Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Eggplant Pizza

My family loves pizza! We’ve been trying to eat healthier and one day I was trying to figure out how to have pizza without the crust. I wanted this option to be simple, and while we all LOVE pizza crust, I wanted to find something that was easy but tasty. I thought of eggplant, but since I’m not too familiar with cooking eggplant, I went online to see if there were any recipes as to how to actually do this. I found a recipe on EatGood4Life.com and used that as inspiration. You can find that original recipe here. Her idea of using these little pizzas on a sandwich is very intriguing – I HAVE to try that sometime when and if there are ever any left. I changed that recipe a little bit to kind of be my own and ended up with this Eggplant Pizza. You seriously will NOT miss the crust on these. They’re so delicious – just like regular pizza!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Eggplant Pizza

Slice an eggplant (or two depending on how many people are having these) 1/2″ thick.

Sprinkle with salt and bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and turn on the broiler.

Top each slice of eggplant with tomato sauce and proceed to make your pizza.

We just make pizza like we would if we were using a crust.

Put on your seasoning: dried oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes – whatever you like.

Next put on toppings and then top with shredded mozzarella – everyone has their own way to make pizza the way they like it. I use: sliced mushrooms, sliced black olives, sliced onion, sliced or chopped red or green peppers, pepperoni, cooked sausage, ham (with pineapple).

Just make the little pizzas the way you want them and then put them under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted (I like my pepperoni on top above the cheese to make it crispy – that’s just me!).

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I don’t peel the eggplant, but if you don’t like the skin, go ahead and peel it first.

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Baking the eggplant first helps them be just the right consistency for pizza crust.

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On with the tomato sauce, seasonings, and toppings.

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Sometimes it’s hard to fit all the toppings that I want on my pizza! It WILL all fit – I promise – and they come out of the oven so beautiful and delicious!

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Glorious. I mean seriously, how pretty is this?!!!

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I added a little sprinkle of parmesan cheese, more dried oregano, and red pepper flakes to mine. You really won’t miss the crust on these little beauties.

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Try this interesting way of making pizza without crust. I have also done it on Portobello mushrooms and zucchini boats, but this is my family’s favorite. It’s fast food – just bake the eggplant while you get the toppings ready and before you know it – they’re done! I mean, who doesn’t love pizza, and if you can save a few calories in the process? Winner.

 

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Chocolate Cake (Cupcakes) with Fluffly White Frosting

This recipe says Chocolate Cake, but I decided to make cupcakes with it. I also found a card that has Fluffy White Frosting on it. Let’s put the two together and call them Chocolate Cake (Cupcakes) with Fluffy White Frosting. The writing looks old, but I don’t know if this recipe for Chocolate Cake came from one of Grandma’s sisters or from her mother. I love how it says “never a failure” and “has been tested” at the bottom of the card! So funny – and “oh, the vanilla”! It’s almost like whomever was writing out the recipe was just talking to Grandma. I have to say, about the Fluffy White Frosting, that this was a staple during my childhood. My mom almost always made my birthday cake and put this frosting on it! This recipe is a particularly easy one.

Chocolate Cake #2

Fluffy White Frosting

Is there really anything better than chocolate cake and fluffy white frosting! That just screams “party”, birthday or otherwise!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Cake

1 cup sugar

1 cup sour cream

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda in hot water (it doesn’t say how much water, of course, so I used 1/4 cup)

2 squares chocolate (I used unsweetened), melted but not hot

Dump all together and beat for about 7 minutes.

Oh – the vanilla (I used 1 teaspoon)! Ha!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (for cupcakes). I would say about 30-35 minutes for a cake. There isn’t a time or temp on this one again! Ugh! We’re just supposed to know these things!

Fluffy White Frosting

1 egg white

3/4 cup sugar

salt

3 Tablespoons water

1 teaspoon syrup (I assumed they meant white corn syrup here, so that’s what I used)

Beat at 7 or 8 speed on mixer for 1 minute.

Then over boiling water, beat 4 minutes more.

Add vanilla (I used 1 teaspoon) and beat 1 more minute.

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This recipe makes a nice, thick batter.

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I love that the cupcakes came out of the oven so pretty and perfectly rounded on top! I think next time I would cut back a couple of minutes on the beating time – there were some tunnels and holes in the cupcakes and maybe the newer mixers are more powerful than they used to be.

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Here is my lovely double boiler – I use a glass bowl over about an inch of boiling water in a saucepan. The mixture seemed a bit runny at first, but came together perfectly in the end.

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This frosting is so smooth and wonderfully creamy.

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Yes – chocolate cake with fluffy white frosting. One if my all-time favorites. It definitely feels like my birthday – only my birthday is in December! These were so easy to do and fast to make! Your family and friends will love them! But you don’t need to wait for a party to make these – birthday or otherwise! On second thought, make up a batch of these and go ahead and have a party. Why not?

 

 

 

 

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Seven Layer Salad

I love this salad. We have a similar recipe card to what I’ve made for years that comes from one of Grandma’s sisters. She calls it Lettuce Salad, but I have always known it as Seven Layer Salad. There are only a couple of differences, one being that it has bacon bits put on at the end and the one I make has bacon bits AND shredded cheddar. The other difference is that the Lettuce Salad says to stir at the end and Seven Layer Salad just stays in layers in the pan. This one has to sit overnight, so it can be considered a “make-ahead” salad. I always love it when things can be made ahead. This is a classic, and maybe this could also be considered a “retro” salad. I’m sure everyone has their version of this salad and I’ve been making this particular version of this since the 1970’s. You never know, there may be some young cooks out there who don’t know about this one.

Lettuce Salad

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This is one of my all-time favorites.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Seven Layer Salad

Make a thick layer of lettuce:

1 large head of iceberg lettuce, chopped

Layer:

2 cups celery, diced

1 green pepper, diced

6 green onions tops, sliced

1 can water chestnuts, sliced (optional)

1 large package frozen peas (not cooked)

Mix:

2 cups salad dressing or mayonnaise

2-3 Tablespoons sugar

enough milk to make dressing, 1/4 cup or so

Put dressing on top.

Sprinkle with:

1/2 -1 cup parmesan cheese

Let stand overnight.

When ready to serve, sprinkle with:

6 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

bacon bits (I used 4 strips real bacon, cooked)

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This goes together really fast if you have all of your layers chopped and ready to go.

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You can kind of see the layers here on the side of the pan.

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It’s a very pretty salad!!

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Take this classic to your next picnic or gathering. Everyone will feel nostalgic when you show up with this delicious retro salad. It’s just so good.

 

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Junket Danish Dessert

Today’s recipe is summer on the farm to me. It’s funny how food can bring back so many specific memories, and this dessert can really do it. Me and my sister would spend time during summer vacation at grandma and grandpa’s farm, and when it came time for lunch, that was when we had the big meal. Grandpa, being a farmer, needed that energy for the hard work he would do all afternoon and sometimes into the evening. It was always fun to have dessert at lunchtime instead of dinnertime. It was so strange to me, but I loved it. We called this Danish Pudding, but the official name on the box is Junket Danish Dessert. I never asked Grandma about this, but I wonder if the reason they first tried this dessert is because my grandpa was half Danish. Hmm. Could be. Heritage was always very important to those two! Whatever the reason, I’m glad they made it a part of the tradition of visiting at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I do remember that when I finally got to help Grandma make this, I was amazed at how simple it was. It’s just a box of the dessert and water. It’s so easy to make and so unbelievably good! We usually had the strawberry kind, which is my personal favorite, but for this post I used the raspberry flavor. This dessert was also used, occasionally, for making the glaze for strawberry pie, so maybe we were just using up an extra box that wasn’t used for pie. In any case, the addition of the vanilla ice cream was genius. There’s just nothing better – it’s so fruity and so creamy.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Junket Danish Dessert

You buy a box and follow the directions for pudding.

That’s it.

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When you first mix the water and pudding mix, it looks a bit cloudy. When it starts to boil, the color turns a dark red.

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We usually had this warm for dessert after lunch.

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It’s mandatory that you serve this with vanilla ice cream. The pudding is warm and the ice cream is cold and when the ice cream starts to melt, you MUST stir and make white swirls in the red pudding! That’s just how it works.

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I happened to have some fresh raspberries when I made this, so I gilded the lily just a little bit.

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When you stir it up and get the melted ice cream in a bite with the warm fruity pudding . . . heaven. Summertime on the farm and those great memories of having lunch together and Grandpa coming in from the fields or working somewhere in the yard or the shed. Try this unusual pudding for your next lunch. You’ll love this fruity, creamy, delicious dessert!

 

 

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Crunchy Vegetable Salad

There are so many things to remember about staying at the farm in the summertime, but most of all, I remember Grandma and Grandpa and their love and attention. When we would bring lunch out to Grandpa in the field because he didn’t have time to stop what he was doing and come to the house for lunch, it wasn’t just the fun of bringing him the food under the guise of a picnic, or the breeze rattling the leaves of the young cottonwood trees surrounding ditch, or the wind making waves in the long grass. It was Grandpa teaching me how to put a thick piece of grass between my thumbs, blow on the grass, and make the quacking sound that must have surely been the reason for the name “quack grass” (or so I thought when I was little).  When I would help Grandma get her chores done, it wasn’t just helping her hang the clothes out on the clothesline so they would smell like fresh air and sunshine, or being able to pick black raspberries to put on our creamy vanilla ice cream after dinner, or listening every evening for the sound of the church chimes floating over the fields from their small town a mile away. It was her teaching me one evening as we were going for a walk about twilight time and we spotted the first star in the night sky,

“Star light, star bright,

first star I see tonight.

I wish I may, I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight!”

I wish I had just one more day – just a little more time to tell them how much I loved them and how much they meant to me. But I think they knew. We were lucky to have them for such a long time, and I never took that for granted. They were the best!

We’re making a summer salad today. I’m not sure where this recipe originally came from, but it’s a good one. We had a good family friend who always made the best salads, and I think this might have come from her. This Crunchy Vegetable Salad goes with anything and goes anywhere and is pretty long-lasting. It’s delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Crunchy Vegetable Salad

Combine in a large bowl:

2 cups celery, chopped

1 cup green onion, chopped

1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets

1 bunch broccoli, broken into small florets

Mix together:

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons vinegar (I used cider vinegar)

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon dill weed

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Toss dressing and vegetables well.

Pour fresh peas (I used frozen) on top.

Cover and refrigerate several hours.

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The ingredients are all so pretty and green!

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Get the veggies cut up, mix up the dressing, combine the two and top with the peas!

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Easy peas-y!!

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This really is pretty easy to put together – a bit of chopping and then it’s just to make the dressing and mix it together.

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This salad is really beautiful, really crunchy, really easy, and really a great dish to serve with anything. Remember this one when you need something to bring to a gathering. It’s long-lasting and will hold well no matter where you need it to go, and you can very easily make this a day or two ahead of time. This is a great summer salad and now that you have this taken care of – get out there and make some great family summertime memories!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Citrus Cake

I just have to share this summertime photo of my mom and my uncle from one of their childhood trips to Big Pine Lake. I love this one – it’s so perfectly a summer shot!! They have their fishing poles and it looks like they’ve caught a lunker! The looks on their faces is just priceless!!! “I’m not so sure – were we supposed to catch this thing?”

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They’re so cute! I love my mom’s pigtails and my uncles little coveralls and the fact that they’re still right there next to the lake! I just love it!

The recipe for Citrus Cake is one I found at my sister’s house last January, and it looks like it originally came from my mom – it has her initials on it. This is another delicious cake perfect for this time of year. You could even get one baked and have it in the freezer for those last-minute picnics or potlucks or drop in guests. Just don’t put on the glaze until you’re ready.

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This cake is just plain good.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Citrus Cake

Combine:

1 box yellow cake mix

1 small package of lemon instant pudding

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)

4 eggs, beaten

Beat 10 minutes.

Pour into greased and floured tube pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Cool in pan.

For Glaze:

Combine and heat to boiling:

2 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup orange juice

Top cake with glaze (I poked the cake with a toothpick before drizzling the glaze over the cake so the glaze could get down in there a bit).

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Take the time to grease (I used butter) and flour the tube pan so the cake will come out nicely when done.

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This is pretty easy to mix up and get into the pan, all ready for the oven.

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It’s a beautiful cake when it comes out!

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I’m glad I put it on something when putting on the glaze.

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It does make a lot of glaze and of course, I had to put it all on! Ha! Well, some of it got on the cake! I think the glaze could be cut in half.

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The cake is so moist and the glaze is a bit sugary when it dries, making it absolutely delicious. This cake is the perfect summertime cake. The lemon and orange flavors are so refreshing and the cake is just beautiful. Make this, wrap it well, get it immediately into the freezer, and be ready for when you need a last-minute dessert!

 

 

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Special K Bars or Rice Krispie Bars

I have a real problem with the recipe for today. Special K bars have always been a total red light food for me. I don’t even think I should have made these, but oh well, I have to make all the recipes. This recipe comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, and it’s just a little bit different from the usual recipe for Special K Bars. These Special K Bars or Rice Krispie Bars have a couple of different ingredients added that makes them extra special. These are ridiculously easy to make, unfortunately for me. If I ever DID make Special K Bars growing up (and I couldn’t make them often because I just couldn’t stay away from them) it was during the summer. The smell of melting chocolate and butterscotch chips can just bring back those summer days at the lake back in a second! There’s something about that smell. Oh man. So good. I. Can. Not. Stop.

Special K or Rice Krispies Bars

Lord help me, I doubled this recipe!!!!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Special K or Rice Krispie Bars

Combine in a saucepan:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup white syrup

Bring to a boil.

Remove from heat.

Add:

1/2 cup salted peanuts

3/4 cup peanut butter

Mix in:

3 cups cereal (I used Rice Krispies)

1/2 cup coconut

For Frosting:

Melt:

1/2 package chocolate chips

1 package butterscotch chips

Mix and spread on top of bars.

Let frosting harden before cutting into squares.

Of course this batch didn’t look like very much to me, so I decided to double it and put them in a 9″ x 13″ pan. I used 1 package of chocolate chips and 1 package of butterscotch chips and there was plenty of frosting.

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The two special ingredients – salted peanuts and coconut.

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This was still so much frosting, and that makes it even MORE difficult for me to leave these alone!

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I put the pan into the refrigerator to harden the chocolate. Make sure if you do this, you wait 5-10 minutes after taking it out to let it come to room temperature so the chocolate doesn’t crack. These did crack just a little bit.

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Oh boy. Help me.

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Luckily, these bars are already gone, and let me tell you, it may well be another 10 years or so before I will even attempt to make these again. I just can’t do it. They’re so easy to make and so addicting (for me, anyway) and so amazingly good and so peanutty and so chewy and so butterscotchy and so crispy and . . . aaagghhh!!!!!

 

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Sheets on the Clothesline

Do you know what my all-time favorite summertime smell is? Sheets on the Clothesline! Yes – sheets that have been dried on the clothesline!!! Oh my gosh – there’s nothing like the clean, crisp smell of sheets hung out on the clothesline in the sunshine and a breeze. They feel great when you climb into bed at night, and they smell great from being outside in the fresh air! I know it’s an old-fashioned thing that doesn’t happen too much anymore, but we decided when we moved to our house that we had to put up a clothesline. I’ve even had neighbors who’ve come over and used it. There have been times when I’ve hung out clothes, but it’s mostly used for sheets.

Hanging out the sheets was one of the things I would help Grandma do at the farm. She actually had two clotheslines and she would hang things depending on which clothesline had the most sun shining on it. I know that sunshine dries things faster and I do remember her being really worried about fly specks (I don’t know if  that had anything to do with the sun). Another use for your clothesline – relieving summertime boredom for the kids. Sometimes, when staying at the farm for an extended time, we would be bored enough to make a fort out of an old red wool blanket thrown over the clothesline with two picnic table benches at each edge to keep the blanket standing out like a tent. We’d stay in there and play until it got too hot under that wool blanket in the sun!

Until this past spring, I was using a very old washer and dryer that was beat up and didn’t look so great (our laundry room is downstairs and hidden behind a door so it didn’t matter what they looked like). We finally bit the bullet and bought a new model washer and dryer set, and we’re forced to use the new HE laundry detergent that is a liquid. Liquid laundry detergent is NOT my favorite smell. In fact, I hate it. All I can say is that had I known that I wouldn’t be able to use my usual powdered laundry detergent (the kind and smell I’ve used my WHOLE life), I would have thought long and hard about getting a new washer and dryer. Who knew that I would have to use a specific kind of detergent in these new fangled gadgets? I sure didn’t. That’s how old our washer and dryer were! I have been buying the usual brand of detergent I use, but in the liquid for most clothing (I just use about half of what they call for so the scent doesn’t bug me too much), but I also use an unscented liquid for my sheets and towels, because I just don’t like the smell of the other. Well, unfortunately, I found out that part of the wonderful smell of sheets hung on the clothesline is the detergent. Unscented detergent doesn’t make the sheets hung on the line smell good. They don’t smell at all!!! It was a sad realization for me, but it is what it is. I still like the fact that the sheets are hung out in the fresh air and sunshine and they still feel cool and crisp climbing into bed at night. Until they make liquid detergent that smells like my usual powdered kind, I’m stuck using the unscented. It will just have to be one of those smells of my childhood that I remember fondly but won’t ever have again. I guess it’s time to make new memories of cool, crisp, unscented sheets dried in the sunshine and the breeze, and enjoy them for what they are.

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Wash your sheets as you normally would and then, out to your clothesline. Get yourself some good old-fashioned clothespins to hang up your sheets.

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Pick a beautiful, sunny, breeze, low humidity day to dry your sheets on the line. I don’t think there’s technically any certain way you HAVE to hang the sheets – just so they’re off the grass and able to freely flap in the breeze.

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It’s nice when the breeze fills up the pockets on the fitted sheets so they dry faster.

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This was a perfect day for drying. You can see here that the sheets and pillowcases are a bit wrinkled when you first put them on the line. When they’re dry and you’re ready to bring them in, they are flat and straightened and look like they’ve been pressed with a iron.

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I love to see the sheets flapping in the breeze.

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Make sure you have good, sturdy clothespins if you have a real breezy day – you don’t want to come out and find your sheets on the grass!

When they’re dry and it’s time to bring them in and put them on the bed, I try and not put anything on top of them and don’t let anyone touch them until it’s time to climb in. That makes this old-fashioned experience even more delicious – I don’t want anything disturbing those clean, crisp, cool, sun and fresh air and breeze dried sheets before I get in. It’s absolute heaven. Sigh.

 

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Happy 4th of July!!

Happy 4th of July everyone!

I hope you’re all able to enjoy the day with family and friends, food, and fireworks!!! It’s so important to celebrate every possible holiday (or even weekends)!

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I don’t have any special 4th of July decorations that I used for setting our holiday table – I just pulled out everything I could find that was red, white, and blue! I did have the flags from last year.

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Sweet cherries are the perfect natural treat.

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My hydrangea got hit by hail and cool weather early in the season and are NOT up to last year’s standards.

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This one kind of looks like fireworks!

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Because I don’t have many 4th of July decorations, I printed out antique postcards to use – cheap AND cute!

Stay safe everyone, and enjoy the holiday!

Thanks for reading Plenty Sweet Life!!

 

 

 

 

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Patriotic Snack Mix

My husband likes to have snacks at work and I said I’d throw something together. Why not make it seasonal and use red, white, and blue in it to make it patriotic at the same time? He’s taking this batch to work, but this is also a great Patriotic Snack Mix for your 4th of July weekend. It’s chock full of sweet treats and nuts to give you enough energy to get your family through all the swimming and lake events, all of those lawn games of corn hole or Kubb, and you could even take some along for a snack when watching fireworks.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Patriotic Snack Mix

1/2 box of Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats

1 package of dried cherries

1 cup coconut (just for fun!)

1 bag of M & Ms

3 cups whole almonds

3 cups walnut halves

3 cups pecan halves

Mix gently.

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The sweets – Frosted Mini Wheats, M & Ms, Dried Cherries, and Coconut. The roasted nuts – almonds, walnuts, and pecans. I roasted some raw nuts, but if you wanted to you could use salted nuts. Add what you like and make up your own mix!

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So festive – you could use any color of M & Ms and make it appropriate for any holiday or occasion.

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This little snack mix is absolutely delicious, and there are no added oil, spices, or baking needed.

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Make up a batch of this snack mix to take along for the weekend. It will keep you energized for your 4th of July festivities. Stay safe this weekend and enjoy your family and friends!

 

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