Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Lemon Pasta with Shrimp

The recipe for today is one continuing our sun-shiny lemon recipes, but today we’re not making dessert – we’re making a pasta dish.

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Lemon Pasta with Shrimp is a main dish that’s also going under the heading of Money-Saving Meals. If you find a good deal on shrimp (frozen in this case), this is a very economical meal. This one is loosely based on Ina Garten’s recipe for Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp, but as usual, I had to put my own spin on it. It’s easy, it’s lemony, and it’s delicious – sounds like it fits all the criteria for letting the sun shine in.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lemon Pasta with Shrimp

Thaw:

2 pounds frozen cooked shrimp (you can roast raw shrimp, like Ina does, but this was what I had on hand)

If using cooked shrimp, remove tails once the shrimp is thawed.

Meanwhile, cook according to package instructions:

1 pound thin spaghetti, angel hair pasta, or other pasta – whatever you like

Drain pasta and reserve a cup or so of the pasta water to add to the sauce, if needed.

Melt in a large skillet:

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

zest and juice of 2 lemons

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 green onions, greens only, thinly sliced

Add the shrimp just long enough to warm through.

Add cooked pasta to the sauce in the skillet.

Combine.

Add some reserved pasta water, if needed.

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It helps to zest your lemon rind and juice the lemon before starting.

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I had cooked frozen shrimp on hand, so that’s what I used.

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My skillet isn’t big enough to put the pasta into, so I combined the pasta and the sauce right in the bowl.

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I made a mistake and didn’t notice before starting, that the recipe calls for 2 pounds of shrimp and 1 pound of pasta. I only had 1 pound of shrimp and should have used only 1/2 pound of pasta. I used the whole pound, but because of the amount of juice in the lemons from California (they were incredibly juicy), the amount of sauce was just fine.

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This is a delicious and lemony pasta dish, and you’re going to love it! Make this one tonight! It’s faster to make than fast food!

 

 

 

 

 

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Lemon Meringue Pie #2 (Filling Made in the Microwave)

We’re continuing the lemon recipes today and letting the sun shine in with a great pie recipe.

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I found this photo from sometime in the 1950’s of almost all of the family – Grandma’s siblings and their spouses and children – and I had to share it today when we’re making a recipe that sounds perfect for a family gathering.

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You can see that even without absolutely everybody there, they were a large group. I imagine that when they got together, they would share their best recipes and make the most delicious ones for the family. This is just that kind of recipe.

This recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie #2 (Filling Made in the Microwave) came from Grandma’s youngest sister, and it sounded like another easy one. When getting ready to make this, I knew that I have done a Lemon Meringue Pie post here already (I shared it in my last post), so I thought I’d better check that recipe before starting this one. The funniest thing happened! They are the SAME recipe! Well, I had to try it both ways, so I made this one, too! In the other pie recipe, Grandma wrote it out for me, and indicated that she got if from someone else. Maybe it’s a totally different recipe, or maybe she left out that little part about it being done in the microwave. Either way – and funnier still – it worked both ways!!! You can do it in the microwave, or do it in a saucepan on the stove! They both work! That being said, it was so easy to do this in the microwave, that I’ll never do it in a pan again.

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Note the “V Good” connotation on this one!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lemon Meringue Pie #2 (Filling Made in the Microwave)

Get a 9″ baked pie crust ready (wanting to try something different, I used a graham cracker crust for this one).

Combine in a 2 quart bowl:

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup lemon juice

5 egg yolks (whites reserved)

Stir until smooth.

Add:

2 Tablespoons butter

Cook on high until mixture thickens and boils – 7 1/2 to 8 minutes – stirring 2-3 times.

Stir in:

1-3 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Let stand, uncovered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meringue:

In a large bowl beat until foamy:

5 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Add:

1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time

Beat constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks.

Beat in:

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pour filling into pie crust.

Cover filling with meringue – all the way to the edges.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

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I just laughed out loud when I realized that the two recipes were the same, and worked both ways! Too funny!

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It seems weird to just add a chunk of butter, but remember that this will be going into the microwave and it will melt.

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It’s so fast to do and comes out so thick and delicious – THEN you also add the lemon rind!

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I tried something different using a graham cracker crust for this one. I would use a regular crust next time, but my family didn’t seem to mind the graham cracker one. They loved it even though for some reason, it did get a little wet (I read that sometimes that happens when you overbeat the egg whites).

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I used too small of a pie pan, so I also made a couple of “pudding” cups.

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The meringue is fluffy and delicious – don’t forget to top the “puddings”, too!

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I am now a lover of lemon pudding. You can always do this instead of using a crust.

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The pie is beautiful and so amazingly delicious!

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This was so easy to do in the microwave. It’s one of my new favorites – I love it this way. Try this recipe at your next family gathering. You’ll never go back to doing Lemon Meringue Pie on the stove again!

 

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Lemons, Lemons, and More Lemons

My daughter recently traveled to California to visit her college roommate in San Francisco and brought home a whole suitcase full of lemons. Just look at these gorgeous little beauties!!

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They picked the lemons off of the lemon tree growing in her friend’s backyard. My daughter loves lemons and she gave them to me with the instructions that I should make some lemon specific recipes for the blog. Can do! Grandma and her sisters were great lemon lovers, and there is no shortage of lemon recipes. We’re experiencing a bit of the winter blahs here in Minnesota (which usually happens this time of the year), so for the next few weeks, I’m going to make some uplifting and refreshing lemon recipes to perk up the winter and bring in a little sunshine. But first, just for today, I’ll share some favorite lemon past post recipes. So since it’s citrus season, and my countertop is full of Lemons, Lemons, and More Lemons, let’s get going and let the sun shine in!

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Lemon Love Notes

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Lemon Meringue Pie

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Lemon Chicken with Croutons

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Lemonade

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Lemon Nut Bread

 

 

 

 

 

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Hygge

Grandpa’s father (obviously my great-grandfather) was Danish. This is a photo of him and his amazing mustache. Just look at that thing! So cool!

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Because of this bit of Dane in me, whenever I hear about something that’s Danish, my ears perk up. Suddenly, I’m hearing about Hygge – everywhere! Hygge is a Danish word, pronounced hue-gah,  and according to the website hyggehouse.com, is about “making ordinary, everyday moments more meaningful, beautiful, or special”. Some say it’s the Danish art of making things cozy. Here in Minnesota, we’re finally starting to see a bit more daylight, but it’s that part of the winter where this cold and snow thing really starts to get to ya. I say it’s time to explore Hygge and make the rest of winter waaaaay more tolerable. Seriously.

While they say this is a Danish thing, this is something we’ve always done in our family, and I’d like to think it was a combination Scandinavian thing. Grandma’s mother and dad were both Swedish, and Grandpa’s mother was Norwegian and his father was Danish. Unfortunately, Grandpa’s father died when he was 2 years old, so I don’t think a lot of the Hygge factor came from him. Grandma, and therefore my mom, taught me and my sister how to make things cozy and comfortable, but it was just the way things were. It seems like common sense.

In doing a bit of research about Hygge, I found that in 2009, Oprah did a piece on the Danes being the happiest people in the world, so there might be something to this keeping cozy thing. Recently, I was reading my Oprah Health Newsletter and they talked about a book called The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking that has some great ideas for getting more Hygge. I don’t even know if I’m phrasing that right. Hmm. Let’s see if we can find a few of those suggestions for Hygge in my house.

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I have several of the Hygge suggestions here on the corner table. One is to have something “sinful”, or something that would be considered giving yourself a treat. Chocolate is perfect for this, and I keep chocolates in the green candy dish, handy for when we need just a little something special. The tall glass container is holding my Potpourri with Dried Orange Slices that I made last fall, which is both pretty to look at and also has a wonderful scent – both Hygge type things, I would think.

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Another thing needed to make your home cozy is a candle or two. Or more. Scented candles are great, but only if you really enjoy the scent. I love to have candles lit during this darkest time of the year. When I went on the trip to Sweden and Norway, it was September and they already had candles lit all over, everywhere. I loved that. I’m sure there are people who would say I have way too many candles sitting around my house. You just can’t have too many, in my opinion.

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Setting out things that remind us of happy times is another way to help to make the house cozy. Photos are a great way to do that – maybe put out photos of family or friends, or a vacation memory. I’ve set out a photo of a whale tail that I took on a whale watching boat trip we took when my husband and I went to Massachusetts a year ago. In the little glass container is some of the sea glass we collected on the beach during that same trip. Every time I look at those two things, it brings back the many amazing memories we have of that vacation, and it makes me feel so good. The green candy dish, that I keep the chocolate in, was a gift that my mom and dad received at their wedding. That’s another great memory for me because I remember it being around and used my whole life.

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My favorite suggestion to make the home cozy is to have a “nook” to snuggle up in with a blanket, a book, and a cup of hot chocolate or tea. I don’t have an actual “nook” area, but the couches and corner table make a bit of a “nook”, where my book, my reading glasses, my cup of something hot, and my cozy blanket are all handy and easily accessible.

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This really is the place for your most snuggly blanket. The more cozy, the better! If you have more than one snuggly blanket, put a few out for you and your family and friends to get cozy with when they come over for a visit. You could play games, put together a puzzle, and just enjoy each other and being together. That’s an important part of Hygge – making more of those memories.

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It’s nice to keep a few of your favorite books handy, so you can snuggle up and read whenever you feel like it. Don’t forget a nice cup of tea to share with family or friends. I like to have an abundance of warm beverages available at all times: tea, hot chocolate, coffee – and several different kinds of each. Sharing the cozy is important, so you will have more of those great memories of happy times. Make your home a beautiful, cozy, meaningful, warm, special, and welcoming place for you, your family, and your friends. What could be more important? Nothing. Winter is the best time to start putting Hygge into practice, and get happy like the Danes – the happiest people in the world.

 

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Bundt Cake and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Today I’m sharing a photo of one of Grandma’s valentines that she received when she was a girl. The main colors in Grandma and Grandpa’s house were blue and yellow, so years ago, when I saw this valentine of Grandma’s, I made it into a hanging glass piece for her (we may have to explore making some glass ornaments at a later time). I love the little cupid sitting in the middle of that yellow rose.

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She’s so cute, and the sentiment is so sweet!

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It’s so special that Grandma kept her old cards – they meant a lot to her.

Today’s recipe is one that’s quick and easy and great for a last-minute treat. This Bundt Cake recipe can be changed to anyone’s preferences or any holiday flavor. You can use any kind of cake mix and any kind of instant pudding to make your own flavor combinations. I have made this with chocolate cake mix and chocolate instant pudding – for my mom and her chocolate habit – and I’ve made it with a yellow cake mix and butterscotch instant pudding – for my butterscotch loving son. Pick some interesting flavors and make it your own – you can’t go wrong with this one.

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This cake is ridiculously quick and easy.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Bundt Cake

Mix together:

1 box of cake mix (I used strawberry)

1 box of instant pudding (I used white chocolate)

4 eggs

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup oil (I used canola)

Blend on medium speed for 3 minutes or as directed on cake mix box.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Cool in pan on a cooling rack for 25 minutes.

Turn out onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Drizzle with glaze of your choice.

I used this glaze –

Powdered Sugar Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Juice of half a lemon or enough to be able to drizzle the glaze over cake.

Drizzle glaze over top of cake.

Sprinkle with decorations, if desired.

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DON’T FORGET to butter your bundt pan – only if you want the cake to come out of the pan. Then pour the batter in.

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It comes out of the oven so puffed and pretty. After waiting the 25 minutes, it popped right out of the pan! Yay!

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I put the glaze into a disposable piping bag and didn’t even use a tip. Just a cut across the bottom of the bag, squeeze out the glaze, and just toss the bag. Easy clean up!

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Once you get the glaze on, be quick about putting on the sprinkles or the glaze could already be drying and you’ll end up with sprinkles rolling all over the kitchen floor. Not that I really know anything about that. Maybe.

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Just look at it. Oh boy.

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The flavor combination of strawberry and white chocolate was absolutely delicious! This recipe is one to have in your permanent collection. I love that you can tweak it for any holiday or anyone’s taste – any flavors, any colors, any decorations. It’s so easy, so good, and can be made to your specific taste. Your valentine is going to be very, very happy!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Homemade Marshmallow Hearts in Hot Chocolate

My husband and I were having a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows recently, and after spending waaaaay too much time on Pinterest looking at Valentine ideas, I wanted to try to cut marshmallows in the shape of a heart to put in our hot chocolate. I first tried rolling a regular big marshmallow flat with a rolling-pin. It didn’t work so well until my husband suggested using some sugar (like flour when you’re rolling out cookies) to help it get larger. Well, it worked, but the heart was really flat. Then we put it into the microwave to see if it would puff up again. Ha! It did – a lot! But then it went back to being flat and got real gooey. The next day I decided to try to make my own marshmallow hearts, but I didn’t want a big cake pan full of marshmallows. Google it! I found a recipe for a small batch of marshmallows at Dessertfortwo.com. I tried it, LOVED them, and here we have Homemade Marshmallow Hearts in Hot Chocolate. These marshmallows would be perfect with either Hot Chocolate Mix or Grandma’s Cocoa.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Homemade Marshmallows (Small Batch – Hearts)

Stir together in a large saucepan:

3/4 cups sugar

1/3 cup corn syrup

pinch of salt

3 Tablespoons water

Turn heat to high and boil without stirring.

Use a candy thermometer and boil until it reaches 238 degrees F.

Meanwhile:

Put in large bowl:

3 Tablespoons water

Sprinkle on top:

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

Let sit a few minutes without stirring.

When the syrup reaches 238 degrees (this happened pretty fast), slowly begin to stream it into the gelatin mixture while constantly beating with a hand mixer (not a stand mixer).

Go slow, take your time, and beat for a full 10 minutes.

Stir in:

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 of a vanilla bean (I used vanilla extract)

Spread into a 5″ x 9″ bread pan that is lined with parchment paper and is greased very well (I used cooking spray).

Let the mixture set uncovered 3 hours.

When ready to cut, sprinkle powdered sugar on a work surface.

Dump marshmallows onto work surface, top with more powdered sugar, and cut with a knife dipped in powdered sugar (I used cooking spray on the knife – it worked better).

Roll all edges in powdered sugar.

Store in airtight container for 2-3 days at room temperature.

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The marshmallow mixture will be THICK! Your mixer will be working hard.

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Get the pan ready before you start. I didn’t know how much time I had to get the mixture into the pan, so I was really in a hurry and just used a big piece of parchment. Because I was going to cut out some hearts, I used an 8″ x 8″ pan, instead of a bread pan, to make the marshmallows thinner.

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The first heart I cut out – I didn’t put any cooking spray on the cookie cutter. Not so pretty.

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I sprayed the cookie cutter and that worked much better. Very pretty.

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I tried dipping the knife in powdered sugar, but it stuck to the knife. I sprayed the knife with cooking spray and it worked much better. You can move them around better if you sprinkle them with more powdered sugar, and then dip each cut edge into powdered sugar.

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These are the most delicious marshmallows – I love, love, love them! I had to try them toasted in the hot chocolate. It was so good, and yes, I used a blowtorch. I don’t have one of those fancy little kitchen ones, so my husband dug out his big one from the garage. I wouldn’t do that again – there was a bit of a faint taste of butane. Ha! In the past I have toasted marshmallows over the gas burner on my stove, and that works very well. You could also use a bonfire, I guess, but I have to say the blowtorch was really fun.

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This is a very special treat for you and your valentine. We had fun trying to find the perfect name for these: Love in a Cup, Hot Love in a Mug, S’more Love in a Cup. Ha! My husband got on a roll with the names, and let me just say that some of the names will NOT be repeated here.

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These marshmallows are so delicious! They’re so good, so creamy, so gooey, and so good in my homemade Hot Chocolate Mix. Wow. I will definitely be making these again! Give them a try – you may never buy marshmallows again! I know I won’t!

 

 

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Chocolate Fudge Squares

I decided to try another recipe from the tiny book I found at my sister’s house, and I thought I’d make it more of a holiday thing. I like candies and sprinkles as much as the next gal, so I went for it with these bars. Trust me – your valentine is gonna love these. Chocolate Fudge Squares sounds like more of a fudgy bar, or even a candy, right? Nope. These are basically brownies. Maybe there were too many brownie recipes in the tiny book, I don’t know. But let’s call them what they are. These are brownies. They’re just very festive brownies – at least the way I made them in this batch.

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These bars did NOT end up being fudgy.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Fudge Squares

Sift together 3 times:

3/4 cup pastry flour (I used regular all-purpose flour)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt:

2 squares baking chocolate

Add:

1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)

Blend.

Combine with the chocolate mixture:

1 cup sugar

3 eggs, well beaten

Beat thoroughly.

Add:

Flour mixture

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup nuts, chopped

Pour into 8″ x 8″ pan (it says to put it into 2 pans, but I think that’s a typo).

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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There are a few steps to these bars (as with brownies), but it doesn’t take long to do. First sift the dry ingredients, then beat the eggs and melt the chocolate and butter.

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Combine the chocolate/butter mixture with the sugar and eggs, then add the flour mixture.

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This isn’t on the recipe, but I added holiday candies and sprinkles.

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Full disclosure – I happened to peek into the oven with about 10 minutes left to bake. The candies had sunk to the bottom – I couldn’t see any of them – so I added another 1/2 cup or so to the top and it was firm enough so they didn’t sink this time. Next time I’d wait to add the candies until there is about 10 minutes left to bake.

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They turned out so pretty and very festive!

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These aren’t really a fudge type bar – they’re more like a brownie – but they’re delicious. You can make them holiday specific with candies, or sprinkles, or chocolate chips, or nuts – whatever you want to put on them. Make a batch for your valentine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Poppy Seed Buns

One thing I don’t have photos of, from the days of staying at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm, is the game playing. I really regret that because my sister and I played a LOT of games with them: Rook, Rack-O, Chinese Checkers, Old Maid, Rummikub, Checkers, Sorry, and card games. Sometimes we would play all night. Of course, we never wanted to stop when it was time for bed. It was a lot of fun, and Grandma especially, was very competitive. They never let us win – we had to win fair and square. There was none of this “everybody wins” type of Candyland. They also loved to play games with their great-grandchildren – board games and card games. One card game they always played with our kids when they were little, was Old Maid. We still have the cards, and they’re very well used, as you can see!

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There was one particular game of Old Maid that was played with my oldest daughter when she was about 4 years old. She and Grandma were the only two left holding cards. It was the end of the game and it was my daughter’s turn to draw a card from Grandma. She had only one card in her hand, and Grandma had two cards left in her hand: one was the Old Maid and one was the card to match my daughter’s card. Grandma put the Old Maid card up higher in her hand than the other card, thinking my daughter would pick that one and get the Old Maid. Well, my equally (and probably even more so) competitive daughter picked the lower card, got a pair because of it and won the game, leaving Grandma holding the Old Maid!!! Oh my gosh – first there was the look on Grandma’s face, then there was the screeching and howling of laughter from everyone when we realized what had happened, then there was the immense pride from Grandma about what her 4-year-old great-granddaughter had just pulled off. She told everyone she knew about that game for years. What a great memory – we’ll never forget it!!!

While we did have snacks when playing games, and the recipe for today would be a good snack for game night, I think it will also be a good addition to your Super Bowl party. You see different versions of this recipe all over the internet these days, and who am I to let a trend go untried? This recipe for Poppy Seed Buns comes from my mom, and I think she got it from someone she worked with, so they were ahead of the trend because she retired almost 25 years ago! I have never had these before, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were. You’ll want to try these!

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These buns are incredibly tasty and very easy to make.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Poppy Seed Buns

Slice and put in bottom of a cake pan:

24 dinner roll bottoms (I used King’s Hawaiian rolls, but they seemed a little softer than regular dinner rolls would be – I’d stick with regular dinner rolls next time – or maybe try a batch of Buns or 6 Hour Buns and just make the buns smaller)

Add:

thinly sliced ham

slices of Swiss cheese

Put tops of dinner rolls on.

Microwave until melted:

1 cup butter

4 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 Tablespoons yellow mustard

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 Tablespoons poppy seeds (I only used 1 Tablespoon for this batch and that seemed like enough)

Stir sauce and drizzle over rolls.

Put into refrigerator until time to serve.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

There is a note on the card that says these can be made the night before – love that!

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Slice the rolls, put the bottoms in the bottom of the pan, and put on the ham and Swiss.

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I used deli ham and cut each piece in half.

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On go the tops and on to the sauce . . .

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. . . which is so darn tasty!

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Drizzle on the sauce and into the frig.

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I love it – another make ahead beauty!

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Get trendy with me – these will be great at your next game night or Super Bowl gathering!

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I used a sweet dinner roll for these and I think a regular dinner roll would have worked better, although both my husband and my son thought I was crazy. They liked the sweet rolls and told me to just leave it at that. I just want everyone to know – there ARE options. That being said, these are ridiculously delicious. That sweet and tangy sauce on top of a ham and cheese sandwich – so good! You can eat them with a fork, but your fingers work just as well. BTW – you WILL be licking every bit of that sauce off of your fingers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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