Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Eggs Pizzaiola

Recently, while making this recipe for Eggs Pizzaiola, for some reason I started remembering overnights at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm. One of my favorite things we did was reading with them at bedtime. After getting into our jammies, it was time to snuggle in Grandma and Grandpa’s big bed and read while they shut everything down for the night and got ready for bed themselves. While being able to be in their bed made up with the sheets that had been deliciously dried outside on the clothesline was a luxury in itself, I have to admit that reading was absolutely my favorite thing to do when I was little, so that part was fantastic to me. They had one special book that was a favorite of mine, “The Adventures of Mr. Toad”, which was the Disney version of “The Wind in the Willows”. It had amazing illustrations and I loved it. Next it was time to read from the little devotional book that came monthly from their church. There was a short story, a bible verse, and a little prayer at the end. When the reading was done, it was upstairs to our beds (also made up with sheets deliciously dried outside on the clothesline) to be tucked in and then “Now I lay me down to sleep . . .”.

The next morning it was down the stairs to choose from the 4 or more boxes of breakfast cereal in one of the kitchen cupboards. I’m not sure why they always had such a selection of breakfast “food” (as Grandma called it), but it was another of my favorite things about staying at the farm. We NEVER had that many breakfast options at home. It was such a treat to be able to make a selection from all of those magical boxes of cereal. I’m not sure why that was such a big deal to me, but it was.

Then it was on with the day, and more of my favorite things to do: listening to the blue jays squawking in the trees in the grove, catching butterflies and putting them into one of the many jars Grandma saved on the wooden shelves in the basement, watching the sun shining through the kitchen window in the morning as Grandma did her baking for the day, the moss roses waving in the sunlight as they cheerily bloomed along the sidewalk to the house, checking out the thorns on the towering yellow rose-bush blooming on the northwest corner of the garage, afternoon coffee and a snack or treat at 3:00 in the kitchen, at the picnic table, or out in the field with Grandpa, listening to the musical church chimes drifting over the cornfields from their little town west of the farm at 7:00 pm, and either a competitive evening of lawn games and/or board games before it was time for bed again after the local news at 10:30.

But most of all, I remember love.

Grandma didn’t make a big breakfast very often – hence the large choice of cereals – but I think she would have approved of this very easy and very tasty breakfast. This Eggs Pizzaiola could even be a light lunch or dinner. Everywhere you turn these days you see an egg on top of everything, so we’re right on trend here. This is tomato sauce with eggs on top. I found a recipe for this on Skinnytaste, (and of course I made a few of changes) and it’s delicious, healthy, and good for you.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Eggs Pizzaiola

In a large non-skillet, heat over medium heat:

1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

Saute until golden:

4 cloves garlic, minced


1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (I didn’t have any for this batch)



1/4 cup chicken broth

2 cups crushed tomatoes (I used petite diced tomatoes)

Bring to a boil.


4 basil leaves, torn (I used dried basil)

Reduce heat to simmer 5 minutes.

Gently drop in:

6 eggs with yolks intact

Top with:

2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1 Tablespoon Pecorino cheese (I didn’t use this – I only had Parmesan)

Cover and simmer on med-low for 10-15 minutes until whites are cooked through and no longer runny.

Finish with:

2 more Tablespoons Parmesan

1 more Tablespoon Pecorino (I used 3 more Tablespoons Parmesan since I didn’t have any Pecorino)

I’m always one for “making do” with what you have (I’m sure that comes from my two grandmas who lived through the Great Depression) and not stopping to run to the store if I don’t have something (if I don’t absolutely have to). I didn’t have a couple of things when making this for lunch one day. I didn’t have either fresh OR dried parsley – so I didn’t use any, and I didn’t have stewed tomatoes, so I used petite cut tomatoes. It was still delicious and worked great!

This is after putting the eggs into the sauce, and topping them with the parmesan – and then after they simmered for 10 minutes or so. I would have cooked them a bit less – we like our yolks a bit more runny.

I love a quick and easy breakfast dish, and this one certainly fits the bill.

Eggs in a tasty tomato sauce and sprinkled with cheese – fast AND delicious! This makes the best breakfast, or lunch, or dinner for that matter – it’s my new favorite! Serve it with a nice slice of toast or a chunk of bread. You can’t beat that, and you can’t beat this Eggs Pizzaiola!


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White Cookies

I’m not sure why the funny name for these cookies – why they called them White Cookies. Maybe it’s because this recipe comes from the tiny book at my sister’s house and there were at least 4 other sugar cookie recipes in there. Maybe they needed a different name for some of them. Who cares what the name is – these cookies are tremendously goo-ood. This recipe makes a smaller batch of beautiful, tasty, roll-out sugar cookies. This batch of went to some friends, and I couldn’t resist using my chicken cookie cutter! Something about chickens just makes me smile, and I hope they made my friends smile, too! I did roll these a bit thick, and I got 37 chickens out of them. I think you could count on getting anywhere from 3-4 dozen cookies from this batch, depending on how thick or thin you roll the dough.

It’s a very simple but very tasty recipe!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

White Cookies

Cream together:

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

4 Tablespoons milk

Sift dry ingredients together:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Roll out the dough, cut cookies, and bake.

Note that there are no time or temperature again.

I baked the cookies at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

It doesn’t say to chill the dough, so that may be why the cookies spread out a little bit.

First mix the wet (ish) ingredients, and then add the dry ingredients that have been sifted together.

Because the dough isn’t chilled, it is a bit of a soft dough. It does cut beautifully.

Here are the cut out chickens. You can put any colored sugar on these (or frost them, of course), but in this case, I liked the sparkle – and bit of a crunch – of plain sanding sugar.

You can see how they spread a little bit, but that sure doesn’t hurt the flavor.

Here are the beautiful little chickens!

These absolutely delicious, and are perfect with your afternoon coffee. Or evening coffee. Or weekend coffee. Or any coffee. Make a batch of these tasty White Cookies!



Salad #6

I love these family photos from years ago, and this one is of Grandma and Grandpa (on the right) and one of Grandma’s sisters with her husband, and maybe a cousin of theirs. Family was very important to Grandma and her brothers and sisters. They would get together a lot on Sundays, and I can imagine the chatting, the teasing, and the eating that went on at those get-togethers. I don’t have to imagine too hard – I was there at some of them when I was growing up!

Here is another in a long line of salads just called “Salad”. This one is Salad #6. There is a ridiculous number of salads in Grandma’s recipe file, and I’m sure that’s because of all of the family dinners and gatherings she was a part of over the years. She needed to have a huge arsenal of  recipes that she could mix and match depending on what and who the gathering was for. This one is especially easy to do and is especially good. It will be great on your springtime table.

This salad is really good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Salad #6


2 1/2 cups water


1 (3 oz.) package of Strawberry Jello

2 boxes Tapioca Pudding


Fold in:

1 (12 oz.) Cool Whip

1 package frozen strawberries (partially thawed)

Let the first mixture cool completely so it doesn’t melt the Cool Whip.

It takes awhile to fold in all of the Cool Whip, but you’ll get there eventually.

I used the frozen strawberries that I had in the freezer from a local farm.

This recipe makes a nice big salad – it more than filled this bowl.

There was enough extra salad left (that didn’t fit in the bowl) for dessert that night after dinner, and the main salad was taken to my mom’s for her birthday dinner. This was one of those family dinners, just like Grandma and her family used to have. The consensus from the family on this salad – 6 thumbs up.  It’s so delicious, and really convenient. You can have all of the ingredients in your cupboard and freezer ready for anytime. I hope you’ll try this really quick, really easy, and really delicious Salad #6.





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Ham Balls

This recipe for Ham Balls comes from one of my mom’s cousins and is similar to Grandma’s recipe for Iowa Ham Balls that I posted a couple of years ago. The name implies, and rightfully so, that they’re Ham Balls instead of meatballs. That’s exactly what they are, even though there is both ham and beef in these. My mom prefers this recipe to the other one, so I made these for her birthday dinner this year. I think this would be perfect for using up leftover ham from your Easter or springtime dinner (as long as you have enough ham leftover). This recipe uses 5 pounds of meat, but I did get two pans out of it and put one in the freezer for another time.

This is a really good recipe.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Ham Balls

Mix together:

2 cups milk

4 eggs

Soak in this mixture:

4 cups bread crumbs (It says Pepperidge Farm, but I couldn’t tell if that meant a loaf of bread or premade bread crumbs. A loaf of crumbs seemed like they’d be too soft so I used premade bread crumbs, but never found that brand.)

Mix into this:

3 pounds ground ham (I don’t have anything to grind it, so I used a food processor)

2 pounds lean ground beef

Roll into balls.

Put into a roaster (I used a cake pan).


1 cup water

1 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

2 cups brown sugar

2 teaspoons dry mustard

Pour over balls in roaster or pan.

Cover with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, turning every 15 minutes, or do not cover and baste every time balls are turned.

First mix the eggs and milk, then add the breadcrumbs.

It looks weird, but I just let the breadcrumb/milk/egg mixture sit while I got the beef and ham ready.

The food processor made quick work of the chunks of ham. My biggest glass bowl would barely hold all the ingredients so I had to move it all to the biggest container I had.

You want to leave yourself plenty of space to mix all the ingredients, and make sure they’re all mixed very well. It does take a lot of mixing! It’s a good arm workout!

I got 20 balls in this pan and another 8 in the pan that went in the freezer. It seems like a lot of work to turn the balls every 15 minutes, but you want that delicious sauce to totally cover and coat them.

You can see how the delicious sauce makes the balls incredibly tasty.

My mom likes these Ham Balls better, but family likes the Iowa Ham Balls better. Why not make both recipes and see which you prefer? Next year you could use these for your Easter dinner instead of a ham because these are absolutely delicious. If you did make a ham for your Easter dinner this year, I hope you have enough leftover to make these. You don’t really have to wait for Easter or use leftovers, just make these Ham Balls. Any way you can.


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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Grandma received this postcard from an aunt and uncle living in Seattle, Washington – the date on the postmark is March 26, 1929. I’m sure she was excited when she got this cute card in the mail!

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading Plenty Sweet Life!

I appreciate each and every one of you!



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Easter Bundt Cake

As promised – here is the Bundt Cake for Easter – or – the Easter Bundt Cake. On my quest this year to show how the Bundt Cake recipe can be so easily switched up for holidays (or personal preference), I’ve made one that’s perfect for an Easter dessert.

First, here is a typical Easter photo from when I was about 3 years old. You can see the brand new dress, white patent leather shoes with white anklets, and my purse. My dad used to tease me relentlessly about always having to have a “purse”. But it is essential to every girl’s Easter outfit – every little OR big girl. I was standing on the little wall that was between my other grandma and gramp’s house and the house where we lived in the upstairs apartment.

Obviously, we had beautiful weather on Easter Sunday that year, because I didn’t have on a sweater, jacket, or coat.

Ok – on to the Easter Bundt Cake. I do love that this is such an easy recipe and you can make it last-minute. Kids would love to help make this because decorating it is so much fun. You can – and MUST – make it very colorful and festive. Well, you don’t HAVE to. You CAN keep it simple. But where’s the fun in that?!!

I’m telling you – this recipe is so easily adaptable for each and every holiday or special occasion!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Bundt Cake

Mix together:

1 cake mix (I used lemon here)

1 instant pudding (I used lemon here)

4 eggs

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup oil (I used canola)

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Let cool in pan 25 minutes.

Turn out onto cooling rack to cool completely.


Mix together:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Juice of half of a lemon, or enough to make glaze the consistency you want

Spoon or pipe glaze onto top of cake.

Decorate with sprinkles and/or colored sugar (do this before the glaze dries – it happens fast).

This particular bundt cake was made with a lemon cake mix and lemon instant pudding. I think a white cake mix with a vanilla or coconut instant pudding and 1/2 to 1 cup of coconut would also be tasty for this time of year.

I get all my decorations ready ahead of time and then make the glaze. The glaze dries quickly, so if you have everything ready, put on the glaze and then immediately decorate. You can use a spoon to drizzle on the glaze, but I used a disposable piping bag for drizzling.

I went with white glaze and pastel colored sprinkles for this one. The lemony glaze goes so well with the lemon cake and the lemon pudding in the cake.

Here’s the overhead view – can you tell what I put on top?

You got it! Bunnies! They’re so cute!

I put the bunnies on toothpicks and then stuck them into the top of the cake. If I had used a cake plate or pedestal, I might have had room to stick the bunnies into the glaze around the outside of the cake, but this cake is going with my husband to work, so it’s just on a paper plate and that doesn’t leave a lot of room on the outside. It makes more sense to put it on something that doesn’t have to get back home with my husband. All he has to bring back with him is the big container he’s taking the whole cake in.

People ask me all the time if we actually eat ALL the things I make for this blog. Oh yes – we do eat our fair share, but I do also try to share some of it with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Everyone has to do their part and take some of it. Funny – nobody has seemed to mind too much. Yet. Get your kids involved and make an Easter Bundt Cake for your family or friends this year – it’ll be a lot of fun and they’ll love it!










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Orange Sugar Cookies

Spring is here. At least I think it is. The calendar says so. Ok – I’m going to go ahead and demand that spring is here, so it’s time to make another springtime recipe. The recipe for these Orange Sugar Cookies is perfect for spring. Speaking of spring, I had to share this photo of Grandma and my mom. It looks like my mom is about 1 year old (since her birthday is in the middle of March), and it looks like spring, because the snow is pretty slushy. They always took pictures outside before there was a reliable flash system on the cameras, and I think it’s funny that they took the photo right next to the gas tank. Ha!

My mom has the cutest little coat and hat on – maybe it was Easter Sunday. I love Grandma’s lovely hat, boots, and fur trimmed coat. Very stylish!

The recipe for today is for Orange Sugar Cookies, and comes from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks. This isn’t a book from Grandma’s church, but it is a good one that she wrote notes in. I’ve said this many times, but I think these old church cookbooks are just the best for great recipes. They’re ALL good ones!


These are the perfect little tea cookie.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Orange Sugar Cookies

Cream thoroughly:

3/4 cup shortening (I used butter)

3/4 cup sugar


1 egg

Sift together:

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Add to creamed mixture.


1 teaspoon vanilla

Grated rind of 1 large orange

Chill dough (I chilled it for about an hour).

Roll dough into small balls.

Roll balls in sugar.

Do not press down.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden.


I absolutely LOVE old church cookbooks.


It didn’t look like a lot of dough, but because you make them smaller, you still get a lot of cookies out of this batch.


I didn’t use my scoop for these because they would have been too big.


You can see the orange rind in there! You know they’re gonna be good!


I thought they might spread out like regular sugar cookies or ginger snaps, but they stayed in these beautiful little round cookies.


Oh my – they’re gorgeous!


It’s amazing how much flavor is in that orange rind. These are delicious cookies, and I know I say this a lot, but these are one of my new favorites. They’re perfect for your afternoon coffee or tea, they’re perfect for spring or Easter or any occasion! You HAVE to try these Orange Sugar Cookies – you’ll love ’em!











A Special Birthday Cake with Raspberry Buttercream

My middle child turns 30 in April. In lieu of big 30th birthday bashes, she and her circle of friends, most of whom turned 30 this year, all traveled to Costa Rica to celebrate their birthdays. Since her birthday was to be celebrated with us at home before she left on her trip, she requested a certain home cookin’ birthday dinner instead of going out for dinner, and when it came to what kind of cake she wanted? “Surprise me,” was all she said. Well, she should know better. I decided to make A Special Birthday Cake with Raspberry Buttercream because I know she likes lemon, and I know she likes raspberry. I made a white cake from a mix (yes – I know – she was also appalled that the cake was from a mix and not homemade, but it didn’t really matter in this case), used the recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie #2 for the filling, and then for the frosting I made a Raspberry Buttercream, which is a basic buttercream made with raspberry jam. It’s easy to do and it’s amazingly delicious.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Raspberry Buttercream

(I doubled this recipe because it didn’t seem to make a lot.)

Mix together:

1 cup butter, softened

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix until well combined.


1/3 cup raspberry jam

Mix well.

I used 9 inch cake pans for the layers, and I thought they got a bit thin, so I used 2 cake mixes and made 4 layers  – using 3 of them for this cake (saving one layer for a treat at another time). You can see the lemon filling, where I used the filling for Lemon Meringue Pie #2. Another plus – the lemon filling was made in the microwave. Easy. You can barely see it, but at the very top of the cake, I put a wooden skewer through from top to bottom to hold it together. I then put it in the refrigerator overnight. It chilled nicely and was good and solid to frost it the next day.

I put on a crumb coat of frosting first, filling in the sides of the layers where there were some gaps. Next – a nice layer of frosting covering everything. The skewer stayed in until I was ready for the final frosting coat, then I took it out.

My intention was to make this a Rose Cake, but this was a double batch of the frosting and I didn’t have quite enough to put roses on the whole cake. Instead of making ANOTHER batch of frosting,  I just put roses on the top.

I had to make a special little banner for the special birthday. To make the banner, I just cut out flags from pretty paper, used stickers to spell the words, put a spot of hot glue on the back and laid the string right on top of the glue. Then I just tied the string onto two wooden skewers.

When the birthday girl said, “surprise me”? I had to put on an extra little surprise of a baby picture – and she’s wearing a party hat! So cute! The baby picture was cut out, I glued on the party hat and embellishments, hot glued the whole photo onto a wooden toothpick, and that’s it!

Oh my. The lemon filling went perfectly with the raspberry in the frosting.

This was a special birthday cake for a special birthday and wow – was it tasty! Sometimes it works to mix and match recipes – depending on the occasion. Give this a try. This Special Birthday Cake with Raspberry Buttercream was easy to make and it was amazingly delicious. Happy Birthday!









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Carrot Bars

This recipe for Carrot Bars is another one that Grandma cut out of the newspaper, and like I’ve said before – it has to be a good one because she didn’t do that too often. These bars are very similar in flavor to Carrot Cake, and are going under the heading of Retro Oddities, if only because of the use of baby food carrots. I have to go on a bit of a rant here, and at the risk of sounding like an old fogey, let me just say that I don’t like the fact that all baby food is now packaged in plastic. I would rather still see the glass jars with a lid – which is WAAAAY easier to open than these foil tops you have to peel off. It took longer to get the top off of the baby food than it took to mix up the bars!! I digress. Using carrots sounds like a treat just right for springtime. Let’s try these slightly strange bars and see what happens.

Note the V Good connotation again on this one! I may have to try the Lemon Bars at a later date – it was cut off here but I do have the rest of that recipe!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Carrot Bars

Combine all ingredients:

1 1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup oil (I used canola)

2 (4 1/2 oz.) jars strained carrot baby food (now the containers are 4 oz.)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

3 oz. cream cheese (they used to have small packages of cream cheese this size, but now I just use the measurements on the side of the 8 oz. cream cheese to measure this out)

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together and spread on bars.

You can see in the above paragraph that I’m not a big fan of this kind of baby food container. It’s just silly. Ok. I’m done. Also – these come in 4 oz. containers now, not 4 1/2 oz., but it didn’t seem to make much difference.

You can just mix everything up together, but I did do the liquids together first and then added the sifted dry ingredients.

This recipe is so easy to do and is beautiful before AND after baking.

How can you go wrong with cream cheese frosting? Delicious.

The frosting looked like a pretty small batch, but it did cover the whole pan.

The smell of these bars baking really made me think of Grandma. It’s funny that it’s the smell of things that makes me the most nostalgic. Baking can bring me back to specific people and places in a heartbeat.

They are calling these “bars”, but they really taste like carrot cake, and while I do make Carrot Cake, bars are much more portable and easy to eat. These Carrot Bars are so mouth-watering and quick to make and delicious – perfect for springtime – or anytime!



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