that there should only be 1 cup of Cool Whip added!


Here is pudding layer #2 – on to the cherry pie filling over the top.


It was a little soft, so I’d recommend letting it chill overnight.


This would be a great dessert for summertime – it’s no bake! It’s SO easy, and SO creamy, and SO delicious, and SO pretty! Try this easy one when you’re running off to your next sporting event – you won’t believe how fast and easy and good this is!





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Lemon Meringue Pie

My middle child is a lemon lover. This year for her birthday, she requested a Lemon Meringue Pie instead of a birthday cake. How convenient – Grandma had a Lemon Meringue Pie recipe! Grandma and her sisters must have really loved lemon, because between them, there are a LOT of lemon recipes. Maybe they made so many lemon recipes because chocolate was more expensive (during the Great Depression) than lemon juice, but I also don’t think these girls used real lemons – I think they used the stuff in the bottle. I have to say, some of these lemon recipes are delicious and REALLY lemony, when you use real lemons. I would never use the bottled stuff, but that’s just me. This recipe is so easy and so delicious, I’ll never use any other recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie again.



This is really good pie.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lemon Meringue Pie

Prepare one baked pie shell (I used the recipe here, but made it for only one crust).


In a 2 quart saucepan combine:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup lemon juice

5 egg yolks (reserve the whites for the meringue)

Stir until smooth.


2 Tablespoons butter

Cook on high until mixture thickens and boils (7 1/2 to 8 minutes), stirring 2 or 3 times (I stirred pretty much continuously).

Stir in:

1-3 teaspoons lemon peel (I just used the peel of 1 lemon).

Let stand uncovered 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour into baked pie shell.


Beat on high speed:

5 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


1/2 cup sugar – 1 Tablespoon at a time

Beat in:

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Cover filling – touching crust – with meringue.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes to brown meringue.


Before and after boiling the lemon filling – you can see how thick it gets. This filling would be good for anything you would use lemon curd for: tarts, scones, as a layer cake filling.


The recipe makes a pretty big pie. When the filling is done, it’s too thick to strain through a sieve, so watch for bits of egg white that may need to be removed.


Before and after baking the meringue – so pretty!


This is an easy pie to make – it’s a great recipe.


The filling is nice and firm and holds up well.


The meringue is soft and fluffy and sweet. The filling is tangy and tart and so delicious. This really is a great pie. It’s quick and easy and so good! It makes a great dessert for any occasion – even a very special occasion, like a birthday for a very special person! You’ll be happy with this pie – our birthday girl sure was!!



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