Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!


I have been making this Chili for as long as we’ve been married. It came from my old red Betty Crocker cookbook, and it was a staple during my kids’ growing up years. I’ve made it hundreds of times. Seriously – HUNDREDS of times. I usually double this recipe because we always want leftovers, and chili is great for lunches the next day. It’s great to have in the slow cooker ready for warming up after any winter outdoor activity: Skiing, sledding, skating, snowman making. It thaws the icicles hanging from noses and mustaches after said outdoor activities. Perfect. The Super Bowl is in Minnesota this year, and it’s going to be cold – single digit cold – so this would be great to serve at your Super Bowl party. Just keep it warm in the slow cooker and line up the fixins. This is another very easy recipe and it’s ridiculously delicious.

This is so good on a cold winter day OR night!

Here is the recipe as I made it:


Cook and stir in 3 quart saucepan until light brown:

1 pound ground beef or turkey

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Drain, if necessary.

Stir in:

1 (16 ounce) can whole tomatoes with liquid

2 medium stalks celery, sliced

2-3 Tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (I used red pepper flakes)

Heat to boiling.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour.

Stir in beans, heat to boiling, simmer 15 minutes until hot.

(I usually do this in a crock pot or slow cooker – I still brown the beef, onion, and garlic but put all ingredients – even the beans – into the slow cooker all day on low until we’re ready for it.)

This batch was done in the crock pot and I just put all the ingredients right in.

Here we are – ready to go. Turn it on low and let it go. If you need it faster, obviously turn it up to high.

We like sour cream, shredded cheddar, and green onions for fixin’s on our chili. The possibilities are endless: crushed tortilla chips, Frito chips, additional hot sauce, pickled jalapeno, etc. On and on.

It’s going to be cold this weekend, people. You need to have a Super Bowl party, invite some friends and family, and let them thaw out with this delicious, warming bowl of comforting goodness. Try this Chili and you’ll see that it’s one of those recipes that’s a “lifer” that you’ll make hundreds of times!






Cinnamon-Sugar Muffins

I was recently thinking about the Cinnamon-Sugar Muffins I made in my 7th grade Home Ec class (and no, I’m not going to share any photos of that time in my life – Junior High School – ugh!) It was a plain muffin recipe, but after baking, you would dip the muffin top in melted butter and then into a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Talk about a warm and comforting, yet decadent breakfast treat or snack . . . I don’t have that original recipe anymore, but I checked in Grandma’s church cookbook and look what I found! I found a plain muffin recipe with at least 10 different variations – one of them being dipped in melted butter and a cinnamon-sugar mixture! Yay! So here they are!

This recipe came with a lot of variations – we might explore more of those at another time!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cinnamon-Sugar Muffins

For the plain muffins:

Put in mixing bowl and mix well with a fork:

2 cups flour

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

(For the Cinnamon-Sugar Muffins, add 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)


1 egg, beaten

1 cup milk

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I used canola)

Add all at once to flour mixture, stirring only until moistened.

Fill 12 greased (I used liners) muffin cups 2/3 full and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

For topping:

Immediately after baking, remove muffins from pan and dip tops in melted butter (about 3 Tablespoons), then in 1/4 cup sugar mixed with 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

The plain muffin recipe is really simple.

As my 7th grade Home Ec teacher used to say, “Don’t over mix! The muffins will have holes in them!” Only mix until JUST moistened.

I used liners for this batch, but grease the pans if you like them better that way.

After baking you can see how golden brown and gorgeous they are!

I tried dipping the muffins into the butter and then into the cinnamon-sugar mixture, but I kept getting a lot of them onto the muffins papers. I used a pastry brush to brush on the butter and then dipped the top in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

These muffins are absolutely perfect with a cup of coffee. They’re easy to make and have for a nice, warm treat or breakfast. I mean, how bad can that be – a muffin, melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar? I think these are best warm right out of the oven, but this batch is all packaged up and ready for my mom’s freezer. Some of these muffins would be nice to make the next time you invite your grandma or mom over for a nice cup of coffee. Give these Cinnamon-Sugar Muffins a try – they’re absolutely delicious!



Brown Sugar Meringues

I found this recipe for Brown Sugar Meringues just this year in an old Christmas cookbook called Cooking For Christmas. I was looking for some treats to make that I could have (since I am STILL dealing with pancreatitis) that didn’t have much fat. I was looking through this cookbook and found this one that was just egg whites and sugar. No fat. These were amazing! They’re delicious and pretty and I thought, hey, why can’t I make these all year round? You can decorate them according to the season, and add all kinds of other goodies like dried fruit or nuts. So I sprinkled on some red sugar and a few pearl sugar balls and there you go – a special treat for Valentine’s Day!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Brown Sugar Meringues

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put into a medium bowl:

4 egg whites

Beat until soft peaks form.

Gradually beat in:

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

Beat until stiff and glossy.

Spoon mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.

Pipe onto lined baking sheets (you can also just use a spoon to form mounds of the mixture).

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meringues are firm and dry.

Carefully peel off paper and store at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

(The recipe above has the added goodness of making a sandwich of the cookies with whipped cream – I didn’t do that here, but you would need to serve immediately if wanting to serve them this way.)

I have shared a lot of photos in this post, but I wanted to sort of show the progression of the egg whites. The first one is just getting started. The second one is my interpretation of the soft peaks.

Next the sugar is added a little at a time. Last is my interpretation of stiff and glossy. These maybe could have been a bit stiffer.

My piping bags are on the small side, so I had to add more of the mixture 3 times. You can also just use a spoon to make mounds of the mixture.

Now is the time to decorate, if you want to.

Here they are, out of the oven after 1 1/2 hours. I had the Christmas ones in the oven for 2 hours, but I don’t think it was necessary. You’ll have to see how your oven works and if they’re dry and ready the way you want them, go ahead and take them out.

They are so pretty!

These would make a special treat for any time of year. How about these for a nice hostess gift? You could even add a little drizzle of chocolate for an even more special gift for your valentine. These are definitely NOT hard to make and they’re delicious! Try these Brown Sugar Meringues next time you need a special treat!



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5 Soups for a Cold Winter’s Night

We’re in it now – winter – and today I’m sharing 5 Soups for a Cold Winter’s Night. There is cold and snow all over the country. I just heard on the news that all 50 states have some snow on the ground somewhere. Well that’s it. We need a nice, hot, comforting bowl of soup and I’m here to help you out with some great recipes that will warm you up in no time and thaw the icicles from where ever they may have formed on your body. Here are 5 of my favorite recipes for soup. Enjoy and stay warm!

Creamy Vegetable Soup

Chicken-Noodle Soup with Vegetables

Potato Soup

Potato Cheddar Soup

Grandma’s Tomato Soup


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Almond Bars

This recipe for Almond Bars comes from Grandma’s church cookbook, and is one that I made years ago. My oldest daughter played volleyball and her club would hold an annual spaghetti dinner for a fundraiser. each family was supposed to bring a couple of pans of bars for the dessert table, and this was one of the recipes I tried and brought for that. I have said this before – about a hundred times – and I’ll say it again – those old church cookbooks are the BEST. Everyone would donate their absolute BEST recipes, so ALL the recipes in those books are the BEST. I have yet to find a bad one in any of the ones I’ve tried. Grandma spent a lot of time to try and figure out which recipes to add to the church cookbook. It was a BIG deal. I think I have at least 20 of Grandma’s old church cookbooks from all of the churches in town, and I love them all. Selling those boos were great fundraisers for the ladies groups, too.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Almond Bars

For the Crust:

Mix together:

3/4 cup butter or margarine (I used butter)

1 1/2 cups flour

3 Tablespoons sugar

Press into 9″ x 12″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

For the Filling:

6 eggs, beaten

2 cups sugar

2 cups coconut

1 Tablespoon almond extract

Pour over baked crust.

Topped with 1/2 cup sliced almonds.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

This is how I pressed the crust dough into the pan. This pan was an inch smaller in each direction than what the recipe called for.

The filling is nice and thick with all the coconut. I added the sliced almonds on top – just ‘cuz.

These bars smell amazing when they’re in the oven. Must be the almond extract.

Delicious. I mean – absolutely delicious. Grandma had a “thing” for anything almond, since she was Swedish. I know she would have loved these Almond Bars – you will, too!!

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Ginger Cookies #3

It’s a cold and snowy day here in Minnesota, which means it’s a perfect day to make Ginger Cookies #3. This is another recipe from the tiny book I found at my sister’s house, and #3 in the line of ginger cookies made for Plenty Sweet Life. There’s nothing better than coming in from playing in the snow (no matter what your age), having the scent of those spices hit your nose as you come into the warm and cozy house from the cold outdoors, and having a lovely ginger cookie with your cup of hot chocolate. There is something very comforting about that. Growing up in this state of snow and ice, you learn to love all outdoor activities available in the winter: skating, skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, and many others. My sister and I could never get enough of that cold weather fun when we were kids. It’s time to bring that back and start enjoying the cold weather fun again!

Note that there isn’t any baking temperature or time for these.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Ginger Cookies #3


3/4 cup Crisco (I used butter)

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons each of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves

Chill one hour.

Roll into balls, roll in sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (this is what worked for my oven).

I used my trusty scoop to make these (even though chilling the dough for an hour made the dough hard to scoop), roll them into balls, and into a bowl of sugar.

That sugar gives them a sugary crust after baking.

This is a very spicy cookie with great flavor – perfect for your afternoon coffee.

These cookies stayed the shape of a nice little tea cookie, they didn’t get a good crackle like some of the other ginger cookies have, but they are delicious without the crackle. Make a batch of these and then head out to play in the snow! You’ll have these beautiful little Ginger Cookies #3 waiting for you when you come back into your warm and cozy house.




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Pork Tenderlon Sheet Pan Dinner

This recipe for Pork Tenderloin Sheet Pan Dinner originally came from a recipe in an old Weight Watchers cookbook, and it used spring vegetables. I’ve been making it for years, but with a few of my own changes, like using any kind of vegetables I happen to have on hand. It doesn’t have to be a spring time dish –  it’s great any time of year. Since my surgery to remove my gall bladder in September, I’ve been dealing with pancreatitis (which has NOT been fun), and I’ve gone from having a food tube over Thanksgiving to trying to eat non-fat foods or at least as low-fat as I could get, to now starting to ramp up the fat in the food choices I make – just a bit. Pork tenderloin is a somewhat low-fat cut of meat, and the vegetables only have a drizzle of olive oil over them, so I thought this was perfect for both my needs AND Sunday dinner with the family. Plus, sheet pan dinners are all over the internet right now, and rightly so – I LOVE anything that is fast to make and is also absolutely delicious. I’m not back to my normal strength or stamina yet, and I think my husband is getting a bit tired of having to help with EVERYTHING related to the house and cooking (this whole pancreatitis thing is getting old, but he’s done a great job of giving me the BEST nursing care!), so this was exactly what I needed to be able to make dinner with only a little help. This one is SO GOOD and so easy to do. Perfect!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pork Tenderloin Sheet Pan Dinner

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Spray a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Put on sheet pan:

1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed (you can brown it in a skillet on all sides first, if desired, but I don’t ever do this)

Salt and pepper the pork.

In a large bowl, combine:

1 pound potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces

1 cup baby carrots or 2-3 large carrots but into 1″ pieces

2 cups fresh Brussel sprouts, but in half

1-2 Tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

Arrange vegetables around pork on sheet pan.

Roast, stirring once (I never seem to get this done, either), until vegetables are tender and pork registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 25 minutes. Let pork stand 5 minutes before slicing.

It’s so pretty and colorful! After baking, both the pork and the vegetables are browned, tender and delicious!

Pork is one of my favorites.

There is nothing like roasted vegetables.

Yum. Just yum.

This meal is ridiculously simple to do and let’s face it – it’s fast food. I mean, buy everything already cut up and start to finish, you’re eating in less than 45 minutes. You can’t even drive to a fast-food place and back that fast! It was easy for me to help make (I think my husband could actually do this himself!) and tasted so good to me after months of cottage cheese and toast. Try different meats and vegetables on a sheet pan and see how easy it is to have a great, nutritious, and delicious meal on the table in no time. You’re going to love this simple to make Pork Tenderloin Sheet Pan Dinner!




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Tomato Soup Cake

This recipe for Tomato Soup Cake comes from another one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks, and definitely goes under the heading of Retro Oddities!! Because we’re doing something retro today, I have to share another photo. This is a photo of my mom when she was a baby. I LOVE the little curl on the top of her head!!!

I also LOVE that they took this photo somewhere on the farm where there were chickens running around and some out buildings in the background! So cute! They didn’t take too many casual photos like this. Photos were usually so formal. It’s nice to get this little glimpse into normal family life.

Let’s get to this retro recipe. You would think that if you put tomato soup in a cake, you’re going to taste it. The ONLY time I’ve had tomato soup from a can is with that old stand-by, tomato soup and grilled cheese. Tomato soup is the absolute BEST with that ooey-gooey melty cheese sandwich. Well, I think that there are enough spices to cover that tomato flavor. This cake is just plain good! I have to say, this cake is so good and so spicy and so moist – it’s the perfect snack cake. There is absolutely NO taste of tomato soup in it – that I could tell, anyway. The spices make the whole house smell great while it’s baking!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Tomato Soup Cake


1 cup sugar

1/2 cup Spry (Spry was a kind of vegetable shortening – I used butter)

2 eggs

1 can tomato soup

2 cups cake flour (I don’t use cake flour – I used all-purpose flour)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup dates or raisins (I used raisins)

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

Pour into 9″ x 9″ cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

While I couldn’t detect any tomato soup flavor after baking, it did have a bit of an unusual color.

I used powdered sugar in a sieve to make a pretty topping.

This is the perfect snack for a cold and snowy winter’s day!

Here we go – another great treat to have with your afternoon coffee. You can see how full of raisins and nuts this is. It’s so good. Period. Got an extra can of tomato soup in the cupboard? Give this one a try. You’re going to love this spicy Tomato Soup Cake!


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Swedish Almond Buns

This recipe for Swedish Almond Buns comes from Grandma’s church cookbook. I first tried this recipe just a few years ago, in 2009. We were having a Scandinavian baking day before Christmas with my mom and daughters, and when looking through the church cookbook (you all know how I feel about those old church cookbooks!!) for our usual recipes, I happened to find this one. Well – we HAD to try it – that very day! My mom’s a tea drinker, and these buns were perfect with her afternoon cup of tea. They’re delicious. This is one that would be great for a special breakfast, a snack, or for with your afternoon coffee – or tea.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Swedish Almond Buns

In mixing bowl, dissolve:

1 package yeast in 3/4 cup very warm water


1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup flour

Beat 2 minutes.


1 egg

1/4 cup shortening (I used butter, softened)

Gradually beat in until smooth:

1 cup flour


1/3 cup chopped, blanched almonds (I used sliced for this batch)

Spoon into greased muffin cups; fill 1/2 full.

Sprinkle with:

1/3 cup almonds

3 Tablespoons sugar

Cover and let rise in a warm place for 50-60 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

Before and after rising – they really do double in size!

After baking – they come out golden brown and toasty!

These buns are best warm right out of the oven with a bit of butter and maybe some strawberry jam. If you can’t enjoy them right away, immediately pop them into the freezer to enjoy at a later time – they ARE homemade, after all, and they won’t stay fresh for more than a day. You will love these buns for a special breakfast treat or a delicious afternoon snack. Call your friends to come over for an afternoon cup of coffee and try these Swedish Almond Buns!





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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2018!!

Wishing you all the best in the new year!


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