Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Spam Cracker Spread

I said we’d do ALL the recipes in Grandma’s file, and so we shall – today I present – Spam Cracker Spread! This one comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, and this definitely goes under the category of Retro Oddities. This one is really going “old-school”! I haven’t had Spam in over 35 years – it was never my favorite, but one way that I did like it was fried. It’s made of pork and ham, and when it’s fried, it tastes like fried ham. Yum. My husband said, “I don’t mind Spam.” Because the Spam is NOT fried in this recipe, I made this specifically for him to try. This might be something for you to serve at your Super Bowl party this weekend! We’ll give it a whirl. Here goes nothing . . .


This turned out to be really tasty and really rich!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Spam Cracker Spread

Mix together and chill for 1 hour:

1 can Spam, ground (I used a food processor for this)

1 Tablespoon sour cream

2 Tablespoons onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon salad dressing


4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon horseradish (optional)

2-3 Tablespoons sour cream

1-2 Tablespoons salad dressing

Spread over Spam mixture.

Garnish with sliced green olives.


Here it is – in all its glory!


Because I don’t have a grinder or anything that seemed like it would grind the Spam, I used my food processor. I cut it into chunks so it would break up easier. It did make it a bit smoother than grinding would – what you use depends on what  your texture preference is.


Once you mix the first ingredients, you’re halfway there!


Put that first mixture into whatever you’d like to serve the spread in, and into the refrigerator for an hour.


Mix the second half of the ingredients and get the olives sliced.


Put on the second layer and sprinkle on the olives. Done.


This recipe was really quick and easy.


I have to say – this spread is really tasty. It’s also really rich – I don’t think you’d like to eat a LOT of it. That’s why it’s great for a party. It’s another quick and easy one that can be made with ingredients that you probably have (or could have) in your frig and cupboard. I’d say this is an unusual and tasty snack, from back in the day, to serve at your next party – Super Bowl party, cocktail party, birthday party.


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Tostada Grande

I think this recipe for Tostada Grande originally came from a magazine Grandma used to get called “Farm Wife News”. It had articles, crafts, and recipes in it, and Grandma would always pass it along to me and my mom to read when she was done with it. Once in a while I would copy down a recipe, and this is one that I’m so glad I copied. It’s quick and easy to make and it’s so good! This has become another one of my family’s favorites, and it’s requested A LOT! I just make two pans of this now whenever I make it. If we’re lucky, there will be leftovers, but that hardly ever happens. Well, it never happens. Ever. No doubt about it, this is real comfort food.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Tostada Grande

In a large skillet, brown:

1 pound ground beef, drained

Stir in:

2 Tablespoons taco seasoning mix (1/2 of a package)

8 ounce can tomato sauce

4 ounce can diced green chilis, drained

3-4 drops Tabasco Sauce

Heat until hot and bubbly.

Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until mixture thickens.

Lightly grease 9″ or 10″ pie pan.

Separate and arrange in pan:

8 ounce can Crescent Dinner rolls or biscuits

Press rolls over bottom and up sides of pan to form crust.

Spread over crust:

1 can refried beans

Top with meat mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until crust is golden.

Sprinkle immediately with:

4 ounces grated cheddar cheese

It can go back into the oven for a minute or two if the cheese doesn’t melt.

Garnish with:

1/2  head lettuce, shredded

1 large tomato, chopped

1 small onion, chopped


Sour cream


Sometimes you have to really work the crescent rolls like puzzle pieces and just fit them in there to cover the bottom of the pie pan.


Then smear on the refried beans.


Next – on goes the ground beef and then into the oven with it.


Once it’s done baking, don’t forget to sprinkle on the shredded cheddar cheese. It comes out of the oven golden brown and ready for the garnishes.


I used green onions on top here with the salsa and sour cream, and I did manage to get a quick photo before this piece disappeared before my eyes.


It’s so pretty and so quick and easy to make and so delicious! Try this comfort food and your family will thank you! Trust me, you’ll be making a double batch in no time – and I bet there won’t be any leftovers.





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Cabbage Salad

I was incredibly lucky to have 2 sets of amazing and very loving grandparents. My Gramp was the first to leave us, but not until I was in college, so I was able to enjoy all of my grandparents most of my growing up years. This photo is of my other grandparents and me when I was about 3 months old. We lived next door to them until we moved to the lake when I was 8, and I was at their house almost every day.


The recipe for today is from this grandma. She made Cabbage Salad every time the whole family was all at their house for dinner. There were 12-16 of us when all of my aunts and uncles and cousins were there, and I’m sure this was just an economical thing. Also, this salad goes with absolutely everything. There isn’t really a card for this – I watched and helped her make this my whole life, so I just always knew how to do it. I’m going to try and write down what I do, but I have to admit that this changes a little bit from time to time, depending on what I have on hand and how I’m feeling on the day I make it.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cabbage Salad

Shred :

1 head of cabbage.


(All of these measurements are approximate depending on how big the head of cabbage is. Feel free to taste and adjust the sugar and vinegar to your liking.)

1 cup mayonnaise

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar


Add to the shredded cabbage and combine.


2 sliced bananas


pineapple chunks.


You can use a food processor to shred the cabbage, or hone your shredding skills with a knife.


I used bananas for this salad, but grandma did occasionally use pineapple. Pineapple was probably for really special occasions.


This is definitely an unusual flavor combination. Not everyone in my family liked this made with bananas.


This salad is economical, it’s tasty, and it goes with any main dish. It brings back a lot of memories for me of dinners at Gramp and Grandma’s with the family around the dining room table laughing, telling stories, and being together. It was so much fun. Those are memories I’ll always cherish.



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Molasses Cookies

This recipe comes from my mom’s file, but she doesn’t remember where she got it. I’m just glad she got it because this recipe is a good one. Once I read the recipe, I was interested in making these Molasses Cookies because they’re a very different kind of molasses cookie – they have an addition of coconut and nuts – and that’s unusual. Really – have you ever heard of that? Well, I’m glad I tried them because they’re absolutely delicious! There is also a note on these to double them, so I did and was able to get almost 5 dozen cookies. Let me also say that even though doubling this makes a lot of cookies, they didn’t last long. Not in my house. My husband had a little problem with these. You might say they vaporized. I’m not even kidding.


Yes – these are really good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Molasses Cookies

Mix in order given:

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 cup +2 Tablespoons flour

1 cup coconut

1 cup nuts, chopped (I used walnuts)

1 teaspoon vanilla


These cookies are so unusual with the addition of coconut and nuts.


I used my trusty scoop to make the balls of dough.


The scoop worked well to make the cookies close to the same size.


These cookies are another great treat to enjoy with your afternoon coffee.


I’m so glad I tried these cookies. They. Are. So. Good. Who knew that adding coconut and nuts to a molasses cookie would be this tasty?!! Give this recipe a try – you’ll love them! Then hurry up and hide them before they vaporize. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!








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Creamy Vegetable Soup

It’s that time of winter. You’re starting to get a bad case of  “cabin fever” if you live (like me) in a cold climate like Minnesota, and the best thing to do is get outside and play in the cold and snow. It’s absolutely necessary this time of the winter, to get outside and blow off some steam, and get some much-needed fresh air. I had to share this photo of my mom and her cousin (my godmother), when they were about 3-4 years old, playing on a sled in the snow. I’m sure their mothers told hem to go outside and get some fresh air. They are definitely bundled up for the weather and ready to go!


This is just so stinkin’ cute! I hope they found one of the dads or uncles to pull them around on that sled!

Today’s recipe is perfect for when you’ve been outside playing in the cold and snow and it’s time to come in, warm up, and have a nice warm bowl of soup. This Creamy Vegetable Soup recipe comes from an old neighbor of my mom’s from years ago. You can get this set up in the crock pot early in the morning and play outside all day!


This makes a big batch!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Creamy Vegetable Soup

Put into crock pot:

1 1/2 quarts water

6 cubes of chicken bouillon (you could probably use chicken broth, but I think the bouillon cubes give it a bit of a more intense flavor)

1/2 of an onion, chopped

2 1/2 cups chopped potato

1 cup diced carrot

16 ounce package of frozen vegetables

Cook on low 7-8 hours.

1 1/2 hours before it’s finished cooking add:

3 cans cream of chicken soup

1/2 to 1 pound Velveeta Cheese, diced

When cheese is melted, soup is ready.


It doesn’t take long to chop all the veggies and get the soup ready to go.


When it’s time to add the Cream of Chicken Soup and the Velveeta Cheese, it does need time to melt.


Oh boy, this is so good!


All you need is some crackers or bread or maybe a nice green salad to go with this soup.


This soup is delicious and warming and easy and ready right when you need it. Now get your crock pot ready, make up a batch of this soup, then go outside and blow off some steam. Build a snowman, go skiing, do some ice skating, play hockey, or get some snowshoes on. The possibilities are endless. Go ahead – get outside and get some fresh air before real bad “cabin fever” sets in! Then come on inside and dive in to that bowl of warm, delicious soup.





Jiffy Dessert

This recipe comes from one of Grandma’s sisters but originally came from her daughter, who is my godmother. I just love these easy desserts where you just need a couple of ingredients and you can pull it together quickly at the last-minute. I mean, if you have surprise guests show up, this one can be made in a jiffy! Ha! Hence the name. You can have the ingredients for this Jiffy Dessert in the cupboard and on hand at any time. Perfect. Nobody has to know that you didn’t work all day on this dessert.

Jiffy Dessert - Copy

This really is incredibly easy.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Jiffy Dessert

Mix together until crumbly:

1 package Jiffy Cake Mix (I could only find a yellow one, but they used to have white and chocolate, too – you could use whatever you can find or, since these cake mixes are a single layer size, double the recipe, use a regular cake mix and put it in a 9″x 13″ pan)

1/3 margarine (I used butter)

Pour half in the bottom of an 8″ x 8″ pan.


1 can pie filling (you can use any kind, but for this I used blueberry)

Pour on top of crust in bottom of pan.

Sprinkle rest of crumbs on top of pie filling.

Sprinkle on top:

1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used pecans)

Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour.


I finally found the Jiffy Cake Mix at our local Fleet Farm (farm supply store) store. It’s kind of hard to find it these days.


Before and after baking, this comes together really fast.


On the card she said it would be good with ice cream or Cool Whip, and she was right. I used whipped cream – the kind that comes out of a can.


This easy dessert is great when you need something really fast. It’s delicious (it was best warm) and your guests won’t have to know how quick and easy it is. They’ll think you were baking all day anticipating their arrival. I won’t tell if you don’t!




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6 Healthy Snacks to Start the New Year Right!

Now that the holidays are over, and January is the month for fresh starts and resolutions, I thought it appropriate to share 6 Healthy Snacks to Start the New Year Right! I don’t know about you guys, but I indulged way too much over the holidays, and I need a reboot. Try these healthy, easy, and incredibly delicious snacks to jump start a healthy new you. If you’re not into being healthy, they’re just plain good – and they just happen to be good FOR you.


Eggplant Pizza


Infused Water


Apple Chips


2 Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins


2 Ingredient Strawberry-Banana Ice Cream


Healthy Homemade Potato Chips




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We always had afternoon coffee at 3:00 at Grandma and Grandpa’s house on the farm. I like to think it came from the Swedish tradition of fika, or afternoon snack. Grandma’s family WAS Swedish, after all. There was always coffee (or some derivative thereof) and several kinds of cookies, bars, or cake, and sometimes crackers. It was a nice little break in the afternoon: time to regroup, rest up, and fuel up to continue and finish out the day. This photo is of Grandma (upper right) with some of her sisters and maybe a cousin (it’s kind of hard to see who it is because they’re turned to the side), taken sometime around the 1930’s. I can’t tell if it’s all four sisters, or three of them with a cousin, but either way, this is so typical of their family.

Update: My godmother (my mom’s cousin) let me know that this photo is of all four of the sisters!


They loved to have fun and they loved to get together, they definitely loved their sweets, and they definitely loved each other. I think they totally loved the tradition of an afternoon coffee break. By the way – notice what looks like the shadows of two men taking the photo – brothers or beaus?!! Ha!

Something we had often at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for those afternoon coffee breaks was Rusks. This is a treat that my mom still LOVES to have with her afternoon tea. When we weren’t able to find them in stores anymore, I had to get online and find a recipe for them. I found this one on the PBS Food page and it’s great. I don’t know why they don’t make these commercially anymore, but they don’t, and now the only alternative is to make them myself. I changed the recipe a bit, but I did use it for the baking and general instructions.

Here is the recipe as I made it:


Cut into 1/4″ slices:

1 loaf French bread

Mix together:

6 Tablespoons sugar

6 teaspoons cinnamon


1 stick butter

Using a pastry brush, brush the slices with melted butter.

Using a spoon, sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture on top of melted butter.

Put a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet.

Lay slices on top of cooling rack to bake.

You can turn them halfway through the baking if you need to – I didn’t turn them and they were perfectly crispy.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.


I can’t tell you how happy I am that I found this recipe! It’s so good – even better than “store-bought”!


I tried both ways – brushing the butter on both sides and then just brushing one side. I liked it better when I brushed just one side. You’ll have to try it both ways and decide for yourself.


Sprinkle on that delicious cinnamon and sugar and you’re golden. No wait – the rusks are golden, or at least turn golden.


Perfect. Period.


These are just perfect with your afternoon coffee. They’re so sweet and cinnamon-y and crunchy and delicious. I hope you and your family take up this tradition for the nice little break in the day. My family is trying to do it more often. It’s a great way to distress and reconnect with what’s really important. Family.





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Pork Chops with Rice

The recipe for today is another one that I’ve been making since I was in junior high school. My mom made this years ago and it wasn’t long before I was making it for the family for dinner. Pork Chops with Rice is one of my family’s favorite meals. In fact, my oldest daughter requests this most years for her birthday dinner. It’s total comfort food for us!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pork Chops with Rice

Mix together:

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup (I have also used Golden Mushroom Soup)

1 can (1 cup) milk

2 (3/4 cup) servings instant rice (I used instant brown rice here)

Put in 9″ x 13″ baking pan.


1 package pork chops (I used boneless pork chops here)

Lay pork chops on top of rice mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.


I used boneless pork chops for this dish, but you can use regular bone-in chops, too.


It doesn’t look like much, but it is so good!


Just lay in the chops and into the oven.


Once it’s baked, the rice is saucy and the chops are tender – oh my!


All you need is the obligatory green vegetable and you’re all set. You can also make this the night before, so you’re all ready for dinner the next night. Give this one a try – it’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s absolutely delicious!





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Happy New Year, 2017!

Happy New Year!


Thanks so much for reading Plenty Sweet Life!

I appreciate you more than you know!

I wish you all the best in the upcoming 2017!


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